|It's been a while since the B's defeated the Habs.
It’s been a long time – nine days, by head coach Claude Julien’s count – since the Bruins have taken the ice in the playoffs, but the wait is over and they couldn’t be happier.
“It’s about time,” said Julien. “There’s some new life in our room, and excitement, which is what you want.”
As the only Eastern Conference team to sweep in the first round, the Bruins have had since last Thursday to rest and wait for their opponent to be determined.
“We had a chance to kind of put our guard down for a few days and rest, and then get our energy level back to where we want it to be,” Julien said, “but now it’s time to do our job.”
While it was looking like they’d be squaring off against the Pittsburgh Penguins until late Tuesday night, the B’s newest foe in this second round will actually be the Carolina Hurricanes. Boston came away from the season series between the two teams with a decisive 4-0-0 victory, but the ‘Canes still aren’t to be taken lightly.
Above all, said Julien – and many of the players – they’re fast.
“That’s what they build their team on,” he said. “They’ve got skill, they’ve got spend, they come at your hard, they’re aggressive in the offensive zone, they’re aggressive in the neutral zone, [and] they really try and take your time and space away.”
|New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur, left, shakes hands with Carolina Hurricanes' Eric Staal after the Hurricanes beat the Devils 4-3 in an NHL first-round hockey playoff game Tuesday, April 28, 2009, in Newark, N.J. Staal scored the game winner as the Hurricanes won the series 4-3 to advance to the next round. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun) |
If anything, the Carolina team of the post-season, who beat the New Jersey Devils 4-2 in game seven and won the first-round series with a last-minute rally, is not the Carolina team that got swept by the Bruins during the regular season.
“There’s a lot of things – confidence, compete level, they believe in each other, and you can see them playing with a lot of confidence out there and working hard,” Julien said. “They don’t seem to be willing to give up, either.
“They’re down by a goal against a team that usually shuts teams down with a little less than two minutes left in the game, and they find ways to score goals,” he said. “[They’re] one of those teams that just competes hard and works hard, and when you do that most of the time, good things are going to happen.”
And goaltender Cam Ward, winner of a Stanley Cup with Carolina in 2006 and was praised by former teammate Mark Recchi, is going to be a deciding factor in this next round.
“He was outstanding in that series, and goaltending the playoffs can often make a difference,” Julien said.
“You saw that in [Henrik] Lundqvist in the beginning of [the New York Rangers] series against Washington – without a doubt, the biggest difference-maker – and then Ward was equally as good as [the Devils Martin] Brodeur, if not better, and I go back to [Nikolai] Khabibulin with Tampa Bay,” he said. “They won the Stanley Cup, but they can thank him a lot, because he played a big role.”
Boston, however, has something on their side that Carolina does not – a week-plus of rest.
“This is the opportunity we’ve earned, to get some rest and get our players back to 100%,” said Julien, who said he was looking at the long break as something positive. “Maybe we haven’t played in nine days, but they’ve had two days off from a seven-game series.
“There’s pros and cons from both. They may not have had a chance to rest, but they’re also in the groove. But a long series will pay off for us, for them. So many things come into play, you take advantage of what’s given to you.”