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Bruins Put in Work with East's Top Team on Tap

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

BOSTON — The Bruins took advantage of a second straight practice day on Monday before hosting the Washington Capitals — the Eastern Conference’s top team — on Tuesday night at TD Garden.

The two productive practices were a luxury following a busy month of December. They came at the right time, given the ill-timed outcome of the Bruins’ matchup against Montreal in the Winter Classic.

“It’s good we had these two days,” said Captain Zdeno Chara. “We have to move forward, and I think like any other game in season, when you have a bad game, you just have to move forward and get ready for the next one. That’s the way we took the approach.”

“It’s going to happen again, having a bad game — obviously we picked the wrong game, probably the worst game of the season,” Chara added. “But yeah, there’s no other way [but to] just get ready for the next games we have coming up.”

The Bruins host the Capitals before heading on a five-game road trip. They need to get their game in order. Sunday’s defense-heavy emphasis was followed up by Monday’s offense-laden practice in an effort to get both aspects of their 200-foot game back in order.

“We needed to do some of that work,” said Head Coach Claude Juilen. “We haven’t had that much time in the last month or so. We seemed to be playing every second day, so this was good for us to have some quality practice time.”

A win over Washington would be significant for the Black & Gold’s psyche. They could carry that momentum on the road.

“They’re obviously one of the top teams in our conference, and they’re playing with a lot of confidence, a lot of speed,” said Chara. “We’ve just got to be playing our best.”

“Really, a good team win right now would be huge for us, regardless of who it’s against,” said Landon Ferraro. “But you put a team like Washington in front of it and you can pull that out, it’s going to be a great momentum swing for us after last game.”

“We just have to make sure we stick together here and don’t go off on our own page and try and get as many pucks to the net.”

Kemppainen Getting Close

The Bruins will be without Brad Marchand for the next two games as he continues serving his three-game suspension. They also remain without the services of David Krejci, who is still recovering from his upper-body injury.

As they prepare for the Capitals, help could be coming up front with the impending return of Joonas Kemppainen. The center has missed the past 11 games in his recovery from an upper-body injury.

He has been skating for about a week and he took full contact for the second straight day in Monday’s practice.

“He’s day to day,” Julien said of Kemmpainen following the skate. “Meaning that [he] could be a possibility for [Tuesday].”

Pastrnak Arriving Monday

Forward David Pastrnak wrapped up his play at the World Junior Championship when the Czech Republic fell 7-0 to the U.S. in quarterfinal action on Jan. 2.

Pastrnak had not yet arrived when the Bruins gathered for practice on Monday.

“Not here yet,” Julien told reporters. “Should be in today, I think.”

Colin Miller Could Return

On the back end, the Bruins have been rotating their eight defensemen fluidly throughout the season.

Defenseman Colin Miller, who has not suited up in the Bruins’ past three games, is particularly looking forward to a possible return to the lineup.

Miller didn’t play in the home-and-home series against Ottawa coming out of the holiday break and then was affected by roster transactions in the wake up Marchand’s suspension. To make room for Alex Khokhlachev to slot into the lineup up front for the Winter Classic, Miller was assigned to Providence.

It wasn’t necessarilyy fun for the first-year blueliner, but the lineup during Monday’s practice (Miller skated on a pairing with Dennis Seidneberg and played the point on the No. 1 power play unit with Torey Krug) suggests that the young D-man could be getting back into action.

“I mean, it’s not fun — everybody wants to be playing at the highest level always, but I think kind of going into the beginning of this season, I knew there was kind of an opportunity of that happening and a chance of that happening,” said Miller. “So, you know, you just take the bumps and move on and just try to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

“There’s a lot of stuff there going on with the juggling of our roster,” said Julien. “Even with Marchand’s suspension — he’s still part of our roster, so — the reason we sent Colin Miller was to give us some flexibility there because we’re in that situation. So those are things that we talk about on a daily basis.”

Ferraro, Forwards Stepping Up

With Marchand and Krejci out of the Bruins’ lineup, the lines have been re-worked. While Brett Connolly continues to get the look on Patrice Bergeron’s right wing, Landon Ferraro is on Ryan Spooner’s right wing with Matt Beleskey on the left side.

Julien is looking for players like Spooner, Connolly and Ferraro, among others, to take on larger roles.

“I mean, it’s everything you can ask for is just more opportunity,” said Ferraro. “You don’t like how the opportunity’s coming around, but at the same time, you’ve got to make the most of it.”

“Marchy’s going to be back in two games and that’s going to be great, and hopefully Krech isn’t out too much longer, but while they are out, you’re trying to make sure that you’re doing as much as you can to show you can do a bit more than you have been and we didn’t too much of it last game — we didn’t take advantage of it, so we’re trying to make sure we come out hard tomorrow.”

Re-Working the Power Play

With Krejci sidelined, Boston’s first power play unit saw the addition of Colin Miller on the point during Monday’s skate. Bergeron, Spooner and Loui Eriksson stayed together up front, though Eriksson did go off early at the end of practice (“Nothing major, I hope,” said Julien. “I don’t know. I was told he was going off.”)

For the other unit, Chara and Zach Trotman manned the points, with Beleskey, Connolly and Jimmy Hayes rounding out the unit. Trotman’s involvement would suggest he could be slotting back into the lineup on Tuesday along with Colin Miller. During five-on-five drills, he practiced on a pairing with Chara.

Practice Lineup 1/4

Loui Eriksson/Brad MarchandPatrice BergeronBrett Connolly

Matt BeleskeyRyan SpoonerLandon Ferraro

Frank VatranoJoonas KemppainenJimmy Hayes

Zac RinaldoMax TalbotTyler Randell

Zdeno CharaZach Trotman

Dennis SeidenbergColin Miller

Torey KrugAdam McQuaid

Joe MorrowKevan Miller

Goalies: Tuukka Rask, Jonas Gustavsson

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