With three straight wins over Pittsburgh, New Jersey and Philly, the Black and Gold are gradually building back their confidence.
They're also providing Head Coach Claude Julien with more stability throughout the lineup, and the ability to keep the current lines intact, even if they're not the usual trios the B's, fans and media are used to seeing.
David Krejci continued to center Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak during practice. Patrice Bergeron was between Milan Lucic and Daniel Paille, while Reilly Smith and Loui Eriksson flanked Carl Soderberg. Chris Kelly, Gregory Campbell, Craig Cunningham and Jordan Caron rounded out the other line.
"Well, they've stayed together so far, because you know, we're getting the results right now," Julien said following Monday's skate. "So when the time comes, if I need to make some changes, I will, but right now, we're getting results out of those lines."
Pastrnak's addition to the lineup for the past two games has helped facilitate the switches to an extent. The 18-year-old netted his first two NHL goals, including one on the power play, in Saturday's win to give the Bruins a 2-0 lead.
"He's really skilled. But we all knew that in training camp, so he's just getting more comfortable on the NHL level," said Krejci, of playing with Pastrnak. "You know, two goals, I'm sure it helped him. So it's fun to play with him."
"He's only 18 but he's got skill like a 30-year-old, so it's fun. He knows he has to get better in some areas but we all do, so as long as he'll be working on those things, then he's going to have a good career."
Krejci was on the ice for both of Pastrnak's goals, but he sees better play coming from his line.
"I thought it wasn't our best game," Krejci admitted. "We're still trying to kind of find the chemistry, still trying to understand each other, where we go on the ice, but it comes with experience, it comes with more games," said Krejci. "You know, me and Marchy and him, we never really played together that much, so we need some practices, we need some games, but it will come."
"It was first game last game for us together, so just taking time to get used to each other and find each other on the ice and I think it will be every game better," Pastrnak said on Saturday in Philadelphia after putting up his first two NHL tallies.
"He's going to be a great player in this League for a long time," said Marchand. "So obviously I don't make those decisions, but he came up big for us last game and he looks good."
"It's such a different jump from the American League. I mean, you can go down there and score lots of goals - you can see there's plenty of guys down there that aren't good enough to play here that put up 30 and 40 goals down there, so the fact that he's able to come up here and produce, it gives him a huge boost confidence right away and allows him to get more comfortable, and that's what you need."
Pastrnak can suit up in two more games before his NHL entry-level contract would kick in for 2014-15 season. His game on Saturday likely helped his cause to stick with the big club for more than a pair of games, but there's much more to the decision than current production.
"I'm going to wait and see," remarked Julien. "That's why we have time to look at him, and he's played well. You know, I really liked obviously his last game, not because of the goals, but because of how he's playing and he's going to the net and going to the corners, he's doing a lot of things and defensively, you can see he understands what he has to do.
"So he's certainly treading in the right direction."
When the decision is made on whether Pastrnak will stay with Boston or head to Providence, it will be a joint decision among the Bruins' brass.
"Any player who's here, you know, is here for a reason," Krejci offered, when asked by a reporter if he thinks Pastrnak could help them for the rest of the season. "He helped us win the game - he scored two goals out of three - so he basically won the game. I'm sure he can help us down the road, but you know, the decision is going to be up to someone else."
Pastrnak has shown that his game is coming around without the puck. Despite the forward's smaller frame and young age (he's currently the youngest player in the NHL), he didn't show Julien anything that made him nervous putting him out in certain situations during Saturday's game.
The decision will be made with a number of factors in mind, including strength, durability and the ability to sustain play on a nightly basis.
No matter the outcome, Pastrnak will never stop bringing the same work ethic that got him drafted last June and that got him to his current position.
"He's done a great job - it's tough for a young player to step into this League, there's definitely a big adjustment," said Reilly Smith. "But he's done a great job and I think he's handling it well too, he's at the rink and always has a smile on his face and wants to do extra stuff, so that's good to see out of a young player."
Gagne Not Returning to Bruins
Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced on Monday that Simon Gagne has decided not to return to the team this season due to personal reasons. Given his decision, the Bruins have changed Gagne’s status to “suspended player."
"At this time Simon feels that he has to be home with his family and he has the complete support of the Boston Bruins organization with this decision,” said Chiarelli. “Given Simon’s decision not to return to the team, we have to change his status to maintain a full roster. I spoke to Simon about this, and he assured me that we have his full support with this status change.”
To view the complete press release on BostonBruins.com, along with Gagne's quotes, click here.
On Saturday, the Bruins assigned forward Seth Griffith to the Providence Bruins and he suited up in their game against the Portland Pirates on Sunday afternoon. Griffith had been a healthy scratch for Boston's past two games.
Griffith has skated in 30 games with Boston this season, recording six goals and four assists for 10 points. The forward made his NHL debut on October 13 and scored his first NHL goal on October 21.
Bergeron Earns All-Star Nod
The NHL announced on Saturday that Patrice Bergeron was named to the 2015 NHL All-Star Team. It marks his first All-Star selection amidst his 12-year NHL career. The All-Star Break takes place from Jan. 22-26.
"I think Patrice has deserved that for a long time," said Julien. "It's his first time and a guy who's done so much, not just for his team, but for the League and he was good enough to play in the Olympics, and he's as good of a two-way player as you'll find, so it's nice to see him being recognized."
"It's good sometimes having new experiences and do something different," Bergeron told reporters after Monday's practice. He also spoke with reporters and BostonBruins.com on Saturday (watch the interview here).
"It's definitely one of those things that you've got to give the credit also to your linemates and your teammates and I'm just happy to be there representing the Bruins," said Bergeron.
"It's an honor, it should be a fun weekend, so I'm looking forward to it."
Lightning and Rangers on Tap
The Bruins' week ahead features three home games against Eastern Conference opponents. They host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday, before facing the New York Rangers on Thursday and then the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday.
"Well, obviously, you've got Tampa, you've got New York, two teams that are in the conference and are teams that are ahead of us," said Julien. "So we've just got to continue playing the way we have and try and improve on that. These are great tests for our hockey club and we just have to be ready to face those."
Practice Lineup 1/12
White Jerseys: Brad Marchand - David Krejci - David Pastrnak
Gold: Milan Lucic - Patrice Bergeron - Daniel Paille
Gray: Reilly Smith - Carl Soderberg - Loui Eriksson
Burgundy: Chris Kelly - Gregory Campbell - Craig Cunningham - Jordan Caron
Defense: Zdeno Chara, Dougie Hamilton, Dennis Seidenberg, Adam McQuaid, Torey Krug, Kevan Miller, Matt Bartkowski
Goalies: Tuukka Rask, Niklas Svedberg