BOSTON — You know you’re a big deal when you’re a member of the Boston Bruins and somehow, when you’re training in Montreal Canadiens territory in the offseason, kids line up just to watch you work out in the hopes of getting a smile, a wave or — if they’re really lucky — a photo.
Needless to say, Patrice Bergeron seems to have done things right.
“Back home, everyone is all about [the Canadiens], obviously,” said teammate Jordan Caron, who has served as Bergeron’s longtime offseason training partner in their native Quebec City. “We work out outside, and there’s always a bunch of kids that look up to him, and everyone knows who Patrice Bergeron is in Quebec City.
“It’s awesome to see that. And he always takes time to say hi to those kids and takes pictures with them, so it’s awesome.”
Bergeron may suit up for the Canadiens’ most bitter rival, but in his hometown, that is irrelevant. In fact, across the league, Bergeron’s allegiance doesn’t matter. He may be the opponent on any given night, but he’s never the enemy. He can’t be. He’s Patrice Bergeron.
WILMINGTON — With a day off on Sunday to reflect on what transpired in a 3-1 loss to Columbus on Saturday night, the Bruins remain dissatisfied.
The good news is, they have two games to rectify those issues before a five-day layoff for the All-Star Break.
“I feel like we obviously didn’t play the way we wanted to play, and now we kind of realize we have to play hard every game and try to outwork the other team,” said forward David Krejci following Monday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena. “Even though we were in the game till almost the end of the game, I don’t think we outworked the other team. We had a good practice today, and we’ve still got two big games in front of us before the break, so we have to work hard and try to get four points.”
On Saturday night, the Bruins were seeking to extend their winning streak to a season-long six games, but the Blue Jackets got in the way. Though the Bruins carried a 1-1 deadlock into the third period, they allowed an uncharacteristic late goal and an empty netter and were handed their first regulation loss since the last time they had faced Columbus back on Dec. 27.
BOSTON — Brad Marchand met with the media on Saturday morning for the first time since receiving a two-game suspension for slew-footing Derick Brassard during Thursday’s win over the Rangers, and he was ready to hold himself accountable for his actions.
“Our team’s been playing so well, and I don’t want a selfish act like that to impact how well the team can do,” he said following Saturday’s morning skate at TD Garden. “Hopefully they can win without me, which I know they can, and again, I’ll get back in against Colorado.”
Added Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien, “I think the league made its decision, and I know they’re certainly trying to cut down on slew-footing, so we have to respect it and move on.”
Marchand is slated to miss Saturday’s matchup against Columbus and the first of two upcoming road games against Dallas and Colorado. He said he doesn’t dispute the League’s decision and will be ready to contribute again once he is back in the lineup on Wednesday.
BOSTON — As Dougie Hamilton said, it seems like the Bruins have faced a lot of benchmark games over the course of the last two weeks.
And yet they’ll face another one on Thursday night.
“Obviously we know they’re good, and we know it’s a big game,” Hamilton said after Thursday’s morning skate at TD Garden. “I think everyone’s prepared for it. The last couple games, we’ve had a lot of big games, and everyone’s been getting up for them, and hopefully we have the same attitude tonight.”
Though the New York Rangers are in seventh place in the Eastern Conference and are tied with the Bruins with 52 points, they are certainly one of the league’s hottest teams. They have won 13 of their last 15 dating back to Dec. 8, 15 of their last 19 and 17 of their last 22. In 11 of their last 14 games, they have allowed two goals are fewer, so the Bruins know that getting off to a good start and playing a full 60 minutes will be crucial on Thursday night.
WILMINGTON — The Bruins were expecting a tough game from the Lightning on Tuesday night, and that is exactly what they got.
But that didn’t stop them from rolling to their fourth straight win, marking the first time they have managed to win four straight since early November.
During this recent stretch, the Bruins have beaten two of the top three teams in the Eastern Conference, and they have allowed a total of six goals.
“We’ve definitely taken strides and steps in the right direction, and I think that’s what’s gotten us on track and being able to get a four-game win streak going,” said forward Milan Lucic following Wednesday's practice at Ristuccia Arena. “As you can see, in these last four games, our goals-against are down, which was kind of a concern in December and November. We’re starting to play our system the right way, and it’s nice to be winning.”
BOSTON — The Bruins have faced their fare share of challenges this season. They have already faced the best teams in the West and some of the top teams in the East -- some as recently as last week.
But one of their biggest challenges of the season thus far will come in the form of the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night at TD Garden.
The Lightning currently sit in first place in the Eastern Conference and trail the NHL-best Predators and Ducks by just two points. In net, they boast 2014 Vezina Trophy contender Ben Bishop, who will enter Tuesday’s matchup riding a five-game winning streak. Their plus-25 goal differential ranks as the fifth-best in the NHL.
So despite the fact that Tampa Bay enters Tuesday’s matchup on the heels of a 7-3 loss that came at the hands of the Flyers on Monday night, the Bruins aren’t expecting anything less than the best team in the East.
BOSTON — Claude Julien was hesitant to get too far ahead of himself. As he said on Thursday night after a 3-0 shutout of New Jersey, his team isn’t out of the woods yet.
But after two straight wins over the Penguins and the Devils, it’s getting closer.
“We won two games — I think we’ve got to continue to work and prove that we are turning the corner, and that’s a work in progress right now,” Julien said following Friday’s practice at TD Garden. “I liked our game yesterday, obviously. [On Wednesday], we played a pretty good team in Pittsburgh that was well-rested, and again, in our situation, we showed some good flashes, and there were times when we were on our heels a lot.
“Yesterday was a step in the right direction. I’m more willing to go one game at a time, here, and see where we are.”
RALEIGH — There was little to say after the game ended.
As such, Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask stood in front of his stall in the visiting dressing room at PNC Arena and took a moment before attempting to explain the frustration that stems from a third consecutive loss in extra time and the team’s second shootout loss in three games.
“I think you can use my interviews from the past couple of games,” he finally said. “I don’t want to repeat myself. You saw what happened out there in this game. So not enough.”
The Bruins’ 2-1 shootout loss to Carolina on Sunday afternoon was, in some ways, more frustrating than the two losses that came before. The Bruins went 17 minutes without a shot to start the game. After a stronger second, they managed just two shots in the third period. Rask made 33 saves in regulation to keep his team in the game, but in the end, the Bruins could not generate enough offense — or enough opportunities — to take two points.
BOSTON — Frustrating.
It was a word the Bruins — both the players and the head coach — used again and again following a 3-2 overtime loss to Ottawa on Saturday afternoon at TD Garden.
It was frustrating to prove unable to close out another game in regulation. It was frustrating to once again fall in extra time. It was frustrating to take a one-goal lead into the final five minutes of the game, only to find themselves with a single point to show for it in the end.
“It’s frustrating for everybody,” said Head Coach Claude Julien. “So I know we can nitpick every little detail of our game, but we’ve played the last two games well enough to win. They’re not perfect, but they’re good enough to win, and I think that’s where I’m going to be careful with how I talk about this thing with you guys and with the team, because we’re working hard.
“We still have some areas we’ve got to get better at — we still forced some plays, [and] that ends up giving us some issues — but overall, I thought the effort was good.”
WILMINGTON — There has been a familiar and encouraging sight on the ice for the Bruins over the last couple of weeks: Defenseman Adam McQuaid, who has been out of the lineup since sustaining a broken thumb on Nov. 18, has been skating with the group.
On Friday, the news got even better: McQuaid told reporters that he is close to returning to game action.
“I felt pretty good out there today,” McQuaid said following Friday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena. “Shot’s coming along better, getting the feel for the puck and just getting in the flow of things out there. So it’s definitely close.”
Right now, the Bruins look a lot different than they did when McQuaid last played. When McQuaid broke his thumb, Boston was en route to a decisive 2-0 win over Western Conference stalwart St. Louis. Including that game, the Bruins had emerged victorious in seven of their last nine. If the season ended that day, they would have been in the playoffs.