|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.
|Mark Recchi only man missing from Bruins morning skate||at 10:42 am ET|
Mark Recchi was the only Bruin to not take the ice in Friday’s morning skate in anticipation of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals. Recchi generally takes his veteran option for morning skates, leaving a “Recchi’s dozen” of the remaining 11 forwards plus healthy scratch Shawn Thornton out there for forwards.
Defensively, everyone was out there, including healthy scratches Shane Hnidy and Steven Kampfer. Hnidy did not participate in Wednesday’s morning skate.
Check back following the skate for updates from players and coach Claude Julien.
|Bruins can draw on Game 7 vs. Canadiens, but only to a certain extent||05.26.11 at 6:07 pm ET|
The Bruins have experience winning a Game 7 at home, having done so against the Canadiens in the first round. But how much can they actually draw from that come Friday night? Players say at least a little.
“We got some confidence,” David Krejci said Thursday. “We know we’ve been there before, so it’s nothing new to us. Hopefully we can use our experience to our advantage tomorrow.”
Perhaps that will be the case, but there a few flaws in the theory that the Game 7 against Montreal will give Boston any sort of an advantage Friday. First, the Bruins didn’t look nervous at all to start that game. They jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first 5:33, which is an anomaly for a team that has surrendered seven goals in the opening three minutes of games this postseason. So you can’t really make the argument that they’ll be less nervous.
Second, and more importantly, the Lightning aren’t new to this whole Game 7 thing either. They beat the Penguins on the road in Game 7 in the first round, so no one should expect them to be overwhelmed by the atmosphere and magnitude of the game.
“Obviously we have played in a Game 7, but so have they,” Chris Kelly said. “You can kind of look back and realize how you approached it, but at the end of the day, it’s two new teams, a new situation and a new experience.”
Kelly hit the nail on the head with that last line. A Game 7 in the first round is one thing. A Game 7 in the conference finals with a berth in the Stanley Cup finals on the line is another.
Claude Julien said his team realizes that and that he hopes his players are excited about it.
“Why shouldn’t we be excited? This is what playoffs is all about,” Julien said. “If you had told us at the beginning of the year that we had to win one game to go to the Stanley Cup finals, we would be excited about it. And that’s where we’re at right now.”
|Looking back at Bruins’ Game 7 history over last decade||at 4:38 pm ET|
The Bruins will be fighting for their playoff lives when they take the ice for yet another decisive Game 7.
How many times have B’s fans heard that phrase in the last 10 years? Well, Friday night’s Game 7 against the Lightning in the Eastern Conference finals will be the sixth time in the last decade that the men in black and gold have played in the most-pressure packed game in professional hockey. In fact, Boston has played in a Game 7 in five of the seven seasons that it qualified for the playoffs over that span.
But that Game 7 history hasn’t been necessarily a good one. The Bruins are a horrid 1-4 in Game 7’s since 2001, with the lone win finally coming this season in the opening round against the rival Canadiens.
Here’s a look back at how the B’s fared in each of their Game 7’s of the past decade.
2004 Eastern Conference quarterfinals, 2-0 L vs. Canadiens
As the second seed in the Eastern Conference, this series against the seventh-seeded Habs should’ve been an easy one on paper. After the first four games of the series, it looked like that would certainly be the case as Boston jumped out to a 3-1 lead. But this was still the NHL playoffs, arguably the least predictable of all the professional North American postseason tournaments, and the Habs stormed back to score five goals in both Game 5 and Game 6 to tie the series.
In Game 7, it was Montreal goalie Jose Theodore‘s time to take over. The netminder stoned all 32 shots from the Bruins while Richard Zednik potted both goals in the third period, one on an empty net in the waning seconds, to give the Habs the series win. The Game 7 win marked the first time Montreal had ever come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a playoff series. If there’s any silver lining for the Boston fans looking back on this loss, it’s that current Bruins bench boss Claude Julien was actually calling the shots for the Canadiens at the time. (Julien is 2-3 in Game 7’s for his career.) Read the rest of this entry »
BEDFORD — One day after a complaint about officiating may have suggested Guy Boucher could be getting to him, Bruins coach Claude Julien said Thursday at Hanscom Field that he is not concerned with what the Lightning head coach is saying.
Boucher called referee Eric Furlatt “lopsided” against the Lightning prior to Game 6 in Tampa Bay, and after a game in which the Bruins weren’t satisfied with the four penalties called against them, Julien said that “hopefully what was said [by Boucher] didn’t have any impact” on the officiating. Boucher fired back in his press conference by pulling out the box score and counting that the Bruins were penalized less than the Lightning.
After the team landed in Bedford, Julien declined to take the semi-war of words any further.
“I’ll tell you what,” the coach said. “I’ve been around this game too long to worry about what’s going on on the other side. Right now I’m focused on our team. It’s as simple as that.”
Game 7 will be played Friday at TD Garden.