Bruins Shift Focus to Edmonton
WILMINGTON, MA - The Bruins hit the ice on Friday at Ristuccia Arena, ready to work out Thursday night's 4-1 loss to Montreal.
The areas of emphasis were simple: skating, decision-making and execution.
Practice focused heavily on their transition game - and having a bit of fun, ending the skate with two-on-two battling drills in one corner of the ice.
"That last drill is pretty intense, but a lot of fun, you learn how to battle in tight areas, and you touch up some areas you want to get better at; you try and make it interesting," said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien following his squad's up-tempo practice.
The Black & Gold next host the Edmonton Oilers (and former Bruin Andrew Ference) on Saturday at TD Garden in a 1:00 p.m. matinee. After a 3-0 shutout of Carolina, the Oilers come in on their second three-game winning streak of the season.
"You try and create a situation where that energy is going to be back for tomorrow, and I think the biggest thing is if we can play well tomorrow, it's a lot easier to turn the page. If you don't, then you're prolonging the pain," said Julien.
"So for me, our guys have enough experience to know that, and we're coming in tomorrow against a team that's won three games in a row and we have to expect that and understand that we have to play much better than we did."
"I just found our skating was very slow and our execution was poor and that's why we worked on it today, is getting our passes back tape to tape and getting more speed through the neutral zone, so you work on things that are hoping will turn that around, and you do rely on your veterans and guys who have been around to kind of lead the way in the dressing room as well."
The players certainly put in the work, and are aiming to get back to their ways that had produced a 5-0-1 record in their previous six games.
"I thought we had a pretty good practice, a lot of battling and a lot of transition work," said Matt Bartkowski, who has taken on a greater role in the Bruins' defense corps since Dennis Seidenberg's season-ending injury.
"Last night [against Montreal], our compete level wasn't there and our transition game, so the two things we worked on in practice and the last stretch we had I thought we were at the top of our game, if not getting better every game, in those areas."
"Through that stretch, we just brought it every night, we were just clicking, our focus was there, our compete level was there, so everything else just kind of rolled into place."
Not Underestimating Oilers
The Oilers may have an 18-32-6 record, but they pushed the Bruins in the teams' first meeting of the season in Edmonton, with Boston holding on for the 4-2 win.
"Certainly not [underestimating them], they've been playing well lately," said Gregory Campbell. "They've won their last three games. Good team speed that's always talked about, they've added some grit in their lineup and they're going to play us hard. So coming off of a shut out I'm sure they're pretty confident about their game."
"On the flip side of it, we have something to prove tomorrow as well. We want to get back on track."
Welcoming Ference Back
The Bruins received a warm welcome from Andrew Ference in Edmonton back in December; that will be reciprocated this weekend.
"We saw him in Edmonton and he came to see us, and everybody made time for him," said Julien. "As I've often said, you know, we've had some good players here that have left our team and just because they're playing for somebody else, doesn't mean you lose respect for them, and I think that respect's been mutual in a lot of ways, so it's always nice to see former players."
"He was part of our group that brought a championship here, so he'll always be welcome in our environment."
"We played him already, but it will be nice to see him back in the Garden and I know he's going to probably get a couple claps for him and it's well-deserved," added former teammate (and defense partner) Johnny Boychuk. "Because he was a good leader for our team, and he's a good leader for them right now."