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WILMINGTON – If over the last five games or so Joe Corvo has looked more natural playing defense for the Bruins, you can know that he’s felt a lot better as well.
Throughout his up-and-down first quarter of his first season with the Bruins, Corvo admitted he was still learning and adjusting his game to the way the Bruins play. Now he’s both fitting in and providing Boston with what it expected of him after making the trade with Carolina last summer.
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Corvo’s two-goal game at Columbus started a five-game streak featuring 2-3-5 totals and a plus-7 rating while skating next to Dennis Seidenberg at full strength and working a regular shift on the power play. As he predicted all along, Corvo’s improved by playing through the struggles in games and practices.
“Repetition, so you’re not thinking about it while you’re out there. That’s the main part,” said Corvo after practice Wednesday when asked about the key to conforming to the Bruins’ ways. “Because if you’re thinking about a couple different parts of your game, then you’re not free to just go with the flow and feel the flow of the game, and it kind of carries over to every part of the game.”
There’s another key that both Corvo and head coach Claude Julien acknowledge – confidence. Most blueliners with an offensive dimension to their game need to believe in their own ability to make the proper decisions and in their teammates’ ability to back them up after a choice is made. As 40-point man a year ago, Corvo can’t be a shrinking violet on the ice if he’s going to help the Bruins defend their Stanley Cup championship.
“A lot of it is confidence – just go out there and play with confidence and do the right things,” said Julien. “The last couple games he’s pulled some pretty good moves there with the puck. His skill level is certainly showing a little bit more. But that’s all confidence. I think that one game when he had a couple goals helped him turn the corner. And hopefully he keeps going the way he has been lately.”
Corvo said that the chemistry he’s found with Seidenberg, in addition to the spectacular play of goaltenders Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask, has provided him with the courage necessary to take more risks without a second thought. He’s also been helped by learning to look on the bright side when things aren’t perfect.
When Corvo hit a rough patch earlier this month – he was minus-4 with no points over a two-game span – Julien pointed out that Corvo’s confidence was down mostly because he was too hard on himself. On the heels of that statement, CBC reporter Elliotte Friedman revealed in a column that when Corvo played in Ottawa, the coaching staff forbade him from watching video of his play in order to protect his psyche.
While Corvo says he’s doesn’t quite remember that being an all-out prohibition, he admitted that he’s not a big fan of watching himself – “It’s like hearing yourself talk. I don’t like to hear myself talk either,” he said.
Nonetheless, Corvo has found a positive way to work with video and rectify anything he’s doing wrong.
“Because if you think you’re playing bad and you watch your clips, it’s never really as bad as you think it is,” he said. “I don’t mind watching it now. I’d rather see positive clips, though, then negative clips.”
There have been plenty of positive clips lately, and could be more in Corvo’s future.
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com. He operatesTheBruinsBlog.net and also contributes coverage to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on twitter @TheBruinsBlog.