They next face the Canadiens in Montreal on Wednesday night in the teams’ final matchup prior to the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on Jan. 1.
Most of the Bruins did off-ice work on Tuesday morning before traveling. A group of 10 players hit the ice with Assistant Coaches Joe Sacco, Doug Houda and Bob Essensa. The group included forwards Ryan Spooner, Frank Vatrano, Jimmy Hayes, Zac Rinaldo, Tyler Randell and Landon Ferraro, along with defensemen Dennis Seidenberg and Colin Miller. Both Tuukka Rask and Jonas Gustavsson were also on the ice.
Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien disclosed to media that forward Joonas Kemppainen would not be making the trip to Montreal.
A few hours after Julien addressed media, Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney announced via a team press release that Kemppainen had been placed on Injured Reserve with an upper-body injury.
Kemmpainen left Monday night’s game early in the second period and did not return. He logged only 3:04 in ice time, taking just three shifts in the first period before leaving the bench, and then two in the second frame before his night ended.
In light of the injury, the Bruins recalled forward Max Talbot from Providence. He joined the team on Tuesday for their travel to Montreal, and he will eligible for Wednesday’s game against the Habs.
Talbot last suited up for Boston on Nov. 21 and Nov. 23. He cleared waivers on Nov. 30 and was reassigned to the Providence Bruins. This is his third recall of the season. He has four goals and six assists in 10 contests with the P-Bruins this season.
Among the skaters who practiced on Tuesday, Hayes, Miller and Seidenberg all did not play on Monday. The three of them have been scratched for the past two games. It is unclear if Miller and Seidenberg have been healthy scratches, as Julien has noted certain players have been “banged up” on the back end.
Most notably, Adam McQuaid did end up playing on Monday after taking a puck to the wrist during Saturday’s game in Vancouver. His status had been questionable before the game.
When asked about the statuses of Miller and Seidenberg, Julien said, “Those are game-time decisions, game day decisions I guess, so nothing more than that.”
Prior to the group of 10 players hitting the ice on Monday, forward David Pastrnak skated on his own. He recently started skating for the first time since sustaining a foot fracture on Oct. 27. There is yet to be a timetable for his possible return.
“There’s no timetable on my end of it. I know he’s skating on his own, so it’s nice to see him on the ice, but I haven’t been told yet,” said Julien. “Usually they’ll tell me a few days ahead of time that he’ll be skating with the team, so I haven’t heard that yet.”
Montreal In Focus
The Bruins could have squeaked out a point on Monday night against Nashville, but they instead dropped a 3-2 loss due to a late third period goal. The previous game in Vancouver had resulted in a 4-0 dominant performance to end a 1-0-2 road trip through Western Canada. They’ll need to quickly get back to that style of play.
It shouldn’t be too difficult. A day of rest on Tuesday should have them recharged, and there’s nothing quite like a rivalry game with Montreal to push them into the right mindset.
“Our focus is just about kind of regrouping. I really felt that our guys tried [on Monday] — the fatigue factor was definitely there and because of that, we took a lot of penalties and probably again had some players logging a lot of ice time,” said Julien. “And you lose a player early in the game too [with Kemppainen] so you shorten your bench.”
“We’ve got to kind of move on from that and just focus on bringing the kind of energy we had in Vancouver. Hopefully we’ll be rested and have some good jump and be ready for a good game.”
The Bruins will need their skating legs on Wednesday night, and they will need to emphasize getting more pucks on net. Monday’s loss saw the Bruins fire a season-low 17 shots on goal (their lowest total since November of 2014).
“As a team, I think the last game wasn’t awful for us — the start was good — but I think the problem for us was trying to get some shots on net,” said Spooner. “So I think with that we got into some trouble at times trying to make some stretch passes and all of that, so I think for the next game, we’ve got to play a little bit more simple.”
A simple game against the Habs will serve the Bruins well. They must have a strong defensive game and strong transition game through the neutral zone.
“The first time that we played against them [in a 4-2 loss in Boston on Oct. 10], we did not have a good game at all,” said Spooner. “Last game [in Montreal on Nov. 7] I actually thought was one of our best games of the year so they’re skilled and their fast, so we have to try to slow them down and be good in the neutral zone, so that’s our focus.”
The Bruins fell 4-2 in Montreal in a game that saw them leading 2-1 in the third period. They lost on mistakes and ill-timed penalties.
“It slipped away for reasons we had talked about back then, but we’re still determined to beat these guys and every time we go in there or they come here, we’re wanting to win games,” said Julien. “Now, whether things happen — whether it’s bad penalties, whether it’s bad mistakes or whatever it may be — there’s no reason why we don’t go in there and think that we can beat them.”
“It’s certainly not an obstacle in our minds; it’s more a determination to make it happen.”
The atmosphere of the Bell Centre and the intensity brought about by the rivalry always makes games between the two teams heated affairs. Even if they don’t quite have the strong hatred that existed a few years ago, it still exists in some capacity.
“My hatred’s growing for the Canadiens, it really is,” said Zac Rinaldo. “Every game we play them, it’s just — it fuels my fire every time, so my hatred’s growing, that’s for sure.”
Plagued by Penalties
Prior to Monday’s game against Nashville, the Bruins had killed 13 straight penalties and had 29 of their past 30 penalties over the course of eight games.
They allowed two power play goals en route to the 3-2 loss. They gave the Predators seven opportunities, including a 4-on-3 situation.
Whether the calls are warranted or not, the Bruins can’t let a lack of discipline derail them in Montreal. With the extended time on the penalty kill, they were able to generate little momentum in the game and the Bruins’ top players were tasked with more tiring minutes in the defensive zone.
“We’re going to have to be really disciplined,” said Rinaldo. “We’re still going to have to be a hard-nosed, tough hockey team to play against, but within the lines and the rules of the game, so we can’t give them any opportunity to get any goals or pick up any points. That’s what we have to do.”
It doesn’t help that the Bruins have been without Chris Kelly and will now be without Kemppainen, who serves as a strong penalty killing presence. If Talbot plays, he will help fill the hole in that area.
“When you lose guys like Kemppainen and you lose guys like Kelly, those are top notch penalty killers, so there’s no doubt it has an impact on our penalty killing units, but it’s time for other guys to step up,” said Julien. “I used [Matt] Beleskey. Rinaldo’s killed in the past, Spooner’s killed in the past, so we’re going to have to use some players that we don’t have a choice. You can’t make penalty killers appear or disappear, you just work with what you have, so I think right now it’s going to be about certain guys having to step up there and play that role.”
Practice Lineup 12/8
Forwards: Ryan Spooner, Frank Vatrano, Jimmy Hayes, Zac Rinaldo, Tyler Randell, Landon Ferraro
Defensemen: Dennis Seidenberg, Colin Miller
Goalies: Tuukka Rask, Jonas Gustavsson