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Off Day Notebook: Bruins Finding Recipe for Success

by Caryn Switaj @NHLBruins /

BOSTON - Head Coach Claude Julien didn't want his team to take a step back on Thursday night in Minnesota. 


"I'd like to see us continue what we started, and that's the main thing," Julien had said.


The team was coming off three days without a game - including a full rest day and two practice days - and three straight wins. It was not time to get complacent. 

"Hopefully after three days off, we still have that same approach to the game, that same kind of play that we've had lately and hopefully will not have taken a step backwards," the bench boss said. "Hopefully the energy level that we've gotten from the rest will show."


The Bruins ultimately didn't get the result they would have liked, falling 1-0 in the final minute to the Wild off a lucky bounce with 44.5 left on the clock, but they certainly didn't show complacency. That was a great sign for Julien and the Bruins' leadership core. 


Despite the tough loss, they picked up four out of six points on the road with a 2-1-0 trip, and still own the league's top road record at 7-4-0. 


"I like the way we compete, the way we battle," said Patrice Bergeron. "There's definitely a few things we need to adjust and be better at, but I think it's a work in progress and we definitely keep getting better, and we need to find ways to win games like [Thursday night]."


"We're playing good - a lot better than the start of the year," said Brad Marchand. "We're giving ourselves an opportunity to win every game right now and it helps having our whole lineup or our majority of our lineup intact and Tuukks is playing great, so if we continue to play this way and work hard and play the right way, then we're going to win some games."


Rask's 10-2-0 record is the second best in the league, along with his goals-against average (1.49). The Bruins have also played well in front of him, supporting each other when breakdowns occur. 


"I hope we can bring this type of game at home and I think our work ethic, our compete level, everything else is there so we've just got to stick with it here," said Julien.


Eleven of the Bruins' first 17 games this season have come on the road. Five of their next seven games will be in the confines of TD Garden, beginning with Saturday night's matchup against the Winnipeg Jets. The Bruins had the day off on Friday after traveling back from Minnesota.


"You lose some of those games sometimes [like in Minnesota], they're tough losses to swallow, but in the long scheme of a season, you're going to win a lot more," said Julien. "And I feel confident that we can do well, as long as this club keeps playing that way."


Bearing Down


While the Bruins have been defensively sound - they've given up just seven goals in their past six games - and are comfortable playing in close games, they're certainly looking for more scoring. 


"I mean, you can't - if you do get frustrated, I think it just makes things worse," said Bergeron. "I think we've had a ton of chances. We definitely have to bear down. I mean, that's the bottom line, but you have to stick with it and eventually it's going to go in." 


Bergeron is driven to contribute any way he can, even if he and his linemates haven't been finding the back of the net as frequently as they would like. 


"You're trying to help the team as much as possible and the offense is part of my game and yeah, of course you want to contribute more, but at the same time, I'm still trying to play my game and do all of the details right and the rest will be there," said Bergeron. "It will be come."


The Bruins were missing their leading goal scorer for Thursday's game, as David Pastrnak was out with an undisclosed injury (he's labeled day-to-day). He leads the team with 10 goals and helps generate plenty of offensive chances.


"Well, that's part of hockey," said Julien. "We don't talk about what we don't have. We deal with what we have here, so we certainly don't look for excuses."


Video: Condensed Game: Bruins @ Wild


Recipe for Success


Despite Thursday's loss, the Bruins have pulled together a 10-3-0 record in their last 10 games after going 3-4-0 to start the season.


Not only are they starting to find their groove on the ice, but they're also coming together off the ice as a team.


The amount of time on the road has helped facilitate that.


Health also plays a role, with lines getting some more time together and generating chemistry that way, like in the case of newcomer David Backes playing with David Krejci and Ryan Spooner.


"I think there are new faces, young faces in the room that are on that learning curve together and trying to figure out where their spot is, what their role is, how we're going to play, what it looks like when we're successful, kind of what that recipe is for us to give ourselves a great opportunity to get two points on a regular basis," said Backes. 


"I think that evolution is occurring and it's showing in our results. Maybe we're not a team that's going to play 6-4 games and that's great for your stat sheet and might look good for contract negotiation time," Backes continued. 


"But, that belief system that, if you win and you win on a regular basis and you're able to get far in the playoffs, that you can take that stat sheet and you can light it on fire, that contract negotiations for winners and people that go deeper into the playoffs is much more valuable than a cute stat sheet on a team that's not winning games."


"That belief system is really starting to sink in and you're seeing the enjoyment around the rink. When you're winning, you get to come to the rink and have fun and continue to have fun working hard and coming together."


It's the sort of attitude and comraderie that can often go overlooked. It makes a difference.


"[We had] a couple of days in Colorado to bond as a group and do things like Top Golf and all that sort of stuff you're able to do," said Backes. "For a new guy coming in that's missed a little time with injury, creating some great connections with guys and seeing their real personalities - it's invaluable."

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