During Thursday’s practice at Ristuccia, one of the last ones before the Bruins headed north for a game in Toronto, head coach Claude Julien admitted that he was looking forward to some time on the road.
“I’m not sure [why we’re doing better away than at home],” he said, “but part of it is probably that you try and do a little too much at home.
“That’s always been an issue, not only for us, but for other teams in the past.
"When you’re away, you’re at the hotel, and you’re at the rink [so] everything is focused on the game, so there’s…just fewer distractions,” he said.
Still, Coach thought the team’s game had improved after last week’s downturn.
“It’s smarter and also more aggressive," he said. "And I think our guys were 'desperate' in making sure they go the puck out and got all the way down
"And they were coming for some good line changes, too...They were coming hard to the bench.”
He added that team had done everything that had been stressed to them during the week’s practices to ensure that nothing is left on the ice.
"We needed to bring it up to the next level and be a little more desperate,” he said.
Being able to put Jeremy Reich back into the lineup helped, too. Beyond showing some depth, the B's winger stepped up big and added an assist to the score sheet on Thursday when he filled in for Chuck Kobasew -- the team's leading goal scorer.
“[Reich] is another guy that’s been doing it for us, and he certainly gives us some depth…when he’s in the lineup,” Coach said. “He’s a guy that’s willing to stand in front of shots and do whatever it takes.”
The ability of many Black & Gold players to step into new positions is something the team has been happy with throughout the season.
“It’s always about players accepting their role,” Coach Julien said. “Guys at times have been asked to step up…and they've responding well.”
The team’s penalty killers, who got a tough workout during Wednesday’s eight-penalty game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, got much of the credit for helping the team leave Pennsylvania victorious.
“Where we got ourselves in trouble...and our penalty killing did a real good job last night of keeping [the Penguins] off the board for as long as they could,” Coach Julien said.
And while the coach admitted there were “some questionable [penalties]" he also noted that most of the penalties “[we] have to take responsibility for…because they were deserved.”
And the offense kept the peddle to the floor, too.
Even with a 2-0 lead heading into the final period, the B’s didn’t relax or take it easy on the Pens. The team has “sat back” in the past in lead situations, “which is not something that we have encouraged, and it’s not something that we want."
“The team continued to attack,” Coach said. “We weren’t giving them much, and we still had some scoring chances [in] five-on-five [play],” as well as on the many power plays.
Boston continued to shoot throughout the night, but only two went by the Pittsburgh goalie.
“We had good opportunities [throughout the game] that we missed out on,” Coach said. “What it’s all about is those little details that certainly make a difference in the outcome.”
Still, having only two shots hit twine implies a need for some work, Coach Julien said.
“We really need to try and improve on our finish around the net, the quality of scoring chances that we get,” he said. “If we can start finishing a little better, it will certainly make for some different finishes, and I guess put us in a more comfortable situation.
“It’s sort of putting that other nail in the coffin, and making sure you have that killer instinct.”
But Coach saw a bright side.
“I guess the bottom line when you analyze it all [is that] we still, knock on wood, have a goose egg as far as losses when we come into the third period with a lead,” he said. “I’m looking to give our team credit [for being] able to keep the lead.”
The team did a good job, but, as the B’s have stressed, past games should be put aside, even forgotten, and all the focus needs to be on the season’s remaining match-ups.
“Those games, after they’re played, mean nothing,” Coach said. “It’s important that we don’t put all our energy into what’s happened in the past.”
The goal, Coach said, is to find a balance between dwelling on the past games and learning from them.
“Sometimes you’ve got to remember it for the right reasons,” he continued, “whether it’s remembering that loss because we didn’t push hard enough or remembering that win because we did push hard enough and worked hard enough to win.”
Hopefully after Saturday night, the B’s will have one more win to "forget."