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Friday, April 16, 2010
B's need to build on Game 1 positives

By Joe McDonald
ESPNBoston.com

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Boston Bruins have the blueprint, and they followed the layout almost perfectly against the Buffalo Sabres in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.

Now, with a one-game deficit, the Bruins need to build on that foundation and put the finishing touches on their game plan if they are to have any kind of success against the Sabres and goaltender Ryan Miller.

After a sluggish first period Thursday night, Boston produced a solid final 40 minutes only to come up short in a 2-1 loss. The Bruins were able to get plenty of shots and some traffic in front of Miller, but it wasn't enough.

"One thing was missing -- a few more goals," said Bruins coach Claude Julien after practice Friday.

On most nights with the end result being a loss, a team could focus on lost opportunities, and that's exactly what the Bruins are doing. They were able to produce a ton of shots, but couldn't capitalize, which has been a problem for them all season. It doesn't help matters when they're facing a goaltender like Miller.

Even though Boston got pucks to the net, Miller was able to see a lot of the initial shots, which means the Bruins need to get more traffic in front.

"He can stop what he can see, but he can't stop what he can't see," Julien said. "We have to do a better job. If we're hungry enough and determined enough, you win those battles."

If the Bruins can repeat their second-period performance for an entire game Saturday, they'll give themselves a better chance at beating Miller.

"We created quality chances, especially in the second period, but they didn't go in," said Zdeno Chara. "Miller had a strong game, and we can't get frustrated. We know we're facing a good quality goaltender and we just have to keep trying."

Boston's success will come from getting shots from the point and looking for tips, screens and rebounds. The Sabres did a solid job of not allowing too much traffic in front, so the Bruins need to make more sacrifices in order to capitalize on their chances.

"We have to be aggressive and try to score goals and create some offense. We have to put pressure on them," Chara said. "We can't be sitting back."

Boston's lone goal in Game 1 came on the power play when Mark Recchi knocked home a rebound from the slot. But it will be the even-strength quality chances that the Bruins will need to pump in. They showed that desire in the second period Thursday, and that will need to continue Saturday.

"That's how we have to play; that's our game," Recchi said. "When we outwork teams and get pucks deep and cycle and we create energy down there, that's our game. If we do that, we make it very tough for teams and keep teams in their zone. We did a lot of great things, and we'll build off it."

Miller finished with 38 saves and left the Bruins shaking their heads, trying to find ways to beat him. Boston knows what it needs to do; it just needs to do it.

"We're not going to get too down because we know we played well and deserved a better outcome, but we have to come back and tie this series up before we go home," said Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk.

Despite the lack of scoring, goaltending proved to be a big factor for the Bruins, as rookie netminder Tuukka Rask played extremely well. He made 30 saves in his playoff debut, but Rask never saw Craig Rivet's shot that led to the eventual game-winning goal.

The Bruins can take some positives from Thursday's game, but the end result wasn't good enough.

"Whether you lose 10-1 or 2-1, it's a loss," Julien said. "That's the way we look at it. Next game, we've just got to focus on hopefully winning that one. We played hard enough and we played well enough, but in the game of hockey only one team will come out with a win, and they did. Hopefully we can do the job next game."

Joe McDonald covers the Bruins and Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.