With a 3-1-0 record on the trip, they’ll finish it out against the Predators on Thursday night and then the Dallas Stars on Saturday.
The team hit the ice for an hour-long practice on Wednesday, having a “dress-and-drive” skate where they suited up at Bridgestone Arena and bused over to the Predators’ practice rink. It’s much more practical, with the equipment already loaded into the arena late Tuesday night.
Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara were given the day off from skating on Wednesday.
Head Coach Claude Julien said Bergeron’s absence was just maintenance. The Bruins’ staff felt it would be better to give Bergeron rest. He returned to the lineup in Columbus after missing two games.
“Bergy’s good to go,” Julien stressed.
As for Chara, the player with the most minutes on the team night in and night out would practice every day if it was his choice. On Wednesday, his bench boss asked him to rest.
“Zdeno, for me, it’s just — he’s the one that’s played the most minutes. I asked him to stay off,” said Julien. “As you know, he would’ve been here, but I feel that with games every second night — we just finished four in six — and he’s always at 24, 25 minutes, so I thought it would benefit him and our team by staying off.”
The rest of the Bruins hit the ice for practice, with Max Talbot sliding into Bergeron’s spot at center between Brad Marchand and Brett Connolly. There were only six defenseman on the ice, with Chara resting and Colin Miller assigned to Providence on Tuesday after Adam McQuaid was activated from Injured Reserve.
In the Bruins’ three wins on the road trip — against Winnipeg, Minnesota and Columbus — they only gave up a total of five goals against. Even if the games weren’t their best, or the prettiest, they got the job done.
The Detroit game can be separated from the rest.
“We’ve been focusing on the little details, especially in the defensive zone, and it’s been working, except that game in Detroit,” said David Krejci. “If you want to win hockey games, that’s how we have to play.”
While keeping goals against down is always an emphasis, the Bruins went into this trip with heightened awareness around tightening up in the defensive zone.
They need to continue to clamp down against Nashville and Dallas.
“I think we have to be happy with how we’ve been playing so far, but we have two really hard teams in front of us,” said Brad Marchand. “So we have to make sure we bring our best effort so far of the whole trip [on Thursday], and really focus on playing a good game, and then we’ll go from there.”
An 11-day, six-game trip can be taxing, especially since the Bruins just finished up a set of three games in four nights and four in six on the trip.
“I think we’ve done a pretty good job of staying focused,” said Julien. “We had a plan before we left to have a successful road trip. We’ve got to stick with that. Right now, we shouldn’t be satisfied; we need better, and we want to be better, and we want to have a better record by the end of it.”
“So I don’t think there’s any satisfaction. Again, believe it or not, as long as we’ve been gone, it hasn’t felt that way because we’ve been busy with teams and this is just another city to try and get two points out of, and then we’ll move on. So it’s been actually a pretty decent road trip so far.”
“It’s a lot of hotel rooms, lots of numbers — sometimes you forget what your room number is,” Krejci smiled. “But it is what it is. We’re here, we’re with the team, with the guys, and we’re having fun. We have a good group here, so it’s been all right.”
Spreading the Wealth
The Bruins became the first NHL team to have three 20-goal scorers this season, when Loui Eriksson tapped in his overtime-winner in Columbus on Tuesday night to lift the Bruins to a 2-1 win.
There are nine teams in the league that do not have at least one player with 20 goals.
Along with Eriksson’s 20 goals, Patrice Bergeron has 22 and Brad Marchand has racked up 28.
“That’s what we’ve always been — we’ve been a team with depth, and we don’t have one 50-goal scorer — we have several 20 and eventually 30-goal scorers,” said Marchand. “So that’s what we’ve always prided ourselves on, is being a very good team with a lot of depth, and it’s showing again this year.”
The Bruins’ offensive output this year has often been masked by games like Sunday in Detroit, when they let in six goals in their 6-5 loss. The defense hasn’t always been there, but the production — for the most part — has still been there.
“I have always liked that,” said Julien. “I’d love to have a 50-goal scorer, don’t get me wrong — but at the same time, when you spread your scoring like that, it’s a lot tougher for other teams to defend against.”
“When the scoring is spread out the way it is right now, it makes it tougher for other teams to say, which line are we checking? Well, we can do a good job on that one, but the next one’s going to be producing. So I don’t mind that at all. It’s nice to see that we have it spread around like that, and that our top three lines are producing.”
Practice Lineup 2/17
Gold Jerseys: Brad Marchand—Max Talbot—Brett Connolly
White: Matt Beleskey—David Krejci—Jimmy Hayes
Grey: Loui Eriksson—Ryan Spooner—David Pastrnak
Merlot: Zac Rinaldo—Joonas Kemppainen—Tyler Randell—Landon Ferraro
Joe Morrow—Zach Trotman
Torey Krug—Adam McQuaid
Dennis Seidenberg—Kevan Miller
Goalies: Tuukka Rask, Jonas Gustavsson