During the third period of Saturday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets—it was noticed that Patrice Bergeron was no longer on the bench. Post game Jack Edwards asked head coach Claude Julien about Bergeron’s absence and was met with a rather terse response.
“I sent him to the room myself,” Julien said on camera.
Julien said it had to do with the game’s situation—the Boston Bruins were down four goals by then. Julien told reporters who were present after the game that Bergeron’s injury was minimal.
Sunday morning as the team took to the ice back in Boston at TD Garden for the morning practice, those present noticed the absence of both Bergeron and Milan Lucic—who had a not unexpected fisticuff with Blue Jacket Dalton Prout within the first three minutes of the second period. After practice Julien mentioned that both Bergeron and Lucic were listed as day-to-day.
As the players came onto the ice for their pre-game practice Monday morning, preparing to take on the Detroit Red Wings in the first of three home games for the Bs to say goodbye to 2014 and hello to 2015, it was soon clear that neither Bergeron nor Lucic were there.
During practice the lines looked like:
Also Adam McQuaid and Zach Trotman were on the ice as defensemen.
On Sunday, the Bruins announced the recall of Jordan Caron from their AHL affiliated Providence Bruins. The announcement also said that they had put Matt Fraser on waivers. Fraser played less than six minutes during Saturday’s game in Columbus, so it was not a huge surprise to see this announcement.
Both Caron and Fraser were on the ice and slotted into lines that were likely the lineup for tonight’s game against the Red Wings, but about an hour after practice ended, the announcement came that Fraser had been picked up on waivers by the Edmonton Oilers.
During post-practice interviews with Julien, he was asked about the chemistry or what he thought David Krejci and Reilly Smith would do on the ice together.
“We will see tonight,” Julien told the assembled reporters. “I don’t have that answer, to be honest with you. Those are all things we’ll all discover together.”
Two of the Bruins most important players are out with injuries—minor though they may be—they will not be on the ice as the somewhat beat-down Bruins take on the Red Wings. The Red Wings have a substantial winning road-record at 7-4-3 and they aren’t missing two of their best players. Additionally, if they give up the first goal they are still 9-4-3, showing they have a resiliency that the Bruins used to possess.
With the loss of Fraser for tonight’s game, the Boston club announced this afternoon the recall of forward Matt Lindblad. It is unclear if he will slot in where Fraser was in this morning’s practice—on the fourth line—or if the lines will jumble again. Many will be paying attention to tonight’s pre-game warm ups to see if the lines have changed with the addition of Lindblad. And of course, Lindblad was not able to participate in today’s practice, so in some ways he is coming in cold. Fortunately the Providence Bruins play the same system as the Boston club, making his inclusion a little easier.
The Bruins are known for coming back from adversity usually. This season has not seen them rebound quite like they have in past seasons.
“We’ve had challenges all year,” Julien said when admitting that Lucic and Bergeron would not play. “It’s just another one.”
Lucic had already mentioned after the game against the Buffalo Sabres last Sunday that the team was experiencing deflation on the bench when the opposing team scored a goal. They were better about it during the December 23rd game against the Nashville Predators. Likely the disappointing outing against the Blue Jackets after the holiday break has once again messed with the minds of some of the players.
Fortunately they have some strong leadership in the room that can assist in putting everyone’s focus on the game ahead.
“I think it’s important to keep an even keel throughout the course of games regardless of if you get scored on or if you score a goal. I don’t think you want to get too high when you score a goal or too low when you get scored upon. It’s going to happen,” assistant captain Chris Kelly told The Pink Puck. “You’re going to score goals in games and you’re going to get scored on in games. I think that’s been one of our strengths in the past is keeping that even keel and letting things not affect us for too long. We’ve been able to play our game and bounce back even though maybe starts haven’t been great or periods weren’t great; we were able to come back and find ways to win.”
All teams suffer adversities, though it does seem like the Bruins have seen quite a bit of late. And it seems like these issues have been playing mind games with some of the players. Regardless of what has been sent their way, they need to find a way to shake it off and get back to playing their game.
That’s what makes good teams, is teams that come to play whatever the circumstances may be. — Gregory Campbell
“It’s part of being mature as a team to be able to overcome those things, not only the down periods in seasons, but the periods in games that don’t go your way. I think that falls on the experience that we have and [we] really have to resort to that,” fourth-liner Gregory Campbell explained to The Pink Puck. “We’ve succeeded for a long time on this team and there’s been lots of times where we’ve been going pretty good as a team, so I think we’ve got to resort to what we did and how we’ve played and how we’ve played as a team night in, night out. That’s what makes good teams, is teams that come to play whatever the circumstances may be.”
The Bruins have a mountain to climb right now. All the players are aware of the urgency that is needed. Of course, that can sometimes cause players to grip the sticks too tight. They need to focus on their game and play as the team they have been in the past.
“I think it’s just to make sure everyone’s on the same page,” Kelly told The Pink Puck. “Everyone realizes that we have a good team here and the pucks are going to go in, but you just need to play the system, work hard and be ready to work that much harder if things aren’t going in easily for us.”