ST. LOUIS - The Bruins flew to St. Louis from Edmonton on Thursday morning, with a quick turnaround from Wednesday's 11-round shootout loss to the Oilers.
After a week of travel, the team did not hold a full practice at Scottrade Center, with rest - mentally and physically - the priority.
The Bruins may have picked up a point in consecutive games, but their three-point lead over the Florida Panthers for the second Wild Card spot heading into Thursday night isn't much of a cushion.
They're a frustrated team that has dropped five straight losses, including three straight to start an 11-day, five-game road trip.
"I think guys are feeling the heat, feeling the stress of the expectations and stuff like that, so I’ve been trying to get these guys to not relax," Head Coach Claude Julien said from the Scottrade Center. "As far as the game is concerned, we’ve got to play better, but just mentally, they need to be a little bit more relax in order to be able to execute and think properly out there."
"You can see guys trying to do too much, guys missing open nets. We’ve got an open net, and you can see the frustration there [in Edmonton] when Looch came back to the bench. It goes to show, it’s not because guys don’t care; right now, we just, it’s about finding the right way to turn this thing around."
EDMONTON - The Bruins certainly aren't where they would like to be, with 25 games remaining in the regular season.
They're hanging onto a playoff position by three points. The important third point came in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Oilers at Rexall Place on Wednesday night.
That slight cushion is little consolation, after the Bruins fell down 2-0 early in the game and had to battle back to tie it up 3-3, before the longest shootout in Bruins' history - with 11 rounds - ensued.
It didn't matter who Boston was playing, having lost the first two games on their five-game road trip, and four straight. It also didn't matter the Bruins had picked up a point in Calgary with the loss there coming in overtime.
They needed to play like a desperate team.
"When you look at the outcome, it certainly doesn't look that way," said Head Coach Claude Julien. "I think there's a lot of frustration right now. I think the guys, everybody's feeling the heat we feel that's been put on us, and it's up to us to work through this and find ways to overcome those kinds of things."
"It's part of being a professional, it's part of the game. So it's up to us. We have higher expectations. In that dressing room, coaches and ourselves, we have higher expectations than what we've shown right now."
"So we're not going to hide behind disappointment and stand here and think that we're doing OK," Julien continued. "We're underachieving right now and our game's got to get better. I still feel we've got the group in there to make it better, so it's up to us to take charge."
EDMONTON, Alta. - Malcolm Subban could be making his NHL debut against the Oilers at Rexall Place on Wednesday night, or Tuukka Rask could start his third straight game and make his 24th appearance in the Bruins' past 25 games.
"Well that's the million dollar question," smiled Head Coach Claude Julien. "Keeps you guys interested."
It's certain that Subban will start his first game on this road trip. After the Oilers, the Bruins finish their five-game swing against St. Louis and Chicago.
On his second stint with the club this month, following a 10-day stay in early February while Niklas Svedberg spent time with Providence on a conditioning loan, Subban is ready for his opportunity, whenever it comes.
"This is the second time we've brought him up, and if he wasn't [ready], I don't think that we'd be calling him up," said Julien. "We'd leave him down there, but - we said at some point, we'll see when - he will be playing this time around."
"Last time he was with us and got a good experience being around our team, what's expected, but this time we brought him up and we said we would play him at some point, so we'll see when that is."
The Bruins are in situation where they have lost four straight and two straight to start the trip. The Black and Gold showed signs of progress in the first period against Calgary, then jumped out to a 3-0 lead, but a four-minute power play went for naught and then the Flames powered back into the game to win it 4-3 in overtime.
LEDUC, Alta. - Defenseman Kevan Miller was absent from Tuesday's practice at the Leduc Rec Centre, after the Bruins traveled from Calgary to Edmonton.
"He’s gone back home to be evaluated," said Head Coach Claude Julien. "That’s the update. He flew back today, so we haven’t heard anything else from that."
Miller left Monday night's game against the Flames during the second period, and did not return.
Julien clarified that Miller had re-injured his right shoulder. The defensemen first sustained the shoulder injury back on Oct. 18 against Buffalo.
"I don’t know to what extent his shoulder injury is, so that’s why he’s gone back home," said the bench boss. "It definitely is bad enough, so he’s not going to play the rest of this trip."
The Bruins have three games remaining on their road trip, in Edmonton, St. Louis and Chicago.
Following Boston's game in Calgary, Julien had said in regards to Miller, "we'll see what comes out of it, but it doesn't look good."
The blueliner's shoulder had been holding up prior to Monday night. On Feb. 7, he told reporters in Boston that there were "ups and downs, but it's been all right so far and still kind of progressing, so it's been good."
Given the stay-at-home defenseman's hard-nosed style, he had adapted this game upon returning from the shoulder injury that kept him out for 12 games and about a month of action as he recovered.
CALGARY - The puck traveled off Flames defenseman T.J. Brodie's blade, glanced off the shaft of Brad Marchand's stick, popped up into the air, bounced off Tuukka Rask's glove as he stretched out and reached for it, pinged off the inside padding of the back red bar on top of the goal, and then ricocheted off of Rask's back, and in.
By the time the puck crossed the line, the clock read 2.4 left in overtime. There was not much more that could have been done.
"First one of those in my career," a stunned Rask said postgame from the Scotiabank Saddledome, after the Bruins dropped a 4-3 loss to Calgary in overtime.
Though they ended the night with a point, it marked their fourth straight loss, including two straight on the road to start their five-game trip.
"Well yeah, when you're kind of struggling with your game, that's when kind of the bounces don't go your way and it's happened to us before this season and we saw it again today, so that's about it," Rask continued.
The Bruins carried much of the play in overtime.
"Yeah we did, and we picked it up again," said Head Coach Claude Julien. "I thought we had control of the puck most of the time, but again, when you don't score, you don't win."
This one stung. Boston had started the game with a 3-0 lead, striking first after five straight games of allowing the first goal. It was the Bruins' first time playing with a lead in four games.
They managed the puck well in the first 20 minutes. They didn't self-inflict the damage that had been plaguing them.
At 6:48 into the first period, Brad Marchand put home a setup from Patrice Bergeron for a shorthanded tally to make it 1-0. Less than five minutes later, the Bruins had a 2-0 lead, when a blast from Zdeno Chara quickly jutted in and out of the goal with Chris Kelly screening in front. Dougie Hamilton had wheeled the puck around the net before feeding the Captain all alone up top.
Rask, making his 23rd appearance in the last 24 games, preserved the lead when the Flames created point-blank chances and havoc down low.
CALGARY - The Bruins posted an 8-1-3 record in January, before winning just one of their last five games in the month of February.
They have lost three straight games in regulation for the first time since a skid in early December. They have not lost four consecutive games this season.
So, is Boston the January team, or that December team?
"Well, I'm going to hope we're the February team," Chris Kelly quickly stated, following the Bruins' pregame skate at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Monday. "I don't want to look back and say we want to be this team, or that team."
"You need to live in the moment and learn from your mistakes. When you play 82 games, there's going to be some bad ones, and there's going to be some good ones. And you need to refocus and not have too many bad ones in a row, and come to work."
The Bruins are hoping to leave those bad ones behind as they face the Calgary Flames on Monday night in the second game of their five-game road swing against Western Conference opponents.
CALGARY - Head Coach Claude Julien confirmed following Monday's pregame skate in Calgary that goaltender Malcolm Subban was expected to join the team on their road trip.
"I know that we had planned on calling him up at some point," Julien said. "I don't expect him here tonight [in Calgary], so I guess the rest will be up to management to deal with that."
After Monday's matchup with the Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome, the Bruins next head to Edmonton to face the Oilers on Wednesday night, before wrapping up the 11-day trip against St. Louis and Chicago.
"I don't expect him here tonight, but I know we were talking about calling him up, so I'm not denying it, I'm just saying - I haven't talked to Peter yet today," Julien said, when asked if Subban would be joining them in Edmonton.
What does Subban being called up mean for Svedberg?
"Nothing," Julien said. "I think we went through that with our goaltender last year, with Chad Johnson, and he still remained our No. 2 goaltender."
CALGARY - The Bruins were back to work for practice on Sunday morning following Saturday's off day in Calgary. The team next faces off against the Flames on Monday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
With the equipment set up at the Saddledome, the Black and Gold had a rare "dress and walk" for practice, suiting up and then heading across the street to Corral Arena, where the Flames first played from 1980-83.
The Bruins' skate saw them work tirelessly on coming up the ice as a five-man unit, something that has uncharacteristically been missing for them for the full 60 minutes as of late. It was especially apparent in their 5-2 loss in Vancouver on Friday night, when they gifted the Canucks four goals off ill decision-making, turnovers and mental mistakes.
"It's things that are easily correctable, so we can take those and fix those and then it's a different game," Torey Krug said after practice. "Those gifts that we've been giving them have been served on a platter so it's just about taking those and making sure we eliminate those from our game."
"We're self-inflicting ourselves with the damage that's being done right now," said Head Coach Claude Julien. "So we've just got to get better with that and understand what's the approach and philosophy we want to have moving forward here."
VANCOUVER - A tap-in, a backhander in tight, and two giveaways.
By the end of the Bruins' matchup in Vancouver on Friday night, they had gifted four goals. The Canucks gifted themselves the final tally with an empty-netter to seal their 5-2 win.
"Just keep battling hard and be mentally sharp," Tuukka Rask offered as a remedy for the Bruins get back on track, as they continue a five-game road trip with two more Canadian stops in Calgary and Edmonton. "Those mistakes we did in our own zone, can't do that in Peewee hockey, that's going to cost you, let alone in the NHL."
"So if we keep doing those mistakes, nothing good's going to happen."
"Well yeah, those gifts that you give are pretty costly lately," Head Coach Claude Julien said postgame from Rogers Arena, before the team flew to Calgary. "You like teams to earn their goals, and it's not to discredit Vancouver, they took advantage of what we gave them so the credit goes to them, but how easy we made it, with those kind of gifts, was mind-boggling."
VANCOUVER - The Bruins and Canucks will meet for just the fourth time since the 2011 Stanley Cup Final on Friday night at Rogers Arena.
It marks the first game of the annual season series, with the Canucks making a trip to Boston on Feb. 24.
Both sides may be different, with players and coaches having come and gone, but no matter what, 2011 is always a topic of conversation around both locker rooms.
So, is there a still a rivalry between the teams?
"We’ll see tonight I guess, right?" Head Coach Claude Julien said following the Bruins' pregame skate at Rogers Arena. "You’re asking me a question that I can’t answer right now. Who knows how the intensity of both teams will be tonight — what they’ll turn out to be, and what will result from it."
"You never forget something like that, the guys who were here," said Vancouver Head Coach Willie Desjardins, on memories coming back for the members of his team who experienced 2011 as a Canuck. "Through the run, they'll never forget that series and I think it will always mean something playing against Boston."
"It’s not like we played them last year [in the playoffs] or anything, so a lot has changed since then," Canucks forward Alexandre Burrows weighed in.