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Bruins look to rebuild confidence in Game 2

All around the dressing room, it was variations on a theme.

Shawn Thornton said it first - "I don't read the papers or listen to the radio" - but he was far from the last.

It hardly mattered. On the day after being shutout 2-0 by the visiting Montreal Canadiens and booed off their own ice, Boston Bruins players were having their clippings read to them Friday morning in the questions that were being asked.

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What happened?

What has to be done to fix it?

Is the team close to panic?

What happened was that speed and patience conquered size and urgency. What happened was that small battles were won by smaller players. What happened was that one goaltender at one end, Carey Price, was abnormal, while the goaltender at the other, Tim Thomas, was merely normal.

Little more than a dozen hours after the boos and a few yellow towels had rained down upon the players leaving the ice, the fixing was under way: Drills to get more traffic in front of the net, drills to tip more pucks and gain more rebounds, drills to work in tighter spaces, drills, for that matter, in the dressing room to shake a monkey off the back before it can even climb on.

Michael Ryder used the work "panic" a half-dozen times without drawing a breath, each time denying any such thing and each mention, of course, only raising the spectre all the more.

These are not good times in a sports-mad city that takes winning in all its games seriously. And in the case of the Bruins, there was precious little confidence to begin with. The long shadow of last spring still darkens, when the Philadelphia Flyers not only overcame being down 3-0 in a best-of-seven series but came back in Game 7 after being down 3-0.

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When all is said and done, they don't really believe in themselves - and will not start believing until they win this series.

It seems as if they have trouble coping with the Montreal style of zipping about the ice on supershort shifts, hanging back and waiting for chances to pounce. The same style, actually, that took the Canadiens past the much-favoured Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins last spring.

"It's one game," protested rookie forward Brad Marchand, "and we're not going to dwell on it."

Fine, but the newspapers, radio and the Bruins jittery fans sure were.

At one point, head coach Claude Julien essentially said the Bruins couldn't execute their favoured game plan - crash and bang - because, of all things, Boston had the puck most of the time and you don't hit when you're supposed to be shooting.

"We spent most of the night with the puck," Julien said after practice, "but at the end of the night, we didn't get the results. That's probably the thing that sticks out the most. We just have to make some adjustments and understand that if we're going to score some goals we've got to pay the price a little better around the net."

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It would have been wiser if the Bruins had called in a couple of Rent-a-Goalies for Friday's workout, as risking injury to Thomas or backup Tuukka Rask was a genuine concern as Julien had his charges work around the nets while the rest of the roster closed in like spectators in a schoolyard fight.

"We have to be a little more involved," Julien said. "Some of the net-front presence is not necessarily something you have to practice more than it is a mindset."

In other words, the Canadiens, in a single game, had already gotten into their heads.

What happened in Game 1 was the Bruins were denied their own style. Last year, they flew banners on TD Garden proclaiming the "Big, Bad Bruins" were back, but back only at certain times, it seems. This same team not so long ago beat Montreal in two separate regular-season matches 8-6 and 7-0. So they can score on Montreal.

The keys to a successful hockey player, former Bruins forward Derek Sanderson once said, is "hate, greed and jealousy. He must hate the other guy; he must be greedy for the puck; and he must be jealous when he loses."

These Bruins already have the puck, at least enough of the time, and hatred of the Canadiens is a genetic thing for Bruins. As for jealousy, they despised being booed Thursday - even though several who claimed not to have eyes when it came to newspapers also claimed no ears when it came to the booing - and will be determined not to have to deny they heard anything at all Saturday.

Unless, of course, they can figure out how to turn those boos into cheers.

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About the Author

Roy MacGregor was born in the small village of Whitney, Ont., in 1948. Before joining The Globe and Mail in 2002, he worked for the National Post, the Ottawa Citizen, Maclean's magazine (three separate times), the Toronto Star and The Canadian Magazine. More


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