They intended to kick off a five-game road swing the right way — with a victory — and return to playing the way they had throughout January and at the beginning of February.
Instead, though, they came out flat and ended up dropping a 5-3 loss at the hands of the Canucks.
“We didn’t play a very good game at all, and we know that,” said forward Brad Marchand following Boston’s morning skate on Tuesday. “We didn’t have the jump that we normally have, and we had a few very costly turnovers, so we just want to worry about playing the way we did the last couple games when we finished the road trip. If we can do that, it should be a good game.”
With the Canucks in town for the first and only time this season, the Bruins are focused on doing the things that brought them success in a 6-2 demolition of the Blackhawks on Sunday. In that game, they played the system. They focused on defensive layers. They buried their chances.
That is precisely what they have to do in order to extend their winning streak.
“At that point [in the game against Vancouver], we were kind of in a lull in our game,” said defenseman Matt Bartkowski. “The rest of the road trip, we didn’t get the results that we wanted the whole trip, but we started to get better and better. In the Chicago game, we finally broke through.
“So if we take the way that we were playing and continue to get better — don’t take any steps back — and in the Chicago game, we didn’t really do anything special. We just played the way that we can, played our system, and everybody bought in. So as long as we can do that, we should be alright.”
The Bruins did some good things, too, when they visited Vancouver. Though they gave up an early lead, they played a strong end to the first period. A costly second frame, however, did them in, and that can’t happen on Tuesday night at TD Garden.
“You’d like to be able to bounce back with a better game,” said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien. “Disappointing. It was definitely our start. Behind 2-0, and the rest of that period — in the first period, I thought after those two goals, we got much better. Tough second, again — and then a little bit of an inconsistent game for us.
“So do we need to be better? Do we want to use that as a motivation? If it will help our team, why not?”
Canucks Head Coach Willie Desjardins, for one, expects to see a much different team on the opposite end of the ice on Tuesday than he saw the last time out in Vancouver.
“They’re going to be such a good team, and I know they’re going to be hungry,” he said. “They’re not going to be happy about losing in Vancouver, so they’ll be going hard. They showed it in Chicago, and that’s the type of team they are, and we know that, so it’s going to be a real tough game [on Tuesday].”
Boston has been up and down a lot over the last few weeks. There have been spurts where they have played their game, but there have also been miscommunications and defensive lapses. Consistency, once again, is the name of the game as the B’s prepare for the Canucks — that, and, as Bartkowski said, making sure everyone is on the same page and commits to the system.
There were times during the road trip when the Bruins did just that. Now, they need to make sure they are doing it all of the time.
“In the Edmonton game, we played almost a complete game — but we went down 2-0 there at the start of the game, so we dug ourselves kind of a hole,” Bartkowski said. “We didn’t play very well for 10 minutes. Then, in the St. Louis game, we gave a few chances we shouldn’t have given, but we only gave up 15 shots.
“Whenever we’re playing well, we’re all buying in and all getting pucks deep and all working hard, and layers — all the stuff that everybody says — but really, that all works. You saw it in the Chicago game.”
There will be one other key difference when these two teams take the ice on Tuesday night: Instead of Ryan Miller being in net for the Canucks, it will be Eddie Lack.
Miller, who made 21 saves against Boston on Feb. 13, flew back to Vancouver to undergo an MRI after leaving in the second period of a 4-0 win over the Islanders on Sunday night.
Lack finished the game and, if Miller is out for an extended period of time, he figures to get more regular game action than he has gotten of late as the backup.
“I’m just trying to take it one start at a time,” Lack said. “The last game [against the Islanders] shows that anything can happen, so I’m just trying to do my best, one step at a time, and see where it’s going to take me.”
Lack said his confidence is high at the moment, and if he does end up taking on a larger workload in the next few weeks, he will welcome the opportunity.
“[I’ve] been working hard for a while here, and feeling ready,” he said. “I feel confident, and just want to get in some game action and get it going here.
“I really hope that I’ve grown a lot. I feel a lot more confident on the ice, off the ice. I feel like my technique is way better, and honestly, kind of translates into a game, too. But right now, I’m feeling very confident in myself.”
The Bruins gained some confidence in their most recent win against Chicago — perhaps confidence that had dwindled over the first four games of the road trip. If they can perpetuate that confidence on Tuesday night, they will certainly be able to make the game a good one.
“We played [Chicago] in the Cup Final a few years ago, and being able to beat a team like that, it gives you a certain confidence,” Bartkowski said. “But I think the more important thing is it gives you confidence in the way we played. We played the system, and we saw that it works.”
Krejci Out; Spooner In
On Monday, the Bruins announced that center David Krejci will miss 4-6 weeks with a partially torn MCL in his left knee, suffered in the second period of Boston’s game against St. Louis on Feb. 20.
The timing is obviously not ideal, as the Bruins cling to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but Krejci insisted that he is focused on staying positive and getting back on the ice as soon as possible.
“Once I come back, I’m going to try to be the best player I can be for the team, and give us a chance to win hockey games,” he said on Tuesday, addressing the media for the first time since sustaining the injury. “But for right now, it’s up to the guys, and me — I just got to do my thing in the gym and training room.”
Krejci’s spot is obviously a difficult one to fill, but the Bruins have no choice but to compensate for the loss as best they can as they approach the stretch run.
“I think it definitely adds a little pressure,” Marchand said. “We know that we have to step up more, and be even better. I think it was good the last game, with how many guys stepped up, and it was a whole team effort. That’s what we’re going to need.
“To fill a guy’s void like Krech, it’s just not possible — he brings too much to the team. But hopefully, we can all pick it up a little bit and continue to get wins.”
On Saturday, the Bruins recalled Ryan Spooner from Providence to fill Krejci’s spot in the lineup, and on Sunday against the Blackhawks, he registered an assist, playing on a line with Milan Lucic and David Pastrnak.
“I think he just has to grow to having more confidence at this level, which I think I saw against Chicago,” Julien said of Spooner. “When I say ‘I think,’ I think I saw and I’m hoping I’m going to see it again because he skated well. There didn’t seem to be any fear.”
Spooner admitted to feeling a drop in confidence when he was assigned to Providence in October after spending five games with the big club to start the season. Now, he said, he is tuning out the distractions and focusing on playing his game and having fun.
“I was pretty upset when I got sent back down,” Spooner said. “I played on the wing for about 10 games and it didn’t really go that well. Then I got hurt, and I was out for 4-5 weeks, came back and got hurt again, so it was kind of just tough for me to be positive and stuff like that. Then when I went home for the All-Star Break, I just kind of said to myself, ‘Just have fun with it.’ That’s what I’m trying to do.
“I find when I’m on my game, I’m just trying to skate and stuff like that, and when I’m not playing well, I’m just slow out there. So I guess I just need to focus on that.”
With Krejci out, Julien is also looking to see more from Lucic — a fixture on Krejci’s line for several years. Against the Blackhawks on Sunday, Julien saw what he wanted to see from the winger. Now, he needs to bring that, game in and game out, regardless of who is on his line.
“He played heavy,” Julien said of Lucic. “He had four hits, he was really involved, he was skating, he scored because he went the net. I think it’s important for Looch to kind of take control of that line for now, which has those two young players on it, and just be a good leader — lead the way because the other two guys have speed, they have skill, they can certainly be good players for us. We just need Looch to be the senior player on that line and lead with his experience.”
In addition to losing Krejci during their five-game road trip, the Bruins also lost the services of Kevan Miller, who went down with a dislocated shoulder in a Feb. 17 loss to Calgary. In October, Miller dislocated the same shoulder and missed a handful of games before returning to the lineup.
Later in the week, the team announced that the defenseman would undergo season-ending surgery.
“To be honest, it just felt great after [the shoulder] came out initially,” Miller said. “I had one really half-in, half-out scare, then I felt strong. Like I said, it kind of goes up and down a little bit; one game, you feel it, the next game, you don’t. You kind of work to strengthen that to keep things going.
“It felt fine, but it is one of those things where it is kind of 50-50; you’re playing with time, I guess.”
Miller said that as soon as the shoulder popped out during that game against Calgary, he knew it and felt it immediately. Once he undergoes surgery, his focus will be on getting back to 100 percent in order to help this team next season.
“I’m not exactly sure, as far as how long [rehab] going to take,” he said. “I know it won’t be as quick as last time [in October]; it’s definitely going to be a bit longer. It all kind of depends on how the surgery goes, and stuff like that, so it’s kind of up in the air right now.”
Center Gregory Campbell was the only player missing from Tuesday’s morning skate, after which Julien announced that Campbell will miss at least one week with an undisclosed upper body injury.
As a result of Campbell’s absence, Daniel Paille will slot back into the lineup after serving as a healthy scratch for the last two games. During morning skate, Paille skated at left wing on a line with Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson, and Chris Kelly moved down to center the fourth line, with Brian Ferlin and Jordan Caron on his wings.
Projected Lineup vs. Vancouver
Brad Marchand — Patrice Bergeron — Reilly Smith
Milan Lucic — Ryan Spooner — David Pastrnak
Daniel Paille — Carl Soderberg — Loui Eriksson
Jordan Caron — Chris Kelly — Brian Ferlin
Zdeno Chara — Dougie Hamilton
Torey Krug — Adam McQuaid
Dennis Seidenberg — Matt Bartkowski
Starting Goaltender: Tuukka Rask // Backup: Niklas Svedberg