BOSTON -- The Bruins have their marching orders before embarking on a challenging three-game trip to California next week: Take care of business Thursday night against the Predators in a rematch of the Dec. 23 game where they scored a season-high six goals, and then do the same in a weekend home date against a Winnipeg Jets team that’s starting to play with some desperation during a three-game winning streak.
Coach Claude Julien certainly doesn’t think there will be too much lackadaisical play from his team, which is mired in a two-game losing streak and coming off a poor effort against the New York Islanders. He isn’t expecting a carbon copy of the solid game against the Predators last week, but he’s looking for a winning effort.
“I think we capitalized on our chances, but we have to be careful here,” cautioned Julien. “When you look at the scoring chances, there wasn’t that big of a difference. They played well. They had some chances.
“What I liked about our team in that game is how well we managed the puck in all areas of the ice. You look at their forecheck, and they’re very aggressive. Their D’s will pinch. We didn’t panic. We used our speed, we moved the puck, and instead of turning pucks over we chipped the puck, and we were on top of things.”
They were most certainly not on top of things while losing to the Senators and Islanders in their last two games. The Bruins are hoping that Nashville once again is the cure for what ails their hockey club.
PLAYER NEEDING HIS TIRED PUMPED: Torey Krug has gone 10 games without no goals, only three assists, and a minus-3 rating. The good news: he’s moved back over to the left side with the return of Adam McQuaid, and that’s where the bulk of his offensive success has come from. The 22-year-old could also use a boost after learning through Scott Burnsides’ excellent Team USA article that he never once came up in the discussion among USA Hockey management and coaching types like Ray Shero, Dave Poile and Dan Bylsma.
DRESSING ROOM MANTRA HEADED INTO THE GAME: “Playing them twice in 10 days, with the first one going our way, we expect this one to be a tougher game. It was a tighter game than the score ended up being, but we need to get back on the winning side. In the second half, you’re a very desperate team now if you’re out of a playoff spot.” – Jarome Iginla, wary of the Predators, whom they dusted by a 6-2 score back on Dec. 23 in Nashville.
KEY MATCHUP: For the Bruins it comes down to their penalty kill -- which gave up four power-play goals in a bow-wow of a performance in a loss to the Islanders -- shutting down the highly ranked Nashville power play. The Preds’ PP is led by Shea Weber’s ability to tee up one-timers from the point, so it will be key for the Bruins to lock down their PK unit coming off an atrocious special-teams performance. There’s no better way to rebound than shutting down Nashville’s much better PP group.
STAT TO WATCH: 7 – the number of consecutive days that the Bruins have been forced to make a roster move either recalling or demoting somebody from Providence.
INJURIES: Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne (hip) is on injured reserve,
Carl Soderberg and Dougie Hamilton both return to the B’s lineup on Thursday night, leaving the B's only without forwards Chris Kelly (ankle) and Loui Eriksson (concussion) on injured reserve, as well as defenseman Dennis Seidenberg (knee), who will miss the remainder of the season. Eriksson has begun practicing with the Bruins, but is still “a ways away” a return to game action.
GOALTENDING MATCHUP: Niklas Svedberg will make his NHL debut on Thursday night after paying his dues at the AHL level for the last season-and-a-half. Svedberg has appeared in 22 games for Providence and and has a 13-5-3 record to go along with a 2.87 goals against average and a .909 save percentage. He was supposed to make his NHL debut last weekend against the Ottawa Senators, but had that nixed when Zdeno Chara wasn’t able to play in the game.
Carter Hutton is 7-6-2 with a 3.07 goals against average and a .901 save percentage, and has helped the Predators stay afloat during the long absence of Pekka Rinne. But he was pulled from the Dec. 23 loss to the Bruins after giving up a couple of soft goals.