BOSTON — Exactly one month ago, at the conclusion of a disappointing 2014, Milan Lucic stood in front of his locker at TD Garden and demanded that the Bruins start showing the world who they really are.
One month later, it is safe to say the Bruins have lived up to that challenge.
“I think that what’s given us success in this month is that we’re focusing on our game more than the other team’s game,” Lucic said on Saturday night, in the final few hours of January 2015. “All in all, I think the focus is on what we need to do, in our game and our system, in order to get success.
“You stick to your game plan and you play your game plan the way it should be played, it’ll give you success.”
BOSTON — There are plenty of similarities between the L.A. Kings and the Boston Bruins.
For one, both teams play a heavy game and are anchored by strong goaltending. Both teams have won a Stanley Cup within the last few years.
“If you look at both of us, I think we’re built kind of the same way,” said goalie Tuukka Rask. “There was a lot of talk, when we won in 2011, they tried to model after us, and it’s brought them some success now. They’re a heavy, good-skating team, skilled team — they have it all. Same kind of matchup.”
And both teams have fought adversity this season and have had to fight to stay in the playoff race.
WILMINGTON, Mass. - Within the first few minutes of Thursday night's eventual 5-2 win over the New York Islanders on Long Island, Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien made swift line changes with his right wingers.
The Bruins' fourth line stayed intact.
Isles bench boss Jack Capuano was trying to match his top line with John Tavares to Krejci's line, hoping to take advantage of the young Pastrnak and his 12 games of NHL experience heading into the matchup. Tavares is tough for vets to contain, let alone 18-year-olds.
"[Thursday] night, they were trying to exploit a young player, an 18-year-old, by putting their top line against him so I have to be willing to make those kind of changes, sometimes quicker than others," Julien said following the team's Friday practice at Ristuccia Arena. "And at the same time, we got good results from all the guys that moved around."
"I thought Reilly, as you know, had a good game and I thought that Loui played well on Bergy's line, and Dave, as the game went on, seemed to find his legs and his groove there with Carl's line, so wasn't a bad change in my mind."
WILMINGTON, Mass. - On Friday afternoon at Ristuccia Arena, following a few hours of pre-practice drills and a standard team skate with a shootout tacked on the end, Malcom Subban took a seat in his stall, took a minute to catch his breath, and took down a protein drink.
Just another day's work for the goaltender.
Only, this was after his first official NHL practice with the big club, following his first NHL recall on Friday morning.
"Just try to take a professional approach and get myself ready for practice and practice hard and try hard every shot," said Subban, of his approach to the callup. "And just be ready in case anything happens. When you're up here, anything can happen, so I'm just trying to stay focused right now and practice hard."
In his second year pro, Subban was taking in the experience of being in the Bruins' dressing room, seating next to Tuukka Rask's equipment, though his stay could due short.
General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced the recall in conjunction with another roster transaction that sent Boston's backup Niklas Svedberg to the Providence Bruins on a conditioning loan.
BOSTON — Pats Nation has invaded the Bruins’ dressing room.
The Bruins may not have arrived in New England as Patriots fans, but across the board, they have become Patriots fans over the course of their time in the Boston area.
Given the Patriots’ run of success over the last 14 years, it’s hard not to get caught up in the excitement.
“I think [it’s exciting] just to kind of see everyone now walking around with Patriots hats and things like that,” said defenseman Dougie Hamilton. “Obviously, we cheer for them and support them, so it’s cool to have somebody to cheer for in the Super Bowl, and hopefully they can win and get the city going a little bit.”
Super Bowl XLIX will be a particularly exciting one for anyone in the New England area, as the Patriots will represent the AFC for the fifth time since 2001.
LONG ISLAND — Claude Julien wasn’t surprised that his team came out of the gates so strong on Thursday night in their first game back from the All-Star Break.
He was surprised that they came out strong on Wednesday, during their first practice back.
“We were sharp [Wednesday], so it was really encouraging,” Julien said. “I expected us to be rusty yesterday, but we were sharp, and this morning, again, guys were pretty sharp. It’s nice to see. I don’t think I’m surprised, but certainly it’s a great asset to have because normally teams are a little rusty in the first game back.”
There was rust, at times, for the Bruins on Thursday night, but as Torey Krug said, it was a strong 50-minute effort — and that was all they needed to take down the first-place Islanders 5-2 at Nassau Coliseum.
LONG ISLAND — At the beginning of the 2014-15 season, it was difficult to predict where these two teams would be as they prepare to face off on Thursday night at Nassau Coliseum.
Back then, it might have been hard to predict that the Islanders, coming out of the All-Star Break, would find themselves atop the Metropolitan Division and the Eastern Conference. By the same token, it might have been hard to predict that the Bruins would find themselves in eighth place in the conference, fighting to climb the standings.
When these two teams first met back on Oct. 23, the Islanders were just beginning to assert themselves as one of the conference’s top teams. Now that they have held tight to that billing through the first half of the season, it is clear that the Bruins have their work cut out for them on Thursday night.
WILMINGTON — Finally, with the snowstorm behind them and the Islanders awaiting, the Bruins got back to work on Wednesday afternoon.
It had been a while. The last time they skated as a team was one week ago in Denver, against the Avalanche. They were supposed to practice on Tuesday, the day the All-Star Break officially ended, but Juno had other plans.
On Wednesday, though, it was business as usual.
“Obviously, the break was nice,” said forward David Krejci following a practice at Ristuccia Arena. “I thought we were finding our game just before the break, so unfortunately, we didn't have practice [Tuesday], but I thought we did a pretty good job today. So yeah, we've got to start where we left off, and now we have to get back in a playoff position and try to climb up the standings.”
BostonBruins.com - The Bruins did not have practice on Tuesday, due to inclement weather.
They are set to practice on Wednesday at Ristuccia Arena at 12:00 p.m. ET, before traveling to Long Island to face the New York Islanders Thursday night in their first game following the NHL All-Star Break. The B's have been off since January 21, when they dropped a 3-2 shootout loss to the Avalanche in Colorado.
COLUMBUS - Patrice Bergeron has accolades upon accolades that give him all-star status.
He's a Stanley Cup winner, two-time Olympic gold medalist and two-time Selke winner as the NHL's top defensive forward. He'll score, put up assists and backcheck until the end of time, making sure to take care of his own end.
The NHL All-Star Game doesn't always lend to the latter, with shutdown defensive structure not a high priority, as was the case in the 2015 version in Columbus at Nationwide Arena on Sunday night.
Bergeron and Team Toews took the game 17-12, with 92 total shots fired on goal, including four from the Bruins center in his first All-Star Game.
He scored one of his team's 17 goals and recorded four assists, setting up the Islanders' John Tavares for every one of his goals. He was a plus-4, went 57-percent on the faceoff dot and logged 14:35 in ice time, the third lowest total on the team, just above rookies Filip Forsberg and Johnny Gaudreau.
He was one of the candidates for MVP, though Columbus' Ryan Johansen earned the honors with some help from the home crowd.
Bergeron played like Bergeron. He wasn't flashy, though putting up the primary assist on a player's four goals gives a little flash to the night. He put his stick in the passing lanes, and just played his game.