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Going to the net.

Thursday, 03.22.2007 / 10:25 AM / News
Boston Bruins
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Going to the net.
After practice on Wednesday, Boston head coach Dave Lewis pontificated on the issues that have sideswiped his club over the last week.

Going to the net, hard, was on the tip of the Bruins bench boss’ tongue.

"We’re (playing) too much on the perimeter," said Lewis. "If you could script it, you would like to have at least one player driving as hard as he can to the net with the other players either shooting off the wing or shooting down the middle, and somebody causing some sort of distraction for the goaltender or the defenseman.

"And we didn’t have enough of that."

Lewis has been pointed in his remarks recently, with the Bruins going 4-5-1 in their last ten and having suffered defeats at the hands of longtime rivals New York and Montreal during a critical stretch of the season.

"(The front of the net) still is a hard place to get to even with the rule changes," said Lewis. "It takes courage, it takes commitment and it takes purpose.

"And we never had enough of that."

Why has that trait been lacking, coach?

"I can tell a player to go to the net," said Lewis. "He either listens or (he doesn’t) listen. Then the question is ’Why don’t you go there?’"

"Because ’I don’t want to’ or ’I’m afraid to go there’ because you are told to go there. And you have consequences after that.

"Well what are the consequences? So that’s up to us to make sure that there are consequences," he said.

From the sounds of it, those consequences might come from elsewhere, too.

Steve Conroy of the Boston Herald reports this morning that at least one new Bruin also feels that the B’s need a change of attitude.

Conroy writes:
Andrew Ference came to Boston in a February trade with Calgary. He was a part of the Flames’ 2003-04 team that went from missing the playoffs the previous year to reaching Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals.

When asked what he thought turned that club around, Ference immediately said it was the accountability that coach Darryl Sutter brought to the dressing room.

Ference feels the B’s must establish some of that accountability while the club is still jelling. And the final 10 games of the regular season could be a pivotal crossroads for the organization, no matter what happens with the fast-fading playing picture.

“We have a lot of new guys and a lot of young guys, and the culture that you create around the team and the identity that this team is going to have over the next couple of years, it’s determined in the first few months,” Ference said. “Part of the culture I’ve experienced with successful teams is one where there is emotion and there is honesty. You’re looking each other in the eye after wins and losses and not wondering if your teammate did all he could that day.

“The argument for these 10 games being a crossroads can be made because this is when true character shows…Teams with character play when they are down 7-0, when they are just on the fringe of that playoff spot. That’s when they still show up and show what they’re made of.”


Interesting thoughts. Stay tuned.

Statistically speaking…
Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette had this statistical nugget in his piece this morning:
"Fit to be tied: The folks at the Elias Sports Bureau seem to have a lot of time on their hands and, as a result, I can pass on a little trivia about the Canadiens’ 1-0 win over the Bruins Tuesday night.

The Canadiens and the Bruins have played 341 times, but when rookie Jaroslav Halak outduelled Boston’s Tim Thomas Tuesday night, it was only the second time in the rivalry the Habs posted a 1-0 win. The last time was Jan. 19, 1939, when Wilf Cude shut out the Bruins at the Forum. Frankie Brimsek was in goal for Boston that night, but failed to live up to his nickname of Mr. Zero.

The last time a Canadiens rookie posted a 1-0 shutout was on Jan. 19, 1972, when Hall of Famer Ken Dryden blanked the Toronto Maple Leafs.

And the Canadiens made history because it was the first time the team won a game 1-0 with a rookie goaltender and another rookie (Guillaume Latendresse) scoring the goal.


Wideman Warblings
Coach Lewis was also asked to talk about the gifts that Dennis Wideman brings to the Bruins.

"He’s a young guy that has really good passing skills," said Lewis. "I think he sees the plays, offensively, really well. He’s confident about his game and I think that’s probably what has helped him more than anything.

"He’s a big believer in his own abilities.

"We’re going to work with him and try and make him even better…and we think he can be better," said Lewis.

For his part, Wideman is focused on the present and has ideas about what the Bruins can do to break out of their offensive slump.

"We’ve got to get back to basics," he said. "We have to get the puck to the net and get to the net.

"If there is a shot coming from the point, first of all, we have to get it through, which we probably could do a better job of doing.

"And when we do get it through, we need a guy there to screen the goalie, so he’s not just catching it," said Dennis.

Hmmm. Sounds familiar.
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