Many of the Boston Bruins players were teammates with Marc Savard when Matt Cooke’s controversial hit basically ended his career. Milan Lucic told CSNNE.com that they haven’t forgotten that moment, but they don’t intend to jeopardize their chances to win against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the name of revenge.
“It’s an interesting question because if it wasn’t for that [Cooke hit], where would Marc Savard be today? He’d still be under contract with us, and would be on our team,” Lucic said. “I still talk to [Savard] and keep in touch with him. He was a good friend of mine when he was on the team.
“It’s still in the back of your mind, but it’s not the focal point when you’re getting ready to play in this kind of a series.”
(Note: Savard is technically still under contract until the 2016-17 season ends, although he’s almost certain to remain on the LTIR.)
Head coach Claude Julien equates the situation to maintaining discipline in regard to Jarome Iginla’s decision to snub the team and join the Penguins instead.
“It depends what you mean by that,” Julien said. “Are you talking about the [Marc] Savard thing? Or are you talking about the way Matt Cooke plays? There are different ways of answering that. At one point, you’ve got to move on from certain things. Just like the next question will be like Iginla. Stuff like that. We all know about that. The thing we have to focus on is finding a way to win the series.
“If you just want revenge on this guy or that guy . . . is it really the right focus to have? The best way to get that satisfaction is by winning a series. So I think that’s where your focus has to be.”
The Eastern Conference finals aren’t kicking off until Saturday, so that allows the Boston Bruins a lot of time to rest up. It also opens the door for them to gather a lot of bulletin board material from various pundits picking the Pittsburgh Penguins to win the series.
Milan Lucic went as far as to compare the Penguins to the NBA’s Miami Heat. Brad Marchand told CSNNE.com that he understands that the Bruins are playing the role of underdogs.
“That’s how it goes sometimes,” Marchand said. “Obviously, they are the favorites. They have some guys that are very skilled and very talented, and they have the two best players in the world . . . and then you add Iginla. And their third and fourth line are playing so well right now.
“We’re in over our heads. We’ve got a big job to do. We’re all excited to try it out and see how it goes …”
The 25-year-old thinks that they might face an even tougher challenge than when many counted them out against the Vancouver Canucks in the 2011 Stanley Cup finals.
“Things can happen in hockey, and you can get some good bounces. Hopefully we get some of those,” Marchand said. “In any seven-game series you definitely want to wear the other guys down, especially their top guys. But Pittsburgh is a little different. They’ve got some very physical guys over there, and their third and fourth lines play very hard.
“Even the first line with [Chris] Kunitz and [Pascal] Dupuis, those are hard-working guys. Second line with Neal and Iginla, those guys will work, too. I think those guys will battle a lot harder than Vancouver did in the Finals.”
That Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara may not be used against Sidney Crosby in the Eastern Conference finals is testament to the tremendous depth the Pittsburgh Penguins boast among their forwards
Chara is considered by many to be the best shutdown blue-liner in the game; Crosby is considered by most to be the best player in the game. Yet the Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa believes the big Slovak, along with Dennis Seidenberg, will be deployed against Pittsburgh’s “power line” of Evgeni Malkin, James Neal and Jarome Iginla.
Boston’s other top pairing of Johnny Boychuk and Matt Bartkowski — plus the Patrice Bergeron line up front — would then be assigned to contain Crosby, Chris Kunitz, and Pascal Dupuis.
Of course, there’s also the possibility B’s head coach Claude Julien could split up Chara and Seidenberg.
“Maybe it’s pairing, maybe it’s separating,” Julien said. “We’ll have something in mind by the time the first game comes around.”
Chara and Seidenberg were a pair Tuesday at practice.
Eliminating the New York Rangers in efficient fashion – five games – in the Eastern Conference semifinal has afforded the Boston Bruins’ coaching staff an opportunity to rest its players.
After a day off Sunday, the Bruins did not skate Monday, the Memorial Day holiday.
Two days ago, the Bruins knocked off the Rangers to advance to the third round of these Stanley Cup playoffs.
But the break is coming to an end, with practice expected to resume Tuesday in anticipation of the Eastern Conference final against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“[Monday] is the last day [off]. They need to get back on the ice here,” Bruins’ head coach Claude Julien told reporters, as per NHL.com.
“I thought two days was a good thing because we’ll have at least a couple of days — Tuesday, Wednesday — to practice. This time of year there’s not a ton of things you can do with your team more than get them some rest and still have a couple of days to accomplish a lot.”
The Bruins are returning to the conference championship series for the second time in the last three years.
In 2011, not only did they make it to the conference final, but they went on win the Stanley Cup.
The banged-up Boston defense is getting back to full health.
Well, close to full health.
On Monday, Andrew Ference — who hasn’t played since Game 5 of the Toronto series — was skating with Bruins strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides, a positive development in his recovery from a lower-body injury.
“He’s obviously on the mend,” Boston head coach Claude Julien told NHL.com. “But not ready to say he’s ready to go yet.”
The Bruins were able to dispatch of the Rangers without the services of Ference and Wade Redden in Round 2 against the Rangers, as a trio of young blueliners — Dougie Hamilton, Matt Bartkowski and Torey Krug — filled in capably.
(Dennis Seidenberg missed the majority of the series as well, but did return for Game 5.)
It was an impressive performance by the youngsters, but one that will be tough to replicate against the Penguins if they’re again pressed into action.
Pittsburgh boasts four of the NHL’s top six playoff scorers at the moment — a far cry from a Rangers team that only averaged 2.17 goals per game in the playoffs.
Julien wouldn’t say either way if he’d put Ference straight back into the lineup once he becomes healthy.
“At one point you make a decision and it doesn’t mean that it’s an easy one, because it’s not,” he explained. “We’ll deal with it when the time comes.”