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Bruins looking for a ‘little bit of revenge’ against Canes

10.03.09 at 1:02 pm ET
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Ward will be back for his first game against the Bruins since getting traded to the Canes this summer

Ward will be back for his first game against the Bruins since getting traded to the Canes this summer

Revenge was on the mind of several Bruins players Saturday morning headed into a game against a Carolina Hurricanes team that eliminated them in heart-wrenching overtime fashion in Game 7 last season.

It wasn’t the biggest or most prevalent thought after dropping a bomb against the Washington Capitals opening night, and the B’s know that priority number is getting their own hockey house in order. But hockey players have long memories when it comes to sudden, season-ending defeats with the kind of passion raised by a seven-game series leading to the conference finals.

B’s coach Claude Julien said he didn’t care what motivated his team – whether they needed the extra little oomph from last year’s series with the Canes or a public drubbing at the hands of the Caps was more than enough – but he expected a far different hockey team out of the gate and through 60 minutes in game No. 2.

“Is it revenge? Is it about this year, about winning a hockey game? It can be about a lot of different things,” said Julien. “I don’t care how the guys think about it. I just really care about us going out there, and it’s more about how we’re going to perform tonight than anything else. Whichever way they want to motivate themselves, that’s OK with me. We just have to bounce back from a tough outing.”

Julien pulled Lucic aside during Friday’s practice and had a long chat with his Hulk on skates, and it was most likely about the lack of first line impact in their 4-1 loss to the Caps. The trio totaled one shot on net through 60 uninspired minutes, and Lucic practically invited Alexander Ovechkin over for tea and crumpets when the Russian winger climbed through Big Bad Looch in the slot for his second goal of the night.

Plenty of the Bruins were still stuck in their hibernating slumber Thursday, and the Hurricanes just might be enough to poke the Bear in the cage.

“Obviously they’re a team that spoiled our season last year, and I think there’s a lot of thinking going into this game that [Carolina] would be a great team to get us on the right track,” said Milan Lucic. “They’d be a great team to get our first win against.

“It’s definitely not going to be easy and we expect them to come out hard. Everybody is still a little bitter about what happened last year. It’s only the regular season, but they’re a big two points that we need. Get that first win of the season, and it’d be a lot nicer if it comes against these guys. Not a lot of revenge, but just a little bit. Just enough [payback] to have a smile on your face when the game is over.”

The B’s and Canes had almost mirror-image openers – with the B’s losing on Thursday and Carolina dropping a similarly uninspired debut against the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday night – and both finished with 0-fers on the power play while struggling to put together offense.

With Tim Thomas in net and no discernible changes to the lineup after Saturday morning’s skate, here are a few thoughts from a select group of B’s players when asked what sticks in their mind from last season’s playoff defeat.

Lucic: “The way they came out. I was real impressed with the way they came out and put us back on our heels, and they put in a real team effort. Guys stepped up for them to score big goals. Just the way they were able to apply pressure and keep it on. I was definitely impressed with the way they were able to do that. We don’t expect anything less from them. The worst thing you can do is underestimate them because they played last night and think they’re going to come out slow. They’ll have that extra bit of jump to get that first win of the year.”

Byron Bitz: “Losing, I guess. That was just bitter. Especially the way we battled back in that series. To come up one goal short was pretty tough to take. You look at the lineup is pretty similar to what they have this year. It’s a new season. You don’t want to say ‘revenge’ but it’s important to come out tonight and have a pretty good effort. We played them seven hard games and it’s definitely still in our minds. I watched Game 7 on replay just at the start of camp and watched it. Didn’t get all the way through it. It was such a long game and I already knew the ending.”

David Krejci: “For me, it’s over. What happened last year happened. We know what happened last year, but it’s a new season and we’re looking forward to it. I don’t want to talk about it. I’m over it. I don’t want to go back to it. It was hard, and now we’re here with our team for this year. I don’t want to talk about losses. I just want to talk about the games we won.

Dennis Wideman: “There’s a little extra excitement tonight, and hopefully we can take it to them. When I think about that series, it’s about not playing our best. We didn’t play as good as we could, and we didn’t play like we did in that first series [against the Canadiens]. That’s what leaves the sour taste. If you play as good as you can and you still lost a series, then it’s a little easier to swallow than if you didn’t play as well as you can.

–Aaron Ward will be in his first game back at the Garden since the summer deal to the Carolina Hurricanes, and he’ll be paired with ex-Bruins defenseman Andrew Alberts. Ward has been a steadying, off-beat influence in the Carolina dressing room, and was exactly what the doctor ordered for team chemistry and defensive stability – the same kinds of things he brought to Boston for almost three years. He even has his own radio show in Carolina, something that isn’t shocking to Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice.

“He did a good job last night seeking out the puck carrier in our end and playing physical, which is what we know him to be from playing all those games against him last year,” said Maurice. “He’s a good calming veteran guy with a pretty wicked sense of humor. We like those guys around here. They keep things loose when the grind comes.

“He’s got a bit of a prankster in him. I think he enjoys it. I think you see that with guys like him when they get a little older and get more secure in their careers. When you’ve got three Stanley Cup rings you can probably enjoy the game a little bit. You have to have those kinds of guys in the room, and I think they’re really critical to how your [locker] room operates.”

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