BOSTON, MA - The Bruins held an optional pregame skate on Thursday morning at TD Garden prior to facing off against the Colorado Avalanche.
It came after three straight days of practices, so Milan Lucic and David Krejci opted to stay off the ice, as did Head Coach Claude Julien, a normal occurrence for optional skates run by the assistant coaches.
Why an optional? Because, frankly, the Bruins are ready for puck drop.
"Our guys have had a lot of jump and they’ve been sharp," said Julien. "For some guys, they don’t feel the need to go on. They’ve heard me say that often – those morning skates can be put aside…and it’s hard to get that out of their heads, that they need to skate in the morning; for them they’ll tell you they feel better. So I think with time, you’ll see less and less of that."
Soderberg Back with Team
As we've been following along with Carl Soderberg's recovery from his ankle injury, the forward got to join his teammates on the ice for the first time Thursday morning.
He's been skating on his own (well, with Strength and Conditioning Coach John Whitesides) since Monday.
"I think it’s a start," said Julien. "It was good to see him out there and doing at least some line rushes. So he’s progressing well but obviously not ready to play."
"Some guys, they can practice with you, how much contact they can take is another thing and our trainers will kind of give us a heads up on that tomorrow [Friday] morning."
Campbell Hasn't Missed a Beat
Two games into the season, and it's as if both Patrice Bergeron and Gregory Campbell have easily slid back into game action. Not surprising, considered their high standards and dedication to their respective recoveries.
"He’s been fine, haven’t seen a difference in him as far as his game is concerned," said Julien of Campbell in the first two games. "He’s fully healed and whether he still feels something or not, he’s 100 percent ready to go."
The Bruins haven't faced Colorado since October 10, 2011 when the Avs handed them a 1-0 loss at TD Garden. In fact, the B's are winless in their last seven meetings against Colorado at home, with their last victory coming over the Avalanche in a 4-1 win on March 30, 1998.
That doesn't mean much other than getting to change the stats tide, but still, it's notable.
Since the 2011 meeting, Colorado has a fairly different dynamic. Core players like Captain Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene, Ryan O'Reilly, Paul Stastny and Erik Johnson, along with both Avs' goalies, were in Boston for that showing, and are have all taken on more leadership roles with the team.
"I say ‘young’ but a lot of them aren’t that young in terms of experience. They’ve been in the league a long time and you look at their captain – I think he’s the youngest captain in NHL history," said Bruins center Chris Kelly pregame, on the Avs.
"So obviously he’s got a lot of leadership qualities and you see how those guys have come into the league and blossomed to turn into really good players."
"They have some good leadership roles – veteran guys on that team that help those guys. So you need to know when certain guys are on the ice."
"What I see is there’s a lot of young players that are starting to come into their own," added Julien. "Tremendous speed up front; they will challenge you with their speed. And then with the experience and the skill level, they’re making plays."
Through three games, the Avs have outscored their opponents 11-3, with three of those goals coming from PA Parenteau and two from Jamie McGinn, both players on Colorado's third line centered by the highly-touted Nathan MacKinnon, selected first overall in the 2013 draft. He has four assists in his first three NHL games.
"We know that they have a lot of skilled forwards and that if you give them their time and space they’re going to capitalize so we need to do a good job at eliminating that," said Kelly.
And with a new head coach like Patrick Roy behind the bench, Colorado has made changes to their system, like a real aggressive forecheck.
That puts an even greater emphasis on the Bruins' support and transition game.
"I think you need to be available for one another and help each other out, work as five-men units out there. When a team comes hard at you on the forecheck, you want to make the simple plays and the close short passes, opposed to trying to stretch it out and leave guys vulnerable in certain spots."
Expect tonight's goalie duel to be Tuukka Rask vs. Jean-Sebastien Giguere. Rask has only played Colorado twice in his career, both losses. Giguere is 2-2-1 all-time against Boston.
Projected Boston Lineup
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Jarome Iginla
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Loui Eriksson
Jordan Caron-Chris Kelly-Reilly Smith
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara-Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg-Dougie Hamilton
Torey Krug-Adam McQuaid
*Matt Bartkowski looks to be the healthy scratch tonight.
Projected Colorado Lineup
Gabriel Landeskog-Paul Stastny-Alex Tanguay
Ryan O'Reilly-Matt Duchene-Steve Downie
Jamie McGinn-Nathan MacKinnon-PA Parenteau
Cody McLeod-John Mitchell-Patrick Bordeleau
Jan Hejda-Erik Johnson
Cory Sarich-Andre Benoit
Tyson Barrie-Nate Guenin
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