BOSTON, MA - Heading into Saturday night's matchup with Toronto at TD Garden, the Bruins were focusing on their own game.
The keys? Control offensive zone time, avoid outnumbers situations against a quick Leafs team and commit to their physical, heavy game.
The one that's always a given, though? Win the special teams battle.
And that's exactly what Boston did, in a 3-1 win over the Maple Leafs, powering home two power-play goals from Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron, and killing all three penalties, including one late in the third.
Bergeron added an empty-netter late in regulation to seal it.
"I felt our special teams were obviously the difference tonight," Head Coach Claude Julien said following the win. "Penalty kill was extremely good; winning battles and getting pucks down the other end and even when they had the possession in our own end we were always in the shooting lane, didn’t give them much there."
BOSTON, MA - Take a moment to remember the Bruins' Game 7 comeback against Toronto.
Because that's where the hype comes from heading into this game at TD Garden, as the B's host the Leafs for the teams' first meeting since that night.
It was special, historic, momentous, and propelled the Black & Gold further into the postseason.
But once the puck drops, it marks a chance for the Bruins to further continue their turnaround, build off of their 4-1 win over the Florida Panthers on Thursday night, and pick up two points over a divisional opponent that sits three points above them in the standings.
When Head Coach Claude Julien was asked pregame about the matchup being a "test" for the Bruins, he didn't quite look at it in that specific way.
"To me, it’s an opportunity to improve our game. Not a test, but it’s more of a situation where we can find our game and be the team that we want to be, that we know we should be and can be," said Julien. "So that’s more my approach to it."
BostonBruins.com - If you look up "Brad Marchand shift" in the hockey dictionary (that has to exist somewhere), it would look something like this:
1. a shift that comes from a forward creating havoc, by moving his feet, driving the net and pestering the opposition in one way, or another.
On Thursday night, in the Bruins 4-1 win over the Florida Panthers, we saw the type of shift that Marchand is known for, first pulling a "shake and bake" on defenseman Dmitry Kulikov and faking a pivot towards the goal, before threading a pass through another Panthers defender to Patrice Bergeron.
While Bergeron quickly fed a pass to Dennis Seidenberg for the drive from long range, Marchand immediately started his route towards the goal mouth. When the puck trickled off Loui Eriksson and through goaltender Scott Clemmensen, all the winger had to do was tap it in past the goal line.
As he skated away from scoring his first goal in 13 games - and only his second of the season - Marchand reached back, took the "monkey off his back" and threw it to the ice in jackhammer fashion.
BOSTON, MA - The Bruins snapped their two-game losing streak Thursday night, and a stretch of four losses in five games, with a 4-1 win over the Florida Panthers at TD Garden.
They didn't necessarily have their strongest start, in which Head Coach Claude Julien was looking for their "identity" right from the drop of the puck.
But as the 60 minutes progressed, they began to find it.
"We didn’t say much during the game as coaches because you have to let these guys work their way out of it," said Julien following the win. "And I think whether we yell or keep correcting them, I don’t think it’s going to help them get out of it."
"Sometimes you have to work yourselves out of it and I thought that kind of happened a little bit tonight."
BOSTON, MA - The Bruins are well aware that they have lost four of their past five games.
And I'm not just referring to the simple fact, that they now sit 8-5-1 on the season after the recent skid. You feel it around the group, and you hear it in their words.
They're tired of the end result being not in their favor; their tired of talking about it.
"We’re not playing the way we should and we know that. We all know it," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said preagme on Thursday morning, before the B's host the Florida Panthers at TD Garden.
"We know that we’re certainly not making good decisions out there, we’re not getting the results we want. You have to work through it and find your game."
The B's were in the midst of five-on-five battling drills at one end of the ice. Eriksson was joined by Patrice Bergeron and Jordan Caron for the shift, which consisted of constant forechecking and pressure along the boards.
Just when it looked as if the puck would be cleared out of the zone, the trio didn't give up. It ended with Bergeron keeping it in the zone and the burying it from the slot. Stick taps broke out from the group.
It gave a glimpse at the compete level the Bruins are currently looking for consistently in their game. Right now, they've picked up just three points in their past five games, with their only win coming in the shootout over Anaheim.
When the team isn't getting the results, there's often a need to try and pinpoint specific reasons or players going through "slumps." Do line changes need to happen? What will spark the group? Are players coming back from injury like Eriksson, Carl Soderberg and Gregory Campbell at 100 percent?
BOSTON, MA - There's a staple phrase often heard from this Bruins team time and again: "we found a way to win."
But right now, for the Black & Gold, they're searching answers, and ultimately, haven't been able to find a consistent enough effort on the ice to warrant the above words, with the latest downturn coming in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night.
Though they pick up a point in the process, the B's are a team that has lost four of their past five games, with the lone win coming in the shootout over Anaheim.
"I like to think we’re a better team than what we showed tonight," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien told media following the loss.
Boston had been looking for a much stronger start, and got that on Tuesday night, at one point outshooting the Stars 15-1 in the first. But the teams headed to the second knotted at 1-1.
"First 10 minutes were good, and then we got back to some of our old habits," said Julien. "And eventually, when you play that way, you find ways to lose hockey games and that’s what we’re doing right now; we’re finding ways to lose."
BostonBruins.com - Since the July 4 seven-player blockbuster trade with Dallas, the inevitable would happen, with Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley making their returns to Boston, as they are Tuesday night at TD Garden.
While the trade can be dissected any which way, the fact remains: Seguin and Peverley are now Dallas Stars, and the Bruins have integrated former Stars Loui Eriksson and Reilly Smith easily into their lineup.
But for Seguin and Peverley, there will always be an attachment to Boston.
That's what helping win the city its first Stanley Cup in 39 years does to you.
"It’s a good test for us with Tyler and Rich coming back; it’ll be an emotional game for some guys in our dressing room and theirs," said defenseman Johnny Boychuk, prior to the matchup.
"We have a lot of memories together and we’re friends off the ice but when you get on the ice, you want to do your job and you can’t let up on anything."
BOSTON, MA - Loui Eriksson will be in the Bruins lineup tonight at TD Garden when he faces his former team, the Dallas Stars. It marks his first game back since suffering a concussion on the illegal hit to the head by John Scott in Buffalo on October 23.
Eriksson missed five games as a result. He's had a steady recovery, with no setbacks, after a couple of tough days immediately after the hit. On Monday, he passed the final testing that deems him cleared to play.
On the back end, the Bruins will likely see Johnny Boychuck return to game action. He stayed back in Boston when the B's traveled to Long Island to play the Islanders on Saturday night.
He's been recovering from what he labeled "back issues" after awkwardly crashing into the boards in the second period against Anaheim at TD Garden on October 31 (he left the game and did not return). When he had gotten up after the crash, there was a pain down his back, causing him to not put any pressure on his right foot.
BOSTON, MA - Loui Eriksson joined the Bruins on the ice again Monday morning, as he continues to make his way back from a concussion sustained nearly two weeks ago on October 23 in Buffalo.
If the starts align, and Eriksson becomes officially cleared for contact and game action, he could be facing his former team on Tuesday night at TD Garden.
After the seven-player trade between Boston and Dallas, this game will mark the first meeting of the new-look teams, with Eriksson and Reilly Smith facing off against their former squad, and Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley back in Boston on the other side.
"I’m more excited to maybe have the opportunity to see Loui back in our lineup," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien told media following Monday's skate, when asked about Seguin coming back to town.
"That’s more where my thought is on tomorrow."