Patriots

Julien: Bruins have been 'very mediocre'

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Julien: Bruins have been 'very mediocre'

SUNRISE, FL. The Bruins have been very mediocre in the words of Claude Julien, and theyre determined to get back to their brand of hockey.

Boston's struggles have been masked by its winning ways over the last few weeks, but its problems all came to a head when the Bs collapsed in the third period Saturday night against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Now the Bruins face the Panthers, a legitimate playoff team with a grudge.

Why the grudge? Hockey teams usually take it personally when they get gut bludgeoned by an 8-0 score two days before Christmas like the Bruins pounded the Panthers at TD Garden, and now Florida entertains a Boston team attempting to find their footing. The Bruins will also be without Brad Marchand (suspension) and Rich Peverley (personal matter) at the BankAtlantic Center, and could be in for a tough night if theyre not ready to play.

Were falling short in certain areas," Zdeno Chara said. "We lost more battles than in previous games, and need to pay more attention to details. We knew that Carolina wasnt our best game and we need to bounce back. We have a few games before the All-Star break and we want to go out with some wins. We know theyre really good at home. They have a very hard style. We have to be ready to do our thing, work extremely hard and not take anything fore granted.

We played really well in the last game and Florida didnt have a great night. Im sure theyre going to be way better tonight.

The Bs coach was a little more succinct about what he didnt see against the Hurricanes, and what he wants to see against the Panthers on Monday night.

We need to be sharper in all areas. Our battle level has to be better. Our passing and willingness to take pucks to the net need improvement, said Julien. Basically our whole game has slipped. Were not to the point of being a bad team, but its slipped to us being a very mediocre team right now. We need to bring it back to the level thats expected of our group.

Strong words from the Bs coach that will only get stronger if theyre not followed up by a more typical effort from the Bruins in Florida on Monday night.

Backes and Bergeron return to Bruins practice, may be back in action soon

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Backes and Bergeron return to Bruins practice, may be back in action soon

BRIGHTON -- It was good news when word first filtered out that David Backes had resumed skating last weekend while the Bruins were on the West Coast, and even better news Tuesday when he returned to practice. Backes skated without any restrictions in a spot on the third line with Riley Nash and Tim Schaller, and appeared to be recovering nicely from his bout of diverticulitis.

Backes was initially diagnosed with the inflammatory colon ailment in the first few days of October, with the team estimating a three- to four-week recovery period. If he'd needed surgery rather than the  prescribed rest and medication, he could have been facing a lot more missed games.

Patrice Bergeron was also back skating on Tuesday morning while centering Brad Marchand and Anders Bjork, still sporting a maroon no-contact jersey while taking some light contact during the practice session.

Backes and Bergeron look like they’ could be returning to the lineup soon.

But the injury news wasn't all good, as Ryan Spooner, Austin Czarnik, Danton Heinen and Adam McQuaid were all missing from practice.

Spooner (lower body) and McQuaid (lower body) were both injured in Sunday night’s loss to the Vegas Golden Knights, and Czarnik and/or Heinen might be ticketed back to Providence soon if the Bruins have to make roster space for Bergeron and/or Backes ahead of Thursday night’s home game against the Vancouver Canucks.

Here are the line combos and D-pairings from Tuesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena with a whole different look to things with some of the different bodies taking part in the skate:

Marchand-Bergeron-Bjork
DeBrusk-Krejci-Pasta
Schaller-Nash-Backes
Beleskey-Kuraly-Vatrano
White

Chara-Carlo
Miller-McAvoy
Krug-Postma

Rask
Khudobin