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Chiarelli Expects Successful Playoff Run

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
BOSTON - The topics seemed endless as the possibilities while Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli spoke with reporters for nearly a half hour during his pre-playoff conference call.

"Obviously, there is a lot of emotion in this series, from both teams -- based on the historic nature of the rivalry, and based on the recent history of the rivalry, [and] there has obviously been well-publicized stuff between the two teams," began Chiarelli. "I know that our team will be emotionally motivated also for a number of reasons and we look forward to playing to Canadiens.

"They’re a very quick team. They’ve got some good shooters. Obviously, they’ve got a good goaltender and I think this is going to be a really good series. [It's] two contrasting styles of play -- we’re straight line, forecheck, heavy on the puck. They’re fast, quick transition, again with some good shooters. So it really will be a good series.

"I’m looking forward to it. I know the team is looking forward to it," he said.

Most of the hockey world is looking forward to it, but just a few weeks ago, the B's prospects for the playoffs were not seen as stellar.

Chiarelli addressed the late season turnaround and said, "From back in the Toronto game in Toronto that we lost [on March 19], it was incumbent on us to really get the team in a proper frame of mind as you roll into the playoffs. And since that point I think we’ve been 7-3-1 and...I’m optimistic about some of the areas that we’ve shored up in that time and the mind frame of the team.

"Despite our statistical woes at power play I thought in the last few games, I thought we played better," continued Chiarelli. "We moved the puck a lot better and I liked what we’re seeing there. And that’s obviously a scenario we have to be good at it to have success in the playoffs.

"But overall I’m happy where we’re at right now and the experience we’ve had in the past will help us as we move into the playoffs and I look forward to it."

As he has throughout the season, Chiarelli talked about the continued development of rookie center Tyler Seguin and the forward's progression toward a complete NHL skill set.

"You know, I’m relatively satisfied with the development," said Chiarelli. "You have to put it in the context of his age and put it in the context individual who I think has seen that he has to grow in certain areas on and off the ice.

"He’s a real good kid...[but] my guess is that he won’t start in the lineup for the playoffs. I hope that he finds his way into it."

Chiarelli reiterated the belief that the rookie needed to play the year in the NHL in order to improve.

"Had he gone back to juniors, the areas where he had to get better would have been left dormant and so he had to play this year and face those areas head on," said Chiarelli who explained that Tyler's a "terrifically talented kid with speed.

"He has to learn to make these plays that he can do and we’ve seen these plays all the time. So I’m relatively satisfied."

Another topic on the call was the oft-mentioned possibility of the B's changing coaches, which Chiarelli dismissed out of hand.

"No, I didn’t consider making a coaching change," said the GM. "I felt that there was a lot of...variables that go into playoff success, and I felt there were a lot of variables that were mitigating.

"So I didn’t even consider making a coaching change."

Chiarelli, when asked if his coach should be a candidate for the Jack Adams Trophy (as NHL coach of the year) said, "I think he’s had a good year coaching...and if he’s considered for Coach of the Year, I think he’s deserved."

Also deserving of league-wide recognition, according to Chiarelli, are the trio of center Patrice Bergeron, defenseman Zdeno Chara and goaltender Tim Thomas.

"We’ve got three solid candidates for significant trophies, with Tim and the Vezina, Zee for the Norris and Bergy and the Selke," said the Bruins general manager, who spoke specifically to Bergeron and Chara.

"Bergy pushes the puck," he said. "When he’s pushing the puck -- and a little bit of that is speed -- he’s making real good plays.

"Although he’s still young, he’s got experience and I would anticipate that he will be making plays and shooting the puck well."

Of Chara, and speaking of the backlash following the hit on Montreal's Max Pachioretti, Chiarelli said, "I was really impressed with the way that he handled it and the way that he played. His play didn’t falter.

"I mean Zee gets booed pretty much everywhere in the Northeast anyways, so I don’t think that’s obviously much of a change for him. I think this guy should be a strong Norris candidate.

"I think he’s had a real strong year and his game is not sexy, but his game is really, really effective. And again he’s shown this year that he can play at that level and continues to play at that level."

Another player who raised his level of play is rookie forward Brad Marchand.

"Brad told me at the end of the exit meetings last year that he was going to score twenty," said Chiarelli. "I wouldn’t have expected that and it didn’t surprise me that he told me that.

"Obviously, he plays the Bruins style and he’s had a real good year. And he’s energized that line he’s been on. When he started with the fourth line he energized it. So good energy player with skill, and he’s been a pleasure to watch.

"Brad, he toes the line sometimes as far as the agitating role and he’s learned that and he’s been better at it. So he’ll be a good contributor in the playoffs," he said.

Chiarelli, who said that P-Bruins goalie Anton Khudobin would join the B's for the playoffs, added that Boston would keep a 10 player squad of "Black Aces" -- including forward Zach Hamill -- ready in Providence.

But perhaps the most interesting piece of the puzzle was found at the begging of the conversation when Chiarelli was asked how far the club would have to go in the postseason in order to garner a measure of success.

"We entered this year coming off of that disappointing end against Philadelphia and that’s been an underlying theme of the year, to be able to respond, to be able to build from that," said Chiarelli.

"So the obvious answer is get past the second round but it’s more than that. It’s about how we play, it’s about how we compete.

"And there a lot of variables that go in a playoff run and I expect us to have a successful one."
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