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Bruins Ready to Bring Postseason Back to TD Garden

Return home brings with it plenty of advantages

by Eric Russo @NHLBruins /

BOSTON - This city has basked in its share of sports glory over the past 15 years. And it is weekends like this one that exhibit just how good Boston has it.

It all started Sunday night when the Celtics opened their first-round playoff series against the Chicago Bulls at TD Garden. The Red Sox follow Monday when they host the Tampa Bay Rays in their annual morning Patriots' Day matchup, as the 121st Boston Marathon winds through the streets around Kenmore Square.

The Bruins, meanwhile, will cap things off when they host Game 3 of their first-round series against the Ottawa Senators on Monday night at TD Garden.

"I think Boston's going to be a bit crazier," Tuukka Rask said on Sunday at Warrior Ice Arena. "They've got a pretty nice 24 hours, with Celtics and Red Sox and us [Monday night].

"So they should be well [pumped] up and ready to cheer us on."

It will be the first Stanley Cup Playoffs game held on Causeway Street since 2014. Patrice Bergeron, one of the Bruins' postseason veterans, has played in his share of playoff contests at the Garden and is very much looking forward to being back in front of the home crowd.

"Yeah, it's been a long time coming," said Bergeron. "Obviously I'm excited and looking forward to it. We know the fans are going to be ready - we're not worried about that. We know the atmosphere is going to be great, so really happy to be getting going."

David Backes, in his first season in Boston, is no stranger to the postseason, but has never experienced a playoff game at TD Garden. That will change Monday night.

"From what I've heard from other guys, it's quite a raucous crowd," said Backes. "Late in the season, the volume amped up, the energy amped up in the building and it's only going to be exponentially increased in the playoffs.

"Looking forward to it…can't wait to get back at it. The tough part about the playoffs is the couple days in between games and waiting to get back out there and do what we want to do."

Video: David Backes talks about returning home for Game 3

After the way Game 2 ended, the Bruins are no doubt itching to get back on the ice. Boston held a two-goal lead early in the third period, before Ottawa scored twice over a two-minute span to force overtime, during which Dion Phaneuf won it with a blast from the point just 1:59 into the extra session.

"We love to play in front of our home fans at the Garden and I think it's something that every team - when they have home ice - they try to take advantage of," said Rask. "We're no different [Monday] and Wednesday, so try to take care of this and move on."

Despite the disappointment of Saturday's loss, the Bruins are still pleased to return home with the series tied, 1-1.

"Sometimes when you start a series on the road, that's what you want," said Bergeron. "You're looking for that, to get one over there, and then switch the tide to having home ice and being home.

"That being said, you want to win every game that you start and that you compete in, so that's our approach, and now it's about Game 3."

One distinct advantage the Bruins will have on home ice - in addition to their fans - is the last change. Interim head coach Bruce Cassidy, though admittedly not a huge fan of matching lines, will have that ability against what he finds is a "very balanced" Senators lineup.

"They front load a few of them and that will tilt our decisions," said Cassidy. "Going through our lines, Bergeron we like against anybody. We prefer to get him against an offensive component that they have, if we can do that.

"Then after that, the Moore, Nash, and when Acciari was in, did a good job against other teams' top lines, so we'll look at that matchup. So far, I don't think it's been a big issue.

"I think it becomes more the D pairs against which lines and we'll try to find that balance, but we'll see how it shakes out [Monday]."

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