Bruins rain shots, do not get wet

February 04, 2010 - 6:27 pm

It is raining shots in Boston. This is not a weekend bender at The Fours but rather a deluge from the Boston Bruins of pucks on opposing goaltenders. Yet, like a large man with a penchant for good whiskey, the shots are having little effect. In Thursday's loss to the Canadiens the Bruins dumped 47 shots on Jaroslav Halak and came away with two goals in the 3-2 shootout loss. Add to that the 42 shots Boston had against Washington on Tuesday and the totals comes to 89 shots in two games with only three goals to show for it. The stat is hard to believe, especially if you are the Bruins who know they have significantly outplayed their opponents in the last two contests.

'€œWell, that is what happened,'€ Bruins center Patrice Bergeron said. '€œIs it hard to believe? We have to stay positive and do the same thing, you know?"

The whole Bruins team and coaching staff has been saying that the team has to stay positive and doing the same thing that it has been doing recently and things will work out fine. Yet, when a team is in the midst of its longest losing streak since 1925 it is hard to believe a group of guys who say that they will be fine if they keep on doing the same thing.

That being said, the last two games have been different from the previous seven losses in the streak. Boston has averaged 44.5 shots against the Capitals and Canadiens and Thursday's 47 represents a season high (previous season high was 43 on Nov. 5, also against the Canadiens). The average shots per game in the seven losses before was 27.86. That is about a 17 shot average differential yet the Bruins still have nothing to show for it except for a robust 3.38 shooting percentage.

Shots are one thing, scoring chances another entirely. A team can dump straight shots with no traffic or rebounders in front of the net all it wants and never score a goal against a goaltender who is worth his weight (and most are in the NHL, it is the highest level of hockey in the world after all). That is not what has been ailing Boston though because both on Tuesday and on Thursday there were significant chances to really get on top of their opponents yet the scores never materialized.

"With the amount of chances that we are getting and the amount of shots that we have been throwing at the net, it is frustrating to say the least,'€ Bruins coach Claude Julien said. '€œWhen you have three goals to show for 89 shots, I think it is, in two game. And you got three goals to show for it and that's without talking about quality scoring chances."

It is not like the Bruins made a conscious effort to say "we are going to shoot the puck more." It was more of an effort to right the wrongs of some stinging losses and get back to playing quality hockey, which has been missing at times during the losing streak. The result has been more shots, more opportunities yet no more goals. The players, the coaches, even the reporters are tired of the same question -- "when/how is this team going to start scoring again?" The four straight days of practice for the Bruins last week have proven helpful and the drills the coaches ran have gotten the pep back into the roster's step. At least in terms of its compete level. At the same time there is nothing that will get Boston back to a swagger than a win, preferably a blowout, where it is not only shots raining from the sky but also blinding Bruins from watching too much flashing red lights.

"I think in the last few weeks we have tried to get better at finishing and working hard and turning those drills into some scoring opportunities and we have seen a better team as a response to that because we create a lot more we just have to stick with that and eventually the goals will come," Julien said.

Everybody around the team knows that it has been playing better. There was no specific mandate saying "score more goals." The mandate is implied and the team is working towards it and that effort has been present the last two games.

"It is everybody, not even the coaching staff. It is us, when we talk we talk about those things," forward Steve Begin said. "It is all details and that is part of it. When we talk about it we have to execute. Lately I have seen better things, I have seen good things. We have been shooting more and now we need to start getting more traffic and more rebounds."

So, the company line remains the same: stay positive, create traffic, get rebounds and deflections, yes we are frustrated and we have to turn it around etc. Mark Recchi, who scored one of the goals on a deflection in the first period,  is as wily a veteran as any man to ever play in the NHL said it best while sitting at his locker surrounded by reporters asking the same questions.

"There is a lot of good things going on. We have 90 shots in two games and only one point to show for it,'€ Recchi said. '€œThat is the frustrating part but there are so many good things that we are doing now and we have to keep a positive attitude right now, we have to stick together. These are tough times for us and we have 27 games to get us into the playoffs.'€