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Chiarelli preaches patience

Bruins' early-season funk not surprising

PETER CHIARELLI “This is new to us’’ PETER CHIARELLI “This is new to us’’
By Nancy Marrapese-Burrell
Globe Staff / October 26, 2011

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Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli never expected his team to pick up where it left off.

The run to the 2011 Stanley Cup was grueling, and the offseason short. The summer was spent, understandably, celebrating the city’s first NHL title in 39 years.

Once the players got back to the rink, the front office expected them to need some time to get back to form.

The Bruins head into tomorrow night’s game at TD Garden against the Canadiens - the first of four straight Northeast Division contests - with a 3-5 record and are tied for 11th in the Eastern Conference. They’ve scored as many goals as they’ve allowed - 19 - but have been held to two or fewer goals in five of eight games.

But Chiarelli isn’t displeased with what he has seen.

“This is a first-time thing for a lot of guys, myself included,’’ Chiarelli said yesterday, with the rest of the team enjoying a day off. “I haven’t minded our level of compete; I think it can be better.

“To me, the common denominator in all this is two things. We’ve had more offensive chances and better quality chances in this first part than we did last year, and we’re not scoring. So that, to me, is a foundation of getting things back, too. When you’re scoring early, you set the tone.

“The second thing is just getting the proper mind frame again. I don’t know how to do that. I think it may be more of a natural process and we’re working on it. This is new to us and I don’t want to overreact. Unfortunately we have to do it game by game for now.’’

Championship hangover is far from unique. Chiarelli said it’s one of those afflictions they’ll have to battle through.

“I’ve talked to GMs, coaches, and players who have been through this,’’ he said. “These guys have different stories but they all say there is something that happens that you can’t avoid.

“ ‘Malaise’ is too strong a word, but it’s just a bit of a cloud right now. One team said it was 20 games before it was back to normal. There’s no easy answer. We’ve just got to deal with it.’’

Chiarelli said the Bruins will try different approaches until one works.

“We’ve done a few things to try to spark the guys,’’ he said. “For example, the coaching staff worked a lot on the offensive chances and scoring and finishing. The guys were actually having fun that practice.

“Our coaching staff is a creative staff, and I know Claude [Julien] is meeting this head-on. Obviously, it’s the results that you look at, but I look at other things internally and at practice and behind the scenes. At some point, if I don’t like the way things are going, I’ll have to do something.’’

Chiarelli said he expected Tuukka Rask to play more early on, but Rask has played just two games, Tim Thomas the other six. Chiarelli still thinks Rask will be called on more often.

“In fairness to Tuukka, he probably should have gotten another start here or there,’’ said Chiarelli. “But when you see Tim and how he’s playing, you want him also to recapture the stuff he had from last year.

“I’d have to defer that one to Claude. We’ve had discussions on the goaltender situation. I think you’ll see in the end it will go into line with who we originally put out there [as a game plan].’’

Chiarelli is hoping his team can get back on track and climb the division standings these next four games.

“It certainly is an opportunity to get back to where we want to be,’’ he said. “I’m always looking at these things closely. From the act-and-respond category, I give the team a little more slack when we’re winning and I see stuff I don’t like. The margin is smaller now.

“We’ve set goals for ourselves and where we believe the team should be at certain points and you look at this juncture in the schedule and you hope that we can take advantage of it.

“It’s unfortunate that we’re going through this with the bulk of our games at home. Our fans deserve better at this point. But having said that, I know our guys are finding their way through this funk and it’s my job to keep a close eye on it.’’

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at

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