But these days, it's no shock to see any home squad looking to play their best against the defending Stanley Cup champs and after seeing 43 "Game 7" type efforts thus far this season, B's Head Coach Claude Julien admitted that the effort to match that intensity might have caught up with his club here at the midway point of the 2011-12 season.
"Well I think so. At the same time, we knew that from the start of the season," said Julien. "Teams were going to be gunning for us – that’s a natural thing with teams that win the Cup.
"It’s not hard to get motivated against them, but at the same time we responded well.
"We were playing some solid hockey for a while and there were some games we ran away with, and teams all have pride and seek some sort of revenge and tonight’s no different," he said.
Tonight the B's face a New Jersey team that has been defeated twice by Boston, but is 7-2-1 in their last 10 games.
The Bruins (7-3-0 in their last 10) understand how that scenario sets up for a somewhat road-weary team that is enduring their toughest scheduling stretch of the current campaign.
"When you come in and beat the Devils 6-1 it’s not something you see very often in this building – they’re going to be ready for us and we know revenge is on their mind and that’s just a natural thing," said Julien, whose Bruins also beat New Jersey 4-3 on November 15. "Right now we have to make sure we’re ready to play as well as we can because we know the other team will be."
Boston expects some reinforcements here this evening as both Brad Marchand
(suspension) and Rich Peverley
(personal matter) are expected to return to the lineup and, according to the drills at this moroning's pregame skate, should be back in their original trios.
"[We’re getting] fresh legs, some experienced players as well and guys that play big roles in our hockey club," said Julien. "Both of those guys are power play, penalty-killing players and both play big roles on their line.
"No doubt they’re a welcome addition right now."
Another welcome sight would be the return of Boston Bruins hockey as it was played for most of the first half of the season, but Julien said that each and every team endures hills and valleys throughout every campaign.
"No matter what happens, whether you win a Cup or don’t win a Cup, every season has ups and downs," explained Julien. "And people are calling this a down situation, we’re still above .500 but it’s not good enough.
"Having said that, I avoid using the word slump. It’s not a slump, it’s a dip in our play and if we pick it up we’re going to be fine. What you learn to do is not panic, but try and correct."
And Julien seems to believe that there's a simple solution available in the Bruins locker room.
"We always want to push players to battle through it and there’s certain ways teams respond and I guess as a coach, when you’ve been around long enough, you’d like to think you know the right buttons to push," he said.