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Tracy’s Take: Bruins Need To Be Mentally And Physically Tough During Difficult Stretch

By Tracy Clements, 98.5 The Sports Hub
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Bruins head coach Claude Julien talks to his players during their 4-1 win over the Florida Panthers. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

Bruins head coach Claude Julien talks to his players during their 4-1 win over the Florida Panthers. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) – Three outta four ain’t bad, right? Right.

The Boston Bruins are 3-1-0 on their current five-game road trip, which wraps up tonight in Long Island against the Islanders.  Starting today the Bruins will play their next 19 games in a 34 day span, which averages out to be one game every 1.8 days.

Hopefully they recharged a little in the Sunshine State—because they’re going to need it.

Boston got off to a messy start on Sunday but finished strong against the Panthers. Head coach Claude Julien said, “our guys seem to have a lot of confidence and determination now,” and as the game went on that became more obvious. Their power play has improved — A LOT. In their first nine games they went just 3-for-24 on the man-advantage – a measly 12.5-percent. But in their last six games they’ve gone 4-for-13, a solid 30-percent on the PP. They’ve dominated on the penalty kill, killing off 36-of-39 (92-percent) in their first nine games and going a perfect 21-for-21 in their last six contests. The new-found success on the power play and continued domination during the penalty kill are both playing major roles in winning games, and this momentum change is coming at just the right time.

Read: More Of Tracy’s Take

Tonight the Bruins will face the Islanders, who are an NHL-worst 2-7 at Nassau Coliseum this season. The Bruins have been successful on the road and are 4-1 in the last five meetings in New York. The fact that the Isles are struggling in goal will work to Boston’s advantage. New York recently demoted Rick DiPietro, acquired a phantom Tim Thomas, and with no one else to turn to, had Kevin Poulin make his season debut on Sunday. The outcome wasn’t so good, as they lost to the Hurricanes 6-4.

I feel better about Boston’s goal situation, and who doesn’t? Now that it’s Tuukka time, I have to say he’s been impressive. I was a fan of Tim Thomas and always trusted he would save the game. These days he’s holed up in a bunker somewhere saving himself, and so far Tuukka has been brilliant. He’s definitely winning me over. His 1.97 goals-against average ranks 3rd among starting goalies, and his .925 save percentage is pretty impressive as well.

As for the others sporting the Spoked-B on the ice, it’s easy to scrutinize certain players but I’m not going to. I’m relieved that Tyler Seguin now has four points in four games (1 goal, 3 assists) and is starting to change his style of play a bit so his presence is being felt at either end of the ice. Brad Marchand is on fire — he’s 3rd in the league in shooting percentage — and Chris Kelly is finally on the books netting his first goal of the season Sunday. Luck or not, he was overdue.

The Bruins need to ride this wave of momentum into tonight’s game- which will likely be carried offensively by John Tavares and Matt Moulson.  The Islanders are lacking in the consistency department right now. They have the talent, it just hasn’t really clicked. With that said, I see the Bruins extending their win streak to four.

Read: Bruins-Islanders Preview

With a much busier stretch just starting, no one can predict how their schedule will affect them physically, but I have to prepare myself that it’s almost inevitable injuries will hit the Bruins’ roster. They can’t just rely on their in-game experience over the next two months; they’ll need to be mentally and physically tough to get through March and April and need to capitalize on every chance they get when the puck bounces their way.

In this shortened season, there is no room for careless mistakes.

Tracy Clements is a weekend producer on 98.5 The Sports Hub. You can follow her on twitter at @clementine_12.

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