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Do-it-yourself project for Bruins starts tonight

By Nancy Marrapese-Burrell
Globe Staff / November 1, 2011

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WILMINGTON - The Bruins bid farewell to October with two words: good riddance. The 2011-12 campaign so far has not been one to cherish as the team begins November with a record of 3-7 entering tonight’s game against the red-hot Senators at TD Garden.

Yesterday the team went through a spirited workout at Ristuccia Arena, one day after a video review session designed to point out the areas most in need of improvement.

Will they be able to turn their fortunes around? Now that it is November, it’s not that early anymore.

“There have been spurts in our game where we’ve been really good,’’ said forward Milan Lucic. “We just need to find the consistency and put it into a 60-minute effort. You look at the games that we’ve lost, you take away the empty nets and they’re one-goal games so we’ve been in them all. But in saying that, saying it’s going to come is not good enough. We have to go out there and make it happen. And that’s the only way we’re going to get out of this.’’

The Senators have won six in a row and the Bruins have dropped three straight. In Saturday night’s game at Montreal, it was evident that Boston was a frustrated group with Exhibit A Andrew Ference’s retaliatory penalty against the Habs’ P.K. Subban.

“There’s always going to be frustration when things don’t go your way,’’ said Lucic. “It’s almost like a reverse effect, like you’re in quicksand. When you’re trying too hard, it tends to go the other way on you. For ourselves as a team, we need to focus on what we do best and simplify our game more than anything. I think that’s going to help get out of being frustrated and get ourselves feeling good about our game and our team game mostly. Then, we can get on a roll and hopefully create some momentum and put some wins together.’’

When teams go through bad patches, players will try anything to change it up but Lucic said that can make the situation even worse.

“It’s almost like we’re trying to do too much,’’ he said. “I think that’s what is causing us to be frustrated because we’re trying so hard.’’

If there’s a message Lucic and his teammates want to convey, it’s that they aren’t a complacent bunch. They hate what is happening and they’re pulling out all the stops to try to remedy the situation.

“With us getting emotional and obviously, there have been times where we’ve taken penalties at wrong moments,’’ said Lucic. “It goes to show that we have to be the bigger man in situations like that.

“We all saw what happened with Ference’s penalty on Subban. It was a little tap but we have to suck it up and be the bigger man in cases like that so we don’t put our team down a man. The emotion that we’re showing, I think it shows that we care and that we’re trying to do the right thing.

“There’s a reason why we’re getting mad, it’s because we’re trying so hard and we want to do so well and it’s not going our way. Maybe that’s why we’re showing that emotion. We’re a team who when we’re in control of that emotion and use it the right way, that’s when we’re at the top of our game.’’

Throughout October, particularly on the heels of a Stanley Cup championship, the level of urgency wasn’t as immediate as it should’ve been. Now that the first month of the season has passed, the sense of urgency has to be every night and for the rest of the year.

“We’ve got to figure it out quick,’’ said Lucic. “I know it’s only 10 games, but how many teams that had starts like this haven’t been able to recover? You look at New Jersey last year, who was probably the best team [from January on] and they weren’t able to recover. We have to do everything we can to get out of this as quick as possible. There shouldn’t be any excuses at this point of the season.’’

For coach Claude Julien, the slump has translated into many sleepless nights, a boatload of meetings, and consultations with pretty much everyone associated with the hockey operations.

“It’s really about our team finding its way,’’ said Julien. “We’re struggling right now as a team and that’s the biggest issue we’re trying to fix.’’

Julien said since habits are formed during practice, it was important to reestablish the work ethic and execution necessary for winning.

“It was a good, hard-working practice,’’ said the coach. “We touched on some of the things we want to get better at. Now it’s important to put it into playing. [Tonight] is our opportunity to get better and give ourselves a chance to win some games by doing the right things.’’

It’s baby steps for now.

“The big picture can be scary,’’ said Julien. “Right now, we should be looking at the small picture, which is one game at a time. Once you get yourself back on track, usually the rest of it takes care of itself. Certainly we’re focused on [tonight] and not Saturday.’’

A victory over Ottawa would at least take some of the pressure off.

“It’s a challenging time right now,’’ said Julien. “Basically, every team in the league is going to go through a rough patch at some point this year and ours is right now, unfortunately. There are a lot of things you keep trying to figure out why. Everybody looks for solutions.

“Right now, if we had the answer, it would’ve been fixed, so that’s why you keep trying to find those answers.’’

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at

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