February 8th, 2014 by

Bruins head into Olympic break red-hot

Bruins head into Olympic break red-hot

With wins in seven of their last 10, and points in nine of those 10, it’s safe to say the Bruins are heading into the Olympic break with a ton of momentum.

Saturday afternoon the Bruins hosted the Ottawa Senators in their last game before the league shuts down for two and a half weeks for the Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

The Bruins came out buzzing and dominated the Senators from start to finish, defeating the Sens’ 7-2.

After a tough loss to the Blues on Thursday, this was exactly how the Bruins wanted to enter the Olympic break.

“I think that everyone knows that the Olympics were coming up here and we had to have a really good stretch here” said Loui Eriksson who chipped in with two assists on Saturday. “The last 10 games or so here we’ve had a really good stretch and we’ve been winning”

For the second straight game the Bruins were without Captain Zdeno Chara who headed to Sochi a bit early so he could carry the Slovakian flag during the opening ceremonies. But if you watched the game at all, you hardly noticed Chara wasn’t there.

“Yeah it is something that we also mentioned before the St. Louis [Blues] game – that we had two games without our leader and we all had to step up and do the job” said Patrice Bergeron.

“I think we’ve all done that and that speaks a lot about our team and the way that we handle adversity.”

Saturday’s six goal outing was the Bruins fourth in their last ten games as their offensive depth continues to shine.

In each of those six games it’s been someone different paving the way for the Bruins. Against the Senators, it was Bergeron as the Bruins lone Canadian Olympic forward scored twice and added an assist.

“I’ve seen his game offensively progress” said head coach Claude Julien.

“ A lot of it has to do with him, but also his linemates have gotten better along that way. To me, he’s always been that guy that’s that perfect fit. He’s as reliable defensively as he is offensively. He’s going to give you a fair amount of production and a fair amount of points, yet he’s going to give you that same kind of, I guess, comfort feeling in your end of the ice as well. Those guys are hard to find and when you have them, like I said, you try to hold onto them.”

As good as the offense has been of late, the goaltending has been just as crucial. We all know what to expect from Tuukka Rask when he is between the pipes, but the play of Chad Johnson in the last month cannot go unnoticed.

Johnson notched his sixth straight win Saturday, stopping 26 shots for his 12th win of the season. Johnson has allowed just 11 goals in those six starts. Johnson did allow a goal in relief of Rask in the Bruins loss to the Montreal Canadiens on January 30.

For Johnson, the win was the perfect way to send him off to his vacation.

“It makes it a lot better, yeah” said Johnson. It makes two weeks of enjoying the sun a lot better. I think everybody wants to finish on a good note, so it was nice to get the win.”

With several guys heading to Russia for the Olympics, and many others ditching Boston for vacation in warmer climates, the Bruins easily could have looked past today and focused on what lies ahead in the next two weeks. Instead, the Bruins came out extremely focused and earned themselves an impressive victory.

“Yeah, I think we wanted to finish on a good note and think everyone knew that we wanted to finish on a good note” added Johnson. “The guys from the start of the game right to the finish were dialed in so it was good to see.”

We won’t see the Bruins in game action again until February 26 when they travel to Buffalo to take on the Sabres in their first game back from the Olympic break. The main focus in that game, and the coming games after that will be picking up where they left off two and half weeks prior.

Because of the compressed scheduled followed by the extended break, you should plan on seeing some interesting hockey as the regular season winds down and the playoffs begin.

“I know that the game of hockey will benefit from it a lot upon everybody’s return. Every team, you’re going to see what two weeks can do to an athlete who’s been going hard for these last few months with the compressed schedule” added Julien.

“Even though there’s some people going to the Olympics, it’ll make for some pretty interesting hockey from here on in. I think the whole game of hockey and the NHL will benefit from this whole bit of a break here. Our guys can certainly go in and get that rest. They’ve earned it in my mind, and I know the group we have here, they’ll be ready to come back and get back to action here. I’m sure they’re going to be in great shape when it’s time to start again.”

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