BOSTON - For the past five games, when the Bruins hit the ice in the Spoked-B in front of an arena of fans, Matt Fraser has been back near the locker room pumping away on the stationary bike.
That's the nature of being the odd man out.
While the team sweats it out on the ice and the crowd's cheers filter down from the stands, you sweat it out on the bike during the first period, slide your suit back on and watch the final two periods of action from the press box.
Saturday night against the Ottawa Senators at TD Garden was trending that way for Fraser, until David Krejci was a late scratch after taking warmups.
"I thought he was going to play," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said of Krejci. "And he came in and [we] decided that, as a group, that he wasn’t well enough to go."
Cue Fraser getting into his first game in two weeks, having last suited up in 4-0 win in Buffalo in which he played 6:45 as the fourth line right wing.
WILMINGTON, Mass. - The Bruins were back on the ice Friday morning at Ristuccia Arena following their 3-2 overtime win in Buffalo on Thursday night.
David Krejci was absent from practice, but Head Coach Claude Julien said following the skate that he would be back in the fold on Saturday, when the Black and Gold host the Ottawa Senators at TD Garden.
In light of Halloween, Julien was actually asked if Krejci was a “ghost” on Friday. “Yes he is, but he won’t be a ghost tomorrow, if that’s what you want to know,” the bench boss quipped.
Without Krejci, Chris Kelly slotted in at center alongside Milan Lucic and Seth Griffith for practice and Matt Fraser filled in for Kelly with Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson. Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell and Simon Gagne formed the fourth line.
Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Reilly Smith skated together as a line. The trio had been separated to start Thursday night’s game in Buffalo, but their reunion helped produce the overtime winner, with Smith setting up Marchand in the slot.
“Well they were together today in practice, so again, we started with certain lines together yesterday, we didn’t end with them, so we could start with those guys tomorrow but not end with them,” Julien said on Friday. “I think it’s, right now, with the situation we’re in, it’s almost like a daily thing and almost a game to game, period to period, kind of thing.”
BostonBruins.com - As the Bruins hit the ice in their Spoked-B practice jerseys on Wednesday at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington, Mass., there were different faces in different color schemes.
With the team at 5-6-0 on the season and struggling with inconsistency, Head Coach Claude Julien decided to mix it up.
“You know what, guys? Every coach, every team does that, so obviously there’s some guys that aren’t quite playing at their level and they’re struggling to find their game; some are just line combinations,” Julien told reporters following practice, before the team traveled to Buffalo to face the Sabres on Thursday night.
“So, we make changes.”
Brad Marchand wore a gray jersey, with Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson. Matt Fraser filled in for Marchand, when he left practice early after “tweaking something,” according to Julien, who hoped he would be in Thursday’s lineup.
“You switch up the lines to try and spark some energy, create some new chemistry,” said Smith. “So it’s to be expected. Me, March and Berg haven’t had the same chemistry we had last year, so you mix things up and hope that something new will create and we’ll see next game, how it works out.”
On Wednesday morning, General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced that Torey Krug will miss two to three weeks with a broken finger.
Krug sustained the injury in Tuesday night’s game against Minnesota on his final shift, after taking a slash.
For reinforcements, the Bruins called up David Warsofsky and Joe Morrow from Providence to travel with the team to Buffalo in advance of Thursday’s matchup with the Sabres. Zach Trotman also remains with the team.
“I mean, if we sat here in August and said this is what was going to happen to the D corps here, I think we would have all been shaking our heads,” Warsofsky said before flying to Buffalo with the team. “So it’s a little bit different, but for me, it’s an opportunity and that’s how I’m looking at it, just to take advantage of it.”
Once again, the Bruins will need to rely on their defensive structure, operating as one unit with support all over the ice. This won’t just fall on the defense.
“For us, with our system, it’s about not just about the defensmen, but really the whole aspect of all the guys on the ice and playing a good system,” Patrice Bergeron said following Wednesday’s practice. “And that’s what we need to have.”
BOSTON - The Bruins had taken a step forward.
They were one victory away from a winning record entering Tuesday night's game against the Minnesota Wild at TD Garden.
The Wild was the tired team. It had suffered a crushing blow the night before, allowing five third period goals in a 5-4 loss to the Rangers in New York City.
Instead, the Bruins let a 3-1 lead get away from them, allowing three goals in the final 20 minutes for a 4-3 loss to the Wild, and a 5-6-0 record.
"We should have been the fresher team," said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien. "We knew they were going to compete hard, that's the way that team plays all the time."
"So it was up to us to push the pace all night long, and we didn't do that."
"Well, that's probably the brightest thing of the night for us, was the fact that Seth really played a strong game," said Julien. "If there's anybody that should be walking out of there with his head up high, it's him."
"It's kind of hard to be happy about the two goals," said Griffith. "Obviously the win's more important, so it's too bad we didn't have a very good third."
BOSTON - The Bruins have been pushing to get a winning record, something they have yet to achieve since opening the season on October 8 with a win over Philadelphia.
Sitting at 5-5-0 on the season, the Black and Gold have an opportunity to do just that as they host the Minnesota Wild at TD Garden on Tuesday night.
"We don't want to take any steps backwards," alternate captain Chris Kelly said on Tuesday morning following the team's pregame skate. "I thought that we played a really good team game in Toronto. The 6 D back there played unbelievable, I thought our four lines played well, played the exact same way - worked hard, skated, defended well and capitalized on some offensive opportunities - so that's got to be the effort."
"We need to play that way in order to have success - that's been our bread and butter for a lot of years."
The Bruins' 4-1 win over Toronto on Saturday proved that if they operate as one unit, and support each other with defensive layers all over the ice, they'll find the success they've been accustomed to.
BOSTON - Halloween came a few days early for the patients at Boston Children's Hospital.
On Monday, the Bruins made their annual visit to Boston Children's, reverse trick-or-treating and surprising the children with Bruins' goodies and signing autographs.
This time around, the Bruins took it to another level, dressing up as the cast of the hit Disney movie, "Frozen."
BOSTON - The Bruins hit the ice for practice on Monday morning at TD Garden, following an off day on Sunday.
The group remained the same, with the exception of defenseman Joe Morrow, who was assigned to the Providence Bruins on Sunday.
The Bruins' defense corps has begun to adjust without the two shutdown defensemen, and in doing so, put up a 4-1 win over the Maple Leafs in their first test on Saturday.
The real challenge, though, will be sustaining that effort moving forward.
"Well, that's just it. I think when look at our situation, we played well last game, but that's just one game," Head Coach Claude Julien stressed following Monday's practice. "We have to be able to sustain it, that's the challenge that we have right now and that's the challenge that we're facing and that we've got to respond to."
"We've got to continue doing that on a daily basis, whether it's in practice or in games, continue to stay on top of our game here in order to compensate for losses to not just Zdeno, but Miller's been a pretty reliable defenseman back there, so we've got to continue to play the way we did last game and try and improve still."
BostonBruins.com - Entering Saturday night's game in Toronto, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara had missed just 11 games due to injury since joining the Bruins prior to the 2006-07 season.
Chara had not been in the lineup for 20 out of possible 631 games overall in his time with Boston.
The remaining nine games came from other reasons, like coach's decision at the end of the regular season, or the two games the captain missed to carry his country's flag in the opening ceremony for the 2014 Olympics.
"It's a great test for us," defenseman Torey Krug said, prior to the matchup against the Leafs. "I think everyone in here is excited about the opportunity to come together and put together a complete team effort."
"Anytime you have a big part of your team go down, the rest of the team has to come together and step up and fill that void, so it's a good opportunity for guys that maybe don't play those minutes and we're excited about the challenge."
With Chara's diagnosis - out four to six weeks with a left knee injury (PCL tear) - he could end up missing at least a dozen games.
"Did we lose a good player? We did. Is he a big part of our team? Yes, he is. But, you know, I'd like to think we're better than that, than to feel sorry for ourselves or get discouraged," said Head Coach Claude Julien. "That's not the case in our dressing room."
TORONTO - If you're the Boston Bruins, success comes from defense.
When your main defensive weapon is not available, your method for success doesn't change.
Keeping that game plan, the Bruins picked up a 4-1 win over the Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre on Saturday night in their first test of at least a month without captain Zdeno Chara.
"I don't think we changed anything," said Dougie Hamilton, who tied a career high with a three-point night off a goal and two assists.
"I think it's just a lot of focus and everybody knew without him, everyone had to step up. So I don't think it's one guy - it's everyone as a team and our D corps and everything, and I thought we did well. Probably our best defensive game this year."
The Bruins sustained the full 60-minute effort they had been looking for, after coming up short earlier this week against the Isles.
"Well, we were more structured," said Head Coach Claude Julien. "Sometimes, there are things that brings it to attention."
"We spoke about that the last couple of days, about making sure we got better, and not just because Zdeno got hurt but because we weren't playing well enough within our structure."