An Important Two Days of Practice
Wednesday, 02.6.2008 / 10:54 AM ET / Bish's Blog
By John Bishop - BostonBruins.com
Well, the Diet Coke is finally kicking in and the unfortunate circumstances of the Bruins loss to the Buffalo Sabres is hitting home.
Boston had a chance to take seventh place for themselves, but the loss to the Sabres kept them in eighth, one point behind the New York Rangers and three points in front of Atlanta for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Games-in-hand wise, Boston has only played 53 games while the Rangers and Thrashers have played 56. So that might be the best news of the day.
But, it's obvious that the club and their coach are certain that the Boston Bruins can play better than they performed on Tuesday. As you might remember, I said that pregame skate on Tuesday was rather humdrum. Judging from Coach Julien's comments last night, today's practice will be anything but boring and scoring will be the focus.
"That’s their responsibility and that starts in practice," said Julien. "You need to bear down in practice if you want to be able to get those good habits going.
"That’s something, I can’t put them in for them, but I can certainly put some emphasis on trying to bear down and we have.
"Like we often say, that responsibility belongs to the players and they have to assume that responsibility, to bear down and make those opportunities count," he said.
And Coach Julien thought his club was outworked in between those opportunities.
"I think the bottom line is, again what I talked about, they were more desperate than we were," said Coach. "Their penalty kill just totally outworked our power play [and] by outworking our power play, we couldn’t generate anything. The entries, we dumped it in, they were winning those battles, and they were shooting it back down the ice.
"It’s pretty simple, sometimes the power play [works] only if you are willing to out work the penalty kill. Again, they were a lot more determined tonight on their PK than we were on our power play."
What's more, the players were equally critical of themselves.
"We had a few chances in there early and we didn’t bury them," said Glen Metropolit, who scored the B's second goal. "You have to bury them against teams like this. They took advantage of their chances and scored. We wanted to play this one just as we did the Rangers series [and] we have to find a way to win up in Buffalo."
"You have to show up at practice, go to work, make sure you bear down on your chances at practice, and hopefully it translates into the games," said Shawn Thornton.
And Dennis Wideman clearly took the loss to heart.
"It is quite frustrating," he said. "We had a few scoring chances. I was terrible out there. I could have stopped 2 or 3 of the goals. That is unacceptable this time of year.
"We just need to bear down. We had empty nets. We have to hit the net. I had two chances off the draw there [and] just had a bad night."
The best thing about that bad night -- it didn't really hurt the club permanently and there are two practices before Friday's road game in Buffalo.
"The one thing that we have to do better is pay the price," said Coach Julien after practice. "And if we want to be a harder team to play against those things have to happen.
"It was just a matter of they wanted it more than we did. And when we've been in that position [of being out of the top eight] we have done those things, too.
"That's what we were talking about is having success when you do those things. We've gone to the net. We've created some screens, some tip ins.
"Now I guess the question is why wouldn't you want to do it all the time," he said,"[especially] if it is going to give you success.
"And we have to push our players to buy into that concept."
But maybe not too hard. After the on-ice session, many of the players were saying the same thing as their coach.
"We worked a lot at going to the net and finishing plays off[today]," said P.J. Axelsson. "We had some chances yesterday that we didn't bear down.
"So that was the main focus, today. Going to the net.
"We played hard, but chances in this league are hard to come by -- so when you get them you have to bear down," he said.
Sitting nearby, Glen Metropolit echoed the sentiment.
"I think we are playing pretty solid...but today we stressed driving the net and making a really good presence in front of the net.
"That is how playoff hockey is going to be.
"I don't know if it is the will factor, but you just have to do it," he said.
The Bruins have one more tune up tomorrow before leaving for Buffalo on Thursday afternoon.