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Conference Call Transcript: GM Peter Chiarelli

by Staff Writer / Boston Bruins
BOSTON BRUINS QUOTES


Sunday, April 8, 2012

BOSTON BRUINS GENERAL MANAGER PETER CHIARELLI PLAYOFFS CONFERENCE CALL AT 12:30 P.M.

On if the team reached expectations this season…
Well, we knew we were facing some challenges this year and we took every effort to try and deal with them in advance, prepare for them in advance and whether we addressed them or not, we got through the season and I’m satisfied. The season itself felt really like three different seasons, the start, the great stretch and the mediocrity I think in the middle, or the latter portion. The good finish is what I’ve grown accustomed to so I don’t put that as an additional part, so those kind of lines were drawn into segments. Having said all that, it seems whenever I describe a season I always talk about ups-and-downs, so that’s part of what happens in the season and we certainly saw that this year. I was very happy to see our last, eight or nine games where I felt the group – players and coaches – really bared down and paid attention to detail and were able to focus on getting the momentum and I feel we’ve captured that and I see, kind of right through the lineup, I see, I think guys clicking. Happy that where we are now, all seasons are up and down unless you have some record breaking season. I’m satisfied that we got through it and we are where we are now.

On their chances moving forward in the postseason and the possibility of repeating…
I can’t, I don’t – I feel good about our team. I think we have more skill, because I think our skill has matured from last year. It’s so tight, I mean you got to get some luck along the way, but I think we’ve got as good a chance as any to come out of the east. We’re facing a pretty formidable foe to start, we haven’t matched up well against Washington and we kind of caught them when we were in a bit of a down swing each time it seems. So it’s going to be a good test to start.

On if he’s disappointed to play Washington…
You know, I’ve gotten over the hoping to play somebody thing over the years. At some point you’ll have to play these teams and beat them. Often times, the season matchup doesn’t translate into the postseason matchup. Record shows we haven’t played as well against Washington, and for that reason it will probably be a tough opponent. Not disappointed, just ready to move on and face them as tough opponents.  Ottawa would’ve been just as hard.

On what he took away from the games against the Capitals this season…
Well, we certainly, I mean aside from the last game, I don’t think we played very well against them. Even the last game, I said earlier in the call, maybe we caught them at times, like, we went through a pretty long stretch when we were average and I think we played them twice in that stretch. So, it’s, I’m not going to give you our matchups. The big thing is, [Zdeno] Chara against [Alexander] Ovechkin. Chara takes pride in shutting down Ovechkin, so I think obviously you’re going to see that matchup. They have some good skill, some real good shooters and it’s important to keep those guys on the outside inside. So, there’s a preliminary game plan for you.

On how Nicklas Backstrom’s return and Washington using their third goalie Braden Holtby affects the game plan…

Well, Backstrom’s certainly one of their best players, if not their best sometimes. He missed almost all the year, so you don’t have the 100 percent Backstrom, but the lesser percent of Backstrom is still a really good player. He’s able to slow the game down a bit, distribute pucks to other shooters, they have their skill, and he’s going to enable their skill and the shooters. With our team it’s about playing to the man, play in hard, straight lines. Getting pucks deep, getting behind the D and create plays both off the rushes and off the forecheck. I know that sounds very simple, but that’s what our strength is. Often times, it’s about playing to your strengths, rather than playing to what you perceive is the other team’s strengths to be and I think that’s the case here too.

On Washington Coach Dale Hunter creating matchups and how the Bruins will respond…
Well, that is a big distinction between [former coach] Bruce Boudreau and Dale, he’s a real hard matcher and Claude [Julien] likes –  a few times I’ve spoken to Claude after we played Washington and before in preparation, we talk about the matching. I think that plays to Claude’s strength because he can respond, mix the lines a little bit. I think our depth through the forward position allows us to mix the lines and throw a hard matcher off. So I think you’ll see some of those games too within the game.

On if he expects Nathan Horton to return…
Well, certainly if he were to be cleared at some point, he’d need at least a couple weeks to get back so he’s quite far off right now. I know he’s skating, he’s had little bouts here and there with post-concussion symptoms so it’s a long shot. I’m not going to rule him out yet but it’s a long shot.  

On the status of Johnny Boychuk, Adam McQuaid and Tuukka Rask
Well, I’d characterize Johnny and Adam as day-to-day in their respective injuries. I think Tuukka’s is maybe a little bit more than day-to-day. He’s been pretty aggressive with his rehab. And the six weeks, I don’t have my calendar in front of me but I think he might be bang on it. We’ll see how he goes the next couple of days, but we certainly have a capable backup in [Anton] Khudobin.

On if Marty Turco will be with the team to practice during the playoffs…
Well I’ve discussed it with Marty, he’s got a couple of things he has to do. He wont be practicing with the team. I think he’s going to be around until maybe the tail end of the week and then he’s going to go home.
 
On the biggest challenge for the Bruins against Washington…
Well, I think we have to shut down their skill. Between Ovechkin, [Alexander] Semin, Backstrom, they got good skill in the back end. They’re a high-end skill team, and I think it’s really important we play the gaps tight in all three zones with these guys. And, we can do that. That’s the biggest things, and we have to get pucks on their goalie. If it’s the goalie that’s been playing, Braden Holtby, I think he’s a good, young goalie he’s just inexperienced so we have to get traffic and pucks there.   

On if Holtby will present a challenge considering the Bruins haven’t seen him play…
Yeah, well I think at the start that’s what it would be, and over the past years we’ve seen young goalies steal series so that can happen to. Generally speaking, when a goalie is inexperienced going into the playoffs there’s some nervousness, so you have to be opportunistic and get at it right away.

On the experience from last year and how much it helps…
Yeah, the experience that we’ve gained from winning – I’ve talked about it before, the ability to avoid panic is an attribute that’s carried over also. I’ve seen it come out in the last seven or eight games. So all these things, plus the confidence you get from having won will be important. You can never underestimate the value of the experience. I’ve seen that grow with our group, and I’ve detailed a couple of those things you bundle together and it forms experience and I’ve seen those things surface. We’ve gained a lot from winning the cup. Having said all that, it’s real tough to repeat so its going to be a challenge.

On dealing with a Stanley Cup hangover and if they’ve looked at things from the year that went well and didn’t go well…
Not since yesterday, no. Not really. I think its important now for us to focus on our own game plan. We’re now in a series, as opposed to facing the whole year and putting it in segments so it’s really day-to-day. We really haven’t done any of that and we don’t plan to, and looking at it different ways. Past champs have entered into the playoffs, so we’re just going to take it day-to-day and game-to-game.

On if Washington has the speed and size advantage they had in past years and if the Bruins can match that…
It’s probably more even, but they still have some big guys. Like they’ve got the, you know, I knew [Mike] Knuble was a scratch, but they were probably resting him. They’ve got Knuble, [Jason] Chimera, Ovechkin’s a big guy, you know [Jeff] Schultz has been in the lineup on D, he’s a big guy. It’s probably evened out a little bit more, but with the Capitals it’s about their skill. And they’ve got world class skill. They’ve brought in some new – speaking of size, [Joel] Ward and [Troy] Brouwers, those are two other guys that are big. They’ve kind of replenished their size, it’s still a component of their game, they can play a heavy game still. I think, especially since Hunter took over, they were playing more of a not so much defense first, but it seemed to be a much heavier game than puck possession and forechecks and all that. I still think that will be a component to their game and they haven’t been scoring as much, which I think is a byproduct of playing that heavier game. But you can’t avoid the skill they have.  

On Julien’s frustration with other teams trying to maneuver into playoff positions…
I haven’t talked to him about that. I really think, you watch and go back and watch the games and see where you’re going to play and I’ve done it for the last two or three years, and for me nothing’s changed that way. I expect all those teams to play hard and let the chips fall where they may.  

On if he was satisfied with the games…
Yeah, I didn’t see all the games but I wasn’t really watching it closely that way. I was just watching the Rangers game and the Florida games and both those games were flying.  

On if he’s is comfortable with the roles the Bruins’ four lines have…
Well, Bergy’s [Patrice Bergeron] line has been good, obviously this last game they were good and they’re going to be counted on to score a little more this year. When Rex [Mark Recchi] was on that line, they obviously contributed scoring wise too. The third line has some big shoes to fill from last year, we had a strong third line but they’ve played well. We have a couple decisions to make as far as who’s going to be in. The fourth line, they know their identity, and we really, in the last little bit, we haven’t grinded it out and that’s where the fourth line will thrive but I don’t have any issues with them. Krech’s [David Krejci] line, Looch [Milan Lucic] and Krech, they’ve shown they come through in big games and the playoffs, as has Pevs [Rich Peverley]. I think their identities are well established and they’re comfortable with their own identities and the minutes that they’re getting, which is important as far as accepting roles and minutes going into the playoffs. So I’m a decent place that way.
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