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Claude Julien isn’t about to let his team think Stanley Cup finals yet 05.20.11 at 2:55 pm ET
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TAMPA — Despite a dominating defensive perfomance in Game 3 and watching his team record its first shutout of the playoffs, Bruins coach Claude Julien isn’t letting his team think about what could be if they win their next two games. Julien was asked Friday if being two wins away from the team’s first Stanley Cup finals appearance in 21 years provides motivation.

“We don’t even talk about that, honestly,” Julien said. “Right now, all we’ve talked about is how important a game tomorrow is for us. We don’t want to live in the past. Yesterday was yesterday. [Saturday] is what we want to talk about. We want to live in the present. And today is about getting some good rest and making sure that tomorrow we’re well rested, we’ve got the energy and the focus to do a job. That’s what we’ve been doing since the start.

“And that’s what’s helped us get through it. The same thing in Montreal. We lost the first two games. We went to Montreal not thinking about the two losses but what we had to do that night. It’s really helped us get through things, and that’s what our guys are all about right now. So I don’t have to worry about what you just asked, because we’re not thinking that way.”

The players would certainly appear to be heeding the message.

“You can’t take any situation for granted,” Milan Lucic said after Friday’s mainly optional skate at St. Pete Times Forum. “You can’t take any team for granted, and that’s what we’ve done so well. We’ve got to keep being determined to push for more.”

Lucic says there no need for reinforcement of Julien’s message from veterans like Zdeno Chara, Mark Recchi or Tim Thomas.

“At this point, there’s not much you can say,” Lucic added. “You’ve got to know what needs to be done, and when they speak, you can learn a lot from them. They’ve done a great job leading the way so far, and hopefully they keep leading the way and staying vocal and getting us ready for every situation.”

The Bruins play Game 4 against the Lightning Saturday afternoon at 1:30 at St. Pete Times Forum before returning to Boston for Game 5 Monday night in Boston.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Mark Recchi
Day off for Zdeno Chara, Tim Thomas, David Krejci among others at 2:23 pm ET
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TAMPA — Three key stars of Thursday night’s 2-0 win over the Lightning in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals were given the day off on Friday from the team’s brief practice at St. Pete Times Forum.

Captain Zdeno Chara, Tim Thomas and David Krejci were all absent as the team skated and went through drills for about 40 minutes in preparation for Game 4 Saturday afternoon in Tampa. Krejci scored the game’s first goal 69 seconds into the opening period Thursday while Tim Thomas turned away all 31 Lightning shots in recording the team’s first shutout of the 2011 playoffs.

Veterans Dennis Seidenberg and Mark Recchi were also given the day off. The Bruins will be looking to take a 3-1 series lead before the series shifts back to Boston for Game 5 Monday night at TD Garden.

The Bruins will be looking to take a 3-1 series lead before the series shifts back to Boston for Game 5 Monday night at TD Garden.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Boston Bruins, David Krejci, NHL
Confident Patrice Bergeron: ‘It was time for me to be back out there’ at 1:32 am ET
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TAMPA — When doctors gave Patrice Bergeron the go-ahead, he was 100 percent confident that he would be 100 percent when he stepped on the ice Thursday night for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Lightning.

“I was confident that I was ready, and the doctors and trainers were in the same boat as me,” Bergeron said. “So, it was time for me to be out there.”

Most importantly, there was zero hesitation from his coach.

“Not at all, as far as the hit was concerned,” Claude Julien said. “If that would have been a concern, I don’t think we would have dressed him tonight. When we decided to dress him, he was 100 percent. And we felt confident about that.

So that hit certainly wasn’t a concern, and when I spoke to Patrice today, when he was cleared, my first question to him was, ‘Are you comfortable coming back?’ And there was no doubt in his mind. He said, ‘I’m fine, I’m ready to go.’ And that was something that was important, I guess, for everybody.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Boston Bruins, Claude Juien, NHL
A relieved Tim Thomas happy to see B’s play ‘way I’m used to’ at 12:36 am ET
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TAMPA — Tim Thomas recorded his first shutout of the playoffs Thursday night as the Bruins beat the Lightning, 2-0, Thursday night to take a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference finals. Afterward, Thomas credited the result on a return to the defensive system the team has played all season.

“It was kind of a product of the way the game goes in front of me,” Thomas explained. “So I was able to play more under control tonight, but a lot of that has to do with the fact that we played the way that I’m used to. So I felt comfortable in a game like that.”

Thomas turned away all 31 shots in posting his second career playoff shutout. Thomas said David Krejci‘s goal just 69 seconds into the game helped him and the whole team relax and settle into a defensive mindset.

“I think getting the first quick goal definitely helped the whole team,” Thomas added. “And then not just sitting back in the third but going out and getting that second goal made us able to stay relaxed and calm throughout the whole game.”

Thomas led the NHL in goals against (2.00) while setting a new NHL record for save percentage at .938.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Boston Bruins, David Krejci, NHL
Claude Julien loves the way his team ‘bounced back’ in Game 3 at 12:07 am ET
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TAMPA — After his team recorded its first shutout of the playoffs, Bruins coach Claude Julien said the the 2-0 win was more like the defensive battle everyone was expecting between the Bruins and Lightning in the Eastern Conference final. He added that he was also happy his team came out on the right end.

“I think tonight’s game probably resembles a lot more of what I think everybody expected from this series, two teams that make it hard for you to score, and I thought our team tonight was very good in regards to that,” Julien said. “We made some stronger plays, some better decisions, and seemed a little bit more aware out there of what was going on. So comparing it to last game where I thought it was pretty sloppy, I thought we bounced back well tonight.”

Tim Thomas stopped all 31 Lightning shots but the Bruins defense was strong all night, clearing most loose pucks away and bolstered by the return of the team’s best two-way player Patrice Bergeron.

“I really liked the way he played,” Julien said. “Obviously, you see the difference he can make for our hockey club faceoff-wise, but also his responsibility at both ends of the ice. His line was definitely better. His linemates obviously felt comfortable because they’ve been with him all year. So there was some chemistry there. And that certainly helped us tonight. I liked the fact that we had our four lines that were pretty stable and pretty good for us and very reliable.”

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, NHL
Don’t expect more ‘pond hockey’ between Bruins and Lightning for Game 3 05.19.11 at 1:19 pm ET
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TAMPA — Steven Stamkos may only be 21 years old but he certainly can articulate like a crafty and well-versed veteran in the ways of winning playoff hockey.

He also proved Thursday morning in the hours before Game 3 at St. Pete Times Forum that he was playing close attention to what his coach was preaching and teaching during film analysis of the Game 2 loss to the Bruins Tuesday night at TD Garden.

After the game Tuesday, Guy Boucher spoke of how his team got into pond hockey and lost the race. He told his players in film study that he didn’t want that to happen again, even if it means giving up some scoring chances that came from desperate hockey in the third period.

“I don’t think for us there is a fine line,” Stamkos said. “I think that line doesn’t exist. We don’t want to play that run-and-gun pond hockey. That’s not our structure. That’s not how we’ve won games this year. At the end of the day, we had a lot of scoring chances, probably moreso that any other game we’ve played, maybe all year, but we didn’t win the game. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Boston Bruins, Martin St. Louis, Michael Ryder
Team psychologist Tim Thomas bends but doesn’t break under pressure 05.18.11 at 11:15 am ET
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Tim Thomas had better games in these 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs than the one he played Tuesday night in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final at TD Garden.

He allowed five goals on 41 shots on goal. He gave up a goal in the game’s first 13 seconds and the last 6.5 seconds of the first period, allowing the Lightning to take a 2-1 lead to the dressing room in the first intermission. As a goalie, Thomas knows you have to be equal parts netminder and psychologist.

“Each time you get some odd goals like that, it can put you on your heels,” Thomas said. “The human tendency is to tell yourself, ‘Oh, just, it’€™s not going to be our night.’ The team didn’€™t do that, and they fought back. They fought back after the first goal. We had really, a pretty good first period. And then we had another, second goal there at the end of the first period, which could deflate you. But being in the locker room between periods, we were never deflated.

“We’€™re determined to stick with it and in the second period there, Tyler Seguin and Michael Ryder stepped up and got big goals for us. I’€™ve said it before, we know we have character. We’€™re battle tested by now. But having said that, you have to keep stepping up every time you need to, and we found a way to do that.”

After Seguin and Ryder put on a scoring display in the five-goal second period, it was up to Thomas and the Bruins to make a three-goal cushion hold. Thomas was – as they say – huge when he needed to be and made several spectacular saves in the second and third periods, helping the Bruins escape with a series-stabilizing 6-5 win.

Thomas’ first huge save actually led to Seguin’s first goal as he stopped Martin St. Louis 21 seconds into the second period. Then, he used his face mask in stopping Ryan Malone on a breakaway later in the period and that led to Seguin’s second spectacular goal of the period just moments later as the Bruins took a 4-2 lead. Then, in the third period, with the Lightning on the verge of tying the game, Thomas used his right pad and skate to kick away a Vinny Lecavalier shot between the circles.

Ironically, it was a save that he didn’t make where he showed how tough he could be as Dominic Moore shot went off his face and into the net, after his own defenseman crashed into him, knocking his mask off.

“I didn’€™t know,” Thomas said. “Dominic Moore was the guy in front of the net. I think what made my mask come off was Adam McQuaid was trying to get across the crease and we kind of ran into each other. I haven’€™t seen the replay. I have been told the puck went off my head but I didn’€™t even realize it. At that point I was trying to find it I think.”

Thomas showed again Tuesday that you don’t have to save every shot to make big saves.

“I think experience helps in those situations,” Thomas said. “Just this year we were in a few games, I think we beat Philly 7-5 or something like that, and we had a similar game against Montreal. Experience helps you to learn that, each time a goal goes in, you’€™ve just got to put it behind you. You’€™ve got to start focusing on the next one. If you start thinking about the goals that just went in, it’€™s going to lead to other goals, and it’€™s not going to be helpful. With our big second period there, I knew we had a big lead going into the third period, and the plan wasn’€™t to let them get close at all.

“But when it gets 6-4 and 6-5, when you’€™re a younger goaltender, it might be hard for you to keep your focus. But I’€™ve been through enough situations similar to that. I was just trying to keep my focus, and when it got 6-5, do everything I possibly could to keep it from becoming 6-6.”

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Boston Bruins, NHL, Tampa Bay Lightning
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