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Claude Julien is really, really confident in Tim Thomas

05.13.11 at 1:30 pm ET
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Bruins coach Claude Julien has no doubt that his goaltender is capable of picking up where he left off when the Eastern Conference finals begin Saturday night at TD Garden. Thomas enters the series with a 2.03 goals against, just .02 behind Tampa Bay’s Dwayne Roloson for best among all goaltenders in these Stanley Cup playoffs.

“I think Timmy right now is in the zone, like he’s very, very focused,” Julien said following Friday’s practice at TD Garden. “He’s also calm. Watching him today in practice, he’s very confident and that’s what it’s all about when it comes to goaltending. When a guy is feeling good about his game and confident, he can do almost anything, and Tim is there right now.”

Thomas will face three of the eight top scorers in the playoffs in Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis and Steve Downie when the Lightning visit for Game 1 Saturday night. Tampa Bay arrived in Boston Friday for the start of the series, which continues next Tuesday with Game 2 at the Garden.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, NHL

Claude Julien: Bruins ‘optimistic’ about Patrice Bergeron

05.13.11 at 1:23 pm ET
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Bruins coach Claude Julien has been asked about the status of Patrice Bergeron ever since the 25-year-old went down with a concussion in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, and he has yet to offer any update aside from that Bergeron is feeling better. Friday was no different, though Julien did share a laugh with the media.

“Well I think, I don’€™t know if you guys share a conference before I get here and say who’€™s asking the question today, but I am getting that question asked everyday,” Julien said. “I think he’€™s improving — he really is improving. We’€™re optimistic about him. As Peter [Chiarelli] said, we knew he was going to miss the start of the series and how much he is going to miss, I can’€™t tell you right now. But he is on the right track and we’€™re staying positive.

“Again, I say that every day. I’€™m not going to say much more because when it comes to concussions you have good news and you have setbacks and you have all kinds of things that can happen. I’€™m not going to stand here and change my tune every day except to tell you that right now that’€™s going in the right direction.”

Through 11 games, Bergeron leads the B’s with 12 points this postseason. Julien offered on Thursday that the center had not been doing any sort of workouts.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Claude Julien, Patrice Bergeron,

Brad Marchand on M&M: Tyler Seguin ‘not nervous at all’

05.13.11 at 1:09 pm ET
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Bruins winger Brad Marchand joined the Mut & Merloni show Friday afternoon, as the B’s prepare for Saturday night’s Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals vs. the Lightning. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Both the Bruins and Lightning swept their previous series and have been waiting for more than a week to start this series. Marchand acknowledged the important of coming out strong.

“We just have to make sure that we have a big start to the game,” he said. We’re starting at home and we want to use our fans to our advantage, kind of get them into the game early. Both teams are going to be rusty, we’ve had a while off. But we have to make sure we come out hard.”

Marchand is known for his aggressive, scrappy style. He said he’s always played that way. “I don’t know why. It just seemed to get me more in the game,” he said. “It was something that just kind of came out as I was playing. It was always a fun role to play. I know if I was ever going to break into the league I needed to do something different, and that was it.”

Marchand indicated he’s encouraged by the progress shown by center Patrice Bergeron in his recovery from a concussion. “He’s looking good. He’s feeling better,” Marchand said. “I know he’s got some tests. I don’t know a ton about what’s going on. But I know he’s looking better every day. So, hopefully he’s back here soon.”

Rookie Tyler Seguin is slated to play in Game 1 in place of Bergeron. While it would be Seguin’s first appearance of the postseason, Marchand is confident the youngster will do well.

“He surprises me, the way he just carries himself like nothing bothers him. He’s not nervous at all,” Marchand said. “He looks unbelievable in practice right now. He looks like one of the best players out there in practice. He’s just so fired up and anxious to play that he’s going to come out hard. I’m expecting him to play pretty well in this series. He has so much skill.

“When you watch from up above, you can learn a lot. He’s been taking it in and learning a lot. He’s ready to go. I didn’t have to say anything to him. He knows what he has to do and he’s going to play hard out there.”

Read More: Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, Tyler Seguin,

Andrew Ference on D&C: Claude Julien has fiery side

05.13.11 at 9:57 am ET
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Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference appeared on the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning to talk about the upcoming series with the Lightning. To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Ference said the Bruins are itching to get back to game action after having an eight-day layoff but that they haven’€™t gotten too restless in practice this week. ‘€œThis week’€™s been handled well. We’€™ve had a couple of good practices,’€ Ference said. ‘€œIt actually doesn’€™t feel overloaded. I think it’€™s been just the right amount.’€

Ference said there were still some good battles in practice, though. ‘€œWe had some stitches yesterday,’€ he said. ‘€œYou get battles because you have to stay sharp. … If one guy’€™s going at 95 percent game speed and the other’€™s at 80 percent, it doesn’€™t always work out. That guy at 80 percent gets brought up to speed fast.’€

Ference also talked about matching up against the Lightning and which players he’€™s been focusing on the most.

‘€œI know Johnny [Boychuk] and I are probably going to be up against their second line a lot, so [Vincent] Lecavalier is obviously a guy we’€™re going to have to key on,’€ Ference said. ‘€œHe’€™s been a good player for a long time. But honestly, I’m not big on studying the guys I’m playing against. I just concentrate on myself and what I have to do.’€

As many others have already noted, Ference said the Lightning play more like the Canadiens than the Flyers, especially when it comes to neutral-zone play. ‘€œWe’€™ll have to line up kind of like we did with Montreal,’€ he said. ‘€œWe’ll have to have patience in our game. They can be aggressive, but more often than not, they’€™ll fall back and frustrate teams with their defense and clogging up the neutral zone.’€ Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Andrew Ference, Claude Julien,

Don Cherry on D&C: ‘This is going to be a battle of goaltenders’

05.13.11 at 9:00 am ET
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Hockey Night in Canada commentator Don Cherry checked in with the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning to talk about the Stanley Cup playoffs. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The Bruins picked things up offensively in the series sweep of the Flyers, but Cherry said goals will be at a premium against Lightning backstopper Dwayne Roloson. He predicts both team’s goalies will take center stage in this series.

“I tell you one thing, they won’t get those goals off of Roloson,” Cherry said. “I phoned [Capitals coach] Bruce Boudreau in January and left him a message. I usually don’t do that, but I said, ‘You’ve got to get a hold of that Roloson. This guy will win you the Stanley Cup. He’s hungry, he’s 41 years old, this is his last shot.’ And he didn’t do it. A week later, [Lightning general manager] Stevie Yzerman picked him up. I think he got two shutouts in a row, shut out Washington. He is dynamite.

“And I’ll tell you one thing: Philadelphia, I have never understood them that they have gone 20 years and they seem as if they don’t want to get a good goaltender. It’s beyond me.

“You watch this guy [Saturday night], Roloson. He is dynamite. But Timmy Thomas, right on the money, too. This is going to be a battle of goaltenders.”

Added Cherry of Thomas: “Timmy Thomas is on a roll right now. He’s got something to prove.”

Cherry, who coached the Bruins from 1974-75 through 1978-79, predicts the Bruins will advance to the Stanley Cup finals vs. the Canucks. “I like Boston,” he said. “I picked Boston to be in the finals. But this will be a tough one, because these guys are on a roll ‘€” [Martin] St. Louis and [Vincent] Lecavalier. And [Steven] Stamkos hasn’t really picked it up yet. I’ll tell you one thing: This is going to be a great series.”

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Read More: Don Cherry, Dwayne Roloson, Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos

Tyler Seguin is finally ready for his moment in the playoff spotlight

05.12.11 at 7:15 pm ET
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He was drafted by the Bruins No. 2 overall in last summer NHL entry draft. He was picked by the Bruins as the face of the franchise moving forward into the next decade.

With the latest concussion to Patrice Bergeron, that moment has arrived faster than anyone could have imagined – or hoped.

But we’re about to find out – ready or not – just what kind of special player 19-year-old Tyler Seguin can be for the Bruins.

“I’m trying to keep as sharp as I can both on and off the ice even though I’m not playing,” Seguin said. “You have to work out pretty hard when you’re not in the lineup and do a lot of hard skates and hard workouts so I feel great.

“It’s been a huge learning curve. My defensive zone has gotten a lot better I think. I also believe on a compete level, my battling skills have gotten better and still improving.”

Veteran Mark Recchi, 24 years older than Seguin, doesn’t think the rookie will be overwhelmed in his first playoff action on the Bruins’ third line with Rich Peverley and Michael Ryder, partly because he’s seen the fire of intense playoff hockey in his recent past.

“His competitive level was huge,” Recchi said. “In juniors, I think he was just so darn good that he could kind of get away with skill. He learned how to compete every night and he learned to be a pro. It was great to see he was willing to learn, he was willing to talk to guys, get better, want to get better and when you have that, you’re going to get better. If you think you’re too good, you’re not going to get better, but he improved tremendously over the course of the season in terms of how hard he competed and it was great to see. This is another level, and he’s ready for it. It will be fun.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Mark Recchi

With playoff layoff, Bruins making the most of their time

05.12.11 at 2:06 pm ET
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In just two days, fans will be able to see something they haven’t seen in a while: a Bruins hockey game.

Sure, this time of year, the wait is generally longer for the next Bruins game (something in the neighborhood of five months), but it still been quite a while for these B’s. When the puck is dropped Saturday in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, it will be Boston’s first game in eight days, as they have had penalty of time on their hands since sweeping away the Flyers in the semifinals last Friday.

After the Philadelphia series, the team took the weekend off from skating, returning to practice for Monday and Tuesday before staying off the ice on Wednesday. Thursday, they held their third practice of the extra-long layoff period, and it certainly belonged in the “high intensity” category. Claude Julien reached into his bag of tricks for an interesting drill which featured two goals in the corner, with a short area of space to play in between. It kept things physical, and for a team that’s gone so long without playing actual games, it kept the energy up.

“We have to find the best drills for similar-to-game situations and prepare ourselves for that same intensity like we’ve been playing,” captain Zdeno Chara, who took Tuesday off, said after Thursday’s skate. “We’re having good practices.”

One player who could certainly benefit from such a drill is Tyler Seguin. Physicality is an area in which the No. 2 overall pick’s game is lacking, and as he makes his playoff debut, being able to give and take more contact could come a long way. The rookie noted that it was only the second time the team had done the drill this season. The other came just before a very big win for the team.

“We actually did it once in Vancouver,” Seguin said. “Just going against big teams, you’ve got to be strong on the battles. We were just touching up on that in tight areas.”

By comparison, the B’s had two days off between their seven-game quarterfinal series with the Canadiens and their semifinal showdown vs. Philadelphia. Yet this time, they haven’t had to do a bit or traveling since their Game 4 win on home ice, and while they can appreciate the time off, they know they can’t let up.

“We’ve got to have tough practices,” Seguin said. “We’re going to get our rest and our breaks, but we’ve got to get back to work here. We had a tough practice today, and [we’ll have] another one tomorrow to get ready for Saturday.”

Four wins away from a chance at the Stanley Cup, the B’s are having little trouble staying motivated between the series. It’s the farthest they’ve been since 1992, but it’s not as far as they want.

“It’s been nice to have the time off,” center Chris Kelly said. “It has not been difficult at all. We know that there’s still lots of work to be done.”

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Chris Kelly, Claude Julien, Tyler Seguin

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