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Inching Closer...

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

BOSTON, MA - The Bruins held practice at TD Garden Monday morning, and will head to Chicago within the next 24 hours to take part in 'Media Day' at the United Center before kicking off the Final on Wednesday night.

The excitement was apparent. But there was also a calmness and focus about the group. They ran through 60-plus minutes of practice, working on breakouts, line changes, deflections, five-on-five scrimmaging, battling and all aspects of their game. In between practice segments, they would huddle for extended periods of time as Head Coach Claude Julien would draw up plays on the board and instruct his team.

"Yeah, there is," Coach said, acknowledging the composure of his team. "But there was a sense of calmness going into the other ones, too. It’s about understanding what you’re going to be facing."

"We don’t want to waste our energy getting overly excited here a few days before. You’ve got to get yourself mentally ready first and then you’ve got to have the energy that is needed to win a hockey game. So I think our guys are focused and focus is probably what you need right now."

"Anybody that makes it this far knows how hard it is. There’s no doubt we’re hungry."

With the majority of Bruins having clinched the Cup in 2011, the team's experience comes into play beyond what to expect on the ice.

"It’s a little different just for the fact that I kind of have an idea of what’s going on once we get to Chicago with all the media and any of the attention that’s going to be going around," said Brad Marchand, who was in his rookie NHL season back in 2011.

"But the excitement factor and how nervous we are is still there."

No matter how much experience the winger and the B's have, the nerves will always be there. Because it's the Cup.

"It’s extremely exciting. The fact that we’re here with a lot of the same guys and just being here having the opportunity to play for the Cup again," added Marchand.

"It’s a feeling that you really can’t describe. Just knowing the guys that much more and having played together for a few years now - it’s an incredible thing."

Practice Notes

-Not that they weren't before, but the past two weeks, the Bruins have been seriously dialed in during practice. For the most part, the jokes and smiles are saved for the beginning of warm-up laps around the ice and once the center-ice stretch to end practice is complete.

-Captain Zee led that center-ice stretch today. There are many leaders on this team, and the Captain's focus is one that leads the way. I'm not sure that could be encapsulated more than in the dying seconds of Game Four against Pittsburgh, when his glove save on Evgeni Malkin saved the sweep.

-Milan Lucic has been on a tear this postseason. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound bruising forward has 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) but it's not so much about his finish, as it is his ability to create time and space for his linemates David Krejci and Nathan Horton.

He's also been extremely focus during skates, along with the rest of the B's. There was a moment during Monday's practice when the Bruins were battling along the boards, and Johnny Boychuk didn't let up as he jammed Lucic in. It takes a lot to get No. 17 to lose control of his puck along the boards, and No. 55 did it in commanding fashion. The two shared a nice laugh after, with Lucic shaking his head on his way to the bench.

-Speaking of Horton and Krejci, who lead the postseason with 21 and 17 points, respectfully, the pair show their magic in practice, too. During 2-on-2 drills, Krejci danced into the zone, with a defender closely following his every move, and sent a feed to Horton, who used his own defender as a screen and sniped one past Tuukka Rask. The B's netminder wasn't too happy about not making the stop, but it was a pretty incredible shot that brought out smiles and "woo!" from the team.

-As expected moving into the Cup Final, the B's practice lineup reflected that from Sunday's practice and from Game Four against Pittsburgh.

White Jerseys: Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton
Gold: Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Jaromir Jagr
Grey: Kaspars Daugavins-Rich Peverley-Tyler Seguin
Merlot: Daniel Paille-Chris Kelly-Shawn Thornton
Green: Jay Pandolfo-Carl Soderberg-Jordan Caron

-The Bruins vary their defensive pairings all the time in practice, playing off sides and switching partners, but the pairings from the Pens' series can be expected to stay the same for Chicago.

Zdeno Chara-Dennis Seidenberg
Andrew Ference-Johnny Boychuk
Torey Krug-Adam McQuaid

Tuukka Rask, Anton Khudobin and Niklas Svedberg rounded out the gang on the ice.

Stay tuned to, the Bruins' mobile app and Twitter @NHLBruins ^CS for more updates heading into the Cup Final…

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