Mired in a 1-4-1 slump over their last six, there’s no doubt the Bruins would like nothing more than to play a quality game Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden.
After all, the playoffs are less than a week away. The Bruins don’t need the two points in the standings as much as they need a little momentum at the tail end of this regular season.
“I’d rather go into the playoffs feeling good about ourselves than not,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said after his team’s morning skate Thursday. “You’ve seen other teams that have struggled and then they start the playoffs and it’s a whole different story. I’d rather not go there; I’d rather be the confident team. Either way, to me, we’ve got to make sure we come out here tonight and play a good game. It doesn’t mean we have to blow the doors out, but we’ve got to go out there and show that there’s some steadiness, there’s consistency, and there’s a control in our game that allows us to feel good about our team.”
The Bruins know they can’t take the Lightning lightly, and they also know they’ll be without forward Nathan Horton for a third straight game with an upper-body injury. Julien said Horton skated Thursday on his own, but the wing’s status is still day-to-day.
In the morning skate, Boston’s lines looked the same as the ones that started the last two games. Julien said his only planned change is a switch of Carl Soderberg to left wing with Chris Kelly shifting back to center. The Bruins have to use this game and the next two before the end of the regular season to sort out their lines and defense pairs, and maybe build up some chemistry before the postseason.