|Brian Leetch on M&M: Bruins ‘don’t feel an underdog’||06.01.11 at 12:09 pm ET|
Hall of Fame defenseman Brian Leetch joined the Mut & Merloni show Wednesday morning to talk about the Stanley Cup finals, which get under way Wednesday night in Vancouver. To hear the interview, go the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
Leetch, who grew up in Connecticut and played collegiately at Boston College, was asked about the Bruins being underdogs in this series.
“I know they don’t feel an underdog,” he said. “When you have two good teams playing, sometimes it’s just an easier pick to pick the team with more points during the regular season, or they had a couple of better stats. But you look at their stats up and down, these teams ‘ we’ve almost gotten to 100 games now ‘ are almost identical. Right through the playoffs and the regular season, there’s not much that separates them. The goaltending is both excellent, their top players, their depth.”
Asked about the Bruins being physical while avoiding penalties, Leetch said: “I think when we talk about the Bruins playing physical, it kind of gets taken a little out of context, of them going outside of their game or playing some different style. Really, their game is to get the puck in, is to finish their checks. It’s not to physically intimidate a team or to injure or to get a different style of play going.
“It’s their strength. It’s the way they play. And that doesn’t mean taking the extra run, it doesn’t mean going out of your way. It means getting he pucks int eh areas where you can get in on the forecheck, where you can take the body, where you can play physical. And the Bruins know as a team, you’ll hear it come out of each guy’s mouth, that we’re at our best when we play that way. We’re at our best when we finish checks, we’re moving our feet, we’re involved physically. So, I don’t think it does anything to take them out of a comfort zone or to run around. It’s just emphasis on playing the game the right way, which for the Bruins means playing physical.”
|Bruins notes Monday: Claude Julien pumps up the volume and Rich Peverley gets the gold||05.30.11 at 4:55 pm ET|
The Bruins held their final practice before departing for Vancouver in preparation for Wednesday’s opening game of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals at Rogers Arena.
Every player was on the ice – with the exception of defenseman Shane Hnidy – for the 45-minute skate that began at 11:35 and ended with several laps of hard skating around the rink, which was covered in a thin haze of fog by the end of the session. It was the first day back on the ice for several players since winning Game 7 Friday night against Tampa Bay.
“Conditioning doesn’t go bad,” coach Claude Julien said. “We came back on the ice, and then as a whole team, it was obviously a little warm out there today. So, the ice was probably not at its best and it was a tough grind to push through this practice today, which I think is not a bad thing because we might as well get used to it.
“That’s what the buildings are like on game nights. I thought we pushed ourselves pretty good today and did a little bit of sprints at the end to make sure we raise the volume, if you want, and [Tuesday] hopefully, we’ll be really good and flying out there in Vancouver and getting ready for Wednesday.”
“They don’t get the same amount of ice time those others do,” Julien said. “And with Thorty not having played, I think it was important for them to get a regular turn at practice. And those other guys play a lot. Whether it’s Mark who we like to give a rest at times, or Bergy, who plays a lot, we kind of rotate through that. I wouldn’t read more into it than it was.”
Julien moved Peverley up to the second shift during Friday’s Game 7 against Tampa Bay, replacing Recchi at times to give the line added speed with Bergeron.
Peverley told WEEI.com’s Scott McLaughlin he’s totally fine with moving from line to line, especially at this time of year.
Bruins coach Claude Julien admitted Monday to one of the long-standing traditions of NHL coaches and players who compete in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Julien said he has avoided coming in direct contact with the oldest trophy in North American professional sports and will keep from having his picture taken with it until he’s earned that privilege by winning it.
“I have [avoided the Stanley Cup],” Julien said following the Bruins final skate before departing for Vancouver and Game 1 of the finals on Wednesday. “I’ve seen it in the Hall of Fame in Toronto. I have stayed away from it. And all I said is the day that I even get a picture or touch it will be the day that I’ve earned it. And that’s been my philosophy throughout my career as a coach.”
Julien is coaching in his first Stanley Cup finals in eight seasons as a coach, and fourth in Boston.
|Bruins fans agree: ‘We want the Cup!’||at 2:12 pm ET|
Approximately 2,000 raucous fans attended a rally outside TD Garden to send off the Bruins as they left for Vancouver and the opening of the Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday night in British Columbia.
Fans chanted “We want the Cup!” over and over as players and coaches signed autographs before hopping on charter buses for Logan Airport and a cross-continent, six-hour flight to Vancouver.
“I just wanted to support the team,” said Mike Cifrino of Hingham. “Bring back the Cup.”
Reminded that Vancouver won the President’s Trophy for posting the best record in the regular season, Cifrino said that doesn’t change his expectations for a close series.
“Some hard-fought games,” he added. “It’s going to be a defensive game, I think.”
Autographs weren’t the main priority for his son but rather getting multi-media opportunities.
“My son got a lot of videos of his favorite players,” Cifrino said. “We just can’t wait to have them back in Boston.”
The Bruins play Games 1 and 2 Wednesday and Saturday in Vancouver before returning to Boston for Games 3 and 4 next Monday and Wednesday.
The team held its final skate in Boston at the Garden amidst light fog on the ice before leaving for Vancouver. The team will take part in media day in Vancouver Tuesday, with Game 1 set for Wednesday night at 8 p.m. ET.
WEEI.com’s Scott McLaughlin contributed to this report.
|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.”
|Bruins and Lightning taking different approaches on day of Game 7||05.27.11 at 1:33 pm ET|
There are plenty of ways a team could treat a game of Friday night’s magnitude, and the Bruins and Lightning are taking two different approaches. Claude Julien said on Thursday that he wanted his players to be excited and he wanted them to fully realize the opportunity that was in front of them. He reiterated that Friday morning.
“Our guys just have to enjoy this whole process,” Julien said. “As I mentioned yesterday, there’s 27 teams right now that would love to have the opportunity that we have in the playoffs right now. This is one of those days where I think if you don’t enjoy the moment, you’re wasting a pretty precious day. You take advantage of it today, you get ready, you get excited about it, you come out tonight and you leave it all out there on the ice. Simple as that. Anything less than that is a waste of a day.”
The Lightning are taking a slightly different approach. Guy Boucher is trying to rein in his team’s emotions and not get caught up in the magnitude of the game.
“I think that’s the challenge is to be able to control these emotions,” Boucher said. “We didn’t want our players or ourselves playing the game last night or this morning or this afternoon. It’s our job to make sure that we stay focused on what we’ve got to to do, not the hype of everything else that this game means.”
It will be interesting to see if one approach pays off more than the other, or if either approach even has an effect on the game. Players often say that everything goes out the window once you get into the flow of the game anyway, so it’s entirely possible that neither team’s game-day mindset will mean anything once the puck is dropped.
Versus NHL analyst and former NHL center Ed Olczyk joined the Mut & Merloni show Friday to talk about the Eastern Conference finals Game 7 showdown between the Bruins and Lightning. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
Olczyk made a comment during the Game 6 broadcast on Versus about Bruins coach Claude Julien needing to mix up the lines to get more consistent offense. While he acknowledged Friday, “I think Claude has pushed a lot of the right buttons,” he stood by his analysis.
“If you look at the [David] Krejci line, with them having the majority of the success at even strength, I just kind of felt at that time, when you look up at the shot [totals] and there’s not a lot of generating going on, you look to try to change it up,” he said. “You look to add a little spark somewhere.”
Olczyk also suggested making a change on the Bruins’ power play, which has struggled all postseason.
“If you are struggling ‘ and I think at times the Bruins have done all the right things, they just haven’t been able to score,” he said. “So, the issue is, the check and balance is, do you drastically change your personnel and load up? I think for me, I think at some point if you’re going to play Big Z [Zdeno Chara] in front of the net, I think you’ve got to put Patrice Bergeron on a point on the power play if you’re not going to play him down low because you’ve got Krejci and [Nathan] Horton and Chara down there and you’ve got [Dennis] Seidenberg and [Tomas] Kaberle. I think you load up. I think you put Patrice Bergeron on a point on the power play with Dennis Seidenberg ‘ if that’s my first unit.”
Added Olczyk: “I would suggest loading up your first-power-play unit. And Patrice Bergeron’s got to be on that first power-play unit. I just think he has that ability. He had a quiet game [Wednesday]. I think he’s been terrific since he’s come back, but he was very quiet, probably a little too quiet in Game 6. But for me, I would put Bergeron on a point with Seidenberg. I would put Kaberle on the second unit. And I would load up with Chara, Krejci and Horton on that first power-play unit. If you’re going to go down, go down with your best guys. Go down swinging.