And despite the B's recent downturn (just 4-5-1 in their last 10 games), the Black & Gold are determined to bring the kind of efforts they displayed in November and December to the NHL's dog days of February.
"Well we always do a lot of video on every team we play, whether it’s our division or not or conference or not," said Boston Head Coach Claude Julien of his club's preparation for Nashville - a team that stands fifth in the Western Conference(3rd place in the Central Division) despite having a better point total than the 2nd place in the East (and Northeast-leading) Bruins.
"Even in our pre-scouts of every game, we always go as far back as the last five games," continued Julien. "So we have a pretty good read on what they’re all about.
"Even though we don’t see them much, we know how good they are in where they are in the standings and certainly a lot of respect for that team because they play a real hard game and a real smart game," he said.
Based on their extensive scouting, Boston understands that Nashville has tuned up recent opponents at a 6-3-1 clip and, despite falling to Ottawa 4-3 at Scotiabank Place on Thursday, the Predators have a 14-4-1 record in their last 19 games.
As such, the Bruins put lots of work into their last two days of practice.
Thursday's session at Ristuccia Memorial Arena in Wilmington returned the club to its fundamental roots, and saw the B's doing extensive battle work. Friday's practice in the TD Garden returned the Bruins to line work in which Boston's trios remained the same as they had against Buffalo in the Sabres 6-0 victory on Wednesday night in Western New York.
"We worked hard," said Julien of Thursday. "As I mentioned, not necessarily punishment but more about let’s get us back and in the right frame of mind here.
"Work ethic has always been a part of our success and yesterday was about work ethic. [Friday] the pace and everything was about working hard."
Despite the Bruins +63 goal differential, which includes a +36 third period margin, and a NHL-leading 180 goals, Boston has been held to just five tallies in their last four games.
The steady trio of center Patrice Bergeron
(1-6-7 totals in his last 7), left wing Brad Marchand
(3-3-6 in those 7) and right wing Tyler Seguin
(who scored his team-leading 20th of the season Feb. 5) remain together, and while Boston's famous "Merlot" line (Daniel Paille
, Gregory Campbell
& Shawn Thornton
) remains intact to carry the B's sandpaper, all of Boston's roster looks to increase their production.
"When you look at teams when they struggle, there is always something, obviously that’s why they struggle," said Julien. "They have players that aren’t putting up the numbers that they should, they’re giving up more goals than they should – there’s a lot of things.
"Otherwise, if we had all three [other] lines going I don’t think we’d be losing as many games.
"I guess it’s just the logic of things and that’s what’s happening right now - we have Bergeron’s line who’s the most consistent line of all right now and spending a lot of time in the offensive zone and creating some opportunities, but we haven’t had as much from the other lines and we need more."