Both Landon Ferraro (lower body) and David Krejci (upper body) were on the ice for Thursday’s optional morning skate at TD Garden, and though both of them remain day-to-day, Head Coach Claude Julien did not rule out either of them against Vancouver.
“Those will all be discussions today as we move on, here,” Julien said. “They [were] both on the ice this morning, so we’ll have to make some decisions. So when I say day-to-day, it could be today, or it could be the next few days — who knows? But we’ll make those decisions. So those decisions will be made this afternoon.”
Krejci has been out since colliding with Bobby Ryan in a Dec. 27 matchup at Ottawa. He began skating on his own while the team embarked on a five-game road trip that ended last Friday night in Buffalo, and he accompanied the team for Tuesday’s journey to Montreal, though he didn’t play against the Habs.
Krejci took contact for the first time during Wednesday’s practice.
“[I] feel better again,” Krejci said after Thursday’s optional. “It was a good day. Took some point shots, a little bit more skating, so it was another step forward today.”
Still, he wasn’t willing to speculate on whether he might return to the lineup against Vancouver.
“I’d love to be back,” he said, “but injuries are something you don’t want to mess around [with]. So like I said, got to go talk to the trainers, and see how it goes.”
While watching his team from afar is always difficult, Krejci said it hasn’t been hard to see why the last three games have gone so well for the Bruins — particularly Tuesday’s 4-1 defeat of the Canadiens.
“Especially, the last game was pretty impressive,” Krejci said. “I think it’s just a matter of putting a full 60 minutes together, and if we do that, usually we come out on top. Even the games that we’re losing, they’ve played really well for the most part, but it wasn’t 60 minutes. So we have to put a full 60 minutes together.”
Julien confirmed on Wednesday that Ferraro sustained an undisclosed injury during Monday’s practice at the Garden, prior to setting off for Montreal. He did not play against the Habs on Tuesday but skated on Thursday morning and could be good to go against Vancouver as well.
“[I’m] doing good,” Ferraro said on Thursday. “I feel good, and everything went good this morning, so we’ll see how it is for tonight, and see what Claude decides.”
Prior to sustaining his injury, Ferraro was part of a fourth line that was rolling. Though that unit has generally featured a rotating cast of characters throughout much of this season, Ferraro, Max Talbot and Zac Rinaldo seemed to be finding chemistry together prior to Ferraro’s injury.
It was a shame, therefore, for Ferraro to be forced to sit when he did.
“Our line has been playing really well,” he said. “It would have been nice to try and stay in and keep that moving, but I had to be careful and just make sure of everything. I feel good now, so just hoping I can get back in and keep that momentum going.”
With Ferraro out of the lineup for Tuesday’s 4-1 win at Montreal, David Pastrnak slotted in on the fourth line alongside Talbot and Rinaldo, and together, that line contributed two of Boston’s four goals. Even though Ferraro wasn’t able be a part of it, it was still good to see.
“Whenever you can have a fourth line that plays most of the night in the offensive zone, it’s a good sign for your team, and it means everyone’s going,” Ferraro said. “It was nice to see last game that Max scored, and Pasta came in and was playing on that line and he scored. So hopefully, that can keep going.”
Revisiting the Canucks
The last time the Bruins saw Vancouver, they were finishing a difficult three-game road swing through Western Canada, and they desperately needed a win.
They got it — decisively. Back on Dec. 5, the Bruins jumped on Jacob Markstrom and the Canucks early, scoring twice in the first 7:03 before heading back to Boston with a 4-0 win.
That victory came in the midst of an eight-game point streak for the Bruins.
“I think we had built some confidence there in those wins and in those kinds of games,” Julien said. “I remember losing those two games [immediately prior] to Edmonton and Calgary in extra time, and getting the point, but we wanted to finish strong, and we did.
“I thought we had a really good game in Vancouver — really sharp in our execution and in our commitment, and all that stuff.”
Despite last month’s results, however, the Bruins certainly do not expect Thursday’s task to be easy. The Canucks have taken points from six of their last seven and are hungry to redeem themselves after the most recent matchup between these two clubs.
“If you look at what they’ve done in the last little while, they haven’t lost much in regulation, so they’re playing much better as well,” Julien said. “I’ve always thought their coach to be a real good coach. He’s dealing with some young players as well that I think are coming around. Their goaltending has been really good — solid lately. But from our end, it’s more about — like I said on that road trip — it was more about momentum, and hopefully we’ll catch onto that again.”
On Thursday, the Canucks will be without the services of captain Henrik Sedin, who will be out of the lineup with an upper body injury until after the All Star break. Rookie Jake Virtanen will slot into the lineup, as will Mike Zalewski, who has been recalled from the Uitca Comets.
During Vancouver’s morning skate, Zalewski slotted in on the fourth line, centering Derek Dorsett and Virtanen.
Canucks Head Coach Willie Dejardins is hoping that youth infusion might spark his team against Boston.
“We know they’re a good team — they’ve won [three] in a row, they’re going to be hungry, and they’re at home, and this is a tough building to play in,” he said. “So it’s a matter of, we’ve got to bring our best game. If we don’t bring our best game, it’s going to be a tough night for us.”
Though the Canucks have won two of their last three, they certainly would like to give their goalies more support.
“We’re just focused on what we’ve done the last four games, and we’ve given up a lot of shots,” said defenseman Matt Bartkowski. “I think it’s more puck management and our positioning. I think that’s really what we need to focus on.”
The Bruins, too, will be focused on what they have done over their last three games, all victories. In those three, the B’s have been solid defensively while outscoring the opposition by an 11-4 margin.
“We’ve got to be ready,” said forward Brett Connolly. “They’ve got a lot of skill, and hopefully we can keep this little streak we’ve got going on right now. We’ve got a few games before the All Star break; we’re hoping to pick up as many points as we can in that span. The standings are so tight, so if we can keep playing well and keep collecting points, we can be in a good spot by the All-Star Break. So that’s kind of our plan right now.”
Though the Bruins’ recent winning streak has come on the heels of a stretch in which they have dropped eight of 10, their confidence is back where they want it, and they are focused on seizing the opportunity to gain even more ground in the ever congested Eastern Conference standings.
“I think we’re playing a little bit more in sync,” Connolly said. “We’re doing little things better, not turning as many pucks over, and I think being consistent for the full 60 — I think that’s going to help. We’re planning on doing the same thing.”
Though the Bruins have seen Bartkowski once already this season, Thursday marks his first game at TD Garden as a member of the opposition.
He is expecting it to be a strange feeling, to say the least.
“I’m excited to come in,” Bartkowski said following the Canucks’ morning skate. “A lot of good memories here. I love being here, and it’s nice to be back.
“[It’s] a little different. But it’s just part of the business, I guess. I’m happy to be back. It’s good to be back.”
Bartkowski played his first four-plus NHL seasons with the Bruins, tallying 24 assists in 131 games. He admitted that leaving Boston was difficult, but joining the Canucks has reinvigorated him. In his first 46 games with Vancouver, he has registered two goals and nine assists for 11 points in about 19 minutes of ice time per game.
“[I was] definitely excited about the fresh start, but [it was] hard — I had a lot of good friends here,” he said. “I had good relationships with everyone, so it was difficult. Great city, and it was difficult.”
Optional for the B’s
The Bruins held a fairly well-attended optional skate on Thursday morning at the Garden.
Jonas Gustavsson was the only goaltender to skate, suggesting Tuukka Rask will be in net against the Canucks. Desjardins confirmed Markstrom will man the pipes for Vancouver.
The forwards who skated for Boston were Krejci, Ferraro, Connolly, Talbot, Pastrnak, Frank Vatrano, Joonas Kemppainen, Tyler Randell, Jimmy Hayes and Ryan Spooner.
The defensemen who skated were Zach Trotman, Colin Miller, Kevan Miller, Joe Morrow and Dennis Seidenberg.
Projected Lineup Thursday vs. Vancouver**
Brad Marchand — Patrice Bergeron — Brett Connolly
Matt Beleskey — Ryan Spooner — Loui Eriksson
Frank Vatrano — Joonas Kemppainen — Jimmy Hayes
Zac Rinaldo — Max Talbot — David Pastrnak
Zdeno Chara — Zach Trotman
Joe Morrow — Dennis Seidenberg
Torey Krug — Kevan Miller
Starting Goalie: Tuukka Rask // Backup: Jonas Gustavsson
**Based on Wednesday’s practice lineup