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Julien: "There's Still Lots of Work to Do"

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

WILMINGTON — Through 30 games, the Bruins are 17-9-4. In their last 12 games, they are 9-1-2.

They have been improving and consistently finding ways to win. Their game is not perfect, but on most nights, they’re getting the job done.

That doesn’t mean there’s a sense of comfort or feeling of accomplishment around the room, though.

“No, I think that’s the dangerous part,” said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien. “For us, it’s — again, I said it the other day — I think we’ve done OK so far, but there’s still lots of work to do.”

“There’s still areas we feel we have to improve and as coaches, until the season’s over, you should never stop trying to make your team better. If you don’t want your players satisfied, then you can’t be satisfied either, so I don’t think we’re sitting there happy with what we’ve done, more than we feel that we’re seeing improvement and I guess the potential to improve even more is there.”

“That’s what excites us and brings us in every day to try and make our team better.”

“But you know, a lot of things can happen,” Julien added. “We’re only 30 games in and there’s 82 games in a season, so we’re far from being in a position where we’re comfortable, or satisfied, or any of that stuff.”

The Bruins continued that process on Thursday with a practice at Ristuccia Arena before hitting the road for Pittsburg to finish off the home-and-home series with the Penguins.

Boston started the series with a 3-0 shutout on Wednesday night at TD Garden.

The Bruins weren’t perfect in the win — in fact, they were on their heels and outshot 18-4 in the second period, despite heading into the third with a 2-0 lead.

“We did give up quite a bit of chances…Tuukka definitely bailed us out a few times so we’ve just got to clean it up,” said defenseman Dennis Seidenberg.

“I think the first and the third period were solid for us. The second period wasn’t great — we got outshot 18-4 — so we need to work on that,” said Ryan Spooner, who assisted on a Jimmy Hayes tally sealed the 3-0 win with an empty-netter. “But I think for the most part, we’re happy with our game, especially if you can shut out a team like that that has all that skill, so it was good for us.”

The Black & Gold have made a habit of matching up well against the Pens. David Krejci’s line went up against Sidney Crosby’s line, with Patrice Bergeron matched up against Evgeni Malkin and his linemates.

That’s where the secondary scoring kicked in — a recent trend for the Bruins that has given them a boost.

“Yeah, if you’re going to be winning games, you need that,” said Krejci. “If you look at [Wednesday’s] game, Bergy and Malkin’s line kind of took care of each other. My line and Crosby’s line took care of each other as well and then it was up to the other two lines and they pretty much won the game for us, so good teams — they need secondary scoring and we’ve been having that lately, so we’ve just got to keep it going.

Along with Spooner and Hayes finding the back of the net (and Hayes breaking a 15-game drought in the process), Max Talbot converted for the fourth line when he scored his first goal in the Spoked-B.

“Claude talked to us before the game about that, about not always being the same guys that step up,” said Talbot. “Which has been what seemed to happen since the beginning of the year, but it was nice for the third and fourth lines to contribute and get some big goals and releasing pressure from the big guys.”

Landon Ferraro has also added stability to the fourth line, while Frank Vatrano has been generating chances with Spooner and Hayes.

“We actually talked about that a couple games ago — we can’t always expect the same guys to score, you know?” said Spooner. “We need some secondary scoring and we definitely got that the last three games it’s definitely helped us out a lot.”

Defensively, the Bruins have been much improved. While turnovers and mistakes were apparent in Wednesday’s game, the layers of support all over the ice were there — ending with Tuukka Rask’s strong play between the pipes.

“Well I think we just played more of a team game,” said Seidenberg. “We’ve played together, supported each other wit layers in all three zones and if there is a mess-up or a breakdown, for the most part, we have somebody who can help out or clean the mess up.”

Pastrnak Not Traveling

David Pastrnak has missed the last 20 games in his recovery from a fracture in his left foot he sustained blocking a shot on Oct. 27.

The forward has been skating with the team since Monday, but he will not be traveling to Pittsburgh.

“Pastrnak is not making the trip with us, and right now, we’re looking at the options [for him],” said Julien. “When I say we’re looking, Sweens and the group there is looking at the options of his return.”

The “options” refer to the scenarios of getting Pastrnak back into game action — whether that means a conditioning stint in Providence or getting into game action overseas in Finland for the Czech National Team at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship.

“There’s a conditioning element to this — what’s best for him to get back to full speed,” General Manager Don Sweeney told reporters on Thursday at Ristuccia Arena after the Bruins wrapped up practice.

“The World Juniors are a component to this, but we’re looking at all our options as to what’s available between now and when we’d have to make a drop-dead decision based on the roster freeze and his availability for World Juniors. That will happen over the next day or so.”

For more from Sweeney, check out the full story on BostonBruins.com or the Bruins Mobile App.

Practice Lineup 12/17

White Jerseys: Matt BeleskeyDavid KrejciLoui Eriksson

Gold Jerseys: Brad MarchandLandon FerraroBrett Connolly

Gray Jerseys: Frank VatranoRyan SpoonerJimmy Hayes

Merlot Jerseys: Max TalbotAlex KhokhlachevTyler RandellDavid Pastrnak

Defense Pairs:

Zdeno CharaAdam McQuaid

Dennis SeidenbergColin Miller

Torey KrugKevan Miller

Joe MorrowZach Trotman

Goalies: Tuukka Rask, Jonas Gustavsson

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