Julien: 'We've lost a bit of our sharpness'

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- After a successful four-game homestand, the Bruins took the ice for one last practice on Friday morning at Ristuccia Arena before taking off for a four-game road trip.

Boston won three of its four games at the Garden during the recent home stretch, their only loss coming in last Saturday’s spirited battle with the Vancouver Canucks.

Despite Boston's success in the win-loss column, coach Claude Julien put the Bruins through a high-energy practice on Friday. Julien admitted that his team may have lost its edge after some sloppy play in Thursday night’s 2-1 win over Montreal, and stressed the importance of regaining that edge on the upcoming road trip.

“We talked about (it) yesterday, I find that we've lost a bit of our sharpness,” Julien said after practice. “It’s got to be tape-to-tape passes, it’s got to be a little bit of jump and taking pucks to the net; mostly bringing some sharpness back in our game. We’re lacking in all areas when it comes to sharpness; we’ve kind of taken a step back a little bit, half a step back I’d say, and we want to find that half-step moving forward here, especially on this road trip.”

After Friday’s practice, the Bruins boarded the team plane to Raleigh, N.C., where they will kick off their four-game stretch against the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday.

Carolina currently sits in 14th place in the Eastern Conference with a dismal 15-23-7 record, but forward David Krecji says the ‘Canes are not to be overlooked, citing Boston’s 0-2 record against Carolina so far this season.

“We’ve just got to take it one game at a time and we’ll be fine,” noted Krecji. “Now we’ve got Carolina; we’ve lost against them two times this year I think, and they’re a desperate team. If they want to be in the playoffs, these (are) points they really need, so it’s going to be a pretty big game for them and for us. It’s going to be a good battle tomorrow.”

The Bruins will continue their southern tour next Monday and Tuesday with back- to-back games against the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning. Boston will head north on Thursday to take on the New Jersey Devils before returning to the Garden on Saturday afternoon for a showdown with the top-ranked New York Rangers.

Julien says he welcomes the Bruins’ upcoming challenges.

“To me I’m OK with it,” said Julien. “We got spoiled a little bit in that first half, and now it’s time to really put us through some good tests with lots of road games, travel, and all that stuff in short periods of time. We’ve got to show our endurance here.”