Never mind Thanksgiving. There was no holiday for the Bruins as they hit the ice at TD Garden Thursday for a rigorous practice, with plenty to work on after Wednesday’s disastrous 6-1 loss in Detroit and the Rangers waiting in the wings for a matinee game Friday.
After practice, the players held a closed-door meeting.
The team needed to reestablish its confidence, said Patrice Bergeron, “but also realize that we have high expectations for ourselves and that we need to always demand it of everyone and go from there.’’
And while the Bruins hit the Thanksgiving mark in first place in the Eastern Conference, with more than a quarter of the season gone, the loss to the Red Wings was so thorough it required some assessment.
“It was very disappointing and uncharacteristic of our team,’’ said Bergeron. “That being said, we’ve got to learn from it, and today I thought we were right back to feeling a little better about ourselves and tried to work on things that it was obvious weren’t successful yesterday, and try to increase our work ethic obviously for the next two games.”
Working on fast breakouts and defensive zone coverage — and not the breakdowns already made against the Red Wings — focused the players on things they can change.
“I think it was great to get back on the ice today, make sure we work on things and get back to good habits,’’ said Bergeron.
Chris Kelly said the bad loss could be both a learning experience and a warning.
“I think there’s aspects of the game that you just want to forget about, but there’s aspects of the game that you put in your memory bank and you learn from,’’ said Kelly. “Things happen for a reason and, yeah, we’ve been playing better, but there’s been times we’ve been winning games and haven’t been playing our best, and maybe it took a game like last night to realize we need to be more consistent, we need to be better.
“A loss is a loss but maybe that one will sink in a little bit more than a one-goal loss.”
For coach Claude Julien, it’s important to narrow the gap between the good games and the bad ones. The first task was to leave Detroit behind.
“It’s just about building your team up again,’’ said Julien. “It was just an awful night for us. No matter what we did, we weren’t very good, and no matter when we did something right, it didn’t seem to want to go in. We hit a crossbar, a post, and missed some good chances.
“Still not enough to have won the game, but it was one of those nights where you really have to turn the page and hopefully look at the future — what’s ahead of you, not what’s behind you.
“We’ve been through this a few times before in other years. Every team goes through some of those games. You just don’t accept it; you do something about it. We have the opportunity to be a better team tomorrow against New York.”
Julien is glad to be in first place at Thanksgiving, though the journey hasn’t been steady.
“We are where we want to be right now,’’ said Julien. “Through the ebbs and flows of a regular season, you want to try to remain at the top, as high as you can be, but at the same time, you want to try and make yourself better. That’s the opportunity you have during the regular season.’’
The last time the Bruins played the Rangers, Nov. 19, they gave a lackluster performance and allowed goalie Tuukka Rask to do almost all the work in a 2-1 victory.
“We weren’t very good in New York,’’ said Julien. “We know we’ve got to be much better tomorrow. We’ve got to bounce back for many reasons — bounce back for how we played in New York, and especially for how we played the last game.”
“Personally, I’m glad we came in to practice,’’ said Kelly. “After last night’s performance, you want to get back on the ice as quick as possible and feeling better about yourself.”
See you later
Defenseman Kevan Miller was returned to Providence after spending three games with the Bruins in his first NHL recall, but Julien expects to see the 26-year-old again this season. “We all saw how good a defenseman he was,’’ said Julien. “He was pretty steady.’’ . . . Julien said defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, who has missed four games with a lower-body injury, is a “possibility” for Friday’s game. “He felt pretty good today,’’ said Julien . . . Defenseman Adam McQuaid played his first game Wednesday after missing eight with a lower-body injury. But given the poor game played by the whole team, he said, “It was hard to get a real good feel for where I was at. I felt OK.” . . . Shawn Thornton has many roles on this team, including Thanksgiving host. Thornton and his wife invited a flock of teammates for dinner, including Gregory Campbell, Dougie Hamilton, McQuaid, Reilly Smith, and Milan Lucic and his wife. “We’ve got two turkeys, a ham, and a bunch of sides,’’ said Thornton. “There’s always lots of leftovers.’’