Bruins up to challenge in back-to-back games

Bruins up to challenge in back-to-back games
December 2, 2013, 4:00 pm
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(USA Today Sports Images)

WILMINGTON -- The Bruins have certainly taken on a different look in a number of different areas this season, both on and off the ice. With a grueling portion of the November schedule in the rear-view mirror, this season’s edition of the Bruins have shown a real penchant for producing in back-to-back situation.

The Black and Gold are an impressive 8-2-0 in back-to-back games through the first two months of the season, and an equally excellent 4-1-0 in both the front and back end of consecutive game situations. That’s a far cry from the barely-above .500 hockey they played in back-to-backs with an 8-7-1 record during the lockout-shortened season last year, and much closer to the 15-8-3 that Boston put up in back-to-back situations during the 2011-12 campaign.

“I don’t know if there’s any explanation, but if you look at the teams we played then at least one of them was a team you really had to get ready for," Claude Julien said. "We played Pittsburgh and Anaheim back-to-back, and we had the Rangers [in a couple of them]. One of them was even Buffalo, and then San Jose.

“That’s the type of attitude we’ve been taking. You always want to start off on the right foot in the first game, and then you want to finish it off strong when you win the first one. The teams have given us a lot of competition, and maybe gotten more out of us than you would typically see at this time of year.”

Clearly the B’s sterling back-to-back record has been achieved a few different ways. Tuukka Rask stole a road game against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden with a gasping team in front of him one night after taking a win in Carolina. But for the most part, it’s been about an experienced team getting the proper rest and preparation when a challenging portion of the schedule is approaching.

That veteran approach allows the Bruins coaching staff to bag morning skates and schedule extra days off while giving the benefit of the doubt to the players that they’ll be ready to roll at game time.

“It’s a product of a lot of things. There was one game Tuukka [Rask] won for us in New York, and there have been some other instances where we’ve had some good, experienced guys that are playing better as a team,” Julien said. “There are different ways to look at it. Why this more than last? I can’t fully answer that, but it’s a welcomed thing that we’re capable of doing that.

“We just finished playing eight games in 16 days, and we won six out of those eight, so I think that is pretty good. As a coach you know you have a veteran team, you know they’ll be ready when the time comes to play. So you’ll be more comfortable as a coach giving them time off, whether it’s keeping them off the ice at morning skate or the day before a game. You know they’ll come in ready to go. It certainly makes our jobs as coaches a bit easier.”

The B’s Monday practice was the perfect example of that mentality, with six players working on the ice and the rest of the team engaged in off-ice workouts at Ristuccia Arena in the middle of four days without a game. That situation might not have been possible with a younger, more undisciplined team, but the Bruins have earned that kind of slack from the coaches with the way they’ve performed in difficult situations over the first two months of the season.