Saturday, November 19, 2011
B's can't afford to look past Isles or anyone
By James Murphy
BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins' win streak -- seven games and counting heading into their tilt with the New York Islanders on Saturday night -- won't go on forever.
With five games in seven days against Northeast Division foes like the Montreal Canadiens and Buffalo Sabres and perrennial Western Conference contenders in the Detroit Red Wings, there will be some solid challenges for the Bruins over the next week. But after getting reminded of a valuable lesson in their 2-1 shootout win over the Clumbus Blue Jackets on Thursday, the Bruins know they must treat games against the Isles and the Winnipeg Jets on Nov. 26 just as importantly, and take no team lightly.
While the Bruins were able to steal one Thursday, they know they can't assume they'll win every time they play a team they should beat.
"It's a hard league," defenseman Andrew Ference said after returning the lineup after missing the previous two games with a groin injury. "People can lose sight of how hard it is to win and how close teams are whether it's last-place teams or teams that are struggling, it's tough.
Andrew Ference and the Bruins can't afford to let their guard down.
"And if you don't come out sharp, you get games like [Thursday] where ... an ugly goal can easily win it, no problem. So it's just a reminder every once and a while that we're not a team that can come in and do a 70 percent game and get away with it too often."
That seemed to be the shared feeling among the Bruins on Thursday night as they got set to embark on a three-game road trip through Long Island, Montreal on Monday and Buffalo on Wednesday.
"That wasn't our best game but like I said it's going to happen throughout the course of the year," forward Patrice Bergeron said. "Sometimes games you're going to play better than the other team and you're going to come out on the losing side and the opposite is true and [Thursday was] probably one of them. It was one of those nights we got a little lucky getting the two [points] but we found a way."
The fact they did find a way to win wasn't lost on the players either, and that's a good sign going forward. But what's even more positive about the general reaction to that game -- and of course that is only true if they apply it on the ice -- is that Bruins have that confidence they can pull games out or win when they maybe shouldn't.
Just as important, they're not letting that confidence translate into cockiness. Many players seemed to realize that they were overlooking the woeful Blue Jackets.
"I guess we kind of thought it was going to be an easy game but it wasn't," center David Krejci admitted. "They came here to play and they were really hard on their sticks and they were winning lots of battles so I don't think we were ready for that. So it was a very tough game and you know, like I said, I don't think we deserved to win tonight but we'll take the two points.
"Don't take anybody lightly. You know to end a streak -- you can lose against the last-place team, you can beat badly the first-place team. Just don't take anybody lightly and just play your game I think that's what we have to do from now on."
That attitude is probably why coach Claude Julien decided to give what he referred to as his "tired" team the day off Friday, canceling practice after he addressed the media Thursday night. Julien knows the players didn't completely heed his advice that the Blue Jackets -- who were playing in front of their fathers as part of their father-son trip -- couldn't be underestimated.
"We found a way to win ... although I thought our execution was poor," Julien said after the game Thursday. "We had light sticks tonight, didn't always make good decisions -- especially in the first period -- we overpassed instead of shooting, and stuff like that.
"There were a lot of things that I didn't really specifically like about our game, but the one thing I liked is that no matter what we still found a way to win. There's going to be nights, when you have an 82-game schedule, where you play well and you come out with nothing and probably deserve better and there's going to be nights where maybe you don't get as good a game out of your team, but you still find a way to win. That's where you've got to give credit to."