The team convened at Madison Square Garden for off-ice work and and optional pregame skate, prepping to end their three-game road swing on a high note.
Tuukka Rask was between the pipes for the bounce-back performance in Raleigh, suggesting Chad Johnson might get the nod tonight in the Big Apple.
Johnson took the ice for the pregame skate, along with Shawn Thornton, Jordan Caron, Chris Kelly, Carl Soderberg and Reilly Smith.
So, is there any consideration for him to get the call tonight?
"That’s asking which goalie’s in so, there’s some consideration," remarked Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien (with a slight smirk), who doesn't always confirm his starter, especially on a back-to-back. "Whether it happens or not, I’m not sure."
If Johnson does get in, he would be coming off his strong performance in the B's 3-2 overtime win over Columbus on November 14 in his first home start at TD Garden. He made 32 saves, including numerous point-blank stops in the third period.
He’s done a good job of working hard and staying sharp so we’re going to continue to do that with him; make sure he stays sharp and when he’s called upon he has to be ready. - Head Coach Claude Julien, on Chad Johnson
"It’s a matter of giving him some reps at some point and making sure he gets into a groove," said Julien. "It’s hard to play and be off for a week or two before you get your next game and we understand that."
"He’s done a good job of working hard and staying sharp so we’re going to continue to do that with him; make sure he stays sharp and when he’s called upon he has to be ready."
For the technically sound Johnson, he'd tell you his approach is always to keep it simple and know that the team in front of him will give a strong effort.
Rask has been with the team much longer, yes, so there's comfort there, but Julien isn't so much focused on the "comfort" his squad has with its goaltender.
"I don’t like using the term ‘comfortable with him’ as far as, I don’t think we should change our approach to our game whether he’s in or not," said Julien, of Johnson. "Tuukka is a good goaltender, we know that, but at the same time Chad is certainly capable of doing his share of that job as well and we have to play the same in front."
"I don’t want our team to change its style or its way of thinking depending on who’s in net."
"Obviously Tuukk has been huge for us in the last few years so it’s good when he’s playing, but I feel like Chad’s been playing really well," said David Krejci, who was adamant prior to Johnson's last start that the team felt they owed him a win, given their previous effort in front of him against the New York Islanders (a 3-1 loss).
"Especially the last one, he kept us in the game so many times. So it’s good to have two good goaltenders and we’re glad to have him on our team."
Johnson is a naturally positive person, always a low-key, "normal" personality around the locker room, who hits the ice early every practice, and stays on late.
"I like both of them. Tuukk’s been great and Chad’s been really good too," Krejci added. "And I like his work ethic; he stays after practice and takes some extra shots so that’s what I like about him."
"Johnny’s played solid for us in the few starts that he’s had. I think that they’re very similar styled goalies too, they’re both fairly consistent and steady in between the pipes," said Shawn Thornton, of the goaltending tandem. "Not that I’m a goaltending expert…they play a common game back there and I think it makes it pretty easy for us to play in front of either of them."
"No matter who’s in the net, we kind of just focus on going out and playing our game in front of them and hoping that they’re on their night too," said Krejci.
Can't Expect Perfection Every Period
The Bruins may not have had a flawless game on Monday in the 4-1 win over Carolina, still falling privy to mistakes, especially at the bluelines - and they didn't break through their 2-1 lead until the third period. But the effort was there, and so was the result.
"I think people expect us to dominate every period and that’s not always realistic," said Julien. "I just don’t want us to have some lows and there’s been times where the second period has been a challenge."
"A lot of times it’s been a challenge when we do get a lead; we don’t go out there with that same approach and yet the other team comes out a little hungrier and so we have to be ready for that."
Rangers Outlook: Rick Nash Returns
On the Rangers' end, star forward Rick Nash is returning to their lineup, after missing 17 games due to a concussion sustained on October 8 in San Jose.
"We haven’t even started from day one with our full lineup, so we're finally get it and we’re happy for him especially that he’s happy and healthy and playing the game he wants to play," said Rangers forward Brad Richards. "That’s the most important thing."
While New York has new personnel and a new head coach in Alain Vigneault, the lineup still features its top players like Nash, Richards, Ryan Callahan, Derek Stepan and Derick Brassard - all familiar names from the Eastern Conference Semifinal.
"What I’ve seen is a team playing a lot the same way too. They crash the net, they like low plays, they like to make those plays around the crease area," said Julien. "They’re still a team that comes at you hard, forechecks, plays a heavy game and still likes to block shots. So I don’t think it’s changed immensely."
"There’s certainly areas where their coach has put his stamp on his team but I see a heavy, grinding team still that comes at you pretty hard."
"Now it’s up to us to kind of see how we’re going to respond a little bit like we did last night with Carolina’s heavy forecheck."
"We know it’s going to be a tough, patient game, same idea as LA," said Richards, whose Rangers suffered a 1-0 loss to the heavy, physical Kings on Sunday night. "It’s going to be one of those game that you have to be patient and a hard-fought battle."
Boston Projected Lineup
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Jarome Iginla
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Loui Eriksson, Jordan Caron
Carl Soderberg-Chris Kelly-Reilly Smith
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton
*Shawn Thornton is expected back in the lineup, after being a healthy scratch on Monday in Carolina to allow Jordan Caron to get into game action.
Zdeno Chara-Dougie Hamilton
Dennis Seidenberg-Torey Krug
Matt Bartkowski-Johnny Boychuk
*Adam McQuaid still remains back in Boston, recovering from a lower-body injury. He began working out last week, so we should see some good progress when returning home.