BOSTON - The Bruins are still operating one game at a time.
With nine games remaining in the regular season, that next game will come against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night at TD Garden.
The matchup will see the Black & Gold complete a set of three games in four days against Atlantic Division opponents.
While the Bruins did not get the results against the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators on Monday and Tuesday night, they felt the effort was there. They're striving for a different outcome on Thursday, in order to snap a three-game losing streak.
"It's one game at a time for us. It's always been that way," said Interim Head Coach Bruce Cassidy. "This week it just happened that every game was against a cluster of people right around us."
"They're two point games no matter what, but these are teams around us, so they get more magnified, and rightfully so," said Cassidy. "We accept that, we know what's at stake."
"They didn't go our way the last two, we want to continue to - I know I repeat myself, but the things we do well, we've got to keep doing well," said Cassidy. "Which is, we've created some looks at the net, we're generating some offense, we need to finish a little better and then those pockets of the game where it gets away from us, we've got to minimize those."
Heading into the game, the Bruins sit in the second Wild Card playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, with Tampa Bay five points back with a game in hand. Toronto jumped Boston in the standings by a point with a win over Columbus on Wednesday night.
"You've got to play the opponent in front of you, the game in front of you, and not worry about well, if this happens and who won and who didn't," said Cassidy. "I just think in the long run, that doesn't benefit you."
"We're aware of it, we know who won and lost last night, and we've got to take care of our business. If we do, we'll be fine. We really will. If we take care of our business, it doesn't matter what this team does or that team does, and that's a fact, and that's the message, quite simply: If we take care of business, we're fine."
Heading into Thursday's game, a few of the lines will be shuffled - at least for the start of the game.
Pregame skate saw Drew Stafford up on David Krejci's left wing, with David Pastrnak at right wing. Noel Acciari slid up to the right wing spot on the third line alongside Ryan Spooner and Frank Vatrano. Matt Beleskey skated at left wing on the fourth line, with Dominic Moore at center and Riley Nash on the right.
As per usual, Cassidy provided some insight into the line switches, which usually come about after the coaching staff studies game video.
"You see who complements who," said Cassidy. "And I'll take Vatrano and Spooner [as an example] because I think they need to play with a guy who gets to the net - Frank's a shooter, Spooner's a disher, they need someone going to the net. We put Jimmy Hayes on that line, and I thought, when he was in the lineup, he was getting to the net. Beleskey, he has some ability to do that."
"Stafford's more of a playmaker. Moved him up with Krejci and Pasta simply because I see tonight maybe being a little more of a different opponent than Ottawa, Toronto type of game, and he's played with both of them," Cassidy said of Stafford, who welcomed twins Mila and Maddox over the weekend.
"Now, with a couple of games under his belt, I think he'll have a little more hop in his step and his mind will be more at ease, obviously, having the twins out, they're fine, everyone's healthy. I think it's human nature to be concerned about that, and now we'll see a couple of games back playing and the feel of it, we'll get him in rhythm."
"And with the other line, it's just Noel, give him a shot there. We might go right back to Beleskey to be honest with you, but we need a guy who can get to the net for those guys, so it keeps everyone on their strong sides," said Cassidy. "I thought Noel's done a good job on the fourth line, creating traffic in front of the net. Clearly he doesn't have a resume as a goal scorer, we know that, and we're going to maybe give him an opportunity there and see how it works out for us. But most of the time, I like to work in pairs, I think we've talked about that - Bergy and March have been a pair, Krejci and Pastrnak, Spooner and Vatrano. We'll see how the pieces fit."
Rask Back in Goal
Tuukka Rask will be back between the pipes on Thursday night, playing his third game in four days. Boston's next opponent will be the New York Islanders in Brooklyn on Saturday. With points at a premium right now, Rask could find himself between the pipes frequently down the stretch.
Projected Lineup vs. Tampa Bay March 23
Brad Marchand -Patrice Bergeron - David Backes
Drew Stafford - David Krejci - David Pastrnak
Frank Vatrano - Ryan Spooner - Noel Acciari
Matt Beleskey - Dominic Moore - Riley Nash
Zdeno Chara - Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug - Adam McQuaid
Colin Miller - Kevan Miller
Starting Goalie: Tuukka Rask // Backup: Anton Khudobin
Projected Scratches: Jimmy Hayes, Joe Morrow, John-Michael Liles
Injured: Tim Schaller (lower body, has missed six games)
Video: Bruins looking to take care of business against Bolts