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Special teams are in need of special attention

By Michael Vega
Globe Staff / November 28, 2010

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WILMINGTON — After the Bruins came up empty on their power play in Friday’s 3-0 loss to the Hurricanes, it was not unexpected to see the team spend a good portion of yesterday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena working to shore up that area before this afternoon’s game in Atlanta.

“We didn’t give them that many chances,’’ said Bruins coach Claude Julien, referring to the three power-play opportunities Boston allowed Carolina. “But whatever they got, they took, you know, and they made it count. And that’s what’s even more disappointing after you see the results of the scoring chances.’’

Part of the reason the Bruins struggled with the man advantage was the goaltending of Carolina’s Cam Ward, who recorded his second career shutout against Boston, turning back all 37 shots he faced, including 12 in a first-period frenzy that included five Grade A chances.

“Again, our penalty kill has been good for us all year, but it definitely wasn’t that [Friday],’’ said Julien, who noted how Boston’s penalty killers had erased 18 previous penalties before giving up a goal to Carolina’s Jeff Skinner with just 16 seconds remaining in the first period. “As disappointing as that was, our power play was even more so.’’

On their first two power-play opportunities, the Bruins failed to get off a single shot against Ward. In all, Boston managed just six power-play shots.

“If you’re not going to score, at least you got to generate something,’’ Julien said. “Special teams definitely has to be better for us, and execution has to definitely be better.’’

Arniel recalled Facing a manpower shortage for today’s game with David Krejci and Jordan Caron home sick with flu-like symptoms, the Bruins called up Jamie Arniel from Providence on an emergency basis before boarding their team flight to Atlanta.

Caron and Krejci sat out yesterday’s practice, as did Marco Sturm, who is recovering from offseason knee surgery and also has flu-like symptoms.

Yesterday, Blake Wheeler and Tyler Seguin spent time centering a second line that included Mark Recchi.

Arniel, who leads Providence in scoring and goals (9-7—16 in 19 games), was recalled to Boston for the second time this season. He was a healthy scratch for the Nov. 10 game against the Penguins.

Mirror image In Atlanta, the Bruins will encounter a red-hot Thrashers team that scored a 3-0 shutout over Montreal Friday night for its season-high fourth consecutive victory.

Atlanta outshot the Canadiens, 47-24, including 23-4 in the second period. It was the second-highest shot total for a period in franchise history, behind the 24 Atlanta had against Washington Dec. 16, 2003.

“I think they’re bringing a lot of what we’re all about,’’ said Julien, no doubt referring to the fact that Atlanta’s coach, Craig Ramsay, was an assistant in Boston from 2007-10. “I know that Craig’s gone there, and from what I can see, watching their games, he hasn’t changed much from what we’re doing here.

“I think they’re a team that’s emotionally engaged and they’re working hard. Like I said, half their system is almost identical to ours as far as what they do.

“They’re winning their [puck] battles, they’re winning the races, and it’s the little things that make a difference right now for them.

“They played a real good game [Friday] and, to me, it resembled a lot of ours [vs. the Hurricanes] in the first period, where I thought Montreal played well and they came up with that goal in the last few seconds and then they just took off from there.’’

Michael Vega can be reached at vega@globe.com.

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