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Bruins Gaining Confidence

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins - How quickly circumstances can change.

About one week ago, the Bruins were hitting the ice for practice following a shootout loss to Carolina, one of three straight losses in overtime or a shootout.

They felt their game was coming around, but still, they weren't getting the desired results. There was plenty of talk about evaluation, "unacceptable" play and a beyond disappointing first half of the season in the ensuing days.

Fast forward a week, and the Black and Gold are on a three-game win streak, having strung together victories over Pittsburgh, New Jersey and Philadelphia.

Apart from the 3-2 overtime win against the Penguins, the Bruins' wins over the Devils (3-0) and Flyers (3-1) were in more commanding fashion.

And just like that, a frustrated group that was struggling to find its confidence has now shifted to a group that stays on the ice for extra 20-30 minutes after the team stretch that usually wraps up practice, smiling and hooting and hollering with their teammates.

The always low key Patrice Bergeron even let loose during Monday's practice at Ristuccia Arena. When Dennis Seidenberg threw a point shot towards the net right off a faceoff, Bergeron moved into place and deflected a perfect tip past Tuukka Rask before the netminder could even see it coming. No. 37 immediately reacted (along with the group), jokingly putting his stick back in its holster.

"I think we're building on that and definitely trying to feed off of the last three games," said Bergeron. "And there's more to come, you know. We need to make sure that there is more to come and that we keep improving."

Marchand no doubt feels the difference in confidence around the team.

He gave a brief laugh and shook his head when thinking about how much their mentality and energy has changed.

"It's a completely different feeling around the room right now," he said. "It's crazy what a few wins can do for a team."

"It gets the confidence up, guys are a lot happier, it's great to be around the rink again and that's what we needed. We needed a boost, and we've gotten it, so hopefully we can feed off of that, and continue to play the same way, continue to get the wins."

"At the end of the day," he continued. "Sometimes you're not going to play your best hockey, but as long as you get the win, that's what matters."

The Bruins see their game just starting to come around, but are much more in control of their play. Even with lapses during games, like in the second period of Saturday's game in Philadelphia, they didn't let the Flyers completely take over.

"I think we're going into games like we want to win the game, we go out there and try and take our game to them and that's been working," said David Krejci. "We go out there, we play to win, we play on our toes, and we try not to think too much."

Though that's always the game plan, a number of factors like stability in the lineup, accountability from the top down, and trust in the system, have helped the Black and Gold deploy that more consistently amidst their three-game win streak.

"It's never fun to be on a losing team," said Krejci. "We're feeling pretty good but, you know, we're still battling for the last playoff spot and we want to be climbing up in the standings."

Heading into Tuesday night's matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden, the Bruins own the second Wild Card playoff spot with 50 points (22-15-6), behind the New York Rangers (52 points, 24-11-4).

Florida sits just behind them with 49 points and three games in hand.

"It's nice when you're battling through games and you end up getting two points at the end of it," Reilly Smith said, talking about the renewed confidence with the same light air and relaxed demeanor of Marchand, Bergeron and Krejci. "Some of them have been good efforts, some of them we kind of squeak by, but it makes a world of difference in the standings, that's for sure."

"We went through a bit of a slump there, where it seemed like no matter what we were doing, we were losing in a shootout or losing in overtime, so it's good that things are on the other foot."

With the confidence building, and more production starting to come, the B's are focused on staying the course and not getting ahead of themselves with the winning feeling back in the room.

"There's no doubt, it was at a pretty big low there for a while," said Head Coach Claude Julien. "We've started turning things around and there's no doubt that gives you some confidence."

"But we know that we have a lot of work ahead of us, so we've just got to stay grounded and build on the positives and try to keep working in the right direction."

"I don't think because we've won three games that we're playing our best hockey of the season now," said Marchand. "We've still got a job to do each and every game."

"Last game [against Philadelphia] wasn't perfect, but we got the win and ultimately that's what matters. We just want to keep working and building and we're playing better for sure, but we can't think that we're at the top of our game yet."

The Bruins host a week of conference games at TD Garden against the Lighting, Rangers and Columbus Blue Jackets. If they want to start making headway in the standings, they'll need to get results.

"It's a big week for us," said Bergeron. "And we're ready for that."

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