BOSTON - Zdeno Chara has been the captain of the Boston Bruins for the last 11 seasons. Part of his job as the team's leader is to help guide the team through the rough patches that arise each year.
So with Boston in the midst of a three-game losing streak, and Ottawa and Toronto breathing down its neck in the Atlantic Division, Chara has been doing all he can to assess all the ways the Bruins can right the ship.
"I do a lot of thinking," Chara said following Saturday morning's practice at Warrior Ice Arena. "I care and I have a lot of passion for the game and the sport and this team…there is no one player or one coach that is not buying into it. We are all trying to make it better…we are all in this together."
Chara believes the team is close to finding its way. On the whole in recent weeks, the Bruins have appeared to be breaking out a bit offensively and on the power play. On Friday, Boston, which has been one of the league's stingiest defensive teams all season, held Chicago's blistering attack to just one goal.
The problem has been putting all aspects of their game together at the same time. The Bruins scored five goals against Detroit on Wednesday, but surrendered six. The one goal allowed against Chicago - which came with 1:26 remaining - was not good enough to cover up the zero the Bruins produced offensively.
"We're close. We have confidence in this team, in this group, so much character. We feel good about the upcoming stretch of games. We've just got to continue focusing on improving some small parts of our game," said Chara.
"It's too bad that it came down to the last 90 seconds of the game [against Chicago]. We deserved better, we were playing a really strong game. It's a good team that we played.
"But like I said, a lot of parts of our game are there. Just a few parts of our game we have to get better at."
Video: Bruins look to snap losing streak vs. Penguins
The Bruins are now 3-5-2 in their last 10 games. Ottawa has pulled ahead of Boston by two points in the Atlantic Division, while Toronto sits just one point behind. Both teams have six games in hand.
Boston knows the gap is closing. But focusing on themselves is what is most important.
"We can't control what Ottawa or Toronto or Detroit, whoever else is chasing us…games in hand. That's not in our control," said David Backes. "What we control is [Sunday] afternoon at 3 o'clock when the puck drops in Pittsburgh, taking care of business there and starting to get this thing back on the right track so we can add the wins up, add the points up, so when it's all said and done in April, we can have that post game interview and you can tell us who our next opponent is."
Opposing View: Pittsburgh Penguins
Pittsburgh (29-11-5, 63 points) enters the game having won three straight games, during which they have pumped out 19 goals. The streak began with an 8-7 overtime win over Washington on Monday, while their latest win was a 7-1 thrashing of Carolina on Friday night.
The Bruins will be looking to use the same formula to slow down the Penguins - who are 19-2-2 at home - as they used to hold the high-flying Blackhawks to just one goal on Friday night.
"At this point, [we're] just being positive," said David Krejci. "Yesterday I thought we played well enough to get at least a point, [we] played well defensively. [Sunday's] going to be the same thing, they have skilled forwards."
Those skilled forwards include, of course, the likes of Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, the second- and third-leading scorers in the NHL, respectively. Malkin has 52 points, while Crosby follows close behind with 51. Crosby leads the league with 27 goals.
"We know the points are at a premium right now," said Patrice Bergeron. "It's no secret that we're going to Pittsburgh and playing a great team that's got a lot of offense. We have a great challenge. We have to be ready to face it straight on and be ready for that."
Bruins coach Claude Julien provided updates on both Millers, who have each missed the last several games with injuries. Colin Miller, out since suffering a lower-body injury in St. Louis on Jan. 10, has been skating on his own the past few days and is "on the mend," according to Julien.
Kevan Miller, who suffered a concussion against Philadelphia on Jan. 14, has been sick for the last few days, which has temporarily set back his recovery.
"Kevan was feeling really well and he got hit by a virus that's kept him in bed for the last two days," said Julien. "Nothing to do with his original injury, which was a possibility he could have been ready very soon but that's set him back a little bit."
Bruins forward Anton Blidh was assigned to Providence following Saturday's practice. The Sweden native has played in 19 games for Boston this season, registering one goal and one assist, to go along with seven penalty minutes.
Saturday's Practice Lineup
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Frank Vatrano
Tim Schaller- David Krejci - David Pastrnak
Ryan Spooner - Riley Nash - David Backes/Jimmy Hayes
Matt Beleskey/Anton Blidh - Dominc Moore - Austin Czarnik
Zdeno Chara - Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug - Adam McQuaid
Joe Morrow - John-Michael Liles