Commentary

Bruins still working things out

Jarome Iginla, Brad Marchand haven't clicked with new combinations

Updated: October 14, 2013, 9:49 PM ET
By Joe McDonald | ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- When Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic scored with 1:20 remaining in regulation Monday afternoon to cut the team's deficit to the Detroit Red Wings to one goal, there was a sense that maybe another Boston team could pull off a dramatic comeback.

But unlike the New England Patriots and Boston Red Sox, the Bruins fell short as the Red Wings posted a 3-2 victory at TD Garden.

Prior to the game, there was a definite buzz around the rink.

Bruins players were talking about how the Patriots and Red Sox staged thrilling comeback wins on Sunday, and how the magic could rub off. In fact, twice during Monday's game when the Bruins trailed, the center ice video board showed Patriots and Red Sox highlights.

[+] EnlargeJarome Iginla
Brian Babineau/Getty ImagesJarome Iginla had a team-high five shots against Detroit, but still hasn't scored with the Bruins.
In the past, the Bruins have shown their ability to mount a comeback, but it wasn't meant to be on Monday.

Boston uncharacteristically had some defensive breakdowns and the Red Wings capitalized. Offensively, the Bruins did not generate enough quality chances.

Overall, the Bruins still are trying to get used to their new-look roster, which is understandable given the team has played only five games.

"You would like to be there right off the bat," Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask said. "There are no excuses for us not to be on top of our game because everybody knows each other and we know our system. Then again, it's a long season and there will be ups and downs. We've just got to stick with our game plan, work hard every night, bring the effort, play with emotion and that's when we're at our best."

The talent and offensive ability are there. It just seems dormant at this point.

"We're really struggling with our finish lately," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "It looks like we're feeling the pressure of scoring goals and they're not coming easy."

After Boston combined for seven goals in the first two games of the season against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Red Wings, the lack of scoring has been an area of concern the past three games.

"Our goal-scoring confidence is not where we'd like it to be right now, but you've got to work through those things," Julien said.

Sluggish offensive performances usually creep into a team's game during the long and arduous 82-game season, and the highly potent Bruins offense is not exempt from those lulls. Julien believes the current lack of offense is due to players pressing too much in the early part of the season.

Overall, the Bruins recorded 30 shots and they created puck possession in the offensive zone, but the lack of finish, combined with defensive breakdowns in their end, allowed the Red Wings to post the victory.

The biggest surprise has been the lack of goals from top-line forward Jarome Iginla. He has yet to score, but Boston's top line of Lucic, David Krejci and Iginla has been creating plenty of chances.

"He can shoot the puck a lot better than we've seen him," Julien said of Iginla. "Whether that's pressing, or whether that's circumstances, I don't know. He's been around the league long enough and he's going to find his way and he's going to score some goals for us. I see a little hesitation in shooting, and when a player has confidence their release is a little quicker too."

Iginla finished with a team-high five shots against the Red Wings and there were a few more opportunities that sailed wide.

"It's probably being too anxious," Iginla said. "You want to get that goal for the team and just get one and get feeling it. At times, you squeeze a little too hard. I'm not in a groove where you kind of want to will it in the net as opposed to let it happen."

Lucic's goal in the waning minutes of the third period was the 100th of his career. He has three goals and two assists for five points, while Krejci has no goals and four assists this season.

"Krej and Looch have been playing great, working hard and I'm trying to work hard with them," Iginla said. "I've had really good chances for a number of games. Whenever you win, you never feel as bad, you just shrug it off and say 'next time.' But when you lose by a goal, it always feels a lot worse when you know one of those could have made a difference. I've been here before and I'll work through it."

The other Boston newcomer, Loui Eriksson, has scored a goal in each of the past two games, but the Bruins' second line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Eriksson has been split up for the time being. Julien made the switch to start the third period on Saturday at Columbus, moving Marchand to the third line and rookie Reilly Smith to the second unit.

"Sometimes it does take a little longer to get used to a guy than others, but Loui's fitting in very well right now and he's playing good with a couple of goals," Marchand said. "We've got to keep it going."

Prior to the game, Julien indicated that Marchand needs to find his game, and it was evident he had more jump on Monday with Chris Kelly and Jordan Caron. Julien made the change to take the pressure off Marchand in hopes it would spark his offense.

"I was pushing hard and maybe trying to do too much," Marchand said. "With Kells and [Caron] they're both hardworking guys and they keep it simple. It's more just getting back to basics and getting back to my roots."

The Bruins are 3-2-0 in the first five games of the season. Despite the short summer due to a trip to the Stanley Cup finals, Boston isn't playing its best hockey in the early going, but the Bruins aren't playing bad, either.

"Not awful. Not great, but not bad," Rask said. "Every game there's been some really good things and some letdowns. Today, the first period wasn't bad then the second one was kind of flat and there wasn't too much emotion involved. That's not how we can play, that's not when we're at our best."

Once the goal scorers find their scoring touch, all will be well again in Boston. It may take a few more games for that to happen, but once it does the Bruins will be playing as expected.

"We know when the confidence comes back, you're going to see us score some goals because we've got some guys who can score goals on this team," Julien said.

For now, it remains a work in progress for the Bruins.

Joe McDonald

Reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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