The Bruins have won five games in a row, but the way Matt Beleskey sees it, keeping the streak alive boils down to one simple thing.
“Winning’s just fun,” he said following a Sunday morning practice at TD Garden. “Keeping that up is almost easy. You come to the rink, you’re having fun — you’ve just got to stay focused. I think everyone likes that feeling in here, and being on a winning streak’s great, so it’s something we’re going to have to keep working on.”
The Bruins have ended November the same way they ended October: with a nice string of wins. But it hasn’t been easy, and often during that five-game stretch, they have felt that they have been outplayed. They have felt that they have stolen points, particularly on Nov. 26 in Detroit, when the Red Wings controlled the pace and handily won the puck possession battle, but somehow, Boston was the team that escaped with two points.
It has certainly been nice to win five in a row. But the fact that the Bruins know they can play better — much better — continues to be a significant motivating factor.
“We didn’t play well against Toronto or Detroit,” said forward Brad Marchand, “so we still have to work on our game.”
For some teams, it is easy to let the collective foot off the gas pedal after winning a long stretch of games. For the Bruins, however, a cursory look at the conference standings should provide all the energy and all the desperation necessary to maintain their intensity.
As it stands, the Bruins are in seventh place in the conference, tied with the Red Wings with 27 points. Two points separate them from the fourth-place Senators, and from the 10th-place Lightning.
The entire playoff picture could change with a single win or loss. It is only November, but it is never too early to consider those implications.
“There’s so many teams that are all locked up in that same area there, so as much as those wins were important for us, we know what a couple losses can do for your team as well,” said Head Coach Claude Julien. “We’ll continue to do what we do best, and that’s looking at that one game at a time and really trying to work on the areas that we feel still need work.
“Today, with three practices in a row, it was a good day to do some skill, and work on certain areas where we want our guys to get better at. So it was a good day for that.”
Before an upcoming three-game road swing against the Oilers, Flames and Canucks are three much-needed practice days. In many ways, those practice days could not have come at a better time.
“We do have a few days here,” Marchand said, “so the main thing is to practice hard and keep that intensity up and try to carry that into the game on Wednesday.”
Confidence at a High
Last year, there were many occasions when the Bruins talked about the need for resiliency, for confidence, particularly late in games and down by a goal.
Over the last week, the Bruins have proven that they have that. Plenty of it.
On Nov. 23 at Toronto, they squandered a two-goal lead in the second period but held strong in the third and in overtime to get two points in the shootout. Two nights later in Detroit, they tied the game with less than two minutes remaining in regulation and won in overtime.
On Saturday, against the Rangers, they scored twice in the final four minutes to post a come-from-behind victory.
In the last three games, at least, there has been no third period adversity the Bruins haven’t been able to overcome.
“I think we’ve really been playing with more confidence in third periods, and with leads or from behind,” Beleskey said. “We’ve got to keep going, keep playing our game, and I think we see in this room when we do it, good things happen.”
Last season, there were times the Bruins felt down and out, particularly late in games. Even early on in this season, there have been such moments.
Not anymore. The Bruins have proven to be resilient of late, and it has shown on the scoresheet. As a result, confidence is at an all-time high.
“We’re building that, and that’s what we have to be able to do,” Marchand said. “We have to know that we can win games when we’re down by a goal or two or three and we keep that resiliency going, and it’s been good to see the last few games.”
Ferraro Continuing to Adjust
Landon Ferraro has been a member of the Boston Bruins for exactly one week, and he has only had a few days to become acquainted with his new city.
Saturday’s off-day, therefore, presented the perfect opportunity to do some exploring.
“[Saturday] I was out walking around for three hours, kind of checking everything out,” he said. “It’s a nice city, and lots to do, and the food’s unbelievable, so it’s been good so far. I like it.”
He also likes what he has seen from his new team on the ice. In particular, he has enjoyed suiting up on a line alongside Zac Rinaldo.
“I’ve really liked playing with Rinaldo so far,” Ferraro said. “Sometimes, I get into the zone first, and I’m not the biggest of guys so I can’t hold on to [the puck] for a long time till other guys kind of catch up, but every time I’ve gone down, he’s one step behind me, or he’s getting to it first, so there’s lot of support.
“Everything’s just going to the net for us, so it’s perfect. It’s not East-West too much; it’s a lot of straight and try and get the puck to the net, and it’s been working pretty well for us. I’ve been happy.”
In his first game, Ferraro skated on the wing, which has become his natural position. But for the last two games, he has slotted in at center — something he grew up doing but something he hasn’t done in about two years, since his early AHL days.
“It’s not completely foreign to me; it’s just been a while,” Ferraro said.
“It took a little bit to get used to, but I felt pretty comfortable, and it’s nice to feel like you have the puck a bit more and kind of see everything going up the ice a little bit different. Went well so far, I think.”
All things considered, Ferraro’s first week as a Bruin has gone pretty swimmingly.
“It’s a good group of guys, and they’re obviously really welcoming, so it made that pretty easy,” he said. “And just the way they play, I feel pretty comfortable already. It’s more of the style I like playing, so it’s been good so far.”
Updates on K. Miller, Pastrnak
On Thanksgiving, defenseman Kevan Miller participated in a lightly attended morning practice, marking the first time he skated with teammates since suffering a concussion on Nov. 17. Sunday marked his first full practice since the injury, and afterward, Julien confirmed that the D-man has officially been cleared to practice.
When he will be available for game action is another story. Julien said he will defer to the medical staff on that.
Whenever Miller is ready to return, Julien said Miller will have to prove himself in order to earn playing time among a corps of defensemen that has been on the upswing as of late.
“I think it’s a matter of looking at the situation when it comes to that,” Julien said. “I don’t think anybody should be a lock, and of course you’ve got your key players you know are there every night, but there’s also some competition there, and our group back there’s done a pretty decent job.
“Before I make that decision, I’ll certainly take a little bit more time to think about it.”
In addition, Julien confirmed that forward David Pastrnak, who continues to recover from a foot fracture suffered on Oct. 27, will not travel with the team on its upcoming road trip.
Sunday’s Practice Lineup
Forwards: Patrice Bergeron, Brett Connolly, Joonas Kemppainen, Landon Ferraro, Brad Marchand, Frank Vatrano, Zac Rinaldo, Max Talbot, Jimmy Hayes, Matt Beleskey, Tyler Randell, David Krejci, Loui Eriksson, Ryan Spooner
Defensemen: Kevan Miller, Zdeno Chara, Zach Trotman, Colin Miller, Torey Krug, Joe Morrow, Adam McQuaid, Dennis Seidenberg
Goalies: Tuukka Rask, Jonas Gustavsson