The Bruins are ready.
“It’s always a great challenge,” said Patrice Bergeron. “Obviously we know their talent and as a team, how competitive they are over the last few years, and it’s always tough games and tough matchups.”
The matchup marks the teams’ first meeting of the season, with the Bruins visiting Chicago in April.
The Blackhawks are one of many challenging matchups the Bruins will be facing. After hosting Chicago on Thursday, they’ll host Washington on Saturday. The Capitals lead the East and are on a run this season that could earn them the Presidents’ Trophy.
“These are huge games right now,” said Brad Marchand. “We have a very tough schedule coming up and it starts tonight.”
“Especially if you enter the playoffs — it’s going to be tough battles and tough games, so why not start right now?” said Bergeron. “And play the big teams and the tough matchups and be ready for that.”
“We know it’s going to be tough games and the schedule is not easy, but at the same time, we have to approach it a game at a time and tonight is definitely something that we need our A-game — there’s no ifs or buts about it, and that’s it.”
The Blackhawks are coming off a 5-2 win in Detroit on Wednesday night, and picked up a 3-2 against Washington in their previous game.
“Chicago’s a great team. They had a big win last night and as a team, they come to work every night,” said Marchand. “They battle hard, they have a ton of skill and it’s going to be a very tough battle, so we have to be prepared to bring our best game tonight and then we’ll look at Saturday’s game after tonight.”
With a balanced lineup that is potent both up front with players like Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, and on the back end with players like Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, the Bruins will have to be aware.
They will need to be strong defensively like they were in their 2-1 win over Calgary, after which Tuukka Rask said the effort reminded him of Bruins teams from a couple of years ago — keeping most of the shots to the outside, with few prime scoring chances generated by the opponent.
“Definitely a good thing for our hockey club [to have that effort[, because we’ll need that tonight and probably even more,” said Head Coach Claude Julien. “This is a team that creates a lot and they obviously have great puck management skills and they don’t make that many mistakes.”
“They can certainly move the puck around and they have some dangerous players out there that can make things happen out of very little, so defensively, there’s no doubt we’ve got to minimize our mistakes and really pay attention to details.”
Kane has been on a tear this season, putting up 37 goals and 88 points through 65 games.
“For us, it’s about making sure we close down the house, as we say, and making sure that we’re trying to keep them to the outside as much as possible,” said Bergeron. “The neutral zone for us is going to be really key.”
The Bruins held an optional pregame skate on Thursday morning at TD Garden, with 16 players hitting the ice. Stay tuned to the Bruins’ official Twitter account @NHLBruins for updates from warmups at 6:30 p.m. ET. Game time is set for 7:00 p.m. ET (NESN, 98.5 The Sports Hub).
Bruins Honored to Play in World Cup
On Wednesday, seven Bruins were named to the initial World Cup of Hockey rosters for their respective teams.
The Bruins selected include Tuukka Rask (Finland), David Krejci and David Pastrnak (Czech Republic), Loui Eriksson (Sweden), Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg (Team Europe), and Patrice Bergeron (Canada). The tournament runs from Sept. 17 through Oct. 1 in Toronto at the Air Canada Centre.
“It’s something very special,” said Bergeron. “It’s a huge honor. Very happy, very proud to be part of this team and can’t say enough about all of the experiences that I’ve had with Team Canada over the years.”
Seidenberg received the call from Team Europe General Manager (and former Bruin) Miroslav Satan.
“Miro called me a couple of days ago and he asked me if I was interested in playing in that tournament and I said, of course — who doesn’t want to play in a tournament with the best players in the world?” said Seidenberg. “It will be exciting and a great experience.”
The blueliner is also excited to have Chara on the same squad as him, given the unique nature of having a “Team Europe.”
“It’s great. Having great players like that around you is always fun and especially having Zee there, having played with him and just having his presence out there, it definitely helps,” said Seidenberg.
Julien will be an assistant coach with Team Canada, and is certainly glad to see his players chosen to represent their countries.
“You’re definitely proud of those players, because to be named, it’s certainly an honor,” said Julien. “It bodes well for them individually and I’m pretty proud of those guys – they’ve earned it.”
“I think through their work and through their statistics and the way they’ve played overall, to be recognized by your country or those teams is something pretty special, so no doubt they’re happy and we’re happy for them.”
“I think there possibly could be more down the road and we don’t look at that as a negative at all, because of training camp. We look at it as an honor and probably pride for our organization to have that many players picked so far.”