An extraordinary performance from Jean-Sebastien Giguere stopped the Bruins in their tracks Thursday night as they launched 39 shots at the veteran goalie in a 2-0 loss to the Colorado Avalanche.
After the game, the Bruins repeatedly talked about the need to “take away the eyes” of the opposing goaltender, and following a rigorous half-hour practice Friday, they picked apart their missing net-front presence, an especially compelling exercise because Saturday’s matinee opponent is the Columbus Blue Jackets, who also have a hot goalie in last year’s Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky. It will be the first road game of the season for the 2-1-0 Bruins.
“You can’t always take [the goalie’s] eyes away,’’ said Zdeno Chara, who is setting up in front of the net on the Bruins power play this season. “The point is to make him move, [so that] he’s not always square to the shooter or the passer. You’re trying to make him move so he’s off his vision a little bit, that’s the main focus.
“But sometimes you will actually move at the same time he’s trying to move and that’s perfect. That’s when he won’t see anything.’’
The Bruins had a slow start against the speedy Avalanche and gave up a power-play goal in the first period, but picked up their pace for the rest of the game. Picking up goals proved more difficult.
“Getting people at the net was the biggest issue for us [Thursday night],’’ said Milan Lucic, another big body the Bruins like to have taking up space in front of opposing goalies. “It was almost like we were there, but we weren’t there, you know? We were kind of off to the side, maybe.’’
Lucic believes the Bruins need to go to the net with conviction, and then stay there.
“You want to get the goalie looking around you and it wasn’t really there,’’ he said. “But it’s a good thing that it happened early [in the season] because you know what you need to improve on.’’
Lucic said frustration came when the Bruins were working hard — sending 15 shots at Giguere in the second period and allowing the Avalanche only six — and getting no reward.
“You’ve got to fight your way,’’ Lucic said with conviction. “It’s about fighting your way to the front of the net and using your strength and using your size.’’
At the other end of the shooting lane is defenseman Torey Krug, routinely stationed at the point and looking for a clear shot at the net.
“There were cases where we did have guys in front of the net and we need to shoot more,’’ Krug said, “but there were a lot of cases where we had absolutely nobody in front of the net. We’ve got to make the goalie work a little harder.
“Somebody’s got to take charge and skate to the crease. It’s a hard job so you’ve got to give a lot of credit to the guys that do it and the guys that do it well. It’s an art. You’ve got to get down there, you’ve got to be willing to get hit with pucks and you’ve got to be willing to be hit by the other team’s defensemen. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it.’’
Krug also said that he wants his shot to force the goalie’s move. “‘When you’re at the point and the goalie can’t see you, what you want to do is make him make a save with his hands so that he can’t just go down and block it,’’ said Krug. “You want to make him have to work for the puck; that’s one thing I always think about.’’
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Carl Soderberg skated in his first full practice with the team since injuring his ankle Sept 27. “It’s getting better, but I’m not 100 percent yet,’’ Soderberg said. “I’m in good shape, I just hope I feel 100 percent soon.” . . . Former Bruin Nathan Horton is still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery and will not play for the Blue Jackets.