Practice Notebook: Eriksson at the Rink, PK Bounce-Back, Marchand's Jump, Krug's Progress
WILMINGTON, MA - The Bruins hit the ice Monday morning at Ristuccia Arena, with all healthy members of the Black & Gold on the ice.
There was one familiar face around the locker room, however. Loui Eriksson, who has been out indefinitely with a concussion since October 23, was at the rink while the B's skated.
"The one good news is that he did show up this morning. He came by and that’s usually good news when a guy can leave his home and come to the rink," Head Coach Claude Julien told gathered reporters after practice.
"So we’re taking it day-by-day with him. I think right now, you’re probably not going to see him in the next week and I don’t think he’s going to skate in the next week so I guess we can put it at that stage for now."
Julien prefaced the bit of good news, though.
"He’s doing better I guess. ‘I guess’ is because you never know."
PK Turns the Page, 3 Games in 4 Day Coming Up
It appeared that prior to practice, the Bruins joined Assistant Coach Doug Houda at the board for a penalty kill meeting. The always dominant B's PK gave up an uncharacteristic four power-play goals in the 4-3 loss to New Jersey on Saturday.
Boston had allowed only three goals shorthanded through their first nine games to sit at third in the NHL, killing 88.2-percent of their penalties.
On Monday morning, the B's had dropped to 24th (77.4%).
"Definitely that last game, we kind of weren't prepared well enough I guess. I think we should, ourselves as players, take onus on that," said penalty kill specialist Daniel Paille. "So for us, obviously, we want to work back up to being tops in the league."
The Bruins may not often pay attention to their own stats, but when it comes to an area they take immense pride in as a team like the penalty kill, it's top of mind.
"We dropped a fair amount there, so it's going to be a big battle to get back up there, but we all have the confidence to know that we can and we've done it before in the past," added Paille. "And I think we're going to just have to be stronger on plays and not panic out there."
There's also the area of discipline that the B's will easily clear up, given the delay of game penalties and the errant high stick that led to the double-minor New Jersey was able to capitalize on.
"Sometimes circumstances certainly make it tough and we can look at who we should blame or whether we could have been better there’s no doubt, but at the end of the day we have to turn the page and move on here," said Julien. "We had a good week and we were hoping to finish with a perfect record and it didn’t happen so we move on to the next game."
The Bruins next face another stretch of three games in four days, beginning in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, before hosting Anaheim Thursday night at TD Garden and heading back on the road to face the New York Islanders on Saturday.
About midway through practice, amidst the Bruins' battling drills, Brad Marchand deked through his legs, got the puck around Zdeno Chara's stick and tried to roof one on Chad Johnson. The netminder made the quick glove save in close, changing the B's initial "OH!" response to "Ohhh" but it was indicative of Marchand's spark in practice.
"I thought he had a real good practice today; he seemed to have a little bit more jump," said Julien, who labeled the winger's "skating" as what he's trying to work through amidst a slower start to the season.
"When Brad skates the way that Brad can skate, he’s quick; he’s a real fast skater. So if he can start using his speed and put some real good work ethic along with that – like a compete level that we know he can – just those two things alone will make a huge difference for him. So today I thought he responded well to that."
"He was skating better than I’ve seen him skate in a while so hopefully he continues to work on that part of it and he’s going to be fine."
Stick Taps for Quaider
During battling drills, Adam McQuaid caught an errant stick up high and had to leave for repairs.
He came back just in time for the Bruins to be circling up for team stretch at center ice. As such, Julien had him skate a few laps for the time he missed from practice. His teammates serenaded him with sticks taps in "slow clap" fashion. It brought out a surefire round of laughs from the group.
"Just another one of Adam’s bruises right?" Julien joked after the skate. "He came back just in time to skate a couple laps."
With Eriksson out, lines with the B's 12 healthy forwards remained the same from against New Jersey and San Jose.
White Jerseys: Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Jarome Iginla
Gold: Reilly Smith-Patrice Bergeron-Brad Marchand
Grey: Carl Soderberg-Chris Kelly-Jordan Caron
Adapting with Loui Out
When Julien was asked postpractice about how he felt his new-look lines were forming with Eriksson out for the time-being.
"It’s more about I think we need a little bit more from our lines, our offense, I think it’s more about individuals – how they can give you a little bit more versus who you have on what line," said the bench boss.
One individual who has impressed Julien with his two-way play is Reilly Smith.
"I think the one thing that I complimented him on early on was his smarts and how he was good at getting pucks out and how reliable he was even in our defensive end," he said. "I know it’s a lot for a player who hasn’t played much in this league but he certainly hasn’t been an issue there as far as not doing his job defensively. I think, if anything, he’s been really good."
As for the third line, while Kelly has had a strong start to the season, Julien is looking for more out of Marchand and Soderberg,
"Sometimes you have to lean on people a little bit more than others and when you look at Kelly’s line, he’s got Soderberg who’s more of an offensive minded player who’s playing a different position than he’s used to so you don’t necessarily want to put too much on their plate either."
"You have to rely on more than just lines sometimes and right now, Reilly is showing that he can [be relied on], and when it comes to Marchy, he’s certainly trying to work his way out of probably a slow start. So those are things, once those players find their stride, they’ll make it even better."
"Pleased with Progress" of Krug, D
Torey Krug wasn't too pleased with the high sticking penalty he took on Saturday, mostly because he had his intention to lift the Devil's stick; he just wasn't able to get the break.
One to always hold himself accountable, his coach quickly understood that as well.
"His intention was to lift the stick and he missed and hit the guy in the face. So as a coach you don’t stand there and accuse players, you don’t blame players. He’s given us a lot of good things and it was an accident that ended up being a costly one and you move on," said Julien.
"That’s why I’m saying if he doesn’t take that penalty, we’re probably in a different situation; we might be sitting here with a win. But it’s certainly not his fault, it wasn’t done purposefully and you have to turn the page. You get those breaks some nights and some nights those breaks go against you."
Overall, though, Julien has been impressed with the young blueliners.
"We’re pleased with the progress our young guys are making and Torey’s one of those guys."
"I’m a high risk player sometimes. I’m going to make mistakes, I’ve always made mistakes," said Krug. "They’re not going to stop today even though I learned a lesson; I’m still going to make another mistake down the road. So you have to have that. I think hockey players in general have to have a short term memory. You have to learn from it though and that’s what’s important."