Monday, March 26, 2012
Bruins winning rhythm is back
By James Murphy ESPNBoston.com
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Following his team's game-day skate Saturday, Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid was discussing the variety of music played on the dressing room iPod. He was asked whether there was a regular victory song played after every win.
"We had one in November and December -- 'Feel So Close' (by Calvin Harris), I think. But that was when we were winning and playing good every night," McQuaid said. "You can't really have one when you don't win a lot or play consistently."
Well, after a 3-2 victory over the Ducks at the Honda Center Sunday -- their second straight win and fourth in their last five games -- 'Feel So Close' wasn't blaring in the dressing room. However, the sense that the team is finally getting closer to where it needs to be for the playoffs was a prevailing sentiment as it prepared to head home after a 2-1-0 road trip in California.
Patrice Bergeron is congratulated by teammates after scoring a goal against the Kings at Staples Center on Saturday.
"I think we're building towards it and we're more consistent than we've been lately," McQuaid said after the game Sunday. "There's still some room for improvement but mainly what we're looking for right now is consistency. We're not too worried about winning and losing necessarily and what other teams are doing. We're just trying to be as consistent as we can from game to game and shift to shift. Usually it makes you pretty successful when you can be consistent like that."
It didn't hurt that the Bruins got a major piece of their lineup back in Rich Peverley, who returned Sunday after missing 19 games with a severe MCL sprain in his right knee. The Bruins have been battered by injuries over the last two months and are still missing goaltender Tuukka Rask (groin) and forward Nathan Horton (concussion).
But over the last five to seven games, the team has started to gel again, and with Peverley back the Bruins realize they can really start to build toward the playoffs with a solid idea of what their team can do with or without Horton and Rask.
"It's definitely been tough in that respect but that's not an excuse, just the way it was, and we probably could've done a better job of adapting," said Brad Marchand of the inconsistency and injuries that plagued the Bruins through February and early March. "But now we get (Peverley) back and possibly and hopefully (Horton) at some point and you do start to find that rhythm and familiarity again. We had some and still have one very important guy out, but as we get healthier and guys return to their normal spots or roles, I think that will make a big difference as the playoffs get closer and then start."
While it may have appeared to many outside the dressing room that fatigue and injuries had finally caught up to the Bruins and they may not be able to contend for the Stanley Cup again, that never was the thought inside the room.
One of the newest members of the team saw that right away.
"When you get key players out of your lineup it's very difficult, but I think one of the strengths of this team is we're a real team," said Brian Rolston, who was acquired at the trade deadline Feb. 27 and now has 11 points in his last six games. "It's not about individuals and that's why this place is special. I could see it as soon as I came in here and all the lines have their jobs and they do them. Now we're getting healthier and guys know their roles and it really helps, but still I think this team is so versatile and together that that's why they got through that tough stretch. These have been all hard-fought games lately, and when you win those games, that's what gives you confidence. We're playing good enough to win now and that's only going to lead to good things."
Even Peverley, who watched from above as his team played .500 hockey and at one point even relinquished the Northeast Division lead and third seed in the Eastern Conference, has sensed the momentum and consistency building again.
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"Everybody is contributing right now and we need that to win consistently," Peverley said. "The Kelly line is playing really well right now and everybody's confidence is back in terms of winning games and finishing games, and I think this is a good building block towards the last few games of the season. We just need to keep going."
McQuaid, who let it be known again Sunday that he would prefer to hear country music blaring on the dressing room iPod, credited his team's ability to stay even-keeled as a reason it was able to climb out of its funk and return to the East Coast with a renewed sense of confidence.
"Like they say, you don't get too high and you don't get too low," McQuaid said. "We try to keep things even-keeled, but obviously that's easier said than done in both losing and winning. I think mainly, like I said, it was the consistency thing because when things weren't going our way, a lot of times we were forcing plays and shooting ourselves in the foot, and there were areas we needed to improve on. Now we're focused on that and being consistent with that focus."