|Game over: Guy Boucher has no tricks, only respect for Claude Julien||05.28.11 at 2:38 am ET|
Much was made of Lightning coach Guy Boucher‘s mind games, as they seemed, in the Eastern Conference finals. The Tampa coach, who does have a degree in psychology, displayed various tactics to seemingly mess with the Bruins’ heads, from discussing imaginary Tim Thomas quotes to saying before each of the first two games that Patrice Bergeron would play, to overemphasizing Tyler Seguin‘s impact, to cleverly calling out a referee without using his name. During the series, Bruins coach Claude Julien would have subtle and not-so-subtle responses to Boucher’s methods, noting that Boucher was hyping the Bruins more than he was his own team, and after Game 6, Julien said he feared the pre-game referee talk could have influenced the game.
With the series in the books, Boucher had one last press conference, and it turns out that if he used a trick at all, it was a case of killing Julien with kindness. When asked how he felt the Bruins might fare against the Canucks in the Stanley Cup finals, Boucher was sincere with his answer and made a point of it to express his respect for Julien.
“Both teams that make it there, to me, they are on even grounds, but one thing for sure, [the Bruins] are very well coached,” Boucher said. “You know Claude, I coached against him in Juniors, he’s always done a very good job. I was always very happy for his success in the past, obviously not tonight, but as he moves on, if there’s somebody that is going to beat us, that’s one guy I hope gets success.”
|Mark Recchi: ‘This is what I came back for’||05.28.11 at 2:16 am ET|
Bruins assistant captain Mark Recchi made his decision to return for a 22nd season in the NHL last summer, electing to re-up with the B’s after the team was eliminated in the second round by the Flyers. Now that his team is in the Stanley Cup finals, the two-time Cup winner said after Friday’s Eastern Conference-clinching victory over the Lightning that this is what he had in mind when he decided to return.
“This is what I play for, to get this opportunity one more time, and probably my last time is pretty special,” Recchi said. “WIth this group of guys, right from Day 1 in training camp we put a lot of belief in each other, a lot of trust, and a lot of working together. I’m going to end my career at some point and say this is one of the better groups I played with. I’m proud to play with them regardless of what happens.”
At 43 years of age, Recchi may very well be in his last season, as he said late in the regular season that he would retire if the Bruins won the Cup. Now, he’s glad he made the choice to go one more year.
“It’s been a fun year for me,” he said. “This is what I came back for. I’m proud to say I’ve played with these guys.”
|Sean Bergenheim out for Lightning in Game 7||05.27.11 at 8:01 pm ET|
Lightning forward Sean Bergenheim is out Tampa’s lineup for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals vs. the Bruins. Bergenheim missed Game 6 with an undisclosed lower body injury suffered in Game 5 of the series. Coach Guy Boucher said Friday mornign that it was “doubtful” Bergenheim would play in Game 7, though he did participate in team’s warmup prior to the game.
Prior to suffering his injury, Bergenheim’s nine goals led all postseason players. David Krejci and Martin St. Louis are tied for the lead with 10.
|Regardless of age, Bruins know they might not get this opportunity again||05.27.11 at 2:01 pm ET|
“You know that that’s the case, but you’re going to do everything you can to seize the moment, seize the opportunity,” Seguin said after Friday’s morning skate in anticipation of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals. “Obviously it’s a great opportunity, and it could be the only conference final Game 7 I ever play in, but who can predict that? Every year you just go out, work your hardest, stay focused and see what happens.”
Soon-to-be 23-year-old Milan Lucic is in a similar boat. He said after Game 6 that Friday’s game was the biggest of his and many of his teammates’ careers, and reiterated his point on Friday. In his case, there’s even more incentive to take down the Lightning at TD Garden, as a win at home would take him to his real home in Vancouver for the finals.
“You never know what can happen in the future. You look at myself, as young as I am even, you never even know if you’ll get another chance like this,” Lucic said Friday. “Especially for myself it’s a chance where if you win a game here, you get to play in your home town for the Stanley Cup. You’ve got to go out there and have fun with no regrets, and lay it all out on the line.”
In Seguin’s case, his rookie campaign has him somewhere where many of his veteran teammates have never been. He isn’t surprised by that, but he knows he and his teammates have to make the most of it.
“Obviously, coming into this year, I knew the Bruins were a Cup-contending team, and you never can predict or know what’s going to happen,” Seguin said. “You’ve just got to take advantage of everything you have, every opportunity you have. That’s what I’m doing and that’s what the team’s doing.”
The Bruins are able to appreciate that this isn’t just any opportunity. Regardless of age, it could be the only time (or the last time) they come this close to playing for a Stanley Cup. They have perhaps the best man for getting that message across to the youngsters.
“We’ve talked a lot about it. You just don’t get that opportunity all the time,” 43-year-old Mark Recchi said. “It’s tough to get to this point in this league. It’s a hard league, and there’s a lot of parity in the league. We have a chance to grab it and run with it. It’s just something you’ve really got to enjoy.”
None of the Bruins know whether they’ll ever come this far again in their careers. Their job now is to take it further.
|Guy Boucher considers Sean Bergenheim ‘doubtful’ for Game 7||05.27.11 at 12:53 pm ET|
Lightning coach Guy Boucher said Friday morning that forward Sean Bergenheim is “doubtful” for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals vs. the Bruins. Bergenheim, who has not played since leaving Game 5 of the series with an undisclosed lower body injury, participated in the team’s morning skate Friday, as he did Wednesday before missing Game 6.
“I wouldn’t say optimistic for now,” Boucher said of Bergenheim. “It’s better. He might try the warm-up. We’ll see. I’ve still got to talk to my therapists and doctors. There’s been some improvement. To what extent, we’ll have to wait and see, but doubtful.”
Bergenheim has nine goals in the playoffs, which at the time of his injury led all postseason skaters. He has since been surpassed by teammate Martin St. Louis and Bruins center David Krejci, both of whom have 10.
Boucher said that the absence of Bergenheim, who was exceeding expectations on the third line (he had 14 goals in the regular season), makes it more difficult to deal with the Bruins’ offensive depth.
“Obviously you want to think of your own team, but at the same time, when you look at the Bruins’ depth, it does make a difference, because instead of equalizing things, it has a tendency to give them a little upper hand on that,” Boucher said. “They’ve got [Tyler] Seguin on their third line and [Michael] Ryder, and [Chris] Kelly is doing really well. They’ve got [Rich] Peverley on the fourth line — first-line guy from another team on their fourth line — and that’s where Bergenheim became extremely important for us in the previous series and this series where the line with [Steve] Downie and [Dominic] Moore played like a first line.”
|After earning another Game 7, Lightning throw out first six games||05.27.11 at 12:38 pm ET|
The Bruins had the chance to close the Lightning out after holding a 2-1 lead after the first period in Game 6, but Tampa stormed back to grab a 5-4 win and force Friday’s Game 7. With a trip to the Stanley Cup finals on the line, Lightning players can appreciate when they did in fending off elimination in Tampa, but are done celebrating the win, or any of the series’ first six games, for that matter.
“The six games mean absolutely nothing now. We did our job. We gave ourselves a chance to play in this game by winning last game,” center Steven Stamkos, who had three points in Game 6, said Friday. “I thought we had a lot of positives, but we have to focus on some things for tonight defensively. We don’t like giving up that many goals, but the power play was going, we got some guys on the board that we need to get going.
“This is going to be an exciting challenge for us tonight. We know it’s not going to be easy, but we need everything going on the right path for us to win tonight.”
This will be Tampa’s second Game 7 of the postseason, as they trailed the Penguins, 3-1, in the first round before rattling off three wins in a row to advance to the second round. Showing the ability to stay alive is nothing knew for the Lightning, but throughout the dressing room, the team’s mindset is the same: keep the past in the past.
“We did [earn the right to play in Game 7],” defenseman Eric Brewer said after Stamkos’ comments. “That’s a good point, but at the end of the day, it’s a Game 7. Both teams recognize that the other six are gone. One team is going to play on, and one’s not, so you just really have to keep your mind in small places and not get too far ahead of yourself.”
Should the Lightning win Friday, it will be the team’s first trip to the Stanley Cup finals since they defeated the Flames for the Cup in 2004.
|Mark Recchi: ‘I haven’t been good, I haven’t been bad’||05.27.11 at 12:24 pm ET|
Bruins forward Mark Recchi has barely made a peep in the Eastern Conference finals, totaling zero point and just six shots on net in the first six games of the series. Asked Friday to evaluate his performance thus far, the 43-year-old admitted that his play has been subpar, but that the past doesn’t matter with the Bruins in a do-or-die Game 7 vs. the Lightning.
“I think the first game, I wasn’t good,” Recchi admitted. “I think after that I’ve been OK. I haven’t been good, I haven’t been bad. You know what? That’s all washed away. One game now tonight. We’re going to lay it out on the line and go out and have fun with this and get back to the Stanley Cup finals.”
Recchi’s line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand was strong in the first round vs. the Canadiens, and the winger had four points, including a goal in Game 7, in that series. While his line and Recchi in particular has been more quiet in the third round, Recchi pointed to the different lines stepping up (as it did in Game 6) and invited all four lines to do the same in in Game 7.
“We’ve been together all year. Obviously you like to have an impact, but at the same time, teammates, that’s why we’re here for each other,” Recchi said. “I think earlier in the playoffs, our line was terrific and carried a lot of the burden of the team. Other guys have stepped up and been terrific now. Now it’s one game, and let’s all do it together. That’s the important thing, is we all have one opportunity here to get to the Stanley Cup finals, and we’ll do it together.”
Recchi has two goals and five assists this postseason for seven points and a plus-4 rating. He is a minus-5 in the conference finals.
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