BOSTON – With puck drop inching closer as every minute, the Boston Bruins are excited to get their Eastern Conference Finals series with the Tampa Bay Lighting underway.
|Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien instructs during practice at TD Garden in Boston Thursday, May 12, 2011 as they prepare for their NHL Stanley Cup Eastern Conference Finals hockey playoff series against the Tampa Bay Lightning which begins Saturday. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola) |
After both the Lighting and Bruins swept their Conference Semi-final series, the teams enjoyed nine and seven days off respectively. Getting back into the game-day route will be key for players and coaches to be ready to go come game time.
“I know I am excited and I was up early without being forced out of bed. And I think the players were the same way,” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said.
“A rest is always a good thing, but at the same time I think we all enjoy the rhythm that we get into when we are in the playoffs and to be able to start that again tonight is great for everybody.”
Tonight marks the first time the Bruins will play in the Conference Finals since 1992, and Boston will debut some line-up changes with tonight’s game starts.
Center Patrice Bergeron is recovering from a mild concussion suffered in Game 4 of the B’s second round series with Philadelphia and wasn’t present at the team’s morning skate. Bergeron did skate on his own this morning for the first time since his concussion.
“He just went out, had a light skate this morning,” Julien said.
“This is something that’s just protocol, he’s going through the normal stuff, and today was a light skate on his own.”
With Bergeron absent from the Bruins line-up, fellow center Chris Kelly will slide into Bergeron’s spot on the second line and rookie Tyler Seguin will make his NHL playoff debut, skating in the vacancy Kelly left on the third line.
The new lines have been practicing together all week, but patience will be key in allowing the lines to form some chemistry to get things going on the ice.
“We don’t have a choice. We had to move guys around and that’s part of hockey. Guys move around and play with different players, and it’s important for them to adapt,” Julien said.
“And sometimes you keep things simple and you work some chemistry in and before you know it you’re on the same page and you’re able to read off each other.”
Bergeron was also one of Boston’s top penalty killers. While the Bruins have plenty of suitable replacements it will be a key adjustment for the B’s, especially considering the high-output production of the Bolts power play and the up and down production of Boston’s own man-advantage.
“Somehow you have to neutralize their power play. If your power play is going to be as good as you hoped to be then it is up to the penalty kill to try and compensate a little bit with that by being extremely good,” Julien said.
“You have to stay, again, optimistic that they are going to continue doing the job. And our penalty killers are going to have to do a great job because the power play has been pretty successful so far in the playoffs.”