CHICAGO, IL - After a day off in Chicago, the Bruins got back to work Saturday with practice at Johnny's Ice House before facing the Blackhawks in Sunday's showdown.
Though, it took a bit of rewinding back to their early playing days, first. The team suited up in full equipment at the United Center, before busing about five minutes down the road to the Hawks' practice facility.
With the snow flurries coming down, it was a unique trek to the rink, but once the Bruins hit the ice, it was business as usual. The nearly hour-long practice ended with sprints upon sprints, as the team looks to build upon their 4-2 win in Dallas on Thursday that kicked off the two-game road trip.
"It's about building some consistency here, and that's what we're looking for game, after game, after game," said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien. "And one game is a good step in the right direction but it doesn't define that all of a sudden we're out of it and we're back on track."
Boston was pleased with the all-around performance, but is not blind to the fact that one game does not start a streak.
"We really played a strong game I thought for 60 minutes," said Captain Zdeno Chara. "Every win you have, you want to build on that. It's something that you want to keep going, and put some wins together and be on a streak, and for sure, we're looking for that [same] game tomorrow."
Chicago offers another tough test from the West, and the Bruins haven't necessarily had an easy going the past two weeks, starting with their trip through California.
"It's a measuring stick for us to see how well we're playing as a team right now," said Julien. "I put the focus a lot on us more than who we play, but you can't deny the fact that you're playing a really good team and they're coming off a really good win against Anaheim."
"We know how tough it's going to be. Those are the challenges you like. Those are the ones you have to look forward to."
Because it's the Blackhawks, and they're the second-ranked team in the league, the Bruins should be up for Sunday's challenge.
Coming back to Chicago and facing the Hawks for the first time since the Stanley Cup Final should offer motivation in itself. There's no denying that, even if Boston has put the heartache behind them.
"I don't think it's weird, it's nice to be back. Last year, although when you don't win, it's a bittersweet situation," said Julien, of his emotions upon returning to Chicago. "If anything, when you take time to look back, it was some really good hockey played, great games, overtime in a lot of them and everything else. I thought it was a well played battle. Hopefully for the betterment of the game, you hope it was appreciated."
“It's the first time we played them since the finals, so I think obviously there are going to be emotions both ways," said Milan Lucic.
"It's been a really long time since I played an 11:30 game, so that's going to be a little different, but all in all, I think it's going t be a lot of fun. Original Six, a lot emotion going into tomorrow, so we're all looking forward to it.”
NBC's Game of the Week
Tabbed as the Game of the Week on NBC, the game is starting at 12:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, after originally being scheduled for 3:00 p.m.
The local time in Chicago for puck drop will be 11:30 a.m., probably the earlier any of Bruins have ever suited up for an NHL regular season game.
"I don't think I can remember if I played that early, but it is what it is, and we've got to make sure we're ready at the drop of the puck," said Bergeron.
Lucic had to reflect all the way back to when he was about 14 years old to recall that early of a game.
"They've played enough, so to just go out there and play the game is fine with me. I'm ready for that and so are the players," said Julien. "At the end of the day, you hear everyone say the same thing that we're all in the same boat. So we're going to put all the excuses aside and just go out there and hopefully put on a good show."
It's also a nice coincidence that it gives Boston fans enough time to cheer on the Pats afterwards.
White Jerseys: Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Jarome Iginla
Gold: Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Reilly Smith
Gray: Carl Soderberg - Ryan Spooner - Loui Eriksson
Merlot: Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara, Johnny Boychuk, Matt Bartkowski, Adam McQuaid, Torey Krug, Kevan Miller
Tuukka Rask, Chad Johnson