WILMINGTON — A few days ago, before the Bruins shut out the Sabres 4-0, Head Coach Claude Julien said this team needed to reestablish its identity, find a way to once again become that merciless club at both end of the ice that made every opponent’s job so difficult.
After Tuesday night’s 5-3 defeat of the San Jose Sharks, the Bruins are well on their way to becoming that team once again.
“You can’t be panicking at the start of the year when you know what you’ve got, and what you’re going through,” Julien said after Wednesday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena. “We’ve had to make some adjustments with our team and with each other and everything else, and it just seems like lately it’s been much better, and we’re starting to play together better, starting to read off each other better.
“We’ve made some adjustments as a coaching staff that help our team get better, and all that put together is making us more competitive team, as of now. When you go through a whole season, you’ve got to look at improving throughout the whole process, not just think that you’re there right now. We still have a lot of work to do, but I like the direction we’re going in.”
BUFFALO — The Bruins set off on this three-game journey through Detroit, Montreal and Buffalo with one objective in mind: return with a winning record on the road trip.
With a 4-0 shutout win over the Sabres at the First Niagara Center on Saturday night, they were able to do just that.
“When you come off a road trip, you want to come out with a winning record,” said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien. “We do that every road trip, we’re going to be OK.”
The start of this season has not been easy for the Bruins. Through the first seven games, there have been times when they felt that they executed their game plan to perfection, and there have been times that their team identity seemed completely lost.
BUFFALO — For the first six games of the 2014-15 season, the Bruins have attempted to re-solidify their identity. Particularly in the last two contests, they have gotten closer and closer to looking more like their old selves.
But given all of the roster flux heading into this season — combined with a jam-packed schedule to start the year — it certainly hasn’t been easy.
“Maybe in our situation, there’s been a lot more changes in our hockey club than we’ve had in a long, long time,” Julien said following the team’s morning skate on Saturday at the First Niagara Center. “From [Jarome] Iginla being gone, to [Shawn] Thornton being gone, to [Johnny] Boychuk being gone, and to having [Gregory] Campbell injured, [David] Krejci [injured] the first three games — there’s a lot of things that didn’t allow us to, I guess, jell quickly. So now, it’s coming around.”
The personnel changes have presented their own unique challenges, as has the schedule, which hasn’t allowed the coaching staff as much time as it would like in order to make adjustments.
BUFFALO — Though the game of hockey can sometimes make it difficult to keep emotions in check, the fact that there is so much at stake — and the fact that emotions do, at times, run so high — is also what makes the game exhilarating.
“It’s what makes it great to be an athlete and a hockey player, is to play in an atmosphere like that and in a rivalry like that,” said Bruins forward Milan Lucic on Saturday morning following the team’s pregame skate at the First Niagara Center.
Lucic, of course, was referring to the Bruins-Canadiens rivalry, and specifically to the Bell Centre and its always-spirited fans.
On Thursday night, with just under two minutes remaining in Boston’s eventual 6-4 loss to Montreal, Lucic was whistled for a boarding Alexei Emelin, a call that he took exception to. As he entered the penalty box, Lucic made a gesture toward the fans, for which he fined $5,000 on Friday.
The gesture — and its aftermath — have filled Lucic with remorse.
BOSTON — When Seth Griffith was recalled to play in the Bruins’ penultimate preseason game in Bridgeport, Conn., versus the New York Islanders on Oct. 3, he knew what he had to do.
After being released from Boston’s training camp the weekend prior and reporting to Providence’s camp, it seemed that he had been given one more shot to show the Bruins what he could do. He responded by lighting the lamp with a highlight reel goal to give the B’s a 3-0 lead in the second period, finishing that game with two points.
Late last night, after his P-Bruins had fallen 3-2 to the Portland Pirates, Griffith got a very welcome phone call from Bruins Assistant General Manager Don Sweeney: He was receiving his first regular-season NHL recall.
BOSTON — David Krejci is being careful not to assume anything, but he is staying positive.
The forward — who spent the first three games of the 2014-15 season on injured reserve with an undisclosed injury sustained during the preseason finale on Oct. 4 against Detroit — has been skating with his teammates for two days now and is hopeful that he will be in the lineup for Monday’s Columbus Day matinee versus Colorado.
“Every day [is] better,” he said, speaking to the media on Sunday for the first time since sustaining his injury. “Today was a pretty good day, so hopefully [I’ll] wake up tomorrow and feel good enough to play. But we got to wait till tomorrow.”
BOSTON — At a time when uncertainty surrounds the Bruins’ 2014-15 roster, there is at least one thing that is expected to stay the same.
Though three of Boston’s lines are expected to feature some new faces, there is one that should be very familiar when the puck drops on Wednesday night at TD Garden: Patrice Bergeron centering Brad Marchand and Reilly Smith.
For Bergeron, knowing that Marchand, his longtime linemate, will be on his left side once again this season provides some added confidence heading into the new season.
“We’ve been linemates for so long now,” Bergeron said on Monday as he and his teammates traveled back from a two-day team building trip in Vermont. “[In 2010], we definitely found some chemistry quickly and right away. We felt comfortable with one another, and I think as time goes on, and you get more years behind you, it becomes second-nature.”
BOSTON — There is no overstating the importance of the next few days for the players at Bruins training camp who find themselves battling for open roster spots.
“We still [have] too many players. These will be deciding games here for us to make our last decisions,” said Head Coach Claude Julien following Thursday’s practice at TD Garden. “It’s got to be done before [Opening Night], obviously. For a lot of those players,it’s an opportunity to give it a last shot. Then, it’s up to them to show they belong here. And maybe they don’t.
“We’re going to have to make some cuts, and some guys are going to end up going to Providence, and that’s what we’re up against right now.”
BOSTON — With just two preseason games remaining for the Bruins and Opening Night looming on Oct. 8, Head Coach Claude Julien knows there are a handful of of tough decisions to make in his immediate future.
“Lucky for me, I’m not alone in having to make those decisions,” Julien said, following a hard 90-minute practice at TD Garden. “We have group discussions with coaches, and obviously upper management sit down and share our thoughts on everybody.
“At the end of the day, a decision has to be made, but I’m not always the one that has to make the last decision because it [entails] a lot more than just saying, ‘This is the guy.’ There’s cap issues. There’s all kinds of different things that come with it. Obviously in this era, it’s a lot more complicated than it used to be.”
One of those tough decisions could center around 2014 first-round draft pick David Pastrnak, who has been practicing with the group for several days now after missing time at the beginning of training camp due to a tweaked shoulder.
Julien said that pending medical clearance, Pastrnak — who has yet to suit up for an NHL preseason game — will get the green light for at least one of Boston’s final two games (Friday vs. the Islanders and Saturday vs. Detroit).
“The biggest thing we can hope for right now…is that we get to see him play,” Julien said. “I’d like to see him play and see how he handles an NHL game, and hopefully I get the news that we all want sometime [Thursday].”
BOSTON — David Pastrnak donned a gold practice jersey during Thursday’s practice at TD Garden, and while he was a welcome sight skating alongside Brad Marchand and Reilly Smith, Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said Pastrnak is not quite in the clear -- yet -- with just two preseason games remaining.
“That’s the hope,” Julien said, when asked if Pastrnak might get into one of these last two games, scheduled for Friday versus the Islanders and Saturday versus Detroit. “I think right now, he’s feeling good. He looks like he’s ready, and the only thing that's stopping us from saying yes right now is we just need the doctors to clear him.
“[I’m] feeling confident that he will be [cleared], from what David’s telling me himself — he feels good, so we’ll wait and see, and probably be able to confirm that for you [Friday] morning.”