PITTSBURGH -- Despite a sketchy history when it comes to long layoffs in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien said his team is ready for the Eastern Conference Final despite having a week without a game.
Boston last played this past Saturday when it defeated the New York Rangers to end their second-round series in five games. The Pittsburgh Penguins have had eight days off after eliminating the Ottawa Senators in five games a week ago Friday.
Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final is Saturday at Consol Energy Center (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS).
As Julien arrived here Friday afternoon, he was asked about the long layoff, and it brought up bad memories of another.
In 2009, the Bruins won their first-round series against the Montreal Canadiens in stunning fashion, putting together a clinical four-game sweep of their fiercest rival. But instead of capitalizing on that momentum, Boston sat around for 11 days waiting for the rest of the first round to finish.
When it did, the Carolina Hurricanes emerged as the Bruins' second-round playoff opponent, started the series with virtually no layoff and picked up against Boston right where they had left off in the first round. The Bruins struggled early in the series to get back up to speed, fell behind 3-1, and lost in seven games.
"We've been through it a few times," Julien said of the long layoff. "I still remember beating Montreal four straight and having 11 days off before playing Carolina and we just weren't ready in that series. By the time we got ourselves going in that series, the damage had already been done. You learn from these situations and you make sure those things don't repeat themselves."
Julien said Friday his team is more experienced and has been through everything a team can go through -- especially in the run to the 2011 Stanley Cup. He praised its mental readiness.
His players agreed with that assessment. Captain Zdeno Chara said his team was ready and the layoff did not matter at all, other than allowing some players to recover from nagging injuries.
"To me, we look like a group ready to start the series," Julien said.