WILMINGTON, Mass. — The Boston Bruins did something Friday that they did none of during Thursday night’s ugly loss to the rival Montreal Canadiens — they enjoyed themselves.
B’s head coach Claude Julien changed things up at practice some when he ended it with an unusual battle drill. The two nets were placed roughly 30 feet apart in one of the corners. Goalies occupied both nets and then small groups of players went after it, battling for the puck and then trying to score on the goalies.
When the drill ended, the winning team raised its hands in victory and even cracked a smile or two. It was something that surely wasn’t seen in the Bruins’ 4-1 loss to the Habs, a game that Patrice Bergeron called the team’s worst game of the year. Julien said shortly after the game that he was ready to move on from that and start moving forward, and the B’s did that during Friday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington, Mass.
“That’s what we talked about last night after the game — we need to move on here and that’s what we did [Friday],” Julien said after practice.
“I thought our transition was very slow yesterday so we touched that up. Last drill is pretty intense, but a lot of fun, and you learn how to battle in tight areas. So you’re touching up some areas you want to get better at, but you try to make it interesting.”
Those were certainly areas of the game the Bruins were lacking most in against Montreal. The B’s were beat to pucks all night, and the Habs skated the Bruins out of the building from the opening faceoff. The effort left Bruins fans understandably upset, even going as far as to boo the home town team. The same team that entered Thursday’s game on a four-game winning streak.
“Fans are fans,” Julien said of the booing. “It’s the same everywhere, not just here. When you play the way you played last night, you’re certainly not going to get cheered. They were certainly disappointed and so were we. They expressed their disappointment in our game. I don’t take it personally. I take it as we deserved it and we didn’t play well so let’s move on. Those same people are going to cheer us on and rightfully so.”
The fact that the stinker came in a highly anticipated game against a bitter rival only made things seem worse. They keyword there being “seem” of course. The Bruins know that while it was a disappointing outcome against a team they’d really, really like to beat, it’s still just one game.
“It was a loss that stung a little bit more because we didn’t play well, and the rivalry and Montreal is always a big game, but it is one loss,” Boston center Gregory Campbell said. “We’ve just gotta move on.”
The Bruins will get that chance to move on soon enough. They’ll host the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday afternoon at TD Garden. The Oilers have been one of the NHL’s worst teams all year, but they have put things together in the last week. They’ll be riding a three-game win streak as well as three days off when they invade the Garden on Saturday for their first game since Ben Scrivens’ fantastic 59-save shutout on Tuesday against San Jose.
“Good team speed, which is what we’ve always talked about,” Campbell said. “They’ve added some grit in their lineup and they’re going to play us hard. Coming off the shutout, I’m sure they’re feeling pretty confident about their game. On the flip side, we have something to prove as well. We want to get back on track, so it should be a good game.”