November 7, 2011

Seidenberg, Bruins ready for resilient Isles

by Jesse Connolly

Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg was plus-3 in the Bruins' 7-0 win over the Leafs. (Getty)

BOSTON -- With things seemingly heading in the right direction after back-to-back victories, a sense of optimism has mercifully returned to the Bruins' dressing room, but a matchup with the never-say-die Islanders could quickly derail the B's first winning streak of the year.

New York and Boston enter tonight's tilt tied for last place in the Eastern Conference, but both find themselves coming off of confidence-boosting victories. The Black and Gold routed the Leafs 7-0 on Saturday, while the Islanders mounted a masterful comeback at Nassau Coliseum over the Capitals.

"They're playing well," Bruins center Chris Kelly said of the Islanders. "They're a good, young, skating team that works hard. They never really quit. Last game they were down by three and came back to beat Washington 5-3, which is not an easy feat. We know we're going to have our hands full."

While New York's key to success was resilience, the Bruins' winning recipe was based largely upon putting forth a 60-minute effort -- something they've often struggled to do through the early stages of the campaign.

"Well it was consistency," defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said. "We played for the whole sixty minutes and didn't stop after forty or twenty. We stuck with it and we never stopped playing. That's the most important thing."

And while the septet of strikes may lead one to believe that the Bruins simply turned up the dial and took more initiative in the offensive zone, winger Shawn Thornton believes a strong commitment down the other end of the ice was what did the trick.

"I think playing our system, that's the easy answer but it's true," Thornton said when asked what's sparked Boston's turnaround. "When we're playing our system defensively, it turns into better opportunities up the ice. I think we're doing a better job with coming back hard, focusing on being good in our own zone and then taking it from there."

The B's know where they stand among their fellow members of the Eastern Conference and certainly hope to leapfrog the Isles and continue to climb out of the early-season hole they dug for themselves, but with 70 games still remaining on the schedule, it's hardly time to begin over-analyzing the standings.

"Obviously you want to move up in the standings, but it's early days and we just need to focus on playing our best hockey," Kelly said. "If we don't play the way we're capable of playing, then we'll be stuck where we're at. If you get too focused on the standings at this point in the year, you're going to get in trouble."

Nevertheless, the B's certainly would love to grab two points and leave New York alone in the basement.

"We're going the right way and we had a couple good wins," said Thornton. "But we're still below five-hundred and we still have to climb out of this hole. We have to focus on being good again tonight."