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Final 10-Game Stretch on Tap

by Eric Russo / Boston Bruins – The Bruins will not practice on Tuesday, following their 6-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday night, and will travel to New Jersey for a contest with the Devils on Wednesday night.

The Black & Gold have 10 games remaining in the regular season – four each against Southeast and Atlantic Division opponents – and as they head down the stretch towards the playoffs, the Bruins are looking to perfect their play.

The B’s want to be more consistent offensively (the six-goal output against Carolina was a season-high), shore up their defensive game (the B’s have allowed over 40 shots in three of the last four games), and get healthy (Patrice Bergeron remains out with a concussion).

One other area in which the Bruins desire to improve on is the physical aspect of their game. After the win over the Hurricanes, B’s Head Coach Claude Julien spoke about his players needing to to play more of their trademark tough style.

However, with such a short and compact schedule, the B’s bench boss said it has been hard for the players to go all out, physically, every single night.

“There are some guys that could probably finish their checks more, no doubt,” said Julien. “You just have to look at the [score] sheet, but at the same time the sheet’s not always accurate [the Bruins were credited with just 15 hits against Carolina]. I’m going to tell you again, like a lot of teams, those players aren’t robots.  

“The schedule has been as tough as it could ever be on an athlete. We’ve got to be careful of how hard we push those guys because they are tired, they are tired.  I don’t know if anybody’s been through that schedule before, of every second day including traveling, and plane, and the expectations of coaches, and you guys [the media], and fans. That’s not an easy situation.

“So it’s easy for us to criticize, and I say us, I include ourselves as coaches, but you have to take the time and analyze what’s really going on here. It’s been a real tough schedule and those athletes are put through a grind that they’re not normally put through in a regular season.”

Julien pointed to the Bruins’ record (14-2-2) after the first two months of the season, in which the B’s played more of a normal schedule, as an indication as to how grueling March, and now April, has been on the players. The Bruins are 11-7-2 since March 3.

“A regular reason was the first two months, that was a regular schedule,” said Julien. “You saw how well we played and what our record was, so you have to look at what the schedule has been in the last two months, or last month, plus this one and understand that has an effect on our game. There’s no ifs, ands, buts about it.”

Gregory Campbell, one of the B’s most gritty players, agreed with Julien that it is hard to play such a physical style every night. But, he did admit that the Bruins can turn up their physicality with the playoffs coming.

“I think we’re built on our physicality and that’s one of our strengths for sure,” said Campbell, who had two assists against the Hurricanes. “Probably the emotional level and the way we play physically could be brought up a little bit. As you know, playoff hockey is very intense, very physical and it’s something that we thrive on.

“There’s a lot of games being played right now, and not to make excuses, but it’s tough to do that night in and night out. It’s something that as a team we’re going to have to realize that we’re at our best when we’re physical, when teams don’t want to play against us and that will serve us well in the playoffs.”

Dennis Seidenberg, who registered a career-high three assists in the win over Carolina, also spoke after the game against Carolina about the team bearing down with time running out before the postseason.

“We’re getting into that phase of the season that we have to get sharp for the playoffs, he said. “We only have, I think, 10 games left now, and it comes down to the wire for us to get into playing playoff hockey, and just playing that style of hockey makes you successful going into the postseason.”

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