BostonBruins.com - With the Bruins staying off the ice Monday for another day of rest, Head Coach Claude Julien spoke with media at TD Garden about a variety of topics, ranging from the importance of rest, match-ups against Pittsburgh, Andrew Ference's recovery, the snake-bitten Jaromir Jagr and third line, and how depth will be paramount to moving forward in the playoffs.
All of these topics are being covered on this site now, and in the coming days. But two areas that caught my attention were two aspects of the Bruins' game that have played a key role in this postseason - and that weren't strengths during the regular season like they are now.
BOSTON, MA - Defenseman Andrew Ference was back skating at TD Garden on Monday morning.
The veteran has been sidelined from game action since last playing in Game Five against Toronto in the first round on May 10.
The Bruins collectively stayed off the ice for the second straight day and did not hold practice following their series win, before ramping back up for their Eastern Conference Finals match-up with Pittsburgh.
B's bench boss Claude Julien addressed the media from the Garden, and gave an update on Ference's condition.
BostonBruins.com - On Sunday, the Bruins took advantage of a well-deserved off day with no practice, following their series-clinching 3-1 win over the New York Rangers that propelled them into the Eastern Conference Finals for the second time in the past three years.
General Manager Peter Chiarelli addressed the media from TD Garden, reflecting on the past series and the well-known depth on the Bruins' roster. The last time the B's GM spoke to media, it had been following the mentally, emotionally, physically draining Game Seven comeback win over Toronto.
"What I can say is that in that last half of that third period, our guys came together and you could see a push that I hadn’t seen in a long time," Chiarelli had said.
Aside from Game Four's miscues, the Bruins then strung together a push of 60-minute, full team efforts against the Rangers that, as a result, see a confident group entering the third round, despite the tough challenge that lies ahead with another deep team in the Pittsburgh Penguins.
"I’ve seen a bit of a collective surge in our play since the last series," Chiarelli told media Sunday morning, as he reflected on the second-round series.
BostonBruins.com - Bruins' netminder Tuukka Rask was allowed a laugh on Saturday night. And it wasn't just because he had backstopped his team to the Eastern Conference Finals with a 3-1 win over the New York Rangers, in which he made 28 stops.
"To win this game was important for all the right reasons. But also, it gives Tuukka the opportunity now to laugh about that goal instead of crying, right?" said Coach Julien following the series-clincher.
"I think that was pretty important, too. So that’s what I told Tuukka at the end of the game, ‘You can start laughing now.’"
Of course, the goal in mention was the snafu from Game Four, which will soon be an afterthought.
In a goaltending match-up that saw the Bruins facing Vezina winner Henrik Lundqvist, the Black Gold found 15 ways past the the King. At the opposite end, Rask posted a .936 save percentage and 1.86 goals-against average.
BOSTON, MA - Torey Krug was carrying the puck up ice from the Bruins' zone five minutes into the second period, when all of a sudden, a new chant from the Boston faithful rained down.
It was brief and low, but resonated throughout the building. Maybe that was a "Looooooch" chant, I thought. After all, Milan Lucic was out on the ice with his linemates, and it was a familiar cheer within the walls of TD Garden.
But then it happened again, and again, and again…all the way up until he was standing near the bench for an interview in front of the crowd, following the Bruins' 3-1 win over the New York Rangers that sent them into the Eastern Conference Finals for a date with Pittsburgh.
Just over a minute prior, the defenseman had lasered home his fourth goal of the postseason - his third on the power play - in just his fifth NHL playoff game. It's the most by a Boston rookie defenseman since 1988.
BostonBruins.com - On Friday afternoon, Tuukka Rask stood in front of his stall at TD Garden, his backwards hat answering questions about his Game Four miscue for the second time in less than 24 hours.
And just as he was Thursday night at Madison Square Garden - and for every one of his interviews, for that matter - the Bruins' netminder was honest and candid.
When asked if he had seen the replay of the goal that saw him lose an edge and watch as a Rangers' backhander trickled past the goal line, Rask affirmed, "I saw it."
"I saw it many times in my head, too. You can either cry about our laugh about it. I decided it's better to have a sense of humor, laugh about."
"Tough break, those happen. But to be honest, I think throughout the years I've been pretty good making those 'Not Top 10' lists. So, here we are again."
BostonBruins.com - Following the Bruins' 4-3 overtime loss to the New York Rangers on Thursday night, defenseman Dougie Hamilton was pretty hard on himself in the locker room postgame, when questioned by reporters on what he had seen on the game-winner from Chris Kreider.
"For me, that last goal is obviously bugging me. That's a play I have to have and I just feel like I let the team down," said Hamilton. "Pretty upset right now."
Kreider's tip off a Rick Nash pass from the right wing was tough to defend - and stop. But still, with the amount of pride the defenseman takes in helping his teammates on the ice, he was left wishing he had found a way to stop the Rangers' forward.
Following the 4-3 loss, there were other Bruins around the locker room, putting the onus on themselves for the defeat.
"Just a tough mistake. Looks pretty bad on TV, I bet," Tuukka Rask had said following his miscue on the New York's first goal, in which he believed his skate may have dug into a skate mark on the ice (happens two times a year, maybe, he said).
BOSTON, MA - The Bruins didn't want to come back to Boston and prepare for a Game Five on Saturday - but they did, following Thursday night's 4-3 overtime loss to the New York Rangers.
So Friday afternoon, it was back to Boston and back to business.
All of the Bruins hit the ice (except for the still sidelined Andrew Ference, who has yet to begin skating) for their first full practice in over a week. It only lasted about half an hour, but the tempo was high as the B's ran through breakouts, 2-on-1's and 3-on-2's for extended periods of time, before breaking up to work on areas of their game. Practice lines were status quo from the first four games of the series.
The goalies got some work in, Dennis Seidenberg went through up-tempo footwork drills in between the bluelines with his fellow blueliners. Matt Bartkowski, Adam McQuaid and Dougie Hamilton worked on outlet passes, Patrice Bergeron got in some passing work with David Krejci - the B's methodically putting the "practice makes perfect" phrase into action.
NEW YORK, NY - Up 3-0, the Bruins can close out the series tonight against the Rangers in New York at Madison Square Garden.
They could draw on the experience of having been up 3-1 in their first round series against Toronto, only to see the Maple Leafs surge back to tie the series and nearly take Game Seven from the Bruins.
They could draw on the experience - for a good number of the Bruins - of having been up 3-0 over Philadelphia in 2010, only to see that series squandered away.
They could also draw on the experience of having swept the Flyers a year later, in 2011, en route to the Stanley Cup.
But, really, the Bruins are just focusing on this one game, tonight, and making sure it ends with a win.
"We were up 3-1 and we barely won that series," said center Chris Kelly, when asked prior to Game Four, if they could look to that series as a reason to close it out tonight. "We're in a good situation here, but it can quickly change, we know that. We're focusing on this game."
NEW YORK, NY - The Bruins held a pregame skate Thursday morning at Madison Square Garden prior to Game Four, as they look to close out the series against the New York Rangers.
Dennis Seidenberg and Wade Redden continued to skate with the team, as they progress in their recoveries, with Andrew Ference - still sidelined with his own injury - the only Bruins' defenseman absent from the ice.
As such, defense pairings saw no changes from Games 1-3, as Zdeno Chara was paired with Dougie Hamilton, Matt Bartkowski with Johnny Boychuk, and Torey Krug with Adam McQuaid. Seidenberg and Redden rounded out a fourth pairing.
"Our lineup will be on the ice in the warm-up tonight," said Coach Julien following the skate, when asked if Seidenberg or Redden would be ready tonight. "That's all I'm going to say about that."