- James Murphy, Bruins reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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WILMINGTON, Mass. -- The Bruins snapped a four-game losing streak with their 3-0 win over the Panthers on Sunday. Tuukka Rask was sensational with a 28-save shutout performance, but what was also promising -- and actually started to emerge during the last two games of the losing streak -- was the Bruins' transition game.
Unlike the first two games of that four-game skid and even before that during some wins, the Bruins were disorganized coming out of their zone, leading to turnovers and odd-man rushes for the opponent. Recently, their first passes out of their zone have been crisper and smarter. There has been no hesitation and the result has been more offensive chances for the Bruins by moving the puck forward.
“It’s been better and it shows through our games recently,” head coach Claude Julien said following an optional practice Monday before he and his team took off for Philadelphia, where they will face the Flyers on Tuesday night. “The intensity and we’re getting back quicker and we’re making better passes. That’s a big part of our game and when don’t have that it takes a lot of the offense away from our game, because we spend a lot of time in our own end battling along the boards. So it’s been a lot better.”
Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg sees a better overall defensive game recently and also notices improvement in the first pass from the defensive zone into the neutral.
“I think we’ve played solid defensively the last three games,” Seidenberg said. “We didn’t give up too many shots. But the funny thing is, we lost two of those games, and before that when we were giving up loads of shots, we won some games -- so go figure. But the focus needs to be to minimize chances always.
"They’ve been a lot cleaner," he added. "If you look at those games I mentioned with all the chances and shots, the passes out of our zone were maybe choppy and now there is more composure. We’re a little smarter and that’s important.”
Recently acquired defenseman Wade Redden knows that a strong defensive game and transition has always been the bread and butter of Claude Julien's teams and believes things are getting better there but there is still room for improvement.
“I think they’ve always been a good team that way under Claude,” Redden said. “That’s something you always want to work on. Getting the offense chances, starts in our end with us making that good play. There’s been times -- even yesterday -- where we weren’t as crisp as we need to be, but it’s getting there I can see.”
But Redden and the Bruins realize that the transition game needs to be there completely next week when the Stanley Cup playoffs begin, because there won’t be room for mistakes then. With the games meaning so much more, the pressure will be on and the Bruins must carry the puck out of their zone without hesitating.
“The pace and the intensity will be ramped up and I think the big focus there will be to make that first play smoothly or even just hard, because it doesn’t have to be pretty all the time, it just has to get the puck going out of the zone and get your team moving forward. It just starts with no hesitation and making that first play going forward, because whatever it is, the first one is the best one.”
9dJoe McDonald and Kyle Brasseur
45dKyle Brasseur, Special to ESPNBoston.com