If you had to create an analogy to describe Tuesday morning's Bruins practice, following the teams 6-1 loss to Montreal on Monday night, it would definitely be a disappointed father scolding his underachieving family.
While it was not gentle, it was not mean and it was not frivolous -- basically it was the head of the family telling his wards that he expected much more out of them. That they are capable of much more than they displayed previously and, finally, that they needed to change their habits quickly. And then Mr. Keaton hugged Alex, Mallory and Jennifer and the credits rolled…um, right. Actually, it went more like this:
As the practice session progressed, an animated Bruins head coach buzzed about the ice, before finally getting over-frustrated.
He skated to the slot in front of the crease, and pointed to the space directly in front of that net. Then, after giving some instructions, Coach Julien loudly told his team, "You don't want to go there because you are afraid."
The arena was very, very quiet while the coach "explained" what he wanted from the B's on Thursday night against the Blackhawks.
He yelled, "Go to the net like you WANT to score goals."
Then, obviously tired of what he perceived as a lack of willingness to go to the "dirty areas" he continued to put the Bruins through a highly structured practice that encouraged a whole lot of contact and battles in and around the net.
|John Bishop is the beat writer for BostonBruins.com. He covers the Black & Gold hoping to offer a positive look at the team, not only from the stands and the press box, but also from inside the locker room. A graduate of Boston U. and Northeastern, 'Bish' grew up in Connecticut and moved to the Hub of Hockey in 1993. Since then he has made all four rinks at the Beanpot schools, as well as both Gardens, his icebound homes away from home. Prior to joining the TD Banknorth Garden staff in 2005, Bishop had written for several publications, with his primary focus being college hockey. He coauthored the book Bygone Boston in 2003 and hopes someday to pen a bio of Hobey Baker. |
D-men: Alberts, Allen, Chara,
Ference, Stuart, Ward, Wideman
Goal: Fernandez, Thomas
The practice started with some warm-up sprints, and the usual breakouts with shots from the top of the circle to get the goalies ready. And even before he began chiding them about the dirty areas, Coach reminded the group to go through their drills with passion and "to act like it was a game."
Then he split the group into two smaller squads for various battle drills in the corners and, eventually, the lecture. There were several big collisions, the best of which had a defenseman toss a forward and had the forward get up, angrily, and give the D a whack with his stick.
To their credit, the Bruins stuck together and throughout the session, you could hear players encouraging other saying, "Come on boys" and "Let's go."
And they did.
"You guys saw it," said a tired Marc Savard
to the media members around his locker. "It was a great practice and that's what we want.
"That's the change we were looking for and we responded well in practice, but the big thing, is on Thursday and how we respond in the game."
Nearby, a visibly sore Big Z, was of a similar mind and said that the B's have to go back to basics.
"We got a little bit carried away, I think," said captain Zdeno Chara
. "We got frustrated and were too (often) worried about other things other than playing (our game).
"That's going to happen. We got a little frustrated, that's all.
"We have to keep our composure and keep our focus on the game plan," he said.
Asked if a certain amount of yelling could still provide motivation for some proud professionals, defenseman Andrew Ference
answered in an enthusiastic affirmative.
"That's what coaches do," said Ference. "If I had a coach that was a little mouse, I would be worried."
Policeman Shawn Thornton
said that a hard practice is cathartic.
"It's a new day, you know?" he said. "It's behind us. We know what we have to do to get better and we need to start focusing on Thursday and the Blackhawks.
"We went out, we worked hard today. We did the job and we move on."
Coach Julien said that he wanted the team to remember what they did wrong on Monday, but work toward overcoming the problems.
"I don't think we put it behind us," he said. "It was more about getting us back to working hard and competing, better and that’s one of the reasons we didn't do extremely well yesterday.
"We need to compete a little harder and better in those tough areas.
"I've been saying that for awhile now and that's what results in the goals," he said.
But for now, the goal is to prepare for Chicago.