The Bruins returned home from their six-game road trip full of smiles and confidence. Well, how else would you expect them to look after they capped a six-game road sweep with a 1-0 win in Ottawa on Tuesday?
"It feels great," Milan Lucic told the Boston Globe following Tuesday's win. "The last two games, we didn't have the same energy that we did in the first four games, but we found a way. It helps us to build that confidence in the room, that no matter who we face, or no matter what the conditions, we believe in each other."
It's the first time the Bruins have won six in a row since the 1971-72 season -- coincidentally, that was the last year the Bruins won the Stanley Cup, when they were led by Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito.
"I don't think we have any of those kinds of names or players," said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. "Those are such legends that it's hard to really be compared to those guys. We're really trying to focus on playing well and playing our game and playing for each other, and win as many games as possible and have good feelings after the games, no regrets."
"The last two games, we didn't have the same energy that we did in the first four games, but we found a way. It helps us to build that confidence in the room, that no matter who we face, or no matter what the conditions, we believe in each other." -- Milan Lucic
Prior to a game in Ottawa the next day, there was a major roster shakeup. Wheeler and Mark Stuart were traded to Atlanta, Tomas Kaberle was acquired from the Maple Leafs and Chris Kelly, picked up in a trade days earlier from the Senators, played his first game for the Bruins.
After a disjointed start, the Bruins blew things open in the third period, as Nathan Horton scored to snap a 1-1 tie and then Dennis Seidenberg and Brad Marchand scored 32 seconds apart in what ended as a 4-2 victory.
The trip shifted to Western Canada Feb. 22, and Lucic scored a pair of goals and Tim Thomas stopped 28 of 29 shots in a 3-1 win against the Calgary Flames.
After another mini-break, the Bruins arrived in Vancouver -- Lucic's hometown -- on Feb. 26. The night before, Lucic was honored by his junior team, the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League. The team had a Lucic bobblehead night and inducted him into the team's Ring of Honor. To cap the perfect weekend, he scored the winning goal in the Bruins' 3-1 victory against the Canucks.
"To play a big game and get the game-winner in front of my friends and family and all the Bruins fans that came out, it's a great feeling," said Lucic.
The next day in Edmonton, Rich Peverley -- the return in the trade with Atlanta -- scored his first goal with the Bruins in a 3-2 win.
Then came Tuesday back in Ottawa, as Horton scored 1:43 into the third period and Rask stopped all 33 shots he faced.
Rask won four of the six games on the trip as Thomas was given a nice rest. Beyond winning all the games, getting back the Rask who led the League last season in goals-against average and save percentage was another positive.
"His practices have been a lot better," general manager Peter Chiarelli told the Boston Globe. "A lot sharper. And in fairness to Tuukka, he needs games to get on a little bit of a roll, too. He has been able to play, contribute, and Tim has been able to get rest."
In the two weeks they were away from home, the Bruins outscored their six opponents 20-9, solidified their lead in the Northeast Division, and with 81 points, they have the same number as the Lightning as both teams sit five points behind Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia.
"This is good for us at this stage of the season," said coach Claude Julien. "We've got some new faces in the lineup and this helps us to build some momentum. Obviously, the confidence is tremendous, they believe they can do it."
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK