Coming off their 6-1 loss to Detroit, they were embarrassed and felt they had something to prove. They did just that.
"I thought we played probably one of the best games of the year," Tuukka Rask said following the victory. The Bruins improved to 17-7-2 on the season and 8-3-2 in the month of November.
Boston was physical all game. Their compete level was high, and they kept up the intensity. They outbattled the Rangers, and when they needed an extra gear, Captain Zdeno Chara came through with a rare Gordie Howe Hat Trick.
"I think last game was fun," smiled Kelly, clearly showing how the B's were carrying a good vibe as a result of the win.
"We need to realize that we are a big strong, physical hockey team and when we’re playing well, that’s what we’re doing. We’re engaged and we’re not playing reckless and we’re not being dirty, it’s just we’re playing hard and being physical on the puck."
They, of course, do realize that. It's often hard to sustain that level through the entire season.
"That’s kind of our M.O.," said Shawn Thornton. "When we play with emotion and passion, we’re a better team and we know that."
"You’re right, it’s not easy 82 games a year, but we’re going to have to find a way on most nights. You’re not going to have it every night, but you can bring the effort anyways. I think the effort and emotion can always be there, whether your body feels like it’s up to it or not, you definitely can mentally be into it."
And when every Bruin on the ice plays that way, their effort only intensifies.
"When you see your captain go out there and fight and score a goal and get an assist and play really well, I think everyone feeds from that. Looch was a beast out there, he’s definitely a force, and it’s great to see guys like that leading the charge," said Kelly.
But it's not just the "leaders" wearing the letters. Every member in the Spoked-B leads in his own way, and the sustained team effort is what they're looking to replicate Saturday night against an aggressive Blue Jackets team, as they face their third game in four days.
"It has been a busy week for us and we have an opportunity to go 3-1. I think at the beginning of the week, we would take that 3-1 record," said Kelly. "We know that Columbus is playing extremely well and we want to leave it all on the table."
Tonight will mark the 10th home game in November. The B's are 7-0-2 in those games, having only lost two shootouts to Dallas and St. Louis. They've made the Garden a tough building to play in.
"We want to close out this week on a positive. I think other than Detroit, we’ve had a pretty good week and we can make it a great week with a win tonight," said Thornton. "So hopefully the guys are getting ready to bring the emotion tonight."
The Bruins held an optional skate this morning, getting ready for the second leg of the back-to-back. The goaltender wasn't confirmed, but warmups at 6:30 p.m. ET will give the best indication (you can follow that info live on Twitter @NHLBruins ^CS).
Blue Jackets Outlook
The Bruins have taken both wins so far from Columbus this season, with tonight marking their third and final meeting.
The B's first earned a 3-1 win in Columbus, before needing a 3-2 overtime victory at TD Garden on November 14.
Both times, it was a physical matchup, with Boston recording a combined 66 hits in the two games. Columbus nearly matched the B's with 65 hits.
"They play a heavy game and they skate well," said Chris Kelly. "They have big strong players on their team and a great goalie and in their previous games they’ve been scoring a lot, so you need to know if you’re going to make mistakes and be careless with the puck, they’re going to capitalize."
"I think that’s the most important thing, is managing that puck and moving our feet."
The Bruins were all over the ice in Friday's win over New York. They'll need the same high-powered battling level again today.
"It’s tough for any team to come out night after night and get that same effort; especially, again, this is our third game in four nights. It’s always a challenge for any team that plays heavy, long games in a little bit of time," said Julien.
"But it’s an opportunity for us. We told the guys, if we can get three wins out of four this week, no matter what happened in Detroit it’s still a good week."
"So we have to aim for that and try to win this game tonight; simple as that."
"Our guys felt good about yesterday. I like the way we played. The emotion, the competitiveness, the 60-minutes for the most part was there I’d say, and everything else. I think as a coach you felt good about your team’s game yesterday, players felt good about themselves. It’s about trying to repeat that. Say, ‘Listen, this is what we have to do here to feel good about ourselves. We don’t play until next [Thursday] again so let’s leave it all out on the ice.’"
Bruins All Healthy
With the returns of Adam McQuaid and Dennis Seidenberg to the Bruins' back end, it means that Matt Bartkowski becomes the seventh defenseman again, after nine straight games in the lineup.
"It’s tough no matter what," said Julien, when asked about the defenseman's situation. "I think what it is right now, it’s been about health and over the course of the season, it’s going to happen where we’re going to have some injuries there."
"So if he catches on and forces somebody else to go out, that’s fine. And right now, to be honest with you, he was the guy of the seven that we felt still needs to work on his game a little bit and he has to continue to work on that."
Boston's Projected Lineup
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