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. ‘This week’s been handled well. We’ve had a couple of good practices,’ Ference said. ‘It 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. ‘We had some stitches yesterday,’ he said. ‘You 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.
‘I 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. ‘He’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. ‘We’ll have to line up kind of like we did with Montreal,’ he said. ‘We’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.’
Ference said the key to breaking the Lightning’s much-discussed 1-3-1 scheme is just to play smart and not make it easy for them to retrieve the puck. ‘Obviously good dump-ins, coming with a lot of speed, crisp passes, not forcing plays’ he said. ‘Washington did a lot of crossover dumps and bad dumps. … They showed what not to do.’
When asked why more teams don’t use the 1-3-1 after seeing how successful the Lightning have been, Ference noted that it’s not so much the system itself as it is everyone just being committed to it.
‘If everybody buys into it and everyone’s on the same page and you have a real commitment, any system can work,’ Ference said. ‘There’s no secret formula that’s going to win all the games. The Stanley Cup’s been won by so many different types of systems, but it’s always by a team that plays a team game.’
Ference also talked about coach Claude Julien . A lot of people thought he would’ve been fired if the Bruins lost in the first or second round of the playoffs. Ference said he heard some of the criticisms, but he said Julien has done a good job all along.
‘Him and his staff have been a good coaching staff since they’ve been here, and they haven’t changed or done anything different,’ Ference said. ‘Consistency is what makes them good, and they’ve just kept with the same message and the same philosophy. … I think that’s why you’ve seen consistency from the team in making the playoffs over and over and having success. That’s a real credit. That’s hard to do.’
One of Julien’s biggest strengths is that he’s able to keep everyone calm and collected, something that was made evident after the Bruins fell into an 0-2 hole in the Montreal series. Ference said Julien can be fiery sometimes, though.
‘He’s got fire, yeah. You don’t get to this level as a coach and not have a fire in your belly,’ Ference said. ‘But you have to be honest with it. You can’t just pretend to be angry or pretend to be fired up. You have to have an honesty about you and a fairness about you.’