ANAHEIM, CA - The Bruins face the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday night at Honda Center at 10 p.m. ET, with Boston looking to start off their three-game road trip on a winning note, while hopefully putting a dagger in the Ducks' 17-0-2 home record.
"It's a big challenge for us; we obviously have to focus on Anaheim first - we've got to go out there and play a real solid road game and take it a period at a time," said Alternate Captain Patrice Bergeron.
"They seem to have the same pack mentality that we do, when it comes to playing hard and supporting each other," said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien, of the Ducks, who owned the top spot with Chicago in the Western Conference entering Tuesday night.
"So there's no doubt that's one of the reasons they're doing so well."
Anaheim has certainly established a comfortable, confident identity at home - and every opponent coming into their building knows it.
"Obviously we know what's going on with this team at home, so we're going to go out there and do our best and try to get a win, and get a win in regulation," said Alternate Captain David Krejci.
"We know it's going to be a tough one - the next three games are going to be really tough - but if you just look at it game by game, then it doesn't look as bad, so we just have to take it game by game and go from there."
As often as Boston is described as a "test" and "measuring stick" for teams, it still rings true for one of the top teams in the West.
Ducks Head Coach Bruce Boudreau was asked pregame how his team was viewing Boston.
"As a tremendous challenge," the bench boss was quick to say. "As a team who goes to the Stanley Cup Finals every year, or wins it - so to me, you know, I mean right now they're the best club in the East and it's going to be a real challenge for us to match their size and strength. Just, when it comes to big games, Boston's always there."
Florek in for Caron Again
Jordan Caron missed Saturday's game against Winnipeg in Boston with a stiff back. He was also absent from practice on Monday in Anaheim, before joining the team for pregame skate at Honda Center Tuesday morning.
"He's doing okay but he didn't do any extra skating, he's still laboring out there, just a matter of getting him on the ice, but certainly not ready to go tonight," said Julien.
In his place, Justin Florek will slot in again alongside Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille, after making his NHL debut on Saturday at TD Garden.
"It's kind of been an emotional roller coaster," said Florek. "Just getting that first callup was amazing and just probably the highest I've ever been emotionally, and just great to be back here and on the road trip with the guys."
His screen helped lead to Torey Krug's game-winner in the 4-1 win over Winnipeg, and his line provided a spark all game.
"He's a good skater, he made some smart plays, on that Krug goal, he's right in front of the net where he should be, and again, he's a guy that can kill penalties for us and with Caron out and Kelly and all these guys, it's good to have him around for that," said Julien, of Florek.
"So we're depending on him. He's not here to just fill a spot; but he's here to be relied on in those kinds of situations."
"I think that's the biggest thing, just touching all areas of the ice," said Florek. "And just playing my game. I'm a defensive forward, so just playing good in the defensive zone, and also getting down on the forecehck, creating chances."
Tuukka Rask Rask was the first goaltender off the ice at morning skate, and is slated to start between the pipes against Anaheim.
Rask owns a .934 save percentage, which ranks third in the league. His 21-9-2 record comes in at fourth. Of goalies who have played at least 20 games, Rask is second in goals-against average, at 1.96 (behind only Ben Bishop of the Tampa Bay Lightning).
Loui Eriksson hopped into a few rushes alongside Carl Soderberg and Ryan Spooner at morning skate in Anaheim, though the forward has not yet been cleared for contact.
It might represent where he could slot into the lineup upon his return (which is still some time away, given the fact that he hasn't taken contact yet). Julien has mentioned a few times that he'll "cross that bridge when he comes to it" in terms of where Eriksson will slide in.
Reilly Smith has shown he's capable of playing both a top six role, and serving as productive member of the third line, so Julien likely won't feel forced to put Eriksson back with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron right away; he could choose to put Eriksson with Soderberg and Spooner to start, to ease him back in, and maybe allow the time for Chris Kelly to get back into the lineup and reunite Soderberg-Kelly-Smith.
But, like Coach reiterates, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it...
By Tuesday, the official rosters had all been announced for the upcoming Sochi Olympics. The Bruins had five players named, including Patrice Bergeron (Canada), Tuukka Rask (Finland), Zdeno Chara (Slovakia), David Krejci (Czech Republic) and Loui Eriksson (Sweden).
GM Peter Chiarelli is part of Team Canada's management team, while Coach Julien is on the coaching staff.
Boston Projected Lineup vs Anaheim
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Jarome Iginla
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Reilly Smith
Carl Soderberg-Ryan Spooner-Matt Fraser
Justin Florek-Gregory Campbell-Daniel Paille
Zdeno Chara-Dougie Hamilton
Matt Bartkowski-Johnny Boychuk
Torey Krug-Adam McQuaid
Starter: Tuukka Rask
Backup: Chad Johnson