WILMINGTON, Mass. — The Bruins will get their first look at John Tavares — the top pick in the 2009 NHL draft — when they face off against the Islanders on Saturday night, but that's the last thing on the the Bruins' minds after Thursday’s 6-1 loss to the Ducks.
“Unfortunately, my preoccupation is certainly not him right now,” head coach Claude Julien said Friday, after putting his squad through a lengthy, hard practice.
The day after the debacle, Julien let his players know just how unhappy he was with them by having them do sprints and drills. Rather than change up his lines or defensive pairings a bit, the reigning Jack Adams Award winner decided a good old-fashioned kick in the butt and lungs might get them back on track.
“We need to grab their attention right now,” Julien said. “We’re looking for commitment. We’re looking for effort, attitude, and I think all of those things put together are what we need to have, to be the team that we should be.”
A negative trend has surfaced in both of Boston losses this season (to Anaheim, and 4-1 to Washington in the opener). The Bruins have started off well, but then crumbled when the bounces started to go the other way. Julien knows his team is capable of being more resilient and disciplined.
“Both games, we started off well,” the coach pointed out. “The first 10 minutes against Washington, the first period against Anaheim [Thursday] night. The minute we have a little bit of adversity, we fall behind instead of just sticking with the game plan. And all of a sudden, you start to change, guys start to cheat, guys are looking to tie the game the next shift without doing the right things.”
Another troubling sign from the two losses has been the goals allowed. The Bruins were lit up for 11 goals combined against Washington and Anaheim.
“We are a team that last year, was the stingiest as far as goals against, and we’ve given up 11 in those two games,” he said. “That shows you something about our hockey club right now. That commitment is just not there.”
The players seemed to get the message Friday and know what needs to be done.
“It’s a bit of a message, but in the same sense, we don’t want to end up doing that all year,” center Marc Savard said. “We just have to stay focused, and that was a bit of it here [Friday]. We needed to stay going hard all practice just like we should be going hard all game.”
Forward Blake Wheeler concurred and knows that actions speak louder than words.
“We’ve been saying all the right things but not doing them, and it’s about time we do,” Wheeler said. “We know how good we can be, and that’s why this is so frustrating and not like us. We need to skate as hard as we do in practice during games and play with more desire.”
Julien hasn't excluded goalie Tim Thomas from blame for the high amount of goals the Bruins have allowed in their two losses, and on Friday, he acknowledged that Tuukka Rask may get his first start of the season Saturday against the Islanders or Monday against the Avalanche.
“There’s always a possibility [of starting Rask],” Julien said. “But those kinds of things are always taken care of on a daily basis. We’re a day-to-day hockey club, and I don’t predict things down the road. But, yeah, for no other reason than down the road, we’re going to need him.
“Last year, he came up and played well. The year before, even with the lack of experience he had, he still showed us some good things. I’m confident in him. I think he’s grown so much that if he needs to go in and play — I can’t see any reason why the coaching staff or the players themselves wouldn’t have confidence in Tuukka.”
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