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Message Stays the Same, as Bruins Look to Find Their Nose For the Net Against Sharks

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

SAN JOSE - The Bruins can still salvage their four-game road trip, and avoid being swept on the California swing.

A win on Thursday night in San Jose, followed up by another two points in Arizona would put them at .500 on the road trip after back-to-back losses to Anaheim and Los Angeles.

"That means that we played four pretty good hockey games out here and going home, that's a lot to build on," Chris Kelly said Thursday morning following the Bruins' pregame skate at the SAP Center.

"Obviously we don't want to come out here and be 0-2 to start this trip," Kelly said. "But I think we played well, I think the effort was there in the first two games and if that effort continues, things are going to turn around and we're going to start winning more hockey games."

"I think we just need to realize that although we didn't win, that's the effort we need to put worth. You've just got to stay positive and continue working at the process."

The alternate captain is inherently one of the most positive voices in the locker room.

It could be tough to to deliver the same "stick with it" message over and over again. It's even tougher for those outside the team to hear over and over again, when the results are what matter most.

"The longer you play, the more you see that it's a long year," said Kelly. "There haven't been many years where it's been smooth sailing throughout the course of the year."

"So I think it's just finding a nose for the net, bearing down on opportunities and having the confidence when you get those opportunities. Sometimes it may be difficult, but everyone has scored in this League and are proven goal scorers, and it's going to come."

It's not necessary to run through the list of the Bruins' scoring droughts, when it's felt team-wide.

"When the team is snake-bitten, those [dirty goals] are the type of goals that turn things around," said Kelly. "Very seldom is it the pretty ones that turn things around. It's the tips, mucking the puck out, jamming the crease kind of goals that correct things."

"That second effort needs to be there even more so when the puck's not going in the net."

"I think the message here is pretty much the same, where we have that never-quit mentality and [need to] have that extra effort," said Daniel Paille. "Because we're making minimal mistakes throughout the games but they end up costing us towards the end of the game, just due to the fact that we're not able to produce offensively."

"So for us, the message has been to continue the effort that we're showing but we have to obviously give a little bit more."

"There's definitely belief in this room," Paille added. "We know that we could put up numbers offensively, but it's just not there right now. Offensively, our game's coming around but you know, we're in the situation we're in, and we're going to have to come out ready and make sure that we get that first win."

San Jose caps off a six-game homestand with the Bruins. After losing three straight to start, they've picked up two consecutive wins, with the latest coming against Philadelphia thanks to a Matt Nieto goal with just 11.5 left in regulation.

The inconsistent Sharks may sit out of the playoff picture right now in the West, but they're well-coached and led by young and veteran top guns like Logan Couture, Tommy Wingels, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau.

"It’s important for us right now to solve our issues - [we'll] look at what they have, but think about what we need to do to succeed here," said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien. "Somewhere along the way, you want to be rewarded for your efforts and I think this is going to be a good night to start."

Pastrnak Not Being Pushed Around

With only four NHL games under his belt, David Pastrnak has played half of them against tough, physical teams strong along the boards and heavy on the puck. The roughly 176-pound rookie claims he doesn't feel out of place.

"It was more physical and I don't mind, I like it," said Pastrnak. "It's the NHL and I have to just keep fighting. I think every game in the NHL is a big level, so I have to just leave my best every game."

"I like that he’s got a nose for the net, I like that he’s putting pucks at the net when there’s guys going there," said Julien. "Those are things that we have to teach a lot of our players, but for him, it seems like an automatic."

"I think his pace to the game — again, that was a good test for him against LA - I thought at first maybe a little slow, feeling his way through, but the size and the toughness of LA didn’t seem to bother him, and that was a real good test for him. I like the way that he handled that. He finished stronger than he started, and so that was a good sign for a young player."

Tipping the Scale

The ebbs and flows of a season aren't the easiest to navigate. In November, the Bruins posted an 8-3-1 record, without Zdeno Chara and without David Krejci (he only suited up in two November games), mostly by grinding out wins.

From late November into early December, the Bruins have had been putting out much better efforts on the ice, but haven't been rewarded for it, with four hard-fought games that went for nought.

"If we collapsed this last month, we’re in big trouble, but we held tight, we battled. Not always pretty, but we always found ways with character, determination, perseverance — we always found ways to win hockey games," said Julien. "Right now, we’ve lost a couple that we really feel that we had a chance to win. That’s where it balances out."

"That’s when you can look back at the other games and say maybe they weren’t pretty wins, but look how valuable they are right now because of these [games] we should’ve won and thought we had a chance to win and we didn’t."

"So it balances out in the long run."

Taking the Option

For the second straight day, the Bruins held an optional skate before facing the Sharks on Thursday night at the SAP Center. It was well-attended, with Milan Lucic the only Bruin taking his option after skating in Wednesday's practice.

Seth Griffith, Joe Morrow and Niklas Svedberg remained on the ice for extra work, indicating Griffith and Morrow will likely be the scratches against the Sharks.

"Missing games at a young age like that is not the end of the world, and you’ve seen it with different guys, and whether they’ve been first-round picks or just guys that have come in, to me, it’s not a bad thing to have a young player watch from up there once in a  while," Julien said of Griffith. "The rest sometimes does him good, and the watching and the hunger part of wanting to come back and do well often works in our favor also."

Just Like Old Times

There was a nice moment that happened Thursday morning at the SAP Center, as the Sharks morning skate was coming to an end. Former Bruin Joe Thornton saw "The Chief" Johnny Bucyk sitting near the ice, skated over, walked off the ice, grabbed his shoulders to give him a 'hello" and then gave him a huge bear hug.

The now 35-year-old, nine years removed from Black and Gold, sat down in his full gear next to Chief for a catch-up session. Bucyk still travels with the team on every road trip. Thornton was glad to see No. 9 going strong.

Julien Emotional About Beliveau

Julien was again asked about the influence that longtime Montreal Canadiens captain and NHL legend Jean Beliveau had on him.

"Being from Ottawa, Montreal being the closest team to us back in those days, I was a Canadiens fan, and playing outside street hockey back then and Jean Beliveau was the big name," said Julien. "Everything about Jean Beliveau has class written all over it. I could go on and on with him because I had an opportunity to meet him and get to know him when I was in Montreal."

"Still to this day would take time to answer letters, autographs, and I’m getting a little emotional here  because he had that impact on me," said Julien, with tears starting to well up in his eyes. "Not just him, but his wife. Both of them were great to me when I was in Montreal — took time to chat with me, and even when I was in Vegas, they were there the year I won Coach of the Year. Just class people, he and his wife, and he especially — what he represented, not just to the Montreal Canadiens but to the whole hockey world and even more."

"Anyone who got to know him could find no wrong in this guy. So it’s amazing, the little bit that I got to know him when I was in Montreal, and then what I’ve seen growing up. He had a big enough impact on me that I do get emotional talking about him."

Projected Lineup vs. San Jose 12/4

Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak
Milan Lucic
- Carl Soderberg - Loui Eriksson
Reilly Smith
- Chris Kelly - Matt Fraser
Daniel Paille
- Gregory Campbell - Simon Gagne

Dennis SeidenbergDougie Hamilton
Matt Bartkowski
Kevan Miller
Torey Krug
- Zach Trotman

Starter: Tuukka Rask // Backup: Niklas Svedberg

Scratches: Seth Griffith, Joe Morrow

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