The sounds of pucks hitting boards and skates cutting ice were drowned out by a game of hallway soccer, as the Bruins held an optional skate Thursday in anticipation of their game against the Blackhawks. Tuukka Rask, Chris Kelly, Michael Ryder, Tyler Seguin, Gregory Campbell, Shane Hnidy, Steven Kampfer and Adam McQuaid skated for the B’s. Expect Tim Thomas to start with Rask the only goaltender to skate in the optional.
Given that Ryder also skated in the optional and that Claude Julien expressed a desire to stick with the same lineup that won them Sunday’s game in Philadelphia, it is probable that Ryder will be a healthy scratch once again.
Here are some notes from the morning:
– Julien said that he doesn’t feel a need to talk about last year’s playoffs with his team as they prepare for the postseason this time around. The B’s blew a 3-0 series and Game 7 lead in the second round last year against the Flyers.
“I think for us right now it’s just focusing on the moment. From here on in, we’ve still got to maintain our play, our level of play that we’ve had lately and continue to try and even improve that. There’s no room for complacency right now, and we have lots of players. If we’re going to move some players in and out from here on in it’s not because we’re taking it easy, but because we want everybody ready to go. That’s kind of the message that we gave the players. So for us, I think we need to make sure we maintain our level of play from here on in.”
– Much was made in training camp of the new situation that former Panthers Gregory Campbell and Nathan Horton found themselves in. Having never been to the playoffs in their careers, it seemed the postseason would be extra special for them. Campbell spoke about what it means to him to finally know he’s headed for the playoffs.
“I’m excited. It’s been a long time. That was the first thing I thought of when I got traded to Boston, was that I was going to get a chance to play in the playoffs,” Campbell said. “For me, at this point in my career, the most meaningful thing is to get a chance to win. I know this organization’s excited about the opportunity to get back to the playoffs again.”
– While Julien said that the recent scratches “probably” won’t get in the lineup Tuesday, he will get them in the lineup over the next two weeks to both rest those playing and keep everybody fresh.
“We’ve got to remember the guys were going to put in are good players. It’s not like you’re putting in a bad player,” Julien said of the players serving as healthy scratches. “It’s that you’ve got a 20-man roster for the game, but you’ve got 22-23 guys here. We’re going to put some guys in, pull some guys out, but certainly not to say, well this is a game that we’re going to take it easy, we’re going to pull so-and-so out. We’ve got to stay on top of our game, and that’s what I’ve been talking about, sliding guys in that can go in there and stay sharp so that if, come playoff time, we need somebody, they haven’t been sitting around for a month.”
– Julien spoke highly of David Krejci, who has 28 points in the 27 games since Marc Savard went down with his latest concussion. The coach said it’s been more a result of improved play than increased opportunity.
“He’s elevated his play, there’s no doubt,” Julien said. “He’s become a better player in the second half of the season. I think we’re starting to see more of the David Krejci we know. I think he had a bit of a slow start this year and wasn’t skating as well as we had seen him in the past. And was trying to make those plays, but when you don’t use your speed it’s pretty hard to make those plays in this league. So I think his skating has gotten better, his intensity has gotten better, and because of that he’s making some plays.”
– The coach said that as far as fine-tuning things go prior to the playoffs, special teams will be the focus. After an ugly stretch, the power play has scored four goals in the last four games, while the penalty kill has allowed one goal over the last five.
“[Power play] is an area we’ve got to get better at,” Julien said. “Even our penalty kill had been pretty good all year, then we hit that funk there for about three weeks that really made us slide down in the [rankings] in regards to that. We’ve got to get that back to where we feel it should be. I think our special teams are going to be important from here on in, and those are part of the things we need to work on.
“What I liked about the last game is that we were playing a really good team, it was a tight checking game and we stuck with it and found a way to win. You’ve got to be able to be patient with those types of games that are tight checking games. In the playoffs, that’s what you’re going to get, and I think our guys did a great job in the third period of not creating some bad mistakes or turnovers, and eventually they broke, took a penalty, and we took advantage of it. It’s those little details when you get near the end of the year. You want your team to be composed and in control of their game plan.”