Commentary

Bruins weather stormy road trip

Updated: December 17, 2013, 8:42 AM ET
By Joe McDonald | ESPNBoston.com

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- It's been a long week for the Boston Bruins.

They've experienced just about everything possible, both on and off the ice. Still, they've stayed in the win column and return from their recent four-game road trip with a 3-1-0 record.

Bruins forward Shawn Thornton currently is serving a 15-game suspension for his attack on Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik. Boston forwards Loui Eriksson and Daniel Paille suffered concussions and are out of the lineup indefinitely. Defensemen Adam McQuaid and Dougie Hamilton are out with lower-body injuries, while forward Chris Kelly suffered a broken fibula.

[+] EnlargeBruins-Canucks
Jeff Vinnick/NHLI/Getty ImagesReilly Smith, center, was among the Bruins who played through a bout with the flu on their trip.

To add insult to injury, a nasty flu bug wreaked havoc during the recent trip, and Bruins coach Claude Julien said the team isn't entirely over the illness as it prepares to host the Calgary Flames Tuesday night at TD Garden.

Then Bruins forward Milan Lucic was involved in a verbal and physical attack at a nightclub in his hometown of Vancouver, British Columbia, after Saturday's loss to the Canucks. Lucic claims it was an unprovoked attack and says he's pursuing legal action in the matter.

Also, forward Brad Marchand was called classless by many Vancouver players for his antics during the game when he mocked the fans by pretending to kiss the Stanley Cup and his Stanley Cup ring.

Despite all the distractions, Julien and the Bruins have kept things together on the ice.

"Well, it adds to my workload, I guess," the coach said after the team's practice Monday morning at Ristuccia Arena. "But at the same time, we're under the microscope and we have been for a while and we have to realize that and be careful of those kinds of situations.

"Then again, some are warranted and some others are maybe exaggerated, or we don't have all the facts. But anyway, you deal with those things internally, within your organization.

"Our team likes to take pride in being a classy one and sometimes there are certain things that happen that kind of tarnish that a little bit. Then we just reel guys back in and make sure we're all about what we expect from this organization.

"That's why you deal with it internally," Julien added. "We're certainly not proud of it. We're certainly not promoting it, but we deal with it internally. If we weren't dealing with it, then it would mean we're not really concerned about it. Certain things have happened that we need to address and we're going to do it."

Because the Bruins' lineup has taken a beating, reinforcements were needed from Providence. Since their last home game on Dec. 7, the Bruins have recalled Ryan Spooner, Matt Fraser, Nick Johnson and Craig Cunningham from the P-Bruins.

On the ice, Julien was pleased with the team's success on the trip.

"I thought we did well," he said. "We've had a lot of things going on in the last week, but it's not easy for players to be focused and go out there and do the job, and we did."

Both of Boston's goaltenders -- Tuukka Rask and Chad Johnson -- were battling the flu, but both played well enough to help the Bruins win three of the four games.

"Both played well and they both battled through sickness, also, which a lot of guys did," assistant captain Patrice Bergeron said. "It was great to see them play like they did and obviously gave us the confidence and saves that we needed."

Julien credited his goaltenders, but the coach was impressed with the entire team for playing as well as it did while dealing with the flu, especially Reilly Smith, who was questionable for Saturday's game but played and scored two goals.

"They're two among a lot," Julien said of his goaltending tandem. "Both those guys were sick and they played throughout those situations, but a lot of others did too. I commend the whole team for how they responded. We didn't know every day who was going to come in sick and how many players we were going to have. At the end of the day, we tried to dress the maximum number of players, even though they may not have been 100 percent."

The Bruins entered Saturday's game with a chance to go 4-0-0 on the road trip, but Vancouver squashed Boston's plan and finished with a 6-2 win. Despite the final score, Julien was pleased with the team's effort. Boston created plenty of quality scoring opportunities, but Canucks netminder Roberto Luongo played well and finished with 39 saves.

"The effort was there, so certainly happy with our whole road trip," Julien said. "It would've been nice to come home finishing it off with a win, but that's not the case. We have an opportunity to have another streak here in these next four games before the Christmas break, so we'll bounce back tomorrow."

Joe McDonald

Reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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