BOSTON – Matt Beleskey did not hesitate when asked if he was worried about a let down against the Carolina Hurricanes Thursday night, after two thrilling overtimes victories over Florida and Tampa Bay earlier this week.
“No, not at all,” said the Bruins winger, following this morning’s pregame skate.
The Bruins know that at this time of the year each point is crucial.
“I think we have 14 games left, so every game is huge right now,” said Beleskey. “Coming home, we want to get on a roll at home. We played a couple good games when we left and we want to keep that going.”
The Hurricanes currently sit outside of the playoff picture, but head coach Claude Julien emphasized the need to play with consistency, no matter the opponent or the situation.
“When we talk about consistency in our game, you want to get consistency in your thought process as well,” said Julien. “It’s really about how well you play. And I said it’s not necessarily about going in there telling guys, ‘We have to win this game.’
“You know we have to play well in order to win that game…I’m not going to go in there and tell these guys it’s a bigger game than the next one. They all know where we are in the standings. It’s going to be more about can we go out there and respect this team to the point where we’re going to play the same way we did in our last game.”
A steadiness in the Bruins play has been apparent since the trade deadline and the arrivals of veterans Lee Stempniak and John-Michael Liles. During that time, the Bruins have gone 4-0-1 and center David Krejci said the two newly acquired veterans have been key to the team’s recent surge.
“They’ve been around a long time, they kind of know what kind of game we like to play here and they’re buying in,” said Krejci. “That’s big. Sometimes you get some players and it doesn’t fit their styles, but those two guys are doing a really good job. We’re on a good track here and we’ve just got to keep it going.”
Fitting Right In
Tonight marks the first game against his former team for Liles, who played parts of three seasons in Carolina before being traded to the B’s at the deadline for a third-round pick in 2016, a fifth-round pick in 2017, and prospect Anthony Camara.
Liles has provided a solid presence on the back end in his five games with the Black & Gold, and Julien praised the versatility that he brings on a nightly basis.
“He’s been good because he’s an experienced guy,” said Julien. “He’s got great mobility, he’s also got the experience that we need back there. We talked about the fact that he played both sides, and he’s gone in there and been on the second power play as well. So I like the fact that he’s come in and he’s blended in and fit in really well with our hockey club.”
NHL Player Safety announced Thursday afternoon that Liles would not face any discipline for his hit on Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov on Tuesday night.
On the Mend
Defenseman Kevan Miller participated in the pregame skate, returning to the ice for the first time since leaving last Saturday’s game against Washington with an injury.
Julien said Miller will not play tonight and that he is considered day to day.
“Not bad, skated yesterday, skated today,” said Miller, when asked how he was feeling. “Things are moving in the right direction. Progressed pretty quick after it happened.
“I didn’t exactly know what it was. It was just painful, it wasn’t a very pleasant couple minutes there. It happens.”
Line Rushes During Pregame Skate 3/10
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Lee Stempniak
Loui Eriksson – David Krejci – David Pastrnak
Matt Beleskey – Ryan Spooner – Jimmy Hayes
Landon Ferraro – Noel Acciari – Brett Connolly
Defense Pairs During Pregame Skate 3/10
Zdeno Chara – John-Michael Liles
Joe Morrow – Dennis Seidenberg
Torey Krug – Adam McQuaid
Kevan Miller – Zach Trotman
Expected Starting Goalie: Tuukka Rask**; Backup: Jonas Gustavsson
**Tuukka Rask was the first goalie off the ice at pregame skate, denoting that he is expected to start in goal.