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B's Ready for Blackhawks

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
CHICAGO -- It's only been three days, but given the club's 1-3 record, it seems like forever since the Bruins dropped a 3-2 decision to the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday.

It's also seems a given that until the B's put another "W" on the board, each and every interview with a member of the Black & Gold contains a question with the phrase "Stanley Cup hangover."

"For a lot of people it seems unavoidable, but for us, we don’t want to be accepting that," said Boston Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien of the difficulties inherent to being the defending NHL champs. "If anything, we’d like to be the exception to the rule and try and battle ourselves out of it."

"Battle" is what his players plan to do beginning Saturday night.

"That’s always been the bread and butter in our game, to outwork the other team," said captain Zdeno Chara. "So we just have to [return to] that and make sure that we earn that identity again.

"We have to clean up a few things in our game and make it more simple and we should be fine."

Simplifying the game is pretty difficult, however, and Coach Julien believes that the B's slow start to 2011-12 has more to do with the Bruins approach than anything else.

"The biggest challenge is that right now I think our mental state is what’s probably hurting us the most right now," said Julien. "It just doesn’t seem to be clicking right now.

"Whether it’s the transition game; whether it’s the forecheck -- I think the intention and the will is there, but we’ve just got to find a way to push ourselves past that zone and find our game again."

But after a day off to recuperate, Julien put the Bruins through their paces on Friday.

"Well, we worked on our transition game, on our force-heck and obviously we’ve just got to be better at what we usually do [well]," said alternate captain Patrice Bergeron. "It’s our system and that’s all.

"It’s about making sure we’re back at being in sync as a group and being sharp."

The B's alternate captain on the road, Chris Kelly, said that everyone should keep the Bruins early struggles in perspective, as well.

"Obviously it’s 82 games for a reason and we’re only four games in," said Kelly. "We know we can play much better and as a group we need to do the things that made us successful last year.

"There’s no need to panic."

There may not be panic in the B's locker room, but there is an urgency and that feeling might just be heightened by the presence of the 2010 Stanley Cup champions in the home locker room of the United Center.

"To be honest I don’t really think of it as that," said rookie defenseman Matt Bartkowski. "I just think of it as we’re off to a shaky start here. So we need to just keep pushing and get back to the way we play, get back to our systems and battle a little bit more.

"I just approach it as that, not really thinking about Cup champions."

"It shouldn’t matter," agreed Chara. "Whoever we play, we know we have to play our game and focus on what things we need to do.

"But we obviously recognize that on the other side there is a really good team with a lot of speed and a lot of skill and they made some really good moves this summer.

"So it’s going to be a challenge for us, but mainly we have to focus on what we’re going to do."

McQuaid Ailing, Kampfer Close
Coach Julien updated the press on two of his injured players on Friday.

Julien said that Adam McQuaid's injuries are similar to the injury that the blueliner sustained during last spring's playoffs.

"He’s still suffering some headaches and right now a lot of it’s neck pain, so it’s hard to diagnose whether it’s definitely a concussion or whether it’s just a neck strain that he suffered on that fall," said Julien. "He’s still day-to-day and we’re taking the cautious route and we’re handling it as if it was a concussion, but he’s feeling better every day."

Steve Kampfer continues to improve, as well.

"Yeah. He’s skating," said Julien. "He started skating this week and he’s doing much better.

"Again, if things go well maybe at some point next week he’s probably going to slide in with us and start working his way up and skating with us sometimes, just doing line drills and staying away from contact.

"But we’ll see how he does by the time we get back next week."

Julien did not give an update on David Krejci, who is also day-to-day with a "core" injury.
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