WILMINGTON, Mass. — On Wednesday, the Bruins were back to work at Ristuccia Arena for practice following their 2-1 win over the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night at TD Garden.
They have two more games remaining on a four-game homestand against Chicago on Thursday and Washington on Saturday.
“We do have some tough games coming up, Chicago, Washington back-to-back in Florida, so this is pretty good for our team, playing against one of the best teams in the league [on Thursday],” said David Krejci. “We’re going to have to play our best game and we’ll see where we’re at, but we obviously believe in this group.”
The Bruins have 18 games remaining in the regular season and every one of them will likely be a grind.
“I think we just need to handle the game itself — one at a time,” said Head Coach Claude Julien.”Tough schedule, tough games. [Tuesday] night wasn’t an easy game either and it was a team that right now is sitting outside of a playoff spot, so I can’t keep repeating myself but that’s what you tell the players — just go at it one game at a time here.”
“Let’s focus on Chicago [on Thursday], put your energy towards that game, let’s worry about the others as we move on. It’s always been the best approach — to me, it’s the only approach to take.”
Wednesday offered an opportunity for the Bruins to sharpen their game before Chicago arrives. It was also helpful for trade deadline acquisitions Lee Stempniak and John-Michael Liles to further acclimate themselves into the group.
“It’s always helpful to have practices,” said Stempniak, who continued skating on a line with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron during practice, as he did in his Bruins debut on Tuesday. “You get in games and sometimes I think you’re thinking a little too much, sort of what the systems are, what the differences are from where you came from, but today was a good practice.”
“I felt like we moved our feet, I felt like it good to get in some offensive situations with Bergy and Marchy, and hopefully that carries over to [Thursday].”
The Bruins edged the Flames 2-1 with a late power play goal from Bergeron in the third period on Tuesday. While they’ll be looking to generate more offensively, they were fairly happy with their defensive game.
“We didn’t get as many shots or scoring chances as we would have liked last game, but I thought we did very well limited some of their really good offensive players,” said Stempniak. “I thought we defended well, didn’t give much up, Tuukka made some big saves when he had to, but I think for us, the calling card will be defending well, playing a good two-way game.”
Liles and his experience helped round out the Bruins’ defensive game. The puck mover was mostly paired with Adam McQuaid for the game.
“I think it went well,” Liles said of his Bruins debut. “[Adam] was talking to me out on the ice and I was trying to talk to him and just communicating on the bench on different reads and things like that.”
“Getting the first game under the belt felt really good and I’m just looking forward to keeping things rolling.”
Like Stempniak and Krejci, Liles is well aware of the competition coming into TD Garden this week.
“A couple of really good teams, obviously high up in the standings and putting together some really good years,” said Liles. “Take your pick on any of the lines, on either of those two teams, and they’ve got some dangerous players, so we’ve just got to be aware and make sure we’re making smart plays with the puck.”
“You’ve just got to be aware of who you’re on the ice against and where you’re making your puck decisions, make smart decisions and make them have to earn their scoring chances. That’s the biggest key.”
Practice Groupings 3/2Gold Jerseys:
Brad Marchand—Patrice Bergeron—Lee StempniakWhite Jerseys:
Matt Beleskey—David Krejci—David Pastrnak Gray Jerseys:
Loui Eriksson—Ryan Spooner—Jimmy HayesMerlot Jerseys:
Landon Ferraro—Noel Acciari—Brett Connolly—Tyler Randell
Practice Defense Pairs 3/2
Zdeno Chara—Kevan Miller
John-Michael Liles—Adam McQuaid
Torey Krug—Dennis Seidenberg
Joe Morrow—Zach Trotman