WILMINGTON — For the Bruins, Thanksgiving Day marks an important milestone.
With a little less than two months of the season under their belts, the Bruins consider themselves satisfied if they are in the playoff picture — relatively satisfied. As of now, they are in the mix for a postseason spot, and while that is obviously a positive, they are the first to admit that there is still a lot of work to be done.
“Historically, teams that are there at the time stay there, but guys on the fringe move up and down,” said General Manager Peter Chiarelli after Thursday’s Thanksgiving Day practice at Ristuccia Arena. “But it’s a good milestone for us, and this year, the amount of injuries the amount of roster fluctuation that we’ve had — I’m relatively satisfied with where we are now.
“I think what I look at when I assess a team and assess the games, game by game — it’s effort and work ethic, and I think the system will eventually come into place and the proper personnel will eventually be in place. Those first two things have been good, I’ve found. So we’re in a spot where we say we want to be in that kind of area, where historically you’ve made the playoffs, if you’re there at this time.
“So we’re there. We’ve reached an interim goal, and relatively satisfied.”
BOSTON — The Bruins entered Friday night’s matchup against Columbus knowing they were facing their first of three games in four nights. They knew that they desperately needed two points with tough tests against Montreal and Pittsburgh lying in the immediate future.
They knew they would have to do it without the help of Brad Marchand, who stayed back in Boston with an undisclosed ailment, and without David Krejci, who made the trip but was unable to play on Friday due to an undisclosed situation.
So when they found themselves down by two goals heading into the third period of Friday’s game, they just bore down and did what they needed to do with the personnel they had.
The Bruins overcame a 2-0 first period deficit, scoring three third-period goals and eventually triumphing over the Blue Jackets in the seventh round of a scoreless shootout, thanks to the craftiness of Alex Khokhlachev, playing in his second career NHL game in Krejci’s place.
COLUMBUS — The Blue Jackets and the Bruins have one big theme in common thus far in 2014-15: Injuries.
Granted, the Bruins have had it bad, but they haven’t had it as bad as Columbus — and that’s saying something, considering Boston’s captain has been out with a knee injury since Oct. 23.
Through 18 games this season, the Blue Jackets have already lost 124 man games to injuries. Nathan Horton’s struggles have been well documented — he has yet to play this season due to a back injury and is currently faced with the impossible decision between opting for potentially career-ending surgery or waiting it out.
BOSTON — For the final 13-plus minutes of Saturday’s 2-1 win over Carolina, winger Brad Marchand was nowhere to be seen, held out for precautionary reasons.
Following Monday’s practice, Head Coach Claude Julien said Marchand was probable for Tuesday’s tilt versus St. Louis, but following Tuesday’s morning skate at TD Garden — for which Marchand was briefly seen on the ice — the prognosis was not good.
When asked how Marchand was doing, Julien said, “Not well,” then added, “He went off the ice, so he won’t be going tonight.”
BOSTON — Prior to Saturday’s game, the Bruins had a few key goals in mind: Establish a strong physical presence. Be emotionally engaged. Stay focused for a full 60 minutes.
By the end of an eventual 2-1 win over Carolina at TD Garden, they could confidently say that those goals had been accomplished.
“It’s a win, and it’s definitely a step in the right direction,” said forward Patrice Bergeron. “There’s some things that we do have to keep working on and managing the pucks, especially in our zone, and making it a little easier on us. But that being said, I thought we got scored against right away, early on and we stuck with it and scored two big goals in the first to come back on top and get the lead, and we kept it. So it’s definitely some positive.”
The game didn’t start out precisely the way the B’s wanted it to. Though they did reestablish the physicality that had been missing during their two-game skid against Toronto and Montreal, registering 13 hits in the first 12 minutes of play, the Bruins weren’t as tight defensively as they wanted to be. Seven minutes into the game, a turnover inside the red line led to a barrage of scoring chances for the Hurricanes, and one of them — a Justin Faulk shot from the right circle — was tipped in front and found the back of the net.
BOSTON — The team that showed up to play Toronto and Montreal earlier this week was not the team that the Bruins are used to being.
Something, they said, needs to change before the puck drops against Carolina on Saturday afternoon.
“No one’s happy with the results that we had [on the road trip],” said defenseman Adam McQuaid prior to Saturday’s tilt versus the Hurricanes. “It’s almost embarrassing. So you learn from it. At the same time, we need to kind of try and move on from it, and hopefully that starts today.
"We need to make sure that we’re focused and ready to go for a full game here, and we need to get back on track.”
A full 60-minute effort. More emotional engagement. More focus. Those are the credos the Bruins have preached since the horn sounded at the Bell Centre on Thursday night at the end of a 5-1 loss to Montreal. That came on the heels of a 6-1 defeat to Toronto the night before.
BOSTON — When the Bruins began their most recent homestand, they had one goal in mind: Get past the injuries to the back end and to center David Krejci, and get eight points.
Four games later, they can consider that mission accomplished.
On Monday night, Boston closed out its homestand with a 4-2 win over New Jersey to bring its record to 10-6-0 before it set off for a two-game swing through Toronto and Montreal.
Now, with two divisional games looming, there is no room to taper off.
“I think those are obviously two divisional games, and they’re fun teams to play against as well, so it’s important that we keep things going,” said Head Coach Claude Julien following Tuesday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena. “But at the same time, I think we’ve just got to focus on what we’ve done to have some success — and that’s not to say we’re really happy with our game; I think there’s still lots of room for improvement — but we’re happy with the fact that we’re playing well enough to win games right now. Got to keep going in that direction.”
BOSTON — Throughout the course of the last several weeks, the Bruins lineup played without a whole lot of key components, but on Monday night, one of them could return to action.
Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said following Monday’s optional pregame skate at TD Garden that defenseman Torey Krug — out nearly two weeks due to a broken finger — will be a game-time decision for the matchup against New Jersey.
Even if Krug isn’t able to go, though, Julien remains confident that the defensemen who have filled in admirably in the absence of Krug, Zdeno Chara and Kevan Miller will continue to get the job done.
“I think they just have to play their game and, to be honest with you, we’ve handled all our D’s that are playing right now the same way,” Julien said. “We haven’t asked our veterans to do more and we haven’t asked our young defensemen to do more or do less. We just encourage them to play their game. When we have meetings, sometimes about the defensemen, it’s everybody involved, and everybody’s having those same responsibilities as the other, whether it’s about moving the puck and how well we want it to move.
BOSTON — When the Bruins took the ice for pregame warmups prior to Thursday night’s game against Edmonton, there was a familiar No. 46 out there taking rushes.
And after warmups, David Krejci felt good enough to go, playing for the first time since Oct. 30 at Buffalo.
“The first period was kind of tough to get my legs, my hands...you know, my mind back into the game,” Krejci said after Boston's 5-2 win over the Oilers. “A couple of, you know, stupid penalties, but it happens. And then after, it was better and better.
"So I’m happy that we won, and now we can enjoy the few days and get back at it on Monday.”
WILMINGTON — David Krejci made his presence felt on the ice on Wednesday, even if he wasn’t practicing with the rest of his teammates.
The center — who has missed two consecutive games with an undisclosed injury — skated on Wednesday morning for the first time since Saturday night’s pregame warmups. Prior to the team’s scheduled practice at Ristuccia Arena, he was out on the ice early with Strength and Conditioning Coach John Whitesides as well as injured teammates Kevan Miller and Torey Krug.
There is still no timetable for his return to game action, but Head Coach Claude Julien called his return to the ice a sign of progress.