Game 5

Bruins back in a hole, from which they’ve emerged before


The last time the Boston Bruins fell behind 3-2 in the Stanley Cup Final, it was no great shock for head coach Claude Julien, a man that had already seen his team fall behind and prevail before.

“We’ve been through this, I don’t know how many times,” Julien said on June 15, 2011, after a 1-0 loss in Vancouver. “We’re not a team that’s done anything the easy way, so in a way, it’s not a surprise we’re here.”

The Bruins, of course, would go on to win Games 6 and 7 to win their first NHL championship since 1972.

Now, two years later, they’re right back where they were, down 3-2 in the Cup final and going back home for Game 6.

And, once again, Julien is happy to give reporters a history lesson.

“It’s do or die,” he said Saturday following a 3-1 loss at the United Center. “We’ve been there before, and we’ve done well in that situation.”

Granted, there are notable differences from 2011.

First, it’s the Blackhawks, with a core of stars that’s shown it can get the job done — not the Canucks, with a core that hasn’t — that the Bruins are trailing.

On top of that, Boston’s best center, Patrice Bergeron, is hurt and questionable for Game 6, and its best defenseman, Zdeno Chara, has been on the ice for eight goals against in the last two games.

But if there’s a team that knows how to pull together when its backs are against the wall, the chips are down, and other assorted clichés, it’s these Boston Bruins. The Canucks learned that in 2011, as did the Montreal Canadiens. Most recently, the Toronto Maple Leafs thought they had the B’s beaten, only to regret not finishing the job.

“There’s no panic,” said Julien. “You’re not going to push us away that easily. We’re a committed group, and we plan on bouncing back.”

Raffl coverts PTO into one-year, $575K deal with Jets

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There’s another Raffl in the NHL.

On Tuesday, the Jets announced that Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000.

Raffl, 29, was in Winnipeg’s camp on a PTO after a lengthy career in Europe. He spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg — last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.

“We would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization for allowing Thomas and the Winnipeg Jets this opportunity,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement.

With the Jets, Raffl projects to play in the bottom-six forward group, where he can utilize his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame in a checking-slash-energy role.

For now, though, he’ll start out with the club’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba.

Flyers to start season with seven d-men; MacDonald sent to AHL

Andrew MacDonald, Matt Calvert
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Seven defensemen will comprise the Philadelphia Flyers’ opening-day roster, which the club finalized today.

Those seven are Radko Gudas, Michael Del Zotto, Luke Schenn, Nick Schultz, Brandon Manning, Mark Streit, and Evgeny Medvedev.

Not on the list? Andrew MacDonald, who has cleared waivers and been assigned to AHL Lehigh Valley. (That move allowed the Flyers to keep both Manning and youngster Scott Laughton.)

Also not on the list were prospects Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg, Sam Morin, Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim. The first three will start the season in the AHL. The last two have been sent back to junior.

But the opening-day roster is not where this story ends. How the Flyers’ defensive mix changes as the season progresses will be worth watching.

They’d no doubt love to move Schenn, a pending unrestricted free agent with a $3.6 million cap hit. He could also end up in the AHL, a la MacDonald.

Medvedev, the 33-year-old who came over from the KHL and put up five points in five preseason games, is another pending UFA. The club could either look to re-sign or flip him.

Might 37-year-old Streit be a chip worth cashing in at the deadline, especially if the Flyers aren’t in a playoff position on Feb. 29? He’s only got two years left on his contract.

Meanwhile, GM Ron Hextall will be watching pending restricted free agents Manning and Gudas closely. Are they part of the future?

So, lots of decisions to make in Philly as the blue line continues its much-needed transition.