|10.06.11 at 1:38 pm ET|
By now the cliche about how teams will come out harder against the Bruins because they’re Stanley Cup champions has been used plenty, but there may be no better case of that than Thursday.
The Bruins will be facing the team they eliminated with an easy sweep in the second round last spring when they open the season Thursday against the Flyers. The Bruins’ steamrolling over the Flyers could be considered among the reasons the Flyers blew it up in the offseason, trading captain Mike Richards as well as leading goal-scorer Jeff Carter.
On Thursday, the remaining members of that team, as well as the newcomers, will have to watch the Bruins raise their championship banner in a wild environment at TD Garden. If that can’t motivate a team on opening night, nothing can.
“It’s opening night, so people are jacked up,” defenseman and alternate captain Andrew Ference said after the Bruins’ morning skate. “I think there’s always more concentration on your own team than there is on what’s going on on the other side. Obviously, they want to ruin the party. That’s a no-brainer.”
Ference has plenty of experience being the “other team” at a team’s banner-raising ceremony. He actually made his NHL debut in Dallas against the Stars when they raised their Stanley Cup champions banner in 1999. The Bruins were the Ducks’ opponent for Anaheim’s home opener in 2007, so Ference has twice been a visitor at a banner-raising.
“I can remember a lot more from the Anaheim game, because for the Dallas one, my head was spinning around,” Ference recalled. “It’s an opening night. Team opening nights are a little bit crazier. You wait a little longer in the room for all the pageantry to get done with. You’re mentally prepared for it.”
Players in the Bruins’ room could imagine the Flyers would be motivated to come out harder against the team that ended their season. Guys like David Krejci discussed the importance of focusing on themselves, but Ference noted that given the rivalry that has existed between the two teams, Thursday would be a challenge one way or another.
“Even if we didn’t [eliminate them], it’s a Flyers-Bruins game,” Ference said. “Philly’s always gong to come in and give you a heck of a game. Especially at the start of the season, that’s when you see the crazy hockey. You see some of the big scorers and the seesawing of teams trying to find out who they are. After Thanksgiving, it kind of settles down a bit, but the start of the season is always a little bit crazy.
“You never know what to expect, and it’s usually pretty fun for highlight sand real energetic games. Not always the tightest systems, so no matter if it’s Philly or whoever, we’re going to have tough games and have to be on our toes for all of them.”
|10.06.11 at 12:29 pm ET|
Bring your questions to WEEI.com Bruins beat writer DJ Bean to discuss Thursday night’s season opener and the 2011-12 season. The chat kicks off at 2 p.m.
|10.06.11 at 12:21 pm ET|
Adam McQuaid participated in the Bruins’ morning skate Thursday, taking the ice for the first time since Tuesday. The second-year defenseman had been under the weather, causing him to leave Tuesday’s practice early and miss Wednesday’s altogether.
Claude Julien expressed some optimism after the skate but said the Bruins will make a decision “closer to the game” regarding whether McQuaid will play. If McQuaid can’t go, Matt Bartkowski will play in his place.
Then there’s the question of who will be the healthy scratch among forwards. One would imagine it would be down to third-line wingers Jordan Caron and Benoit Pouliot. Julien did not reveal who would end up watching from the press, saying “we told everybody to be ready for tonight.”
Just a hunch, but the feeling here is that the Bruins pull a bit of a surprise and make Pouliot the scratch.
|10.06.11 at 12:07 pm ET|
Either Mark Recchi had some inside information, or he’s incredibly insightful.
The Bruins on Thursday announced that Andrew Ference and Chris Kelly will share the ‘A’ last worn by the retired winger. Ference and Kelly were the two guys Recchi named first when asked Tuesday about the letter.
Ference will wear the letter for home games, while Kelly will wear it on the road. The two will switch halfway through the season, with Kelly getting it in home games.
The Bruins had the options of giving the letter to one player or sharing it with multiple guys. In the end, they chose to go with two players, and they’re confident they picked the right two.
“We didn’t think we’d get as much impact with just moving it around all the time,” Julien said. “There’s got to be some sort of stability, but our leadership group remains bigger than the letters that are out there. We’re going to take advantage of that inside the dressing room.”
Ference has been with the Bruins since 2007, while Kelly was acquired from the Senators last February. The Bruins didn’t let the fact that Kelly has less than a season of experience with the team get in the way of him being recognized for his leadership.
“He was known as a great leader in Ottawa, but he sort of felt his way through before he started showing those qualities to the extreme,” Julien said. “In the playoffs, it was pretty obvious what kind of a leader he was. Our guys and the coaching staff recognized that.”
|10.06.11 at 9:51 am ET|
Milan Lucic is a hockey player of the people.
He has met plenty of ecstatic Bruins fans this summer and he has listened to them.
What’s been the overriding theme from them about opening night against the Flyers tonight?
I’ve heard from a lot of fans, just walking around the street and getting some feedback from them. They’re all saying this might be the biggest game in 40 years and people haven’t looked forward to a game more than this.
After getting their diamond-studded rings on Tuesday night as their personal reward for giving Boston its sixth Stanley Cup title on June 15 in Vancouver, the Bruins tonight will share their joy with 17,565 of their closest friends inside TD Garden as the 2011 Stanley Cup banner is raised to the rafters at TD Garden, their first in 39 years.
“Obviously, I’ve thought about it and it’s something you think about, that first game and getting to see that banner go up and just take it all in and enjoy the stuff that happening before the game,” Lucic said. “It’s great that people are so appreciative of what we accomplished last year and looking forward to what we can accomplish this year.”
Every player knows what’s next: The challenge of putting the emotions of the banner-raising behind them for 2 1/2 good hours and trying to beat one of the teams they dispatched on their way to the Cup.
They start the 2011-12 season with the new-look Philadelphia Flyers, who will be in their dressing room while the banner is raised, hearing the roars of the crowd in the same building their season ended in last May. That’ll be followed up on Saturday night with the next team they beat, the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“Yeah, it’s going to be a good test, getting two great teams right off the bat, and obviously, they’re teams we beat last year in the playoffs and that’s something that always sticks with you,” Lucic said.
It certainly did for the Bruins last November, when they beat the Flyers, 3-0, in Philadelphia and they had to listen to all the jokes about actually holding on to a three-goal lead, five months after letting it get away in Game 7 of the 2010 Eastern semifinals.
Said Lucic, “I remember the team that knocks you out, you always want to get back to them and beat them in that first game when you play them first in the season. It’ll be a good test playing two elite teams early in the season and there’s probably no better way to get the season off than that.”
|10.05.11 at 5:29 pm ET|
The Bruins announced their 22-man roster Wednesday, as rosters had to be down to a maximum of 23 by 5:00 pm Wednesday. Chris Clark was not signed, while Steven Kampfer and Marc Savard are on injured reserve.
Forwards: Patrice Bergeron, Gregory Campbell, Jordan Caron, Nathan Horton, Chris Kelly, David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Daniel Paille, Rich Peverley, Benoit Pouliot, Tyler Seguin, Shawn Thornton
|10.05.11 at 2:49 pm ET|
The Bruins’ made some surprising news Wednesday when word emerged that they would not be signing Chris Clark, but will that be the extent of the surprise in the coming days?
Based on who’s left on the roster (Clark wouldn’t have been in the lineup anyway), it would appear that the lines would now look like this:
Yet with the exit of Clark, who had been skating with the fourth line in practice, the one remaining line to have even an ounce of uncertainty would be the third line. Jordan Caron had been working with the line, and Pouliot said Wednesday that he isn’t assuming he’s sewn up a spot.
“We’ll be battling out there,” Pouliot said. “Whoever plays the best and whoever works the hardest will have that spot. I’ll just try to do that, Claude’s going to notice and I’ll hopefully get in the lineup pretty steady.”
If the Bruins pull a shocking move and play Caron over Pouliot, it wouldn’t be the first time Pouliot’s dealt with healthy scratches. He’s had to watch from the press box before, including last year in Montreal for the final four games of the conference quarterfinals.
His experience with being a healthy scratch doesn’t make it any easier, but Pouliot said Wednesday that if he ever does face such adversity in Boston, he’ll know how to deal with it.
“In the past, I’d usually get down on myself when that would happen, like, ‘Oh man, that’s not good,'” he said “I would be too negative, but I’ve learned throughout the year that there’s injuries, there are players that don’t grow sometimes and they need a boost from someone else. You’ve just got to stay positive, stay confident and you’ll be in the lineup soon.”
Pouliot said that if he is to be scratched at any point, he won’t get caught up in trying to figure out why. That’s something he struggled with in Montreal with Jacques Martin.
“I still wonder why [it happened] in Montreal,” Pouliot said. “It was hard to follow. At the same time, you learn from it. I would get down on myself so much that I would get off my game and not play the way I’m supposed to play. I think I learned from that coming into camp this year and working out this summer. [I’ve got] no worries, man. It’s a long year. Anything can happen. If you’re in the lineup, you’re in. If you’re not, work harder and you’ll be in. I don’t think it’s a big problem. It’s just a matter of working hard for me.”
Julien seemed a bit irked when asked about Pouliot on Wednesday, but a question about Clark brought the discussion of roster questions full-circle.
“At the end of the day,” Julien said, “there’s going to be some decisions made for a lot of things whether it’s some surprises or deceptions.”
Is there even a decent chance that Caron could play Thursday? One wouldn’t think so, but Pouliot isn’t taking anything as a given. If it happens, he feels he’ll know how to deal with it.