WILMINGTON, MA - Following an emotional night at TD Garden on Wednesday, the Bruins - and Boston - are trying to take a step forward, bit by bit, knowing that the emotion of last night is something that will carry over into the next game, the game after that, and so forth.
"That's something that we've talked about, that we need to build on and to carry on the next couple games," said alternate captain Patrice Bergeron following practice at Ristuccia Arena on Thursday morning.
"Tomorrow's a big game and we're going to need all the energy, but also all the emotions that we had."
The Bruins next face off against the Pittsburgh Penguins at TD Garden on Friday night, expecting another raucous crowd, but also expecting their game to start finding a rhythm with having a full, healthy lineup. Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron both returned to the lineup following concussions Wednesday night, and whether it was a product of the extra energy in TD Garden or not, both looked like they hadn't missed a beat.
"It felt really good," said Bergeron, on being back in the lineup, and reunited with linemates Marchand and Tyler Seguin. "I thought we had some really good chances, we didn't get the results we wanted, but felt good. Had some good shifts in the first period and then went from there."
A step in the preparation for Pittsburgh was a nearly hour-long, hard practice that saw work in all aspects of the game. And, as always, following the team skate, B's scattered across the ice working on details of their game, whether it was Gregory Campbell methodically tipping pucks with the precision of Patrice Bergeron taking faceoffs, or David Krejci practicing one-timers.
Once again, with 15 healthy forwards, the lines were shuffled a bit following Wednesday's game.
Here were Thursday's lines in practice:
Gold: Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Tyler Seguin
White: Daniel Paille-David Krejci-Nathan Horton
Grey: Carl Soderberg-Chris Kelly-Jaromir Jagr
Merlot: Gregory Campbell-Rich Peverley-Shawn Thornton
Green: Milan Lucic-Kaspars Daugavins-Jay Pandolfo
All nine defensemen were on for practice, along with both Anton Khudobin and Tuukka Rask.
With Lucic in the green jersey today, it could indicate that he's a possibility to be a healthy scratch tomorrow night. Following the skate, when Coach was asked about No. 17 being a healthy scratch, he responded, "you saw where he was this morning, and it indicates that he may not play tomorrow. But I haven’t decided that yet."
"As a coach, you’re trying to help him through that stuff, but a big portion of it is going to have to come from him, obviously," said Coach Julien, on Lucic trying to re-find his game that has made him just a big part of this team.
"We can support him and give him opportunities, but at the end of the day, you have to be able to step up there. And he knows he’s not - that’s not a secret."
"But we also know what he’s done for this team in the past and what he’s capable of doing. And you just got to hope that this player finds his game because we’re going to need him."
Coach Julien also told media that Carl Soderberg was "probable" to be in the lineup on Friday against Pittsburgh. "I’m saying that because I haven’t finalized my roster yet, but probable," he said.
The full lineup, with four scoring lines, will be something that the B's will use to their advantage heading into the final six games before the postseason.
"Well, as we get closer to the end, you want to have a better look at your lineup and see where certain guys fit," said Coach. "Right now, there’s two new guys that have come in up front: Jagr and now Soderberg that—besides Daugavins—but those two other guys are guys that you peg to play on top lines hopefully, and we need to find out where they fit and what they can bring."
Towards the end of practice, the B's summoned Jaromir Jagr to center ice to lead the team stretch for his first time as a Bruin. Whether 'Jags' had graciously opted to give the duty to someone else every other time, or there have been too many gamedays when the usual routine of having the Bruin who was a former player for the opponent lead the stretch took precedent, I'm not sure. But, it was a simple gesture that was telling of how well he's been integrated into this team - so much that it seems like he's been here all year.
"Yeah, he has," said Coach, when asked if Jagr had fit in easily as a Bruin on the team. "As you can see every game, in the offensive zone, he's so strong. He makes things happen.
"The contributions and primary scoring chances and everything else, he’s always up there and he brings some great offense to this hockey club and we need that."
Whether through the help of Jagr, Soderberg or a healthy Bergeron and Marchand, the Bruins are hoping they can put together the full package, with all moving parts, heading into the postseason.
"The regular season isn't where you win championships, the goal of the regular season is to get to playoffs, and that's all it is," said Marchand. "Look at the year we won, we weren't the best team in the league; by no means were we on a tear when we went into playoffs. The whole goal of the season is to get into the playoffs. We're in that position."
"Right now, we're fighting for a spot in the standings, but we're in the playoffs and that's the goal. We've got to clean some things up, but for the most part, we've done our jobs and that's to get to the playoffs. We just have to focus on making sure we're playing our best game going into that."