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.”
BOSTON - With 24.7 left on the clock in the third period on Tuesday night at TD Garden, Patrice Bergeron could breathe a sigh of relief, and the Boston faithful followed suit.
David Krejci deked and fired in the empty-netter to seal a 5-3 win over the San Jose Sharks. It pulled the Bruins back to .500 with a 4-4-0 record on the season.
The Bruins had been holding a 4-3 lead over San Jose with 4:09 left in regulation, when Bergeron was caught with a four-minute high-sticking penalty.
"I think it was pretty huge from our group, especially when one of your best penalty killers is in the box for the last four minutes," Head Coach Claude Julien said postgame from TD Garden.
"You’ve got to give those guys as much credit as anyone for the win," said Milan Lucic.
Boston laid out for four blocks during the penalty kill, Tuukka Rask came up with five huge saves, and David Krejci and Chris Kelly combined for four defensive zone faceoff wins. Zdeno Chara stayed on the ice for nearly the entire penalty kill, with Dennis Seidenberg and Adam McQuaid combining for a strong defensive effort battling along the walls and around the net.
"I thought our guys, for the last four minutes, did an unbelievable job of battling through," Julien added. "So our special teams I thought were really good for us tonight, and we needed that against that team."
The Bruins and Sharks alternated power-play goals to start the game.
Brad Marchand put Boston on the board with his first goal of the season at 13:57 into the first period, when he walked into the right circle and fired one past Antti Niemi.
BOSTON - The Bruins host the San Jose Sharks at TD Garden on Tuesday night, looking to build off of their road trip and begin to establish dominance at home.
Game time is set for 7:00 p.m. ET (NESN, 9.85 The Sports Hub).
With Monday's news that defenseman Kevan Miller is out indefinitely with a dislocated right shoulder, suffered at the end of a fight on Saturday in Buffalo, Matt Bartkowski is expected to slot into the lineup. It will mark his second game of the season.
Bartkowski was paired with Adam McQuaid during Tuesday morning's pregame skate at TD Garden and also during Monday's practice.
Torey Krug moved up to the second pairing with Dennis Seidenberg. Both Krug and Seidenberg are left shots. Based on the morning skate, Krug will start out on the right side side, though both defensemen have experience playing on the off side.
"We played last year together - I like playing with Torey. Like everybody knows, he's a great skater, he can move the puck, can move his legs," Seidenberg said following the skate. "I think we complement each other very well and I'm looking forward to it."
BostonBruins.com - Matt Bartkowski has an opportunity to claim playing time.
With Monday's announcement that Kevan Miller is out indefinitely with a dislocated right shoulder, Bartkowksi could be sliding into the lineup on Tuesday night as the Bruins host San Jose at TD Garden.
Miller sustained the injury during a fight in Saturday's game against Buffalo.
Through the Bruins' first seven games of the season, Bartkowski has been a healthy scratch for six of them, watching the action from up in the press box. Looking at his game log, one might naturally label him the Bruins' seventh defenseman.
That's not the way Bartkowski has approached it, though.
"You just have to prepare every day," the defenseman said following Monday's practice at Ristuccia Arena. "Prepare as if you're going to play and that's pretty much all you can do in the situation I'm in right now."
"My mindset isn't that I'm in the seventh defensemen role, if that's what you're asking. If I am the seventh on any given night, then I just work hard in the morning after skate and ride the bike, and that's all I can do."
Injuries happen. The Bruins knew at some point during the season, they would be faced with this situation.
"Yeah, you never want to see it under this circumstance. Millsy's a good friend of mine. I never want to see any of these D get hurt," said Bartkowski, when asked by a reporter about getting into the lineup. "But like you said, it's good to get back in and play some games."
BostonBruins.com - General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced on Monday afternoon that defenseman Kevan Miller has sustained a dislocated right shoulder and will be out indefinitely.
The blueliner suffered the injury during Saturday's game in Buffalo, when he dropped the gloves with Nicolas Deslauriers in the first period. He did not return to the game.
"I think when he fell, he hurt himself, and he came off with pain," Head Coach Claude Julien told reporters on Saturday night from the First Niagara Center.
Miller was absent from Monday's practice, as the Bruins were back on the ice at Ristuccia Arena following Sunday's off day and their three game road trip.
The Bruins skated with six defensemen at practice, and Matt Bartkowski is expected to slot into the lineup on Tuesday night against San Jose with Miller out.
"You know, we have some depth. We talk about that all the time," said Julien. "If there's an area I thought we had lots of it - we talked about it during camp, had to make our decisions who was on the back end - so here's an opportunity to take advantage of that depth we talk about."
"You never want to see it under this circumstance. Millsy's a good friend of mine. I never want to see any of these D get hurt," said Bartkowski, when asked about slotting into the lineup with Miller sidelined indefinitely. "But, like you said, it's good to get back in and play some games."
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.
MONTREAL - The Bell Centre hasn't been kind to Tuukka Rask and the Bruins.
Finishing off a back-to-back in Montreal on Thursday night, the Black and Gold fell to the Habs 6-4 in their rival's home opener.
The Bruins are now 1-1 on their three game road trip that ends in Buffalo on Saturday, and 2-4-0 on the season.
Boston overcame a 2-1 deficit to lead 3-2 late in the second period, but the game tipped in the Canadiens' favor with tough bounces and poor defensive breakdowns on the Bruins' part.
Montreal led 4-3 heading to the final 20 minutes, and sealed their 6-4 win late in the third.
"I don't know, I've got to do something about it," Rask said with a sigh postgame in Montreal, of his troubles against the Habs. "You know, I don't know, I'll figure something out."
"We started good, I felt good in the first and then you get that one bounce, 'OK, we'll battle through it.' Then you get another one and you're like 'OK, doesn't matter,' and then you get a third one, and then you're kind of like 'OK, it's one of those nights again', so it's just - I've got no answer."
MONTREAL - A quick look at the schedule heading into the 2014-15 season showed that the Bruins' October 16th meeting with the Canadiens wasn't going to present an easy situation for them.
Boston would be heading into Montreal on the second end of a road back-to-back, with the Habs ready and waiting to kick off their first game at the Bell Centre and put on a show for the home crowd.
The Black and Gold made it tougher on themselves, starting the season at 1-3-0, with just four goals, and the lineup in flux as they tried to find the right mix.
But they made it much easier on themselves Wednesday night, by providing their best effort of the season with a 3-2 shootout win over the Red Wings.
"It helps a lot," Milan Lucic said postgame from Detroit, before the team jetted off to Montreal. "You see when we play determined to win, and when we focus on just playing a hard, heavy game, it gives us success, so we have to have the same mindset going into [Thursday] night."
Lucic knew which question would be coming next, so he decided to rattle off the answer himself.
"We know we're heading into Montreal, home opener, they beat us last year in the playoffs," he said, not blind to the storylines heading into the first Bruins-Habs tilt since Game 7.
"But we can't think about that - we just have to think about going there and winning ourselves a hockey game and coming out successful out of this road trip."