The Boston Bruins are two games into the 2016-17 season and a have a 1-1-0 record with a win at Columbus (6-3) and a loss at Toronto (4-1). Not a terrible start to the year by any means but the Bruins fell behind early in each game and that is a trend coach Claude Julien wants to end in a hurry.
In Columbus, the Bruins saw the Blue Jackets score the game’s first goal just 2:58 into the first period and trailed by a score of 3-1 before erasing the deficit to emerge with a 6-3 victory.
In Toronto, Boston could not battle back after falling behind against the Maple Leafs.
“Overall, not a good enough effort on our part and we don’t deserve that win,” Julien said after Saturday’s loss to the Maple Leafs which saw Toronto jump out to a 3-0 lead in the first 13:13 of the game. “There were times when certain individuals weren’t focused enough and there are examples to show these guys, but we need to be a little bit more focused sometimes as a team but more as individuals because it just takes one weak link to really throw everything off so we need some guys to get better focus and then hopefully get better at it.”
Sunday, the club held an optional skate in Winnipeg. Anton Khudobin, Austin Czarnik, Dante Heinen, Jimmy Hayes, Tim Schaller, and Joe Morrow skated before joining their teammates for video sessions with the coaching staff.
“Well, it’s going to be our third game in five days, so I think it’s important that we get some rest here,” Julien explained. “We thought it was better today to maybe fix things video-wise versus on the ice and I think a lot of it was mental mistakes and not doing our jobs and the other part was letting them (Toronto) be the better team as far as wanting it more and competing harder. We can’t accept those kinds of things this early in the season. We want to nip those things in the bud and I think that’s what we tried to do today.”
The coach went on to say he has been pleased with two of his squad’s four lines.
“I’ve had no issues with that (Backes) line,” said Julien. “I’ve had no issues either with the (Riley) Nash line. I think they’ve done their jobs and right now, probably, the lines in between you’re hoping to get a little bit more (effort).”
“I think in Austin’s (Czarnik) case since he’s come back from the injury (concussion), he hasn’t quite been the same player so we hope he can find his stride again. (Matt) Beleskey and Hayes have played hard but no (goal scoring) results. I think what we need right now from the Krejci line, you’ve got enough skill there that you hope they can give us a little more offense.”
Julien went on to explain that the Czarnik and Krejci lines need to make better decisions on the offensive side of the puck.
“Well, they have the puck but it’s what they’ve done with it,” the bench boss explained. “I think what’s probably the biggest concern right now is they need to do a little bit more with it. Again, Beleskey (and) Hayes have worked hard and won (puck) battles along the wall and they’ve had the puck. I think (with) that line the results have been lacking but I think with the Krejci line, I think they should have the puck a lot more than they have.”
“Again, it’s about everybody doing their jobs and not trying to do somebody else’s (job) and somehow I didn’t think we had good enough focus (Saturday) to do the things that had given us some success in the preseason and that first game (versus Columbus). We were able to battle back (from 3-1 deficit) because we stuck with our game (plan) but (Saturday), (there were) too many mistakes, too many things that lacked focus.”
The costly mistakes have been the result of lack of execution which is the result of a lack of focus. Mental preparation is just as important as physical preparation and a continued lack of it will produce another long season and no one in the Bruins organization, especially Julien will tolerate that.
Follow ESPN New Hampshire’s NHL Writer, Shawn Hutcheon, on Twitter at @ShawnHutcheon.