The B’s were looking forward to tonight’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“They’re in our division and an Original Six team, so it makes it a very important game,” said goalie Tim Thomas
. “And you know a lot of people are watching because it’s two Original Six teams playing.”
If the many cameras and writers crowding the B's locker room were any indication, tonight’s battle should be very well-viewed.
“We’re used to it with the Canadian teams,” said Thomas. “Whether it’s Ottawa, Montreal or Toronto, it seems to be a large media contingent every time.”
After a bit of a star-crossed season, the Leafs have had a bit of success recently, going 3-1-1 in their past five games.
“Obviously they’re playing with a lot of confidence right now and so are we,” said Shawn Thornton
, who was looking forward to tonight. “It’ll be a good tilt tonight, and I think it’s a very important game for both of us.”
Both teams, he explained, are on a mission.
“We have to get back into our winning ways,” Thornton said, “and they have to keep winning.”
But tonight, really, is no different than any other game.
“It doesn’t matter who you’re against [at this point in the season], it’s going to be a tough one,” said Marco Sturm. “We shouldn’t care about the other guys. If we play our game, we should be fine.”Don’t Look Back
While some reporters focused on the past two games, a regulation loss against the Washington Capitals and an overtime loss against the Florida Panthers, the Black & Gold managed to see the positive.
“We’re still 7-1-2 in our past 10 [games],” Thomas told one crowd of reporters in front of his locker.
As for the focus on the negative, the goalie knew, “It’s just the nature of the beast.”
Thornton, meanwhile, warned against overreacting to a couple downers.
“We lost [against Florida], but we got a point, so it’s not as bad as everyone’s making it out to be,” he said confidently. “I think the 10-2 [loss against Washington] has put a lot of weight on two [losses] in a row, but we made the right strides against Florida.”A Season to Remember
The boys are excited about their season so far and having the playoffs in sight, something that very few expected at the start of this year.
“Maybe in the media’s eyes [our success is a surprise] because we were picked to come in pretty much dead last in the Eastern Conference,” said Thomas. “But I think everything we’ve accomplished was possible.”
He knows the team has meshed well, but they always had potential.
“We’ve been happy with ourselves that we’ve played up to what we think our potential is,” added Thomas, “and we’re happy with the way we’ve been as a group.”
Thornton credited the team’s success to strong leadership that began at training came.
“I think the leaders have done a good job of making sure that guys know what it takes to win,” he said. “All year, we’ve made the right strides to get into the playoffs, and that says a lot about the guys in this room and the leaders and our work ethic.”
And while the city has been recently enamored with World Series winners and near-perfect season football teams, it’s time for hockey to come to the forefront.
“When I signed here, people around here told me it was a hockey town first and foremost, [and] we just had to get a good product out on the ice,” Thornton said. “Every night…we’ve shown up and we’ve competed.”
Get ready, Boston.Tonight, Tonight
Once again, the Bruins focus for tonight was on keeping it simple and in order to come out with a W.
“Just go back to a system, go back to the little things,” said Sturm. “You’ve got to grind it out, and we’ve just got to play our game, that’s all.”
“We’ve got to get back to the simple things you have to do to get goals – go to the net and get rebounds and screens and tips,” said Thomas. “So we fell away from our game a little bit, and we’re just trying to get back to the technique.”
Thornton said that the focus was nothing new.
“Mostly it’s just little things like you always hear,” he said, “guys finishing their checks [for example].”Zdeno Chara
added that playing smart was the way to go.
“We’ll try to bury the chances that we’re going to get,” he said.