PITTSBURGH, PA - It was just over a minute into the second period of Saturday night's Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals, when Penguins forward Matt Cooke put a hit on the numbers of Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid in behind Tuukka Rask along the boards.
McQuaid went into the glass and down along the boards before he could get his bearings, and then skate to the bench under his own will. Cooke was given five minutes for checking from behind and a game misconduct. There is no further supplemental discipline expected to come his way.
As such, after the B's and Penguins held optional skates at the CONSOL Energy Center Sunday afternoon in between Games One and Two, Cooke, McQuaid, and both teams' bench bosses answered questions from the media regarding the hit.
First up, Matt Cooke…
"I chipped the puck in early, just after the red line. I had quite a bit of interference from [Torey] Krug, which pushed me inside. After I got around him, I look up, I see his right shoulder, he looks me right in the eyes. I think at the last minute he goes to make a reverse with the puck, but I've committed to hit him. I don't drive him through the boards, I make contact. I think it's a penalty, but I don't think it's an ejection or a suspension, but that's my opinion."
PITTSBURGH, PA - It had been 96 days since the Pittsburgh Penguins were shut out.
Ninety-six games without the likes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Kris Letang - and their long list of offensive capabilities - not at least hitting the back of the net once in a game.
And then, to the surprise of many, in Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals, Tuukka Rask and the Bruins stoned the Penguins, 3-0, to take the one-game lead on the series.
Rask made 29 saves. The Bruins' defensive layers in front of him blocked 11 more shots and cleared away any loose pucks. The B's scored three goals, two off the stick of David Krejci, one from Nathan Horton that saw Boston keep pressing, pressing, and not holding back.
PITTSBURGH, PA - Finally. Gameday is upon us, and the puck is set to drop on the Eastern Conference Finals tonight at 8:20 p.m. In making their final preparations, both teams hit the ice at the CONSOL Energy Center this morning for their respective pregame skates.
All of the Bruins took to the ice, and there were no lineup changes up front during line rushes.
On the back end, Coach Julien has said that he's not going to "tip his hand" in regards to pairings. Obviously, he has plenty of options to work with, especially if Andrew Ference is fully cleared and available for game action.
To start the skate, the other defensemen (besides the aforementioned two pairings) rotated amongst each other. As it progressed, Johnny Boychuk and Matt Bartkowski (or, 'Boykowski' as they have been labeled) stayed as a pair. As always, the best lineup indication will be in pregame warm-ups tonight at 7:30 p.m.
WILMINGTON, MA - As the week ticks down on the Bruins, puck drop on the Eastern Conference Finals against the Pens is now only two days away.
As such, practice still had the same focus, but the intensity was dialed down a notch as they B's held about a half-hour practice, before separating into work on the details of the game for the next 20 or so minutes.
"That’s why we just did a couple drills and we just wanted to work on our power play and our penalty kill. Basically, the bulk of the practice was 20 minutes," said Coach, of the tapered skate. "Power play stuff and the other stuff was more to warm the guys up before we did that drill. So that was dialing down, and tomorrow let’s have a good quick paced practice and then head to Pittsburgh."
Instead of wearing their normal practice jerseys today designating lines, the B's were split up into white and black jerseys for the skate (you know when Zdeno Chara hits the ice in a white top-line jersey and not his normal black, that scrimmaging will be in the practice mix).
WILMINGTON, MA - On Wednesday morning, the Bruins gathered for the second straight day at Ristuccia Arena for practice in the lead-up to Saturday's Game One in Pittsburgh.
It was another high-tempo, high-intensity day, with all Bruins on the ice.
Lines were status quo, with defense pairings the same as Tuesday, the first day of full practice with Andrew Ference back skating with the team (since May 10).
Though, throughout practice, there was some mixing and matching, as the B's prepare for any situations that could get thrown their way, especially with the last change on the road, and the obvious scenario that the Penguins will likely want to keep Sidney Crosby (et al) away from Zdeno Chara.
Following the skate, Coach Julien seemed impressed with the focus of his team, especially amidst the seven-day layoff heading into Game one.
BostonBruins.com - On Tuesday afternoon following the Bruins' high-tempo, high-intensity practice - the first in a four-day prep before facing the Penguins in Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday night in Pittsburgh - the players filtered off the ice at Ristuccia Arena, into the locker room and began to speak with a hoard of reporters.
It felt like just another practice back out in Wilmington. While the sun was beating down with the playoff-weather temperature of around 80 degrees outside, the inside of the infamously cold arena half an hour outside the city, was just as freezing as ever.
Only, it was so different.
The intensity was higher, the mood jovial but focused. Never was there a time during the regular season where the Black & Gold had seven days to rest, recover, refocus.
Was it really 16 days ago that the season was on the ropes, in Game Seven, down by three goals with the phantoms of summer closing in?
On Tuesday, there were the Bruins, speaking in front of their stalls, excited, ready, chomping at the bit, to face the Eastern Conference's most highly-touted team in the Penguins.
WILMINGTON, MA - Following two well-deserved and well-needed days of rest after their second-round series win over New York, the Bruins were back to practice Tuesday at Ristuccia Arena.
On the agenda: get ready for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Bruins' will have a layoff from game action for at least a week (the series schedule and Game One have not been confirmed by the league and are still set to be announced).
Coach Julien has been through the process before, having had lengthy time off in 2009 before facing the Carolina Hurricanes (the B's learned from that moving forward) and rest after they swept the Philadelphia Flyers in 2011 en route to the Cup.
"I think our team has matured a lot more in regards to that," said Julien following an hour-long, high-tempo practice Tuesday morning, in which there was no shortage of battling.
"Based on today’s practice, I thought we practiced really well, lots of energy, worked hard."
BostonBruins.com - On Monday morning, reporters were filing into the press conference at TD Garden to speak with Bruins' Head Coach Claude Julien. The team was off, and no full practice being held until Tuesday morning.
But there was Jaromir Jagr, taking turns on the ice in a warm-up suit, with ankle weights taped to his skates, a weight vest strapped on, and his familiar Bruins' winter tuque (which, ironically has the "Stanley Cup Champions" phrase ribboned around the hat's brim).
It's a familiar scene; there just aren't always people around.
At 41 years old, everyone - including Jagr himself - knows that he's not the same player that he was when he put up 12 straight 30-plus goal seasons from 1991-2003, and surpassed the 50-goal plateau three times.
Throughout the 2013 postseason, though the Bruins have propelled themselves into the Eastern Conference Finals (getting to face the vet's former long-time team in the Pittsburgh Penguins), Jagr has only put up four assists and has yet to find the back of the net.
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.