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Andrew Ference on D&C: After Cup title, ‘you really realize how meaningless the stuff in the regular season is’

12.22.11 at 1:20 pm ET
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Andrew Ference

Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference checked in with Dennis & Callahan guest hosts Dale Arnold and Bob Ryan Thursday for his weekly chat. With the Bruins sitting atop the Eastern Conference, Ference talked about the HBO 24/7 special, the Bruins’ road success, and how Zdeno Chara became as good as he is.

The Bruins are on an impressive streak, but Ference said the excitement of the regular season just doesn’t compare to the playoffs.

“Obviously, the playoffs were more fun than it is right now,” Ference said. “I think that everybody’s got a pretty good head on their shoulders this year, and I think it’s due to the fact that we did win last year. If we wouldn’t have won last year and we were going on a run like this, I think guys would be a lot more giddy and patting ourselves on the back. But I think when you go through a championship run, you really realize how meaningless the stuff in the regular season is. All this is is prep work. And this is this trying to reach our first goal of just making the playoffs.”

Added Ference of the regular season: “It’s great. It’s entertaining. But for players it’s prep. It’s getting ready and trying to prime ourselves and make sure that we’re going in the right direction. And we’re learning all our lessons, but the first goal is just to try to make the playoffs. We’re building toward that. And I think everybody’s keeping a good head about it.”

Asked if this edition of the Bruins is better than last season’s Cup champions, Ference said: “It’s hard to compare, but I think the one advantage we do have is mentally. Just, like I said, learning what it takes, and not having the Stanley Cup be like a fairy tale. It’s a reality to all of us now. That’s a huge advantage. It’s one thing to imagine what it takes to win. But it’s another thing to know and to be there and go through it and have a lot of the same guys in the locker room with you again to go after it again. So, I think that’s the one huge advantage that we have over last year.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, including Ference talking about the his holiday plans, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

On the Bruins’ toughness: “I think the one thing that’s been done here is, obviously Peter [Chiarelli] has done a good job of getting the right personalities in the room. Because you can’t have five guys on the team that are willing to do everything they can for the team and then have 15 that aren’t, or 10 and 10, or whatever the split is. You need every single guy to buy in or it just doesn’t work.

“It really only takes two or three guys to drag down an entire team, it really does, it’s amazing how quickly, especially in tough times, a bad apple can just attract guys and just bring the whole room down. It happens quickly and it’s just like a poison, so one thing they’ve done good here is get rid of some of the guys that had that and bring in guys that that weren’t like that. That’s essential, especially over the long term. For as many years as a lot of us have been here it’s been a really great locker room. The season’s too long to have bad apples and guys that don’t stick up for your guys that you can’t look across at in the room and know that they’re going to work their butt off every night for you.”

On the Bruins being better on the road than at home: “The only thing I can think of is that really our game is based around kind of ugly — well, it’s kind of ugly hockey. It’s tough. With the fans here, we get worse. Really when we play simple, and when we do all the really simple hockey plays, we’re at our best. And sometimes that’s easier on the road when you don’t have anxious home fans waiting for a quick goal. That’s the only thing I can think of. But it’s not like we’ve been horrible at home. … I think if it’s one thing, it’s keeping it simple. And you’re really not trying to impress anybody on the road. You really just locking the other team down and playing the way we are good at, which is pounding and grinding and doing the same thing over and over again.”

On the HBO 24/7 show and if he was disappointed the Bruins didn’t get more face time in the last episode: “Maybe they have a limit of curse words that they can use, I don’t know. I don’t think they wanted to highlight that too much. I love that show. I just hope that we’re never on it. I love watching other teams, but I don’t think I would want them in our room. … The filter that we would have to put on our mouths and stuff that comes out between guys and the inside jokes that we’ve had for the last four or five years between a lot of us, it couldn’t be said out loud on TV, so it would be tough. It would be really tough.”

On Zdeno Chara’s improvement since junior hockey: “The funny thing about Z is, I’ve known him since I think I was 17 years old. I played junior hockey against him and then he worked out in Edmonton where I did in the summertime. And if you want[ed] to see him when he first came over here to play junior hockey, you wouldn’t have thought NHL. That wouldn’t have been the first thought in your head.

“He wasn’t the prettiest skater in the world, that’s for sure. So, the thing about Z is, a lot of people probably seeing him now can think, ‘Wow, he just has that God-given ability and look how big he is, of course he’s going to be a superstar.’ But this guy has worked so hard and has come further than almost any other player that I know in the NHL. Everybody improves, but his level of improvement blows most guys out of the water. And he’s done it on his own. His work ethic is well documented. His success isn’t just God-given. He worked really hard.”

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