Wilmington, MA – As the B’s began practice only about 11 hours after they gained the lead in the playoff series against Buffalo, things were relaxed at Ristuccia Arena.
Boston, the number six seed had proven with a decisive 2-1 win that they could compete and win against anybody, especially the number three-seeded Sabres -- the Northeast Division champs.
That confidence was evident both on the ice and in the locker room after practice.
“It’s a new season. It’s a cliché, but it’s true,” said Shawn Thornton of the Bruins foray into the playoffs. “You just focus on what’s ahead and not what’s behind you.”
That sort of optimistic attitude was also present in Marc Savard’s remarks to the media after he skated before the rest of the team took the ice. It was his first official appearance on the Wilmington ice after he was diagnosed with a grade two concussion Mar. 7 in Pittsburgh.
“I mean that’s always the hope you keep,” said the Savard about his chances of returning this series. “Like I said, and I’ve said it before, I’ve got to be realistic here.
“When I’m 100 percent, condition-wise and mentally positive that I can do this, I’ll be ready to go. But until then, I’m not going to put a game that I’m going to play.”
The forward, who missed 41 games to injury in the regular season, was set to complete a neuropsych test later in the day to evaluate his recovery.
“Yeah, I’m getting my wind back still, but head-wise, everything’s clear,” he said. “So like I said today I’ve got that neuropsych test and that’s the next step I guess.”
When asked if there was a possibility if he could sneak by the doctors and outsmart the test, Savard dispelled those hopes.
“No, you can’t cheat. Unfortunately you can’t cheat,” he said, smiling.
After Savard’s 40-minute workout, which focused on stick-handling, the rest of the B’s had their turn to perfect their technique.
The practice included offensive zone rushes, full-ice breakouts, and plenty of passing. As usual, they also worked on the power play and screens. So far this postseason, the Bruins are 1 for 6 on the power play, compared to their perfect record of 12 for 12 on the penalty kill.
After practice, Bruins head coach Claude Julien applauded the team’s formidable penalty kill and explained how it contributes to more than just simply keeping opposing shots out of the net.
“There’s been skirmishes, there’s been some big hits and there’s been some penalties taken,” he said. “When you’re confident in your penalty kill and think they can step up and do the job, it certainly encourages you to be a physical team and be a hard team to play against.
“And that’s certainly given us that confidence.”
With game four on the docket for tomorrow, the Bruins are looking to keep the momentum and convert into two quick W’s and a trip to the second round.
“We’re playing our game for sure. We have all 20 guys committed to the game plan here and I think that’s what’s made us more successful to end off the season and here in the playoffs,” said forward Milan Lucic. “I think as a team we need to realize that and not get comfortable at all.
“I mean, I know we’re up in the series but it doesn’t mean anything right now if you let it slip away. So we got to be even more determined, we got to be even more willing to win going into game four.”
Thornton agreed, boiling his analysis down to two simple sentences.
“So far we did a pretty good job of showing up every night,” he said. “Tomorrow’s a new day too, so you got to bring it again.”