Too much time in box one of Bruins' early issues

October, 15, 2009

A lackluster 2-3-0 start has Bruins fans grumbling in Boston.

This is a town that has seen its Red Sox knocked out by the Los Angeles Angels in the AL Divisional Series and Patriots lose a heartbreaker in Denver in what has been a somewhat disappointing 3-2-0 season so far.

So to see the Cup-contending Bruins drop three of five at home to start the season has not set well with the passionate sports fans in Beantown.

"Boston is a city that's used to championship teams," Bruins coach Claude Julien told "When the expectations are high, they expect you to play well and play well out of the gate. It hasn't been the case for us; we've struggled out of the gate here. But we're going to be fine. We'll work out of this situation."

It's not like they're 0-5-0, but the way they are playing has been cause for concern. There seems to be a lack of urgency in their play. Bruins hockey writers Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe and Stephen Harris of the Boston Herald had different takes on it in Wednesday's papers.

The bottom line? That 116-point mojo from last season just isn't there right now.

"The puzzle hasn't been put together; we're working on doing that right now," said Julien, last season's winner of the Jack Adams Award for coach of the year.

What this team needs to remember is it was among the hardest-working clubs in the NHL last season. The Bruins put on their hard hats and went to work every night. They didn't rely on skill alone. Now, that work ethic has been fleeting.

"That is a bit of the challenge, too, recognizing that we've got to find our identity again," said Julien. "We're working on that right now. The guys are very open and understanding that is what we need to do here. I think we'll get through this and I feel confident that we will. It's not like we're denying it, we're recognizing it. What I saw from practice Wednesday is that we're doing something about it."

One troubling trend: the Bruins are averaging 17.8 penalty minutes per game, which puts them among the top 10 in the league. Last season, they were the sixth-least penalized team at 12.5 minutes per game.

"Bad penalties, it's cost us some goals and it's cost us some games," said Julien. "Discipline, composure -- all those things that were out strength last year, we need to find that again."

They also need to put the "special" back in special teams. They currently rank 25th on the power play and 24th on the penalty kill, both areas of strength last season.

"It's almost like part of the package right now," said Julien. "When your best players aren't at their best, the power play and the execution isn't at its best right now. It really is the whole package. I think when we find our game, all those things will fall into place."



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