BOSTON, MA - The Bruins are well aware that they have lost four of their past five games.
And I'm not just referring to the simple fact, that they now sit 8-5-1 on the season after the recent skid. You feel it around the group, and you hear it in their words.
They're tired of the end result being not in their favor; they're tired of talking about it.
"We’re not playing the way we should and we know that. We all know it," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said pregame on Thursday morning, before the B's host the Florida Panthers at TD Garden.
"We know that we’re certainly not making good decisions out there, we’re not getting the results we want. You have to work through it and find your game."
"It’s a term you use all the time when you get tired of losing: you do something about it. So it’s one of those situations where we keep working hard at trying to rectify our game and it’s an opportunity here tonight to go out and show that we have made some progress."
For the Bruins, they know what needs to be done; now, it's up to them to make it happen.
"Mainly it comes down to players to do it on the ice. We can talk as much as we want but it really comes down to doing those things on the ice and performing," said Captain Zdeno Chara.
"It just shows that everybody cares, everybody wants to win, everybody wants to be better. We just have to do it."
As such, from the drop of the puck, there's something simple Julien wants from his team.
"I'm looking for our identity," he said.
"Moving the puck quickly, clean, moving ourselves and our feet and making simple and good decisions with the puck," added Chara of the focus for the game, especially in the first 10 minutes.
"I think that we all know that our game is not exactly where it should be. But at the same time, I don’t think we are that far away from being where we want to be. We just have to be more focused on doing the little things right and better -- and the sooner, the better."
With the Bruins in their current tough stretch, and the Panthers having lost six straight (including three in overtime), we can expect a collision of frustration and emotions tonight.
"You know what, in my experience you don't really know what to expect," said Florida goaltender Scott Clemmensen, who is likely to be in goal tonight. "You expect some desperation from both sides and that maybe creates a playoff-type atmosphere, maybe a little more intensity than you'd normally see in the regular season."
"You also look at basic-type plays. From a goalie's standpoint, you expect to see a lot of shots being thrown at you, not necessarily them looking for the perfect plays. From my experience, I would expect both teams to play with a little desperation and rightfully so."
"Desperate hockey is the way that we want to play," said B's centerman Gregory Campbell.
"There’s a couple levels of desperation. I think there’s desperation in getting frustrated and letting things compound -- but there’s also desperation in really being focused and being a determined group, and that’s the kind of way we want to look at things."
Thomas Still on Injured Reserve
We experienced the hype around Tim Thomas, when he returned from injury to face the Bruins for the first time since his since departure on October 17 in Sunrise. But the netminder won't have his homecoming in Boston on Thursday night.
Panthers Head Coach Kevin Dineen confirmed that he was still on injured reserve after injuring his right leg on October 22 against Chicago, and would not be ready to get back into the lineup.
Projected Boston Lineup
The Bruins did off-ice work on Thursday morning and did not hold a regular pregame skate. Matt Bartkowski, Jordan Caron and goalie Chad Johnson all worked out on the ice with Assistant Coach Doug Houda. As such, we could assume that Bartkowski and Caron are likely tonight's healthy scratches.
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Jarome Iginla
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Loui Eriksson
Carl Soderberg-Chris Kelly-Reilly Smith
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara-Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg-Dougie Hamilton
Torey Krug-Adam McQuaid
Starter: Tuukka Rask
Backup: Chad Johnson