WINNIPEG - The Bruins could end this week's road trip through the Central Division with five out of six points if they pick up a win against the Jets in Winnipeg on Friday night.
They could also hop the Florida Panthers in the standings, and pick up two straight victories for the first time since November 18 and 21.
The Bruins are currently sitting one point behind Florida for the second Wild Card playoff spot. The Panthers picked up two points in a 2-1 shootout win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night and have two games in hand on Boston.
"Well, it turns tonight into a very important game. It seems like Florida keeps winning every shootout their in, no matter how many rounds it goes," said Reilly Smith, referencing the Bruins' fellow Atlantic Division opponent, which has won two straight shootouts (the first going to 20 rounds).
"We're battling for the last playoff spot right now. I know there's still more than half a season left, but we want to get those points right now in the middle of the season," said David Krejci, who is expected to play his second straight game since coming back from injury.
"This would be a perfect ending to the road trip with five points, so obviously we're going to do everything we can to get the two points."
NASHVILLE - Tuesday night in Nashville ended on the same note for the Bruins - just a touch short of pulling out the extra point, as they fell 3-2 in a shootout to the Predators.
The Bruins' last three games have been one-goal games. They've earned a point in their past two, but still sit out of a playoff spot with eight losses in their last 10.
This game could serve as something for the Black and Gold to build on, as they continue their three game road trip with a quick turnaround against the Minnesota Wild in St. Paul on Wednesday night.
But losing doesn't feel any better, even if the effort earns a point.
"It's constantly the same thing," said Reilly Smith, who tied the game at 2-2 in the third period with his eighth of the season. "It seems like we're getting there, we're getting close, we're playing hard, we're battling till the end, but we're coming up short in a lot of these games where we need to get some extra points just to give us a little more hope in the standings."
"So this is an important road trip for us and it would have been really nice to get that extra point."
NASHVILLE - When the Bruins went out West two weeks ago, there was urgency. They needed to try and find consistency in their game, and there was no better test than a string of tough games against the Western Conference's best.
Once again, they find themselves in a similar situation.
The Black and Gold have lost seven of their past nine games, and desperately need points, currently sitting just out of a playoff spot.
They kick off a three-games-in-four-nights road swing on Tuesday night in Nashville, before facing Minnesota and Winnipeg.
While the road trip against Pacific Division opponents Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose didn't produce any points for the Bruins, they at least got solid efforts in two of the three games. The Bruins need better results on this Central Division trip, which proves to be just as daunting of a challenge.
"This trip is no different. We've got to play well, but at the same time, we've got to come up with some points if we want to call it a success," Head Coach Claude Julien said following his team's pregame skate at Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday morning. "It is about winning hockey games - I think we should sense the urgency of it, and it starts [against Nashville]."
NASHVILLE - Center David Krejci will not be in the lineup on Tuesday night in Nashville, as the Bruins face the Predators.The hope is still that Krejci will return to game action amidst the Bruins' three-game road trip. They play in Minnesota on Wednesday, before finishing off the trip in Winnipeg on Friday.
BOSTON - The Bruins are 2-5-2 in their last nine games, and clearly not where they want to be.
It goes without saying that this hasn't been a fun stretch for the team.
As the Bruins hit the road Monday for three games in four nights against Nashville, Minnesota and Winnipeg, the urgency was felt from the group.
"There's nobody in that dressing room that is enjoying losing. There's nobody in that dressing room that enjoys seeing us where we are right now," Julien said before the team traveled to Nashville. "So, don’t think that those guys don’t care."
"I think what we have to find here is a solution - not wondering whether they care or not - and the solution is we've got to be able to find a little bit more out of everybody and we need to step up. And that's what you got to do when you’re in that situation. That's what all teams have to do when they’re in that situation, so there's no real mystery or surprise there."
"It’s up to us to battle our way out of it. Nobody’s going to do it for us."
BOSTON - With the Bruins trailing 3-1 nearly eight minutes into the third period, Milan Lucic went barreling end to end, past four Blackhawks, before muscling through to the opposite end boards, maintaining control of the puck and feeding Torey Krug down the middle for a fire that pulled the team within a goal of tying one of the hottest teams in the League.
Lucic took a shot from Andrew Shaw into the boards after the goal. Chris Kelly jumped in and squared off with Shaw, Krug tangled with Klas Dahlbeck. Sticks and gloves flew. The crowd rose to its feet with a deafening roar.
Boston's third period push wasn't enough, ultimately falling 3-2 to Chicago at TD Garden on Thursday night. The Hawks picked up their eight straight win in the process.
If the Black and Gold would have had more fight and more finish, like on that sequence, they could have found themselves winners of two straight for the first time since mid-November.
"Awesome effort. Those are the kind of efforts we need to win some hockey games here," Head Coach Claude Julien said postgame. "So we need more of that."
'From him in particular?' a reporter followed up.
"From everybody," said Julien.
BOSTON - The Bruins have been without captain Zdeno Chara for 19 games. Head Coach Claude Julien is planning on having him back in the lineup on Thursday night, when they host the Chicago Blackhawks at TD Garden.
"Not officially, but I’m counting on him," Julien said Thursday morning, while the team was on the ice for a pregame skate.
While the official decision hadn't yet been made for tonight, the talk about Chara's impending return has made for an excited Bruins' room.
Since he suffered the knee injury on October 23, it's been a long month and a half for the Bruins without their longtime leader.
"There was definitely some adversity throughout that time, and I think we've managed it pretty well overall," said alternate captain Patrice Bergeron, looking back on his time out of the lineup (the Bruins have gone 11-7-1 in his absence). "We definitely had some ups and downs, but it's still definitely going to give us a lift to have our captain back if he is back tonight."
"Well, he's our captain, you know, a big leader on and of the ice, and holds guys accountable," said Kevan Miller. "He's somebody that other guys look up to, especially myself - as a defenseman, you can model yourself after that as best as you can, so it will be huge for us."
BRIGHTON, Mass. - The Bruins have broken ground on their new practice facility, Warrior Ice Arena, set to open its doors in September 2016.
On Wednesday, Bruins Principal Charlie Jacobs and Bruins President Cam Neely were on hand for the official groundbreaking ceremony at the Boston Landing development site in Allston/Brighton.
The development has been a long time coming.
"I'll go back to 2007, when I first got hired by the organization, it was evident that we needed a new practice facility," Neely said to the crowd in attendance, before breaking ground with a personalized shovel given to him that featured his No. 8.
"It's been a long process, plenty of visits throughout the Commonwealth, looking to see where we would land and call ourselves a new home."
It may have been a long process, but the Bruins and community will finally have a place within the city limits.
"We ended up in Boston, which is a win-win for community and the club," said Jacobs, who has been part of the process with Neely every step of the way.
BOSTON - When the Bruins went on their road trip, there was a question Head Coach Claude Julien kept being asked by the opposing coaches.
It involved a 6-foot-9 defenseman.
"Well," Julien began with a smile. "When you go out West and everybody's asking you if he's on the trip, it tells you a lot about the teams out West and what they think of him."
Zdeno Chara has missed the Bruins' past 19 games with the knee injury he suffered on October 23. He could be returning to game action this Thursday, when the Bruins host the Chicago Blackhawks at TD Garden.
"I think it's like that across the League. There were a lot of teams happy to plays us with him out of our lineup, no doubt, and there's going to be a lot of teams sad to see him back in our lineup," Julien said following the team's practice on Tuesday at TD Garden, in which Chara joined them for the first time since his injury.
"So we're excited to have him back soon, and hopefully that happens Thursday."
Julien is optimistic about Chara's return, though he hasn't received word yet from the trainers that he'll be cleared to play.
"I'm just suspecting," said Julien. "I know Zee's really excited about wanting to play Thursday. I suspect that if he's excited, that there's probably going to be - hopefully - the medical staff clearing him to play, so I haven't been told that yet, but we're hoping that's the case."
BOSTON - Zdeno Chara joined the Bruins for practice on Tuesday morning for the first time since sustaining his knee injury on October 23 against the Islanders.
David Krejci also practiced with the team at TD Garden. It marked his first practice since November 20.
Both had been skating apart from the group with Strength and Conditioning Coach John Whitesides. They stayed back to continue their rehab while the Bruins went away on their four-game road trip out West.
David Warsofsky, who has been out since suffering a groin injury on November 6, was also on the ice for practice. He had practiced once with the team before they headed on the road, only taking light contact during that skate.
Chara (PCL tear, knee) has missed the past 19 games. Krejci (undisclosed) has missed eight straight, and 14 of the past 16. Warsofsky (groin) has also been sidelined for the past 13 games.
They have all been cleared for practice, but have not been cleared for game action yet.