Practice Notebook: Bruins Looking to Shake Road Woes in Carolina; Loui Eriksson Finding His Stride
RALEIGH, NC - The Bruins have been a predominantly strong road team - keeping their play simple, consistent and sharp. But after winning four straight on the road to start the season, they've dropped their last three games away from TD Garden.
They'll look to snap that on Monday night against the Carolina Hurricanes, before closing out the road swing with the Rangers in New York on Tuesday.
"It's a matter of establishing yourself on the road. I thought we had a good start this year on the road and we won the first four, and we've slipped since then, so we need to kind of pick up our game here on the road," said Head Coach Claude Julien. "And it's not going to get any easier; it's only going to get tougher. So we need some quality play from our hockey club."
A Sunday practice at PNC Arena following an off day helped shake off their third period from the 4-2 loss to Ottawa on Friday night.
"We realize that mistakes cost us the game and especially the mental mistakes we have to make sure we don't repeat, and learn from," Captain Zdeno Chara said following the team's skate at the Canes' home rink in Raleigh.
"We all realized right after the game that we made mistakes we can easily correct, and that's what we have to do next game, making sure that we stay sharp, especially mentally, throughout the whole game."
Hockey can be a funny game. The Bruins dominated the first 20 minutes in Ottawa, and it appeared the nearly silent Canadian Tire Centre would remain so for the rest of the night.
But mistakes spiraled for the B's - and the Senators capitalized. Tuukka Rask felt he needed to take the blame for not having his sharpest outing, and his teammates were adamant about playing better in front of him.
"Maybe we thought we could start making extra plays or maybe overlooking the first passes. For whatever reasons, we thought we could start taking more and more," said Chara. "And then obviously they were getting better as the game went on and we were not being sharp."
Starts haven't been an issue for the B's as of late, who outshot the Sens 22-13 through the first 40 minutes.
"We just have to be stronger," said Seidenberg. "We are an experienced team in those situations and we have to bring it home."
Mistakes were spread throughout the lineup, and young blueliner Torey Krug was frustrated with himself on the takeaway that led to the Sens' first goal of the night.
"It’s one that we want back and now we have to learn from it, look at it and then forget about it," he said.
Practice served as the opportunity to learn and make adjustments, with many huddles and "chalk talk" time between drills.
"Anytime you have a game like that, you always want to finish on a good note and we didn't do that, obviously in that third period it was a very poor, bad period on our part," said alternate captain Patrice Bergeron.
"At the same time, it gave us some time to regroup and to think about things we need to work on and adjust, and today was a good example of things we need to be better at that Claude showed us, and we worked on it and hopefully we can be right back in it [on Monday]."
"We've got to do the job and do it for the whole game. We've got to be better mentally and prevent those mistakes."
Loui, Bergeron Line Finding Their Stride
Winger Loui Eriksson was just started to generate chemistry with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand when he suffered a concussion against Buffalo on October 23. Ottawa marked his sixth game back, after missing six games from October 24 to November 2 while he was recovering.
Heading into the game against Carolina on November 18, Eriksson is on a five-game point streak, with two goals and four assists, and a plus-4 rating in that span. He has goals in two straight games. He has yet to have a minus game all season.
"He's skating a little bit better. He seems to be skating more, and his plays, he seems to be finding guys," said Julien. "It's not what do I see, more than what he's starting to see. I think he's starting to find his teammates a little bit more, and the confidence of playing in a bit of different system."
"You know, he's had to adjust and when you adjust, you do a lot of thinking. And players are better when they react, versus over thinking. And I think those are things that are kind of getting better for those guys."
Eriksson, Bergeron and Marchand have combined for six goals and six assists, with a plus-14 rating in their past four games.
"I keep saying the same thing, Brad's kind of finding his game now, that helps. Loui's back and finding his stride," said Julien. "To me, he was probably our best player in Ottawa. So, those are all good signs, and then you've got Bergy in the middle with them who's always pretty steady, so I think it's coming around."
White: Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Jarome Iginla
Grey: Carl Soderberg-Chris Kelly-Reilly Smith
Merlot: Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton
*Adam McQuaid still remains in Boston, recovering from a day-to-day lower body injury he sustained on November 9 against Toronto