“For whatever reason, it just wasn’t there, and that’s all on us as a team,” said Blake Wheeler this morning. “Every individual has to go out there ready to play and compete every night, and for whatever reason, we didn’t have it for two periods.”
As a whole, the team is making no excuses. They know they were, as Wheeler put it, “flat” after a good first period, and it cost them the game.
“Sticking to our game plan is the biggest thing for us, and we didn’t really do that,” he said. “Coach said it’s more of a mental thing than anything, and I think that’s probably accurate. You can just tell, you don’t give up goals because guys are doing everything right.”
The game plan at this point is, like it is for most teams, to play hard for an entire game.
“We haven’t really found that yet this year, and we’re trying to push ourselves in a way that we’re going to get a good 60-minute effort,” said head coach Claude Julien. “If we play well, we can be a pretty dominant team, but we kind of have a habit of letting a team back in with some soft areas.”
And with two periods full of penalties against the Black & Gold, a weak penalty kill was a major problem.
“The chances are there, but we don’t bear down,” said Patrice Bergeron
. “I guess we’re not putting enough force, missing our shots…and we’re just scrambling.”
During the first two games of this week’s Canadian road trip, wins against the Edmonton Oilers and the Vancouver Canucks, the B’s showed they have a powerful penalty kill. But on an off-night, like Thursday, it can cost the team the game.
“Yeah, we should (be really good at the penalty kill),” said Bergeron, agreeing with some of the media interviewing him. “And we can be. We just have to work harder at it and really work at the details.”
Julien outlined the “details” of the penalty kill – being proactive and getting to the puck – but he couldn’t repeat one detail enough: icing the puck.
“Last game, it was the inability to ice the puck on at least three occasions…that puck has to go all the way down (the ice),” he said. “These are the areas that will improve our penalty kill and will improve our goal production, just being heavier on our sticks and stronger on our sticks.”
For the most part, however, the Bruins were pleased with their efforts during the first month of the 2008-2009 season.
“I think there’s more to come, and we can be better,” said Bergeron, “but so far, we’re playing well.”
The team is looking for a win to start off November.
“There’s a lot of pride in the locker room, and everyone’s ready to go tonight,” said Wheeler. “We want to get things back on the right track, and no better night than tonight to start.”