BOSTON — Every hockey team makes mistakes, said Bruins Assistant Captain Chris Kelly.
What separates the good teams from the rest of the pack are the teams that respond properly to those mistakes.
In Kelly’s eyes, his club did not do that in a 6-3 loss to Tampa Bay on Monday afternoon.
“The amount of goals we’re giving up is uncharacteristic of this group,” Kelly said. “Regardless of how many new faces there [are], Boston has always been a good defending team. But right now, that doesn’t seem to be the case.”
What was once the foundation of the Bruins has now become a glaring area of improvement. Boston’s defense, once stout and powerful, has struggled through three consecutive games, allowing 16 goals in three losses.
“Obviously, you play the game to win, but you play to play the game right, and we’ve been losing by a large margin,” said defenseman Adam McQuaid. “We’ve been close at times in games, but in three games, giving up 16 goals against is not acceptable. It’s a lot of goals to give up, and usually we’re a lot more stingy than that.
“We’ve always taken pride in that being a strength of our team, and we realize how important it is.”
BOSTON — When all was said and done, the Bruins weren’t interested in making excuses.
They could have. They could have talked about a second-period goal that was waved off due to questionable goalie interference. They could have talked about emotions that got away from both sides, particularly in the waning minutes of the third period, when 10-minute match penalties were assessed to each team.
But they didn’t. At the end of the day, the Bruins said, what mattered in the aftermath of a 4-2 loss to the Canadiens was that they got outplayed.
“Today, especially, I think we just played poorly,” said goaltender Tuukka Rask. “For the most part, we showed some good hockey, but it wasn’t anything special that they did, I don’t think, that gave us too many troubles. We just didn’t play consistent.”
BOSTON — Jimmy Hayes is very familiar with the Bruins-Canadiens rivalry.
No, he hasn’t yet played in one of those rivalry games. But he certainly watched plenty of them as a kid.
“That’s always a dream come true, to play against a team like that,” said the Dorchester native following Saturday’s morning skate at TD Garden. “So to be able to have that going, and to be a part of it now, finally, is going to be a great experience.
“Just growing up, you always see the battle these two teams have against one another. It just continues throughout the years, and it’s going to continue tonight and go on for the rest of the season.”
When the Canadiens come to town, it is always especially exciting, not just for the fans, but for the players. The rivalry always adds a little something extra.
WILMINGTON — The Bruins aren’t hitting the panic button. Far from it.
No, Thursday’s opening-night loss to Winnipeg was not what they wanted or expected from themselves. But they know they are capable of better. They know they did some good things on the ice on Thursday, and Friday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena was all about emphasizing those plusses and moving past the minuses.
“I don’t think it’s about finding excuses or the easy way out,” said Head Coach Claude Julien. “I think it’s about looking at what you did well and what you didn’t, and I though offensively, we created a lot. I would like to see our team finish a little bit better, and that’s all about confidence and continuing to work at it.
“But defensively, we really had some lapses there that hurt us along the way and just put the game out of hand. So we have to gear up for [Saturday].
“Short-term memory’s about preparing for the next game and fixing what needs to be fixed, so hopefully, we’ve done some of that today.”
BOSTON — With just two days remaining until the official beginning of the 2015-16 season, there was a very welcome sight on the Bruins’ practice ice on Tuesday.
Captain Zdeno Chara participated in a full practice with his teammates for the first time since sustaining an undisclosed upper body injury on Sept. 22.
“I felt good,” Chara said afterward. “It was nice to be out there with the team, with the guys, doing drills.”
Following practice, Head Coach Claude Julien said Chara’s presence on Tuesday offers reason to be optimistic.
“It’s a good sign to have him out there today,” Julien said. “I think we continue to do what we call the daily evaluation of him. Let’s see how he feels [Wednesday], after practicing with the team. We’ll continue to do that until we know that he’s really ready to go.
“Right now, I think it’s nice for everybody to see him out there with us and practicing. It’s his first practice in quite a while, so hopefully he gains as much as he can for the time being.”
NEW YORK — When asked if he has done everything he can do to make his case for the backup goaltending job in Boston, Jonas Gustavsson was honest.
“I mean, you can always do better,” he said following Boston’s 3-2 loss to New York on Wendesday night at Madison Square Garden. “That’s the mentality I have, at least. That’s what drives me and makes me want to get better.”
Gustavsson knew there was plenty at stake for him on Wednesday night. He is on a tryout agreement with Boston and is fighting for employment. He knows it is down to him and Jeremy Smith for the job, and he knows that with Head Coach Claude Julien intending to start Tuukka Rask in Boston’s preseason finale on Friday, this could have been his final opportunity to show what he can do.
But to him, there was no point in dwelling on that decision heading into Wednesday’s game. Not if it would interfere with his focus.
BOSTON — To Jonas Gustavsson, Wednesday’s start against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden won’t be any different than any other start he has made in his career.
Yes, there will be pressure. Boston’s backup goaltending job is still up for grabs, and Gustavsson can make his case by impressing against a Rangers lineup stacked with NHL stars.
But when you play in the NHL, there is always pressure, no matter the circumstances or the stakes.
“Ever since you started playing pro, you always have to prove yourself out there — doesn’t matter what the situation is,” Gustavsson said following Tuesday’s morning skate at Ristuccia Arena. “You have to prove that you want to play and that you deserve ice time and all that, so that’s no news.
“I’m just going to see it as any other game, and go out and have fun and try and win the game.”
WILMINGTON — With just two games left in the preseason and just over a week remaining until the puck drops on the 2015-16 season, the mood is changing at Bruins camp.
There has always been pressure, but now, there’s more of it.
“I think everyone’s trying to be precise, and you want to make plays, even in practice, because everyone’s watching,” said forward Brian Ferlin, who is competing in his second training camp with the Bruins. “You want to be ready to go every day when you step on the ice. So I think that’s kind of the mentality from the beginning of camp, but definitely as it’s getting chopped down here a little bit closer [to the regular season], definitely more precision and everyone’s ready to go out there.”
The urgency was evident even in the midst of Tuesday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena.
BOSTON — Practice is great, but it’s the games that really get the blood pumping — even if they’re just preseason games.
Tuukka Rask has spent a lot of time practicing in the 11 days since training camp began. He has also spent a lot of time watching his teammates play in exhibition games.
On Monday night, that will change.
“Tuukka will be playing [Monday], and our goal is probably to play him [Monday] and Friday,” Julien said following a brief Sunday afternoon practice at TD Garden. “For right now, that’s our goal — so two games closer to the end of camp and closer to the start of the season.
“He was very receptive to the point where he thought that would be enough for him. He skated a lot, practiced a lot, so he just wants a couple of games. And so that’s what we’re going to end up doing with him.”
BOSTON — It may be the preseason, but it is never too early to start building character.
The Bruins had to dig deep on Thursday night. They lost their captain and their top defenseman five minutes into the game, when Zdeno Chara left the game with an undisclosed upper body injury. A group of five defensemen — three of them with a combined 15 games of NHL experience to their names — had to fill the void against a Rangers team stacked with veterans.
Despite the circumstances, the Bruins overcame a two-goal deficit in the third period to trump the Rangers 4-3 in the shootout. It maybe the preseason, but on Thursday night, it didn’t matter.
A win like that always feels good.
“A lot of people take these preseason games lightly, but I think it’s a really good opportunity for us to show what we have, and how excited we are to get back and to have a really good year,” said forward Brad Marchand, who tallied the game-winner in the shootout. “It’s also a really good opportunity for guys to show that they’re ready to play and earn different spots. So right now, I think it’s a good opportunity for guys to compete for different things, and it’ll help our team get better.”