Boston, MA - Following last night's 5-3 win in Carolina and late flight into Boston, the Bruins (4-0-1) held off-ice workouts and meetings in preparation for their first of seven back-to-backs this season, when they faceoff against the New Jersey Devils (3-0-1) tonight at TD Garden.
Only five players hit the ice - none of whom skated in Monday night's game - including Tuukka Rask, Lane MacDermid, Jay Pandolfo (still on a Professional Tryout Agreement), P-Bruin Jordan Caron (who is still recuperating from a lower-body injury), and Adam McQuaid, who had not traveled with the team to Carolina. With Khudobin making his first start last night, it can be assumed that Rask will get the call for Boston, while it's expected Johan Hedberg (and not Martin Brodeuer) will make his first start this season for New Jersey tonight (as reported by Star-Ledger's Rich Chere).
Head Coach Claude Juilien told media during pre game availability that McQuaid "is available" for tonight. "He’s skating this morning, so we’ll see where he is after morning skate. We’ll make a decision today, before the game."
McQuaid spent the time away from the rink with his family, following his grandmother's passing - something his teammates, coaches and the B's all understood was important.
"Pretty close family and it was important for me to get back and pay my respects, to be with my family," said McQuaid. "I'm really happy that I was able to do so, the team, the management, the coaches, my teammates; everyone was really supportive of it, that meant a lot."
"Hockey's obviously a pretty important part of our life, but family, I think for everyone, comes first. I feel fortunate that I was able to be there."
Jordan Caron's time on the ice this morning working out was not an indication that he would be in the lineup anytime soon, as he skated for the Providence Bruins on Saturday - and Coach Julien left that decision up to the B's management.
"He’s here for treatment, he’s not in my care at all," said Coach Julien. "He’s in our organization’s care, not mine. He’s not on our roster, so this is just about helping him get through the treatments he has to get through, etcetera."
Plenty of other teams in the league have had back-to-backs, and the B's will feel the effects of their first one during tonight's game, which falls in a three-games-in-four-nights and four -games-in-six-nights stretch.
"You really tried to utilize your four lines," Coach Julien said on preparing for the back-to-back. "You’re going to hear that a lot from a lot of teams here. You’ve got to think ahead a little bit."
"At one point, you’ve got to trust your players and you’ve got to trust your players are going to do the job and they [the Bruins] did last night. So, this is our first one and we might as well get used to it because there’s a lot more coming up."
Prepared for an Aggressive Devils' Squad
Tonight marks the first of three games against the Devils this season, and the first of two at home. Boston swept the series last year and are 8-1-0 in their last nine meetings. New Jersey is coming off a Stanley Cup Finals disappointment and has carried their postseason play into this season, going 3-0-1 to start. The Devils recently dropped a 4-3 decision in overtime to Montreal, but came back from being down 2-0 and 3-1 at points in the game to earn the point - a battling effort much like the B's have shown this year.
"Well, the early success, I think, is kind of [a] continuation of last year, and they really had a strong finish. They’re a solid team overall in all areas," said Coach Julien.
"They’re really good offensively. They’ve got guys that can score goals. They’ve got guys that go to the front of the net. They’ve got guys that can shoot the puck. They’re also strong defensively, and that’s how good they are, so there’s not a lot of weaknesses on that team."
"They’re really strong along the boards, and you have to be at your best. We prepared for that last year, and we’ve got to be prepared for that again this year."
"They battle really hard in all zones," said Dennis Seidenberg on their heavy play. "They've got big bodies and they’re strong on their sticks. It makes it hard to get offensive zone time and it makes it hard to take the puck off the sticks in our zone. We have to be really strong tonight and bring our A-game.
Down the hall in the Devils' locker room following their morning skate, Ilya Kovalchuk (2-3=5 this season and averaging 26:24 of ice time), commented on his team's success out of the gate. "I think we got a good start, but nobody’s perfect. A lot of things to improve," he said.
"But it’s a great challenge tonight. Boston is one of the best teams in the league and we’ll see how we can handle that. Especially at home, they’re real aggressive all over the ice, they’re a big team. It will be a good challenge."
Seguin Gets Monkey Off His Back
Tyler Seguin scored his first goal of the season on an empty-netter Monday night that sealed the 5-3 win over the Hurricanes. Not the type of goal the 20-year-old sniper would have liked, but Coach Julien hopes it will help him get that first one out of the way.
"That's a reason why we put him there," Coach Julien said following the win in Carolina, on putting Seguin out on the ice with the empty net. "It was an opportunity for him to get the monkey off his back here."
"I think the puck battles are along the boards are somewhere where he’s always going to have to work a little harder at to get better," Coach told media on Seguin not quite connecting with the back of the net to start the season. "He has been out of sync because of the way they play in Europe on the bigger ice surface."
"With Tyler if you give him time and space it’s going to make something happen, but it’s a little more aggressive, a little tighter here, and he’s readjusting, and we hope that that goal last night really helped him get himself back on track and get a little bit of that confidence back."
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