Chris Kelly Still Day-to-Day, David Krejci Rested as Bruins Prep for Jets
WINNIPEG - The Bruins held an optional pregame skate at the MTS Centre on Thursday, as they prepared to face the Jets with just three games left in the regular season.
Chris Kelly was not on the ice for the skate, and remains day-to-day.
"He’s obviously a little stiff there - it’s a back injury - and like I said, it’s day to day because a lot of those things are muscle spasms," said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien. "So we’re just taking it easy there with him. He definitely wouldn’t be able to play today and that can change quickly there if things go the way they should."
"From what I’ve been told, very optimistic about him being ready for the playoffs."
Patrice Bergeron also did not participate in the optional skate. When asked if Thursday night was Bergeron's chance to rest, after David Krejci got the night off on Tuesday in Minnesota, Julien responded, "That’s a good question eh?"
"I haven’t decided that one yet," he went on. "We’ll see - we’re going to make some lineup changes tonight obviously, so right now, I’m going to keep that to myself."
On Wednesday, Julien had deemed Jarome Iginla and Kevan Miller gameday decisions, after they both practiced with the team for the first time since sitting out the Bruins' past two games against Philadelphia and Minnesota with minor, day-to-day, maintenance situations. They also took part in the optional skate on Thursday.
Both said they were feeling much better, but the priority was being 100 percent for the postseason.
"Well, I think it’s pretty obvious that some guys need to rest. It’s been a long year for certain guys that didn’t necessarily get the two weeks off," said Julien, of implementing his rest strategy in the final week. "It also doesn’t mean that our team should go out there and coast and not play as well as we should be."
Despite a different lineup on Tuesday against Minnesota, that saw Krejci sitting out and Torey Krug playing some time at forward on the wing, Julien and the Bruins weren't pleased with the lack of discipline in their system and their inability to close out the game for two points.
The one point has them with a two-point lead over Anaheim for the Presidents' Trophy, but the 4-3 shootout loss, after allowing a goal in the final 1:05 of regulation, didn't sit well with them.
"And that’s probably the thing that I disliked the most about the last game. I didn’t think we put out a real good effort against a team that played a lot of hockey so, you know, just because you rest players doesn’t mean you want your team to relax," said Julien.
"If you’re going to get dressed and you’re going to play, you've got to play hard, no matter what, so that’s what it means to me. We’ve given a lot of rest to our whole team there in this month of March with all these games. We didn’t practice much; it was about recovery and then maintaining the intensity in the game, which I thought we did a good job. So now’s not the time to change that."
Is that a message he's given to his team?
"I think it’s a message they know," said Julien. "We’ve been around long enough with each other for the most part that the guys know that’s not acceptable. They also know the last game wasn’t an acceptable effort on our part."
David Krejci Rested Up
All players wants to play. It doesn't matter if they're being rested, are injured or are healthy scratches sitting out of the lineup.
That was the feeling for David Krejci, who was given Tuesday night off in Minnesota. He wanted to be playing. But, he understood the process of sitting out to rest up for the postseason.
"I’m excited to play [tonight]," Krejci said following the team's optional skate on Thursday before facing the Jets. "It was nice to get a little time off but at the same time, it’s not fun to watch the game from the stands or from the dressing room or on TV, so I’m glad I’m back and I’m looking forward to it."
"The month of March was tough - lots of games, especially after the Olympics. So it’s nice to get the night off but at the same time, you always want to be out there even if you’re hurt or tired. You always want to be out there."
Still, there's an understanding among Julien, the coaching staff, and players, that while everyone wants to be in the lineup, it's more important to be ready for the postseason - and the Bruins have that luxury right now.
"Yeah, especially Iggy — he has one goal in mind and we all know what that is," said Krejci. "So he wants to be 100 percent ready for the playoffs."
"Same thing goes for him as goes for me. We wanted to be on the ice and we watched together on TV [on Tuesday], so for me, I’m looking forward to being back and if he’s going to be in the lineup, even better."
Ryan Spooner Embracing Role
Ryan Spooner has been "the guy" this season, often the first one called upon when the Bruins need the void filled at center. He was the one recalled when Chris Kelly spent two months out of the lineup in December and January, and again, when Kelly was deemed out day-to-day with his current back injury.
"Sometimes it’s kind of tough to be going up and down, I guess - the long flights, going back and forth - but I’m happy that they think of me," said Spooner.
Given that the Bruins only have three games left, and Spooner will likely be back helping Providence make the Calder Cup Playoffs, the recent callup also gave the centerman a chance to reflect on the season as a whole, his role with Boston, and what improvements he's been able to make.
"I think it’s just kind of being more consistent," he said. "Had some ups and downs, but I think I kind of got [an opportunity] to figure that out."
"They’re always at the top so just to be around the atmosphere and see how they do things up here is great."
Whenever Spooner gets into the lineup, there are areas Julien looks to see improvement, and if he's in against the Jets, this time will be no different.
"We've talked about, he just needs to get involved," said Julien. "You know me well enough now that when guys play at the end of their sticks, that doesn’t sit well with me. So he’s capable of getting more involved in areas…you go in there and you muck for the puck, and you’ve got to show some involvement there, and he’s been better as of late from what I’ve heard in Providence in regards to that, because we know he can skate, we know he’s a good playmaker, but if you play at the end of your stick, you can’t play on this team anyways."