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Sullivan calling for fewer penalties

WILMINGTON -- Bruins coach Mike Sullivan was pleased that his team was able to pick up back-to-back victories this week on its mini two-game road trip to Nashville and Buffalo, especially since points are at a premium as the regular season heads into the homestretch.

However, one glaring mark on the scoresheet, make that 14 marks, in those two games left a sour taste in Sullivan's mouth.

The Bruins committed a combined 14 penalties against the Predators and Sabres, including three five-on-three disadvantages against Buffalo.

The first-year coach understands the Bruins were fortunate to come away with 4 points. He also knows that in order for the Bruins to keep picking up points and improving their position in the Eastern Conference standings, they cannot afford to continue sending players to the penalty box at such an alarming rate.

"Without a doubt our team has to be more disciplined," said Sullivan, after a brief practice yesterday at the Ristuccia Center. "We talk about it every day but it has to happen. We can't continue to take penalties. You can't have a differential in special teams as we've had and expect to win. It's not going to happen."

The Bruins, who had only a combined three power plays against Nashville and Buffalo, committed two of their six penalties in the final six minutes of the third period against the Predators. The second infraction hurt the most as Nashville, with Bruins defenseman Jiri Slegr sitting in the box after a holding-the-stick call, tallied the equalizer, before Joe Thornton came to the rescue with a late winning goal.

Against the Sabres, a team struggling to make the playoffs, the Bruins committed eight penalties but, because of strong penalty killing and some timely saves by Felix Potvin, surrendered just one power-play goal.

Sullivan can't understand the discrepancy in penalty calls. He thinks that because the Bruins have been successful in controlling the puck, more calls should go their way. "I think we're to blame to a certain extent because we put ourselves in a position to take penalties," he said. "But I'm also perplexed by the fact that I think the nature of the team that we have, we have some players and lines or combinations of players that tend to control the puck.

"I'm having trouble understanding how we have the least amount of opportunities in the league on the power play when that occurs. It would seem to me that if we have the puck, teams would have to extend themselves to defend, and usually that's when penalties occur."

As of yesterday, the Bruins had at least a one-man advantage 292 times, 17th most in the league.

. . .
Former Bruin Marty McSorley told the Vancouver Province that Todd Bertuzzi had no harmful intentions against Steve Moore.

Bertuzzi, a 245-pound power forward for the Canucks, blindsided Moore with a punch to the side of the head in the Avalanche's 9-2 blowout Monday, an attack so severe Moore broke his neck. Moore will not play again this season. Neither will Bertuzzi, who was suspended Thursday by the NHL through the postseason.

"I'm 100 percent sure Todd had zero intention of doing what has actually happened. He wanted to fight the guy, have him turn and face him so he could beat him up like every other hockey fight," said McSorley, who is the coach of the Springfield Falcons of the AHL.

McSorley was suspended 23 games in 2000 for slashing Vancouver's Donald Brashear in the head. The fallout was precipitous; McSorley, then a Bruin, never played another game in the NHL. . . .
Sergei Samsonov (rib injury) was one of the last players to leave the ice yesterday. "He's skating well," Sullivan said. "Each day he feels a little bit better. When he feels comfortable that he's ready to play, he'll play." . . . Patrice Bergeron (shoulder) had been skating earlier in the week but a bout of the flu kept him off the ice yesterday.

Material from and the Associated Press was used in this report.

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