BOSTON, MA - Call off the search party.
With all of the talk around the Boston Bruins trying to "find their game" heading into a five-game homestand at TD Garden, it appears that the comforts of home have helped the cause.
The Bruins picked up nine of a possible 10 points and have won four straight heading on a three-game road swing that begins in Ottawa on Friday night.
And if the Black & Gold are finding their game, it usually means their finding ways to win.
This time, it was Milan Lucic giving the Boston faithful a worthy sendoff with his first-ever overtime goal as a Bruin that powered his team to a 3-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
"I think when you look at the record, it’s what you wanted," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said of his club that improved to 12-5-1 on the season and 4-0-1 in their last five games.
BOSTON, MA - With the Bruins preparing for a back-to-back stretch against Columbus at home tonight and then on the road in Ottawa on Friday night, it's expected that Chad Johnson will get the start in goal tonight for Boston.
It would be his third game in the spoked-B and his first at home in the confines of TD Garden.
His first outing was a 5-2 win in Buffalo, with his most recent start coming 12 days ago on November 2 on Long Island. The B's lost that one, 3-1, in probably their worst loss of the season, and made sure to point to their effort in front of Johnson as the reasoning. Their all-around game never surfaced.
Despite only having played two of Boston's 17 games, Johnson keeps himself as fresh as possible.
"You see him every day, he comes out and is going to stay out there after practice and take some extra shots and try and stay sharp and that’s what Chad has done for us," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien told media following the team's pregame skate.
WILMINGTON, MA - When the Bruins hit the ice for practice Wednesday morning at their practice facility, Ristuccia Arena, Adam McQuaid was the only Bruin absent from the skate.
The defenseman left the game against Toronto on November 9 with an injury, and has not yet returned to skating with his teammates. He's been deemed "day-to-day" by Head Coach Claude Julien.
BostonBruins.com - Bruins fans know the toughness of Steven Stamkos well.
Accustomed to seeing the grit and fight of those in the Black & Gold, the Tampa Bay Lightning centerman hit a cord when he returned during Game 7 of the 2011 Eastern Conference Final, after taking a puck to the face. He wiped off the blood, threw on the full cage and was back on the ice, battling for his team.
Sometimes, a player can not only impact his team, but the entire game.
So, when Steven Stamkos broke his right tibia during the Bruins-Lightning game on Monday afternoon at TD Garden, the impact reverberated throughout the crowd, and the hockey world.
"It’s obviously tough to see him go down, not only for our team. That's one of the best players in the world," said Lightning Head Coach Jon Cooper. "People come to cheer on the Boston Bruins here, but they also come to see guys like Steven Stamkos play hockey. So it’s a loss for everybody."
BOSTON, MA - When the Bruins force their style on opponents, they come out on the winning end. That's a fact. Hemming teams in their own zone, being relentless on the backcheck, playing with energy, alertness and anticipation.
The effort produced a 3-0 shutout of the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday afternoon to give the B's their third straight win, all in the confines of TD Garden.
A two-goal outburst in just 20 seconds from Patrice Bergeron and Daniel Paille gave Boston their jolt, and Jarome Iginla sealed the victory with an empty-netter. Tuukka Rask stopped all 28 shots he faced to extend the Bruins' shutout streak of the Lightning to 149:28, spanning back to last season.
"It’s playing with emotion; engaged," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said following the game. "Sometimes, mentally, you go through a phase where it’s a little tougher than other times."
"The positive thing is I think we’re finding our game and we seem to be heading in the right direction."
WILMINGTON, MA - Adam McQuaid was absent from the Bruins' Sunday morning practice at Ristuccia Arena. He left Saturday night's game against Toronto early in the first period and did not return.
McQuaid went down after taking a turn behind the Bruins' goal, and was helped down the tunnel by team trainers. It occurred during his second shift of the night, with him logging just 44 seconds of ice time.
"He's still getting better, but still hurting today," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien told reporters following Sunday's practice.
The specific nature of the injury is unknown, but it's likely a good sign that the defenseman wasn't immediately deemed out for a period of time.
Julien did say that McQuaid is "probably doubtful" to play on Monday, though, as the B's host the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden.
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."