Montreal, Quebec --
In a nearly empty visiting dressing room at the Bell Center, following a difficult 3-2 loss to the Canadiens in the Bruins second-to-last exhibition game, Andrew Ference
slowly got dressed and thoughtfully answered questions about his club's character and sense of purpose going into the regular season.
The helpful D-man, who has been a very nice addition to the locker room since his arrival from Calgary last season, certainly plays with his heart on his sleeve and truly seems to enjoy being a Boston Bruin. And, like many of the Bruins of the past, by his attitude in practice and during games, it's obvious that Ference rarely leaves anything on the ice.
Asked about the Bruins lack of execution in the second period, a second period which saw the B's give up the lead en route
to a defeat, and whether that second session breakdown had to do with the less than full lineup, Ference spoke openly.
"You know, it was pretty darn close," said Ference. "Both teams were pretty close to their (regular season) lineup.
"It's (more) just a matter of really hammering home the fact that taking 20 great shifts and then having one where you kind of circle and don't do the assignment (is) what hurts you in the end.
"And I think that's been in example during the last two games," he said.
Ference is right.
In stretches, the B's have looked very good -- not so good in others. But the D-man preached patience, as it still is, after all, the exhibition season. And it's clear that although the lineup may be similar, the minutes played and the systems played are not yet up to snuff.
"We're close," said Andrew. "There are really positive stretches where the team is going right and you can see it on the ice.
"And then there will be a five to ten minute stretch where there are just missed assignments," he said.
Despite those breakdowns, Ference believes that whatever ails the B's during those stretches can, and will, be mitigated during the regular schedule, no matter what frustration they cause during the preseason.
"Maybe there's some lazy penalties, some lazy habits, but that's the part that gets ironed out," he said. "That's the part where the coaches really hammer down when you come in between periods, before the game, after the game in order to get rid of that stuff and abolish those bad habits and the lazy plays."
The disciplined team concept preached by new Bruins head coach Claude Julien will certainly help with that, as well.
"To be successful you definitely have to have everyone contributing," said Ference, "And if you look at the roster there's no reason we shouldn't expect more guys to contribute.
|Ference insists things are looking up for the B's |
"There are a lot of guys who know what it takes to have success in the NHL and (also) know what they have to do to make our team successful."
So, Ference and the B's will use the final preseason game versus the islanders to come together, refine their systems and be disciplined. Then, after cutting their numbers down to around 22 from the present 27, the 2007-08 Bruins will have four days of practice to prepare for the Dallas Stars.
To get there, Ference again stressed the power of thinking and acting like a team.
"I don't think there is a feeling, at all, that we are expecting only a couple of guys to shoulder a big burden," said Ference. "It's definitely going to have to be by committee."
As of Friday, in Dallas, that committee is in regular session.