It wasn't a full bag skate, but coach Claude Julien definitely worked his players thoroughly in a practice that lasted more than an hour at Ristuccia Arena.
"Certainly we need those kinds of practices once in a while to right the ship a little bit," Julien said. "Work ethic is a big part of our game and our success, and right now we don't have everybody going. We've got to find ways to get everybody going here and going in the right direction. I think the timing was good. We don't play until Saturday. Hopefully this will help us get through it."
With two days before returning to game action Saturday at the Garden against Nashville, Julien took advantage of the time to work primarily on battle drills, with lots on 1-on-1 action and plenty of physical competition in a high-tempo workout.
"I think practice was a good step today," Bruins forward Shawn Thornton said. "A lot of battle drills. A lot of 1-on-1 stuff. That's probably an area that's slipped a little bit. We're fortunate that we have a couple days between games and we could get a good, hard-working practice in there and I think the guys really focused and bore down."
The Bruins' work ethic has certainly slipped of late, resulting in a mediocre 5-6-1 stretch over the last 12 games. But Boston may have truly hit rock bottom with Wednesday's blowout, a shoddy effort that Julien certainly hopes will serve to shake the club out of its malaise.
"You hope so. That's certainly the start of what should be a wakeup call," Julien said. "Obviously our guys have enough character in there. I don't think just because you're going through a tough time doesn't mean you second guess your team, and we certainly don't. Everybody in that room cares. Right now it's about righting the ship with some better play from everybody. Sometimes you have to help them through it and sometimes a little hard practice is exactly what the doctor ordered."
Julien didn't view the arduous practice as a punishment for Wednesday's poor effort, but rather as a teaching tool to get his club back on track.
"It's about getting back to hard work," Julien said. "You can call it a wakeup call. You can call it getting them to go in the right direction. You can call it a lot of things. I think at the end of the day everybody understands that we have to be better. I don't think anybody came off there thinking they were being punished more than we were trying to help them get back on track."
The players appeared to take that message in the spirit intended.
"It was a hard-working practice, but I don't think anyone should be afraid of hard work," Thornton said. "It's our job. We slipped a bit. We have to get back to where we were, so that was expected."
Everyone except forward Nathan Horton, who remains sidelined with a concussion, was on hand for the workout. Julien went back to the lines that began Wednesday's game, putting David Krejci back on the third line with Benoit Pouliot and Jordan Caron and Chris Kelly up between Milan Lucic and Rich Peverley. Those units were switched up late in Wednesday's loss, and Julien cautioned against assuming they would remain the same going forward as this practice didn?t feature much line work, making the combinations of minor importance.
"I didn't even bother worrying about the lines," Julien said. "We didn't even have line drills or anything. It was more about battling and stuff like that. This could change. I'm trying to find [the right combinations]. Right now it's pretty obvious that Bergeron's line is the line that?s giving us the most offense. We've mixed and matched, even [Wednesday] moving guys around when we weren't getting much from the others. That's where our team has to pick it up as individuals and as a group."