Okay, I am heading over to the live blog.
The Hurricanes lines
(thanks to TheBruinsBlog.net and Boston.com's B's blog)...
The Bruins lines are...
Scratches: Bitz, Hnidy, Hunwick
It's Tim Thomas
vs. Cam Ward in goal tonight. Andrew Ference
is on the ice, but there are more than 20 on the ice to start warmups -- so the scratches will come in a bit.
Thomas is 4-0 with a 1.50 Goals Against Average and a .946 save percentage through Boston’s first four games of the postseason, while Ward is 4-3 with a 2.11 Goals Against Average and a .938 save percentage in Carolina’s seven games this postseason. Ward will become the franchise’s playoffs game-played leader among goalies tonight, as it will be his 31st appearance in goal during the postseason.
Bruins forwards Michael Ryder (4-3-7) and Phil Kessel (4-2-6) each have points in all four playoff games this year. Ryder meanwhile also has scored a goal in three straight postseason games.
- P.J. Axelsson is the only player remaining on the Bruins that played in the last series between these two clubs in 1999. Carolina’s Sergei Samsonov also played in that series for Boston. Michael Ryder is the only other player on either team to have faced the other in a playoff series, as he played all six games of Montreal’s series vs. Carolina in 2006.
- The NHL announced Friday that Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien has been named one of three finalists for the Jack Adams Award, which is awarded “to the head coach who has contributed the most to his team’s success.” Julien joins San Jose’s Todd McLellan and St. Louis’ Andy Murray as this year’s Jack Adams finalists. This is the first time Julien has been a finalist for the award in his career.
- Julien, who is in his second season with the Bruins, guided Boston to the Eastern Conference's top record, finishing 53-19-10 for 116 points. This includes a two-month stretch from November 1 through January 1 where the team posted a record of 24-2-1. The club’s 116 points was the third-highest total in franchise history, a 22-point increase over 2007-08 and 40 points more than 2006-07. The Bruins ranked second in the NHL in offense with 274 goals, a dramatic turnaround from their #25 ranking in 2007-08 when they tallied 212, and ranked first in fewest goals allowed with 196.
- The Bruins have had eight full days off since their last game played on April 22, which is the longest stretch of its kind this season. The club had a pair of five-full-day-layoffs during the regular season, which occurred around the All-Star break (January 22 – January 26) and from March 23 – March 27.
- Bruins fans have now raised more than $50,000 for The Boston Bruins Foundation through the playoff Beard-A-Thon initiative. The Bruins' fundraising effort leads the other five remaining playoff teams that are participating in Beard-A-Thon (Carolina, Pittsburgh, Washington, Detroit and Chicago).
- The Boston Bruins invited fans to grow their own playoff beards to support the B's during their playoff run by joining the "Bruins Beard-A-Thon" on www.bostonbruins.com. The 2009 "Bruins Beard-A-Thon" gives Bruins fans the opportunity to show their support for the team and raise money for the Boston Bruins Foundation.
B's making headway in Titletown
Defenseman Andrew Ference
was excited at the possibility of playing on Friday night, but as he spoke to reporters this morning it became clear that he was excited for the entire organization to begin the second round.
“It’s been growing the last couple years, over the regular season, and during playoffs," said Ference of the Black & Gold fever in Boston. "It continues to grow this year.
"It’s been tremendous."
Ference remembers how things were when he first arrived.
"When I first got here, we were pretty envious of the other sports teams and their success," he said. "All the guys here really wanted a piece of that, and so to kind of set our minds to it and develop…the way we really wanted to -- it’s been fun."
But Ference, and the rest of the Bruins have had enough rest.
“It helps, without a doubt. I’ve been on the other side of the coin when you play six and seven games throughout the playoffs," he said. "This has been a long rest, and I think we’ve had great practices, we’ve taken off the time that we needed, and the last couple days, there’s been a spark and a jump in the guys.
"I think it’s a great advtanage, but that being said, playoffs are about emotions on both sides, so just because you have jump, you know the other team’s just as excited to be in the second round.
"They just came off a really emotional series, so both teams have it."
Drop the puck!
Don't believe the hype!
Tim Thomas on tonight's game
"Basically, we’ve played 82 games this year, plus four games in the playoffs, plus seven pre-season games, and it’s pretty much the same game. Some of them against the same teams….You guys have the luxury of over-thinking. I do my best if I don’t think."
Have a looksie...
TSN.ca has a pretty nice head-to-head comparison page on Cam Ward and Tim Thomas
Check that out, here
TSN.ca's Bruins vs. Hurricanes page is here
You may have missed this, but bostonbruinsTV
has been collecting all of the best quotes and highlights from every Boston Bruins game and practice. Today, we have yet another great set of material.Click here
to watch Andrew Ference
, Dennis Wideman, Milan Lucic
and Coach Julien talk about tonight's matchup.
And why not catch up with Shawn Thornton
|Carolina Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward (30) blocks the shot of Boston Bruins' Phil Kessel (81) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Raleigh, N.C., Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2009. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker) |
The 'Canes may not have had practice, but they did hold a media availability.
The Carolina players say that they are used to being the underdogs. The Bruins dominated the regular-season series between the two teams (4-0-0), and now they’re number-one seed to Carolina’s sixth.
“There’s no secret about that,” said ‘Canes goaltender Cam Ward about their position. “You look at the season, [the Bruins] were consistent all season long, and you look at us, we got better as the season progressed.”
Even though, after the last game against the Bruins, Carolina went on a winning streak to propel them to that sixth playoff spot, they know the Black & Gold are the real deal and still won’t be easy to beat.
“You look up and down their lineup, and they’ve got some really good players, but [also] they’re really consistent,” said Rod Brind’amour. “There’s no real drop-off anywhere.
“They’ve got a great goalie, and when they do mess up, he’s making some great saves, and special teams have been great,” he continued. “Really, there’s no weakness on their team, and so I think their record is for real, and there’s a reason why they were so good all year.”
And speaking of Tim Thomas
, Ward knows playing the B’s means going up against some formidable competition.
“He’s a Vezina candidate for a reason,” he said. “Overall, they’re just an outstanding team.”
Julien Named Adams Award Finalist
|Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien instructs his players during hockey practice in Wilmington, Mass., Wednesday, April 15, 2009. The Bruins face the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the NHL playoffs on Thursday.(AP Photo/Charles Krupa) |
The NHL announced today that Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien has been named one of three finalists for the Jack Adams Award, which is awarded “to the head coach who has contributed the most to his team’s success.” Julien joins San Jose’s Todd McLellan and St. Louis’ Andy Murray as this year’s Jack Adams finalists. This is the first time Julien has been a finalist for the award in his career.
Julien, who is in his second season with the Bruins, guided Boston to the Eastern Conference's top record, finishing 53-19-10 for 116 points. This includes a two-month stretch from November 1 through January 1 where the team posted a record of 24-2-1. The club’s 116 points was the third-highest total in franchise history, a 22-point increase over 2007-08 and 40 points more than 2006-07. The Bruins ranked second in the NHL in offense with 274 goals, a dramatic turnaround from their #25 ranking in 2007-08 when they tallied 212, and ranked first in the NHL in defense with 196 goals allowed. They hit the 30-win mark in their 41st game of the season (30-7-4) on Jan. 8 vs. Ottawa, the fastest they have reached 30 wins since 1929-30 (30-4-1). Julien was also the head coach of the Eastern Conference All-Star team this year ...more
I just did my latest and greatest ticket giveaway on Twitter -- it was a trick question and yes we had a very happy winner of two tickets to Sunday's Game 2.
Question: In which arena did the Carolina Hurricanes franchise play their first game? Hint: Think WHA. First to response wins 2 tix to Game 2 on Sunday.
Answer: On 10.12.72 the NE Whalers beat the visiting Philadelphia Blazers, 4-3, before 14,442 spectators at the Boston Garden.
In a strange twist of fate that is Whalers captain (and former Bruin) Ted Green, over the spoked-B for the ceremonial face off versus Philadelphia's (former Bruin) Derek Sanderson on Oct. 12, 1972 at the Boston Garden.
Oh, you're not following me on Twitter? Why not? Go here
to rectify the situation. Tweet. Tweet.
Veteran Bruins defenseman Aaron Ward, who won a Stanely Cup with Carolina, spoke to the media after the optional skate.
“I've had some really good buddies there, but this is business," said Ward. "They’d like to beat us, we’d like to beat them, so I think friendships are pushed aside and you just kind of re-visit your friendships and see how many scars you’ve created over the summer."
Ward was asked about Coach Julien's efforts toward keeping the B's sharp.
“Coach has done a good job," said Ward. "He kept practice at a level where guys maintained their focus, and we really picked up the intensity the last two, three days, and we had a pretty good skate.
"We’re professional athletes, so we understand it’s an important time of season, and you don’t let yourself go."
Another question focused on the differences between the two hockey teams.
“It’s a big chess match," he said. "As we do our match-ups, understanding exactly what players on that team bring and what the tendencies are.
"There’ll be a lot of adjusting, moreso than with Montreal. We’re still familiar with Montreal in that series, and there’s not a whole lot you can do with your lineup – you just go out and play the game, because you just have that feel, where, Carolina, we faced them four times, and a lot of that core group there has changed from the four games we played."
Ward talked about the B's home ice advantage.
“I think for us, it’s maximize the energy we get from the crowd," he said. "We understand that it’s sold out, and this town hasn’t seen the second-round of the playoffs in a long time, and for us, it’s a time to really embrace it and hopefully we’ll feed off our fans, bring energy into the building."
The veteran blueliner talked about the differences, at the outset of the series, between Montreal and Carolina.
“There’s a different element of emotion," he said. "Montreal is a pure hatred. If you ask anybody, we wanted to send them packing.
"Here, I think it’s just an understanding that the playoffs are upon us, and whoever you play, you’re that much closer.
"We’ve taken one step closer to the Stanley Cup Finals, and...going forward, everybody’s got to get that mean streak on, that intensity level up, and no matter who you are and what role you play, you’ve got to have a playoff mentality."
According to Coach Julien, Ference is a game time decision.
Interesting note. Manny Fernandez was the first goalie off for Boston.
Thomas, Fernandez, Wideman, Ference, Ward, Stuart, Hnidy, Lucic, Kobasew, Bitz, and Wheeler are on the ice. They are being led by Assistant Coaches Ward, Houda, Essensa and Ramsay.
Anderw Ference is the first skater on the ice for Boston. He is very early, and is shooting successfully from the blueline. Bruins head coach Claude Julien said that Ference would be a go tonight if the defenseman is 100%.
The Carolina Hurricanes will NOT have a morning skate.
There will only be 11 or 12 Bruins on the ice for Boston, this morning.
|Chad LaRose of the Carolina Hurricanes battles against Milan Lucic of the Boston Bruins |
Despite the fact that the B’s were 4-0 versus the ‘Canes this season and that Carolina are not division rivals like the Canadiens, Milan Lucic
said one inevitability will snap the B’s back into full rivalry mode against the Hurricanes.
“I think as soon as the first hit is made, I think that’s when it’ll all happen,” said the big winger, with a smile.
Like many of his teammates, Lucic lavished praise on the Hurricanes after their last pre-second round practice. He noted that the southern squad showed their mettle against the Devils – a team that had given Boston a run for their money throughout the regular season.
“They're a team that plays hard and they always seem to have four good lines,” said Lucic of Carolina. “Their goalie [Cam Ward] has played great; he's obviously got pretty good stats in the playoffs.
“But we haven't played them since before the trade deadline. They are a different team.
“And from watching the games aganist New Jersey, [you see] that they battle hard...and they never give up. And they bring that every night,” he said.
“I think as soon as the first hit is made, I think that’s when it’ll all happen.” - Milan Lucic
Lucic said that the anticipation and excitement level doesn’t level off because a team happens to be in a different division. Nor does the fact that Carolina's genesis came from the WHA by way of Hartford mean that Boston will play them any different than an Original Six rival.
“Not at all. I mean, it’s the playoffs,” said Lucic. “Everybody’s going to be fired up and ready to go, no matter who we play.
“Obviously, being through a rivalry like Montreal, it’s just [always a] playoff feel…because of our playoff battles with them.
“But I think it’s not going to be any different [tonight]. Both teams are going to do whatever they can to win – sacrifice of their bodies and themselves to block shots and be physical. So we don’t expect the intensity to go down one bit – if anything, we expect it to go up, because it’s the next round,” he said.
With his battles with the Canadiens in the rear view mirror, Lucic was asked if it would be fun to get to hit someone new.
|Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward makes a save as Boston Bruins' Milan Lucic looks for the rebound during the first period of a hockey game. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson) |
“Yeah, I guess that’s a good way to look at it,” said Lucic, who reiterated that the bleu, blanc et rouge
aren’t the only team the B’s can get fired up to play.
“I mean, it’ll start right off opening whistle,” he said. “It’s never really a hatred or anything like that, it’s more just that competitive nature between the two teams.
“Yeah, it’s been a long time since the two teams have played, and like we were talking about, they’re out of division, so there’s not much of that rivalry and...hatred and that stuff,
"But I think once the puck drops, it’ll all come into play.”
Ahhhh. Instant rivalry -- just add playoffs and a drop of puck.