|Claude Julien: ‘It’s about winning the last game’||04.26.11 at 1:48 pm ET|
MONTREAL — Although the Bruins hold a 3-2 series lead over the Canadiens in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, much emphasis has been placed on the difficulty of closing out the Habs in Tuesday in Game 6 to prevent a possible Game 7. B’s coach Claude Julien acknowledged the challenge, but noted his team isn’t the only one needing an important win.
“Well, if it’s a challenge for us, it must be a pretty big challenge for them,” Julien said after Tuesday’s morning skate. “I mean, this is playoff hockey. Right now it’s about winning the last game. It’s as simple as that. There isn’t a different approach to this game from either team. They need to win to survive and we need to win to end it. So I think the approach is the same.”
Should the Bruins win, they would face Philadelphia (should the Flyers win their Game 7 against the Sabres Tuesday) or the winner of Wednesday’s Game 7 between the Penguins and Lightning. If they lose to the Habs Tuesday, the two teams would play Game 7 Wednesday at TD Garden.
MONTREAL — The Bruins couldn’t have expected to play a potential series-clinching game without hearing about last year, and it was a popular topic at the Bell Centre Tuesday morning.
While some, such as coach Claude Julien, noted that the team has “turned the page” and are thinking about the present, forward Milan Lucic had no problem addressing the team’s inability to close out their Eastern Conference semifinals series with the Flyers despite winning the first three games.
“We learned last year that the fourth one is always the hardest one,” Lucic said. “It’s not going to be any different tonight. We know they’re going to bring their best game, and we have to do the same.”
Right now, the Canucks are dealing with the same thing the B’s faced last year. After jumping out to a 3-0 series lead, the top-seeded Canucks have dropped the last three to the Blackhawks, with the series-deciding Game 7 to take place Tuesday night. A native of Vancouver, Lucic can see big similarities between Boston’s collapse last year and Vancouver’s situation.
“You don’t want to relax just because you’re in the position that you’re in,” Lucic said. “It almost felt like that a bit too. After they won Game 4 and they won Game 5, all of a sudden you start panicking. You don’t start executing like you did the first three games. You’re seeing a little bit of it right now with Vancouver and Chicago. You give the their team a little bit of life, and they start gaining momentum. They start coming at you.
“You go back to [Chicago’s] Game 4, where they won 7-3,” he added. “Obviously, you can switch our Game 4 vs. Philly with their Game 6 that they just had with the big overtime win. They had Simon Gagne come back, and now [Chicago] has David Bolland coming back. It’s just an emotional lift for the team, and all that type of stuff. I remember Game 5 at home. Philly came into our building and won 5-0. It was almost the same thing when [Chicago] went into Vancouver and won 5-0. The wheels start turning and all that type of stuff. For us, we want to not make the same mistake, that’s for sure.”
Lucic seemed very comfortable going into detail when discussing one of the more devastating moments in team history. Despite how painful a lesson it was at the team, the 22-year-old feels the lesson was learned in the B’s dressing room.
“You learn from it,” Lucic said. “You definitely do learn from it. It’s a lot easier to talk about it now than before, for sure.”
The B’s will find out how well they learned when they face the Habs in Game 6 Tuesday night.
|Claude Julien says the Canadiens aren’t about to mess with these big, bad Bruins||04.25.11 at 5:43 pm ET|
Before taking his team north for a Game 6 showdown with the Canadiens Tuesday night at Bell Centre, Bruins coach Claude Julien said he is fairly condifident that the Canadiens won’t engage the Bruins in a physical battle because they would likely lose that kind of game.
“I think both teams realize that discipline is a big factor in this series,” Julien said. “And when you look at last game, I think again, both teams had 30-plus hits. And it’s not like it’s not a hitting series, but it’s not a dirty one. And I think there is a lot of hate probably between the two teams but there is also a lot of respect. And we know that we respect their offense and their power play and we certainly don’t want to give them that advantage. And I think that they respect that if they get into a physical situation with us, they are probably not going to win that one.”
The Bruins lead the best-of-7 Eastern quarterfinal series, 3-2, needing just one more win to advance to the second round for the third straight year. Julien said the key Tuesday night is for the Bruins to match the Canadiens’ desperation with determination.
“I think that’s been something we’ve had to really adjust to in this series, is making sure we don’t give them an early lead,” Julien said. “But when they are in that situation I think they are playing out of desperation, they are playing for their lives, you have to play that game with determination and that’s the difference. For us it’s about determination, for them it’s about desperation and you have to hope that the determination is better than their desperation. It’s as simple as that.”
If the Bruins lose Tuesday, they will have one final chance on Wednesday in Game 7 at TD Garden to close out the Canadiens.
On Monday, Chara was named one of three finalists for the Norris Trophy, given annually to the top defenseman in the NHL – the third time in four seasons that the Bruins captain has been so recognized.
Chara, who won the award in 2009, led the league with a plus-33 rating and recorded 44 points, including 14 goals and 30 assists.
“I think, obviously, he’s a well-deserving player,” Julien said. “There are a lot of reasons. I think everyone who knows him here knows he plays a lot of minutes. He also always plays against other team’s top lines. He’s utilized as a shutdown D against the top players on other teams. The stats at the end of the year, I think he’s a plus-30 something, plus-33, and I think that speaks for itself. And double digits in goals, and certainly, offensively, he’s contributed well.
“So, if you’re talking about the Norris and talking about a defenseman that brings a lot, he’s certainly. And I don’t think there are many players in this league who will raise their hand and say they really enjoy playing against him.”
Chara has bigger concerns on his plate right now, like closing out the Canadiens in Game 6 Tuesday night, but he did show sincere appreciation after Monday’s practice at TD Garden for being recognized.
“It’s obviously a big honor and I’m very humbled and very thankful, especially after you consider how many guys had such a great season – breakout seasons.” Chara said. “I’m just very thankful that people who did vote recognize the definition of the Norris Trophy award. And obviously, a big thank you goes to all the people who helped me get there, especially my teammates, all those in the organization, and obviously, my family and fans.
Chara consistently faces the opposing team’s top offensive line, something that makes him one of the most reliable players in black and gold.
“That’s something I take a lot of pride in,” Chara said. “I’m very competitive when it comes to defending the top lines and playing top lines. I know that it’s not an easy job, but I get up to it every night. You can’t think that it’s just you. Yeah, it’s a big motivation for me every night to face such skill and great players.”
Chara – who has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro for fun – takes as much pride as anyone in his off-season training that year-in, year-out puts him among the finest conditioned athletes in not only hockey but the world. Monday, in the wake of another Norris nomination, he pointed to that training regiment as a big reason for his continued success.
“To me, the first priority is hard work,” Chara said. “I always like to work extremely hard on and off the ice. I’m very competitive, I’m very motivated to play against top lines and the best players every night. I take a lot of pride in that, and I just want to help the team as much as I can to win. That was always my first thing. I always want to put the team in front of egos or individual goals.
“To me, that’s the most important thing, and everything else will fall into place. I know I’m not the extremely skilled defenseman who’s going to put probably 70 points on the board every year. But I know that if I play my game, I give my team a good chance to win hockey games. That’s all I can do.”
Joining Chara as finalists are Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom and Nashville’s Shea Weber. The three were voted as finalists by the Professional Hockey Writers Association, and the names were released Monday by the league.
The winner will be announced June 22 during the 2011 NHL awards ceremony in Las Vegas.
Entering this season, the Bruins were known as the team that choked away a 3-0 series lead en route to being eliminated by the Flyers in the playoffs. Now, the Canucks are helping people forget that.
Vancouver held a 3-0 series lead against the No. 8 Blackhawks in their Western Conference quarterfinals series, but Chicago has come storming back. Sunday night, they tied the series at three games apiece with an overtime victory.
“I think I understand what they’re going through,” Claude Julien said of the Canucks Monday. “We lived through it. You watch those games and you see how another team can grab momentum pretty quick and confidence and belief. It’s there again this year and there’s an opportunity again to create what happened last year to our team for another team. Whether that’s a trend that’s going that way now, I don’t know. But it certainly shows that there’s parity in this league and nothing is over until it’s over.”
|Claude Julien: Game 6 vs. Canadiens will be ‘toughest one’||04.24.11 at 1:00 pm ET|
The Bruins did not practice Sunday after their 2-1 victory in double-overtime over the Canadiens on Saturday night, though select members of the team and coach Claude Julien were at TD Garden to discuss the state of affairs with the team leading the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, 3-2.
The B’s, who found themselves in a hole after dropping the first two games of the season, have won three straight games, including the last two in overtime. Now one win away from going to the Eastern Conference semifinals for the third time in as many years, Julien said he does not anticipate an easy time as the B’s try to clinch the series in Montreal on Tuesday.
“I think we just have to turn the page here and understand there is another full game to be played,” Julien said Sunday. “When you win three in a row you should feel confident. But again, there is a lot of work to be done. We know this next game is going to be the toughest one. You have a team playing for their lives and they are plying in their home building. So it represents a pretty big challenge for us so we are going to have to be at our best.”
|What history can teach the Bruins in the the next week||at 12:26 pm ET|
History can be a funny thing in sports.
It can be a teacher. It can be a guide. It can provide motivation.
If you’re the Boston Bruins, the next two days, it’s going to be all of the above.
The Bruins want to close out the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night in Game 6 because if they don’t they are going to hear about 2010 again. No, it’s not like they were up 3-0 against the Habs like they were against the Flyers in the Eastern semis last year but they are going to be asked about how hard it is for them to close a team out.
Just ask their coach.
“I think we’ve experienced that last year, right?” Claude Julien asked rhetorically in the afterglow of Game 5 Saturday night. “We don’t want to bring that up, but unfortunately it is what it is. That last win is a tough one, we recognize that. We need to go to Montreal with the intentions of winning that game and playing to win that game. We need to understand it’s probably going to be the toughest game of the series. When teams are playing for their lives they come out with their best effort. And we have to be ready for that.”
Then again, experience is what you make it – like Brad Marchand and Nathan Horton who are playing in their first playoffs. Marchand scored the first goal Saturday and Horton put in the game-winner in double-overtime.
“It was a huge goal for him,” Julien said of Horton. “I wasn’t worried about the fact he hasn’t played in the playoffs because he is a guy that competes all the time. That is one reason why he wanted to come to Boston was to be on an Original Six playoff team. I’m sure he is pretty happy. That has got to be his biggest goal but I think he has been great for us.”
Before the meltdown against Philly last year, there was the stunning Game 7 overtime loss to the Hurricanes in the Eastern semis in 2009 that kept a 53-win team on the sidelines as the NHL held its own final four party.
But having faced those pressure situations in past playoffs may finally be paying dividends. In Games 4 and 5, the Bruins have shown tremendous poise, to go along with great goaltending from Tim Thomas, Michael Ryder and Zdeno Chara.
“We’ve been through a lot the last few years and this was something different,” said Milan Lucic, the player who scored twice in Game 7 last year against Philly before the lights went out on the B’s offense. “Obviously this year going down the first two games at home and having to go to a building where we haven’t won all year and try to even up the series.
“But I think our focus so far is after those first two games wasn’t on the big picture like it was on the first two games. After we were down, the focus was just on, okay, forget about what’s going to happen. Let’s just worry about what we need to do next and what we’re going to do that next shift and that’s what is getting us in a bit of a groove here.”
The Bruins need to make sure the music doesn’t suddenly stop in Montreal Tuesday night.