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Bruins are eyeing better focus

TORONTO -- The Bruins had a day off here yesterday, and they'll focus this morning at practice on how to better execute tomorrow night against the division rival Maple Leafs than they did the previous two games.

A victory over the Leafs would erase the sour taste that lingered after overtime losses to Ottawa Thursday and Chicago Saturday.

After converting on eight of 27 power-play opportunities in a six-game span, the Bruins have gone 0 for 6 in the past two games. Also, their penalty killing hasn't been very sharp. In the last 11 games in which the opposing team had a power play, the club has allowed at least one goal on the man advantage in nine of them.

No one in the Bruins dressing room seems very concerned about the way the team is playing. The players and coaching staff were disappointed they were only able to get a point out of the 2-1 overtime defeat against the Blackhawks despite carrying a 1-0 lead into the third period. However, they viewed it as just a bump in the road rather than a gaping pothole. Defenseman Nick Boynton, for one, felt that Chicago having six power plays to Boston's three was a bit suspect.

"We should've put them away a lot earlier," said Boynton. "We'll be out in four straight if we do that in the playoffs. There were certainly some interesting calls out there, too. It was a little one-sided. I don't know if they were handicapping us . . . or what was going on. And you watch the way [the Blackhawks] treated our forwards. It was like take a hand off the stick, hold on [to a Bruin], and go for a ride. But what are you going to do? You still have to play through it to win the games."

Defenseman Sean O'Donnell said that although the Bruins played fairly effectively against the Blackhawks -- who received strong netminding from Craig Anderson, a power-play goal by Bryan Berard at 11:04 of the third, and the overtime winner from rookie Tuomo Ruutu -- there was definitely something missing.

"We had a lot of cycles down low," said O'Donnell. "We could've maybe directed a couple of more pucks at the net. Our special teams haven't been real sharp the last five or six games.

"The only thing I can see on our power play is that maybe we don't have the desperation. You have to pretend that maybe this is the last power play you're going to get. It's coming down to 20 games left now. You want to hit the playoffs with your power play clicking and your confidence high.

"I think sometimes we get [thinking], `OK, it's the first period, it's a power play, we're going to get more,' and you don't really bear down. A goal in the first period is just as big on the power play as a goal like Chicago got in the third period with eight or nine minutes left. I think it's just a mental thing where we have to start bearing down a little bit more, and those are things we need to improve on."

Despite the identical result the last two outings, O'Donnell said he felt the Bruins played better against Chicago than against the Senators.

"I don't think we played a great game in Ottawa, but [against Chicago] I thought we had a pretty good game," he said. "Maybe we made it hard on ourselves in the third with a couple of penalties, but, for the most part, I thought we had a good game. Their goalie made some good stops, and, unfortunately, it didn't bounce our way in overtime. You come on the road and you win one and lose two in overtime, the result is not there, but I thought we played a pretty good 60 minutes and I think we'll be ready to go in Toronto."

O'Donnell said the loss Saturday was mitigated by the fact it was against a Western Conference opponent and the extra point didn't affect their standing in the Eastern Conference.

"Really, for us, it's like a tie," he said. "Obviously, you want to get the win, but it really doesn't affect us at all. It's different with Ottawa. Giving two points to Ottawa is a lot tougher to swallow than giving two points to Chicago. You want to get the win, but I consider this a tie."

There are 23 games remaining in the regular season and O'Donnell said the team need not obsess about each one. He said a broader view is necessary.

"You can't measure it in one game or two games," he said. "I like to look at it in blocks of five and 10 games, like how did we do the last five or 10. [Going one at a time], you'd kill yourself over 82 games. Emotionally you'd be drained."

The Bruins have picked up four points in the first three games since the All-Star break, all road games. They say they aren't satisfied, but it could be worse.

"Just considering the way the games have gone, we should have at least one or two more points," said Boynton. "Four points are good, but it's still disappointing. We'll take it, have a good game in Toronto, and forget about the last two."

in today's globe
Bruins playoff recap
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Habs win series, 4-3
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 Game 2: B's 2, Habs 1 | Gallery
 Game 3: Habs 3, B's 2 | Gallery
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