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Julien, Bruins know the score

Forwards must produce soon

CLAUDE JULIEN Tries new lines CLAUDE JULIEN Tries new lines
Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Barbara Matson
Globe Staff / March 22, 2008

WILMINGTON - Claude Julien's eyes have glazed over.

How many times, how many ways, can a coach tell his players they must go to the net and bear down to score goals?

One day after the Bruins lost to the Canadiens for the seventh straight time this season, Julien included a lot of scoring/shooting drills during the team's practice at Ristuccia Arena, and mixed up the forward lines again.

"We've got to find ways to score goals," Julien said. "There's a lot of guys that have that responsibility in that room. This is an NHL hockey team and everybody is capable of scoring.

"Right now, our [defensemen] are scoring goals for us, so there's some guys up front that have to find the bottom of that net.

"The quicker you can get rid of your excuses, the better it's going to be, because then you'll look at finding solutions."

Less than a month ago, the Bruins seemed a sure bet to make the playoffs. But since beating Atlanta March 1, they are 2-5-1-2 and in danger of missing out on the postseason.

"It's ours to lose," said Julien. "We're in right now.

"We have to find ways to win hockey games."

Tonight in Montreal, the Bruins have their last chance to avoid a season sweep by the Canadiens.

The Bruins seem to be working hard. They outshot the Canadiens, 15-6, in the first period at TD Banknorth Garden Thursday and came up empty en route to a 4-2 loss. Julien has avoiding pointing fingers, but perhaps that's because he doesn't have enough fingers.

Marc Savard is pointless in four games and has 4 points in the last 10; Glen Murray is pointless in the last 10, and has 1 point in 13 games; Phil Kessel has 2 points in the last 10; David Krejci is pointless in six games and has 3 points in the last 10; Milan Lucic has 1 point in the last 10; Glen Metropolit has 1 point in the last 10 games and hasn't scored in 21; and P.J. Axelsson has three assists in the last 10 games. A step ahead are Chuck Kobasew, who has 5 points in the last 10 games (all in the last five), and Marco Sturm, who has two goals and two assists in the last 10.

"They just need to score," Julien said. "To do that they need to work hard, and if they are working hard, they need to work harder. The bottom line is we've got to work through it and find a way to win a hockey game."

Thursday's goals came from defensemen Mark Stuart and Dennis Wideman, and the power play went 0 for 4. The rearranged forward lines at practice were Savard, Sturm, and Kobasew; Krejci, Murray, and Lucic; Metropolit, Kessel, and Axelsson. The fourth line included Jeremy Reich, Shawn Thornton, and Vladimir Sobotka, with Peter Schaefer and Petteri Nokelainen as extras. Patrice Bergeron, out since suffering a concussion Oct. 27, practiced, wearing a red, noncontact jersey, and did not give or take hits.

"That's just keeping everybody on their toes," said Julien, who shrugged when asked if those units would stick for the game. The No. 1 power-play unit (Savard, Sturm, Murray, Wideman, and Zdeno Chara) spent extra time working on getting shots on net.

"We were making plays [Thursday] but we were not able to get to the rebounds," said Savard. "It's simple things. When you're hot, you pick seams. When you're not going well, you try to get shots back at the point and then get rebound shots."

"We were trying to work some kinks out," Murray said. "You want to get shots but you don't want to overtry things you're not used to doing."

The Bruins have eight regular-season games left.

"It's not about doing more," said Julien, "it's about doing better. That's what we've talked about all year; if we try and do too much, it gets worse. You've just got to do better. It's as simple as that."

Andrew Alberts (post-concussion symptoms) missed practice because of a conflicting doctor's appointment. He was expected to make the trip to Montreal if he finished with the doctor in time, but will not play . . . After practice, Bergeron remained on the ice and worked on his shooting.

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