Offense Gets a Breather
B's end the night confident in their offense, but looking to shore up defense and their chronic slower starts.
BOSTON, MA - Carolina came out pressing, but the Bruins were the team able to convert.
And they breathed a sigh of relief in the process. The B's had scored seven in their previous four games; they scored six Monday night. An offensive slump for the B's was cured with their first six-goal game of the season, en route to a 6-2 win over the Hurricanes at TD Garden.
"As of late we haven’t scored a whole lot of goals in our games and it’s nice to be able to come in the room after the game and know that we had a good offensive game," said Brad Marchand, who scored his 15th and 16th of the season to contribute in the victory. "So we’re happy about that."
The defense wasn't exactly where the Bruins wanted it to be, though, especially to start the game, with Tuukka Rask having to turn away the first seven Carolina shots, before Rich Peverley could put the first two on Justin Peters at the other end, and place the B's on the board first nearly four minutes in.
Canes Head Coach Kirk Muller had said prior to the match-up that though his team was 1-10-1 in their last 12, they had been coming out with jump to start - and that proved true again tonight, as Carolina pinched hard, employed an aggressive forecheck and brought the pressure.
Strong starts are something the Bruins have been searching for this season from their own game.
"It’s been a few games now that we haven’t been sharp in the first period," said defenseman Dennis Seidenberg from the locker room following the win "I don’t know how many games we’ve given up the first goal and had to battle back or try to come from behind, but tonight Tuukka saved us, kept us 0-0, and we luckily scored."
The B's were happy to get solid goaltending early, earn the bounces and find more scoring touch, but those all served to help cancel out the "uncharacteristic" mistakes handling the puck in their own end.
"I often use that word of our team defensively," Coach Julien said following the game, referencing 'uncharacteristic.' "And that’s where we’ve got to be a little bit better."
"One thing we wanted was more offense, so obviously we got that tonight. I thought, in the offensive zone, we did a pretty good job. Now it’s a matter of combining both," Coach told media. "We were not at our best defensively."
"This is a team that will expose you even more with their aggressive forecheck from all five guys, sitting right on top of you. It exposed us a little bit tonight, no doubt about that. But we’ve got to get better in that area. Tuukka really played a solid game for us tonight, and probably covered a lot of the mistakes and the damage that could have been done."
"We’ve just got to manage the puck a little bit better, and make some better decisions."
Tuukka Rask had his shutout bid ended at 10:03 into the third period, to which Carolina put up two quick strikes 45 seconds apart. It would have been his second shutout in three games. He ended up with 40 saves.
"I don’t think we’re the best we can be in that area. Especially today, a couple letdowns there," Rask told the media postgame, before referring to the B's not allowing too many goals against - only six collectively in their past five games, to be exact. "Still we’ve been pretty solid defensively, that’s our bread and butter, as you know, it was good to see that offense get going tonight."
"Every team goes through phases like that. I don’t blame the guys because they’re trying and sometimes you just don’t have it. It was good to see today."
The defensive may not have been at its best, but once the puck got out of the D-zone, it was the defensemen helping the attack.
"I thought once we got into our own end and got into the offensive zone, we still did a lot of good things that the guys deserve credit for," said Coach Julien.
"Well, I think on our goals it was just basically getting pucks or coming with a lot of speed on the outside and getting pucks on the net and then having guys there to put those rebounds in," said Seidenberg, who helped the attack with a career-high three assists on the night. He had previously recorded a two-assist night on 21 occasions, before getting three helpers in one.
"And I think almost all of [the goals] were just in close range. Just good net front presence and guys converting on their chances."
With the offense breathes a sigh of relief, with nine Bruins registering at least a point in the win, heading into the final stretch of the season, the Black & Gold are still holding their breaths as they work to find a 60-minute game, something that will come from shoring up the defense and finding a quicker spark at the start.
"There’s no doubt, we need to see that urgency to get ourselves better," said Coach Julien.
"It's something that we're trying to figure out as a team; the experience we have in this room and the leadership is something that we're addressing," said Gregory Campbell, on the slower starts. "We talked about it against Montreal on Saturday - we usually play them pretty well and the game is often dictated by our starts and as you saw, we got down 1-0. We played pretty well for the rest of the game, but it's tough to climb back into games and that's going to be the story moving forward."
"That's been our concern, is playing a 60-minute effort," added Campbell.
"We have a lot of character on the team, so coming back from leads has never been an issue for us, but it's about being prepared and coming out and sticking to the game plan that we go in with."