BostonBruins.com – Thursday can’t come soon enough.
|Boston Bruins left wing Milan Lucic (17) celebrates after scoring against the Montreal Canadiens during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Boston, Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola) |
At the conclusion of their 3-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils to end the regular season yesterday, the Boston Bruins turned the page on their 82-game schedule and began a new chapter as they prepare for the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The first round will pit Boston against their rivals from the North, the Montreal Canadiens. Puck drop on the series is set for Thursday night at 7:10, and it’s sure to be a heated affair as the teams face off in the first round for the third time in four years.
Boston has today off, but after the Bruins returned home last night the team was riled up and ready to go.
“This is what we worked hard for all season, to get ourselves into the playoffs. Obviously, it’s the best time of year and we get another chance here, three out of the last four years to start off against our bitter rivals the Montreal Canadiens,” Bruins forward Milan Lucic
“So it’s definitely going to be a lot of fun.”
Fun is an understatement.
Whenever two 'Original Six' teams square off, the atmosphere in the arena is electric. But when it’s Boston versus Montreal it’s even more intense.
“It better be really crazy, I can’t wait,” said Boston enforcer Shawn Thornton
. “I think we have the best fans in the world, so I’m hoping they’ll be really really loud and give us some home-ice advantage.”
“Both buildings are tough to play in for either side of it. It’s always a good series, you can’t take anything for granted. It’s very emotional, very intense. It’s a big rivalry.”
While the atmosphere of the postseason and the attention directed at the team will increase, the Bruins are staying focused on playing hockey and doing what they need to do to win.
“We just worry about ourselves, but they’re definitely a good team and they’re a team with a lot of confidence and it’s going to be a tough battle,” Lucic said.
“Every time we play the Canadiens it’s always a great series. You can definitely expect this one to maybe even go seven games.”
Montreal took the season series four games to two, but both Boston victories provided highlight reels neither team will soon forget. The first came on Feb. 9 when the Bruins beat Montreal 8-6 in what could be described as an all-out brawl. Then came Boston’s 7-0 offensive rout of the smaller, faster Canadiens squad on March 24, which gave the B’s the final regular season match-up between the two and the momentum heading into this week’s series.
“It was definitely a good experience for us, the last time we played them,” Lucic said of the 7-0 victory. “But this season we definitely had a battle with them…we’re just focused on just winning that first game.”
Thornton doesn’t put much stock in the regular season match-ups between the two teams and has already turned the page on both Boston wins.
“Everything starts over as soon as …the season’s over and the playoffs start. It’s a whole new ball game. So everyone is starting fresh. Everyone has the same amount of points right now,” Thornton said.
Despite Boston’s Northeast Division Championship title and third seed standing in the division, in the back of the mind of many Bruins fans is the second round letdown against Philadelphia last season. But no matter what’s lingering in the minds of the fans, radio personalities and media, the only mindset of any importance is that of the men taking the ice in their spoked-B sweaters.
“I think it’s a different team. We have the same core group of leaders and guys that have been around for the last little bit since I’ve been here. But we brought in some really good pieces,” Thornton said.
“I’m excited to get going forward here.”