BOSTON -- If the Boston Bruins hadn’t pulled off their historic, come-from-behind victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals Monday night at TD Garden, general manager Peter Chiarelli’s press conference on Tuesday would have had a different tone.
Instead, the GM was praising his players and the coaching staff for staying poised and focused and pulling off an incredible come back after being down 4-1 with less than 10 minutes to play.
Even before the Game 7 puck drop, there was plenty of speculation surrounding coach Claude Julien and his future with the team if the Bruins suffered another first-round playoff exit. Chiarelli wasn’t asked directly about Julien, but the GM backed his coach during Tuesday afternoon’s presser. Many Bruins players, including veteran Milan Lucic, admitted after Monday’s win they knew there might be changes to the staff and the roster if the team exited the playoffs in the first round.
Chiarelli did not want to discuss the what-if scenario because the Bruins did win, but he gave kudos to Julien.
“We went through [what-ifs] in 2011 a thousand times and I got tired of it,” Chiarelli said. “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; it’s when it comes out.”
After giving the players their due for the win, Chiarelli included the coaching staff, too.
“I saw some terrific coaching on the empty-net goals,” the GM said. “This group’s been criticized for its power play, but what I saw there, what I saw before was terrific for me. Those are clutch recoveries, you’re talking traffic; we’ve been preaching traffic, Claude and his staff, preaching traffic.”
All three goals were a direct result of traffic and net drive. The coaching staff gave the instructions and the players followed through.
“Let’s keep that in my mind when we’re passing judgment here, there was some good coaching there,” Chiarelli said. “Players, it was a great push by the players.”
“Claude did a good job in those last 11 minutes because -- he did a great job -- 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,” added Chiarelli. “That intensity, that desperation, but the composure to make the plays that they made, really the game plan. Net-front presence is all we talked about the whole friggin’ 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.”