BostonBruins.com - Prior to Tuesday night's game against the Florida Panthers at TD Garden, the Bruins will honor New England Olympians who medaled at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
The Black & Gold, of course, saw five Olympians of their own head overseas to represent their respective countries, while these Olympic medalists with ties to New England represented the red, white and blue of Team USA.
BOSTON, MA - Bruins winger Loui Eriksson was not on the ice for the team's pregame skate on Tuesday morning at TD Garden before facing the Florida Panthers.
"Loui was in the back room, he’s got a minor issue that we’ll keep him out tonight, but he’ll be back Thursday," said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien.
Regardless of what is keeping Eriksson out from Tuesday night's game, the good news is that, as Julien said, he will be back ready to go on Thursday.
"He's starting to showcase the type of player that we knew we were getting - he’s making smart plays," said Julien. "You just have to look at that shorthanded goal of Soupy’s [Gregory Campbell]. You know, he’s patient enough, he made a great pass."
NEW YORK - With just over two minutes to go in the first period at Madison Square Garden on Sunday night, the Bruins were trailing the New York Rangers 1-0.
They were getting outshot 20-8 and the last wall of defense, Tuukka Rask, was keeping them in the game.
When the whistle sounded after a stop by Henrik Lundqvist, Jarome Iginla was in the face of Rangers alternate captain Marc Staal near the crease. Fired up, the Bruins winger gave him a shove, which then turned into a heated "bout" of shoves back and forth.
Twenty seconds later, Iginla deflected in a David Krejci pass from atop the crease to tie the game. The Bruins would never surrender the lead en route to a 6-3 win in New York City.
"Not from the start, but I think we got mad enough after the first 10 minutes that we reacted into doing something," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said, of the team finding more emotion in their game.
"So I think that was huge and, you know, we just need to get over that hump. But once we scored that first goal, it just seemed like everybody relaxed and we just got better from there on in."
Searching for their first post-Olympic Break win, after dropping the first two games to Buffalo and Washington, the Bruins found the higher compete level that they wanted.
BOSTON, MA - In the Bruins' locker room room, there's always accountability.
So, when they found themselves in a hole for the second straight game and again, didn't find the result that they wanted, there were no excuses floating around.
A 4-2 loss to the Washington Capitals Saturday at TD Garden, on the heels of a 5-4 loss to Buffalo on Wednesday, is not the way the Bruins wanted to start their play out of the Olympic Break.
"We've given up the first goal in both the games here. Those are things that you don't want to do - playing catch up hockey is not a good way to play," Head Coach Claude Julien said postgame.
"For sure, wasn’t our best game," said Captain Zdeno Chara, speaking with media in front of his locker room stall at TD Garden. "We could’ve probably done a number of things differently, and better. We have to learn from games like this, especially against an opponent like this."
Washington entered the game with the league's second ranked power play. Alex Ovechkin is the lethal weapon. He found the back of the net on two out of the Caps' first three power plays of the game. The output forced the Bruins into a 2-0 hole early in the second period.
"It was more us not doing what we said we were going to do," said Chara, of the trouble that the Caps power play caused them. "So, again that’s going to have to be addressed and for sure those kinds of mistakes we have to eliminate and be more focused and be sharper."
Ovechkin scored his 42nd and 43rd league-leading goals, ripping both in on the man-advantage.
"He's got to be up there," said Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask, of Ovechkin being one of the most dangerous shooters in the game. Rask was back between the pipes for the first time since returning from the Olympics.
"He's so good at finding kind of that dead area, where nobody else really goes to."
"I thought our guys got caught running around and it opened up the seams," said Julien. The Bruins had made shutting down the Caps' man advantage a clear point of emphasis heading into the matchup.
"So, those are our mistakes. At the same time, I didn't think we were disciplined enough tonight to play against a team that had that kind of a power play."
Midway through the second, with the Caps up 2-0, a Bruins turnover right after a faceoff led to a breakaway goal by Joel Ward.
Down by three, the Black & Gold then started to turn it up. Patrice Bergeron converted on a power-play opportunity less than a minute after Ward's tally and the Merlot Line of Shawn Thornton, Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille made it a one-goal game.
But another breakdown sent Eric Fehr in completely all alone on Rask, putting Washington up 4-2 with 10:53 to go.
"We're getting caught cheating on the offensive side too much, and it's ending up in the back of our net," said Julen. "So we need to fix that if we expect to win because at this rate here, we're giving up too many goals."
"There are some details in the game that, as a team, I think we make a point to focus on, to correct at all times, because those are the things that matter going down the stretch," said Campbell. "So that's what we've got to focus on right now."
"I don’t like excuses so we’ve got to be better defensively," added Thornton, when asked if rust from the break would still have anything to do with the lax defensive coverage.
"I think that, yeah, maybe there was a little bit of rust, but we don’t really have time for that. Everyone is in the same boat, that’s the thing. Everyone had the same break. Everyone had guys go to Sochi. Everybody had guys go on vacation, so we’ve got to look inside here and we’ve got to do better."
The Bruins once again showed character, battling back, but their hard work didn't surpass that of the Caps. Their emphasis now, is moving past "knowing" what they need to do, and actually making it come to fruition.
"It doesn't matter if we keep talking about it, today was pretty [bad] again, just mental mistakes. We talked about certain things with their power play and we just give them those opportunities and breakaways and stuff like that - it's just not our style," said Rask.
Giving up nine goals in a span of two games is never the Bruins' style. It's a two-game stretch fairly reminiscent of the B's time in California in early January, when breakdowns plagued them.
But this is a team that hasn't lost three games in a row all season, so bouncing back on Sunday against the Rangers in New York City is imperative.
"Well, I know this team well enough. They're not going to hang their hats and say, well it's because of this, it's because of that. We've always taken responsibility for our actions, and that's not going to change," said Julien. "I think they all know in here that we have to work and compete harder. The emotion of our game has to be a little bit better."
Before the break, the Black & Gold were competing hard at both ends of the ice, and they had emotion in their game that Julien thought was lacking on Saturday afternoon.
"There's no excuses," said Julien. "We have to be better focused and sharper out there."
"It's the level we expect of ourselves, the standard that's expected of us," said Campbell. "That's what expected playing on this team, to compete like that every night."
"When we ended before the break, we were playing some pretty good hockey so now it's just up to us to find our game again."
WILMINGTON, MA - It's been a trying season for defenseman Adam McQuaid. At first projected for a possible return on Saturday, the Bruin encountered a setback with his recovery from a leg injury.
"Yeah, [the trainers] told me this morning, yesterday they gave him some rest and today, they wanted to give him some more and they felt that there was a bit of a setback," Bruins Head Coach Julien said following Friday's practice at Ristuccia Arena.
"So, again, it becomes day to day, week to week, month to month, I'm not sure anymore. So I'm relying on their feedback almost every day."
"It's been a frustrating injury for him and I know he's really itching to get back, and those kinds of things happen, he's set back a little bit, so hopefully we'll get some better news here in the next few days."
Ruled out for Saturday's game against the Washington Capitals at TD Garden, the Bruins' defenseman will now have to wait a bit longer for his impending return.
"I would probably say [he's ruled out for] the weekend," said Julien. "If he didn't skate today, I don't think you'll see him on Sunday either [in New York]. Probably what you see on the back end is what you'll get on the weekend."
WILMINGTON, MA - Tuukka Rask was the last Olympian to rejoin his Bruins teammates on Thursday.
The netminder hit the ice for the team's optional skate at Ristuccia Arena, looking rested after spending a few days away from the rink after returning from Sochi.
"It was a lot of fun," Rask smiled from in front of his locker room stall, when asked about the experience in Sochi. "It was more fun than I imagined, but it's over now, and we're back here, back in business. Happy to be back, missed the guys."
Above his stall, his unpacked "Suomi" Team Finland mask sat just above his Bruins' one, the two of them mirror images. His bronze medal was somewhere in the locker room.
Rask had already switched back into Bruins mode, like the the other Olympians, but you could see him light up talking about what his country was able to do on the Olympic stage.
"I mean, it's a great tournament, it's a tough tournament. You play against the best players in the world and it's not the same situation that's in the NHL but it's still a battle, and it was great, a great thing for the Finns to get that medal," he said. "Nobody expected us to win it."
BostonBruins.com - The Bruins knew there would be rust to start their first game back in 18 days, when they hit the ice in Buffalo on Wednesday night.
That early playmaking rust wore off as the Black & Gold powered back with three unanswered goals to take a 4-3 lead over the Sabres into the final minute of regulation.
But it was the defensive rust that took hold late, as Boston gave up an extra attacker goal in the final minute and then fell 5-4 in overtime to the home team.
"Yeah, I thought offensively, I didn't mind our game," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said postgame. "I thought we moved the puck well, and we had some good offensive zone time and we scored four goals. We should win those kinds of games, but certainly we were definitely rusty defensively."
"The goals that we gave them are certainly not the way we normally give up goals - some loose gaps, two goals just around the slot area when we should have had a guy closer to him - and we needed some timely saves; we didn't get them tonight."
However, Bergeron and Eriksson were both set to travel with the team to Buffalo and are expected in the lineup against the Sabres on Wednesday night.
Rask is staying back in Boston to get more rest after returning from Sochi.
"Bergy and Loui [Eriksson] are meeting us at the plane. They’re going to come and play [in Buffalo]," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said following Tuesday's skate that marked his first back with the team since coming back from the Olympics.
"With Tuukka, I’ll use [Chad] Johnson tomorrow and [Niklas] Svedberg will back him up. So we’ve left Tuukka behind, and he’s going start his workouts tomorrow, maybe off-ice, and then Thursday on the ice with us."
Olympians David Krejci and Zdeno Chara returned to practice with the Bruins on Monday, and though they too are still feeling the effects of the nine-hour time difference and travel, they'll be ready to go on Wednesday night. The three days or so of rest before hitting the ice again will have helped.
BOSTON, MA - When the Bruins practiced on Monday morning in Boston, it was the first time they had hit the ice at TD Garden in 16 days.
Their last game came back on February 8. Their next comes just two days away, in Buffalo on Wednesday night.
As the Black & Gold have resumed their normal paces following the break, so too have Olympians Zdeno Chara and David Krejci. Both Bruins were back with the group on Monday, after getting in a few days of rest following their time in Sochi, Russia.
"It was amazing," Chara said of his experience, with no hesitation. "Every Olympics are very special, but these Olympics were, I would say, amazing. Really, everything about it, I enjoyed."
The Captain had suited up in two previous Olympics for Slovakia, in 2010 and 2006.
"It was just one of the greatest experiences in my life," he said.
BostonBruins.com - As the Winter Olympics wrapped up in Sochi on Sunday, three Bruins had been awarded medals.
Patrice Bergeron helped Canada win back-to-back gold, as they defeated Sweden 3-0 in Game No. 30 of the 12-day tournament.
Bruins teammate Loui Eriksson had his sights set on gold, but will still be coming back to Boston with the confidence of a silver medal playing for his country.
A day prior, Tuukka Rask had backstopped Finland to the bronze.
The trifecta also comes with Bruins coaching and management involved, as Head Coach Claude Julien spent the past week and a half behind the Team Canada bench, and General Manager Peter Chiarelli kept a close eye on the action with Canada's management team.
The crew they helped put together went undefeated in Sochi, proving dominant with their execution and two final defensive shutout performances en route to gold.