— With just nine games remaining in the regular season, the Bruins (56 points) lead the Northeast Division by a point over the Montreal Canadiens. And despite having won five of six games, the B's are preaching that there is still work to be done if they want to be playing at their best hockey heading into the postseason.
B’s Head Coach Claude Julien is looking for his club to get all of the aspects of its game clicking at the same time.
“To me, it’s just one of those things where, let’s put everything together,” said Julien this morning prior to the Bruins facing off against the New York Islanders tonight at TD Garden.
“We’re very capable of being a good offensive team, we’re very capable of being a good defensive team, our penalty kill has been our strongest asset this year, and our power play has got to get better.
“Right now, it’s just a matter of getting that package together. When I say 'right the ship,' we’re not in trouble, we’ve just got to get that right attitude going so that everything in the game is important, from the forecheck, to the offensive zone, to the back pressure, and the D-zone coverage.
“Everything has to be important.
"And there’s different games where something is more important than the other, and we’ve got to make sure that everything is equally important.”
Andrew Ference, who assisted on one of Gregory Campbell’s two goals in the B’s 5-4 win over the New Jersey Devils Wednesday night, pointed to consistency as a key moving forward.
“Our identity has been that, where there's been that consistency where you start the game one way and you're playing hard, but you're also finishing and everything is just a consistent thing,” explained Ference. “That's brought us so much success. It's one of those things that we know works for us; it only works if you do it, not just chat about it.”
Another Desperate Opponent
The Bruins got out to a 4-0 lead against New Jersey, but saw the Devils rally to make it 4-3 and then 5-4. The desperation the Devils showed as they try to get back into the playoff race, will be on display again tonight at TD Garden, when the Islanders come to town.
The Isles, winners of two straight, are in a battle for one of the final playoff spots, currently sitting at seventh in the Eastern Conference, but tied with the Senators (sixth) and Rangers (eight) with 44 points, and just two points ahead of the Jets' 42 points.
So, as the B’s try to perfect their own game, they expect yet another battle.
“[We] expect the same from everybody,” said Ference. “It's a tough, tough league, everybody is fighting for positioning, everybody's fighting for playoffs. We get that every night. You're always trying to perfect your game and try to continue to do all the little things that makes your team have the edge, but you have to acknowledge the fact that in the shortened season it's a real do fight for those last few spots."
“It's been ultra competitive every night. No matter who the opponent, we've seen a lot of tough games. I expect nothing less.”
Peverley, Offense Turning it On
Over the past two games the Bruins have seen their offense revived, scoring 11 goals combined in wins over Carolina and New Jersey, a total that surpasses their previous five games, when they saw an output of eight combined goals. And one player who has seen an upswing offensively over that span has been Rich Peverley.
Peverley has tallied a goal and three assists in the two games and got the B’s on the board first against Carolina on Monday night with a wraparound, after the ‘Canes started the game with a 7-0 shot advantage, starting the 11-goal offensive spark as of late.
“I think a little bit more confidence in your game,” said Peverley, one of the B's sure-fire fastest skaters, on what has him feeling good offensively. “Just trying to create chances and playing with a little bit more of an edge, so it's been good so far.”
"I think he’s skating more and at one point we didn’t feel like he looked like a guy who wanted the puck and now he’s willing to take it, carry it, and play," added Julien. "So, he’s playing with more energy. When I say more energy, he’s just skating better. Rich is a good player when he’s skating hard and is not second to the puck and is not second to areas where he should be and I think that part of his game’s improved."