The Bruins are coming off a 3-1 loss in Ottawa on Sunday night that followed a 6-3 loss to Buffalo the day prior. Boston also fell 2-0 to St. Louis just before the holiday break.
Apart from the loss to the Sabres, in which the Bruins allowed five goals in 10 minutes in the third period, their game hasn’t taken a massive downturn, though.
“Last game, I thought as a whole and as a team, the game went pretty well — I think we can build off of that,” said Ryan Spooner. “We didn’t get the win, which is the most important thing, but I think the way that we played, it just kind of showed how we bounced back from the game before.”
The Bruins outshot the Senators 39-21 in Ottawa. They just need to crash the net for rebounds and capitalize on those opportunities they generated in front of Sens goaltender Craig Anderson.
To get a different outcome, the message from Head Coach Claude Julien is simple.
“I think we have to find a way to score some goals,” said Julien. “I didn’t mind out effort, I didn’t mind our compete level, I didn’t mind the way that we played and I think, if anything, we had a chance to win that game with our play.”
“So we can bring that again tonight, and find some ways to score some goals — I think that would be the only adjustment I would talk about.”
Roster Decisions Coming
The Bruins did not hold a team morning skate on Tuesday, as has become customary this season.
However, defenseman Torey Krug did skate with Strength and Conditioning Coach John Whitesides. He missed the Bruins’ game on Sunday in Ottawa after leaving Saturday’s game against Buffalo with an undisclosed injury.
His status for Tuesday night is in question, along with other roster decisions.
Up front, David Krejci was placed on Injured Reserve Monday with a week-to-week upper-body injury that will cause him to miss the Winter Classic. He suffered the injury when he collided with Senators forward Bobby Ryan in Sunday’s game.
Joonas Kemppainen skated with Tyler Randell Tuesday morning and took shots on Jonas Gustavsson. He’s been on IR with an upper-body injury sustained on Dec. 7. He has yet to practice with the team.
“Obviously we’ve got a lot of different things going on right now roster-wise,” Julien told reporters pregame, around 11:00 a.m. ET. “There’s a lot of different things that can happen so I can’t answer any of those questions. I’m not hiding anything — that’s why I’m late here because there’s a lot of things that could happen one way or another.”
“So there will be roster decisions made later today. You guys probably saw [Seth] Griffith, he’s here available to us but we haven’t made a roster decision on him either, so that’s where we’re at right now and that’s all I can tell you guys.”
As of 1:45 p.m. ET, Griffith had not been officially recalled to Boston from Providence.
Griffith had tough luck during the preseason, suffering an MCL sprain in his first exhibition game on Sept. 20. He’s been back in game action now for about two months, focused on his game and playing his best to get the call if it comes.
During Julien’s pregame media availability, he would not yet elaborate on what Griffith might add to the roster.
“We’ll make roster decisions tonight — I don’t want to go into that guys,” said Julien. “I can’t tell you more. I could tell you something now and it could be totally opposite tonight.”
“Please respect that part of it. It is what it is.”
Pregame warmups, including line rushes and defense pairs, will commence around 6:30 p.m. ET, with live updates available on Twitter @NHLBruins. For an indication of what the lineup might look like, check out Monday’s practice update in the Bruins Blog.
Centered on Winning By Committee
With Krejci sidelined, the Bruins’ usual faceoff dominance takes a hit. His injury amplifies the earlier loss of Chris Kelly this season, as well as the loss of Joonas Kemppainen, who has been out for nearly a month. Both were also key faceoff men for Julien.
“When you lose a guy like Krejci, when you lose a guy like Kelly and Kemppainen who’s been really solid on draws, you got thinner and thinner and you’re probably at your thinnest right now,” Julien said of his squad. “If you want to look at it that way. I think it’s so important that our group as a whole on the ice just takes charge.”
“So maybe you have to get grittier, maybe you have to tie up, go for loose pucks, whatever the case is depending on the centerman and how he’s been doing on that specific night. So you have to adapt and that’s what we’re going to try and do — win faceoffs by committee is what I would say.”
When Krejci missed significant time last season due to injury, Patrice Bergeron was Julien’s best option to take a hefty amount of additional draws, especially in the defensive zone.
With the current lineup, the B’s may have some more options this time around, even without Kelly. Spooner has improved on the dot. Max Talbot is reliable. Landon Ferraro has played a few games at center with Boston and could be expected to fill in there.
“I thought the guys kind of stepped up [last game], and we’ve definitely been doing pretty good as of late,” Bergeron said of success on faceoffs. “We have to keep that going.”
“It’s definitely one of those things where everyone needs to help, and it’s not just the centermen; I think the wingers, and our defensemen in the defensive zone have to come in and we try to win the battle.”
Spooner is excited for the challenge of possibly playing in a top-six role for the first time in Krejci's spot with Matt Beleskey and Loui Eriksson -- and going up against Ottawa's top centermen.
“A guy like [Krejci], he’s out of the lineup, you kind of just have to get together as a group and say, ‘We need to go out there, we just need to work extra hard' and I think we should be fine," said Spooner.
"I just have to be confident in myself and just believe that I can get the job done, and I’m just going to go out there and use my speed and my skill and just be good in my own end and see how that goes."