How a team practices leading up to a game isn't always indicative of how they're going to play in said game. Still, you would prefer to go into a game with a couple really good practices under your belt rather than a a couple lackluster ones.
Especially given the fact that the Bruins are coming off back-to-back 4-1 losses (one in an exhibition game, one in a round-robin game), ideally they would have turned in two great practices Monday and Tuesday before their second round-robin game against the Lightning on Wednesday.
Instead, the update that coach Bruce Cassidy shared Tuesday afternoon was that Monday was "a good day," but that Tuesday's practice "lacked a little energy."
It's not a new concern. The Bruins have been talking about trying to create their own energy since they got to Toronto. That conversation has mostly revolved around playing in an empty arena and how to generate playoff-level energy on the bench and on the ice during games despite not having playoff-level energy in the crowd.
But there's also the conversation about the whole approach to this round-robin tournament. These are technically postseason games, but no one's getting eliminated at the end of these three games. So do you still treat them like playoff games? Or do you treat them like a warmup for the real thing next week?
"This is part of the mental challenge for every team in this tournament, is creating some of your own energy," Cassidy said. "We as coaches have to look at that as well. Do we need to bring more? Should there be more chatter? Should we assign to assistant coaches some verbal cues when they have to step up? All of those things we’re trying to figure out on the fly here. It’s why I’ve been going live to a few games too, to see which teams are generating, who’s talking more.
"I think that’s part of the makeup of our team, we feed off one another. ... Those are things we’re looking for also in practice. Yes, we saw a good work ethic yesterday. Today I’d have liked to see a little more energy on the ice with the group."
While the Bruins are still trying to find their energy, their next two opponents seem to already be there. Monday afternoon's round-robin game between the Lightning and Capitals (whom the Bruins will play Sunday) looked pretty close to the real thing in terms of intensity, certainly much closer than what we've seen from the Bruins so far.
That game didn't go unnoticed by the Bruins, so they should know what to expect Wednesday and know they have to get to another level if they hope to remain in contention for the No. 1 seed.
"That’s what we do when we play well, we play intense and hard, and obviously that wasn’t really showing Sunday," Jake DeBrusk said. "You look at the other games around the league, even the Washington-Tampa game, it was pretty much a war out there. We know we’re walking into teams that are pretty much ready already, so I think it’ll be good for us to kind of get exposed to that. I think it brings out usually the best in us, but we definitely need a response here, and fast."
- Speaking of DeBrusk, it looks like he'll be on a different line for Wednesday. For the second straight day he was on the right wing of Charlie Coyle's line, with Anders Bjork on the left. David Krejci has had Nick Ritchie and Karson Kuhlman on his wings, and it looks like that will remain in place against the Lightning. Jack Studnicka was dropped down to the Bruins' secondary practice group Tuesday and is expected to be a healthy scratch Wednesday.
- Tuukka Rask will start in goal Wednesday barring any last-minute setbacks. Cassidy said he would make a decision on Sunday's starter once they get through Wednesday's game and see where things stand. He did say that initially his plan was to start Rask in two of the three round-robin games, but presumably that would have included the first round-robin game, which Rask wound up missing while being stuck in quarantine for two days due to a cough.