WILMINGTON, Mass. - This is what you play for. This is the big time. This is the time of year when every player has to elevate his game. This is the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
|Boston Bruins' Patrice Bergeron (37) celebrates with teammate Mark Recchi after scoring against the Montreal Canadiens during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Montreal, Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Graham Hughes) |
That was the message reverberating throughout the Bruins dressing room yesterday as they took part in their first postseason practice.
But as the Black & Gold began preparations for the speedy Canadiens, there was one theme standing stronger than any other: winning.
“We want to come out of this series with four wins, the same thing Montreal wants to do. I think it’s going to be a tough series, could be a long series, you never know. We’re ready for everything and at the same time, at the end of the day we want to win.”
While Montreal took the regular season series, 4-2-0, the playoffs are a new season; with elevated levels of toughness, excitement and energy. The tone of the second season was already clearly evident at yesterday’s up-tempo practice, highlighted by the increase of media presence (from New England and Quebec) in the locker room.
“The first rounds, you can see there is a lot of energy, a lot of jump. A lot of physicalness in the games, that’s just normal,” defenseman Zdeno Chara
“Everyone is very pumped up, but you can’t just have that effect you just because it’s Montreal, or it’s the first round. We just have to play our game and stay calm and focus on the things you need to do.”
When the Canadiens defeated the Bruins in the regular season they used their speed and quickness to get under and past Boston’s defensive units. In the B’s victory it was their size and brute strength that gave Montreal trouble.
The key in the postseason will be balancing the two elements of Boston’s game, containment and pressure. The Canadiens ranked Top 10 in the league in both power play and penalty killing, while the B’s came out middle of the pack in both special teams categories.
“They have a good team, they have skilled guys. They use a lot of speed. But like I said, we have to play our game,” Chara said.
“We know they skate extremely well, they move the puck well. We have to be ready to play our game and match that.”
Chara, who pairs with Johnny Boychuk
on Boston’s first defensive unit, knows the key to mitigating the Canadiens’ speed—and plans to use it.
“Be able to skate,” he said.
If the Bruins can do that, and the offense produces, both Chara and Bergeron are confident the B's can acheive their first round goal: winning.