MONTREAL, QC - Ah, Bruins-Habs. The matchup that any fan of the game can appreciate.
"The rivalry – if you don’t get up for these games, what will [you get up for]?" said Patrice Bergeron, a 10-year vet of the storied matchup. "It’s always fun to be part of it; there’s so much history behind it. I’m just happy to play and to be part of these games."
There's something so riveting about the passion of the fan bases, of the teams, of their histories. You feel it within the confines of the Garden, and you certainly feel it the moment you step foot in the Bell Centre, and look up at the 20,000-plus stacked red seats, with names like "M. Richard" in the rafters.
The Boston Bruins have been around for 90 years. The Montreal Canadiens turned 104 this year.
Thursday night marks the 722nd regular season meeting between the two rivals, and the first of four games in 2013-14. Only Detroit and Chicago have met more (725 times).
Their last eight games against each other have been decided by just one goal.
MONTREAL, QC - The Bruins should have defenseman Torey Krug in the lineup tonight, when they face the Canadiens at the Bell Centre (7:30 p.m. ET).
"I think he looked pretty good there this morning," Head Coach Claude Julien said following the team's pregame skate.
"So it will be a game-time [decision] but I’d be extremely surprised if he didn’t play."
Krug skated at Wednesday's practice back in Boston as well, and appears good to go. He's been working through a minor issue that kept him off the ice earlier in the week.
The blueliner played a preseason game here in September, but tonight would mark his first regular season game against the Habs at the Bell Centre.
WILMINGTON, MA - Torey Krug was back skating with the Bruins at their practice facility on Wednesday morning before the team traveled to Montreal.
The defenseman had been labeled as "day-to-day" on Tuesday, when Krug and Adam McQuaid were the only two Bruins absent from practice. Most of the team had stayed off the ice Monday, after a day off on Sunday.
The hope was that Krug would be back on the ice Wednesday, and that proved true. The defenseman was out early to work through some skating footwork, before joining the team for the full skate.
"He's doing well, you saw him on the ice today so he's fine," said Head Coach Claude Julien. "Those couple of days really helped him out a lot."
"Yeah, it was good to get back at it today, get out there, skate around, move around a bit," smiled Krug following the skate, clad in his suit before jetting off to board the team plane.
The extent of an injury, if even that, was never divulged, but the defenseman by all accounts appears fine. And will follow Coach's lead in the information department.
"They’re day-to-day," Head Coach Claude Julien said following the skate. "[Adam] kind of re-aggravated his injury when he came back. Was 100% and he re-aggravated it a little bit so managing that."
"With Torey, when I say day-to-day, it’s more about managing the situation because of the amount of days off we have, so we hope to see him back on the ice tomorrow [on Wednesday] or for Thursday’s game."
McQuaid made his return from a lower-body injury on November 27 in Detroit, and played in the Bruins' most recent two wins over the New York Rangers and Columbus Blue Jackets. The injury had kept him out for eight straight games. He's never experienced an injury like it, and has said it's been a different experience to manage on a day-to-day basis.
With Krug, the extent of his situation was not divulged, but from the sound of it, the defensman took more of a 'maintenance' type day on Tuesday.
With McQuaid and Krug both "day-to-day," the Bruins had recalled blueliner Kevan Miller from the Providence Bruins on Monday evening.
BostonBruins.com - As the calendar turned to December, the Bruins sat in first place atop the Eastern Conference.
They finished November at 10-3-2, with an 8-0-2 record at home.
It hasn't been perfect Black & Gold style hockey. But it's been enough.
The month began on a sour note, with a 3-1 loss on Long Island that forced a bounce-back stretch of games, including a 3-0 shutout of the Tampa Bay Lightning amidst a four-game winning streak.
The B's would only suffer three more losses in November, none worse than the 6-1 rout by the Red Wings in Detroit just prior to Thanksgiving, that came during a span of three games in four days.
Those in the Spoked-B referred to the loss as a wakeup call, and their ensuing two straight wins, 3-2 over the New York Rangers and a 3-1 over the Columbus Blue Jackets, featured their best hockey of the season.
It was emotional, physical and passionate play. It was a full team effort.
BOSTON, MA - Boston brought the heat in its 3-2 win over the New York Rangers on Friday afternoon.
Coming off their 6-1 loss to Detroit, they were embarrassed and felt they had something to prove. They did just that.
"I thought we played probably one of the best games of the year," Tuukka Rask said following the victory. The Bruins improved to 17-7-2 on the season and 8-3-2 in the month of November.
Boston was physical all game. Their compete level was high, and they kept up the intensity. They outbattled the Rangers, and when they needed an extra gear, Captain Zdeno Chara came through with a rare Gordie Howe Hat Trick.
"I think last game was fun," smiled Kelly, clearly showing how the B's were carrying a good vibe as a result of the win.
"We need to realize that we are a big strong, physical hockey team and when we’re playing well, that’s what we’re doing. We’re engaged and we’re not playing reckless and we’re not being dirty, it’s just we’re playing hard and being physical on the puck."
They, of course, do realize that. It's often hard to sustain that level through the entire season.
"That’s kind of our M.O.," said Shawn Thornton. "When we play with emotion and passion, we’re a better team and we know that."
BOSTON, MA - From his knees in the high slot, Zdeno Chara punched both arms into the air, threw his head back and let out a yell. The Garden crowd roared around him.
It was emotional.
The Captain had just blasted the eventual game-winner past Henrik Lundqvist midway through the third period. The Bruins would go on to win 3-2 over the New York Rangers in their Black Friday matinee at TD Garden.
You may not see it away from the ice, in a postgame media scrum, when the calm, collected Chara methodically speaks about the Black & Gold, always turning a personal question into a broader spectrum of the team's performance.
But Big Zee has emotion pulsing through his 6-foot-9, 255-pound frame. And it fills every inch of the 200-by-85 foot sheet of the ice surface once he sets a skate on it, and it stretches up into the rafters that he screams into.
"There’s obviously no better leader, no better defenseman in my mind," alternate captain Patrice Bergeron said from the Bruins' locker room following the win. It was a room that wasn't necessarily jovial from the victory; but intense and determined, just like their leader.
BOSTON, MA - The Bruins would have practiced on Thanksgiving morning, win or lose.
But coming off their 6-1 loss in Detroit on Wednesday night, they took advantage of the opportunity to flush out the disastrous game, and look forward to Friday's matinee against he New York Rangers in NBC's Thanksgiving Showdown.
This group wasn't just moving on, though. For a team that it still atop the Eastern Conference, the emphasis was on learning from the performance, and using it as a jolt. Head Coach Claude Julien hoped it would be a "wakeup call."
"Everyone knows what today is; personally, I'm glad we came in to practice," said Chris Kelly. We play a 1:00 game tomorrow, and after last night's performance, you want to get back on the ice as quick as possible, and feel better about yourself."
"We're in a pretty good spot. We're in first place come Thanksgiving, but that being said, there's areas of our game we can be better at, and need to be better at."
DETROIT, MI - The last time the Bruins lost a game 6-1, it was March 2012.
It doesn't happen often.
One of those 'once in a blue moon' games for Boston happened again on Wednesday night, in a pre-Thanksgiving matchup with the Red Wings in Detroit. Jarome Iginla stopped the shutout bid with 2:25 left in the third period, after the Wings had taken a 6-0 lead.
Did they see this coming?
"No," Patrice Bergeron quickly responded. "It was pretty much everything we didn’t want to see out there."
The alternate captain is always diplomatic, and tells it to you straight. After a loss, there's even more conviction in his voice.
"We didn’t execute. Yeah, they played a good game but we pretty much handed it out to them."