They’re practicing with a specific goal in mind
WILMINGTON - Yesterday morning at Ristuccia Arena, one day after 47 shots resulted in only two pucks finding their way behind Montreal’s Jaroslav Halak, the coaching staff continued their endless work of building their shooters’ confidence.
Before practice, the Bruins ran through their four-on-three power play, which failed to score in overtime Thursday night when Roman Hamrlik was sent off for tripping.
Then to close practice, the Bruins worked on a net-front drill with foam blocks at each post and fanned out in the shape of a V, helping to keep the pucks corralled in the crease. First, a defenseman would blast a puck on goal while two forwards stacked up in front, serving as screens in the high and low slot, and the third attacker hunted for the rebound.
The message: Turn those around-the-net opportunities into goals instead of saves for opposing goalies.
“I think we’re there,’’ Michael Ryder said. “We’re all around the net. We just have to be a little stronger and bear down a little more when we do get the chances. That’s why we’re getting more shots. We’re around the net more. We’re getting the puck to the net. We knew we had to try and create more, and we’re definitely doing that. We just haven’t been able to find the back of the net. But we can’t get frustrated. We just have to stick with it.’’
After the last two setbacks in which the Bruins have seen only three goals come from 89 combined shots on Halak and Washington’s Jose Theodore, the feeling around the team has gone from frustration to bewilderment - the Bruins allowed the Capitals to score three unanswered third-period goals, then let in two goals in 39 seconds two nights later. Still, players and coaches have been satisfied with the effort and execution recently.
“We feel, in our room anyway, whether it’s the players, coaching staff, or management, that it’s just a matter of time before it turns around,’’ coach Claude Julien said. “You can’t keep playing that way night in and night out and keep getting very little results. There were times last year where I thought our team didn’t play very well and didn’t deserve to win, and we’d come out with wins. Sometimes it goes the other way around. Right now, we deserve to win. But we’re not getting them.’’
Dennis Wideman started the breakout from behind the Boston net, dishing the puck to Ryder an instant before Marc-Andre Bergeron threw a heavy hit. In turn, Ryder chipped a pass off the wall around Maxim Lapierre to Krejci, who had time and space to carry the puck up the ice.
“I like when we have a good breakout,’’ said Krejci. “Then we can have an odd-man rush, two-on-one, three-on-two. That starts with the breakout. That’s what we’ve got to focus on.’’
Krejci attacked the sagging Montreal defensemen, who didn’t have a tight gap with their forwards because of the quick breakout. Then, when Krejci ran out of room, he did what the coaches have been preaching: fling the puck at the net.
“Mike made a great play,’’ Julien said. “That play started in our end. He made a great chip with their player pinching on him. He was poised and made a good pass. David had the room in the neutral zone to skate it in. He did what we often say. When you run out of space and you don’t have a play, throw it at the net. It hit the goalie’s pad and came right out to Blake.’’
Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.