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Bruins notebook

Julien tries to cushion blow

His misfiring shooters get some dead-on tips

Swedish star Peter Forsberg has drawn interest from the Bruins’ front office. Swedish star Peter Forsberg has drawn interest from the Bruins’ front office. (Vesa Moilanen/AFP/Getty Images
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By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / November 14, 2009

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WILMINGTON - Yesterday morning, with his team still in a funk over a 1-0 shootout loss to Florida the night before, Bruins coach Claude Julien mixed things up during practice at Ristuccia Arena. At one end of the ice, Julien banished his goalie, stacked the net with a foot-high foam pad, and ordered his shooters to get to work.

Patrice Bergeron led off the drill by standing in front of the net. Zdeno Chara walked the puck off the wall and sent a shot on goal that Bergeron, with a twist of his blade, tipped over the pad and into the goal. Julien, standing in the slot, then sent a shot off the pad. Bergeron turned, found the rebound, and roofed the puck under the crossbar. To close the drill, Bergeron drifted into the slot, took a pass from Blake Wheeler, and with Julien playing the part of a defender, the center brushed off the coach’s stick and fired a shot high into the net.

By the end of the session, every player, including rehabbing winger Milan Lucic (his first practice since he broke his finger Oct. 16), had participated in the drill, which had several purposes: shoot high; wield quick sticks in the danger areas; and get some confidence going after being stoned on 40 shots, plus four in the shootout, by Tomas Vokoun.

“When you have a tough time scoring goals and you’re getting your chances, you’ve got to find solutions, whether it’s for confidence or whether it’s for getting better at it,’’ Julien said. “We just thought today was a good day to concentrate on that. The rest of our game has been pretty sound. Let’s work on the things we want to improve on. Some of it was trying to get pucks up from tips and from close in. And quick releases.’’

Julien said he liked his players’ jam around the net and in front of Vokoun, who posted his third shutout in his last four starts. By the coaching staff’s count, the Bruins had 20 scoring chances against the Panthers. Finishing, however, has been an issue most of the season.

“Right now, it’s pretty obvious that there’s just one area that’s preventing us from probably winning a bunch of games, and that’s scoring goals,’’ Julien said. “You’ve got to build on all the good things that have happened, then say, ‘OK, let’s attack the area that we think needs to get better.’ ’’

Forsberg watch
General manager Peter Chiarelli smiled when informed that Peter Forsberg could have been the difference-maker in the shootout.

“Yeah, he probably would have scored,’’ Chiarelli said.

Chiarelli is one of several GMs kicking the tires on Forsberg, the oft-injured Swede (currently battling foot problems). The 36-year-old is in Sweden, where he hopes to become fit enough to earn an Olympic roster spot. If Forsberg wants to play in the NHL this season, he cannot play for MoDo, his former Swedish Elite League club. If he dresses for MoDo, Forsberg would have to clear waivers before signing with an NHL team. He is skating with MoDo’s junior club.

Other teams likely to be interested in Forsberg include Philadelphia, Vancouver, and the Rangers. Because of his foot issues, Forsberg may not be suited to play center in the NHL.

“He’s a Bruins-type player,’’ said Chiarelli. “He’s strong on the puck. Plays with an edge.’’

Lucic progressing
After participating in his first morning skate Thursday, Lucic took the next step by joining teammates for practice. Lucic wore the black jersey of the defensemen as he went through all the drills.

“I was able to keep up with the pace,’’ Lucic said. “I know it was a little bit of a lighter practice because they played [Thursday] night and they play again [tonight]. Other than that, I felt pretty good. Every day, it feels like it’s getting more comfortable, like it’s getting better.’’

Lucic didn’t join the team on the trip to Pittsburgh. He will most likely travel with the team to Atlanta and Buffalo next week, and possibly play in one of those games.

Because of the risk to his finger, Lucic will not be fighting any time soon. Chiarelli wondered if he’d be able to get a fight, considering his bloody beatdowns of Carolina’s Jay Harrison and Ottawa’s Chris Neil this season.

Method to madness
Although Tim Thomas acknowledged his diving save on Nathan Horton during Florida’s five-on-three power play was a desperate act, he noted there was some thinking involved. By not sticking out his blocker until the final moment Thomas convinced Horton not to go upstairs. “It’s a desperation save, but it’s a desperation save with some sort of plan,’’ Thomas said. “I don’t want to put [the blocker] down too early, because I don’t want to show him that he should just go up. It’s about timing. It’s kind of suckering him in to shooting low. At first you keep your stick about 8 inches in the air, so you can sell it that if he’s going to lift it, you can just whack it. Then it goes on the ice, and then it’s just timing. You’ve just got to get it down at the right time.’’ . . . Mark Recchi was given a personal day. Brad Marchand skated in Recchi’s place alongside Bergeron and Marco Sturm.

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at fshinzawa@globe.com.

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