While Montreal’s enormous troubles—the Habs have dropped 11 of their past 13 contests after a 3-1 loss to the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night—have been well documented, Boston was quietly on a small skid of its own.
That is, until the B’s came out and won for the first time in four outings with a thunderous 7-3 victory on home ice over the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday.
Even had the B’s dropped their last game before the Classic, you have to think Montreal would still have cornered the market on slump chatter. That said, Bruins coach Claude Julien acknowledged, with the hockey world starting to descend on Boston for Friday’s signature game, it’s nice to avoid having to speak about mounting losses.
“Our guys have played well, but haven’t won,” said Julien of his team, which has outshot its opponents in each of its past six outings. “The win makes it feel a lot better, hopefully we can enjoy [Wednesday] over there with family and relax, and then get back to work the following day.”
The Winter Classic is a unique enough event that, even had Boston arrived on its longest futility streak since last March, the players would have found a way to enjoy the moment. Still, Bruins defenceman Torey Krug agrees Tuesday’s result goes a long way towards fully savouring the spectacle.
“If you lose four in a row…especially with the stage we’re going to be on, [the win] makes it easier,” he said.
Krug registered two assists versus the Senators in his return to the lineup after a one-game absence due to an upper-body injury. Asked if he initially feared his ailment might keep him out of the Classic, the talented blueliner conveyed exactly how important the event is to the players.
“There’s not much that could keep me out of that game,” he said with a grin. “That’s a big one.”
Reminders of the outdoor clash have pelted both Montreal and Boston for the past few weeks, especially with the EPIX crew following the clubs around as part of the Road to the Winter Classic behind-the-scenes show.
Now, there are no more “regular” games to worry about before the B’s face their biggest rival in what essentially amounts to the highest-profile contest you can have outside of a post-season matchup. Bruins centre Patrice Bergeron is relieved he and his teammates can finally let their minds fully absorb what’s about to happen.
“We wanted to take it a game at a time and not think too much about the Classic—even though it’s hard sometimes, you guys remind us almost every day,” he said, “but now it’s nice to be there, being able to really think about that.”
And, of course, it’s nice to leave questions about what’s wrong with the team for the other guys to answer.