November 19, 2011

B's look to continue winning ways on road

By Jesse Connolly

With 13 of their first 17 games taking place on home ice, the road isn’t a very familiar place to the Boston Bruins.

But that’s where they’ll find themselves now, with three consecutive tilts away from their own barn on the docket. Boston’s last multi-game road excursion came over a month ago and kicked off with one of their many lackluster losses to start the year – this time to the Carolina Hurricanes.

“It’s been a much different start,” coach Claude Julien said of his team’s confidence heading into the road swing. “It’s nice to see our team at least regain their composure at home in that last stretch and do well, and now it’s an opportunity for us to carry it on the road.”

After failing to capitalize on their prolong home-ice advantage, the Bruins went a perfect 5-0-0 on a recent five-game homestand.

“Well we just started playing much better,” Julien said of the turnaround. “Our whole game has improved from start to finish with our breakouts, guys coming back and we’ve played with the puck a lot more. We’ve made some better offensive plays and been able to finish better than we did in the first month of the season.

“It was a struggle, but we just seemed to eventually turn the corner. Mentally we’re a much sharper team than we were last month.”

Boston’s quintet of consecutive wins on home ice began with a 6-2 victory over their opponent tonight, the Islanders. The B’s entered the third period in a tight game leading 3-2 but persevered in the final frame.

“We came out in the third and we certainly didn’t sit back, and played to win,” Julien said, recalling the win. “The one thing I noticed was our execution in that game was much better. We were moving the puck a lot crisper than we had previously and I thought our confidence got better as the game went on. That was without a doubt a turning point for our team getting better, and not so much the result but the way we played.”

The Bruins enter tonight’s tilt coming off a shaky performance against Columbus, a team that ranks dead last in the NHL standings. After barely avoiding an ugly loss, Julien believes his team is fully prepared for tonight’s game as they’ll go for their eighth-straight victory.

“I think it’s pretty obvious after last game that there’s no reason to overlook teams like that,” the coach said. “They’re (New York) coming off a win and obviously feeling pretty good about themselves right now. I don’t see any reason for us to take these games lightly. I think our team is mature enough to know better.”