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Bruins are humming, hoping to create buzz

WILMINGTON - Have you heard? The Bruins are back in town. The team returned from its five-game road swing with a 3-2 record and is coming off an impressive 2-1 victory over the Sharks in San Jose Saturday night.

The Black and Gold will host the Tampa Bay Lightning in their home opener at the Garden Thursday night. As yet, there has been no buzz around the squad in part because it hasn't yet played in the Eastern time zone, and only one of the contests started before 10 p.m.

But the biggest reasons for the lack of enthusiasm are that the start of the National Hockey League season around here has been dwarfed by the excitement surrounding the Red Sox' playoff run and the unbeaten Patriots' dominance. Therefore, you have a team flying well under the radar to this point.

The Bruins are hoping to change that. In a city where the NHL product has been deeply disappointing for years, the 2007-08 edition isn't satisfied with being an also-ran.

"It's up to us right now to go back on the radar," said forward Patrice Bergeron, who scored against the Sharks and assisted on Aaron Ward's winner with 12 seconds left Saturday night. "We have to win some games and bring the fans back and have them get excited about us. Obviously, it's a big sports town and we know the Red Sox and Patriots are huge. Obviously, we're following that as well. We're trying to play as hard as we can and bring the fans back."

Defenseman Mark Stuart agreed the Bruins have their future in their hands, and with success comes interest.

"I'm just concentrating on us," said Stuart. "But I think it's great, I'm happy for those guys. But it's our turn, too, to get right up there with them. We've got to create that buzz for ourselves."

Their next chance is Thursday. Bergeron said it was nice to get away for a bit but even better to be back in Boston.

"It's always great to play in front of your fans," he said. "It was a long road trip and it was fun to get to know the new guys and to bond a little bit, but it's nice to be back."

Bergeron said there was plenty to be learned during the journey. It was gratifying to not get rattled when they lost a 1-0 lead to the Sharks with 38 seconds left.

"We've learned we have character, for sure," said Bergeron, who is tied for second on the team in scoring with 5 points. "The last game, we never stopped. Even though they tied the game with [38] seconds left, we went back on the ice and scored to win the game. We're playing more consistent now and we're playing as a team and the results are there."

To a man, last year was a deeply frustrating one for everybody in the organization. Bergeron said he believes that adversity will make the Bruins a more competitive outfit this season.

"We've all played together for a year now and I think that was good to get to know each other and to know what we're all bringing to the table," he said. "Just because of that we're a better team, right from the get-go. We know each other more and the chemistry is better. As a team, I think we're playing better together right now. That's the main thing. We all have a role and we're all trying to do it the best we can. Every win is important now."

This is only Bergeron's fourth NHL season and already he's on his third coach. He said he's enjoying newcomer Claude Julien.

"Claude has been great," said Bergeron, 22. "He's telling us what he is expecting of us as players and also as a team. So far it's been great and we're improving defensively. That's his focus right now and hopefully we're going to keep getting better."

Bergeron has had many coaches at different levels and believes he has taken something from all of them. It would be nice, though, if one could stick around longer than has been the case the last few years.

"Obviously, I've learned from all the coaches who have been there," he said. "I'm trying to learn as much as I can. With all the coaches I've had, I've learned a lot. I'm trying to get all the advice that I can, but at the same time we didn't have the success that we wanted. It's a good thing on one side but on the other side, we have to be better and to win a little bit and make sure the coach is staying, too."

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at Marrapese@globe.com.

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