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Bruins Trying to Break Through

B's look to bounce back vs. Bolts

by Caryn Switaj @NHLBruins /

BOSTON - When the Bruins hit the ice for practice on Saturday at Warrior Ice Arena, their first drill was a familiar one.


The left shots switched sticks with the right shots, and games of keep away ensued.


As is usually the case, smiles broke out, and the players - literally - had to loosen up the grip on the sticks that they've been squeezing oh so tightly. 

"You find ways to try and help them get their confidence back, and try and loosen up the group a little bit," said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien. "I think they're squeezing their sticks. I think they're frustrated because they're not scoring - I think the players, and the coaching staff is frustrated, too, because we're not scoring."


The Bruins had lost three straight games in a span of four days heading into Saturday's skate, scoring just four goals in that span, with two of those goals coming from David Pastrnak, and just one during five-on-five. Pastrnak and David Backes each scored on the power play, with Dominic Moore scoring shorthanded. 


"Every team goes through that at some stage during the year, where they're having a hard time scoring, so we're trying to get out of it as soon as we can here, and as quickly as we can," said Julien.


"Obviously, you lose three games in a row and you're kind of down, but you've got to have a little fun," said Matt Beleskey. "It's just another day. The sun came up this morning, and we're back to work."


The Bruins have been getting ample chances. They most recently outshot the Flames 31-16 in the final 40 minutes, and 20-9 in the third period. They know they need to convert. 


"We've just got to bear down, keep throwing pucks to the net, keep going to the net," said Beleskey. "Personally, our line, I think it's two, three games now, we've had good chances - good, solid chances to score, and they haven't gone in, but I think if we keep doing the right things, bounces will start going our way."


The Black & Gold have been in every game, but have lost by close margins: 2-1 to Calgary, 3-1 to Ottawa, and 4-2 to St. Louis (with the final goal coming as an empty-netter). 


"We're obviously struggling to put some goals in the net," said David Krejci. "You saw in practice, we had a little fun, so hopefully that will help us to get some confidence back and start scoring some goals."


The practice was a simple way of reminding the team to loosen up, and "stick with it."


The coaches are taking that same approach as well. 


"We spend a lot of time watching video and seeing what we can do better, and how we can help ourselves score goals. You hope you can help them as coaches, and the other part is, they've got to help themselves, you know?" said Julien. "If you don't hit the net, you can't score. If you're shooting it over the net all the time or missing, it's a lost opportunity. If you hit the net, it's a chance and then possibly a second chance as well, so it's so important for us to hit the net."


"And also, getting to those dirty areas and scoring goals like Pasta did last night around the blue paint, so there are some of the areas there that you hope our players can be better at and have a better net-front presence - it's OK to be there, but if you're not taking the goalie's eyes away from him, it's an easier save for him."


"There's a lot of things we're trying to cram into our group here to try and score some more goals," said Julien. "Now it's a matter of starting to get the results, and once you get the results, you get the confidence and then it starts coming again."


Patrice Bergeron hopes that their confidence will come back soon.  


"I know it's frustrating, but the only way to get out of it is by having some confidence to finish the plays, and just keep plugging at it," said Bergeron. "I guess it's a little cliche, but at the same time, you have to have that mindset, and believe we can do the job."


Pastrnak Leading the Way


Even with missing time due to both suspension and injuries, Pastrnak was tied for second in the NHL heading into Saturday's action, with 12 goals in just 16 games.


That total places the 20-year-old behind only Pittsburgh forward Sidney Crosby in goals per game (.75 GPG for Pastrnak, compared to .93 GPG for Crosby). has also compiled a plus-12 rating, tied for fifth best in the NHL.  


Pastrnak isn't focused on his personal scoring touch, tough. He's more concerned with helping his teammates to produce. 


"Obviously we have to stick with it. We have to bury our opportunities to score, because I think we're getting a lot of chances," said Pastrnak. "It's not going in now, but I think we have so many great players on the team that it's just about one goal that can turn everything around. We have to keep battling hard for those opportunities and I'm pretty sure it's coming, because we have a great team and great players, so it's just a question about time and confidence."


Chara Remains Day-to-Day


Zdeno Chara did not skate in Saturday's practice. He has missed the team's past two games after leaving the game against St. Louis on Tuesday night with a lower-body injury.


"He was evaluated [on Saturday] and they told me he's still day-to-day," Julien said Saturday.


Next Up: Tampa Bay Lightning 


The Bruins next host the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden on Sunday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. ET. Boston won the first meeting of the season, 4-3, in the shootout on Nov. 3 in Tampa. 


"They're a really fast team, they've got lots of skill up front, so we're going to have to play good defensively," said Krejci. "And at the same time, just like we practiced, once we get scoring chances, just make sure we bury it, second guy go to the net and pick up rebounds - we have to do those kinds of things."


The Lightning are without captain Steven Stamkos, who is expected to be out an estimated four months after a lateral meniscus tear in his right knee.

Practice Lines and Defense Pairings 11/26


Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak

Matt Beleskey - David Krejci - David Backes

Tim Schaller - Riley Nash - Austin Czarnik

Ryan Spooner - Dominic Moore - Jimmy Hayes  


John-Michael Liles - Brandon Carlo

Torey Krug - Adam McQuaid

Joe Morrow - Kevan Miller  

Colin Miller


Goalies: Tuukka Rask, Anton Khudobin  

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