Chiarelli: No Room for "What-Ifs"
BOSTON, MA - The Bruins were off Tuesday with no practice, following their emotional 5-4 comeback overtime win Monday night that clinched their first-round series over Toronto, and set them up for a date with the New York Rangers in Round 2.
General Manager Peter Chiarelli was available to media, and gave his take on the comeback, the Bruins' depleted back end, young blueliners stepping up, Patrice Bergeron, and the second-round series with New York, among others.
Highlights from Monday night's historic comeback showed a spirited reaction from Chiarelli and the Bruins' management booth when Patrice Bergeron tied the game at 4-4, to send it to OT.
But, up until that point, the 4-1 scene looked grim for the Black & Gold.
"You want to try and chip away at it, so from up above you’re just kind of seeing the trend on the ice and hoping that it’s a positive trend for battles won, what the forecheck is, those types of things. I wasn’t seeing much of it, so my thoughts are I was fairly disappointed with where it was going," the B's GM candidly told media gathered at TD Garden.
"It had been a long couple of days and at that point in time – never write this team off in my time here because we’ve had some pretty good comebacks. There’s obviously been some disappointments. But I was angling for disappointment, preparing the next few days, what I was going to do."
"I don’t really like talking about what-ifs," the GM added. "We went through that in 2011 a thousand times and I got tired of it. You plan for different scenarios, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t. It would have been a disappointing loss and I’ll leave it at that."
"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. We’ve seen it a couple of periods in this series and so you know it’s there."
"There was some good coaching there - and players, it was a great push by the players."
Injuries on Back End
Chiarelli announced that there were no further updates yet on Dennis Seidenberg, Wade Redden and Andrew Ference. Seidenberg only played 37 seconds of the game, before being sidelined for the duration. Ference missed Games Six and Seven with a day-to-day injury; Redden had played Game Six after missing No. 5, but was also back out of the lineup Monday night.
"[Seidenberg's] been a playoff warrior for us, so if he’s not in, we’ll miss him," said Chiarelli. "But I saw two really good performances in those young players, the two rookie players; that’s another testament to coaching, that they were able to integrate these two guys amongst the five D core, in Bart [Matt Bartkowski] and Dougie [Hamilton]. Maybe we have a different look than we’re used to, as far as puck transporting. Maybe that’s a good thing, but that’s what we’re going to be."
"We’re calling up Torey Krug today to come along for the ride, so you may see him at a point. Those three D, if they’re in the lineup, give us a little different complexion back there."
Desperation vs. Desperate Composure
Chiarelli was asked if the "desperate effort" so often talked about during the series with the Leafs was what won the Bruins the game - and series - Monday night.
"Desperation, and playing with poise and composure while desperate, are two different things," said the Bruins GM. "That’s what we did yesterday, that’s when we started breaking out, we started cycling, our puck possession was better. Claude did a good job in those last 11 minutes because the players have to generate the intensity, but you have to also – if you’re just running around like chickens with your head cut off, you’re not going to accomplish anything."
"That intensity, that desperation, but the composure to make the plays that they made [and stick to] the game plan. Net-front presence is all we talked about the whole series behind close doors. Net-front traffic; we saw that in three goals. Desperation, yes. But a desperate composure, also, which is what you saw."
Travel Hiccup Doesn't Slow B's Down
Towards the end of the press conference, a reporter quipped to Chiarelli if there would be any more plans for travel trouble, considering the comeback.
"It’s the perfect storm," responded Chiarelli. "But maybe looking back, maybe we had a good night’s sleep because of it, but it didn’t feel good at the time."
Heartbreak of Their Own
The Bruins have had their own heartbreaks. Getting knocked out of the playoffs with three consecutive Game Seven losses in 2008, 2009 and 2010 hurt - and especially 2010's collapse.
Looking back, those all built up the B's and set up the core group for the exultation they felt in 2011, having struggled for three seasons before final reaching the pinnacle.
So, when Chiarelli had a brief discussion with Toronto GM Dave Nonis following the game, he said, "'Dave, this will make you stronger. This will definitely make you stronger. You’ve got some young players that came into their own, and this will make you stronger.' And I said it made us stronger. It made us deal [with adversity] better."
Key Players Deliver
Captain Zdeno Chara played close to 36 minutes in the OT win, an astronomical feat.
"I though Zee was real good just on the sheer minutes," said Chiarelli. "The last little drive, that last little push, he was real good, and you can see when he flips a switch to try and go offensive, and you saw that last night, and going into play with five D, he knew he going to, right from the get go, he knew he was going to play a lot of minutes. So from up above looking down, you could just see."
"Last night, we hadn’t seen a performance like last night in a long, long time, if ever, just clutch performance what he did," Chiarelli said of Bergeron. "He’s just as you said, game in, game out he does the little things. Watching him carry the puck last night, he had a little extra drive. You could just see it in him. You can see the fire in his eyes. You can see him on the bench. You can see the plays that he was making."
"He’s a special player."
Chiarelli also saw the drive in another one of his Bruins.
"Looch [Milan Lucic], I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Looch last night. He had a terrific game, and especially that last part. And I know he’s been the object of criticism for a while this year, but he certainly has turned his game around."