Nobody expected to be here, today.
Reporters from north and south of the border thought they’d still be in bed this morning, not shivering in the stands at the TD Banknorth Garden.
And logic dictates that the Montreal Canadiens, up 3-1 and at home on Thursday, certainly didn’t expect to wake up in Boston this morning.
Nobody expected to be here, that is, except the Boston Bruins.
All along, even as an eight seed, they believed were going to give the top seeded Habs a fight. Enjoy it!
The team was in full force at this morning’s pre-game skate, and good moods were all around on the ice and in the locker room. Tonight’s game is huge with a capital H – and probably every other letter, too – but the Bruins are still trying to stop and smell the hockey stick paint.
“You’ve got to enjoy it this time of year, no matter what,” said Tim Thomas
, who addressed reporters while wearing a huge grin. “If you’re not, you’re wasting an opportunity.”
Thomas had even taken some time to goof around with his teammates during practice, falling to the ice and feigning injury after being hit in the back with a puck.
Vladimir Sobotka, who could be seen doing sit-ups on the ice, has been taking Thomas’s advice and savoring the moments of his first NHL playoff experience.
“I’m so glad that I’m getting a chance to play,” said the rookie forward. “I’ve had lots of ice time, and it’s something new, so I’m trying to play 100% and play hard.”
And what about that goal last game – Sobotka’s first playoff goal, and the one that was the cherry on top of a great game for the Black & Gold?
“It felt really good,” he said simply, with a smile.
But as they’ve said all season, the team knows that they have to forget about the past and look to what’s ahead, even as early as when the plane lands, said Andrew Ference
“[Still,] you definitely have to savor the moment after the game, be very proud of what you did if you win,” he said.It’s All about Momentum
“Gaining the momentum” is a big part of any hockey game, but it becomes especially important at playoff time. It’s a mental edge of the other team, but that means it can come and go at any time.
“Momentum is a funny thing,” said Thomas. “It can be changed so quickly.”
Boston certainly had the upper hand by the end of last game, but the B’s know that makes Montreal all the more eager to get the momentum back for themselves as soon as they can, by whatever means possible.
However, the team may not have as great of an advantage as everyone thinks.
“Momentum has to be gained again,” Thomas explained. “[You can’t] just ride on the wave that you carried over from last game.”Keep It Simple
In the 4-1 loss in Game One of this series, Boston learned an important lesson: don’t try to outdo the other team; just play your game.
“Guys realize what kind of team we have, and the only way we stand a chance at winning is definitely not trying to match talent for talent,” said Ference. “[Don’t] use slick moves with the Canadiens because we’ll lose that battle every time.”
According to Ference, "simple" is best for the Bruins..
“If you do the right things and do what you’ve been taught all year, you’ll just react,” said Ference. “I don’t think we’re a team that has a lot of guys that really enjoy dangling and trying some extra moves.”
In fact, trying to stay even-keeled at all times is probably, he said, one of the necessities for a team.
“It’s important right from the start,” Ference explained. “Realize the position you’re in, and realize that you’ve got to win and stuff like that, and how important each shift is.
“But you can’t really think about it. You have to kind of put it out of your head.”
It certainly doesn’t sound easy, and it’s even harder when you realize that, according to the players, such a skill only comes with time.
“It’s kind of a self-taught thing,” said Ference. “That’s where the playoff experience comes in for some of the older guys.
“For younger guys, they’re learning on the fly, but I think they’re doing a great job.”Blast from the Past
One of the Canadian reporters asked Glen Metropolit about his time playing in the IHL on the Quebec Rafales 1996-1997 team.
Although Metropolit admitted his memory was a little fuzzy – “We’re talking 10 years ago, so it’s a while back,” he said – he only had good things to say.
“I learned a lot,” he said. “Those older guys [on the team], they kind of led the way, taught me how to work hard.
“It was good. We had good times when I played in Quebec.”Bergeron Update
The questions around Patrice Bergeron
’s potential reentrance into the Bruins lineup only grow in number by the day. The good news on the subject, however, still remains elusive.
“Same as yesterday, guys,” Bergeron told the scrum of reporters waiting for him in the locker room. “I’m feeling good, and it’s up to the doctors now.
“I’m going to wait for them to give me the OK, and that’s about it.”
Bergeron spoke with his medical team yesterday and was still not cleared for games, and in the past 24 or so hours, the story hasn’t changed.
“I don’t think one night of sleep is going to change [their decision],” he said. “I think I’m going to talk to them on Monday.”