Predators-Bruins Preview

The Boston Bruins have been playing mediocre hockey for the

better part of a month, but their most recent game fell far below

that description.

A dismal result may be just what they needed.

Coach Claude Julien hopes his team has gotten a wake-up call in

time for Saturday’s matinee against the Nashville Predators, who

visit Boston looking to bounce back from their own subpar

performance.

Another loss Wednesday was nothing new for the Bruins, who are

5-6-1 over the past four weeks. But the way this one – a 6-0

drubbing at Buffalo – was delivered may have gotten the attention

of the reigning Stanley Cup champions.

Julien held one of his tougher, more physical practices of the

season Thursday, hoping to give his team a jolt following its most

lopsided defeat in nearly four years.

“I think that’s certainly the start to what should be a wake-up

call,” the coach said. “Obviously our guys have enough character in

there. Just because you’re going through a tough time doesn’t mean

you second-guess your team. We certainly don’t. Everybody in that

room cares. Right now it’s about righting the ship with some better

play from everybody.”

Boston (33-17-2) still has a comfortable lead in the Northeast

Division, but Nashville (32-18-5) has a much tougher task if it

hopes to capture the Central.

The Predators, chasing Detroit and St. Louis, have dropped three

of four since a 13-2-0 surge. They never led in Thursday night’s

4-3 loss at Ottawa.

“We didn’t play well at all,” said center Mike Fisher, who was

held without a goal after scoring seven in his previous six games.

Linemate Martin Erat remained hot with a goal and an assist, giving

him 19 points in his last 15 games.

Pekka Rinne has allowed seven goals while losing back-to-back

starts following a personal 11-game winning streak, and Nashville

is struggling to kill penalties. Opponents are 5 for 13 on the

power play since the All-Star break after the Senators went 2 for

6.

That hasn’t affected the Bruins’ respect for the Predators’

defense – especially defensemen Shea Weber and Ryan Suter, who

bring a shutdown element similar to Boston’s Zdeno Chara.

“They’re both top-notch Ds, and they play together a lot,”

Julien said. “That’s where you rely on your depth as a team. If

they’re going to shut down certain players, then other players have

to step up and do their share. This is something that we do a lot

to other teams, and this is one team capable of doing it to others

as well.”

Perhaps in part because Nathan Horton remains out with a

concussion, the Bruins haven’t had much scoring depth lately. With

the line of Patrice Bergeron, Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand

generating the bulk of the chances, the club has two shutout

defeats and a 2-1 loss in its last four contests.

It likely won’t be easy to score on Rinne, who has won both of

his previous starts against Boston. Rinne was a Vezina Trophy

finalist last season before Boston’s Tim Thomas claimed the

award.

The Bruins are 2-4-0 since Thomas skipped the team’s White House

visit, and their netminder continues to get attention for political

statements on his Facebook page. He deflected repeated questions

about the topic this week.

“That’s my personal life, it has absolutely nothing to do with

the Bruins or hockey,” Thomas said. “I’m going to use my right to

remain silent.”