BOSTON -- There were a few new faces for the Bruins at Wednesdays informal skate as Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron and Chris Kelly were all at Agganis Arena this morning. All three had played previously in Europe over the last four months with Bergeron wrapping up around Jan. 1 at the end of the Spengler Cup and Chara flying into Boston on Tuesday to join his teammates for a week of workouts.
Kelly was back from his stint in Switzerland weeks ago, and drove from Ottawa to his residence in Boston within the last couple of days. All expressed happiness at getting back on the ice and being reunited for a 2013 NHL season thats expected to get moving with training camp this weekend.
Its good to see the guys and Im very excited to get started, said Bergeron. Im happy to be back and be able to step on the ice at the Garden pretty soon. Im excited.
In all 11 Bruins players were on the ice as the player roster begins to fill out with the familiar faces. Bergeron, Chara and Kelly were joined by Tyler Seguin who returned after a quick trip to Toronto Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ference, Gregory Campbell, Shawn Thornton, Tuukka Rask, Adam McQuaid, Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic as well as NHL veteran Jay Pandolfo. The Bruins teammates were passing around Seguin's EHC Biel jersey to wear and cracking jokes throughout the skate at BU. Kelly lamented he wasn't able to don the special Biel helmet with the flames shooting out of the side that notates the team's leading scorer -- a piece of equipment Seguin wore early and often in Switzerland.
Johnny Boychuk skated on Tuesday at BU, but was missing from the Black and Gold contingent on Wednesday.
For the second straight day the high-tempo practice organized by former NHL forward Mike Grier was full of high-energy skating drills and battle drills around the net. This time, however, the practice ended with a group of penalty shots from the Bruins players on Rask and former Northeastern goaltender Adam Geragosian, who has been helping Bruins players at practice. Its expected that the Bruins players could move their informal skates over to the team practice facility at Ristuccia Arena as soon as Thursday morning.
BOSTON – The final score on the Jumbotron Friday night said the Celtics beat the Phoenix Suns 130-120.
But there was a clear and undeniable sense of loss on the part of the Celtics, even if Friday’s victory was their third in a row and sixth in the past seven games.
The Celtics (47-26) hope to continue on their winning ways tonight against a Miami Heat team currently among a handful fighting for one of the last playoff slots, but are doing so without Dion Waiters (ankle) who has been instrumental in their surge after an 11-30 start to the season.
Beating the Heat (35-37) will require Boston to play better than they did against the Suns, a game Boston won, but in many ways had the feeling of defeat.
Yes, Devin Booker’s career-high 70 points was very much a blow – a huge blow – to the pride of a team that takes tremendous pride in its defense.
But the sense of a loss came in the form of purpose while playing as close to their potential as possible.
The Celtics fell short on both fronts Friday night.
Being just one game behind Cleveland (47-24) for the best record in the East, the Celtics understand getting as many wins as possible is the mindset right now.
But coach Brad Stevens knows that while winning is important, how the team plays is even more valuable.
“Like I’ve said before, I’m surprised at where we are record-wise because we’ve got to play at a higher level for 48 minutes,” Stevens said. “We just don’t do it.”
Is this Stevens’ way of trying to motivate his players after a not-so-great performance?
Or is he seriously concerned that his team isn’t as good as their record?
The Celtics, by their own standards, and to those of us on the outside looking in, know they are a better team than the one we saw on Friday night.
Not having Avery Bradley (sick) certainly hurt Boston’s efforts defensively.
Still, a Friday night’s game wore on, Booker’s confidence only grew and the Celtics’ desire to shut him down or at least slow him down, began to dissipate like an ice cube in hell.
And that’s a problem - a big problem - for a team that has to be connected at both ends of the floor for an extended period of time in order to play at the level their capable of and, most important, give them the best shot at emerging victorious in the postseason.
That’s why Stevens isn’t too caught up in the team’s chances of catching Cleveland, or whether they go into the playoffs riding a fat winning streak.
“I’m not going to get caught up in winning a couple of games in a row and all that stuff,” Stevens said. “I want to get caught up in playing well. We’ve shown ourselves capable of playing well, we have not sustained it throughout a game. And it’s been pretty consistent.”
BROOKLYN, NY – It wasn’t particularly entertaining and it won’t be all that memorable down the ride aside from the timing and importance of the meeting between the Bruins and Islanders. But it was a solid 2-1 team win for the Bruins over the Islanders at the Barclays Center on Saturday night with the B’s grinding all the way down to the end while protecting a one-goal lead through much of the third period.
Nearly everybody across Boston’s roster contributed in the major victory over the team trying to bypass them in the wild card standings, and it was a beautiful thing. Anton Khudobin stepped up when Tuukka Rask couldn’t start Saturday night’s showdown with a lower body issue, and Riley Nash supplied both Boston goals from a fourth line that’s played some of their best hockey lately.
It was unlikely heroes all around for the Black and Gold in the tightly-wound contest, but that diversity of talent and production can be a very good thing for a team looking to make that playoff push.
“You have to stay with it. You have to stay in the moment and stay with the game no matter what’s happening during the game. That’s how you get results, and that’s how you find ways to persevere through adversity,” said Patrice Bergeron. “We just got back to playing stingy, especially in the neutral zone. We got away from it the last few games, and it was nice tonight to be back playing a low-scoring game like what we’re used to playing.”
When it was all said and done the Bruins only allowed 19 shots on net and also killed off six penalties in the kind of grinding defensive showdown that you haven’t seen all that much out of the Black and Gold lately. It was exactly what Cassidy was looking for to snap the four-game losing streak, and once again start pushing the Bruins upward into the playoff chase.
“That’s the type of win that goes a long way in the room when your goaltender is battling hard and fighting that hard to see pucks and find pucks and your D are blocking shots. And you kill that many penalties. It was a nice building block for us,” said Cassidy. “From the goalie on out, everybody was in there [in the win]. It was a tough game. It was a nice Bruins win. We had been doing it with offense earlier, and we’ve got to be able to do it both ways. You need to be able to win 2-1 hockey games, and it had been awhile.”
Now it’s simply up to the Bruins to be feeling good about their latest win while going back to basics, and looking for more next time around after ending their worst losing streak of the season.