WILMINGTON, MA - The “good feeling” has made its way back into the Bruins’ dressing room. Thursday night, following the ousting by Philadelphia, was the start of three games in four days, and a chance for the B’s to start “feeling good about their game,” as voiced by veteran Chris Kelly and his teammates.
They did just that, putting together a close to full-60 effort, in their 2-0 shutout of Tampa who, despite not making the playoffs, are always loaded with offensive talent.
So at practice on Friday at Ristuccia Arena, a jovial group of Bruins moved quickly from drill to drill, hollering at teammates whose pucks found their way past the goalies, and joking amongst themselves in the locker room.
“If you have ever questioned our team chemistry…” said Coach Julien jokingly to reporters as the voices of the B’s filled the room.
“There’s no doubt there’s a better feeling all around in the dressing room. Obviously, we’re hoping our fans liked our game a lot better. That’s what you need, but you need to build on that,” said Julien following practice.
“Feeling better gives you a more energetic practice too, our guys seemed to be in the right frame of mind. We understand that Washington’s been a tough team for us in the past.”
“It’s been a tough building for us to play in as well, so we’ve got a good challenge – I say a good challenge because that’s the kind of thing we need right now is a good challenge and we have to respond properly tomorrow.”
Horton skated prior to practice sans teammates with Strength and Conditioning Coach John Whitesides as he recovers from an upper-body injury sustained against Pittsburgh last Saturday. Coach Julien said he is progressing well, though he is not making the trip to D.C. to face the Washington Capitals on Saturday night.
“Nathan’s doing fine, he’s skating every day, he’s getting better. Again, just being extra cautious, but we’re going to make sure that we get him ready when the time comes.”
Jagr was missing from the ice, as Coach said he is battling the flu and though he is not traveling today with the B’s, there’s a possibility he could join the team tomorrow on the road.
“He may join us tomorrow, he may not, depending on - he’s fighting a flu bug right here right now,” said Coach.
The last ‘B’ not on the ice was defenseman Matt Bartkowski, who was assigned to Providence today, as announced by GM Peter Chiarelli, and will be suiting up for the P-Bruins tonight, as they start their playoff push to the Calder Cup.
“The reason we sent him down is because we need him to play. He’s been a real good addition to us. If we need him, I’d rather have him, having played and you may see him back Sunday, we’ll see how everything goes.”
“He was sent there for the purpose of helping him out, but also to keep playing. We liked his game and he’s been a good player for us.”
With Horton and Jagr not on the ice, here were the lines in practice:
White: Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Rich Peverley
Gold: Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Tyler Seguin
Grey: Carl Soderberg-Chris Kelly-Kaspars Daugavins
Coach Reacts to Dougie Winning 7th Player Award
On Thursday night, prior to the match-up with Tampa at TD Garden, the Bruins and NESN announced the winner of NESN's Seventh Player Award, voted on by Bruins fans online and presented to the Bruin who went above and beyond the call of duty and exceeded the expectations of Bruins fans during the 2012-13 season.
"He's been a good player for us and the biggest joke around the room right now was, expectations are getting lower and lower for first round picks," laughed Coach Julien following Friday's practice.
"It's a little joke around the room. Was it Seguin [winning 7th Player] last year or the year before? So, those guys are taking some ribbing, but for a guy to be a 19-year-old and come in here and play the way he did this year is nice to see to see him get rewarded for that. Saying that, there's a lot of other players that could have been in that same category and I'm sure they got considerations as well."
Rest Before Second Season?
With only two games left before the postseason, this could be a time when Coach Julien may opt to rest players, especially with the B's playing their final game on Sunday, when 28 other NHL teams will have already finished their schedules.
"Not necessarily," said Coach, on if "off days" were out of the question, with the No. 2 seed on the line. But, that playoff positioning is indeed what the Bruins are still aiming for with the last two games.
"And it doesn't mean we're going to do it either," Coach added. "We've cut down on ice time and stuff like that. Like I said before, what I like to do and what we have to do are two different things. We've still got to look at it day by day. Had we controlled our destiny a little bit better, we might have been in better position but that's what ends up happening."
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