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Bruins Hoping They Get Their Break in San Jose

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

SAN JOSE - The Bruins haven't been scoring much these days.

That's a fact that has been driven home amidst their past 10 games, when they've scored more than two goals just once, in a 4-3 shootout win over Columbus back on November 21.

They dropped a 3-2 loss to Anaheim and 2-0 shutout in Los Angeles to begin the road trip out West, with two games against San Jose and Arizona on tap.

The goals still aren't coming. So, why not build some confidence in practice?

When the Bruins arrived to San Jose after a quick flight up the coast on Wednesday, they held an optional skate at Sharks Ice following the back-to-back. Thirteen Bruins hit the ice, including both goalies, along with the assistant coaches.

Nearly every drill was focused on scoring - odd-man situations, breakaways, shootouts - and the Bruins let out plenty of pent-up goal celebrations amidst the roughly 45-minute skate. It was an entertaining skate for a group that's been frustrated offensively.

Reilly Smith, Brad Marchand and Matt Bartkowski proved to have the hottest hands. Now, if that could only translate to Thursday night at the SAP Center in San Jose.

"We've always said, the way you practice normally translates into a game, so if we can get our confidence up scoring goals in practice, hopefully it can translate as well," said Marchand.

"We had a couple of pretty good games - didn't win, but played good hockey - and we can't put too much pressure on ourselves, it never works out for you when you're in a tough spell and you get really hard on yourself."

"You've got be loose and have fun still - obviously you've got to focus and try to get out of the funk, but I think the main thing is you still want to be able to enjoy coming to the rink every day and if you can do that, hopefully it will allow ourselves to get back into playing really good hockey."

The same way that those outside the team have been disheartened by the lack of scoring punch, those inside the locker room have put pressure on themselves to find a way through this rough patch.

But they have no choice to keep on pushing, and find another level.

"It's obviously frustrating when you do put a good game together and you can't score. It definitely gets frustrating, but we are getting opportunities and we have to tweak a few things in our game to start scoring goals and we will continue to work on that," said Marchand. "So I think we're going in the right direction, we're playing good hockey and the opportunities are there and if we make those adjustments, then hopefully it will allow us to win."

The adjustments?

"We just have to get more bodies in front of the net."

After the 2-0 shutout in LA, the Bruins had no choice to be frustrated.

"Like, 'damnit why couldn't we score?'" said Bartkowski. "But I mean, personally I don't think about it long. You just have to focus on playing well. There were four or five games there where we were a goal away, a chance away, so it will come. Every team has stretches like this, it will come. It will come."

The Bruins' four losses in their past five games have been at the hands of top teams in the East and West in Montreal, Pittsburgh, Anaheim and Los Angeles.

Defensively, the structure has been there, especially on the penalty kill, but mistakes have cost them. On the flip side, power play opportunities have been hard to come by, and when the Bruins do get the man advantage, they haven't been converting.

Of course, the presence of David Krejci and Zdeno Chara would help in that regard, but that's not an option for this version of the Black and Gold.

"When you don’t score goals, every little thing is a big issue, and one mistake here, or power play not producing," said Head Coach Claude Julien. "But what I like about our team right now is that we’re heading in the right direction. We’re doing a lot of good things, just like we talked about. There’s times that you win hockey games when you’re not playing that well. Eventually, it catches up to you."

"Right now, if we stick with the compete level that we have, we’ll start getting the results. So it’s important that we stay the course, that we don’t get discouraged. We played two real good teams on this trip and I think they’ve been fairly even games, except for the final score."

With a team-wide scoring slump, chemistry up front has been hard to come by as well. Krejci's absence just amplifies that.

On Tuesday night, Julien reunited Smith with Marchand and Patrice Bergeron to try and get something going with the familiarity.

"We’ve gone through a dry spell every year, but also I think with the number of injuries that we’ve had, with the number of line changes and personnel, it’s been really hard to get chemistry," said Julien. "Sometimes we don’t have a choice; we got to make those changes, and when you’re not scoring, you try to find that spark that’s going to help you score some goals."

"So there’s no doubt that it would help if we had a more stable lineup. I think that would be a good start. But having said that, we don’t, so we've got to find a way."

"It’s not an excuse. We've got to find a way to score some goals here, and as coaches, you look at different things and what’s happening, and we encourage our guys to go in front of the net and our D’s get their shots through and get our nose dirty an all that stuff."

"So we’re looking for that break. There’s no doubt sometimes you need a little bit of a break to turn things around, so we’re going to keep working hard to get that break."

The Bruins are hoping their break comes on Thursday night against the Sharks.

"It's just something that you go through, there's nothing else to it," said Bartkowski. "We've just got to keep working and we'll get through it."

Cunningham Reassigned

On Wednesday, forward Craig Cunningham was reassigned to the Providence Bruins.

"With back-to-backs in California, if something happens, we would have been scrambling. So we've got a day here," said Julien. "Our centermen are healthy. If something is to happen, we got another day before the game. That’s probably the main reason why we sent him back."

Cunnningham did not suit up in game action on the trip out West.

"When you talk about class, it has Jean Béliveau written all over it"

On Tuesday evening following the game in LA, Julien learned of the passing of NHL legend and former Montreal Canadiens captain Jean Beliveau.

Julien had interacted with him many times over the course of his time in Montreal.

"He’s an unbelievable man," said Julien. "When you talk about class, it has Jean Beliveau written all over it."

"And he spent a lot of time just chatting with me, and when you grow up idolizing a guy like him and see him take the time to have some good chats — and his wife, as well — I thought he and she were tremendous people. So certainly not the kind of news I was expecting to hear after a game like this, but my sympathies go to his whole family, and what a class act he’s been, and I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to get to know him."

Wednesday's Practice Lineup 12/3

Forwards: Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, Milan Lucic, Reilly Smith, Matt Fraser, Seth Griffith, Simon Gagne

Defense: Kevan Miller, Matt Bartkowski, Joe Morrow, Zach Trotman

Goalies: Tuukka Rask, Niklas Svedberg

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