The Boston Bruins look to put some distance between themselves and ninth place as the Buffalo Sabres hit town on Tuesday for the first half of a very important Eastern Conference home-at-home series.
Two wins last week have put Boston in eighth place (59 points) with fourth place attainable at 65.
The Bruins also have games in hand against the Rangers and Montreal, as well as the ninth place team in the conference, Atlanta.
This morning at Ristuccia Glen Murray is on the ice wearing a red (no doubt signaling no contact) jersey.
Pettri Nokelainen is taking some time on the top line this morning, as Marc Savard
is not on the ice -- not necessarily shocking, because Coach Julien will often rest some of his players between games, but certainly something to look into, later.
The Gold line of Lucic, Metropolit and Kobasew remains intact, but the absence of Savard puts the other lines consistency in question.
Coach Julien put Our Boys through some drills and switched over to some sans-puck conditioning sprints around the Ristuccia rink. Murray did not look out of place during the session and was present during the laps. He showed no signs of issue with his hip flexor.
Also present for the entire session was Bobby Allen, who also looked at home after missing quite a few games with back issues.
Heard in the locker room, from one Bruin to another in jest...
Bruin 1: Hey, did you hit the weight room?Bruin 2: Ya. Do you know where weight room is?
Bobby Allen (BC alum) to me (BU alum) about the Beanpot:
"Hopefully, BC will come out with a good effort and ruin your night (Bob flashes big smile)."
12:45 p.m.Marc Savard
has the flu, got it on Sunday and is on the upswing in terms of readiness for tomorrow...more in a bit.
Coach Julien said that Glen Murray seems to be continuing along the right track.
"I think he felt good again, today," said Coach Julien. "I has been really, really positive over the past week .
"Today was a good test for him. We'll see how he feels tomorrow and go from there.
"The fact that he is practicing with the team means he is getting closer," he said.
How about Bobby Allen, who also skated with the team today?
"I think he is at the same stage as Muzz," said the Bruins bench boss. "He's getting real close...and has been allowed a certain amount of contact."
All in all, today's practice was a pretty positive showing for the Bruins, who look toward this week's games versus the Sabres (x2) and the Panthers with the kind of relish heretofore seen in match ups with Montreal and New York.Zdeno Chara
for one, has already done his homework on Buffalo.
"Their transition game is very good," said the captain after practice. "They have very shifty forwards and like to score off of the rush.
"They are a team that are going to be very aggressive and very hungry.
"They want to be in the top eight and we really need to prepare for them," he said.
P.J. Axelsson agreed.
"They like to keep the puck…and don't dump it in as much [as others]," said the Swede. "And I think Buffalo is a really good skating club."
Coach Julien said his club is pleased with its progress and is looking forward to Tuesday.
"We've had to face adversity and the way that we've handled that adversity is a [good] thing for our hockey club," said Coach. "And I see a lot of encouraging signs, whether it is in practice or in the games.
"[Last game] the guys expected to win and it wasn't just 'We hope that we can beat Detroit'. We expect to beat Detroit.
"Our Coaching staff was as disappointed as the players, but we see some encouraging signs which means we are starting to believe more…in ourselves as individuals and ourselves as a team. [We] believe we can be one of those teams that is in the playoffs."
Two or three wins this week would go a long way in terms of securing that goal.