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Bear Essentials: Game Seven

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
Sunday Morning Report, April 20

Boston and Montreal have been playing hockey for a very, very long time (around 185 years, combined) and yesterday some things happened that had never before happened to either club.

Going into the evening, the Canadiens held a three games to two lead in the best-of-seven Stanley Cup quarterfinal series. With the B's improbable 5-4 victory over the Habs, this became the first series in which Boston has trailed three games to one and forced a game seven.

Beyond that, it is also the first series in which the Canadiens have led by a three games to one margin that they were forced into a seventh and deciding game.

We all witnessed sports history Saturday night and you can add the following to the list:
  • The Bruins and Canadiens combined for two goals in an 0:11 span of the third period – Phil Kessel at 15:45 and Christopher Higgins at 15:56.
  • It was the fastest two goals in a Boston playoff game since the Bruins and New Jersey Devils combined for two goals in an 0:08 span on April 25,2003 (Scott Niedermayer at 1:37 and Martin Lapointe at 1:45 of the third period).
  • The six combined goals by these teams in the third period (Boston 4 and Montreal 2) were the most in a Boston playoff game since the Bruins and Canadiens combined for six in the first period (Boston 4 and Montreal 2) on April 21, 2002 in that Conference Quarter-Final series.

Heard in and about the B's locker rooms:
B's Head Coach Claude Julien, on if he ever has doubts…
Doubt? No. You never go into games with doubts and that’s what it’s all about. You believe and I’m sure they believed too, that they were going to win tonight. If anything, these are the kinds of games I love being apart of. This is what it’s all about. We’re in the coach’s room and we’re as excited as the players. We’re looking forward to it. We don’t dread these games; we love them. That’s why you play 82 games in the regular season for, to get into these situations, which obviously with the number of press here, it’s much different than during the regular season. That’s why it’s exciting.

Defenseman Aaron Ward, on the resilience of the team…
I think it’s a belief.  You listen to all the stats about losses and wins and I think it just gets to the point where when you start proving to yourself out there that you are capable of doing it, there’s a belief that doesn’t have to be spoken in the locker room, it’s just a feeling.  And I think that we as a group, it’s not a cockiness, it’s just we understand that we’re coming together; it’s hard to do with chemistry and it’s hard to do with sometimes lack of experience.  You don’t know the pressure that lies ahead; some of us do, but others maybe don’t. 

Forward Milan Lucic, on the importance of the team believing in each other…
I think it’s been huge. It’s probably the best time of the year where we have started having trust for one another and I think that was a big thing. Also going through the adversity we had to go through in the season has really helped us get this far. Again, the job isn’t done and we have to be focused.

Goalie Tim Thomas, On the importance of staying together as a team…
It’s so important because we stay together. It wasn’t just tonight, it was in other games.  For example, last game. You know you get down by a goal, later in the game if you’re not together then I think that’s when teams give up. It just makes it easier when you’re looking at the guy next to you and you know he’s going to give everything he has, it makes it easier to give everything you have as a team.

Captain Zdeno Chara, on his team…
We’ve got a lot of character on this team and there is a lot of work ethic on this team. We are just not going to quit, as simple as that. We’ve worked so hard to get to where we are. It was really a hard season but the playoffs is fun and everyone seems to be enjoying it. That’s what we are playing for basically. It’s a little nerve racking out there but that’s what it is, it feels good after a game like this.

Heard in and about the CHC locker room
Canadiens head coach Guy Carbonneau, on the game...
They got a few breaks and they took advantage of them.  That’s what hockey is all about.  Sometimes you have those breaks and you don’t score on them, and that’s why you lose. Tonight, we were able to stop them almost all night.  There were eight minutes left when Francis Bouillon scored and then we gave them three goals on breaks. But they created those breaks and took advantage of them, we just didn’t react the right way.  We had veteran guys on every time, but we didn’t react the right way. We have to regroup now. Obviously, everyone wishes they can close it in four games. But that’s why you have that seventh game.  That why you play 82 games; to have a chance to play that seventh game at home. 

Captain Saku Koivu, on heading back home for game 7…
They were battling.  That’s what the playoffs are all about.  We really wanted to win that one tonight and get ready for the next series.  But now we have to go back home and get ready for the 7th game.  We have to try to forget about what happened today and refocus… We are obviously disappointed.  But you can’t get too down just like you get too high.  You have to get ready for the next game.   Right now we have to find the positive things.  The bottom line is I don’t think we should think too much of what’s going on their side, we have to think about how we can improve our game and get ready for Game 7. 

Goalie Carey Price, on the Bruins battling for the win…
They were just hungrier.  They bore down on every chance they had.  You have to give them credit.  They earned what they got tonight.

Monday Morning Report, April 21
John Bishop is the beat writer for He covers the Black & Gold hoping to offer a positive look at the team, not only from the stands and the press box, but also from inside the locker room.
Sunday morning's practice in Wilmo really wasn't one.

Only a few guys were on the ice (Alberts, Auld, Bergeron, Fernandez and Reich) alongside coaches Houda and Essensa.

The news of the day really wasn't news, either.

The team had clearly moved on from their Game Six exploits and was already focused on their upcoming task in Montreal.

Furthermore, there was no new news on Patrice Bergeron.

Granted, Bruins head coach Cladue Julien did say that he would not hesitate to use Bergy if he were available, Bergeron himself said that there was no change in his status and that he was not expecting to play on Monday night.

As far as a smile goes, at his press conference, which has moved into a much bigger space in the Ristuccia Memorial Arena, Julien did admit that by extending the series to Game Seven, "this is the kind of press conference you want, if you are going to pick."

Julien tried to elaborate on how the B's tough run to even make the playoffs may have helped their current run in the post season.

"To a certain extent, I think it did help," said Julien. "On the other hand, I think the players quickly realized…that it does get to the next level.

"And as hard as it was to get into the playoffs, it still got even tougher once we got in."

It did get tougher. But so did the Bruins.

10:52 a.m.
If I trust my eyes, and I haven't yet had coffee number two, Saku Koivu and Francis Bouillon were on the ice this morning.

The Habs are wrapping up practice en route to Coach Carbonneau's press conference.

12:39 p.m.
As of a few minutes ago, Patrice Bergeron remained on the ice practicing with Doug Houda.

Bergeron has not spoken to the press and when asked if Bergeron was slated to go, B's head coach Claude Julien said, "Morn than likely no."

But it wasn't a definitive no.

"I am not going to write him off for totally, because you never know...but as of now we haven't heard anything [and] I would have to say no."

12:52 p.m.
Bergeron left the ice at 12:45 p.m. or so. The Bruins started practice at approximately 11:30 a.m.

1:20 p.m.
Speaking of practice, the Bruins went through their regular line drills and shots for the pregame skate. Nothing out of the ordinary to report -- which is a good thing. Boston is doing exactly what they said they would -- taking everything day-by-day. Playing their game. Not getting too high or low.

There was some excitement, a few more hoots and hollers than usual, but the word "calm" is the only way to describe the Bruins demeanor.

"Both teams have their own style," explained Coach Julien. "We've relied on ours all year and it's gotten us here.

"Are we going to change it?

"Absolutely not," he said.

The Bruins can't afford to change their approach.

"We can't," added Coach. "Both teams believe in their ways and...the way that game sevens just have to go out there and play hard."

Coach implied that fans and media have one more thing to do. Enjoy it!

"[Just] sit back in your seats folks, and watch the game," said Julien with a chuckle.

5:13 p.m.
A treat from Bruins PR. Coach Juliens French presser -- translated! Here are the highlights. JB

Boston Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien
On if the Bruins have, as Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau says, nothing to lose…
"They say these things when they want to take a little pressure off. Why would we have nothing to lose? What does that mean? Does it mean we’re not supposed to be here? What does it mean, exactly?"

"What Carbonneau was getting it is that in games 5 and 6, the Canadiens had nothing to lose, but tonight, like the Bruins, they have nothing to lose either.
Ah, OK. It’s all in how you look at things. Everybody’s different. In game 5, we had nothing to lose because our season would be over. Same story for game 6. And tonight it’s the same thing.  The last two games we fought to see another day, and tonight is the same thing. We will need to fight to survive another day."

On if the veteran players have lent the younger players any advice…
"What I like about our team – and you’ve probably seen it – is that our young players have responded well so far. What I sense is that the young guys have every intention of continuing on with what they’ve accomplished. They will answer the call tonight. For sure, a coach will do everything he can to prepare his team so that they come out well tonight. I wouldn’t say that (game 7 nervousness) is something that worries me a whole lot."

On what reassures a coach entering a game 7…
"I would be reassured if the guys had the same attitude and the same approach that they had the last two games. It’s as simple as that. No need to add anything more. What else can you say? The only thing we could do, media wise, is to pull out statistics that really mean nothing, because when the puck is dropped at the beginning of the game, that’s when everything will be on the line. I have the intention of being reassured that the players have the same approach from the last two games."

On Game 7’s being fun to coach in…
"This is the part that I love the most. Even this morning, with my coaches, I had a lot of fun. It’s a beautiful day. That’s how I see this. You play 82 games during the season to have the opportunity to play games like the one we will play tonight. I love that."

On whether Patrice Bergeron will play tonight…
"At this moment, the answer is no. I have received no sign from the doctors that he is good to play tonight."

On whether it helps to have already coached a 7th game in the playoffs…
"When you’ve lived a seventh game, for sure it helps. This is not unknown territory for me. There are also a few players on our team who have played a seventh game. For those who have never played a seventh game, it’s not a bad thing either because ignorance can be good. When you don’t know what will happen, that’s not a bad thing at all. I hope the guys will have the same attitude that they had during the last two games."

On whether he is a superstitious person, and if he has any pre-game superstitious habits…
"No, never. I even discouraged everyone from paying too much attention to these things. I’m a guy who believes that everything will happen on the ice tonight. Personally, I did some things before the last game here in Montreal, when we won 5-1, and I didn’t repeat those things today. If that’s what you need to win, it’s not a good sign."

On whether he’ll be wearing any lucky ties tonight…
"No lucky ties for me, guys."

5:51 p.m.
Well, things are picking up around here.

But I must say that throughout the day, there were less CH's around the city. A lot less...

It picked up later in the day, but there were also many more spoked-B's around.

Very cool.

Were still a few minutes out from even warmups, so hang tight.

5:59 p.m.
I thought you guys would like to hear this. From a colleague at The Garden:

Hi there! Just wanted to let you know in case you had not heard. Although it is a ghost town here in the building, and I'm sure the Garden Bus has invaded the border by now so they should be there eventually, you can feel the excitement that NESN is generating.
They just went right from the Red Sox game (Sox won 8-3) right to an interview with Cam and then on to game analysis with Brick. Then, they did an interview with Aaron Ward during the Sox telecast - he was very well spoken.
And they kept cutting to shots of fans at the game wearing Bruins jerseys and sweatshirts and many people wearing B's playoff t-shirts under their Red Sox jerseys. And they also have a countdown clock in the lower right corner of the screen counting down the time until face off. They are doing a 1hr recap/replay of Game 6 at 6pm rolling right into the pre-game show.
It's so satisfying to see my B's getting the respect they have earned this playoff run!
Have a great night - enjoy every minute of it - there is something magical about a Game 7 - no matter the round! I have experienced a few in my time and they have all been memorable (esp the ones against MTL)! See you later this week!
I think my friend really captured the excitement that was created in this playoff series and I have to say that I feel privileged to continue to provide info to our growing band of True Believers! JB

6:30 p.m.
Our Boys are on the ice. Bergy is not with them. Timmy led them out. It is expected that tonight's lines will remain the same and look something like this:


M&M is on the PA. "Oops there goes gravity..."

Pearl Jam on the PA: "I just staaaaaaaaaaaay Alive. I'm still alive..."
Nirvana on the PA: "Our little band has always been, and always will be til the end..."

Added bonus in the press box: Cam, Terry and Don Sweeney are all having a pow wow. Cool.

6:55 p.m.
Phil Collins is serenading us again via the PA, "I can feel coming in the air of the night..."
7:04 p.m.
Here they come. Not as loud as last time, though.

Ok, the Habs just came out of the locker room...that was loud.

First Period
0:00 Ok, as Coach said. Sit back and watch!

0:53 Timmay's first save.

3:41 Mike Komisarek scores. Through a screen and bouncing around. 1-0, Habs. Boston had several good scoring chances early. But this was a little flukey and was shot from the point.

5:13 Phil Kesel just had a great shift. At least two shots, including one that Price was lucky to stop.

10:40 Slash on Brisebois. B's on the PP.

13:00 Goog kill by Montreal.

13:48 Markov in the box for a trip. Nokelainen drew that will hard, solid work on the forecheck.

16:40 P.J. just threw a terrific hip check on Markov to break up a rush.

17:02 A Bruin in the box. B's on the PK.

20:00 No complaints. That puck bounced around quite a bit before going by Thomas.

Second Period
0:00 I don't see Muzz.

2:45 Murray is a mid-torso injury. He will not return.

3:07 Good chances both sides...

5:42 Montreal may have the better share of big Mo.

7:04 Boston PP.

10:45 Streit slipped the jab, danced into the zone and dropped a huge goal on the B's. 2-0, Montreal.

12:35 Boston came within inches of finishing. Price was there with an outstanding save.

13:12 A B in the box. Canadiens on the PP.

14:26 No goal. Not sure why there was a review...

15:13 Mtl goal. Andrei Kostitsyn. Point blank and through a screen. 3-0, Montreal.

18:55 B's PP. Kovalev in the box.

20:00 That was not what we wanted. But hang with it. Boston has outscored the Habs 10-3 in the third period during this series.

Third Period
0:00 As one Bruins staffer put it, "We have to come out guns blazing..."

1:22 Bouillon in the box for a cross check. Boston on the PP, again.
3:00 The Boys are not getting the breaks tonight. They are working very hard, but the good bounce is just not there.

4:17 Sergei Kostitsyn is in the box. The B's go on the PP.

7:40 Or so. Ference in the box. Habs on the PP, now.

12:00 Big save for Timmy on Higgins. But time is beginning to run low.


Okay, now it's 4-0 with very little time left. However...

DO NOT hang your head New England. The spoked-B is back. So many new names and faces. So many young, talented players. And a lot to look forward to.

I am going to head to the locker room to get some interviews. It was a sincere pleasure to do this for you guys and I hope to join you again next season. Final stats and scores will be on the front page.

What a ride...
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