BOSTON - The Bruins hit the ice for practice on Sunday at Warrior Ice Arena after two days off to rest and recover following a road trip to Western Canada that saw them play three games in four days.
They picked up wins over Vancouver (6-3) and Calgary (5-2) to start the trip, before suffering one of the worst losses of the season in Edmonton, 7-4, on Thursday.
After the couple of days away, the team was back in preparation mode, setting its sights on its next opponent: the Maple Leafs.
Monday night's matchup in Toronto kicks off a back-to-back and another set of three games in four days - all against Atlantic Division opponents - with the Bruins flying home from Toronto on Monday to turn around and face Ottawa back at TD Garden on Tuesday night, and then host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday.
"Well internally I will tell you, you're always, as a coach, worried about the short term and the big picture as well, try and do that balance, so it's something you've probably heard a hundred times," Interim Head Coach Bruce Cassidy said following Sunday's skate, before the team traveled to Toronto. "But for us, we're playing the game in front of us, which is the Toronto Maple Leafs."
Game time against the Leafs is set for 7:30 p.m. ET (NESN, 98.5 The Sports Hub) at Air Canada Centre.
"I know what's coming next, I'm sure the players do, but I don't see any sense in worrying about it, to be honest with you," said Cassidy. "We'll play the game [Monday] night and prepare - had a good practice I thought, tried to address a few things we needed to address, get back to our pace because we had days off, and then [Monday] morning start zeroing in on Toronto and once that one's over, we'll go on to the next one."
"So, yes, it is an important week, I think we're all aware of that. We only have three weeks left, so they're all important [games] at this point. Unless you're Washington, and already in [the playoffs], and then, they've got their own battles. So everyone's got something to play for this year, we know what's at stake for us, but again, our emphasis will be on Toronto."
The Bruins are three points above the Leafs in the standings heading into the game, with 82 points. The Leafs have 79 with a game in hand.
Beleskey Good to Go
Matt Beleskey took a puck to the back of his head at the end of Thursday's game, and it was a great sign to see him on the ice Sunday for practice. He said he was lucky to have avoided a real scare, and is good to go for Monday night.
Stafford Welcomes Twins
"Congratulations" is in order for Drew Stafford, as his wife gave birth to twins over the weekend. Hence, his absence from Sunday's practice. He is planning to meet the team in Toronto.
Bergeron Given Maintenance Day
Patrice Bergeron was given a maintenance day on Sunday and did not practice. He did travel with the team, and his status for Monday's game is unknown as the team heads to Toronto. More clarity will be provided at pregame skate in Toronto on Monday morning (11:30 a.m ET, live updates on Twitter @NHLBruins).
Acciari, Kuraly Recalled
The Bruins announced transactions over the weekend, with Austin Czarnik and Peter Cehlarik being assigned to the Providence Bruins, and Noel Acciari and Sean Kuraly being recalled on Monday.
Both Acciari and Kuraly joined the team for practice. If Bergeron and Stafford are indeed playing on Monday night, the callups could both be healthy scratches.
Practice Lines and Defense Pairings March 19
Brad Marchand - Riley Nash - David Backes
Matt Beleskey - David Krejci - David Pastrnak
Frank Vatrano - Ryan Spooner - Jimmy Hayes
Sean Kuraly - Dominic Moore - Noel Acciari
Zdeno Chara - Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug - Adam McQuaid
Colin Miller - Kevan Miller
Joe Morrow - John-Michael Liles
Goalies: Tuukka Rask, Anton Khudobin
Players not on the ice for practice: Patrice Bergeron (maintenance day, traveling to Toronto), Drew Stafford (joining team in Toronto), Tim Schaller (lower-body injury, not traveling to Toronto)