- With an optional skate at Ristuccia Arena Friday, as the Bruins prepare for a grind of three games in four days, and five in eight, it was fitting that the team's "grinders" spoke about the upcoming stretch.
"With games that come around and games that we play well, we'll have plenty of rest. And we had rest today with certain guys not going on," said Merlot liner Daniel Paille, one of the nine B's opting to skate following their 2-1 overtime win Thursday night over Ottawa.
"Even today, we went out for a short skate, so I think it's definitely going to be a big test this month."
"But with us being the way we are and the way we're playing right now, there's a lot of confidence in here and I think guys want to start playing more games and catching up on the games in hand we have."
With 17 games, the Bruins still have the fewest amount played of all 30 NHL teams - though the pile-up of consecutive games should help them climb the standings, where they currently sit in fourth with 28 points, behind Northeast Division rival Montreal (29) and behind other divisional leaders (though the B's have more points) Pittsburgh (26) and Carolina (21).
"We obviously want to win every game," said Paille. "We realize that's not going to happen - but things have gone certainly well the majority of the time."
"But in the same sense, we've played a strong game. And I think we have high expectations that we want to win as much as we can and as long as the work ethic is there, guys are happy with the situation right now."
With five straight wins heading into Saturday's 1:00 p.m. matinee against Tampa Bay, the B's are still looking to improve their all-around game, but have certainly been pleased with the results.
"I think that's one of the most important things right now - is that we're finding ways to win," added Paille. "And last night was rough - Ottawa, they played a solid game all-around and they definitely made it hard for us to get goals."
"But we're not giving up and we keep working throughout the whole game, and we responded with a good win."
"Yesterday was a tough game, was a tough grind," added Dennis Seidenberg, who did not skate Friday and instead did off-work and maintenance. "It was probably not great to watch, but at the end you have to look at the result, and I mean it’s points. It just shows that we find different ways to win."
Seidenberg had been a steady machine for the B's through the start of the season, logging big-time minutes, including 24:06 in ice time in Thursday's win, only behind Zdeno Chara (26:16 of ice time) - with 5:04 of that on the ever-persistent penalty kill.
The defenseman has also consistently been getting shots through, like the one that Patrice Bergeron tipped in for the OT-winner against Ottawa, and laying down hits on his opponents, including five in Thursday's game and 45 overall on the season (which ranks second on the Black & Gold, behind only Milan Lucic).
"Even if we don’t play hard every game, we find, somehow, the little bit of luck that we need in order to get the two points that we did yesterday," said Seidenberg.
The effort continues to be there, and the 13-2-2 Bruins are staying calm and fighting hard to salvage points wherever they can - especially heading into a back-to-back with the Lightning and Montreal Canadiens on Saturday and Sunday, before flying down to D.C. for the first tilt of the season against the Washington Capitals on Tuesday.
"Guys just learned to be a little more patient and have faith in other guys, that are playing on the penalty kill - or if its a tight game," said Paille on the B's ability to stay even-keeled no matter the situation in games. The winger himself plays a large role in the team's confidence on the PK, averaging 1:54 of shorthanded time on the ice per game - often using his wheels to create scoring opportunities - as the B's have killed off 26 of 27 straight penalties.
"We were on the road and they were all close games pretty much and not once, did I feel or think the team felt worried at all - even if there would have been a loss, the guys seemed to be very composed and confident in every game."
"At the start of the year, anyone would have said this is an optimal position right now," said fourth line grinder Shawn Thornton, on the B's strong start. "But like I said, the season's still young. We haven't accomplished anything yet. We still have a long ways to go."
"The grind's coming up now, so this will be a good test."
"You’ve just got to get your rest when you can, especially now," said Seidenberg. "The whole month you’ve got to take those days to recover and take it easy on your body and just prepare for the next game."
Though the B's don't focus too far ahead and have preached - along with their Coach - that they take it game by game, they aren't deterred by the amount of games coming up. Whether it be the three games in four days, five in eight (shall I go on?), 17 in 30 days…..
"Yeah, I like it," said Thornton, on the grind. "You put the skates on wanting to play games. Practice is just how you get better."
"Everyone gets excited to play games, and we have a bunch of them coming up, so I'm excited."