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Bruins now have the advantage at home

by John McGourty /
BOSTON -- Back home in Boston after achieving the goal of a split of the first two games against the Buffalo Sabres, Bruins coach Claude Julien was pleased with his club's efforts so far.

The Bruins took a 5-3 win in Game 2 and were right in it against the Sabres in Game 1 before falling, 2-1. Game 3 is Monday night at TD Garden (7 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC)

"Any time you start out on the road, you want to come back with at least a split," Julien said. "We've done that and now it's our job to maintain that home-ice advantage that we've acquired."

That may be easier said than done. The Bruins were not a good home team this season, going 18-17-6 at TD Garden, the 12th-best mark in the East and just the 25th best in the league. But Julien thinks the team's recent play at home has been much better.

"I think so. We won the last couple of games, but even the games before that we lost, we were dominant," Julien said. "In some of those -- think back to the Florida game -- it's not like we played terrible here. It's that we weren't getting results here for a while. I think our team feels pretty comfortable in our own building."

Julien's home-ice advantage comes down to the ability to match lines against the Sabres' Lindy Ruff. But Julien downplayed that, saying good coaches can adapt on the road. There were several occasions in the two games in Buffalo where a Bruins player skated for his bench right after the faceoff so that Julien could get another player on the ice.

He expects Ruff will do something similar.

"They can control it better. They can do what I did, which was tinker with it a bit," Julien said. "It's a chess match when it comes to that. At some point you try and get the matchups, but at the same time, you try not to lose the momentum. Sometimes, it's the team that rolls its lines -- and our team is like

that -- sometimes can play just as well or even better. You try to have a feeling for your team as the game goes on and if all of your lines are working, it certainly makes it easier to make those kinds of decisions."

Bruins left wing Milan Lucic was one of those players shuttling after faceoffs so he knows what Julien's talking about.

"We were able to make adjustments and we know that are probably going to do the same thing so we have to be prepared for that," Lucic said. "We have to play hard and play determined and play with a relentless work ethic."

It's unlikely Julien will have to adapt to the presence of Buffalo's leading goal scorer, Thomas Vanek, who was injured in Saturday's game. The Sabres say Vanek will travel with the team to Boston but is unlikely to play in Game 3. Vanek may return later in the series. Julien was asked what impact Vanek's absence has on his pre-game thinking and strategy.

"It's hard for me to stand here and answer that," Julien said. "I don't know what's going to happen with him. I certainly don't want to be speculating here and putting all my eggs in one basket: Vanek is not going to play next game. I think more than anything what has gotten us here with a split is the way we've played, not who is in their lineup. They might be missing Vanek. They might be missing a couple of players, but so are we. You talk about (Marc) Savard and two (defensemen Dennis Seidenberg and Mark Stuart) who are in our top four.

"That's just the reality of the game and if you spend your time worrying about what you haven't got, you're wasting your time preparing for what you have got. I'm going to concentrate on my team and worry about that. Who knows? If he plays tomorrow, they've got themselves a pretty good player back in their lineup and if he doesn't, they're missing a good player from their lineup. But that's their problem, not ours."

Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask cautioned that losing a one-goal game in Game 1 and winning by two goals, including Mark Recchi's empty-netter, means that Buffalo and Boston are very closely matched. He said the Bruins achieved their goal of a split in Buffalo and must not surrender the home-ice advantage they've earned.

"That's something that we wanted to do, come back here tied or ahead," Rask said. "It's good but we have to keep doing the things that we were doing right to keep home-ice advantage. I hope it's good. I hope people get really loud out there. We like to play at home but I don't want us to get too high on ourselves."

"Any time you start out on the road, you want to come back with at least a split.  We've done that and now it's our job to maintain that home-ice advantage that we've acquired." -- Bruins coach Claude Julien
Center Patrice Bergeron said the Bruins will respond to the fans' support.

"In front of our fans, we need to take advantage of that," Bergeron said. "It's huge, especially in the playoffs. We all talk about. We feel at home. The fans have been great all year, really supporting us and we need to give them a good show and take advantage of the emotion in the building, feel the energy and get going because of that."

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