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Practice Notebook: Bruins Keep Aiming for Consistency

by Jess Isner / Boston Bruins

WILMINGTON, MA – Following Tuesday night’s decisive 4-1 win over the Panthers, the Bruins hit the ice for Wednesday morning’s practice in anticipation of their next matchup, which will come on Thursday night at TD Garden night against Washington. It marks the second time the B’s will face the Caps in a five-day span.

Missing from Wednesday’s practice was forward Loui Eriksson, who was out for Tuesday’s game with an undisclosed “minor issue,” as Head Coach Claude Julien called it.

Julien did indicate that Eriksson was at Ristuccia Arena during Wednesday’s practice and he will be back on the ice on Thursday.

“Loui’s fine,” Julien said at Ristuccia on Wednesday. “He’s going to be skating tomorrow morning and playing tomorrow, so as I mentioned, you know, the situation, it still is what I said yesterday.”

For Tuesday’s game, forward Jordan Caron slotted into Eriksson’s spot on the third line with Carl Soderberg and Chris Kelly, notching an assist on Jarome Iginla’s first-period goal. Julien said after the win that he was pleased with Caron’s effort, especially considering that he hadn’t played since January 27.

“Obviously, Iggy’s goal is a result of his hard work and shot at the net and bringing the puck up the ice,” Julien said after Tuesday’s game. “You know, he was very physical and he grinded, he skated well. So for a guy who hadn’t played in a long time, I thought he was really good for us. I really liked his game.”

“I felt pretty good,” Caron said after Wednesday’s practice. “My cardio wasn’t as good as I wish it was, but overall, I think I played well. Our line had a lot of chances and we could’ve scored a few more goals, and I think we played pretty good.”

Bruins Establishing Consistency

Tuesday’s win over the Panthers was the second straight victory for the Bruins, marking yet another step in the right direction after the team suffered two straight losses in its return from the Olympic hiatus.

Now, the Bruins find themselves just three games behind Pittsburgh for the Eastern Conference lead – something Julien said is on his mind but isn’t necessarily a main area of concern at the moment.

“We’d love to be able to pass them, but, you know, that can’t be a priority,” Julien said on Tuesday night. “The priority, for me, is our game and how we play because the rest will take care of itself. And you know, that’s the main concern right now, is us finding our game, and if we can play well and win our games, hopefully it will be good enough to at least catch up, if not surpass them.”

All four goals in Tuesday’s win were a product of the first line, which is settling back into a groove after getting off to a rather slow post-Olympic start.

“They’ve been good,” Julien said after Wednesday’s practice. “They had a slow start after the break, the first couple of games, but these last two games, they’ve really been playing well. They played well before the Olympic break, so it was nice to see them pick up where they left off.”

Center David Krejci notched his third career regular season hat trick on Tuesday, striking for an unassisted tally in the first period before adding another in the second and finishing it off with an empty-netter with time winding down.

“He’s a fun guy to be a winger for,” Iginla said of his linemate on Tuesday night. “But he sure had it going tonight. His shot there, quick snappers, a few that just – I thought as a whole it was a team thing. We just weren’t quite as sharp coming right after but our last two games now are building in the right direction.”

The B’s may have been in an offensive groove on Tuesday, but as always, they were the first ones to point out the areas they still need to improve upon as they finish out a tough regular-season schedule and surge toward the playoffs.

“I still feel there’s some stuff we have to improve, especially on our defensive side,” Krejci said on Tuesday. “But on the other hand, the puck has been going in the net for us the last few games. We got to keep that going, but at the same just go out there and take care of our own end first and go from there.”

Krejci said he’s keeping his eye on the top of the standings and knows that the more wins the B’s can manage to string together in these next few weeks, the better off they’ll be come playoff time.

“That’s been our goal, to try to catch up to Pittsburgh,” he said on Tuesday. “At one point, they had a pretty good lead on us, but we’re [three points] behind right now and there’s 20 games left. That’s pretty good time. We’re going to try to do everything we can to get as many wins as we can.”

Trade Deadline is Almost Here

The Bruins have been trying their best to go about their business despite the rumors that accompany every trade deadline, and they’re all happy that the end of it all is in sight.

After that, it’s back to business as usual.

“At the end of the day, it’s a lot of speculation,” said forward Daniel Paille after Wednesday’s practice. “And you know, I think you obviously hear a lot of things, but I think after you’ve been through so many, whatever happens, happens.”

“Everyone obviously is a little more tense than normal. Once the day goes by, everyone will be back to normal.”

“There’s no doubt [that Wednesday’s] practice, probably some players [will be] on edge like every year,” Julien said on Tuesday. “But like I said, every team goes through that. That’s part of the game, it’s part of being a professional, and you just got to live through it.”

Wednesday’s Practice Lineup

White Jerseys: Milan LucicDavid KrejciJarome Iginla

Gold Jerseys: Reilly SmithPatrice BergeronBrad Marchand

Gray Jerseys: Jordan CaronCarl SoderbergChris Kelly

Merlot Jerseys: Daniel PailleGregory CampbellShawn Thornton

Defense: Zdeno Chara, Dougie Hamilton, Matt Bartkowski, Johnny Boychuk, Torey Krug, Kevan Miller

Goalies: Tuukka Rask, Chad Johnson

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