A day removed from an embarrassing 4-0 loss to the Colorado Avalanche, the Bruins went right back at it during Tuesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena – their final skate before their first west coast trip of the season.
Their first game in that three-game stretch? The same Avalanche squad that extended their unbeaten streak at TD Garden to 10 games.
Those same Avalanche, fresh off their worst season in since moving to Denver in the mid-90’s, will certainly be motivated with their home opener. Their win in Boston capped off a 2-1-0 mark in their opening three-game road trip that included stops in New York and New Jersey.
As for Bruce Cassidy’s Bruins? Well, their M.O., for one, is to avoid another embarrassment against a Western Conference foe that had their number in the first game of a home and home. It was also a chance to have a better practice after Cassidy admitted the team’s preparation following Monday’s 4-0 loss was less than ideal.
“I’ll be honest, I didn’t like our couple of practices this weekend,” Cassidy said inside the Will McDonagh press room during Monday’s postgame press conference. “I thought our execution was off, and we are a little – but it’s early and you’re kind of giving them the benefit of the doubt. So again, that goes to preparation. We weren’t as crisp as we needed to be, and it showed tonight in the start.”
Things looked a little better during Tuesday’s practice as the Bruins went back to basics and reemphasized the tempo they want to play with. Whether that translates into a strong performance Wednesday night remains to be seen.
“Especially [the practice] after the first game he was telling us that we weren’t crisp at all. The pace wasn’t up and we just weren’t making plays and it got a little bit better before the [Avalanche] game,” Jake DeBrusk said about Tuesday’s practice, comparing it to the two on-ice sessions prior to Monday’s contest. “Today I thought was better than those two practices. You know, it’s obviously a different feel after a win, and guys [after a loss] are ready to go. Going into this road trip with the travel you want to get your legs under you and kind of flush the venom out, and I thought we did that today.”
When asked about the emphasis of Tuesday’s practice, Coach Cassidy replied, “A little more north-south, getting pucks to the net and opportunities there and defending the slot – all things that we didn’t do yesterday.”
“It’s a solution-oriented business, at least that’s where I see it at times, and big picture vs. small picture – you always have to balance the two. But we have to get better in those areas. We happen to be playing the same team, which doesn’t happen a lot, so we just have to make sure we correct [the mistakes] and just put our best foot forward.”
A few other notes from Tuesday…
For the second straight year, Patrice Bergeron will miss the first three games of the Bruins’ season as he continues to nurse a lower-body injury. Despite skating over the weekend – and for a few minutes on Monday – the four-time Selke winner was not on the ice during Tuesday’s practice.
Riley Nash, who skated with the likes of Tim Schaller, Noel Acciari and Sean Kuraly in the first two games, took Bergeron’s spot centering Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. Ryan Spooner, who started as the top line center against the Predators and Avalanche, moved to a new spot centering Matt Beleskey and Frank Vatrano.
As Cassidy continues to tinker with his lines, the Bruins sure hope to have Bergeron available this weekend in Arizona and/or Vegas.
Heinen called up, White added on a PTO (Vancouver)
With the injury bug hitting the Bruins hard to start the 2017-18 season, Cassidy and company are in a period of ‘next man up’ in just their first week.
On Tuesday, Don Sweeney announced the call-up of Danton Heinen from Providence as well as the addition of Ryan White on a PTO.
During Providence’s season opener Heinen picked up right where he left off after a solid training camp. The former University of Denver standout tallied an assist on Tommy Cross’ second period goal during the P-Bruins’ 5-2 win over Springfield on Saturday night.
With the injuries to Bergeron, Acciari (left index finger) and David Backes (diverticulitis), Heinen anticipated that he might not be in Providence for long.
“When you’re down there – whether they say it or not – everyone is kind of looking to see what the injury situation is,” Heinen said about his mindset. “You hate to see guys go down, but I’m happy to get the call.”
Heinen found himself on a line with Kuraly and Schaller on Tuesday. White will have to wait a little bit to hear if he’ll get the call to join the lineup.
White had a camp tryout in Vancouver in September. Days removed from being cut by the Canucks, the former Canadiens and Flyers forward found himself getting a call from Sweeney as the injuries piled up.
With the lineup in flux, White could find himself as a suitable replacement for Acciari during his healing process. For now, the veteran is hoping to convince his former rivals to sign him and acclimate himself to new surroundings.
“The longer you go in your career, I think every team is surprised when they sign you,” said White, who spent last year with the Coyotes and Wild. “But it all seems like they hate you when they play them and usually that team ends up [being the team you play for].”