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Bruins Set Off for Buffalo With Renewed Focus

Tuesday, 02.25.2014 / 4:48 PM / Features
By Jess Isner  -
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Bruins Set Off for Buffalo With Renewed Focus
The Bruins have a tough stretch welcoming them back from the Olympic hiatus, with 17 games in the month of March \u2013 but just like they did heading into the break, they are focusing on taking things game by game.

BOSTON, MA - The Bruins have a tough stretch welcoming them back from the Olympic hiatus, with 17 games in the month of March – but just like they did heading into the break, they are focusing on taking things game by game.

For the Black & Gold, that begins Wednesday night in Buffalo, where they're looking to continue their strong play before the break and close out the month of February on a high note.

Leading up to the Olympic Games, the B’s went 8-1-2, so the tunnel-vision approach seems to have worked out well last time around.

“I think the biggest thing is just taking it one day at a time,” said forward Brad Marchand following Tuesday’s practice at TD Garden. “We don't want to look too far ahead. It is going to be a tough schedule, but if we take it day by day, make sure we rest up and get our nutrition, hopefully we can stay ahead of ourselves and make sure we're rested for each and every game.”

Though it has taken some time for the B’s to get their legs back under them after having a rare 10 days off in the middle of the season, the group has returned to the ice rejuvenated and ready to tackle the remaining schedule, as challenging as it may be.

“It was nice to have a break, but I think you realize how much you miss playing, and you miss the guys when you're away for a while,” Marchand said. “I think we're all excited to get back at it and have everyone back, and we're excited about the game tomorrow [Wednesday].”

“I think we’ve had a good six days of practice,” said forward Shawn Thornton. “Guys worked hard, and the thing is, everyone’s in the same boat. Everyone had the break, everyone’s back to work today or tomorrow, so [the break] shouldn’t matter.”

Thornton added that, in spite of the fact that Buffalo finds itself in last place in the Atlantic Division, the B’s should still expect a battle on Wednesday night at the First Niagara Center.

“For a team that’s that far down in the standings – I’ve been in that situation before,” Thornton said. “There’s not a ton of pressure, and when you’re playing that way, sometimes you can be a very, very dangerous team.”

Head Coach Claude Julien, who returned to practice on Tuesday for the first time since setting off for Sochi, said that the strategy from here on out will revolve around a familiar refrain: establishing consistency.

“I don’t think I have to really squeeze them or push them,” he said after Tuesday’s session. “I think we understand that what we want to have in our game is – I use that term all the time – consistency. We want to keep our game at a level there where every time you play, you have the opportunity to win.”

“And, you know, I’m going to try to make sure we keep our good habits. I don’t want bad habits to creep in. And after two weeks, [the players] come back, they have a lot of energy, but we gotta make sure that we’re still doing the right things on the ice, and that will be our challenge here in the next couple of weeks.”

It is the same approach the team adopted last year as it faced a jam-packed schedule coming out of the lockout. Following the much shorter break this year, though, the players are well-rested and well-conditioned for the challenge that lies ahead.

“The two weeks definitely didn’t do them any harm,” Julien said. “I think you’ll see, especially with 17 games here in the month of March, those two weeks have been the best thing that could’ve happened to these guys. You know, our guys are a lot more in tune and in a lot better shape than when we came back from that lockout, so I think we’re ahead of the game here.”

For defenseman Dougie Hamilton, the last several practices have been like a mini training camp.

“We worked hard and had a couple of bag skates which we hadn't done all year pretty much,” he said. “So everyone's ready to go, and the pace and the passing and everything was a lot crisper today, so you could definitely see that guys are excited to play.”

Marchand said having a chance to regroup was a plus, even though the 10 days off meant interrupting what was perhaps the Bruins’ strongest stretch of the season.

“We were really pushing hard to play our best toward the break there, and I think we definitely did that, and you know, we used up a lot of energy, so it was nice to get a bit of a break,” he said. “Hopefully, we can rejuvenate ourselves and get right back at it and play the same way, because we were playing well.”

For those who did compete and Sochi and are expected to play at Buffalo on Wednesday — a group that includes David Krejci, Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron and Loui Eriksson — the first game back will likely be a challenge, but one they can certainly conquer.

“Hopefully, with them coming back, they can help us,” Hamilton said. “With that experience [in Sochi], they'll be going pretty fast, so I think just try to get back into it right away, get a good start tomorrow and have a good month and a half.”

Julien said that if anything, spending a couple of weeks helping Team Canada win the gold medal has reinvigorated him heading into this final stretch.

“I think the competition that I was involved with was so good and refreshing that I’ve come back here energized, believe it or not,” he said. “I’m not tired. I’m ready to go here, and I’m looking forward to getting back with my team and getting back into games.”

“You know, whether it’s different in three or four days from now, maybe I’ll let you know. But right now, I feel no effects, and if anything, the excitement over there really energized me coming back."

"And I’m looking forward to trying to accomplish the same thing here with this Bruins team.”




1 MTL 65 41 18 6 175 146 88
2 TBL 66 40 20 6 217 173 86
3 DET 62 36 15 11 182 160 83
4 BOS 63 31 22 10 168 165 72
5 FLA 65 28 23 14 159 185 70
6 OTT 62 28 23 11 176 167 67
7 TOR 65 26 34 5 175 199 57
8 BUF 64 19 40 5 123 215 43


P. Bergeron 62 18 27 5 45
L. Eriksson 62 15 21 3 36
B. Marchand 58 19 16 9 35
M. Lucic 62 14 21 12 35
R. Smith 63 12 23 12 35
D. Hamilton 63 10 25 1 35
C. Soderberg 63 10 25 7 35
T. Krug 59 11 20 8 31
C. Kelly 61 7 20 9 27
D. Krejci 38 7 19 7 26
T. Rask 25 16 10 .920 2.35
N. Svedberg 6 5 0 .917 2.39
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