WILMINGTON, MA - On Wednesday morning, the Bruins gathered for the second straight day at Ristuccia Arena for practice in the lead-up to Saturday's Game One in Pittsburgh.
It was another high-tempo, high-intensity day, with all Bruins on the ice.
Lines were status quo, with defense pairings the same as Tuesday, the first day of full practice with Andrew Ference back skating with the team (since May 10).
Though, throughout practice, there was some mixing and matching, as the B's prepare for any situations that could get thrown their way, especially with the last change on the road, and the obvious scenario that the Penguins will likely want to keep Sidney Crosby (et al) away from Zdeno Chara.
Following the skate, Coach Julien seemed impressed with the focus of his team, especially amidst the seven-day layoff heading into Game one.
"The last couple of days we’ve had some good practices. It’s been good tempo, good jump, good focus. It’s about being able to handle yourselves at this time of year in these types of situations. What I mean by that, when you get to the rink it’s all about business," said Coach, on what he expects from his players this time of year.
"Leave the rink, relax, enjoy the nice weather that’s there for you. You know the sun gives you energy, and nothing wrong with being out. Really kind of relaxing and making sure you don’t waste your energy out there when you should be saving it for the game and the time on the ice."
"It’s about focusing on those little things. Our guys have done a good job of taking care of themselves, eating properly, getting their rest. Right now I have no issues with where our team is based on what I see in practice. "
With the series schedule released late Tuesday night following the Sharks-Kings Game Seven, Coach and the B's finally had an end goal of preparation and planning for the Conference Finals to kick off.
"Well, we know where we’re going now," said Coach, of the Saturday start date. "At one point you want to show some video. You want to do different things. You don’t want to do it too early. You want to do it at the right time. What was tough was that we weren’t quite sure when we were going to start."
"At least with a schedule, you know what you can do on every single day and you’re certainly able to prepare a little bit better. Nonetheless, both teams are in the same boat and you try and project what is going to happen. You base your decisions on that."
Adversity Breeds Strength
Following practice, Coach Julien was asked by a reporter about the effect the adversity of the shortened season has had on the Bruins - looking back - and if that has helped them deal with the postseason.
"Every time you go through some challenges during a season and adversity, it makes you a better team," said Julien. "We experienced it - I know we keep going back - a couple of years ago because that’s the example you have to use. When you win you say, ‘Was your whole season an easy year?’ and it wasn’t. We had adversity, but whenever it got a little bit dicey or whatever in the playoffs, we’d been through it before. Nothing rattled us."
"I think that’s the good thing about going through adversity during the season. You want to make the playoffs, you want to have the best year you can, but adversity is never a bad thing to go through during the season if it’ll help you in the long run."
Bruins' center Chris Kelly always gives a genuinely honest and forthright response to just about any question thrown his way.
When asked following practice about the "underdog" label given to the Bruins, Kelly fired out his response right away. "That's fine with us," he said. "We'll come out - and play hard."
"Right now it's about us, as opposed to focusing on them."
"Obviously they finished first in the East - they're playing extremely well so it's a great challenge and a great opportunity for us to play them and see where we're at."
Kelly was also asked about playing under Head Coach Claude Julien.
"It's been a pleasure," the veteran promptly responded. "Claude's a great coach, a great person. He cares about his players on and off the ice, and that's not always the case in pro sports."