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Bruins Focused on Turning Around Trip, No Matter Who's in Goal vs. Oilers

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

EDMONTON, Alta. - Malcolm Subban could be making his NHL debut against the Oilers at Rexall Place on Wednesday night, or Tuukka Rask could start his third straight game and make his 24th appearance in the Bruins' past 25 games.

"Well that's the million dollar question," smiled Head Coach Claude Julien. "Keeps you guys interested."

It's certain that Subban will start his first game on this road trip. After the Oilers, the Bruins finish their five-game swing against St. Louis and Chicago.

On his second stint with the club this month, following a 10-day stay in early February while Niklas Svedberg spent time with Providence on a conditioning loan, Subban is ready for his opportunity, whenever it comes.

"This is the second time we've brought him up, and if he wasn't [ready], I don't think that we'd be calling him up," said Julien. "We'd leave him down there, but - we said at some point, we'll see when - he will be playing this time around."

"Last time he was with us and got a good experience being around our team, what's expected, but this time we brought him up and we said we would play him at some point, so we'll see when that is."

The Bruins are in situation where they have lost four straight and two straight to start the trip. The Black and Gold showed signs of progress in the first period against Calgary, then jumped out to a 3-0 lead, but a four-minute power play went for naught and then the Flames powered back into the game to win it 4-3 in overtime.

If the team does the job in front of the net, the goaltender's night will be easier, no matter if it's Rask or Subban.

"We have to play a certain way to be successful. We have trust in whoever is playing in net," said Captain Zdeno Chara. "We know they're all good goaltenders, they perform well, we've just got to focus on our job to do well ahead of them."

"There's a lot of focus right now," said Dougie Hamilton. "We've been practicing hard and we had an optional skate this morning, so just trying to be ready for tonight, it's obviously a big one…We obviously need a win and we're going to do our best to do that."

While the Oilers are 29th in the standings, the Bruins always vow that they can't take any team lightly. That's especially true for Wednesday's tilt, with Boston just two points above Florida in the East's second Wild Card spot.

Maybe other teams come into Rexall Place eyeing an easy two points. The Bruins do not.

"Well if those [teams] were thinking that way, they probably had a better record than us," said Julien. "They probably were playing a lot better than we were. So I don't think there's any reason for us to come in here tonight thinking this is going to be automatic win."

"We need to be desperate, because we need to win and that's how it should be viewed. Even though Edmonton may not have the best record, they give every team a good run for their money. If they collapse, it happens to every team once in a while, but they have the skill on that side to do some damage, if you don't take them seriously."

"We are not in a position where we should be looking at any team that we play as better or worse than us," said Chara. "So we just have to really focus on how we can play, how we can be better, and focus on getting points."

No Further Update Yet on Miller

Defenseman Kevan Miller flew back to Boston on Tuesday to have his right shoulder evaluated. Miller re-injured the shoulder in the second period against the Calgary Flames.

There was no further update on Wednesday regarding his injury.

"He was seen by a doctor yesterday and he was going to be seen by another specialist today," said Julien.

As of around noon local time, when Julien spoke with media, there were no plans to recall another defenseman. The Bruins have just six blueliners with them now. Adam McQuaid will slot back into the lineup after being a healthy scratch in Calgary.

"Not as we speak," Julien said, on anticipating a callup. "Some of those questions will be more about what they decide to do, and it's all related to cap, number of players and everything else, so I'm not quite sure. Right now, as we speak, it's no."

With Subban currently on the roster, a decision on defense could likely come once the netminder makes his NHL debut.

Bartkowski Getting Opportunity

Matt Barktowski slotted back into the lineup against Calgary after being healthy scratch for 17 straight games. He didn't see much ice time in the third period, when Julien opted to keep two pairs in rotation late in the game, after Miller was sidelined by his injury, but after a month and a half out of the lineup, Julien liked what he saw.

"I thought he did a good job," Julien said in Calgary. "He skated well. I didn't mind his game tonight. He's worked hard in the last month and a half, and really worked hard in practice, off the ice, on the ice, and he gets rewarded with a pretty decent first game. And had he not done that, I don't think he would have been the same player tonight."

Bartkowski felt better than he thought he would, having not played since Dec. 31. Getting more games in a row will help him get into a rhythm.

"It's just another opportunity," said Bartkowski. "Like every year when someone gets injured, I come in and play, so hopefully I can play well."

Catching up With Fraser, Ference

Matt Fraser will suit up for the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday against his former team. The forward was claimed off waivers on Dec. 29.

"At the end of the day, they're a team that's fighting for a playoff position and I guess we're a team that's looking to spoil that," said Fraser. "It should be a good game, I know they're probably anxious to get things going and so are we."

Fraser has been in and out of the Oilers lineup, but is happy to get the chance to suit up against Boston.

"It's mixed feelings. You want to see guys on that team do well and succeed, just not against us," he smiled. "It will be fun to go out there and play against those guys. It's the first time I've ever played against guys like Looch or Zee, where you're actually playing against them. It will be fun. It will be a good test for us and we're playing some good hockey right now, and it will be a good test for them."

Former Bruin and current Oilers captain Andrew Ference provided insight in on his team's status. In his second season as captain, he's seen his club progress, albeit slowly.

"You have to put in the work, and change habits, you have to do things the right way and progress isn't just waiting till next year," said Ference. "You can be older, you can be more mature, but you have to build it and make sure that you're doing the right things to help that progress along."

In describing what he looks for from his team every day, in practices and games, despite being far out of the playoff picture, Ference's words could be translated to any team -- even the Bruins, given their current February struggles.

"Individually, you have to break it down to what your responsibility is to the team, and what your role is, and what things you can do really well to help the team," he said. "So I think it's, No. 1, individuals making sure that they bring everything that they've got, and you play for that personal pride, but it's helping the team while you do it."

"We don't have the experience, some of the size of other teams, so you can't just have four guys on the ice playing the system and playing the right way. We literally can't have that, we can't afford to have that. So, demanding that all five guys are on the same page, all guys have bought into what we're doing as a team, and nobody's just kind of the Lone Wolf, skating around doing their own thing, so I think those are big things that we've been stressing."

Always Looking to Improve

When Julien addressed the media pregame, he was asked about the trade deadline, coming up on March 2, and if he'd be looking for the management to add players.

"Yeah I think every year, we've had the opportunity to have players to help our team," said Julien. "Again, I don't think any different this year, as far as, we'd like to, as a coach, maybe see us add a few players to fill some holes and I guess add a little bit more depth."

"Now whether that happens or not, that's upper management's going to make those final decisions. Right now, it's up to me to get the team that I have right here going in the right direction."

"There's always going to be some kind of talks or rumors connected with teams that are in the position they obviously feel they need to improve," Chara said, when asked about talk and rumors always surrounding the deadline. "You have that every year. It's something that as a player, you're following a little bit, but at the same time, you can't control, so we'll see what's going to happen but at this time of the year, every team is looking how to improve and get better."

Projected Lineup vs. Edmonton Feb. 18

Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Reilly Smith

Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Loui Eriksson

Chris Kelly - Carl Soderberg - David Pastrnak

Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell - Craig Cunningham

Zdeno Chara - Dougie Hamilton

Matt Bartkowski - Dennis Seidenberg

Torey Krug - Adam McQuaid

Starter: Malcolm Subban // Backup: Tuukka Rask

Scratches: Jordan Caron, Niklas Svedberg

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