BOSTON, MA - Following their 3-1 season opening win over Tampa Bay, the Bruins hit the ice for a Friday morning practice at TD Garden. Next up, the B's host the new Atlantic Division rival Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night in the second game of a three-game homestand to kick off the 2013-14 season.
Boston admitted they felt out of sync to start Thursday night's game, even if they did jump out to the 1-0 lead off Chris Kelly's penalty shot.
So practice served as a day of improvements heading into Saturday night (working predominantly on breakouts and regroups during the hour-long skate), when the B's will face another offensively potent team with the top line of Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Justin Abdelkader.
"I think they're an elite team, they always have been," said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien, on now having Detroit in the East, and in the B's division. "I think you need to look at, for example, their third line with a guy like [Daniel] Cleary and [Todd] Bertuzzi on the third line, you know you've got some pretty good depth."
"And they're an experienced team, they're a smart team, they play a good, smart game, and that will certainly bring an element of an even bigger challenge for all of the teams in our conference right now."
"It's a team that's at the top of the league almost every year, so I think it's good for our game, I think it's good for the fans here to see those teams a little more, and an Original Six team is always welcome in a city that has Original Six teams for years."
When the Bruins hit the ice on Saturday night, they'll likely be without their third line player, Carl Soderberg.
Out with an ankle injury since hitting a rut in the ice in Saskatoon during the final preseason game on September 27, Soderberg appears to be on the track to skating again soon.
The first indication is that the Bruins haven't recalled a forward yet from Providence, and that Jordan Caron has been filling in (fairly seamlessly) with Chris Kelly and Reilly Smith in Soderberg's left wing spot.
"It’s a hard injury to say, 'Listen he’s going to be in Sunday or Monday.' It’s really hard to pinpoint with that type of injury," Julien told media following Friday's practice.
"But he is definitely getting better every day and I think he really is getting closer. Hopefully if there’s no setbacks he should be on the ice soon."
"I can’t say a day because it’ll all depend on how things go but he should be on the ice soon."
The biggest task Julien and his staff ask of the third line is to be reliable. The offensive chances Kelly, Caron and Smith generated on Thursday night were a good sign moving forward, but the steady, defensive side is what they focus on the most. That will be an even greater task against the Wings.
Game time is 7:00 p.m. ET Saturday at TD Garden (NESN, 98.5 The Sports Hub).
White Jerseys: Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Jarome Iginla
Gold: Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Loui Eriksson
Grey: Jordan Caron-Chris Kelly-Reilly Smith
Merlot: Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton
Defensemen: Zdeno Chara, Johnny Boychuk, Dennis Seidenberg, Dougie Hamilton, Matt Bartkowski, Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid
Goalies: Tuukka Rask, Chad Johnson