DALLAS - The Bruins' four-game road trip is finally coming to end in Dallas, as they face off against the Stars on Sunday.
Game time is set for 12:30 EST at the American Airlines Center, on NBC and 98.5 The Sports Hub (11:30 a.m. local time).
The Black & Gold are currently 2-1-0 on the trip after their California swing that saw them pick up wins in San Jose (2-1) and Los Angeles (4-1). They suffered a 5-3 loss in Anaheim, in a game which they probably should have won.
They have been putting together consistent, 60-minute efforts.
"It's certainly an indication that we're finding our game and we're able to bring it on a more consistent basis than we did in the first part of the season," David Backes said following a practice on Saturday at the Stars' practice facility.
"We give ourselves a chance to win every night. The game in Anaheim was peculiar, to say the least, and those things are going to happen, but if you give yourselves a chance, you lay the effort out there and you play 60 minutes, more often than not you're going to get rewarded, and that's shown."
"I think we've been really smart," said Torey Krug. "We're obviously getting the results right now, 2-1 on this road trip, that was a tough swing, and we have one more game, but we've been playing very smart, and that's important, because they're tough games, it's not easy and we're just capitalizing on our opportunities and shutting it down defensively, and when Tuukka's playing well, we'll win a lot of games."
Tuukka Rask is slated to start between the pipes against the Stars. He picked up the win in San Jose to start the trip last Sunday.
Team Getting Closer on Trip
Winning usually makes for positive attitudes, and lots of smiles leads to a happy locker room. Combine that with a week on the road, and it's noticeable that the Bruins are getting even closer as a group.
"Obviously you hear a little chatter in the dressing room and guys are laughing and I think a lot of that has to do with winning," said Interim Head Coach Bruce Cassidy. "Guys are feeling good about the whole team playing well as a group. It's not just two guys carrying the load. Obviously our best players are our best players which needs to be, but our support players are doing their job as well."
"And on some of these road trips, you're winning, and you're getting the bonding time, so it can be very valuable for your group."
With the trade deadline coming up on Wednesday, March 1, the Stars traded away forward Patrick Eaves to Anaheim for a draft pick on Friday. The team then put up a 5-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Friday night after their bye week had come to an end.
Despite the fact that they're second to last in the Pacific Division and out of playoff spot, the Bruins are ready for a tough test, especially against the Stars' offensive weapons like Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn.
"Any team, any given night, can be a good team," said Krug. "And obviously they trade a guy [on Friday] and they're going to come out flying next game. You don't want to see more guys moved on your team, so it's going to be a tough game. We can't sit back on our heels and give them room and an opportunity to make plays."
Cehlarik Bounces Back in LA
Rookie Peter Cehlarik nearly got his first NHL goal on Thursday night in LA, but it was called back because the play was offside.
"I'll hopefully get another chance [on Sunday]," Cehlarik smiled following Saturday's practice.
The 21-year-old has fit in well with David Krejci and David Pastrnak, and has two assists through his first five NHL games.
The forward felt he didn't have his best night in Anaheim, and consequently bounced back with a strong effort against the Kings.
"It's all about the consistency and bringing it every game," said Cehlarik. "In Anaheim, I didn't have a good night there and I think I bounced back in LA and did a pretty good job and I felt way better in LA."
"Just managing pucks through the neutral zone, just don't turn the puck over there, and kind of play in our own zone and keep the puck on my stick, and just don't turn the puck over, that's pretty much the biggest issue I had in Anaheim, I think."
Projected Lineup vs. Stars Feb. 26
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Backes
Peter Cehlarik-David Krejci-David Pastrnak
Frank Vatrano-Ryan Spooner-Jimmy Hayes
Matt Beleskey-Dominic Moore-Tim Schaller
Zdeno Chara-Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug-Adam McQuaid
Kevan Miller-Colin Miller
Starting Goalie: Tuukka Rask // Backup: Anton Khudobin
*The above lines and defense pairings are based on Thursday's game in LA and on Saturday's practice in Dallas. Riley Nash could slot back into the lineup up front, while John-Michael Liles could slot into the back end, if Cassidy makes lineup switches. Tuukka Rask has been confirmed as the starting goalie.