BOSTON - The Bruins have enjoyed the past three weeks.
After three straight wins at home, they had five days off for their bye week, then posted a 3-1-0 road trip - which could have been 4-0-0 despite the late loss to Anaheim - and came home to put up a 4-1 win over Arizona at TD Garden on Tuesday night.
By the Bruins' standards, Tuesday wasn't their prettiest game, but they got the job done.
Their confidence level continues to be high as a result.
"It's good, it's high, and we need to keep it that way," Patrice Bergeron said following Wednesday's practice at Warrior Ice Arena. "We need to believe in ourselves that we can do it every night, and it starts with that mentality of going out there and just playing hard and playing your system and worrying about what you can do as a team, and I think we've been doing that lately, so we've got to keep that going for sure."
Wednesday also marked the NHL's trade deadline. When Bergero spoke after practice, the time was about 1:00 p.m. EST, two hours before the deadline of 3:00 p.m.
There had not been much chatter around the team regarding the deadline, somewhat due to the team being on the road, and largely due to the consistent winning that's been happening lately. The Bruins are 7-1-0 in the eight games since Bruce Cassidy was named Interim Head Coach.
"It's one of those things where I know some guys get nervous around that time. You have to try and block it and put it aside and just play our game," said Bergeron, explaining the atmosphere around the team on Wednesday. "You know, it's out of your control really what's happening and you have to be professional and go out there and play well."
"Obviously at practice, you know it's the deadline and there might be some things happening, so it's kind of always the unknown."
Once the Bruins get past the deadline, there are 19 games remaining in the regular season. Twelve of those 19 games, starting with Thursday night's matchup against the New York Rangers, will be happening on home ice.
"Sometimes if you look too far ahead, it can look like a long season, so it's crazy how fast it goes and the last stretch is always the best time of the year and you have to keep that going," said Bergeron. "Obviously we do have a lot of home games in that last part of the year, so we've got to take advantage of that."
"If we can get rolling at home, then it puts us in a good position for the playoffs, so it's important to get our home ice advantage back," said Torey Krug. "Guys realized the ability we have to smother teams at home and put our pressure on them and put them back on our heels - I think we kind of lost sight of that for a while - teams were coming in to our rink and putting us back on our heels."
No matter what was bound to happen at the deadline, the players were confident in their group heading into the afternoon.
"I think we've been through a lot together with this group in here, the core guys and as well as the guys who have been brought in to be a part of this," said Krug. "We've been through a lot and when you've been through something like a coaching change, I think it brings the group together and right after that we go on a road trip and have some success."
"So I think we're confident in what we have in here and that we're growing and developing and maturing."
Cassidy Looks Ahead to Rangers
With the trade deadline looming on Wednesday, all Cassidy was concerned with was getting his team ready for the New York Rangers.
"At the end of the day, that's in management's hands. They're going to make their decisions that they feel are best for the organization, plain and simple," Cassidy told reporters at Warrior Ice Arena.
"There will be some consultation. There was this morning, if we have a history of certain players or an awareness of certain players or knowledge, and we try to share that, and [Don] will make his decision from there."
"There's no anxiety there. It is what it is, we're going to end up with a roster at 3 o'clock and that's what we're going to coach [on Thursday], and it's going to be a good one."
The Bruins continued the high-tempo nature of their practices on Wednesday with a skate that featured a significant amount of work on breakouts, odd-man rushes and one-on-one play.
"A lot of little details that we need to be better at and get better at in our game - breakouts, defensively, and also just moving the puck up and moving our speed as the same unit," said Bergeron. "A lot of the things that we've been doing lately and so far it's been working well."
Before practice, Zdeno Chara and Brandon Carlo spent some time with Power Skating and Skills Coach Kim Brandvold, who stayed on with a number of players after the practice to work with them on the details. Anton Khudobin hit the ice early with Goaltending Coach Bob Essensa.
Practice Lines and Defense Pairings March 1
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Backes
Peter Cehlarik-David Krejci-David Pastrnak
Frank Vatrano-Ryan Spooner-Jimmy Hayes
Tim Schaller-Dominic Moore-Riley Nash/Matt Beleskey
Zdeno Chara-Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug-Adam McQuaid
Kevan Miller-Colin Miller
John-Michael Liles, Joe Morrow
Goalies: Tuukka Rask, Anton Khudobin