NASHVILLE, TN - When the puck dropped in Music City, the focus was simple for the Bruins: win in Nashville, and enjoy a much-deserved three-day holiday break around Christmas.
Boston ended up erupting for a 6-2 win over the Predators, to give them seven wins in their past nine games, and improve to 25-10-2 on the season.
"Yeah, it’s always more fun when you’re winning, you know?" Tuukka Rask said from the Bruins' locker room following the win.
The cool, casual netminder has only allowed three goals in his past two starts, and made 32 saves in this one.
"But I was pretty happy the way we finished off these last four games, played some good hockey and got a good road win here to finish it off, so it’s a good break for us now."
"It makes Christmas a lot nicer, obviously," Head Coach Claude Julien had smiled prior to the matchup. "But we have a job to do and we have to go out there and do it."
His team followed suit.
WILMINGTON, MA - When the Bruins hit the ice on Sunday morning at Ristuccia Arena before heading to Nashville, Brad Marchand was not present.
"He’s making the trip," Head Coach Claude Julien confirmed. "He’s just banged up, so a maintenance day today, obviously for the reasons you saw last night."
Julien was quick to stay there's no need to make an emergency callup; Marchand just needed the maintenance day.
Before the midpoint of the first period in the Bruins' eventual 4-1 over Buffalo on Saturday night, Marchand was caught in a collision along the boards with Christian Ehrhoff. He was helped down the tunnel by the training staff, before returning not too long after, and taking his place on the penalty kill.
He finished out the rest of the game just fine, and provided a huge shot block early in the second period. It hobbled him a bit, but he got up, continued played, and easily got a roar of appreciation from the crowd for sacrificing his body.
Hockey's obviously a tough sport, and you'll find players willing to put themselves in those situations on every team, but "playing tough" is also predominantly the Boston Bruins' way.
WILMINGTON, MA - Daniel Paille joined the Bruins for practice on Sunday morning at Ristuccia Arena for the first time since being sidelined by what he deemed as a "very mild, very light" concussion.
Paille has missed straight six games, dating back to December 10 in Calgary, after first feeling symptoms while on the road with the Bruins in Canada.
He skated for two days on his own before returning to practice, and has been symptom-free for about six days, since the Bruins hosted the Calgary Flames on December 17.
Though he wasn't making the trip to Nashville with the team before the Christmas break, it was still a great sign in his progress.
BOSTON, MA - It's only a few hours, once a year, but wow, do those hours make an impact.
We're amidst the holiday season, traditionally a time for family and friends, and plenty of goodwill - and gifts - to go around. "Home for the Holidays," we often say.
If you're in the hospital during this time, not surrounded by the comforts of home, it's not easy, even if family is close-by.
That's where Ray Bourque stepped in years ago, when he was Captain of the Bruins, beginning a new tradition for the Black & Gold, to annually go shopping for toys and donate them to Boston hospitals every holiday season.
Bruins Alternate Captain Patrice Bergeron now spearheads the efforts, which saw the Bruins purchase over $20,000 worth of toy donations that were delivered by the team. More than 600 children who are unable to celebrate the holidays at home will now get to enjoy the toys.
On December 20, the Holiday Toy Delivery, presented by Wynn Resorts, saw the Bruins split up into groups and visit children at Boston Children's Hospital, Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center, Franciscan Hospital for Children, MassGeneral Hospital for Children, Shriners Hospital for Children and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.
BUFFALO, NY - Brad Marchand scored two goals just 1:14 apart to put the Bruins up in Buffalo, but they were the only two chances the Black & Gold could put past Ryan Miller, falling 4-2 at First Niagara Center on Thursday night.
The good news? The Bruins are still 23-10-2 on the season, with another crack at Buffalo on Saturday night to finish off the home-and-home at TD Garden.
The not so good news? The loss came with the Bruins dominating most of the offensive zone time in the game, especially in the second period, before outshooting the Sabres 15-5 in the third.
Ryan Miller made 34 saves on 36 shots. After Marchand's second tally 3:04 into the second period, Miller stoned the Bruins.
"We probably deserved a better fate than what happened," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said postgame. "I thought we controlled the game pretty good, but the goaltender at that end made some pretty big saves to keep them in the game, especially in that second period, we had lots of chances."
"Unfortunately you have a 2-1 lead, somehow you want to try and extend that lead a little bit more instead of keeping it that tight. So we gave them an opportunity to come back in the third, and they did."
BUFFALO, NY – When General Manager Peter Chiarelli spoke with media on Thursday morning at First Niagara Center before the Bruins faced the Sabres, he addressed some recent talk surrounding Brad Marchand and the production of his line.
"For a line, I mean, if all three guys are clicking, then they’d all be producing. And when one guy isn’t, it hurts the other two," said Chiarelli, before adding, "Let me be clear on Marchy. I saw some of the kind of aftermath yesterday from my comments. I’m not trading Marchy. He’s a good player, I like the way he plays, so he’ll figure it out."
"But when one guy struggles, the other guys unfortunately piggyback on those struggles. So you need three guys really going out – you hear what guys saying about pairs; play lines and pairs – you need three guys going and contributing. So that’s happening a little bit but as I said yesterday [Wednesday] he’s finding his way."
BUFFALO, NY – When David Warsofsky hits the First Niagara Center ice in the Spoked-B on Thursday night, he'll be making his much anticipated NHL debut.
Naturally, and not surprisingly, the defenseman is both nervous and excited.
"Obviously, it’s my first NHL game and I’m excited about that opportunity," Warsofsky said following the team's pregame skate before facing the Sabres. "I’m a little nervous at the same time, but I think nerves are a good thing and hopefully it helps come game time."
The 23-year-old is in his fourth year with the organization, after getting his first taste at the end of the 2010-11 season with Providence, following a three-year collegiate career with Boston University. It was right before Boston made their run to the Cup.
So, when Assistant General Manager Don Sweeney pulled him aside during the P-Bruins practice on Wednesday, the thrill came rushing in.
WILMINGTON, MA - Before the Bruins hit the road for Buffalo, General Manager Peter Chiarelli spoke with media following the Bruins' practice at Ristuccia Arena on Wednesday and announced transactions that the team had planned.
"We sent down Craig Cunningham and we’re sending down Kevan Miller," said Chiarelli. "We’re sending down Kevan – he’s coming onto his tenth game and we don’t want to risk losing him to waivers. We’re calling up David Warsofsky so he’ll be joining us [on the trip to Buffalo]."
Miller is being assigned to Providence after suiting up in his first nine NHL games with Boston. Once he plays in game No. 10, he's subject to waivers, and the Bruins want the defenseman in their organization. The steady play he's shown in those nine games, has proven he's an NHL-caliber player.
"Ten games - once you play your tenth game, you’re exposed to waivers if you send the player down. So we felt that Kevan would probably be a waiver pickup by somebody," Chiarelli added. "We didn’t want to risk it, so I spoke to Kevan beforehand and told him. He understood and I told him I felt good about his play up here and probably the next time we bring him up, will be for good."
It wasn't an easy decision for Chiarelli and the Bruins' brass to make, given Miller's solid play on the blueline, stepping in with injuries.
BOSTON, MA - With the amount of injuries and players out of the Bruins' lineup, you might think there would be more bumps along the way.
But, as the Bruins flooded the ice for their postgame celebration following a 2-0 shutout of the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night, it marked their sixth straight win at home, and gave them a 5-1-0 record in their past six games.
It was all the Bruins needed.
Following the game, the spotlight was on "Big Zee" and his burgeoning role on the man-advantage this season. Six of his nine goals (which tie him with Ottawa's Erik Karlsson for the league lead among defensemen) have come on the power play.
"Well I think you saw tonight – you said he was a huge man – but he’s also got a huge reach. He finds those pucks," said Head Coach Claude Julien, who has talked many times before about the defenseman being more than just a 6-foot-9 frame. He's agile and has good hands around the net.
"But he’s also been pretty good at reading off the guys who have the puck and sometimes it’s not about being a screen; sometimes it’s about being an outlet. So he’s reading off guys pretty well. So it’s been an adjustment for him going from the back end to the front end but he seems to be getting more and more comfortable."
"I’m just trying to work hard and be there for loose pucks and create traffic and finding some openings," said Chara. "So really the main thing is to just work extremely hard."
But it's really not like The Captain to want to talk about himself, even if he did score both goals, and could have made a bid for the second hat trick of his career.
His first goal came off a slap pass from Krejci in the second period, following a nice, simple feed from Iginla down low. Chara's second tally in the third came off a rebound after a one-timed blast from Iginla. The movement on their power play allows them to switch positions and support each other.
"We’re just trying to work on it in practice, to read off each other. Wherever the puck is, you just need to fill the spots and positions and that doesn’t always necessarily mean that I have to be in front," said Chara.
"We can rotate; the other game in Calgary David was in front, was able to tip the puck and score. Iggy, or whoever is in that closest position, is going to need to fill that spot so we are now able to read off of each other much better than we were early on. That’s a much easier play than always running back to our spots and always maybe being out of position."
For the past week, the Bruins had been constantly "finding ways to win" amidst a tough road trip, with injuries, sickness and players missing from the lineup.
On Tuesday night, aside from needing to put their road legs behind them after a subpar first period, the Bruins stayed in control for most of the game.
"Tuuks did play great all game, but I thought in the first period he gave us a chance to come out of a period that we weren’t quite as good in and be 0-0," said Iginla. "Then I thought we got going and I thought we could have had more goals. I thought the chances that we had, especially in the second, we could have had more than a one goal lead."
The Bruins outshot the Flames 15-4 in that middle frame.
"So, it felt like a pretty consistent game and it felt good because sometimes these are, for whatever reason, hard games to play coming off a trip. So, it was a good win."
Rask only faced 21 shots, but he made the saves, and - as they say - gave his team a chance to win.
"He’s been solid for us all year long and he’s having another great year," said Julien. "So I can’t say enough of how well he’s played."
"It wasn’t pretty all the time, it was kind of just pucks bouncing all over the place but we got the goals and power plays, stepped up, and Zee got those goals we needed and killed a couple of penalties too there," said Rask.
"It wasn’t pretty but it was a good effort from everybody and we need that."
BOSTON, MA - Bruins winger Jarome Iginla will be in the lineup tonight when Boston hosts his former longtime team, the Calgary Flames, at TD Garden.
Iginla didn't join in Monday's practice at Ristuccia Arena, as he was being evaluated by team doctors after dislocating his finger in a fight with Ryan Kesler Saturday night in Vancouver.
But, all checked out with the X-Rays. Nothing broken. Just a dislocated finger that was put back into place.
"When I first looked at it, I would have thought it was for sure [broken]; I had never seen anything like – I had never been through it," Iginla said on Tuesday morning, after taking part in the team's pregame skate.
"So I was thrilled and relieved that it wasn’t and they put it back and just made sure that it was stable enough and good to go, and yesterday, I came back and saw our doctors and put a splint on, I’ll be good to go."
Just like that. Good to go.
On Saturday night, immediately after the fight in the first period, Iginla skated off the ice went to the room. Photos (taken from the feed on NESN) of the dislocated finger had floated around Twitter and social media.