Coming off a disappointing 3-1 loss to Montreal on Sunday night — when the Bruins lamented a spotty, inconsistent effort — it becomes even more imperative for them to get the job done at TD Garden on Tuesday night and close out this three-game homestand on a high note.
“We’re not going to be home for a couple of weeks at least, so we wanted to make sure we come here and have a good win and have a good road trip,” said forward Daniel Paille.
Though the Bruins didn’t practice on Monday due to yet another snowstorm, they had a longer-than-normal morning skate on Tuesday, and following Sunday’s loss, they did the off-the-ice preparation to ensure that the same mistakes that haunted them against the Habs — sloppy play in the neutral zone, losing battles — don’t crop up again against the Stars.
“At one point, you’ve got to move on,” Paille said. “Today is more about Dallas, and they’ve got just as much of an offensive threat, even though their record’s not as good. We still need to be a lot better.”
During their last three games in particular, the Bruins have seen old habits — bad habits — sneak back into their play. They have gone 1-2 during that stretch and scored just five goals, and despite the fact that Tuukka Rask was more than solid in net during that trio of games, the defensive work in front of him was not up to par.
The last three games, in fact, have been a departure from what the Bruins were able to do during a successful month of January, when they went 8-1-3. During that stretch, they shored up their defense, first and foremost, and they committed anew to their system. It showed in the standings at the end of the month: The Bruins were able to climb back into the playoff picture and reassert themselves as a contender.
One of the teams the B’s faced during that successful month of January was the Stars, and they put forth one of their better efforts of the month. They rebounded from a 1-0 deficit to score three unanswered goals en route to a much-needed road win.
“We played committed to our system, and continued to play well defensively, and capitalized on our scoring chances when we could,” Paille said. "We had everything going for us with goaltending, and I think everyone stepped up, especially when I think [Brad Marchand] wasn’t playing there [due to suspension].
“So we had to really come together as a team.”
In order to close out this homestand — and embark on a five-game road swing with some momentum on their side — the B’s will once again need a full 60-minute effort from the entire team, especially in order to neutralize a potent Dallas offense.
“I think like with every offensively powerful team, you have to be careful — you have to get pucks deep,” said defenseman Dennis Seidenberg. “They can go all the way, and just keep tight gaps to prevent them from coming at you with a lot of speed.
“So again, it comes back to us being smart, playing smart hockey and playing our system.”
Svedberg In Net
The Bruins announced on Monday that goaltender Niklas Svedberg had been recalled from his conditioning stint in Providence, and after Tuesday’s morning skate, Head Coach Claude Julien confirmed that Svedberg is expected to make his second start for the Bruins since Dec. 27.
During his four-game stint with Providence, Svedberg went 3-1 and allowed 11 goals, posting a 2.76 goals-against average with a .911 save percentage.
Julien said he was satisfied with Svedberg’s performance with the P-Bruins.
“He played four games — that’s what he was there for,” Julien said. “He said he felt better and better every game. Our goal was to give him some games — he hadn’t played much and felt it was unfair to him and to our team to throw him in when he was out so long or hadn’t played much.
“It was a great opportunity for him to go there and play a lot of games.”
Svedberg, too, was happy to get some time in net in order to prepare himself for Tuesday’s game against Dallas — and for the long road trip.
“Still pumped to play games — always good to play games,” Svedberg said. “So it’s all good.
“[It’s] almost always easier when you play more, but I try to stay ready anyway, and obviously now, I got some games in Providence, so I feel good.”
Svedberg said he didn’t feel any rust in his first start with Providence, which marked his only loss. When he first went down for the conditioning stint, he said it was only supposed to be for a weekend, and although his stay was eventually extended longer than expected, he was fine with it. It meant more playing time for him, and he was happy to have it.
“It wasn’t any problem,” he said. “I just wanted to play some games. So it was all good for me, and it was all fun, so I wasn’t really worried about that.”
Julien sympathizes with a player who isn’t able to get as much playing time as he would like — especially a young player, and especially a goalie. That’s why he wasn’t about to throw Svedberg back into game action after such a long layoff.
“It’s difficult for anybody, obviously,” Julien said. “An experienced guy will probably deal with it better, but in his case, I think it was a win-win situation for everybody, him included. He doesn’t want to get in nets and get embarrassed because he hasn’t played in a while.
“It was a great opportunity for him to go there and feel good about his game, and now he’s ready to go.”
Paille Working Hard
The 2014-15 season hasn’t been the easiest for Daniel Paille. The winger — who has spent most of his time on the fourth line but has taken some shifts elsewhere, most notably with Patrice Bergeron’s line — has registered just a single goal.
It is a departure from what Paille expects from himself after hovering around the 10-goal mark in four of the last five seasons, including the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, when he tallied 10 goals and seven assists for 17 points.
“I think for myself, I know in the past I’ve produced fairly well, or a lot better than I have this year, and it’s unfortunate, especially this year,” he said. “But for me, it’s to try to get consistency and unfortunately, some nights, I’m not going to get the points. But hopefully, the scoring opportunities — I’m getting a lot more, and hopefully, they can start going in.”
Julien said that while it’s encouraging to see Paille starting to generate more chances — there was one particularly good one against the Canadiens on Sunday, when he sprung for a breakaway at center ice but tripped himself up and wasn’t able to convert — but he can understand the winger’s frustration.
Part of the struggles, Julien said, are due to plain old bad luck.
“I guess it goes with the whole territory that he’s in right now — he’s just not getting any bounces, or he’s just not getting those breaks that he’s looking for right now to make something good happen,” Julien said. “I guess every player at some point in their career will have a tough year. We’ve all seen that.”
Still, Julien said, there is plenty of time for Paille to get going, especially if he gets on a hot streak soon.
“Right now, for him, he could easily get close to those numbers if he got scoring,” he said. “You look at the chances he’s getting — [he] starts putting those in, he could climb up pretty quickly. To me, he’s got to stick with it. You’ve heard me say that often: When the chances are there, it’s a good sign. When they’re not there, you’ve got a long way to go.
“He’s got some opportunities; now, he’s just got to make sure he works on burying them.”
For Tyler Seguin, last year’s visit to TD Garden was a memorable one, as it was his first since being traded in the summer of 2013.
This year’s visit could be memorable for a different reason: He could miss it.
Dallas Head Coach Lindy Ruff told reporters following morning skate that Seguin — who “didn’t feel well enough to skate” — is a possibility to miss Tuesday’s game after coming down with the flu.
Even Seguin can’t go, though, captain Jamie Benn is confident that others will be able to step in and fill the void just fine.
“It’s going to take a full team effort,” Benn said. “Guys are going to have to step up, and just work hard as a group in here, to get two points.”
The last time these two times faced each other, it didn’t go well for Dallas, but the Stars are coming off a big 3-2 win over the Rangers on Sunday night and are looking to keep that momentum rolling on Tuesday.
“I think it’s just continuing what we had last game,” Benn said. “We played a pretty good game. We really want to just focus on team defense, and I think we got that in New York.”
Projected Lineup vs. Stars
Milan Lucic — David Krejci — David Pastrnak
Brad Marchand — Patrice Bergeron — Reilly Smith
Chris Kelly — Carl Soderberg — Loui Eriksson
Daniel Paille — Gregory Campbell — Craig Cunningham
Zdeno Chara — Dougie Hamilton
Dennis Seidenberg — Adam McQuaid
Torey Krug — Kevan Miller
Starting Goaltender: Niklas Svedberg // Backup: Tuukka Rask