Bruins Head Coach Dave Lewis pontificated for about five minutes, using prepared notes, before practice began in earnest today.
Our Boys in Black-and-Gold stood in rapt attention as coach gave a short speech on something that we scribes, seated on the rink bleachers opposite the home bench, could not overhear.
Then, as the on ice meeting broke up, the lines and the defense started full line rushes versus one man and the goalie.
It was an odd setup for sure, 5-on-1 and the goalie. And we reporters were trying to figure out what was supposed to be happening on ice, as we had not seen that drill before.
I was later to find out that during the initial minutes of practice, Coach Lewis had used the career of Steve Yzerman as a teaching tool on teamwork and team play, and that the odd drill was an enforcement of that lesson.
One of the players told me that Coach Lewis had pointed out that Yzerman, throughout his career, had adapted to what the team needed and that as a result sometimes his individual numbers had suffered. But seeing as how the Red Wings had some of their most successful seasons during those times, that didn’t much matter to Steve.
The point being: Yzerman just wanted to win -- as a team, and individual glories meant little to him.
As such, the odd line rushes were used to promote thinking as a unit as opposed to thinking like an individual. The drill also served as a reminder to the Bruins that no one player can stop a successful team and that no one player is a team unto himself.
"We were dealt some lessons," said Coach of the road trip. "If we learn from those lessons, only time will tell.
"You live through the good periods and you live through the bad periods…we’ve had more bad times than we’ve had good times to date.
"We’ve put ourselves in a position to be very successful, because we’ve jumped out to some leads…created scoring changes. We’ve had the opportunity to take charge or take the lead and discourage the other team. And we haven’t done that."
So what’s the answer coach?
"Regardless of how hard you work," explained Coach. "Regardless of how skilled you are. Regardless of how clever you THINK you are -- you cannot do it by yourself.
"One player cannot beat five players, plus a goaltender."
"I’ll use a baseball analogy," said Lewis. "I was a manager of a baseball team, I hope that every time a player comes to bat that he wouldn’t be thinking that I have to hit a home run. No you don’t.
Lewis explained that the good hitter. The ballplayer who thinks team first, takes an assessment of the situation and does what is necessary for his squad to win.
"You might have to take a walk. You might go for a base hit. That’s…the message."
"I even mentioned guys like Mario Lemeiux and Gordie Howe," said Lewis. "I don’t know if they would have gotten through a group of five or six to score a goal."
"So, count on your teammates," he said.
Lines Combos this morning: Kessel-Bergeron-Murray Axelsson-Savard-Boyes Strum-Primeau-Donovan (extra is Brookbank) Hoggan-Mowers-Stastny
Paul Mara was nursing a bruise and should return tomorrow, but the D pairings looked like this: Jurcina-Chara Stuart-Alberts Dempsey-York
Coach Lewis said he was not necessarily sure what the lines for Thursday would look like.