As they skated over the new 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs logos inside the bluelines, it marked a shift in their mindset: The 2013-14 regular season is in the past. It's time to hit reset, wipe the slate clean, refocus all of their energy on one goal — one that doesn't even need to be mentioned.
The Bruins have their work cut out for them, facing a Detroit team that many have dubbed the toughest draw in the Eastern Conference, despite the fact that it is technically the eighth overall seed.
“I definitely think the team is a lot better than where they’ve placed in the standings,” said forward Brad Marchand. “But they had a lot of injuries this year, and I think a lot of those guys will be back. So they’re a very good team. They always have been, and a lot of experience over there, so definitely in a very tough matchup.”
“But we got a very good team too, and like I said, we just got to be prepared.”
Back in 2007-08, the Bruins found themselves heading into the playoffs as the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. That year, they took top-seeded Montreal to Game 7, and many have seen parallels between that Bruins team and this year's Red Wings team.
“We pushed the No. 1 seed — it was Montreal at the time — to Game 7, and it was because we were young,” said forward David Krejci. “We didn’t care about anything. We were just working hard, and before you knew it, we were in Game 7.”
“So we talked about stuff like that already in the room and we know [the Red Wings] have some young guys there. They just want to play hockey and they can do the same thing to us as we did to Montreal a long time ago. So we have to be ready for every single game.”
Marchand said that the B’s must be especially prepared, given that Detroit is already in playoff mode, having fought tooth and nail to get into the postseason.
“There really is no favorite — there’s teams that place higher than others, and those always tend to be the favorites, but a lot of times, the teams that finish lower are playing a lot better going into the playoffs,” Marchand said. “They’re fighting for their lives, and they come into the playoffs playing a much better game than most teams, so that's why you see a lot of teams upset higher-ranked teams in the first round.”
“We got to make sure we prepare best we ever have.”
Once Friday hits and the playoffs start, every team is 0-0 and seeding is irrelevant — a credo the Bruins were very familiar with when they brought home the Stanley Cup in 2011.
“The biggest thing is just that you can never take one night off, and you really can’t take any team for granted,” he said. “We were the clear underdog the year we won, going against Vancouver. Everyone thought it was going to be four or five games, and we ended up winning, so that speaks volumes just to how you can’t take any team for granted.”
“It doesn’t really matter where you place in the standings — if you’re in the playoffs, you’re in the same spot to begin with, so we’re all at square one here.”
Detroit Waiting in the Wings
The B’s have been gearing up for the playoffs for a while now, having clinched back in March, but now that they finally know who they’re playing, it’s a different game, as far as preparation goes.
Detroit took three of four from Boston during the regular season, so the B’s are expecting a dogfight.
“They’re a great team — obviously, they got the best of us in the season, so we know we got a very tough battle ahead of us,” Marchand said. “They have a ton of guys a lot of guys with skill — I think the biggest thing is to try to slow them down and be physical.”
“We played fast teams before, and again, we can look at their record whichever way we want and see 1-3,” said Head Coach Claude Julien. “I look at the games we played against them and there was one game, the first one in Detroit, that we didn’t play very well. The other three, we could have won the two that we lost. I mean, we had the lead in that last one. So I don’t think that it is going to be that big of an issue as much as we may be an issue for them.”
“Teams have strengths, and it’s how you counter those things. I think our team can certainly skate. I don’t think we’re a slow team. Whether people underrate our skating now, I don’t know. But we’ve shown that we can skate with these guys, and certainly close the gap quick on those guys, too. And that’s what you have to do, you have to make sure you don’t give those guys too much room because they will make plays and they will take the ice that you give them.”
While much has been made of the younger players who have needed to step up for Detroit this season, given all of the Red Wings’ early-season injuries, their veteran presence cannot be overlooked, particularly that of Pavel Datsyuk.
“He’s one of the toughest to play against in the league,” said B's defensemen Zdeno Chara. “[He’s] one of the best players in the league, but again, it's something that we all know - it's not just about one man. It’s a team game, and you have to play as a team, as five guys on the ice.”
“They have some young players, but so do we,” Julien said. “I’m not sure that that’s the same situation to be honest with you. You know, you have the [Pavel] Datsyuks and [Todd] Bertuzzi will be in there, they have some veteran players. And I know the [Gustav] Nyquists and [Tomas] Tatars, those kinds of guys have carried their team when they needed it the most — but I think our young Ds have done a pretty good job the same way when a guy like [Dennis] Seidenberg went down. I think there are a lot of similarities there and I don’t think they’re as young or that much younger than we are.”
In the end, the B’s will have to head into this matchup doing exactly what has allowed them to achieve so much success up to this point: They have to play their game.
"I’m going to sound like I’m a boring coach again by saying I expect us to go out there and play our game,” Julien said. “We know their strengths, they know ours, we’re going to both adapt to those situations and we’re going to more than likely make it an interesting series. But as far as getting in to all the little details, I’m certainly not about to start doing that here.”
“Don’t go out there and try to outsmart them or get out of your comfort zone,” Krejci said. “Just play your game, and if each of the guys can do it on this team, then we’ll be in good shape and we can accomplish something great.”
Tuesday's Practice Lineup
Seven players were not on the ice for Tuesday’s practice, including Patrice Bergeron, Loui Eriksson, Chris Kelly, Daniel Paille, Kevan Miller, Matt Bartkowski and Andrej Meszaros.
“The flu bug has hit our team right now, so we're trying to manage that the best we can and the best thing right now is to keep those guys away from others,” Julien said. “But I think a few more have gotten that. It started off, I think, just before Saturday's game, certain players, and then it just kind of evolved from there, so we're trying to manage it right now.”
“As far as [Wednesday] is concerned, keep your fingers crossed and hope that's the end of it, and that your players are coming back.”
As such, lines were switched around for Tuesday’s practice, and as always, defense pairs constantly rotated.
Forward Justin Florek joined the Bruins for practice after being recalled on an emergency basis on Tuesday morning.
White Jerseys: Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Jarome Iginla
Gold: Brad Marchand - Carl Soderberg - Reilly Smith
Merlot: Jordan Caron - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton, Justin Florek
Defense: Zdeno Chara, Johnny Boychuk, Torey Krug, Dougie Hamilton, Corey Potter
Goalies: Tuukka Rask, Chad Johnson