The Bruins made their final preparations for a back-to-back set against the New York Islanders and Montreal Canadiens on Saturday and Sunday at TD Garden.
Boston is coming off a rare week with just one game on Wednesday, a 3-2 loss to the Rangers in New York City, with four practice days.
"It allows you to work on different things, but most of all, this time of year guys enjoy playing and so you take advantage of those days, because there's not many of them left where you've got lots of time to practice," said Head Coach Claude Julien. "So we worked on the things we needed to, and hopefully that's good enough to prepare us for a big weekend here."
The Black and Gold are looking for much better execution than on Wednesday, when they played loose in the neutral zone and let the Rangers' speed up front dictate their play. The Isles also boast plenty of speed and skill up front, and the Bruins will face another tough test on Saturday night, despite having earned a 5-2 win on Long Island on Jan. 29.
"When you're loose, you're spread out, you don't get pucks in deep, you allow teams to use their speed," said Julien, referencing his team's effort against the Rangers. "And we'd be the same way if teams did that to us - we have a good transition game, which could look like we've got pretty good speed, so we allowed them to do that. Trust me, we're not intimidated by [the speed] and we can handle it. It's just a matter of playing our game."
While many eyes are always on the Canadiens coming to town, the Bruins are keeping a one-track mind.
"We've got to take it game by game, you know," David Krejci said. "We know the second game we play Montreal, so especially media they make it a big deal out of it, but at this point of the season, we've just got to take it game by game and that's all we can control right now."
"Well I think that's the only way to approach these kind of situations, no matter who you're playing, you put all your focus on the team that's next on your agenda," said Julien. "And once you're done with them, you focus on the next team. I've never seen a team succeed by looking ahead or trying to prepare for two or three games at time, so it's not science - it's very simple."
The last time the Bruins played the Isles, they let their opponent back in the game after holding a 2-0 lead.
"We did a couple good things, but I remember the second period - we didn't play our best game, they came back," said Krejci. "So we know they have great speed up front, so we have to take care of that. We're going to have to have a really good game plan."
"We're going to have to be sharp, every single guy here, and do the job. We did the job over there, so no reason for us not to get another two points [on Saturday]."
Prior to Friday night's games, the Bruins sat in the second Wild Card spot for a playoff position in the East with 61 points. Washington now has a three-point lead (64 points) for the first spot.
While the B's may not always pay attention to the standings, they're aware of their situation, and the situations of the three teams above them in the Atlantic Division - Detroit, Montreal and Tampa Bay.
"Obviously we're aware of some things, especially Montreal they lost a couple of games, and we had a chance to catch up - not just to them but to other teams as well last game - and we didn't," Krejci said. "So we kind of slipped, but you know, we've got two big - one division, one conference - games, so this is going to be huge. It's a must-win and if we want to climb up the standings, these are the points we've got to get."
"We put ourselves in a situation we didn't want to be in and almost forced our hand," said Adam McQuaid. "We knew we had to get on a stretch and we're going to need to continue to play that way [like we did in January]."
"Right now, every game is important," he said. "We need to keep winning to keep climbing up, because it seems like everyone is winning around us, too. Everyone can beat everyone on any given night, so we're aware of that and we need to make sure that we bring our game and give ourselves a good chance."
Subban Embracing Time with Boston
Goaltender Malcolm Subban was still with the team for Friday's practice. Niklas Svedberg remains with Providence on a conditioning loan and was set to suit up for the P-Bruins on Friday night.
While Julien didn't divulge his goaltending plan for the weekend, Subban has clearly stuck around longer than anticipated. When he first joined Boston on his first NHL recall, it was expected that he was just remaining with the team for the weekend.
Subban has taken advantage of his extended stay.
"Just being around the guys, seeing how professional they are, their work ethic on and off the ice, just learning how to be more of a pro - I've definitely learned a lot of things this week," he said.
"It helps to see that, and it motivates you to try and be better and trying to stop everyone in practice, obviously it's harder here - the execution, shot accuracy all that stuff, they do it a lot faster up here, but you know, I want to make every save and that's what I'm trying to do," Subban said. "So, just keep working towards that, and just keep working hard, and waiting for my opportunities, that's the most important thing right now."
He hadn't been told by the Bruins yet how long his stay will be, or what the plan is moving forward.
"For me, it's just going day by day and taking it slowly and just trying to take in as much as I can and work as hard as a I can and show I want to be here," said Subban. "That's my goal right now, and that's what I'm trying to do."
Practice Lineup Feb. 6
White Jerseys: Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Reilly Smith
Gold: Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Loui Eriksson
Gray: Chris Kelly - Carl Soderberg - David Pastrnak
Burgundy: Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell - Craig Cunningham - Jordan Caron
Zdeno Chara - Dougie Hamilton
Dennis Seidenberg - Adam McQuaid
Torey Krug - Kevan Miller
Goalies: Tuukka Rask, Malcolm Subban