BOSTON -- After Boston closed out the regular season with a 4-3 shootout win Saturday, the consensus in the dressing room was that as soon as the Bruins sensed the playoffs on the horizon, they pulled out of their midseason funk.
“There was a bit of a worry when we couldn’t even put two wins together, winning one, losing two, wining one, losing one,” winger Milan Lucic said. “The fact that we were able to regroup and get things going again is more of a confident feeling and we’re looking forward to the challenge that’s coming up ahead.”
A huge wake-up call might have been when the Bruins allowed the Ottawa Senators to surpass them in the division and conference standings in early March.
“I’m not going to say it’s impossible or doesn’t do a single thing,” Julien said of looking up at the Senators in the division and conference standings in early March. “I don’t think we liked seeing ourselves in the seventh spot, but the one thing that really helped us through it is, I think we started sensing the playoffs were getting close, and we knew that we had to play better to be a good playoff team.”
Julien believes that it was a mental battle at times for his team and once they realized that time was winding down and the playoffs were coming they became mentally tough again.
“As I said numerous times, I think it was more of a mental struggle this year than anything else. ...
"These guys are well-conditioned athletes, so physically, it’s never an issue, but ... if your mind tells you you’re tired, you’re going to look tired. If your mind tells you you’re not, you’re going to perform with better energy, and I think right now it’s a big mental obstacle that we had to overcome this year. ...
"I think once the excitement of the playoffs started getting closer, we started seeing the playoffs around the corner and all of a sudden we started getting excited again.”