WILMINGTON, MA - The Bruins took to the ice at Ristuccia Arena on Monday morning to kick off a short break from game action, before their first back-to-back of the season coming up on Wednesday in Buffalo and at home against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday.
With all B's healthy, everyone hit the ice for the roughly hour and twenty-minute long session, to keep their skating legs fresh with a two-day layoff.
For Head Coach Claude Julien, he continues to have game-by-game decisions to make with the seven rotating defenseman, as well as up front with Carl Soderberg back and 13 healthy forwards at the ready.
Now, with the impending back-to-back, it could also give goaltender Chad Johnson his first start between the pipes in Black & Gold.
“Buffalo might be one of the games we give him,” Julien said following Monday's practice. “We haven’t made that final decision yet but I will put him on notice and give him probably an opportunity. We’re going to have to use him at some point and that might be a good chance for us to use him then.”
Just as easy-going and excited as when he arrived, one of the newer and youngest Bruins now ranks third on the team with five points off a goal and four assists through his first seven games in the spoked-B.
Starting the season off with Chris Kelly as his centerman after making the opening night roster, the versatile, speedy winger has shown Head Coach Claude Julien his long-term top six potential since being moved to Patrice Bergeron's line with former Dallas teammate Loui Eriksson.
The 6'0" 185-pound winger is easily on pace to surpass his nine points he recorded in 37 NHL games with Dallas in 2012-13 off three goals and six assists. He also put up 35 points (14 goals, 21 assists) in 45 games with the AHL's Texas Stars after making the jump from Miami University (Ohio).Now that we've gotten to know his play on the ice, I recently sat down with the Bruins winger in South Florida for an off-ice Q&A. Enjoy….
BostonBruins.com - On Saturday night, in the first period of the Bruins' eventual 5-0 shutout of the Lightning in Tampa Bay to put them at 5-2-0 on the season, Carl Soderberg streaked into the offensive zone.
Powering down the left side, he nearly hit Loui Eriksson at the goal mouth to put the Bruins up 2-0.
It was a routine drive for Soderberg towards the goal. And it showed no rust for the winger in his 2013-14 debut, even after sitting out the first six games of the season with an ankle injury that he sustained in the third period of the final preseason game back on September 27.
"I'm just happy to be back," said the Sweden native, after playing in just the seventh NHL regular season game of his career. "It's really hard to stay out, actually, and now being back again. We played a really great game, probably one of the best this season, and I'm happy about the win."
TAMPA BAY, FL - The Bruins were due for a breakout performance.
It couldn't have come at a better time, earning a 5-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night in the Sunshine State, going up against a goaltender in Ben Bishop who had won five straight and a Bolts squad that had won five of its last six games.
Tuukka Rask stopped all 23 shots to earn his 17th career shutout, putting him in sole possession of ninth place on the Bruins' all-time list.
"Everyone showed up from the drop of the puck tonight and it obviously shows on the results," Bergeron said from the locker room following the win. "I thought [against] Florida we had a good first period and we scored two goals but we kind of got back on our heels a bit and they came back in the game."
"I think tonight we kept pushing, and, look at the result."
TAMPA BAY, FL - As the Bruins head into a match-up with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night, the rotation of seven defensemen on the Bruins has seen Matt Bartkowski, Dougie Hamilton and Adam McQuaid as healthy scratches so far this season.
McQuaid was the scratch on Thursday against the Florida Panthers, with Hamilton getting back into the lineup after a two-game layoff. It was the first game with Hamilton, Bartkowski and Torey Krug all in the lineup together.
"You saw that against the Rangers, those young guys came in and skated well, but yet where we suffer a little bit is defensively," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said following the B's practice in Tampa on Friday.
"And when you have a guy like Adam McQuaid who is pretty solid defensively, those guys aren’t as good as he is on the defensive side of it. So it’s a situation where you kind of weigh the pros and cons and you make those decisions as you go game by game."
"There’s a good chance [Adam will] be back in the lineup [Saturday night] as well. So he’s a veteran, I know it’s a little tougher for veterans, but we got some good young players and we can’t just go and pull those guys out because you’re going to be pulling the same guys out all the time."
Prior to the season, and amidst the B's first six games, Julien has stressed that choosing which blueliner to sit out does not often comes as a result of play; it's mostly based on "rust" and keeping everyone fresh.
"Certain guys have to sit out yet it has nothing to do with their game more than it has something to do with the numbers," he said. "So we’ve been clear with our players about that."
"As much as they don’t like it, and I don’t blame them for it, it’s just the situations that’s there and you have to move on here and it’s so important that they stay on top of their game and stay focused and when they get a chance to go in, continue to play well."
As we move forward in the season, the decisions will continue for each game.
"It doesn’t get easier and the thing is, probably the biggest challenge for a coach is that you don’t want to have to explain every time something happens," said Julien of the conversations with the healthy scratches.
"I think it’s pretty clear to everybody that we’re moving guys around to keep everybody sharp and I’m not going to tell a guy ‘you’re not playing tonight’ and sit down for 15 minutes to start explaining myself."
"They know what the situation is and that’s what you do. So I think it doesn’t get any easier but you have to think about it every game – what’s the best situation for this game or the next game and you make those decisions."
Julien also has to exercise patience with the rotation, as the trio of Hamilton, Krug and Bartkowski continues to grow into their full-time NHL player roles.
"You’ve got some young D’s in your lineup – you have three of them that are in basically their first full year and we need some better sticks out there and sticks on pucks," said Julien, of improvements to make in the lapse defensive coverage over the past two games, despite the 3-2 win over the Panthers on Thursday.
"Some of those [Florida] scoring chances were coming from maybe a little bit of a combination of both better sticks and some youth there. So the only way we’re going to get better is by letting them play and helping them through those kind of corrections."
TAMPA BAY, FL - For seven games now, Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien has had 12 forwards available. Now, heading into the match-up with the Tampa Bay Lightning Saturday night, he has 13.
With Carl Soderberg cleared to play, the bench boss has to make a decision up front for the first time this season.
"I haven't told anybody anything yet. That's why they don't know, and I haven't made that decision yet," Julien told reporters following pregame skate, when asked if Soderberg would be suiting up in his first game action of 2013-14.
He last played in the final preseason game on September 27 in Saskatoon, when he suffered his ankle injury.
Jordan Caron had a maintenance day Friday and did not practice with the team, but was back on the ice during an optional pregame skate this morning at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Julien said Friday that "he's fine" and "ready to go."
The decision is not necessarily between those two forwards, but any way it turns out, it's a difficult process.
"It's pretty obvious that it's not an easy decision," said Julien. "But again, I've got to make those decisions come game-time."
TAMPA BAY, FL - After missing all of the Bruins' first six games of the season, it appears that Carl Soderberg may get his opportunity in the lineup on Saturday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Following practice at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Friday afternoon, Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said that Soderberg has been cleared to play.
Friday marked his third straight day taking full contact with the team. He's been out of game action since suffering an ankle injury in the B's final preseason game on September 27 in Saskatoon.
"Carl is ready to go," Julien said following practice. "He’s been cleared so there’s a possibility there."
"I know it’s kind of a question if we feel that he’s going to be in tomorrow; there’s a good chance he will be. He’s been cleared so now it’s up to me to make that decision."
SUNRISE, FL - The end result earned the Bruins two points on Thursday night in a 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers and former Boston goaltender Tim Thomas.
Reilly Smith added the late finish with just 58.7 on the clock, after a quick 2-0 start for the B's in the first period, thanks to Daniel Paille beating Thomas short side off a defense to offense rush, and Dougie Hamilton firing in his first goal of the season on the power play.
"We stressed that before the game," said Smith. "Just getting the first goal because that hasn’t happened the last couple of games. So it was big, it definitely gave us a little boost and energy to start."
His goal came against the Panthers' top line of 2013 Calder Cup winner Jonathan Huberdeau, Scott Gomez and Kris Versteeg.
SUNRISE, FL - Boston had a quick start, and a swift finish, as Reilly Smith scored his first as a Bruin with just 58.7 seconds left in the third period to lift the Black & Gold to a 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center on Thursday night.
After a Patrice Bergeron faceoff win, Johnny Boychuk kept the puck in the zone, sending it along the blueline to Torey Krug at the right point who fired it in deep. Smith first tried to set up Bergeron in front, before making his way around Tim Thomas' net and backhanding in a loose puck that trickled in.
"Yeah it got close at the end there; we didn’t want that [comeback] happen. It’s a great feeling being able to score and help the team out and get the win," Smith said postgame, of his first in the spoked-B.
"And then we started maybe letting up a bit and probably got away from our game as well and started getting a little cute and gave them an opportunity to get back into the game," said Head Coach Claude Julien.
SUNRISE, FL - The Bruins will be facing off against the Florida Panthers and former Boston goaltender Tim Thomas tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET at the BB&T Center. That is, in case you hadn't heard.
When the B's held their pregame skate this morning, Tuukka Rask was first off the ice, indicating he'll likely be the starter tonight for the Black & Gold.
The Thomas vs. Rask and the Bruins match-up may be sending the hockey world - and New England - abuzz, but what's really at stake for the Bruins against this Atlantic Division squad, is the two points.
"We still have a game to play, we still have a game to win. So we did turn the page on that," said Head Coach Claude Julien following morning skate. "And today, we move on."
With Coach keeping his focus, those in the spoked-B - who are 3-2-0 on the season and lost their last game, 3-2, to Detroit on Monday - are keeping that mindset as well.