WILMINGTON, MA - The four days with no Bruins' games is nearly coming to an end. The Black & Gold had one final practice Wednesday morning at Ristuccia Arena before making TD Garden their home base as they host the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night in Game No. 3 on the season.
Everyone besides Carl Soderberg hit the ice for practice. The forward skated with Strength and Conditioning Coach John Whitesides for the third straight day prior to the team skate, as he recovers from a "day to day" ankle injury.
The next step before graduating to "game time decision" will be joining the team for a full practice. From these eyes, it doesn't look like he's too far off, as intensity begins to ramp up in his skates with Whitesides, and blueline to blueline rushes were added into the workout.
The skate began with plenty of work on breakouts and regroups, along with some significant special teams time (it's enjoyable to watch the Bruins' power play, even in practice).
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Jarome IginlaGold:
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Loui ErikssonGrey:
Jordan Caron-Chris Kelly-Reilly SmithMerlot:
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn ThorntonD:
Zdeno Chara-Johnny Boychuk, Dennis Seidenberg-Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug-Adam McQuaid, Matt BartkowskiG:
Tuukka Rask, Chad Johnson
Influx of Penalty Kill Specialists
While it has only been two games, the Bruins are one of only five teams heading into games on October 9 who are 100 percent on the penalty kill, a perfect 7-for-7, with two shorthanded goals on the season from Chris Kelly and Patrice Bergeron (that led to the Game No. 1 win over Tampa Bay).
It has been their strength in the past, and will continue to be this season.
In the 4-1 win over Detroit on October 5, the B's only had to kill off two penalties, and we saw Loui Eriksson rolled out with previous mainstays like Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Daniell Paille, Gregory Campbell and Chris Kelly with the blueliners. David Krejci, in the box for both, can also kill penalties and takes pride in doing so (though, Julien usually likes to counter right after a PK with his top line).
With new additions to the Bruins having spent significant time on the PK before, the options for Head Coach Claude Julien are greater than they've ever been.
"Well I think it’s pretty obvious right? It’s gone pretty well," Julien remarked following practice Wednesday. "For me, if you use the example of losing Tyler [Seguin], bringing Loui [Eriksson] in, well Loui is a good penalty killer too. So is Iggy [Jarome Iginla]. So Seggy and Horts [Nathan Horton] weren’t necessarily penalty killers; those two guys are."
"We might have lost [Rich] Peverley, and on faceoffs - he was really good, but at the same time you gained a couple of good penalty killers as well. And we haven’t used everybody; Jordan [Caron], in a pinch can certainly kill penalties also."
"So we’ve got lots of guys I think as far as penalty killing is concerned and on the back end, we’re fine. With those guys, they all can kill penalties and Adam McQuaid is a guy that doesn't play power play that has to really excel in that area. So I think we’re comfortable with what we’ve got, I know up front we’ve got more than we’ve ever had."
Julien Has Embraced Market
The B's bench boss was asked following practice Wednesday about the Boston atmosphere and if the team might consider a player, like Jarome Iginla, being able to embrace the atmosphere when bringing him in.
"Well I don’t know, I haven’t found, personally, this market that hard to adapt to because the only thing these people want here is that you [work hard] every night. So it’s based on your work ethic," said Julien.
For people coming in, if they’re honest and they work hard every day, they’ll adapt easily - Claude Julien, on expectations from Boston fans
"There’s no doubt, people want to see winners but they also - we’ve been through it with the first year here where we barely made the playoffs but I felt that the fans appreciated the way we competed, and making the playoffs and losing that first round wasn’t the end of the world because it seemed like it was a step in the right direction."
"So we’ve got some knowledgeable fans and people here; they’re demanding, they can be hard, it doesn’t mean they’re always fair, but at the same time I think for people coming in, if they’re honest and they work hard every day, they’ll adapt easily."
There's a team right down the street that has embraced this sports atmosphere as well.
Julien watched as the Red Sox captured the ALDS late Tuesday night, and has seen a camaraderie from the fellow Boston team that has likely led to their success.
"He’s changed the whole chemistry of that team. When we talk about chemistry, you can tell there’s good chemistry right now. I don’t think you saw that same chemistry last year. I think that’s made a big difference; his players want to play, they want to put themselves out there, and when players want to do that it’s because something’s changed in that room that makes them excited to go out there and play hard and I think John [Farrell] deserves a lot of credit for that."