Bergeron has missed the Bruins’ past two games, while McQuaid has been sidelined for 18 games. Both players took part in the team’s pregame skate at Nationwide Arena on Tuesday morning.
“Probably a game-time decision,” Julien said of Bergeron’s status. “We’ve got to go through the medical staff first and see if he’s good, and No. 2, if there’s a risk attached to it, so we’ll make that decision here as we move along today.”
McQuaid has been skating with the group now since Feb. 4. He sustained his injury on Jan. 5 against Washington.
“Getting closer,” Julien said of the defenseman’s status. “He had a little bit of a setback there [on Monday] — minor, minor, minor setback, and so he looks good today, so he could be a game-time decision as well.”
In Bergeron’s absence, Ryan Spooner has slotted in alongside Brad Marchand and Brett Connolly. Spooner rotated with Bergeron for rushes during morning skate.
The Bruins have still been finding offense for the past two games, putting up nine goals.
“I think it’s important you have that from your team when those kind of things happen, and hopefully, it creates some confidence in those guys to continue to do that, even when guys come back in the lineup,” said Julien.
“We knew how big of a void it was going to be when Bergy was out so we had guys step up and score some timely goals,” said Connolly. “I think that the Minnesota game, obviously we got a win, and in Detroit, I think we played well enough to get a win but it just didn’t happen.”
“So we’re obviously looking to keep that going. We’re going to need guys to step up tonight in order to get a big win — every night is so huge and we need guys to step up again.”
No matter who is in the lineup, the entire team is looking to tighten up their play and finish the six-game road trip strong after their 2-1-0 start. Reducing goals against has been a point of emphasis on the trip, especailly after Sunday's 6-5 loss in Detroit.
"We talked about obviously limiting the number of chances for the other team, and you’re not going to win many games when you give up six goals," said Torey Krug. "We have a goal in our locker room about how many goals we want to give up, and if we stay true to that, we’ll score enough to win games."
Following the loss to the Red Wings, the Bruins fell one point behind them in the Atlantic Division standings.
“At this time of year, we expect a lot out of our players, when you’re battling for a playoff spot,” said Juilen. “You need to show some character, and we’re asking that from everybody.”
Blue Jackets Outlook
The Blue Jackets may be the second to last team in the Eastern Conference, but they have picked up points in eight of their last nine games, have won two straight games and four of their last five.
In short, the Bruins can’t take them lightly, especially at this point in the season. They had to squeeze out a 3-2 shootout win over the Blue Jackets when the teams last met in Boston on Jan. 23.
“They’re a team that battles really hard, and they never give up,” said Krug. “If you’re up a goal or not, or you’re behind, they’re going to play the same way. So make sure that physically, we’re ready to go to work, and make sure that we’re not getting outworked. That’s a big issue with our team — if we stay on top of that, everything kind of follows through with that.”
Former Bruin Gregory Campbell offered the Blue Jackets’ perspective on their recent stretch of success, compared to the entire season.
“I think it’s been a frustrating season for everybody in the organization, and with the coaching change, it takes a little bit to kind of instill that system, kind of get everybody on the same page,” said Campbell. “It’s kind of what we alway used to talk about in Boston with that identity, and creating that identity, and we want to be a team that has an identity, and we want to be a team that has an identity that when other teams come in here, they know what to expect.”
“So although there’s a lot of really good pieces on this team, it’s about coming together and that cohesiveness that we need to be a competitive team, night in and night out, so we’re finding that slowly. It’s a lot of hard work, a lot of practice time, a lot of video and trying to get all on the same page, but lately, we’ve come to play, and hopefully it just continues. It’s just about building something, not only now, but going into next season as well.”
Goaltender Sets the Tone
With Columbus’ No. 1 goaltender, Sergei Bobrovsky, sidelined since Jan. 22 by a groin injury, 21-year-old Joonas Korpisalo has stepped in and provided a backbone for the Blue Jackets. He is 8-2-1 in his last 11 starts with a 1.94 goals-against average.
Columbus Head Coach John Tortorella attributes his team’s recent success to, first and foremost, the net minding.
“Goaltending is the most important. That’s the mind of your team, is the goaltending,” said Tortorella. “That’s Korpy. He has been really our best player for quite a while, and to have a run like that ― I don’t know what we are, but we’ve found a way to get some points, here, and it comes from your goaltender, just like 29 other teams in this league.”
“If your goalie isn’t your best player, and he isn’t driving your team, you’re not going to beat many teams. We have found that before.”
Korpisalo is expected back between the pipes for Columbus on Tuesday, with Tuukka Rask expected in goal for Boston. Though the Bruins’ defensive game can certainly be tightened up, Rask will no doubt be looking to rebound for Sunday in Detroit.
Marchand Named NHL’s Third Star
Brad Marchand’s recent stretch earned him the NHL’s Third Star for the week ending Feb. 14, after recording seven points (including four goals) in his last four games.
With eight goals in his past seven games and 13 in his past 13, Marchand’s confidence is at an all-time high.
“I think he’s always had that swagger. I think it’s just right now maybe he’s got a little bit more on the ice,” smiled Connolly. “So he’s playing very well right now and we’re going to need him to keep playing well obviously to keep winning. It’s been really impressive.”
When Marchand saw his first NHL playing time in Boston, it came on the fourth line — with Gregory Campbell as his centerman.
“I mean, for me, it was a treat to play with him. He offered a lot to our line at the time there. That was a long time ago,” Campbell laughed. “But he’s a dynamic player. He’s got a lot of skill. He’s a competitive little guy, too, and he’s really strong. I don’t really even look at his size because you look at him off the ice and in the weight room and whatnot, he’s a really, really strong, strong guy. He works hard, he competes hard, and he’s got hands to follow it, too.”
“When he plays with that competitive edge, he’s an annoying player to other teams, and that combination of skill and competitiveness is what you’re seeing now. He’s always been a goal-scorer — sometimes, you have little things go in more than others, and he’ll admit that himself. I talked to him about it. He’s having a really good year and everything seems to be going in for him. But it’s no surprise. He’ll be one of the top scorers on that team year in and year out.”
Catching Up With Campbell
Campbell played host to his former teammates on Monday night, inviting them over for dinner. Not to go back into the past, but that 2011 team will always have a special bond.
“I had to be a good host,” smiled Campbell. “I’ve said before, these guys are like family to me, some of them, and I’ll have lifetime friendships with them, so it’s always good to catch up with them.”
“It’s always good to see these guys. I’ll always have fond memories with them.”
Pregame Skate Line Rushes
Brad Marchand—Patrice Bergeron/Ryan Spooner—Brett Connolly
Loui Eriksson—David Krejci—Jimmy Hayes
Matt Beleskey—Joonas Kemppainen—David Pastrnak
Landon Ferraro— Max Talbot—Tyler Randell
Pregame Skate Defense Pairs
Zdeno Chara—Zach Trotman
Dennis Seidenberg—Colin Miller
Torey Krug—Kevan Miller
Joe Morrow—Adam McQuaid
Projected Starting Goalie: Tuukka Rask // Backup: Jonas Gustavsson
Projected Scratches: Zac Rinaldo, Joe Morrow (both stayed on for extra time following pregame skate)