BOSTON, MA - The Bruins and Canadiens get the honor of kicking off the second round with Game 1 tonight at TD Garden.
In preparation, the Black & Gold hit the ice for their routine pregame skate Thursday morning, with Daniel Paille once again on the ice with the group.
Brad Marchand did not join in the skate (he skated Wednesday with the team after missing Tuesday's practice). "He took his option," Head Coach Claude Julien said of the winger's absence.
As for Paille, Julien said the forward would be a "game-time" decision to return to the lineup. He's been out of game action since the second to last regular season game on April 12 against Buffalo when he took a heavy hit.
"Yesterday, and going into this morning's skate, I feel like I'm back to where I need to be," Paille said following the skate.
It's been a somewhat frustrating few weeks for the forward, and while extremely proud of the team's performance in Round 1, he's been itching to get back into the lineup.
BOSTON, MA - The Bruins now have Game 1 against Montreal officially in their sights, with the NHL announcing Thursday's 7:30 p.m. game time.
The rest of the series' schedule will come sometime after the conclusion of the first round, which had three Games 7s on tap for Wednesday night.
Both Boston and Montreal were expecting the possibility of more time off, but regardless of what they were originally banking on, the Bruins and Habs will be ready to carry over their rivalry when the puck drops on Thursday night.
"You just try to focus on the day at hand and whatever you've got to do," said Tuukka Rask, following the Bruins' practice at TD Garden on Wednesday. It marked their second practice this week following two days off. "Our preparation is the same."
It doesn't allow as much time for pre-scout video sessions, but as Rask claimed, "we'll be ready for tomorrow."
"We had to make some adjustments," said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien. "Obviously at first, it looked more like a Friday, maybe Saturday. There was a lot of that talk, but there was never any talk of Thursday, so you plan accordingly and then you find out last night that you've got to kind of move a little quicker than expected, so that’s part of making adjustments as you go along."
BOSTON, MA - Four months ago, on December 30, a disheartened Dennis Seidenberg stood in the locker room of the Bruins' practice rink, speaking with reporters about the season-ending ACL/MCL tear in his right knee that would require surgery.
"Right now, I’m in good spirits, but I think it will start once I have the surgery and it’s going to be everyday rehab when it’s going to start getting tough," Seidenberg had said. "There’s going to be ups and downs but I'll be prepared for it and stay positive."
The expected recovery time was estimated at 6-8 months.
On April 8, Seidenberg began skating on his own at the same practice rink. Off and on for weeks, he and Adam McQuaid would hit the ice with Strength and Conditioning Coach John Whitesides going through the necessary recovery steps, building strength, and taking it a day at a time. They would filter off the ice long before the team filtered on for practice.
Seidenberg is still amidst that process, but now he gets the encouragement of doing it on the ice with his teammates.
On April 21, the trainers and Head Coach Claude Julien had the defenseman participate in the team's light optional skate. It consisted of simple drills, and no contact. "For encouragement reasons," Julien had said.
BOSTON, MA - On Tuesday, as the Bruins returned to work at TD Garden in advance of their second round series against Montreal, Daniel Paille got to take part in the full contact practice.
"It feels good to be out there with the guys in a full practice - I've skated for over a week now on my own, and a couple of optional skates - but definitely feels good to get a full contact practice going. I feel fresh," said Paille, speaking with media for the first time since his injury in the final regular season home game on April 12.
Paille had taken a heavy hit from Buffalo Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe in the third period of that penultimate game, and has since been out of game action.
"I've been definitely watching the games with the guys that haven't played, and realize how good we've been, so it's definitely positive, especially going into the second round," said Paille.
"To have the opportunity to skate today and play with contact, you definitely take it for granted when you don't have it, so I felt very fortunate to come back and practice with the team."
Paille doesn't have any more testing, to his knowledge.
BostonBruins.com - Zdeno Chara had been a Boston Bruin for seven seasons.
Before the start of the 2013-14 campaign, his GM and head coach asked him to make a significant change.
Could he leave the wheelhouse of his one-timer - and arguably the patented hardest shot in the League - behind on the man-advantage, and assume a new role?
"He made the switch, at our request, to being in front of the net on the power play," said General Manager Peter Chiarelli. "That was one of the reasons our power play has improved so much."
"Not that he would never not accept, because it’s his job, when we ask him something, but his willingness to embrace it and stand in front of some pretty good shooters, and to take a beating there and the puck recovery, to take a beating, it’s a difficult job - and we had a hard time finding a quality person who had that quality."
"And Zee embraced it."
BOSTON, MA - After the Bruins closed out their first round series against Detroit on Saturday, four games to one, they immediately knew who their next opponent would be. The Montreal Canadiens were ready and waiting, following their sweep of Tampa Bay.
"We know what they've got, they know what we've got, so it’s always a huge battle against them," Patrice Bergeron said.
"We’re expecting a tough and long series and we've definitely got to approach it the same way we did against Detroit, which is one game at a time. Right now, we've got to get a little bit of rest and make sure we look at some videos and the coaches are going to do a good job to make sure we’re ready for them."
But before turning focus to Montreal, they were going to allow themselves to enjoy the series win. They had Sunday and Monday off to relax, and recover.
"It helps, probably more mental than physical," General Manager Peter Chiarelli said of the rest, while addressing media at TD Garden on Monday morning between the first and second rounds.
The Bruins do not yet know when their series against the Habs will begin. The first round is set to finish up - by the latest - on Wednesday, April 30, but could be done on Tuesday, April 29, barring any Game 7 situations.
BOSTON, MA - The Bruins got it done their way.
They played their game. They played stingy. They were physical. They were emotional. The leaders did what they needed to do. Everyone stepped up.
"I’ve said that often…'let’s just play.' We all know how to play," said Head Coach Claude Julien, as he sat at the press conference podium following the Bruins' series-clinching 4-2 win over Detroit on Saturday at TD Garden.
They now await a date in the second round with Montreal.
"We all know what our system is all about. So sometimes, you've just got to go out there and just skate and make things happen."
The Bruins clinched their first round series against the Red Wings by playing the Black & Gold style that got them there.
"A lot of people were talking about what kind of pace this series was going to be, and I think the most important thing was that we were able to dictate that," said Milan Lucic, who finished the series with a team-leading three goals, including the clinching one.
"No. 1, I thought we played really well in this series, and we had to play really well to beat this team," said Julien, of a Red Wings team that didn't roll over, especially with their captain Henrik Zetterberg making an emotional return to the lineup in Game 4. "I think it was important for us to end this and not prolong it."
BOSTON, MA - Not much fazes Tuukka Rask.
"For me, I always try to be the last guy on the defense and give us a chance to win," the netminder said casually on Friday from TD Garden, after he was announced as a finalist for the Vezina Trophy.
He and his teammates were in the midst of preparing for Saturday's Game 5, with an opportunity to close out their first round series against Detroit.
When the nominations were announced on Friday, no one was surprised that Rask was in the mix. He's joined by Tampa Bay's Ben Bishop and Colorado's Semyon Varlamov.
"It’s a great honor to be nominated, obviously," said Rask. "It’s great recognition, but everybody knows were a team-first team and it’s something that comes after the biggest trophy."
"It’s something that comes after the Stanley Cup. That’s your main goal. If you get nominated, it’s great. If not, then it doesn’t matter. But I feel honored to be nominated."
"And happy to go to Vegas for the first time in my life," he added with a smile.
DETROIT, MI - The Bruins didn't start the way they wanted to, but they definitely found their finish.
Jarome Iginla would be the hero, scoring at 13:32 into overtime to complete the 3-2 comeback in Detroit. The Bruins scored three unanswered goals after falling down 2-0.
The veteran donned the Old-Time Hockey Player of the Game Jacket following the win, passed on from Dougie Hamilton, who happened to fire the shot that he tipped for the OT-winner.
"It's pretty self explanatory who gets it, and I thought he had a lot of chances all game," Hamilton said, from the visiting team locker room at Joe Louis Arena on Thursday night. "That line was fun to play with as a defenseman tonight, so nice they got rewarded for it."
Krejci battled with Niklas Kronwall along the boards. Iginla joined in, battling with Drew Miller, came up with the puck, and sent a touch pass to Lucic posted up in the left circle. Lucic pushed the puck into Krejci's sphere, and the centerman found Hamilton cross-ice at the right point.
BostonBruins.com - For the third straight year, Patrice Bergeron has been named as a finalist for the Frank J. Selke Trophy, to the surprise of no one in Black & Gold.
"He makes you proud, because he's well-deserving of that. He has been for years now," Julien said on Thursday morning from Joe Louis Arena, where the Bruins were preparing for Game 4 against the Red Wings.
"Always up there in the plus-minus, always plays against top players, produces - he's got 30 goals this year and that's playing against top lines - so I can't find a better candidate than him, and certainly deserves the nomination. So from there, we’ll see where he goes, but in our regards, he’s been the best."
Bergeron shares the nomination with Chicago's Jonathan Toews and LA's Anze Kopitar.
"It's definitely a huge honor. I mean, it goes to the help of all of my teammates, definitely," said Bergeron. "There are no individual awards that don’t go without the help of all your teammates, so that's all I can really say."
The alternate captain paused for a second to smile, thinking to himself how minuscule it was to be talking about himself amidst a playoff run.
"I have other things on my mind right now, which is the playoffs."