Sitting at 5-5-0 on the season, the Black and Gold have an opportunity to do just that as they host the Minnesota Wild at TD Garden on Tuesday night.
"We don't want to take any steps backwards," alternate captain Chris Kelly said on Tuesday morning following the team's pregame skate. "I thought that we played a really good team game in Toronto. The 6 D back there played unbelievable, I thought our four lines played well, played the exact same way - worked hard, skated, defended well and capitalized on some offensive opportunities - so that's got to be the effort."
"We need to play that way in order to have success - that's been our bread and butter for a lot of years."
The Bruins' 4-1 win over Toronto on Saturday proved that if they operate as one unit, and support each other with defensive layers all over the ice, they'll find the success they've been accustomed to.
"That's the biggest thing, just to try to play the same way every game and not have a good 20 minutes here and there, and just try to play consistent," said defenseman Dougie Hamilton.
"I think Toronto was probably our best defensive game, and hopefully we can have that same mindset and play the same way."
After early season struggles, the Bruins have found more consistency from shift to shift with a balanced attack, and they're hoping that translates to the standings.
"It's good as long as they keep playing the way they have as of late and that's always the challenge that you have, that you want to see that consistency continue," said Head Coach Claude Julien.
"And you never know - night in, night out, there's no guarantee it's going to be there but they've got to make it happen so that's what we're trying to encourage our guys to do, is continue play the way they have been lately."
The Bruins will be facing a tired, but fired up opponent on Tuesday night in the Wild, who dropped a 5-4 loss to the Rangers in New York City on Monday night after owning a 3-0 lead in the third period.
The Wild had given up just six goals in 400 minutes of hockey entering the final 20 minutes of that game, before giving up five straight goals in a shocking finish.
"That third period, that's not Minnesota," said Kelly. "I think the first two periods of that game are what we should expect. They defend well, they skate well, they push the pace, they're a solid team and maybe a lot of times they get overshadowed by the California teams or Chicago, but they're right there as one of the best teams in the West, so this will be a good challenge for us."
"You know, you can look at the first two periods and see a team who only gave up eight shots and who's very dominant," said Julien. "Very dominant, very hard to play against, and for whatever reason, just seemed to lose that pace to their game in the third and it cost them the game."
"But we know from playing against them this year, how tough a team they are to play against."
There's been plenty of emphasis on the defense corps and their response to being without Zdeno Chara, as well as Kevan Miller, due to their injuries.
Tuukka Rask has played a part, too, putting up a .970 save percentage against Toronto, saving 32 of 33 shots fired his way.
"He was solid again for us and although we did play well, they still had some really good scoring chances and he made some really good saves for us and allowed us to get some separation from them," said Julien. "He's been good and he's another guy that's really starting to find his groove as well, so it's a matter of him continuing to do that."
Opportunities on Defense
On Saturday, Dennis Seidenberg slid into Chara's role as the the go-to defender, logging 35 shifts, being on the ice for nearly every defensive zone draw and matching up against the top players.
"He's been asked to step up and play more minutes against top lines, but we don't want him to do more, we just want him to be good at what he does," said Julien. "And Seidenberg and I guess Hamilton for the most part responded well last game in Toronto against their top line and we've got guys like [Adam] McQuaid that can step in there. Torey's one of those guys that wants to show everybody he can play in the top four, so these are opportunities for guys right now to really show they can handle it."
Getting a Balanced Attack
The Bruins have generated a more sustained attack as of late, and that's come from a variety of factors.
With David Krejci and Gregory Campbell injured to start the season, both have begun to find their grooves. A healthy Chris Kelly has been one of the Bruins' best players, producing and finding chemistry one again with Loui Eriksson and Carl Soderberg. Simon Gagne has filled out the fourth line. Reilly Smith is starting to catch up from missing half of the preseason. Seth Griffith, only a second year pro, continues to get a shot as the top line right winger.
"He's a young player, second year pro - you've got to allow him to get a good opportunity here, as along as he keeps showing some progress, knowing that that's a spot that's open right now," Julien said. "And I think the fourth line, what can we say? More or less, with Gagne on that line, it's just given them some good speed, good skill, it's been a real reliable line."
"So we've got more or less what we're looking for right now and it's up to the guys to continue to play the way they have been, in order to keep them that way."
Hockey Fights Cancer Night
The Bruins are hosting Hockey Fights Cancer Night against the Wild, supporting the cause in a variety of ways. Many local pediatric and adult cancer patients, and cancer survivors, have been invited to the game, and will be participating in the night's events.
Along with several other initiatives, fans can pick up “I Fight For” Cards. During the game, there will be a moment of recognition for the entire arena to stand with their cards to display who we all fight for in the battle against cancer.
Bruins' players made their own cards for the night, and Chris Kelly took part, holding up a sign for Ottawa GM Bryan Murray, who is currently undergoing treatment for cancer.
"It's awesome when we can do our part to bring awareness," said Kelly, of the NHL taking the initiative. "I think it affects everyone and it touches everyone, so if we can help out in a little way like we are, then that means a lot to us."
Projected Lineup vs. Minnesota 10/28
Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Seth Griffith
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Reilly Smith
Chris Kelly - Carl Soderberg - Loui Eriksson
Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell - Simon Gagne
Dennis Seidenberg - Dougie Hamilton
Torey Krug - Adam McQuaid
Matt Bartkowski - Zach Trotman
Starter: Tuukka Rask // Backup: Niklas Svedberg
Healthy Scratch: Matt Fraser
Injured: Zdeno Chara (left knee PCL tear, out 4-6 weeks), Kevan Miller (dislocated right shoulder, out indefinitely)