- The Bruins (5-1-1) took the ice for morning skate today at the Air Canada Centre in preparation for tonight's 7 p.m. (ET) game against Toronto (4-3-0), and all of the B's who traveled were accounted for on the ice.
The Black & Gold are facing a Maple Leafs team that is coming off a two-game win streak, both one-goal games against Washington (3-2) and Buffalo (4-3, OT), in which James Reimer started and Matt Frattin continued his hot streak, scoring three goals in those two victories.
On the Boston front, Shawn Thornton (concussion, 7-10 days) and Dan Paille (upper-body, day-to-day) did not make the trip to Toronto, so the B's have 12 forwards and 7 defensemen, along with Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin. Rask was first off at morning skate, so it's expected that he will start tonight opposite James Reimer.
"Paille’s doing better, got a high stick the other day, just underneath the shield," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien told media following the skate, on No. 20 not making the trip after a stick up high from Tyler Myers in the Sabres game on Thursday. "He’s progressing, he’s a day-to-day situation right now. We left him behind because our doctors wanted to be cautious."
"We talked about being a little bit more cautious in a shortened season, so that’s the decision we made with him."
Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci - following maintenance days at Ristuccia on Friday - were back on the ice. The top two lines remained the same during line rushes (no reason to break up those trios), and Chris Bouruqe was back as left wing on the third line with Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly.
With two Merlot liners out of the lineup, Gregory Campbell was centering Lane MacDermid and Jamie Tardif, and all seven defensemen were on the ice. It looks like Tardif will get to play his first NHL game not too far away from his hometown of Welland, Ontario.
Tardif got a nice review from Coach Julien following yesterday's practice, after the forward was recalled from Providence on an emergency basis, and again today after morning skate.
"Absolutely. He’s going to step into our lineup tonight," Coach said, when asked if Tardif would be taking the place of Paille. "Here’s a guy who’s been around for a long time. He’s an experienced player, he’s been in the American League, he’s the second leading scorer in the league. He can shoot the puck extremely well and he’s a hard worker that works hard both ways, so he’s a great fit for us.
"I liked him a lot," Coach Julien had said following Thursday's practice, on what he's seen of Tardif with the P-Bruins. "He’s got a really good shot. He’s a good fore checker. He’s a good back checker. It’s nice to see those guys get rewarded for putting all those years in the minors and finally getting a chance to play in the NHL."
"And, for him, there’s no doubt in my mind that he’s earned it, and certainly he was the right choice to bring in for us."
Putting Buffalo Behind Them
No need to dwell on the B's first regulation loss of the season at the hand of the Sabres Thursday night (7-4) - and the Bruins and Coach Julien feel the same way.
"We lost our composure as far as our defensive play was concerned," reiterated Julien. "We had some major breakdowns defensively, which was very uncharacteristic of our hockey club. Those things happen once in a while, especially early in the season, you try to correct those and move forward."
"It’s a really compact schedule and you have to make sure you put it [a loss] behind you because if you keep dwelling on the past you’re not going to make the playoffs," said defenseman Johnny Boychuk post-skate from the visiting team locker room at the ACC. "You have to put that one behind us and focus in on the Leafs now."
"Last game we gave up a lot of goals and that’s not like us," he added on the uncharacteristic seven goals allowed against Buffalo, including a Thomas Vanek hat trick, and goals generated from odd-man rush and 2-on-1 situations down low.
"We want to kind of buckle down on the defensive part because that’s what we’re really known for: being a defensive team that can score, a checking team that can score, that’s the team we are."
"Not a run and gun kind of team that we were last game."
Fellow defenseman Dougie Hamilton also assured there would be no remnants from last game found on the ice at Air Canada Centre tonight.
"It’s in the past already. We just want to tighten up, just play better tonight and have fun out there."
Not only will Jamie Tardif get to make his NHL debut near his hometown, but Tyler Seguin enjoys the trip home and rookie Dougie Hamilton - though always his even-keeled, calm and poised self - is certainly excited to be an NHLer in the arena where he used to be up in the seats.
"It’s really cool, I think just coming out on the ice and looking at my seats I watched games at as kid is pretty cool," said Hamilton, nudged into a corner of the locker room surrounded by Toronto media. "Just looking forward to tonight."
Seguin also gave some advice to the 19-year-old, telling him to "Just have fun with it, obviously Toronto’s a special place, we’ll have fun tonight."
And, as cool and collected as usual, Hamilton won't be giving into any "Dougie mania" hype.
"It’s just another game. Game eight of the season. That’s what it is."
Sweeping in Toronto?
It's no secret that the Bruins swept Toronto last season in 2011-12. They outscored the Leafs by a 36-10 margin in those games, marking the first sweep by either of these teams over the other since the Maple Leafs joined the Eastern Conference in 1998-99. Coming into tonight, Boston has a record of 23-5-5 in their last 33 games overall against Toronto and is 12-2-3 in the last 17 visits to Toronto.
Goaltender James Reimer isn't one to soon forget, in goal for the most recent 8-0 loss to the Bruins last March.
"You never really forget what happened last year," said the Leafs netminder. "Having said that, we want to beat them because they’re in our division, every game counts this year more than ever. It’s a huge game for them."
"Last year was kind of a weird year, but they’re a good team, they’re a solid team, and I’ve got confidence in this group."
"We’re not looking at it that way," said Coach Julien on tonight being any continuation from last year. "Right now, it’s an opportunity to finish this four game stretch this week with a 3-1 record, or, if not, a 2-2 record and for us that’s not good enough."
"It's a new year," added Adam McQuaid, who has been feeling more comfortable, after missing two games earlier this week. "We got off to a good start, but at the same time, we still have areas we need to improve on. With that being said, take it one day at a time, it doesn’t matter what we’ve done.
"Be ready to go tonight. That’s got to be our mindset."