Bruins persevering through first third of the season
BRIGHTON — Nothing ever comes easy with the Boston Bruins.
Through the first 26 games – nearly one-third of the way through the 2016-17 season – the Bruins are still trying to find consistency. Whether they’re overcoming injuries to key players or going through tough times offensively, this year’s version of the Black and Gold is being put to the test in their hopes of returning to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Amidst all the tough times, the Bruins are persevering through this part of the season. Sure, the opponents over the last two weeks aren’t as marquee as say the Capitals – who they face Wednesday night in the Nation’s Capital – Rangers, Blackhawks, Sharks or the defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins, but they’ve been taking care of business against teams beneath them in the standings like the Hurricanes, Panthers and Sabres. They’ve been getting those results with the likes of Zdeno Chara, John-Michael Liles, Frank Vatrano, David Pastrnak, David Backes, Patrice Bergeron, Tuukka Rask and now Matt Beleskey (out six weeks with a knee injury) missing time at some point of the year due to injury.
It may not earn them style points, but the results are effective as the Bruins go into DC against Braden Holtby and the rest of the Caps with a 4-0-1 mark in their last five games.
“It’s building us as a group,” said Backes, who tipped in a shot from Ryan Spooner for his seventh of the season against the Panthers on Monday night.
“You go through tough times and you have some challenges in front of you and it gets you closer and builds individual players and the culture that we’re going to find ways to win. Whether it’s the big man out, or Zee [Chara] and Liles – two of the more experienced defensemen – or Bergy at times or Pasta at times or me at times, guys have come together and found ways [to win]. That’s a good sign because if you’re going to go deep in the playoffs, you’re going to have injuries and you’re going to have different guys to fill those roles, and we’ve shown that we’ve got different guys that can step up on a regular basis and do a job.”
Be it injuries, inconsistencies, personnel concerns or transactions from the front office, every team will go through some type of adversity during an 82-game regular season.
Battling through their share of issues, David Krejci and company are persevering and keeping pace in the early season Eastern Conference playoff picture.
“We’ve been playing lots of hockey since day one so things happen really quickly,” Krejci said following Tuesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena. “It’s like a roller coaster – one game you win and one game you don’t – so you kind of have to figure out how to stay even keel and, you know, keep playing the right way. Lots of things have happened so far, but we’re sticking with it and we’re finding ways to win hockey games.”
Whether it’s Pastrnak growing into a special player, Rask regaining his Vezina winning form or the defense progressing slowly but surely, the Bruins have a few things going and getting W’s with adversity staring them in the face.
“Nothing is ever perfect in a season,” head coach Claude Julien noted. “But at the end of the day, you like to see your team find ways to win hockey games. Sometimes a goaltender will steal one, sometimes it’s your defensive play that really looks strong because you don’t get much offense or sometimes it’s a big goal like last night in overtime [against the Panthers]. So, you know, we’ve found ways to win hockey games. And it’s good to see that it’s just not in one area, but it’s in different areas that we’re finding ways to win hockey games.”