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BTW: There's a Game Tonight

by Angela Stefano / Boston Bruins
Boston, MA -- It’s been a big day around the TDBanknorth Garden.  The War Room was abuzz, while the locker room and rink were crowded for morning skate before tonight’s game against the Ottawa Senators.

While the executives were focused on trades, B’s players and coaches had much more than just tonight’s game to think about.

Coming Home Again
Tonight’s game will be the first in the Garden in nearly two weeks, but the team is going to try to keep their road-game mentality with them.

“I often think that when you’re on the road, the one advantage that you do have is that you get up with your team in the morning, you have your pre-game meal together, you’re in the hotel room getting rest, and the only thing you have to think about is the game,” said head coach Claude Julien.

“When you’re at home, it’s a natural thing, you’ve got family, you’ve got kids, you’ve got…I don’t mean distractions in a bad way, but there’s things that can sometimes throw you off a little bit,” he explained.  “That’s the reality of the game.”

The B’s have had more success on the road than at home lately, especially after their 4-0-1 series this past week, which Coach Julien hopes will give the team confidence going into tonight.

“The challenge right now is to get that focus [we have on the road] back at home,” he said.  “We had it at the beginning of the year, and somewhere down the road in the middle of the season, we seem to have lost it.”

David Krejci, who had a shootout goal in the overtime win against the Caroline Hurricanes, added that the team can’t rest on their laurels just yet.

“We don’t have a playoff spot for sure,” he said, “so we have to battle every game.  If we win [tonight], we could be in sixth place.”

Sens Look to Rebound
The Ottawa Senators, who had led the Eastern Conference for much of the season, lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-0 last night and have dropped second in the playoff standings.

“They’re going to have a big push to redeem themselves,” said Milan Lucic, “so we’ve got to make sure we push back even harder.”

Coach Julien said he knew the team that played the Leafs last night could be very different than the team the Bruins will face in a few hours.

“Inside that dressing room, we’re expecting them to be a much better team,” he said.  “We’re expecting them to be at their best, and that’s the challenge we’re facing tonight.”

The Black & Gold had success when facing Ottawa last time, and they hope to play a similar game tonight.

“We just have to make sure we get a good start like we had…the last time,” said Lucic.  “We came out, got 2 goals in the first 10 minutes or whatnot, and go from there”

Confidence, Chemistry and Focus are Key
The Bruins recent success has given the team an ego boost, a mental aid that could help the team keep their winning streak up.

“Winning four of our last five games gives us the most confidence of all,” going into tonight’s game, said Lucic, who added that the win over the Sens last time also lends “that extra boost of confidence.”

Coach Julien worked the players hard in Wilmington yesterday, and it wasn’t exactly all fun and games at this morning’s skate either, but it’s not because he’s disappointed in their work.

“He doesn’t want us to get too comfortable,” Krejci said, “so we practice hard, just like if we’re losing.”

The comfort balance is a tricky line, however.

“You have to be careful…[to not] get out of your comfort zone or your element, what’s giving you success,” Coach Julien said.  “It’s a natural thing to try and do a little more than you normally would [at home] and try to put on a show for your home fans, and every time we’ve done that, it’s hurt us more than it’s helped us, so we certainly have to be careful.”

On a day when a team could have changed dramatically and a player could have found himself headed across the country, the B's remained focused on those things they can control.

“Everybody right now is watching the tube and trying to figure out what’s going on,” Coach Julien said this morning.  “It’s been one of those mornings when distractions are certainly there…but I cautioned our team about focusing on the game tonight because that’s something we can control.”

As constituted, the Bruins have something that you can’t trade for: team chemistry.

“They believe in each other, the work well together,” said Coach Julien.  “It’s something that’s usually hard to build, and we’ve got that right now.  We’ve gone through some ups and downs, and the one thing that’s impressed me the most is that these guys have stuck together through thick and thin.”

Injury Report
About a half hour before regular skate this morning, Andrew Alberts, Patrice Bergeron and Chuck Kobasew took to the ice for their own practice.  Alberts and Kobasew ran drills, while Bergeron skated by himself at the opposite end of the rink.

“[Alberts] is getting better…working out a little bit harder,” said Coach Julien.  “It’s a slow process, but it’s a positive one right now.

“He’s getting better week-by-week.”

Kobasew is the closest to returning, although is still “day-by-day.”

“He went out [to skate] and obviously it’s encouraging,” Coach Julien said, “but it’s just not good enough for us to put him in the lineup tonight.”

The biggest news, of course, remains Bergeron’s return to the ice.  This morning was his third skate in as many days.

While the team is thrilled with his progress, Coach Julien warned the media about taking too much from the news.

“When we say ‘looked good,’ I don’t think we should get carried away with everything because it’s a matter of him getting on this ice, a matter of him feeling good,” he said.  “He’s still at that stage where we don’t want his heart rate to go up too high.

The B's training and coaching staff are letting him work out at his own pace, and are only concerned that he feels comfortable.

“We said from day one…that we’re not going to push him, and we’re going to allow him to go through what he has to go through in the proper manner,” said Coach Julien.

Still, everyone hopes for Bergeron’s return -- whenever that might be.

“It’s great to see him on the ice,” said Coach.  “I think he feels good about it.

“If he becomes available to us before the end of the year, great.  I think we’ll all be happy to see that.”
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