DALLAS — The Bruins have arrived in the sixth and final city on their season-long road trip, where they will finish with a Saturday night game against the Dallas Stars.
With a 3-2-0 record on the road trip, their focus is on one outcome: finding a way to end the 11-day journey on a high note.
“We have a chance to go 4-2, and obviously, it looks a lot better than 3-3,” Torey Krug said Friday afternoon in Dallas. “So it’s all about winning hockey games right now. It’s kind of been up and down on this road trip a little bit, but you’ve just got to move on to the next one, and we have a big test for us coming up.”
The Bruins stayed off the ice on Friday in Dallas. Players went through their routines of weight-lifting, stretch, playing two-touch soccer and the like at the American Airlines Center.
Regardless of their preparation, they need to be ready for the drop of the puck, unlike in Nashville.
“After a tough game, you always want to come back strong, said David Krejci. “We always say, ‘Good teams don’t lose two in a row.’ We know we’re playing really good teams, so it’s going to be a tough challenge, but if we take care of our own end first, we’re going to be OK.”
The Black & Gold were able to do that in the final 40 minutes against the Predators. They’ll need to bring more of that third period desperation to start of the matchup — being quicker to pucks and hungrier around the net.
The 2-0 loss to Nashville did mark just the second time Boston had been shut out this season.
“I thought the second or third periods weren’t bad for us,” said Ryan Spooner. “We just didn’t get to the inside enough, so I think if we kind of focus on getting to the net just a little bit more, it should work for us.”
They’ll need to find their offense, but also tighten up defensively as a five-man unit for the full 60 minutes.
“It’s going to be a good challenge,” said Adam McQuaid. “It’s our last game of this road trip, and it’ll be a great way to finish off on a good note. When you’re faced with a challenge and an opportunity to respond, you want to be able to do that, and it’s a good chance for all of us.”
How is the group feeling, mentally and physically, at the end of the trip?
“It’s been long, but it’s been lots of fun as well,” said Krejci. “This is the last game, so we have to leave everything out there… go out there, play as hard as we can, and try and get two points.”
Producing on the Power Play
The Bruins’ power play is currently on an 0-for-19 stretch through the first five games of the road trip, and on a 1-for-36 stretch in their past 10 games.
That stat may be alarming, but for the Bruins, it isn’t necessarily a cause for concern — especially because of the rate with which it was producing at the start of the season.
The players on the No. 1 unit have not changed — with Krejci and Krug manning the points, Patrice Bergeron serving as the “bumper” to alleviate any pressure, Spooner on the half wall, and Loui Eriksson owning the front of the net.
While the finish hasn’t been there for a long stretch, they’re not disappointed with the chances they’ve been generating.
“On the power play, we were clicking at like 34 percent there for a bit, but to expect that — to be at 34 percent for the whole season — I think that’s probably not going to happen,” said Spooner. “So I think for us, as a group, I think if we just focus on getting pucks to the net, which we have been doing — I don’t think it’s been bad; I just think they haven’t really been going in for us. We hit a post, had a lot of shots, so eventually, they’re going to go in for us.”
They have still been able to move the puck well, sustain zone time and create momentum from the majority of their man advantages.
“If you’re in their zone for the full two minutes and you’re getting shots on net, it’s definitely good,” said Spooner. “I think for us now, though, it’s not forcing shots. I think maybe the last little bit we’ve been forcing shots a little too much because we haven’t been scoring. Maybe get back to what we were doing a little bit in the past, and we should be fine.”
Even if Head Coach Claude Julien stresses that he’s more concerned with wins — no matter how they achieve them — than getting production on the power play, the players on the units are putting pressure on themselves.
“We’re going to need the power play to score goals if we’re going to win games down the stretch, and it’ll help us do that,” said Krug. “Nobody’s been disappointed with the way we’ve been moving the puck or anything like that, or the chances… but we put a lot of pressure and take a lot of pride in ourselves for the power play, and we’ve got to take the next step and get better and just get back on track to where we were at the beginning.”