We’ve seen, not only this year, but other years and other series, that the last one is the hardest one to get. Maybe we don’t need to so much focus on it being the fourth win, as much as just coming out and playing a good game.
WILMINGTON, MA - The Bruins snapped a four-game skid on Sunday afternoon with a 3-0 shutout of the Florida Panthers, featuring solid goaltending, stronger defense and a touch of their “edge” and physicality that has made them such a tough team to play against in recent years.
It’s not quite near the level they want it to be, but the theme around the locker room seems to be that they’re “heading in the right direction.”
“I don’t know where exactly we did, but we really turned a corner when you start not just focusing on the results but you do focus on the positives and how we were playing and working towards things,” said blueliner Andrew Ference following Sunday’s win at TD Garden.
“And [we] have kind of the bigger picture in mind of what we’re getting ready for and what we’re gearing up for, so it’s going the right direction for sure.”
BOSTON, MA - On Monday morning, the Bruins held an optional skate at TD Garden, prior to facing off against the Carolina Hurricanes at 7 pm (ET), with seven defensemen, 10 forwards and Anton Khudobin all hitting the ice.
Included in that group was center Chris Kelly, who has been skating with the team since April 4 in his recovering from a broken left tibia that has kept him out since March 11, and today he got the much awaited good news - that he was medically cleared. Following the skate, he said that he was feeling good and Coach Julien confirmed shortly thereafter that the centerman was expected to be back in the lineup tonight against Carolina.
“Obviously, when you’re out of the lineup for an extended period of time there’s going to be some getting used to,” said Kelly. “Not rust, but I think you kind of take it for granted when you’re playing every day or every other day.”
“I’m hoping that the transition won’t be too bad and come in and I’ll just play my game.”
Coach Julien did say that the B’s expect Kelly to be in the lineup tonight, but cautioned that would be the case “unless something happens today and we find out something different.”
Nonetheless, Coach - like Kelly - is just looking for a simple game, as the center works his way back in.
“Just go out there and play his game. I don’t think we expect anything more out of any player when they come back,” said Coach. “He’ s got to ease his way into it, probably short shifts. He’s got to keep his game simple.
“Everything when someone comes back from an injury would do, and hopefully, not gain confidence, but gain momentum as the game wears on.”
As the Bruins begin to get healthy, defenseman Adam McQuaid is still on the right track and progressing well, but Coach had told media following Sunday’s practice that the D-man would not be in Monday night’s lineup against Carolina.
After a hard, high-intensity practice on Sunday, the B’s held an optional Monday morning, with forwards Brad Marchand, Daniel Paille, David Krejci and Milan Lucic all choosing to stay off the ice on, along with defensemen Dennis Seidenberg and Andrew Ference. Tuukka Rask also stayed off the ice, while Anton Khudobin was the lone netminder joining the team for pregame skate.
Forwards on the ice: Jagr, Campbell, Peverley, Thornton, Seguin, Kelly, Caron, Pandolfo, Daugavins, Horton
Defensemen: McQuaid, Chara, Hamilton, Boychuk, Bartkowski, Redden, Johnson
The B’s lines have been switched around the past few games, a product of injuries, lack of sustained attack and finding chemistry with the new additions of Jagr and Daugavins, but the Bruins have constantly preached that if they stay within the system, work hard to get on pucks, keep it simple and support one another, it shouldn’t matter what line they’re on.
According to lines in Sunday’s practice, and with the addition of Chris Kelly expected back in, Tyler Seguin is moving back to the wing and most likely skating alongside Kelly.
“Obviously I feel comfortable playing the wing,” said Seguin following morning skate. “It was working out, I guess, in the first game [playing center] - a few mistakes there, and then obviously the first couple of shifts in Montreal, it just wasn’t working.”
“It just wasn’t working in our own zone. Going through the neutral zone, just where to [the puck] up, and where to go. Obviously is has a lot more responsibility in your own end just battling and finding your man.”
“I don’t think it matter what line you’re on,” he added. “You just want to go out there and play your game. Whoever you’re playing with, I think we all know each other well enough now that we can find chemistry right away.”
“Obviously, if that’s the way lines are tonight, Tyler is a gifted offensive player; it’ll be nice to play with him,” said Kelly, on possibly centering Seguin. “I’ve played with him before and we’ve got some chemistry and work well together.”
Here’s the projected lineup:
Ference and Seideberg started Saturday’s game as a pairing, with Bartkowski and Boychuk together, though towards the second half of the first period (and after Montreal’s goal), Coach Julien started pairing Bartkowski mostly with Seidenberg, and Ference with Boychuk, so I’d expect that to stick heading into the start of tonight’s game, though warm-ups will be the best indication at 6:30.
Since Anton Khudobin was the only goaltender on this morning, I’ll assume he’s getting the nod in goal, but will wait until I see which goaltender leads Captain Chara and the B’s out for warm-ups.
Stay tuned to the Bruins Blog, BostonBruins.com and updates on Twitter @NHLBruins for pregame quotes from Tyler Seguin, Chris Kelly, Matt Bartkowski and Coach Julien heading into tonight…
-Caryn Switaj ^CS
WILMINGTON, MA - The Bruins gathered for a Sunday morning practice at Ristuccia Arena, following their 2-1 loss in Montreal last night; a win would have would have catapulted them to first in the Northeast.
They practiced for just over 45 minutes as a group, but it seemed much longer because of the quality of the work being deployed, as they worked through some frustration towards Saturday night’s defeat. The emphasis was mostly on shooting work and getting pucks on goal, a result of not only the 0 shots recorded on their 6-on-4 power play in the final minute of last night’s game, but more a product of their 5-on-5 play as of late.
“You’ve got to realize what was at stake and what slipped away, but frustration’s not going to get you going in the right direction,” said Coach following practice.
“I think it’s more, I’d rather see determination versus frustration; determination of wanting to turn it around and that’s what we’re trying to do here. Everyone’s got to work through this here.”
The battling down low during practice got extremely competitive, as the B’s upped the intensity level, a sign of the emphasis placed on puck control along the boards and in front of the goal. During a stretch of about 10-15 minutes of battling drills inside the blueline, it looked like players who mishandled the puck or didn’t give their best effort to maintain control and fire shots in, skated a few quick sprints in the neutral zone before joining the rest of the team back on the blueline.
Searching to stabilize a four-line roll-out for the Bruins - especially with injuries to Patrice Bergeron and Chris Kelly still keeping two of the B’s top centerman out of the lineup - Coach tinkered with the lines for today’s practice.
Grey: Paille-Kelly-Seguin, Pandolfo
Merlot: Peverley at center, with Daugavins, Caron, Thornton the wingers
“What’s happening is we want to keep the momentum going,” said Coach Julien, on trying to stabilize more than one line. “You got Krech’s line going out there and bringing us some good flow, and then we got some lines where there was no flow to it, so we’re just trying to get some flow going on a consistent basis here to keep the momemtum of the game going in our favor.”
“They were our best line last night,” Coach said, when asked if he’s leary of breaking up the Krejci line. “Right now, it’s hard to break that line; I’m trying to fix the other lines that aren’t bringing much for the time being. That’s where I stand with that.”
Adam McQuaid joined the team for the first time on the ice since March 19, as it was announced on March 20 that he would be out 3-4 weeks with a shoulder strain. McQuaid took some contact, but not much, and Coach Julien ruled him out for Monday’s game against Carolina at TD Garden.
As such, all nine defensemen were on the ice for the B’s, along with 14 forwards and the two goaltenders.
Chris Kelly was also taking contact and participated in battling drills, and Coach said there hasn’t been clearance yet from the medical staff, but he keeps “inching closer and closer every day.” With Kelly and McQuaid both on, the only Bruin missing was Patrice Bergeron.
Following practice, Coach said there was no further update yet on Bergeron’s status and that he would update the media when the B’s knew more.
Coach noted that a “situation like that is very unknown; we’ll certainly update you guys when the news starts getting positive and he’s headed in the right direction.”
For more coverage from practice, and locker room quotes from Brad Marchand, Daniel Paille, Zdeno Chara and Coach Julien, stay tuned to the blog, BostonBruins.com and on Twitter @NHLBruins…
-Caryn Switaj ^CS
BOSTON, MA - There was a buzz around the Bruins this morning at TD Garden, and it wasn’t just carryover from Tuesday’s 3-2 win over the Senators.
Jaromir Jagr joined the B’s in the locker room prior to morning skate, smiling and meeting his new teammates, with his stall close to the spoked-B on the floor, and a few down from Tyler Seguin (more on the significance of that as you read below).
“I’m going to a good team, they won two years ago, the Stanley Cup. They didn’t make many changes, so the team looks kind of the same,” Jagr said, as he looked around smiling at his new teammates scattered throughout the locker room. “Hopefully, I can help them to another Cup.”
Shortly thereafter, he took the ice in the spoked-B for the first time, with many members of the media looking on and anticipating what the line combinations might be a few minutes later.
But Jagr isn’t the only addition to this squad - gritty forward Kaspars Daugavins also joined his new teammates for his first morning skate as a Bruin, after taking warm-ups Tuesday night opposite his former Senators’ team (B’s did not practice Wednesday).
In another positive note that led to the good vibe around the team, before practice, defenseman Adam McQuaid was skating with Strength & Conditioning Coach Whitesides, as he has done all week, and Chris Kelly participated in pregame skate with the B’s for the first time since suffering a broken left tibia on March 11 in Ottawa.
With Jagr and Daugavins in the lineup, here are the highly anticipated line combinations that formed during morning line rushes, with Tyler Seguin getting the opportunity to center Jagr and Brad Marchand.
“We put him there because we think he can [play center] and we’ll see. It’s a great opportunity for him, he’s played there most of his career and I’m giving him that opportunity as something I think he deserves,” Coach Julien said of Seguin centering Jagr and Marchand. “So, we’ll see how it goes, and if not then coaches will do what they do, they adjust.”
“It’s going to be a little different for him; he’s not on the wall right now, he’s going to have go down low in support and he’s going to have to cover a little bit more territory, something that we all know Bergy does extremely well.”
“He’s got some big shoes to fill, we don’t expect him to fill them, but we expect him to go out there and do a decent job like everybody else. We have the confidence he can skate and more responsibility means a chance to get better as a player and mature as a guy that you can put it in different situations.”
While the Bruins get additions to their club and have a the likes of Kelly and McQuaid back around the locker room, they’re also now missing their most consistent player, best defensive forward, strongest faceoff man, and all-around leader, alternate captain Patrice Bergeron, who suffered a “moderate concussion” in Tuesday’s game against Ottawa.
Coach reiterated what GM Peter Chiarelli had told media yesterday, that there is no timetable, but “he sounded positive and sounded good.” Given Patrice’s history, any talk of him being in high spirits, like Julien and Chiarelli have referenced, is surely a good sign moving forward in his recovery.
Chris Kelly, on the other hand, is on his way to finding himself back into the lineup for Boston. For an injury like Kelly’s that doesn’t have a set timetable for recovery, Coach Julien said it’s now a “matter of days now, versus a week” for the center, who will be practicing with the B’s tomorrow and making the trip to Montreal.
On the back end, seven defensemen were on for the B’s during morning skate, as D-man Wade Redden has yet to join the team following yesterday’s trade with the St. Louis Blues. As such, he is not expected to be in the lineup tonight.
Tuukka Rask was first off the ice, as Anton Khudobin stayed on for extra work. The Bruins face off against the New Jersey Devils in their second meeting of the season tonight at 7 p.m. ET (NESNplus).
Stay tuned to the Bruins Blog, BostonBruins.com and updates via Twitter @NHLBruins for more locker room quotes from Jagr, Daugavins, Kelly and Coach following morning skate…