VANCOUVER - The Bruins arrived in Vancouver Thursday afternoon after a long day of a travel, thanks to a seven-hour flight from the East Coast, and hit the ice for practice at the UBC Sports Centre.
While the ice time helped stretch out their skating legs after the lengthy plane ride, it served as yet another chance to get back to good habits.
The Black and Gold held a hard, aggressive practice on Wednesday back in Mass. and followed that up with an energized skate before kicking off their five-game road trip against the Vancouver Canucks on Friday night at Rogers Arena. After Vancouver, they'll head through Calgary, Edmonton, St. Louis and Chicago for the team's longest regular season road trip under Claude Julien's tenure.
As they start this tough stretch, the Bruins can't afford to let bad habits keep creeping into their game. They have lost three of their past four games, including two straight to Montreal and Dallas at home.
BOSTON - The Bruins had a simple mindset entering Sunday night's game against the rival Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden: play their game.
"We know that we have to play our best against this team," Captain Zdeno Chara said a couple of hours prior to puck drop. "And we know that they play a certain way and if we don't play our way and stick with our game plan, then usually it's not going to be good results for us."
After a night of the Canadiens dictating the play with their game, Boston wound up with their not so desired result, falling 3-1.
It marked the fourth straight loss to their division rival and concluded the season series.
"We had some good looks but for the most of the night, we were losing races and battles for those pucks, so it was not the effort we were expecting," Chara said postgame.
Following a scoreless 20 minutes, Montreal struck first just 38 seconds into the second period. Dale Weise tapped in a Max Pacioretty drive from the left wing boards that was heading wide of Rask to make it 1-0. Weise started the play by finding his way around Chara and trying to hit David Desharnais with a feed in front, before the puck went all the way across to Pacioretty.
The Habs took advantage of the first minute of the third period, too, going up 2-0 just 56 seconds in.
A rare miscommunication in the Habs' zone saw Chara and Dougie Hamilton collide in the high slot, with David Krejci stickhandling near the goal mouth and sending a pass to that area. Weise got to the loose puck after the collision and sprung Pacioretty through center ice on a breakaway, where he beat Rask five-hole.
BostonBruins.com - "Tuukka, guys, Tuukka," Head Coach Claude Julien smiled to reporters pregame at TD Garden, as the Bruins were getting set to face the Montreal Canadiens in the final game of the season series.
It will mark Rask's 11th straight start. He enters the night with a 7-2-1 record in his 10 consecutive starts.
Asked following the Bruins' 2-1 win over the Islanders on Saturday night if he would want the nod for this game, Rask replied, "Hey, whenever they tell me to play, I’ll play."
"Doesn’t matter to me. Nobody’s told me otherwise, so I’m sure I’m playing, but you know, if I play hopefully we’ll get a win so I don’t have to answer these questions again."
Rask has a 3-12-3 record against the Canadiens through 19 career appearances.
The Bruins' season series with Montreal hasn't exactly gone the way the Black and Gold would have liked it to in 2014-15, for both Rask and the squad in front of him.
The Bruins have been outscored 13-5 through the first three games of the series. Those three games came back in October and November. The Black and Gold are in a much different position, having picked up points in 14 of their last 16 games.
"We’ve always trusted each other and we can turn games around - just a matter of getting those bounces and lately, we’ve been getting those," said Rask.
The netminder backstopped the Bruins with 39 saves in their 2-1 win over the Islanders on Saturday. The B's didn't have their best 60-minute performance, and Rask's play helped them keep the game close long enough for Loui Eriksson to score the game-winner in the third period.
"He’s in a zone, he’s just been really good for us, focused and even intense," Julien said following Saturday's win. "He’s just been determined athlete in this last little while and it’s made a big difference for our hockey team."
The Bruins - and Rask - aren't focusing on their lack of success against the Habs this season.
"I don't think we are thinking about what's happened in the past," Captain Zdeno Chara said pregame. "We know that we have to play our best against this team and we know that they play a certain way and if we don't play our way and stick with our game plan, then usually it's not going to be good results for us."
"We've been playing better, but we still have to improve on certain areas and we know that it's not going to be an easy game. These games have always been tough games and challenging and so we've got to get ready for a big game tonight."
Projected Lineup vs. Montreal Feb. 8
BOSTON - There wasn't any news out on the Bruins' side on Saturday morning, as the team did not hold a morning skate at TD Garden after a week of four practices and just one game on Wednesday night.
Boston is set to host the New York Islanders in the first game of a back-to-back set that concludes with the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday night. Game time is 7:00 p.m. ET (NESN, 98.5 The Sports Hub).
The Bruins and Islanders have split the season series thus far, with the Black and Gold taking the most recent game 5-2 on Long Island on Jan. 29.
Johnson has made 14 appearances for the Islanders this season, posting a 6-6-0 record. He got the nod the last time the Isles were in Boston, backstopping his team to a 3-2 win on Oct. 23.
"I think the last time I was here was early in the year and went well for our team and myself," said Johnson. "Just looking to have another good game like I did last time and try to get back on track. It will be my second start in a week, so hopefully have a little more flow to my game than in the past and try to get things consistent and on a good rhythm here."
WILMINGTON, Mass. - Brad Marchand was back on the ice for Friday's practice at Ristuccia Arena, after taking a maintenance day on Thursday.
The Bruins made their final preparations for a back-to-back set against the New York Islanders and Montreal Canadiens on Saturday and Sunday at TD Garden.
Boston is coming off a rare week with just one game on Wednesday, a 3-2 loss to the Rangers in New York City, with four practice days.
"It allows you to work on different things, but most of all, this time of year guys enjoy playing and so you take advantage of those days, because there's not many of them left where you've got lots of time to practice," said Head Coach Claude Julien. "So we worked on the things we needed to, and hopefully that's good enough to prepare us for a big weekend here."
The Black and Gold are looking for much better execution than on Wednesday, when they played loose in the neutral zone and let the Rangers' speed up front dictate their play. The Isles also boast plenty of speed and skill up front, and the Bruins will face another tough test on Saturday night, despite having earned a 5-2 win on Long Island on Jan. 29.
"When you're loose, you're spread out, you don't get pucks in deep, you allow teams to use their speed," said Julien, referencing his team's effort against the Rangers. "And we'd be the same way if teams did that to us - we have a good transition game, which could look like we've got pretty good speed, so we allowed them to do that. Trust me, we're not intimidated by [the speed] and we can handle it. It's just a matter of playing our game."
NEW YORK - Heading into Wednesday night's matchup with the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien had a simple answer for what he wanted to see from his team.
They had just won two straight games, including a 3-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday.
"Same thing. We need to be a solid team all-around, played a solid 60 minutes in the last game, and we're going to need more of that," said the bench boss. "We need consistency in our play and good trust and we need those 20 skaters coming in and doing their job."
"It's demanding a lot of your team, but it's what we're going to need here to progress along the way."
Julien didn't get the same thing from his squad, as they fell 3-2 to the Rangers.
"I don't think we competed hard enough to get to the net and get pucks to the net, so we gave them an easy night, as far as that was concerned," he said. "They played well. We didn't play well enough."
The Bruins didn't face Henrik Lundqvist between the pipes, with the Rangers' starter sidelined by an upper-body injury. That didn't matter. Goalie Cam Talbot needed to make 18 of 20 saves for the win.
Boston didn't register its first shot on goal until 7:45 into the first period, when Adam McQuaid fired a drive that Talbot turned aside with his pad.
NEW YORK - Milan Lucic is expected to be in the Bruins' lineup on Wednesday night against the New York Rangers.
Lucic was en route to New York City from Boston when Head Coach Claude Julien addressed reporters at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday morning. The forward missed Tuesday's practice with the flu and did not travel with the team, instead staying back as he battled the flu.
"He’s on his way, he’s feeling better," Julien said. "So I guess projected right now that he will play tonight, if he’s on his way."
Lucic's centerman was glad to hear the news.
"It’s exciting, you don’t want to miss a guy like that; he’s a big part of the team," said David Krejci. "So definitely good news and can’t wait to play with him tonight."
That's positive news all around for the Bruins, who have mentioned to keep a healthy lineup amidst their recent stretch of success, winning eight of their past 10 games.
"We’re definitely going in the right direction," said Krejci. "We’re not where we want to be yet, but heading there, so got to keep the foot on the gas and just keep winning hockey games."
Despite consistently producing points, the Bruins can take a look at the standings and see themselves in the second Wild Card spot for a playoff position. The Washington Capitals jumped them by a point with a 4-0 win over the LA Kings.
WILMINGTON, Mass. - Loui Eriksson was back at practice on Tuesday at Ristuccia Arena, as the Bruins hit the ice before traveling to New York City in anticipation of Wednesday's matchup with the Rangers.
Eriksson had been battling a stiff neck from taking a hit late in the third period of Saturday's eventual 3-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings. He missed Monday's practice as a result.
"It's all right. I got treatments on it yesterday and felt better today when I woke up, so I felt good on the ice today," said Eriksson. "So it was a good day."
Luckily for the forward and his concussion history, the hit didn't affect his head. There was no worry from him in that regard.
"I didn't feel any headaches at all when I got hit," said Eriksson. "Felt my neck start burning so I was a little bit scared that something happened but as I went in [to the locker room], it felt better and it's been good today so it's a good thing."
Chris Kelly and Dennis Seidenberg were also back on the ice, after taking maintenance days along with Eriksson on Monday. Julien had anticipated all three Bruins would be at practice, and making the trip to New York, so it's a good sign that there was nothing to deter that.
BostonBruins.com - Tuukka Rask is in a groove.
The netminder has started eight straight games, most recently backing the Bruins to a 3-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings and their eighth win in 10 games on Saturday night.
The victory capped off an 8-1-3 month of January for the Bruins. Rask started 11 of those games, going 7-1-3, including a 3-0 shutout of the New York Rangers on Jan. 15.
For his efforts, he was named the NHL's Third Star of the Month for January.
Rask and the Bruins only had one regulation loss throughout the month, coming on Jan. 17 against Columbus. Through his 11 appearances, he allowed just 18 goals for a 1.64 goals-against average and stopped 336 of 354 shots for a .949 save percentage .
Rask held opponents to two goals or less in nine of those 11 games.
"Tuukka’s been solid for so long," Daniel Paille said. "So even when he was playing [earlier in the season], he was still playing well — just no one was helping him."
"Maintenance days, for all three of them," said Head Coach Claude Julien. "I would expect them, all three, to be at practice [on Tuesday]."
Eriksson left Saturday night's win over Los Angeles late in the third period after taking a hit from Robyn Regehr into the boards.
"He’s doing OK," Julien said on Monday. "He’s stiff from that neck thing. He’s expected to be OK for the next game, but it wasn’t as, I guess, as severe as it could have been. But it was a neck injury."
Given Eriksson's two concussions last season that kept him out for nearly half of the 2013-14 campaign, the forward's exit from the game didn't look optimistic. But Julien confirmed that there is no worry in that regard.
"No. It was not concussion-related," said Julien. "It was neck-related."