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Bruins Look to Clear Mental Hurdles

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

WILMINGTON — Ask any Bruin — or Head Coach Claude Julien — about the team’s inconsistency, and they’ll all point to a distinguishing factor.

“I think right now, it is mental,” Patrice Bergeron said following the team’s practice at Ristuccia Arena on Friday. “It’s details, and it comes down to mental mistakes and bearing down.”

The Bruins dropped a 3-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night at TD Garden after having an early 2-0 lead, with a tie game after the second. They fell to 1-5-1 at home and 1-4-0 in their past five games.

“I think the work ethic’s in here and we just need to find that — I think it’s more of a little bit of a mental thing,” said Kevan Miller. “A mental hurdle we need to get over.”

“Well, it is mental. It is mental. No doubt about it,” reiterated Julien. “When you can’t sustain your game for that long, it’s always more mental than anything else.”

Torey Krug tried to point to why the mental lapses are happening.

“I think maybe we’re going into games and wondering what kind of opposing team we’re going to receive,” he hypothesized. “I think if we go out there and realize we’re on home ice and we have the ability to dictate and be that team, it will be a lot better for us.”

“So it’s no excuses for what’s been going on so far at home and we have to turn it around, and that’s on us as players. We’ve got to go out and execute.”

Being prepared to start games hasn’t been an issue all season. It’s the Bruins’ ability to maintain that for the entire game.

How do they achieve a better level of focus?

“I think just paying a little bit more attention to detail,” said Krug. “And whether that’s looking at the other team’s lineup and just making sure you’re focused on what you need to do as an individual — look, every game’s not going to be great and personally, you might be fighting the puck, you might not be skating well, but you have to bring something to the table for this team and help them win.”

“So it’s about making sure you come into the game with that level of focus and that intensity, and it will be good for us — you know, at home we’ve got to turn this thing around.”

The Bruins have four more games amid their season-high five-game homestand. They host the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night at TD Garden, followed by the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday, Minnesota Wild on Thursday and then the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“It’s not acceptable what’s going on right now and we have to take the responsibility that goes with it,” said Julien. “We have to be a lot better and 10 minutes of good hockey is not good enough to win in this League.”

“I think we’ve had a really good starts, and that bodes well for the coaching staff — they’ve done a good job of getting us ready,” said Miller. “And I think it’s more on the players to make sure that we’re focused on 60 minutes. We keep saying that, but it needs to really be one game at a time, or one period at a time, and go from there. So we’re excited to get back on Saturday.”

“I think if we’re going to improve, everybody has to get a little bit better,” added Julien. “And when we’re talking about sustaining our game plan, it’s also about the focus, it’s also about the decision making, it’s all about puck management — [all of] it definitely goes into that.”

Seidenberg Steady in Season Debut

Dennis Seidenberg made his season debut on Thursday night against the Colorado Avalanche, after recovering from preseason back surgery that he had seven weeks ago (Sept. 24). The defenseman’s most recent game had come on April 11, 2015.

“He did well for a guy that hadn’t play at all this year,” said Julien.

Seidenberg’s minutes were managed, with him logging 15:34 in ice time, including 2:10 on the penalty kill. He recorded six hits and blocked two shots.

“I was a little nervous in the beginning but I was very excited to be back and being able to play,” he said. “It’s been a long time, but it was OK.”

“Obviously there is more work to be done but I think it was a good first step and there’s room to get better for sure.”

Seidenberg said he felt much better returning from this injury than when he returned at the start of the 2014-15 season from his knee injury.

“Last time I came back, I definitely at times was struggling; I felt a little better [on Thursday night],” he said. “Felt like I made quicker decisions and watching games definitely helps. Last time I came back from the knee injury, didn’t do anything all summer and basically didn’t see any hockey, watch any hockey. But being at games, watching the games definitely helped getting into that game mode a little bit.”

Detroit on Deck

The Red Wings come to TD Garden on Saturday on the second leg of a back-to-back that begins in Detroit on Friday. They are 8-6-1 entering their game on Friday against San Jose and sit two points ahead of the Bruins in the Atlantic Division standings (Detroit 17, Boston 15).

“They’ve still got a lot of skill, as you know — there’s some guys in there that can win you some hockey games because of their high level skill that they have,” said Julien. “And they’ve gotten better lately so we’ll get to see them play before [Saturday] and hopefully prepare for them properly and hopefully more than anything else, really focus on ourselves, kind of bringing the game we’ve shown that we can bring at times.”

“Home ice should be a tough place for the other team to play and we’re not making it that way right now,” said Miller. “So we’re happy that we’re playing [Saturday] and try and get that taste out of our mouths as soon as we can.”

Practice Notes

The Bruins participated in off-ice work and meetings before hitting the ice around 11:20 a.m. on Friday. Colin Miller was the only player absent from practice, and Julien labeled it a maintenance day for the defenseman. Joe Morrow, who has been a healthy scratch for the past three games, stayed on the ice on his own well after every other Bruin.

Practice Lineup 11/13

Matt BeleskeyPatrice BergeronBrett Connolly

Frank VatranoDavid KrejciLoui Eriksson

Brad MarchandRyan SpoonerJimmy Hayes

Zac RinaldoJoonas KemppainenTyler Randell

Zdeno CharaZach Trotman

Dennis SeidenbergKevan Miller

Torey KrugAdam McQuaid

Goalies: Tuukka Rask, Jonas Gustavsson

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