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A Businesslike Approach

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
BOSTON -- Despite the laughs, chatter and stick taps, a loose mood on the B's morning skate did little to hide the businesslike approach of the defending Stanley Cup Champions.

But when asked how the Boston Bruins had instilled that attire, B's alternate captain Andrew Ference had to think a bit.

"It's a good question," said Ference. "I think that having a same group of players around and having a consistency in the locker-room probably helps form a good environment, as far as a fun place to work, but also a workplace where guys know each other, they're honest with each other."

Honesty hasn't been a problem in the B's locker room, particularly since the convergence of General Manager Peter Chiarelli, Head Coach Claude Julien and a cadre of no-nonsense players like Zdeno Chara, Shawn Thornton, Ference and alternate captain Patrice Bergeron.

"It's important to always come prepared and ready to play," said Bergeron. "We're professionals and it's an approach that we've been having for last year as well in the playoffs and it's given us success.

"So the same thing this year," added Bergeron. "We're trying to go in that direction."

Players all pulling in the right direction helps, too -- as does keeping those players around for a few seasons.

"You've cut through all the [junk] and everybody is pretty real about what we want to accomplish and what we expect of each other," said Ference. "I think you get that when you're around each other longer and longer. With the right group of people, I think it can work well."

It was noted to Ference that the B's attitude closely resembles the approach of the perennially contending Red Wings.

"If you look at the way Detroit has so much success and the way they've done things 'consistency' is probably the one word that a lot of people would describe them (with)," said Ference. "With their players in their line-up, they're not trading people all over the place all the time. They play a fairly similar style all the time and they always work hard and approach the games like they're serious.

"I think we've definitely grown a lot in that," continued Ference. "Losing to Philly a couple years ago was obviously a big turning point for our organization. We approached the next season without 'wholesaling' the whole team and making all these changes.

"I think a lot of guys felt a responsibility to do the right thing and prove our GM right--our owner’s right--for believing in us. Like I said, with the right group of people you bear that responsibility and you take accountability for your part in this team and it works.

"So I think it's just carried over and obviously it worked last year with success in the playoffs. We have the right mix of guys and the right kind of attitude."

Ference said that the group enforces adherence to that attitude and so does the NHL as a whole.

"It's a difficult league," explained Ference. "We went through and won last year, but we all know how a little bounce here or a little bounce there and you're out of the playoffs or just how difficult it was to even get in the playoffs, to cement a spot and to go through the entire year playing teams that are at the bottom but give you a hell of a game and can beat you if you're not ready for them."

Far from a bottom dweller, the Maple Leafs (14-9-2, 30 points) are vying for the top spot in the Northeast Division with the Bruins (15-7-1, 31 points) and although Boston has handed Toronto three losses in their meetings thus far this season, Bergeron expects quite a fight tonight at TD Garden.

"They're a really fast team and they're a team that's got a lot of skills up front," said the center. "They thrive on those turnovers and going on the attack, so for us it's to make sure we play our game and not give them too many chances -- especially in our zone where I thought we've got to be better.

"They're a good team," continued Bergeron. "They're creating a lot of plays around the net and we've got to make sure we have our head on a swivel -- especially in our zone -- to defend that."

"Of course, a team that's one point behind and you're kind of battling for the top of your division--you're not going to let your guard down," added Ference. "And if you do in this lockerroom you're going to hear about it and you're not going to be satisfied in any sense."
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