Bruins: Eastern Conference finals

Fans, players ready for Game 7

May, 27, 2011
BOSTON -- The atmosphere around TD Garden is electric.

The Boston Bruins host the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals and fans are fired up.

When the weather is this warm, it only means the Stanley Cup is quickly approaching and with a win tonight the Bruins will be back in the finals for the first time since 1990. This could be a hockey town again and the players know it.

“It’s a beautiful day. I walked over today and saw everyone with Bruins stuff on and got about 20 high-5s,” said Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference. “People are pumped up and they should be.”

Within the last decade the Patriots, Red Sox and Celtics have all won. The fans want the Bruins to hoist the Cup for the first time since 1972.

“They’ve seen so much success in this city in other sports and they want the Bruins to have success as well,” added Ference. “It’s on our shoulders and people are excited.”

The Prince of Wales Trophy is in the building. Puck drop is at 8 p.m.

Julien keeping a positive frame of mind

May, 27, 2011
BOSTON -- Bruins coach Claude Julien is keeping a positive mindset heading into tonight’s Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk struggled in Game 6 and was on the ice for all five of the Lightning’s goals, including Tampa’s fifth tally in its 5-4 win at St. Pete Times Forum. To his credit, he was also on the ice for all four of Boston’s goals, too.

When asked Friday morning to discuss Boychuk’s play of late, Julien pointed out that he has confidence in all his players.

“Our team needs to be positive and we believe in everybody in our hockey club,” Julien said.

The follow-up question was in regards to the improved play of defenseman Tomas Kaberle, and this time the coach was quick to answer.

“That’s somebody you can talk about positively, and certainly one of those guys that I think last game played pretty good,” Julien said. “I liked his game. He moved the puck well. He was in there. He created some opportunities for us.

“He made some good decisions in our own end. He did a great job. So I know there's been a tendency to be hard on this guy at times, but I would say three out of the last four games, he's been a real good player for us.”

Players, coaches ready for Game 7

May, 27, 2011
BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins held their game-day skate Friday morning at TD Garden in preparation for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Players on both teams seemed relaxed and focused, as did both coaches.

“I think Game 7 is Game 7 whether it's first or third round,” Julien said. “There's an opportunity here to move on to the next round. That to me is what Game 7 represents, no matter where you are in the playoffs.”

Following the Bruins’ skate, Julien gathered his players at center ice as he normally does and his message was simple.

“Our guys just have to enjoy this whole process here. There are 27 teams right now that would love to have the opportunity that we have in the playoffs right now. This is one of those days where I think if you don't enjoy the moment, you're wasting a pretty precious day. And you take advantage of it today, you get ready, you get excited about it. You come out tonight and you leave it all out on the ice. Simple as that. Anything less than that, it's a waste of a day.”

Tampa coach Guy Boucher said he would be lying if he said it’s not a challenge to keep his team’s emotions in check.

But I think that's the challenge is to be able to control these emotions,” he said. “ And we didn't want our players or ourselves playing the game last night or this morning or this afternoon. It's our job to make sure that we stay focused on what we've got to do, not the hype of everything else that this game means. And we feel that we can be better than the last game, definitely. We've done some good things. We want to keep those, but I think we need to focus on what we need to improve for tonight.”

No war of words for Bruins

May, 27, 2011
BOSTON -- It’s not unusual for teams during this stretch of the playoffs to play mind games with opponents. Some coaches are very good at it. Others stay away from it.

During the Eastern Conference finals, Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher has attempted to draw Bruins coach Claude Julien into some gamesmanship, and it wasn’t until after Game 6 when Julien finally responded in regards to the on-ice officials.

Time and again during this series Boucher has tried to create some bulletin board material for his players, but the Bruins haven’t responded to any of them.

“Everyone does a pretty good job staying pretty vanilla this time of year,” said Bruins forward Shawn Thornton said. “You don’t want to give the other side any ammo.

“To tell you the truth, our team has done a good job all year not reading that stuff. Unless [media] brings it up, it’s not mentioned in here about what they’re saying on that side. We’re only worried about what’s going on in this room and what we have to do over here. Some people do it, some people don’t.”

At one point during the series Bruins goalie Tim Thomas said quite harmlessly that the Bruins, if they played the type of game they can, should win the series. Well of course a player is going to say that. It’s not like he’ll say the team is going to lose.

Boucher took that comment and turned it into Thomas guaranteeing a Bruins victory in this series.

Either way, once the puck drops on Game 7 Friday night, it’s all about what happens on the ice.

“We do a pretty good job of keeping it even-keeled,” Thornton said. “The outside stuff doesn’t matter.”

Video: Boucher talks Bergenheim, Game 7

May, 27, 2011
BOSTON -- Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher announced that forward Sean Bergenheim (lower-body injury) remains doubtful for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Bruins Friday night at TD Garden.

Bergenheim participated in the team’s game-day skate this morning.

“I wouldn't say optimistic for now. It's better,” Boucher said. “He might try the warmup. We'll see. I've still got to talk to my therapists and doctors. There's been some improvement. So to what extent, we'll have to wait and see, but doubtful.”

Bergenheim has nine goals and two assists for 11 points in 16 playoff games this season. He’s also a plus-2.

Boucher also discussed the atmosphere around his team as it preps for Game 7:

Are you ready?

May, 27, 2011
BOSTON -- It's almost here.

Puck drop for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals between the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning happens 8 p.m. at TD Garden.

There's already a buzz in the building and the Bruins are about to take the ice for their game-day skate. Be sure to check back throughout the day for updates and videos. No doubt it's going to be an exciting day for hockey.

Julien, Bruins excited for Game 6

May, 25, 2011
TAMPA -- The Boston Bruins held a game-day skate Wednesday morning at St. Pete Times Forum in preparation for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals.

The Bruins have a chance to clinch the best-of-seven series with a win tonight to advance to the Stanley Cup finals against the Vancouver Canucks. Bruins coach Claude Julien and the rest of the team were relaxed and seemed confident this morning.

“Any day you come to the rink and you've got a game, especially this time of year, you've got to be excited,” Julien said. “I'm certain there's a lot of people, a lot of players, a lot of coaches that would like to be in that position. So we take it for what it's worth.

“It's a great day and an even better day with the opportunity that is in front of us. And our goal is to seize that moment and that's basically how we've approached today.”

Game 6 could be determined by the success of the respective club's special teams. Boston's penalty kill has been solid during the playoffs, especially this series, shutting down the powerful Tampa power play.

While the penalty kill has been solid, the Bruins need to get their power play going. Julien tweaked his unit a bit in Game 5, using Zdeno Chara in front of the net. During this morning’s skate, Chara was again working on his net-front presence and tipping shots coming in from the point.

“I liked what he did last game in front of the net. But he's only going to be useful in front of the net if we put him there,” Julien said. “If we get control of the puck and we get some shots on net, and the first few power plays, we didn't really get control of the puck. It didn't matter who was in front at that point. So I didn't mind what he did. And I think we need to see how this game unfolds. But it's certainly a possibility.”
TAMPA, Fla. -- Boston Bruins forward Tyler Seguin has made an impact against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference finals, his first Stanley Cup playoff series.

As the Bruins prepare for Game 6 Wednesday night at St. Pete Times Forum, the 19-year-old forward discussed the importance of getting traffic to the net of the opponent, his excitement about a possible trip to the Stanley Cup finals and how Tim Thomas has played between the pipes for Boston:

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Eastern Conference finals shift back to the St. Pete Times Forum for Game 6 Wednesday night with the Boston Bruins holding a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.

The Bruins arrived here Tuesday afternoon and coach Claude Julien thought it best not to practice, but Julien and a handful of players were made available to the media. Bruins veteran Mark Recchi, who has won two Stanley Cups during his career, talked about the importance of getting off to a solid start in Game 6 as well as the continued stellar play of goaltender Tim Thomas and the team’s need to focus on the task at hand:

Belichick shows his support for Bruins

May, 24, 2011
TAMPA -- New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has attended the Boston Bruins’ last two home games at the Garden.

Unlike when he’s coaching during the season, Belichick was all smiles when he was shown on the video board. He waved to the fans numerous times and even stood up at one point, waving a black and gold towel, which started a standing ovation.

Bruins coach Claude Julien was watching the video board during a TV timeout in Game 5 when Belichick was getting the fans in the building going. Julien said on Tuesday that he has not spoken with Belichick but he appreciates the support he’s giving the Bruins during their run toward a possible Stanley Cup.

The two coaches have not talked recently, but Belichick’s presence is a boost to the Bruins and Julien.

“What he’s done [by attending games] is reach out to us by doing what he’s done. I think coaches understand, and I would be the same way, I would never dare call him or any of those guys when they are in the playoffs, but I would certainly be there to show my support, which I did with the Patriots when it was time,” Julien said.

“I’ve done it for the Red Sox, been there quite a few times. And I’m a big fan of those Boston teams, Celtics included, and I think it’s about showing support. You don’t need necessarily to talk unless somebody still needs to talk to you, and I’m sure if I reached out to him, he’d be more than willing to talk to me.”

Belichick has won. The Celtics’ Doc Rivers has won. The Red Sox’s Terry Francona has won. Julien hopes to add his name to that list of coaches/managers to win a championship in Boston.

Keys to a Bruins win in Game 4

May, 20, 2011
TAMPA BAY -- The Bruins and Lightning will play Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals Saturday afternoon at St. Pete’s Times Forum, with the Bruins having the chance to take a commanding 3-1 series lead back to Boston and possibly clinch their first trip to the Stanley Cup finals since 1990. For the Bruins to take that next step, they must follow these four keys to success for Game 4.

Stay in the moment. Throughout the playoffs, the Bruins have done a fantastic job of maintaining an even keel and not getting too high or too low. We’ve stated this as a key to success many times here, but because the Bruins are practicing what they preach and because they have a chance to pull within one win of the Stanley Cup finals if they win Game 4, they must maintain this approach even more so. The closer they get to their ultimate goal, the easier it could be to let the magnitude of the moment creep in.

But, according to head coach Claude Julien, that isn’t a worry as they prepare for Game 4.

“Right now all we’ve talked about is how important the game tomorrow is for us,” Julien said after practice Friday. “We don’t want to live in the past, yesterday was yesterday, tomorrow is what we want to talk about. We want to live in the present and today is about getting some good rest and making sure that tomorrow we are well rested and we have the energy and the focus to do a good job.

"That’s what we’ve been doing since the start and that’s what has helped us get through it from the start. Same thing in Montreal, we lost the first two games, we went to Montreal not thinking about the two losses but what we had to do that night and it has really helped us get through things and that’s what our guys are all about right now.”

Help Zdeno Chara. There’s no doubt that Zdeno Chara can handle the monster minutes he’s been playing lately and that he is a legit Norris Trophy candidate as one of the best shutdown defenseman in the NHL. He has proven that in two of the three games in the Eastern Conference finals, shutting down Lightning superstars Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis, playing 28:27 in Game 3 as he held each of them pointless. But while Chara is willing and able to play whatever minutes head coach Claude Julien throws his way, the Bruins may want to bring those minutes down just a bit in Game 4, and even more so if they take an early lead. Obviously a coach wants to ride his horses in the playoffs, and Chara -- who is a fitness freak -- has the endurance needed, but if the Bruins do go deeper in the playoffs or if this series turns into a seven-game marathon, the Bruins will really need Chara. It may be time to let some of his fellow blueliners pick up the slack for Chara and mix in some rest, just in case.

Match the Lightning desperation. With Tampa Bay facing a possible 3-1 series deficit and the series headed back to Boston for Game 5, the Lightning are going to come out playing like this is a Game 7. Yes they came back from a 3-1 series deficit against the Penguins in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, but that’s a difficult task to achieve twice in one playoff season. That is why the Bruins need to match the Lightning desperation and intensity from the opening faceoff. The Bruins did a great job of that in sweeping the Flyers in the Eastern Conference semifinals. They can’t allow the momentum to swing, so they must play a do-or-die-type game.

Play Bruins hockey once again. The Bruins’ 2-0 win in Game 3 may have been somewhat boring hockey, but, for the Bruins, boring equals winning. When you win in the playoffs, it doesn’t matter how you win, and the Bruins need to keep playing the brand of hockey that leads to success for them. The run-and-gun style we saw in Games 1 and 2 was the antithesis of what the Bruins pride themselves in -- a structured, disciplined yet opportunistic brand of hockey that punishes opponents for mistakes. That is how they won Game 3 and so many other games in the playoffs and that is how they must play Game 4. Chances are the Lightning, with their skill and speed, will win a back-and-forth-type game so the Bruins must focus on limiting the open ice and scoring chances and use their physicality and discipline.

Bergeron is a go for Game 3

May, 19, 2011
TAMPA -- Boston Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron is participating in the pregame warmup for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals, which means he’ll be in the lineup against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Team sources told earlier today that he would be in the lineup.

Bergeron is expected to rejoin linemates Mark Recchi and Brad Marchand on the second line.
TAMPA -- The Boston Bruins arrived here Wednesday afternoon as the team prepares for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night at St. Pete Times Forum.

The Bruins evened the best-of-seven series at a game apiece with a 6-5 victory in Game 2 Tuesday night at TD Garden. Rookie Tyler Seguin, playing only his second Stanley Cup playoff game, notched a four-point night with a pair of goals and added two assists.

Because of that success and the youthful spark he contributed to the lineup, Bruins coach Claude Julien announced Wednesday afternoon that Seguin would be in the lineup for Game 3 whether Patrice Bergeron (concussion) is back or not.

“I’m going to tell you right now he’s going to be in the lineup [Thursday],” Julien said. “That’s for sure. You don’t pull a guy like that out of your lineup that’s been very good. He’s earned it and he deserves to be in the lineup and that’s what we want to see.”

No Bergeron for Game 2

May, 17, 2011
BOSTON -- Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron is not on the ice for the pregame warmup, which means he will not return to the lineup for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

After the team's game-day skate Tuesday morning, coach Claude Julien said that if Bergeron participated in the warm-up then he would play.

Bergeron skated with the team Tuesday morning and again in the afternoon with the Aces. According to a team source, the Bruins expect him to be ready for Game 3 on Thursday in Tampa.

Source: Begeron expected to miss Game 2

May, 17, 2011
BOSTON -- Boston Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron, who is recovering from a concussion, will not play in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning Tuesday night at TD Garden, according to a team source.

The same source said, though, that Bergeron is "doing great."

Bergeron participated in the Bruins' game-day skate Tuesday morning and looked ready to play, but Bruins coach Claude Julien only said: "If he's in, you'll see him in the warmup tonight."

A league source had already told on Monday that it was more likely that Bergeron would return for Thursday's game in Tampa Bay. "Literally day to day right now," the source said.

On Tuesday, Bergeron skated for the fourth consecutive day since suffering a mild concussion in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Philadelphia Flyers on May 6.

Julien was asked if he already knows that Bergeron is playing and if he's keeping it on the down low for a competitive edge.

"No comments," Julien said with a smile. "Nice try."

Tampa coach Guy Boucher said after the Lightning's practice on Monday that he fully expected Bergeron to be back in the Bruins lineup for Game 2.

While Bergeron was on the ice Tuesday morning, teammates Milan Lucic and Mark Recchi did not participate in the skate. Missing a game-day skate is routine for Recchi, and Julien indicated that there is no issue with Lucic after he took a puck off the right foot during practice on Monday and was clearly in some discomfort.