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Bruins frustrated by lack of offense, but it should return

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The 2015-16 Boston Bruins were not your typical Claude Julien coached team.

The defense struggled, Tuukka Rask was not quite himself in net, and the team remained competitive thanks almost entirely to an offense that was one of the best in the NHL. The grind-it-out, shut teams down style of play that had been a staple of Bruins hockey for so many years seemed to be gone.

Fast forward to this season and things have pretty much done a complete 180, at least as it relates to the two defensive areas. Rask is playing like an elite goalie, and while the defense still looks thin on paper compared to what we’re used to seeing in Boston they are doing a great job of suppressing shots and keeping teams off the scoreboard.

But the offense that was so good last season has pretty much disappeared for most of this season. Following their 4-1 loss to the Maple Leafs on Saturday, already the 20th time in 29 games this season they have failed to score more than two goals in a game (two more than any other team in the NHL), the Bruins now sit 26th in the NHL in goals per game, scoring only 2.31 per contest. If they maintain that pace over the entire season it would nearly 50 goals off of their total from a year ago.

Frustration seemed to be setting in after Saturday’s game.

David Backes talked about offensive frustration being warranted at this point and how the need to do more around the net.

Julien said that because they aren’t scoring goals at the moment they are criticizing everything else about their game, but that the rest of their game isn’t bad.

He is not wrong about that.

What has to be especially frustrating for the Bruins at this point is they really aren’t playing poorly. They are outshooting teams by an average of five shots per game, their 33.1 shots on goal per game is second best in the NHL behind only the Pittsburgh Penguins, and with a 54.9 corsi percentage are currently the best possession team in the NHL. They are doing a lot of things right. Those are things that winning teams do. And not just winning teams, championship contending teams.

The thing that is hurting them right now is a 7 percent shooting percentage that is currently the second worst in the NHL. Their current standing there is due almost entirely to the past 14 games where that percentage has dropped down to just 6 percent. This is the important thing to keep in mind here if you’re a Bruins fan. It’s a long season, and over 82 games offense will run hot and cold for extended periods of time. Through the first half of this season, the Bruins were scoring at a pretty normal rate. Over the 14 games that followed, it has completely collapsed. That is not going to last. Keep in mind that over the past five years only four teams have finished a season converting on 7 percent (or lower) or of their shots over a full season, and all of those were teams that were among the worst in the league during a given season.

The Bruins simply have too much talent on their roster to keep shooting that low over an extended period of time. As long as they are able to keep putting more than 33 shots on goal per game that shooting luck is going to eventually change back in their favor. Some of those bounces around the crease are going to start finding the back of the net. Once that starts to happen this could be a pretty dangerous team in the East given the way they are actually playing.

Fight video: Flyers’ Manning vs. Penguins’ Gaunce

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Breaking: the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers don’t like each other.

The stakes might be higher for the Penguins than the Flyers – aside from those who still believe Philly has a shot at a playoff run – their rivalry rarely subsides.

With that in mind, it’s no surprise that Sunday featured at least one fight, with Cameron Gaunce squaring off against Brandon Manning in a pretty spirited bout.

Manning isn’t shy about fighting, by the way; this was his seventh bout of the season, according to Hockey Fights.

Higher on the radar for the Penguins is the situation for Conor Sheary, who has been absent from the ice since about midway through the first period. PHT will keep an eye out for updates on what could be yet another injury for the health-challenged Pens.

Dreading the work week? Watch this dog get ‘ice time’ with puck

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Life is difficult, complex and confusing. Good thing we have dog videos.

Forgive this video being one night late, but for those of us who watch cute animal clips, time is a furry circle. Or something like that.

Anyway, this golden retriever got a little “ice time” before the Washington Capitals’ game against the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday in what would end up being a 4-1 win for the Caps. It’s an excellent video featuring a top-notch, hilarious pooch.

Alternate joke: Now that is some puck retrieval.

Patrik Laine’s out sick for Jets on Sunday

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Patrik Laine and Auston Matthews are locked with identical goals (34), assists (27) and points (61) on Sunday, which is remarkable since Laine has played in 67 games versus 75 for Matthews. He won’t get a chance to beef up his numbers on Sunday, either.

It looks like the high-scoring rookie is missing the Winnipeg Jets’ contest against the Vancouver Canucks because of an illness, according to TSN’s Sara Orlesky.

The Jets are almost assured to miss the playoffs, so seeing Laine lose a chance to bolster his Calder argument adds a little extra sadness to the night.

NHL schedules hearing for Micheal Haley’s sucker-punch on Calle Jarnkrok

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The NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced a Monday hearing for San Jose Sharks tough guy Micheal Haley for his “roughing/sucker punch” on Calle Jarnkrok of the Nashville Predators.

The league didn’t specify if Haley will face a telephone or in-person hearing on Monday afternoon. They did, interestingly, use the phrase “sucker punch” in that official announcement.

Haley received a match penalty during the game. Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer was highly upset about the hit that inspired Haley’s actions.

“When you run someone from behind in a game like that, you probably deserve to get a punch in the mouth,” DeBoer told reporters.

In other bad news for the Sharks, CSN Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz reports that Logan Couture‘s situation isn’t looking promising after he was hurt on Sunday.