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Bruins Relishing Challenge of Facing Pens

Wednesday, 05.29.2013 / 9:41 AM ET
By Caryn Switaj - BostonBruins.com / Bruins Blog
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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.

"It’s great - that’s why we play is to play against the best," said Bruins alternate captain Patrice Bergeron, ever so cooly.

"And this series is going to be the same thing, so it’s a good challenge and it’s a lot of fun. That’s what playoff hockey is all about, so we’re looking forward to it."

It's been well-documented just how strong Pittsburgh's offense is, with their 4.27 goals-per-game average that leads the playoffs (the highest since the 1985 Edmonton Oilers at 5.44 goals-per-game). Behind the NHL's playoff scoring leader in David Krejci (5-12=17) sits Evgeni Malkin (4-12=16), Kris Letang (3-13=16) and Sidney Crosby (7-8=15) in the No. 2-4 slots.

"I think, anytime in hockey you want to face the best, play against the best players, play the best teams and obviously that's what you have to go through in the playoffs, is to go against the best teams," said Bergeron. "And I think the Penguins are a team that's ahead of us right now to get to our goal - and it's a good challenge."

Going up against one of the best teams in the NHL means that for the first time this postseason, the B's may be the "underdogs."

"We're fine with it," said Bergeron, of the label. "We've been through that before in previous years. I think hockey's always, it doesn't matter until you get on the ice."

"They are a great team, we respect them but at the same time, we believe in our abilities and we know we have the confidence."

"It's going to be exciting, it's going to be a good challenge. Definitely looking forward to it and we'll be ready."

Tuukka Rask is also welcoming the pressure of having to step up his game in the Eastern Conference Finals.

"I’m one of those guys where you’ve got to relish the challenges. You can’t fear them, ‘Bring it on,'" said Coach Julien, of Rask and his team being up for the challenge.

"That’s what [Tuukka's] telling me right now, ‘Bring it on. I’m ready for it.’ That’s what our whole team’s demeanor is going to be, ‘Hey, we know it’s going to be a big challenge, bring it on.’"

"We’re ready for it and we’ll give it everything we have."

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STANDINGS

ATLANTIC DIVISION
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 FLA 54 32 16 6 150 122 70
2 DET 54 28 18 8 136 132 64
3 BOS 54 29 19 6 159 148 64
4 TBL 53 29 20 4 140 127 62
5 MTL 55 27 24 4 147 145 58
6 OTT 56 25 25 6 157 173 56
7 BUF 55 21 28 6 125 151 48
8 TOR 53 19 25 9 122 149 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
P. Bergeron 54 21 26 10 47
L. Eriksson 54 17 25 11 42
B. Marchand 49 26 14 14 40
D. Krejci 44 12 28 2 40
R. Spooner 54 11 27 -7 38
Z. Chara 52 7 22 11 29
M. Beleskey 52 8 18 9 26
J. Hayes 52 12 13 -7 25
T. Krug 53 3 21 2 24
B. Connolly 51 7 12 -3 19
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
T. Rask 20 16 5 .917 2.55
J. Gustavsson 9 3 1 .911 2.58
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