Wilmington, MA --
While the men going for Olympic gold have garnered the hockey world's attention, in Ristuccia Memorial Arena, the men wearing Black & Gold have their own dynamic rivalry game in mind and today the Boston Bruins practiced again in preparation for Tuesday's meaningful match-up with Montreal.
"They’re right behind us so I think there’s a lot at stake in that first game," said B's head coach Claude Julien. "It should be an exciting game, guys should be excited to play it.
"And for all the right reasons, I think it’s probably a real good match-up for everybody. Players and things and everybody involved, it’s the perfect setup for where both teams are in the standings."
The B's come out of the break riding a four game winning streak, and are excited to continue their progress up the Eastern Conference standings.
"Yeah you guys can tell?" said Steve Begin of the renewed excitement level at the Bruins practice facility. "We’re very excited to be back.
"When we finished before with four wins and went into the break, we’re more relaxed and [having] more fun. If you go on a losing streak, in the break you don’t feel very good. But we won the last four so it’s good, which I think we’re going to carry into Tuesday."
The mid-season doldrums that plagued the Bruins between the Winter Classic and the Winter Olympics are gone and Coach Julien thinks his charges are recharged and ready.
"I just like the fact that guys come back with more energy, rested," said Julien about the benefits of the Olympic break. "Hopefully we’ll benefit from that, and everybody will benefit from that when we start seeing games again.
"There will probably be more jump and everything else, so that can be a plus."
Begin explained that the Bruins feel they are better team than what they've shown.
"Like we’ve been saying since day one, we have a good team here," said Begin. "It’s just that during that ten game streak...we were probably getting away from that game plan, but the last five games that we lost, we were playing good. We were out-shooting the other team like 47 to 22 or something like that, and not scoring enough goals and losing the game.
"We know what we have to do. We know we have a good team here and we’re very excited about the next 22 games. It’s going to be a battle. It’s not going to be easy, so we’re up for the challenge and we can’t wait to start the first game on Tuesday."
And, while the Bruins are seeing red, it doesn't hurt that the opponents are wearing bleu, blanc, et rouge.
"It’s a big rival, so we’re all excited about it too," said Begin, a former Montreal Canadien. "Everybody’s excited and it’s going to be a big game, a big first game."Notes:
Boston is scheduled to practice at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday. Call 617-624-1910 for schedule updates...Matt Dalton was in goal for the big league Bruins for the third straight day...With USA's Tim Thomas
, Canada's Patrice Bergeron
and Slovakia's Miroslav Satan and Zdeno Chara
still in Vancouver and David Krejci
and Marco Sturm given time off until Monday, Saturday's practice again featured Dennis Wideman, Mark Stuart, Daniel Paille
, Blake Wheeler, Byron Bitz, Matt Hunwick, Marc Savard
, Vladimir Sobotka, Milan Lucic
, Mark Recchi, Michael Ryder, Shawn Thornton
, Steve Begin, Andrew Ference
, Johnny Boychuk
, Derek Morris, Tuukka Rask
and Dalton...Another reason to stay up late and cheer on Zdeno Chara
? If Chara wins, and since Thomas and Bergeron are assured of bringing home one goal and one silver, the B's will have a full set of medals from Vancouver...Julien on Sunday's Team USA vs. Team Canada tilt: "There’s experience on one side, and then there’s youth and energy on the other, so I think it’ll be a really interesting game."