SAN JOSE - The Bruins can still salvage their four-game road trip, and avoid being swept on the California swing.
A win on Thursday night in San Jose, followed up by another two points in Arizona would put them at .500 on the road trip after back-to-back losses to Anaheim and Los Angeles.
"That means that we played four pretty good hockey games out here and going home, that's a lot to build on," Chris Kelly said Thursday morning following the Bruins' pregame skate at the SAP Center.
"Obviously we don't want to come out here and be 0-2 to start this trip," Kelly said. "But I think we played well, I think the effort was there in the first two games and if that effort continues, things are going to turn around and we're going to start winning more hockey games."
"I think we just need to realize that although we didn't win, that's the effort we need to put worth. You've just got to stay positive and continue working at the process."
The alternate captain is inherently one of the most positive voices in the locker room.
It could be tough to to deliver the same "stick with it" message over and over again. It's even tougher for those outside the team to hear over and over again, when the results are what matter most.
From the reports Head Coach Claude Julien is getting in California, they have been skating all week and appear to still be on track.
"They’re both skating and I think Zee’s doing well, and Krech is doing well also," Julien said on Thursday morning, as his club was preparing to face the Sharks later that night at the SAP Center in San Jose.
"So that’s basically what I’m being told. Nobody’s told me they’re going to be back for this time or that time, but they’ve been skating all week back home. So, encouraging that they haven’t taken a step back."
Chara has now been out of the lineup for six weeks - and 17 games (18 after Thursday night) - after suffering the PCL tear in his left knee on October 23. His original timetable was estimated to be four to six weeks.
SAN JOSE - The Bruins haven't been scoring much these days.
That's a fact that has been driven home amidst their past 10 games, when they've scored more than two goals just once, in a 4-3 shootout win over Columbus back on November 21.
They dropped a 3-2 loss to Anaheim and 2-0 shutout in Los Angeles to begin the road trip out West, with two games against San Jose and Arizona on tap.
The goals still aren't coming. So, why not build some confidence in practice?
When the Bruins arrived to San Jose after a quick flight up the coast on Wednesday, they held an optional skate at Sharks Ice following the back-to-back. Thirteen Bruins hit the ice, including both goalies, along with the assistant coaches.
Nearly every drill was focused on scoring - odd-man situations, breakaways, shootouts - and the Bruins let out plenty of pent-up goal celebrations amidst the roughly 45-minute skate. It was an entertaining skate for a group that's been frustrated offensively.
LOS ANGELES - There are no moral victories in the NHL.
After falling to the Los Angeles Kings 2-0 on Tuesday night, the Bruins now have four losses in their past five games with the only win coming in overtime against Winnipeg.
They've seen strong efforts against two of the top West teams in LA and Anaheim, and the two of the top teams in the East with Pittsburgh and Montreal, go for naught.
"You never want to be in a position where you say, 'don't worry about it, it will go your way eventually,'" Torey Krug said from the STAPLES Center on Tuesday following the loss to the Kings. "So we've just got to work through it - maintain that positive attitude and work through it."
"We have a group in here that's not satisfied with the way things are going. Which, a lot of teams may say 'hey, we came in and played LA and Anaheim and had two solid games' and they're content with that, but we're not and we're going to move on to San Jose and our plan is to come out with two points."
Games against these teams are expected to be tight, and hard-fought. The defensive effort and the goaltending have been steady.
LOS ANGELES - There was much to like about the Bruins' game against the Ducks in Anaheim on Monday night.
They outworked and outbattled the West's top team for most of the night, but mistakes ending up costing them in the 3-2 loss that kicked off their four-game road trip.
The Black and Gold can take solace in how they played, while knowing that Monday night's matchup won't be any easier against the reigning Stanley Cup Champion LA Kings.
Despite the Kings having the same amount of points (29) in the standings as the Bruins, they have have been dominant at the STAPLES Center. They are currently tied for the most home points in the NHL (21) and the most wins at home with 10. The Kings' 4-1 loss to Chicago on Saturday was only their third home loss this season.
It helps that Jonathan Quick is 9-1-1 in his club's last 11 home games, with an air-tight 1.34 goals-against average and .954 save percentage, and that they play a heavy game that wears down opponents so much that they've only allowed 11 goals in the third period all season.
ANAHEIM, Calif. - The Bruins' first stop on their road trip out West appeared to be off to a promising start.
Four games had gone by without them striking first. Brad Marchand cleared that up, with David Pastrnak getting his first NHL point on the assist on the goal that gave the Black and Gold a 1-0 lead over the host Ducks.
Three unanswered goals by Anaheim left the Bruins in a hole that they reduced when Simon Gagne netted his 600th career point, but could never climb out of, falling 3-2 at the Honda Center on Monday night.
"I'm certainly not going to criticize the effort," Head Coach Claude Julien told reporters postgame outside the visiting team locker room. "I thought we played hard and I really feel like we should have won that game."
"If you take the whole 60 minutes, I felt we were the better team, so that was my assessment of the game - and we did a lot of good things, and it took them a while to climb up there in shots."
"You know, the effort's there, and somewhere along the way, you've got to find ways to get rewarded with those."
The Bruins have been grinding out games. They had hoped they could find more offense, and while the chances were there, it was the Ducks who capitalized on opportunities.
ANAHEIM, Calif. - The Bruins are comfortable playing close games. They can play from behind, and grind out wins, even when that's never the approach or the ideal outcome.
Their strict defense, which has allowed just 10 goals in six games since blowout losses to Toronto and Montreal, dictates that.
But rest assured, they are looking for more offense from their club as they begin a four-game road trip out West starting with the Ducks on Monday night at the Honda Center.
In the Bruins' past eight games, they have scored more than two goals just once, coming back from an 0-2 deficit to take a 4-3 shootout win in Columbus on November 21. Their only other win since Columbus came from grinding out a 2-1 overtime win against Winnipeg on Friday.
"I think we’re stuck in that situation where we’re not scoring many goals right now - we are having some chances on certain nights, but they’re not going in there as much as we’d like them to," said Head Coach Claude Julien.
"I don’t think we’re going in there saying, ‘Let’s keep it a real low-scoring game.’ We take pride in our defensive play, and when you’re missing a key guy like Zdeno [Chara], it certainly is a bigger challenge — and [Adam] McQuaid is another big body that defends well. So we certainly have some guys who have stepped up and done a good job on the back end there to help us out."
"But at the same time, we’ve had to move players around our forward lines, and sometimes it takes a little while for chemistry; sometimes, once they start gelling together — which is the case with [Milan] Lucic with [Carl] Soderberg and [Loui] Eriksson — they produce."
ANAHEIM, Calif. - The Bruins flew out West on Sunday to kick off a four-game road trip that begins against the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night.
After a full morning and afternoon of travel, the Black and Gold went right to The Rinks Anaheim Ice, the Ducks' training facility, to get in a practice.
"We’re so far away right now. If something was to happen, we want to make sure we’ve got enough players. That’s why we called him up," Head Coach Claude Julien told reporters in Anaheim on Sunday.
Cunningham started the season with Boston, marking the first time in his fourth year pro that he made the big club's opening night roster. With Campbell sidelined by a core injury, that opened up a spot, and the Bruins deployed a fourth line of Cunningham, Bobby Robins and Daniel Paille for the first three games. David Krejci's return in Game No. 4 caused the lines to be re-worked and Cunningham was assigned to Providence.
This is his first time back with the time since then.
"It's obviously exciting anytime you get called up, and to be on a road trip like this," said Cunningham. "I don't know what's going on [with my role], but it's exciting to be here and I'm looking forward to the opportunity."
Krejci missed 10 of the past 12 games, including four straight, with his undisclosed injury. Head Coach Claude Julien said last week that Krejci had taken a step back with his injury. He'll now miss the next four games, along with Zdeno Chara, who is staying back around Boston to continue skating and working on his rehab.
"[David's] staying behind, going to do the same thing as Zdeno," Julien said following Saturday's practice at Ristuccia Arena.
While Chara won't be back within the next week, he keeps making progress with his knee injury that has kept him out of the lineup for 14 games. He skates every day prior to practice with Strength and Conditioning Coach John Whitesides.
"You know, we're gone for eight days now, so I can't predict what's going to happen after eight days. You'd like to hope [he's close to returning], but I don't know," said Julien.
"[The trainers are] going at the stage here where they didn't think it was an advantage to bring him with us on the trip and he'd be better served staying behind and rehabbing and skating here on his own with Krech."
Krejci was the only forward missing from practice. Chris Kelly made his return to the lineup in Friday night's 2-1 overtime win over the Winnipeg Jets, after missing the previous two games with an undisclosed injury.
WILMINGTON, Mass. - Chris Kelly was back practicing with the Bruins on Wednesday morning at Ristuccia Arena.
The alternate captain missed the past two games with an undisclosed injury. It was his first time back skating with the team since he sustained the injury in Columbus on November 21.
When asked about the injury, Kelly could confirm it wasn't related to his back (a herniated disc in his lower back kept him out of the 2014 postseason and caused him to have offseason back surgery), or his head.
"I think we thought [it was] better to be on the cautious side of things," Kelly said following practice. "It was exactly kind of how we thought it would be. And it felt good today, and we'll see how it feels again [on Thursday]."
When pressed about what he 'thought' the injury was, Kelly jested, "I thought it was 'hurt feelings,'" before designating it as "upper-body."
"He was only light contact, so I'll see how our medical staff evaluates him here in the next few days and we'll take it day-by-day," said Head Coach Claude Julien.
With Kelly back, David Krejci was the lone Bruins forward missing from Wednesday's practice.