– It was evident after the Bruins’ practice in Ottawa Friday morning, that the team is looking forward to building off Thursday night’s strong third-period effort that led to a 2-1 win over the Senators.
The win snapped a two-game losing streak, and sends the Bruins into the rest of an important stretch of divisional games – a home and home with Toronto Saturday and Monday, followed by the much anticipated rematch with Montreal on Wednesday at TD Garden – feeling a bit better about their play.
The Bruins have a chance to even up their record on the current trip to 2-2 with a win in Toronto on Saturday night, but while they feel it is important to cap off the trip at .500, Head Coach Claude Julien says he is focused, not on the team’s record, but more importantly, on their collective effort.
“More than that, more than looking at our record, I'm more looking at our play as a team,” explained Julien. “You go through those bumps along the way and I thought our team hasn't been playing it's best hockey lately, and somehow we've got to find our game of ours that we like and appreciate.
“It starts with a good work ethic. I thought yesterday our work ethic was there, maybe our execution wasn't very good for two periods, then the third period that seemed to come along. I knew it wasn't going to be an easy transition, but I wanted to see, at least, the guys work through it, and that's what they did.”
Playing four straight games within the Northeast Division could play a huge factor into who comes out on top, with just over a month to go in the regular season. And the Bruins want to make sure that they are at their best for such a vital series of games.
“The last few games haven't been the way we want to battle, but I felt we're kind of moving in the right direction and hopefully we can move forward for tomorrow,” said Daniel Paille, who scored the tying goal in the final minutes of the second period against Ottawa.
“It's definitely going to be an important road game to get a point, especially back-to-back against Toronto. They've got some guys that are playing really well for them, so we've got to keep our eye on that.
“Obviously Montreal's a tough task, so it seems every divisional game, especially from here out the rest of the season, is going to be very crucial for us going forward.”
Tuukka Rask, who got the night off against Ottawa, hopes the win versus the Sens gives the Bruins the jolt they needed after a couple of down games.
“I hope so, we definitely need that,” said Rask. “Even the first two periods we were kind of...the emotions I don't think they were there. In the third, there were a couple scraps, things like that, and I think that got us going a little bit."
“Sometimes, our team needs that to get going. Now, we've just got to make sure that tomorrow, when the puck drops, we're ready.”
Rask also spoke to the significance of the upcoming divisional showdowns.
“They're always big games.” he told the media after practice on Friday. “We know we have a game or two in hand at the moment [on teams in the division], it kind of makes those four-point games. I think we took a step in the right direction yesterday by winning that game and playing a solid third period. We've just got to keep that going.”
The Bruins' backstop has had a front row seat to the action, and says the Bruins haven’t come close to hitting their stride yet this year, something hopes is coming soon.
“Absolutely,” said Rask, when asked whether or not he feels there's still another level his team can get to. “I don't think we've reached our potential this year too many times. There's been a couple games here and there that we played really good, but then the next game's been kind of [bad] again.
“We want that consistency, we know how good we can be. It's just a matter of us going out there and doing what we need to do to be successful.”