BOSTON - Between the Bruins, Patriots, Celtics and Red Sox, Boston is Championship City, so the hockey team’s brain trust had plenty of places to go for advice on how to best avoid a Stanley Cup hangover.
And they did.
Unfortunately, they were told there’s no getting around it.
“We did our homework,” said head coach Claude Julien. “And the one thing everybody seemed to tell us is that it seemed unavoidable.
“We knew we were going to have some struggles at some point. You never know when, but we knew we would probably be faced with it at some point. We tried to avoid it, but it was there.”
The Bruins spent most of October in dead last place in the East, losing seven of their first 10.
Three straight wins, in which they scored 18 goals, was more along the lines of what makes the Bruins the Bruins.
“We’re just playing more to our identity,” said Julien. “At the beginning of the year it was like we maybe thought we were better than we were and we got away from the things that we’re giving us success.”
Captain Zdeno Chara says there is still a long way to go yet.
“We’re just now climbing out of the hole,” he said. “It’s not like we are totally satisfied with our game. We’re still at the bottom, so we can’t be really thinking about how we turned the corner and it’s all good now.”
STEPPING IT UP
Tyler Seguin’s numbers and responsibilities are night and day from last year to this, but Julien says the second overall pick hasn’t really changed much as a player.
“I don’t think he was a bad player a year ago, he was just one of those guys who came into a team that had a lot of experience,” said the Bruins coach. “For him it was adapting and learning with us, but never was his skill level ever in doubt. He came back this year with a lot of confidence, a stronger player. The playoffs, which he took a lot of experience from, paid dividends. He came back this year with a lot of confidence. This year he’s capable of playing some big minutes for us.”
Everyone in hockey cringed Thursday when the Philadelphia Flyers refused to advance the puck into Tampa’s ultra-passive trap and the Lightning refused to forecheck, resulting in two teams staring at each other across the ice for minutes at a time.
A day later, coaches in Boston and Edmonton both tried defending a game that received a terrible black eye.
“I don’t think anybody liked what happened,” said Julien. “To me it certainly wasn’t fun to watch, but do you blame the team that had the puck or do you blame the team that was defending? I don’t have an answer. Instead of blaming, I think we have to find solutions. What can we do about it?”
Winning, regardless of what it looks like or how many fans it drives away, is still the goal of every coach, so nobody’s going to carve Tampa’s Guy Boucher for employing such a dreadfully-boring system.
“At the end of the day it’s about results,” said Tom Renney. “But the bottom line is Guy is asked to coach and win hockey games and he’s doing that. Until we’re told otherwise, do what you have to do to win.”
Five years in the minors and 24-straight games in the press box when you finally do make it to the NHL is a long time to wait, but when the payoff is a Stanley Cup ring, it’s worth it.
“Sitting 24 games in a row wasn’t too good,” said Edmonton born defenceman Johnny Boychuk, who scored Boston’s first goal on Thursday. “But as soon as I got in the lineup I made the best of it and didn’t look back from here. And I was fortunate enough to win a Stanley Cup.”
WELCOME BACK DOWN
The Oilers plucked Taylor Chorney off waivers Thursday for his second tour of duty in the organization. St. Louis grabbed Chorney when the Oilers sent him down earlier this month so Edmonton grabbed him back the first chance they got. He will be assigned to Oklahoma City.
With Cam Barker returning last Tuesday in Montreal and Andy Sutton returning from suspension Friday in Detroit the Oilers sent D Colten Teubert back to Oklahoma City ... Magnus Paajarvi was a healthy scratch for the second night in a row.