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Bruins Sunday Notebook

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
A better effort if not a better result…

Minnesota Wild vs. Boston Bruins 101108
The Boston Bruins return from the first portion of their season opening road swing with a 1-1-0 record and a feeling that the club has not yet played its best game, but is getting better with each contest.

“I thought we had a real good start and, even on that (first period) power play, we had some great chances to capitalize and then maybe make it a 2-0 hockey game,” said Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien. “But we came into the dressing room with a 1-1 tie, which was not indicative of our first.

“I thought our second was very average, but in the third we came back and picked up where we left off in the first, but ran out of time.”

Saturday’s starting goalie, Manny Fernandez, who not only returned to an NHL regular season game, but who also returned to Minnesota for the first time since he was traded to Boston, was very self critical of his own performance.

However, he pointed out that his teammates had made a lot of progress since the Colorado game.

“I think we came out strong and had a good first period,” he said.  “We knew that it was going to be important against a team like that.

“I think, all together, it was a great team effort and we deserved a better fate.”

Manny’s mea culpa
Manny Fernandez
Fair or not, Fernandez looked in the locker room mirror and pointed to the reason his the team deserved better.

“I think, all together, we played a pretty tight game,” said Fernandez. “The first and second goal, I think was a good example of what’s missing in my game -- the sharpness.

“Those were two goals that shouldn’t go (in), there’s no reason for that.”

The Bruins goalie was asked if he had been screened on those two scores, but again, Fernandez refused to give excuses.

“Regardless if I get a good look or not, it wasn’t tipped or anything and they barely made it through, both of them,” said Fernandez. “I have to clean it up.”

Knowing that his goaltender had just thrown himself under the proverbial bus, Julien was not as scathing in his critique of his goalie and did not run over Fernandez for a second time when he was queried about the club’s night.

“There’s no doubt that there were some tough goals that went in on him tonight,” said the coach. “And, I guess, however you look at it they were tough goals.

“But if you haven’t played for a while you are going to be a little rusty (and) the positive out of it was that every goal that went in on him he was in good position – it went through. It’s not like he was out of position, it just went through.

“Obviously, we have to keep working with him and get him to stop those and we’ll be in good shape,” he said.

Fernandez knows he needs to put this one away and focus on the team’s effort around him.

“Funny, you look at it and you look back and you look at those goals and you (think) I could have done this and I could have done that,” he said.  “It could have gone better. I could have gotten lucky – that wasn’t the case – so, you have to look back and say it was courageous (for the team) to get back in that third and battle back.

“Every minute on that ice is going to be (good to have) in the pocket as far as the intensity and just mentally getting back that sharpness.”

Softening a bit, Fernandez admitted that he had a lot on his plate in St. Paul.

“There’s obviously things I have to work on, but, all together, it was a big game,” he said. “Coming back here, with the fans and the team -- the guys that I was (now) playing (against) -- and, just the fact that I missed all of last year, there was a lot on my shoulders tonight, and I’m glad I got it out of the way.

“I think from here on out I just have to clean it up, work hard in practice,” said Fernandez.

Ryder and Savard are clicking
Marc Savard Boston Bruins Peter Budaj Colorado Avalanche
When Marc Savard and Michael Ryder were paired during training camp, the Hub of Hockey began waiting for the playmaker and the sniper to get on a roll.

With four goals between the two of them, in just two games, that has happened.

“I think we need some of those guys to click,” said Julien. “Right now, our young guys are doing a good job. Krejci with Wheeler and Lucic was a very good line and, you know, you need the Savard’s and the Ryder's to help…with the Bergeron line we’ve got three pretty decent offensive lines and our (fourth) line needs to keep grinding it out.

“And if everybody does their job, we’ll be a tough team to play against.”

Last night, Savard and Ryder did their job very well as the pair connected for the two goals that put the Bruins back in the game during the third session.

“That’s our team identity, obviously, never quitting and working hard,” said Savard. “You know, we stuck with it after a tough second period…but there’s three periods and that’s something you have to remember.”

Clearly, Savard kept that in mind as he converted two passes from Ryder to make the scoreboard read 4-3 late in the third.

“I thought in the third…they sat back and tried to protect the lead and we just kept going at them,” said Savard. “We didn’t cheat and stayed with the game plan.

“The guys in here, we stick with it, we work hard and we were this close again tonight.”

Savard talked about his partnership with the former Canadien.

“I was confident (during training camp) and obviously it was just preseason,” explained Savard. “We just stuck with it. He’s a great kid and we get along great off the ice and it’s something that builds for a couple of years.”

As far as the goals, Savard said, “That first one was a great pass. The second one, I slid it to him and it came back to me.”

Savard reiterated that the two forwards have been working hard to create a potent scoring machine.

“We work on everything,” he said. “I’d rather see him shoot more, but right now it seems to be on my stick, so we’ll take it either way.”

The veteran NHL center looked around the visiting locker room in the Xcel Energy Center and liked what he saw.

“One and one, it’s not the best start, but it’s a decent start,” said Savard. “But you have to put three periods of hockey together in this league against any team.

“Tonight we failed to do that and it ended up costing us.

“But I am confident that with the guys we have in here. You can see that every line created something tonight, especially in the third period. The Krejci line was so close many times.

“We’ve got a solid core of guys here and we’re looking to win some games,” concluded the center.

Savard’s veteran left wing for the first two games this season, P.J. Axelsson, also sees potential in the Black & Gold.

“They made a couple of nice plays to score some goals,” said the winger of the Wild. “But other than that I thought we had our skating legs. We skated well, we made plays and had scoring chances, but it’s tough when it (results) in a loss.”

Offense spelled with a ‘D’
Colorado Avalanche center Paul Stastny, right, has his shot stopped by Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, center, as Avalanche right winger Milan Hejduk, left, of the Czech Republic, and Bruins defenseman Dennis Wideman look on in the third period of the Bruins' 5-4 victory in an NHL hockey game in Denver on Thursday, Oct. 9, 2008. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Coach Julien spoke about the new dimension in the Bruins attack – defensemen jumping into the offense on a more consistent basis.

“Obviously, there’s always a risk when D’s are jumping up into the play,” said Julien. “But sometimes, that’s part of the risk you have to take.

“You can’t have everything perfect as far as having the D jump in (as well as preventing) outnumbered situations.

“But our forwards have to read off of that, as well and that was the kind of mandate that I gave our team this year. We can create more offence with our D supporting the attack, but we also have to realize that if our D’s are in, the (forwards) have to get back and cover up,” he said.

“Again, the only real goal was that that fourth goal…and overall, I thought we did a decent job, we just need to look at he shots against and the limited scoring chances -- a lot of their shots and their chances came on the power play, but again, that was the only real breakdown (and) those four goals are certainly not indicative of the way we played defensively.”

Notes: Five Bruins have clear ties to Minnesota. Beyond Fernandez being a former Wild, Andrew Alberts and Mark Stuart are natives, and Phil Kessel and Blake Wheeler are former Minnesota Golden Gophers…Kessel is off to a quick start and scored his second goal of the season in the first period…Kessel and Wheeler’s goals on Thursday marked the first time they had scored in the same game since March 11, 2006 when the Gophers defeated Alaska-Anchorage, 6-2, and both skaters had a pair of goals each…Wheeler scored in his NHL debut on Thursday and became the first Bruin to do so since Andy Hilbert turned the trick versus Montreal on December 20, 2001…Good news from the NHL Powered by Reebok Store in New York: the Bruins are the #9 team in sales…Boston is off on Sunday and will return to practice on Monday. Call 617-624-1910 for the most up-to-date info on this week’s practices.
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