|05.30.11 at 4:55 pm ET|
The Bruins held their final practice before departing for Vancouver in preparation for Wednesday’s opening game of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals at Rogers Arena.
Every player was on the ice – with the exception of defenseman Shane Hnidy – for the 45-minute skate that began at 11:35 and ended with several laps of hard skating around the rink, which was covered in a thin haze of fog by the end of the session. It was the first day back on the ice for several players since winning Game 7 Friday night against Tampa Bay.
“Conditioning doesn’t go bad,” coach Claude Julien said. “We came back on the ice, and then as a whole team, it was obviously a little warm out there today. So, the ice was probably not at its best and it was a tough grind to push through this practice today, which I think is not a bad thing because we might as well get used to it.
“That’s what the buildings are like on game nights. I thought we pushed ourselves pretty good today and did a little bit of sprints at the end to make sure we raise the volume, if you want, and [Tuesday] hopefully, we’ll be really good and flying out there in Vancouver and getting ready for Wednesday.”
“They don’t get the same amount of ice time those others do,” Julien said. “And with Thorty not having played, I think it was important for them to get a regular turn at practice. And those other guys play a lot. Whether it’s Mark who we like to give a rest at times, or Bergy, who plays a lot, we kind of rotate through that. I wouldn’t read more into it than it was.”
Julien moved Peverley up to the second shift during Friday’s Game 7 against Tampa Bay, replacing Recchi at times to give the line added speed with Bergeron.
Peverley told WEEI.com’s Scott McLaughlin he’s totally fine with moving from line to line, especially at this time of year.
|05.30.11 at 4:52 pm ET|
For the entire first two rounds of the playoffs, Rich Peverley played on a line with Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder. It was the same line — with some guest appearances by Tyler Seguin — that he had played on since coming to Boston in mid-February.
In Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals, however, Peverley was dropped down to the fourth line. Patrice Bergeron‘s absence in the first two games had opened the door for Seguin to assert himself as a top-nine forward, and once Bergeron returned, Peverley found himself as the odd man out of the top three lines.
The problem for Claude Julien — one any coach would love to have — was that Peverley was simply too good to keep on the fourth line. He is solid defensively and he kills penalties. He has the speed and vision to create chances on offense. And he has been the Bruins’ second-best faceoff man behind Bergeron, having ranked 13th in the NHL in the regular season with a 55.9-percent success rate.
So in Game 7 against the Lightning, Julien got Peverley on the ice any way he could. He slid him onto other lines throughout the game, both giving Peverley more ice time and giving some other guys more rest in the process. In fact, Peverley had played on all four lines by the end of the first period.
“I’m all over the place,” Peverley said Monday. “But I enjoy getting minutes. I just try to play my game and use my speed. I’m lucky I’m used in all situations. … Whichever way the minutes come, it really doesn’t matter to me as long as I continue to play my game.”
The only concern with moving Peverley around so much would be that there wouldn’t be much chemistry. Peverley said that isn’t an issue, though, because everyone knows how everyone else plays by this point in the season.
“You don’t want to change too much,” he said. “You want to try and play your game, and hopefully guys will adapt to you, also. … I think everybody I’ve played with so far, I had a chance to play with them even before last game. So you already know what guys are doing, and that helps.”
Whether or not Julien continues to bounce Peverley up and down the line chart against the Canucks remains to be seen, but Peverley said he’s ready to play with anyone.
“Yeah, I think so, just being out there in different situations,” Peverley said when asked if he expects to be used in a similar role. “Claude relies on me a little bit for faceoffs, so sometimes I stay out there, sometimes I change. Just being able to play with everybody, I think that’s good for me, too, because it gets me a little more ice time.”
|05.30.11 at 4:49 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — If some in Vancouver are concerned about the stats regarding the series’ top players favoring the Bruins, Canucks coach Alain Vigneault is not among them. The coach noted after Monday’s practice that the teams meet far too rarely to read into any head-to-head history.
In three career games vs. Vancouver, Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas has allowed just one goal while picking up a pair of shutouts. The Sedin twins haven’t fared too well against Boston in their playing days, as Daniel Sedin has five points in 10 career games vs. the B’s, while his brother, Henrik Sedin, has totaled four points vs. the B’s in 11 games.
“This is a team that we only play once a year, that we don’t see very often, so that one game in the season is probably not reflective of how both teams play on a regular basis,” Vigneault said. “It can be, but since we don’t see one another very often, I don’t think you can put too much emphasis on the stats from that game when you play once a year against a team.”
|05.30.11 at 4:40 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — The Canucks haven’t seem game action since eliminating the Sharks in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals. In an attempt to stay sharp during their eight-day layoff before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals against the Bruins, the team scrimmaged before working on special teams in a practice that featured two sessions and lasted an hour and 15 minutes.
Coach Alain Vigneault noted that it was the second time since the conference finals concluded that he has had his team scrimmage.
“We scrimmaged today just to make sure that our guys are physically and mentally sharp on the ice,” Vigneault, who won the Jack Adams award with the Canadiens in 2007, said after the practice. “Instead of doing drills, we figured that this was the proper way to get them ready.”
|05.30.11 at 2:44 pm ET|
Bruins coach Claude Julien admitted Monday to one of the long-standing traditions of NHL coaches and players who compete in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Julien said he has avoided coming in direct contact with the oldest trophy in North American professional sports and will keep from having his picture taken with it until he’s earned that privilege by winning it.
“I have [avoided the Stanley Cup],” Julien said following the Bruins final skate before departing for Vancouver and Game 1 of the finals on Wednesday. “I’ve seen it in the Hall of Fame in Toronto. I have stayed away from it. And all I said is the day that I even get a picture or touch it will be the day that I’ve earned it. And that’s been my philosophy throughout my career as a coach.”
Julien is coaching in his first Stanley Cup finals in eight seasons as a coach, and fourth in Boston.
|05.30.11 at 2:25 pm ET|
One advantage the Canucks could have over the Bruins is that they’re more comfortable traveling through time zones. Given that the entire Eastern Conference is located in the Eastern time zone, the Bruins rarely have to deal with changing time zones. The Canucks, meanwhile, are one of just four teams located in the Pacific time zone, so they do it on a weekly basis. In fact, the Canucks have already played two opponents in the Central time zone (a two-hour difference) in these playoffs — Chicago and Nashville.
The biggest adjustment for the Bruins will be getting on their normal sleep schedules while losing three hours during the flight to Vancouver. Shawn Thornton, who played on the West Coast with the Ducks in 2006-07, said he gave his teammates some advice on how to deal with that change.
“You’re going to be tired, but you try and force yourself to stay up the first night,” Thornton said. “In my experience, it’s stay up until midnight if you can, then go to bed, and hopefully you’ll wake up around 7 in the morning. If you go to bed too early, you’re going to stay on the same schedule. I’ve seen so many people come out to visit me when I was in Anaheim that would make that mistake. They’d be exhausted by 9:30, go to bed, and be up by 4 in the morning, twiddling their thumbs until everyone else was up. I think you have to try and stay up and that should get you back on schedule.”
Thornton didn’t dress for the last five games of the Eastern Conference finals, but his veteran leadership continues to be a valuable asset for the Bruins. He is one of just two Bruins (along with Mark Recchi) who has won a Stanley Cup, having done so with Anaheim in 2007.
“Embrace it. Enjoy it,” Thornton said when asked what he told his teammates about being on this stage. “You got to take the positive out of everything that’s going on. Just sit back and enjoy it, drink it in.”
Claude Julien said it’s important to have that sort of experience in the locker room.
“Those guys are always valuable in the dressing room,” Julien said of Recchi and Thornton. “They’ve been through it. They’ve seen what’s happened. They can tell a player, ‘Listen, if you thought there was a lot of pressure, there’s going to be even more in the finals, and the intensity just goes up another notch.’ So they’re just giving guys words of wisdom.
“And we also have a coach in Doug Jarvis who’s won as a player, who’s won as a coach. He’s also been a valuable influence on a lot of young players who have talked to him about that stuff. So it’s good to have those people around. They become really important elements of your team at this time of year and we’re happy to have them.”
|05.30.11 at 2:12 pm ET|
Approximately 2,000 raucous fans attended a rally outside TD Garden to send off the Bruins as they left for Vancouver and the opening of the Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday night in British Columbia.
Fans chanted “We want the Cup!” over and over as players and coaches signed autographs before hopping on charter buses for Logan Airport and a cross-continent, six-hour flight to Vancouver.
“I just wanted to support the team,” said Mike Cifrino of Hingham. “Bring back the Cup.”
Reminded that Vancouver won the President’s Trophy for posting the best record in the regular season, Cifrino said that doesn’t change his expectations for a close series.
“Some hard-fought games,” he added. “It’s going to be a defensive game, I think.”
Autographs weren’t the main priority for his son but rather getting multi-media opportunities.
“My son got a lot of videos of his favorite players,” Cifrino said. “We just can’t wait to have them back in Boston.”
The Bruins play Games 1 and 2 Wednesday and Saturday in Vancouver before returning to Boston for Games 3 and 4 next Monday and Wednesday.
The team held its final skate in Boston at the Garden amidst light fog on the ice before leaving for Vancouver. The team will take part in media day in Vancouver Tuesday, with Game 1 set for Wednesday night at 8 p.m. ET.
WEEI.com’s Scott McLaughlin contributed to this report.