WILMINGTON, Mass. — The Bruins hit the ice for a 90-minute practice Tuesday morning at Ristuccia Arena as they prepare for their first road trip of three or more games this season.
The first opponent is the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night, followed by a Thursday night matchup with the rival Montreal Canadiens and then concluding with a Saturday night contest against the Buffalo Sabres.
One player who isn’t ready to play yet is fourth-line center Gregory Campbell, who’s been dealing with a core injury that has forced him to miss the entire preseason and the first four games of the regular season. He was on the ice for practice Tuesday as one of the extra forwards.
“Right now, he’s not ready,” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said. “When they tell us he’s ready, we’ll assess whether he’s in good enough shape to be in our lineup. Practicing is one thing, being in games is another. You’ve got to be in real top shape in practice before we can even consider him playing, but we’ll evaluate him as we go along here.”
Julien has tried a few different players at fourth-line center in Campbell’s absence, including young forward prospects Ryan Spooner and Craig Cunningham. Spooner likely will play in that spot Wednesday night alongside Daniel Paille and newly signed winger Simon Gagne. This trio brings a little more speed and skill to the fourth line than Campbell, Paille and Shawn Thornton did in their four seasons together from 2010-11 through 2013-14.
?We?ve got a different look on the fourth line,” Julien said. “Spooner is not Campbell and Gagne, for example, is not Thornton. Right there, you’ve got two guys who have probably more speed and more skill, right now. Different kind of a look, but it doesn’t mean we don’t want that other look either. Right now we’re looking at that, and you hope that they can hold their own. You’ve got two experienced guys on each side, and a young guy who has a lot of potential in the middle. So we have to see how that turns out.”
— These were the lines and pairings at practice:
Milan Lucic–David Krejci–Seth Griffith
Brad Marchand–Patrice Bergeron–Reilly Smith
Chris Kelly–Carl Soderberg–Loui Eriksson
Daniel Paille–Ryan Spooner–Simon Gagne
Extras: Matt Fraser, Gregory Campbell
Zdeno Chara–Dougie Hamilton/Kevan Miller
Dennis Seidenberg–Matt Bartkowski
Torey Krug–Adam McQuaid
— Veteran forward Simon Gagne finally signed Tuesday on a one-year, one-way contract worth $600,000. As a seven-time 20-plus goal scorer, the 34-year-old winger adds skill, versatility and experience to the Bruins’ offense.
“He’s a good player, he’s been in the league a long time, so he’s got some experience, and he can put the puck in the net — I think twice he’s scored 40-plus goals,” David Krejci said. “Everyone knows that we’re in a situation where we kind of need some goals, and he’s a guy who can put the puck in the net.”
— Krejci hopes the Bruins take the positives from Monday’s last-second loss to the Colorado Avalanche and build on them during the upcoming road trip.
“Our record is pretty bad, 1-3,” Krejci said. “But last game, I thought we played a decent game. If we build on that and play like that (Wednesday), and put some pucks in the net, we’ll come up with the win. We have to play the same way and crash the net, and get a win. It’s a bad record, but this road trip could help us to get back on track. We’re looking forward to it.”
— Julien wants his team to drive to the net more and be in a position to score the dirty goals in and around the crease. The Bruins’ net-front presence in the first four games has been absent at times, making opposing goaltenders’ jobs a lot easier than it should be.
“We just got to get a better nose for the net,” Julien said. “Probably too much perimeter plays, and right now, our decision making is one that’s pressing. We’re forcing a lot of plays instead of making those plays. … Teams defend so well nowadays that it’s not so easy to score goals, so you got to be willing to be part of the dirty goals being scored and not always the highlight ones.”