David Krejci was absent from practice, but Head Coach Claude Julien said following the skate that he would be back in the fold on Saturday, when the Black and Gold host the Ottawa Senators at TD Garden.
In light of Halloween, Julien was actually asked if Krejci was a “ghost” on Friday. “Yes he is, but he won’t be a ghost tomorrow, if that’s what you want to know,” the bench boss quipped.
Without Krejci, Chris Kelly slotted in at center alongside Milan Lucic and Seth Griffith for practice and Matt Fraser filled in for Kelly with Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson. Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell and Simon Gagne formed the fourth line.
Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Reilly Smith skated together as a line. The trio had been separated to start Thursday night’s game in Buffalo, but their reunion helped produce the overtime winner, with Smith setting up Marchand in the slot.
“Well they were together today in practice, so again, we started with certain lines together yesterday, we didn’t end with them, so we could start with those guys tomorrow but not end with them,” Julien said on Friday. “I think it’s, right now, with the situation we’re in, it’s almost like a daily thing and almost a game to game, period to period, kind of thing.”
The lines had been jumbled around prior to Thursday night, with the Bruins looking for a change of scenery, a spark, something to get them going. With some more mixing and matching than usual to start the season, Julien was hoping the players could provide some answers with their play.
With Marchand’s strong third period, they could be getting on the right track.
“If Brad plays [Saturday] like he did in the third period, there’s no doubt it would just be a matter of time before those guys are in the plus again and same with Smitty,” said Julien. “I thought he played a good third period, he was strong on the puck and he started making some plays and creating some chances.”
“And we’re just talking about two guys here - what we need are our top players to be at their best and if they are, I think the plus-minus situation will resolve itself.”
“It was getting frustrating,” said Marchand. “I thought I had a pretty decent camp, the numbers were there and everything, I felt good, and season starts and I just kind of flatlined.”
“So pressure definitely builds, when we’re not winning and not in a position we should be in so it’s nice to get a couple, but hopefully I can continue to help the team and be a better player.”
A Win is a Win is a Win
The Bruins tabbed their 3-2 overtime win over the Sabres as a character win, having to come back from being down 2-1 entering the third period. No matter how the win came about, for a team that’s been vying to get their first wining record since going 1-0 to open the season, it can build confidence.
“You know, Buffalo played by far their best game of the year, and that’s coming from the Buffalo organization, they’re team members and all that, that was their best game,” said Julien. “And this is the NHL - there are no easy games in this League, although we want to look at the standings and say, we barely got past these guys.”
“I thought there were some areas - our skating and our forecheck probably wasn’t at the top of what we expect, which means our back pressure, our skating game wasn’t at its best - but we still broke out of our end much better, we didn’t give them much.”
“They didn’t have much - in our books they had about four scoring chances at even strength and we gave them three shots in the second period, so there’s a lot of things to build on. They came to play, and we’re in a situation right now, that yeah, maybe besides the injuries, our confidence isn’t where it would be if we were 5-2 right now, you know.”
“It is what it is, we’re a .500 team right now, so the guys are still trying to find that confidence level that comes with winning on a regular basis, so it was something to build on I think and we’ve got a bigger test again [on Saturday.]
Young Blueliners Feeling Comfortable
The Bruins’ defensive corps on Thursday night was a mash-up of Boston and Providence mainstays, with Dennis Seidenberg, Adam McQuaid and Dougie Hamilton being joined by P-Bruins call-ups Zach Trotman, David Warsofsky and Joe Morrow (Matt Bartkowski was a healthy scratch, as he battles to find his confidence and get his game back on track).
Morrow made his NHL debut, and Warsofsky saw his first NHL action of the season, suiting up in his seventh career NHL game.
“I thought they played well, both those guys,” said Julien. “David skates well and can move the puck well, and I thought Morrow did the same thing, I thought he moved the puck well, and he doesn’t seem to be rattled by anything.”
“For a guy who played in his first NHL game, the last thing he looked was nervous. He was so calm, and made good plays, and yeah he made a few mistakes like everybody else during a period of a game, but I thought he handled himself well, so I was really pleased with our back end. I mean, we didn’t give much as scoring chances and yet we moved the puck out of our end a lot better.”
Trotman has been getting more comfortable as well, having suited up in three games for Boston since injuries to Zdeno Chara, Kevan Miller and Torey Krug hit the back end.
“I think I’ve been doing well, just keeping things simple,” said Trotman. “With breakouts, D zone, closing fairly quick on guys and separating them from the puck and allowing us to get going the other way.”
“Just keep it simple.”
“Everyone brings someone to the table - David and Joe are a little bit more offensive, so power play and offensive zone is really big for them and for all of us, it’s just being simple on breakouts and executing so that we can get going the other way.”
The Bruins were pleased with their breakouts and puck movement on Thursday night, and the young blueliners played a strong role in that.
But to get through another month of injuries, Julien is not just counting on the call-ups to help fill the void; he’s counting on the veterans to find another level.
“Players can learn from others by watching them,” said Julien. “I think it’s important for those veteran players to really be at their best and that to me would be the first priority for those guys.”
Practice Lineup 10/31
White Jerseys: Milan Lucic - Chris Kelly - Seth Griffith
Gold: Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Reilly Smith
Gray: Matt Fraser - Carl Soderberg - Loui Eriksson
Burgundy: Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell - Simon Gagne
Defensemen: Dennis Seidenberg, Dougie Hamilton, Joe Morrow, Adam McQuaid, David Warsofsky, Zach Trotman, Matt Bartkowski
Goalies: Tuukka Rask, Niklas Svedberg