MONTREAL, Quebec — The Bruins weren’t biting on any Canadiens sweep talk during the off-day morning skate, and instead took a business-like approach to practice at the Bell Centre on a rainy Tuesday afternoon. Too many veteran skaters wearing Spoked B sweaters have been through the wars, and witnessed crazy-strange things happen to completely turn around a seemingly one-sided hockey playoff series.
The Bruins are instead focused on coming out Wednesday night in Game 4 and preparing for a Bleu, Blanc and Rouge storm similar to the one that nearly engulfed them in the first 10 minutes of Game 3. Once the Habs blitz passes, the B’s will stick to the same game plan that’s put them within 60 minutes of advancing to the conference semi-finals for the first time in 10 years: adherence to the disciplined system play, letter-perfect positioning and passes and and a flat-out refusal to engage the Habs in any of their after-the-whistle games.
Several B’s players talked about their own personal experiences being in the drivers’ seat of a hockey playoff series only to watch it all slip away from them — a valuable lesson to some of the young guys in the dressing room that haven’t been up by such a big margin in a postseason series before.
“I was in the semi-finals against New Jersey several years ago, and we were up 3-1 going home. We ended up losing Game 5 and then losing the series,” said Recchi. “You don’t want to let the other team get momentum. We want to make sure we go out there and play the right way. They’re not going to quit. They’re going to play hard. I know their leader over there (Saku Koivu), and he’s not going to let anybody quit. We’ve got to be ready to match that.”
–Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference skated for the second straight day prior to Bruins practice, and was moving around with little difficulty as he progresses from the dreaded “undisclosed injury”. Ference indicated to reporters yesterday that the injury wasn’t concussion-related, and several reports have reported it to be a lower body injury — though the D-Man isn’t confirming or denying anything at playoff time.
—Milan Lucic, dutifully serving out his suspension on Monday night after cross-checking Maxim Lapierre in the head in Game 2, was engaged in a workout within the catacombs of the Bell Centre while watching the first period of Monday’s Game 3. Looch was having a hard time not getting caught up in the intensity stirred up by the crowd and the hard-hitting action on the ice, and was sweating more from game-watching than the workout.
“I don’t think I’ve ever sweat so much watching a game before,” said Lucic. “I was really getting into it and it’s different when you’re on the bench playing in the game then when you’re in the stands watching. I was just proud of the guys for coming up with a big effort last night. Give a lot of credit to them.
“I was training and watching on TV during the first period, and it was even more stressful. You guys know how it is with the five-second delay on the TV. You’d hear a roar and that type of stuff, and you’d have no idea what was going on,” added Lucic.
The Big Bad winger also said that he managed to make it through the Game 2 cross-checking/suspension fall-out without getting a scolding reprimand from anybody in the Lucic household — and offered a little closer look into his mindset during the entire exchange.
“My parents were in the stands and they actually saw it, and had an angle where they got a really good look at it. No trouble from them or grandparents or anything like that,” said Lucic. “It was me and (Mathieu) Schneider and nothing was going to come of it. I was ready to go to the penalty box and then Lapierre came flying in from the side. I brought my hands up and I know it was all glove to face. He turned his head, and whatever happened, happened.”
–B’s coach Claude Julien is expected to insert Milan Lucic back into his customary spot after he was skating with David Krejci and Michael Ryder during Tuesday morning’s skate, but the choice for a healthy scratch becomes that much more difficult given how well Byron Bitz played Monday night. Bitz and Blake Wheeler were both skating with Stephane Yelle and Shawn Thornton on the fourth line, and Julien said it’s no easy choice after watching last night’s line play. Both forwards bring something different to the mix, but there’s no denying how well Bitz/Yelle/Thornton play as a unit.
“It was the last two minutes of the game and (Bitz, Yelle and Thornton) were on (the ice) with a one goal lead. I didn’t do anybody any favors (in Game 2),” said Julien. “I put the people out there that deserved to be out there. They were as good as anybody on the team as far as taking care of their own end and putting pressure in the offensize zone.
“I’ll tell you one thing right now: there is somebody tomorrow that’s going to be sitting out that doesn’t deserve to be sitting out. That much I can tell you.”
—Dennis Wideman was the No. 1 Star of Monday night’s game and played 24 plus minutes of effective hockey that included setting up a pair of goals with his long bomg shots from the point. It wasn’t just the score sheet plays that stayed with Julien one day later, though. Instead it was Wideman’s ability to start a Bruins breakout that was pretty close to flawless through large portions of the second and third period.
“I really like his composure. When they were forechecking us hard it would have been easy for him and all the other D to just take the puck and rim it along the boards,” said Claude Julien. “They were pinching along the boards and it would have just been turnover after turnover. Dennis was so calm, skated with it and took that extra second to make the pass. That’s what you need. To me your defenseman are your quarterbacks and your offense moves the way that they move the puck.”