But as David Krejci reiterated on Friday at Ristuccia Arena, right now, it’s not about wins and losses. It’s about getting back into good habits on the heels of the first two preseason games -- a loss at Montreal and a win versus Washington -- and making sure that everyone on the ice is committed to playing a full 60 minutes.
“In Montreal, what happened, happened,” Krejci said. “It’s just an exhibition game. You learn from the mistakes, you try to eliminate those mistakes for the next game and try to be better. So we all feel like we want to prove that we've got way more than we had in Montreal, and it’s another game tonight.”
The Bruins skated in two groups on Friday morning, and both groups will travel to Washington and to Detroit (you can see the expected traveling roster here).
Krejci said that as he gets deeper into the preseason, establishing a rhythm is becoming a bit easier day by day.
“[In] practices, it’s a little bit different than games, and you could see [that] in Montreal,” he said. “We all know our conditioning’s great off the ice, but on the ice, that’s a different story. So we’re trying to work on it, and it’ll come with time. Every game is better on the ice, and hopefully we’ll play a full 60 minutes and we’ll have a good game tonight.”
Krejci and linemate Matt Fraser accounted for Boston’s second goal in the 3-2 loss at Montreal on Tuesday night. Though both acknowledged that the chemistry is coming along, both are looking forward to doing more the next time they hit the ice together.
“Chemistry is not necessarily when you score a goal,” Krejci said. “I’d rather play a great all-around game, a full 60 minutes, than play just alright and have more goals. So I felt that’s what happened in Montreal — just an alright game, and we scored one goal. That’s not what I like to do, but we’ve been having some good practices since that game, so hopefully we’ll play with the puck more and have way more scoring chances than we had in Montreal. It’s going to be a better game for us.”
After the game against the Habs, Krejci told reporters that Fraser has “a gift” as a shooter and that the young winger makes his job easy. On Thursday, Fraser said the praise is nice, but it’s not what he is focusing on at the moment.
“It’s nice that he feels somewhat comfortable playing with you, but I think the biggest thing is, it’s not so much about getting points or anything like that; it’s about working well with each other and finding some chemistry,” Fraser said. “Ultimately, [it’s about] being comfortable on the ice, where you know you can make a play or you’re going to pass it to an area where he is and vice versa.
“So it’s nice that he said whatever he did, but at the end of the day, it’s not about getting points. It’s about playing consistent and about showing the management, your teammates and your linemates that you’re capable of playing wherever they need you to.”
Specifically, Fraser is looking for a full 60-minute effort — from himself and from his teammates.
“I think we came out in Montreal with a strong first period there, and in the second, they kind of took it to us, and in the third, it was almost like it was just a matter of time before someone was going to make a mistake,” he said. “Someone was going to score, obviously, but more of a consistent game from everyone and myself, and just work on the little things.”
Fraser is especially eager to fine-tune his game, as he has had his sights set on one of Boston’s open roster spots since long before camp began.
“Every day’s a trial for me,” he said. “This is an opportunity that doesn’t come very often, for the Boston team to have spots open, and I don’t want to look back and realize that this was my chance to make the team and I didn’t do it. I’m putting all my cards on the table. I want to show them what I can do, and I think when you’re relaxed and you’re comfortable out there, that’s when you play your best hockey.”
Lucic Improving, Will Be Assessed Saturday Morning
Milan Lucic has yet to get into a preseason game, but he has been skating with the team since camp began and is hoping that this weekend, he might get his shot against the Red Wings.
“You want to get back out there and you’re hoping you can get in [a game] sooner or later, but you don’t want to put yourself in a position where you’re going to be getting hurt,” he said on Friday. “But again, we’ll reassess it tonight and tomorrow morning and see where I’m at, and hopefully I can get into a game sooner [rather] than later.”
The bruising winger has reiterated since he arrived in Boston for camp that he is proceeding with caution because he does not want to risk an injury in practice or in a preseason game, but that being said, the sooner he gets into a game, the easier it will be to regain his timing and his flow on the ice.
“I think it’s just human nature when you do get hurt and you have surgery and stuff like that — it’s in the back of your mind a little bit,” he said. “You kind of want to get that part out of the way in preseason before the season starts.
“I think that’s another reason why you want to get back and get moving and try to get back into a game situation — so you can get into that routine and that flow and those situations. So like I said, just taking everything day by day, and that’s how it’s going to be moving forward for now.”
Lucic said that a day off on Thursday, combined with consistent treatment from the Bruins training staff, has left his surgically-repaired wrist feeling better than it has all summer.
“It’s gotten stronger, just being here every day with the trainers and working out with them and doing the rehab and all that fitness stuff,” he said. “The exercises of strengthening my wrist and all of that has been a help as far as moving it forward. In the summertime, when you’re back home, you’re not getting every-day treatment, so that’s a big part of turning a big corner and heading in the right direction.
“It’s been a huge help, and it has gotten a lot stronger as camp has gone along. Having the day off yesterday to let it heal and rest, and coming back today, it felt the best definitely today than it has the entire [camp].”
Getting Closer to the Opening Day Roster
The Bruins made 10 cuts on Thursday following the first two preseason games, and Head Coach Claude Julien said that more can be expected following the upcoming contests at Washington and at Detroit.
“There’s a good chance, I think, that after these next two games, we’re going to cut our numbers down again,” he said. “With three games left, we’ll try to get closer to our roster for the year like we normally would. So yeah, I think it’s safe to say that after these next two games, it should shrink down again.”
Though more cuts are coming, Julien cautioned against falling into the trap of evaluating any player too early on in camp.
“I think it’s too early, to be honest, to start making any kind of assessments,” he said. “Sometimes, certain players — maybe they’re not having the best camp so far but you’ve seen them play a lot better, just like guys have great camps and then as camp progresses, they seem to tail off. So it’s important to keep an open mind here and give guys a chance and not evaluate too quickly here.”
As the preseason shifts to Washington and then to Detroit, he is looking to see more of what he has seen over the first two contests against Montreal and the Caps.
“I think the guys continue to showcase what they can bring to our hockey club now, and we’ve been doing a little bit of teaching, but at the same time, you want to see guys make an effort,” Julien said. “When it comes to training camp, the compete level, determination and focus — those are three things you want to see from players.”
Cunningham Makes Trip; Injury Updates on Pastrnak, Campbell and Camara
Craig Cunningham, who started skating at training camp a little bit late as he recovered from a bout with mono, will make the trip to Washington and Detroit and is expected to get into one of the games.
“Feeling good,” he said after Friday’s skate. “Obviously sitting out the first four days kind of [stunk], but got my rest and was really excited when they cleared me.”
Despite the late start to camp, Cunningham — a right winger who has his sights set on one of Boston’s open roster spots — feels ready.
“I’ve only had three days of regular skates now and I skated with the other group before, and it’s an exciting time of year,” he said. “As always after a long layoff, exciting to get back at it.”
Julien said that forward David Pastrnak skated on Wednesday on his own, and though he did not make the trip to Washington and Detroit, he is progressing.
“It’s a good sign that he skated,” Julien said.
Though there is no extensive update on forward Gregory Campbell, who has been out since the start of camp with a core injury, Julien said that he too is progressing.
Left winger Anthony Camara is also being evaluated with an undisclosed illness.
Projected Lineup vs. Capitals
Matt Fraser - David Krejci - Loui Eriksson
Daniel Paille - Carl Soderberg - Jordan Caron
Seth Griffith - Craig Cunningham - Matt Lindblad
Justin Florek - Ben Sexton - Bobby Robins
David Warsofsky - Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg - Adam McQuaid
Zach Trotman - Joe Morrow
Niklas Svedberg, Malcolm Subban