The media horde covering the Eastern Conference Semifinal series between the Boston Bruins
and Philadelphia Flyers
was surprised Friday morning to learn Bruins coach Claude Julien
had cancelled practice.
The Bruins host the Flyers in Game 7 Friday at TD Garden (7 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN, RDS, CSN-PH). The Bruins won the first three games of the series and then lost the next three, and will try to regain their momentum and scoring touch for Game 7. The Flyers blanked the Bruins through 134 minutes, 11.5 seconds over three games before Milan Lucic
scored with a minute remaining in the 2-1 loss in Game 6 in Philadelphia.
The Bruins are trying to avoid becoming the first NHL team since the 1975 Pittsburgh Penguins
, who lost to the New York Islanders
, to squander a 3-0 Stanley Cup Playoff series lead. The 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs
also rallied from a 3-0 series deficit to defeat the Detroit Red Wings
"We practiced yesterday and did everything we needed to do to prepare for tonight. We're giving our guys an opportunity to get some rest and get them ready to play tonight."
-- Bruins coach Claude Julien
One conspiracy theorist asked if the team was working out at the Bruins' suburban practice facility, Ristuccia Arena, in Wilmington, Mass., but a Bruins spokesman rolled his eyes, shook his head and said, "There's no secret practice."
"We had a late game the other night and we didn't get in here until 1:30 (a.m. Thursday)," Julien said. "We practiced yesterday and did everything we needed to do to prepare for tonight. We're giving our guys an opportunity to get some rest and get them ready to play tonight.
"... When you play these guys seven times in a row, there's not much you don't know about the other team, so come ready to play."
The Bruins, the lowest-scoring team in the NHL during the regular season, failed to score against the Flyers after Mark Recchi
tied Game 4 with 31.5 seconds remaining in regulation. Flyers left wing Simon Gagne
scored at 14:40 of overtime to give the Flyers a 5-4 victory. The Bruins were shut out, 4-0, in Game 5, when goalie Michael Leighton
replaced Brian Boucher
, who suffered a knee injury early in the second period. Boucher and Leighton produced the first combined shutout in a Stanley Cup Playoff game since 1955, when Montreal's Jacques Plante
and Charlie Hodge
Then the Bruins were blanked for 59 minutes of Game 6 in Philadelphia before Milan Lucic
scored his third goal of the playoffs.
Julien was asked how he intends to get enough goals from his players to win a game.
"You don't want to bog them down with the fact that they're not scoring goals," Julien said. "You have to keep encouraging those guys to go to the net. You have to encourage guys to shoot pucks at the net and get there. In the last game again, we shot a lot of pucks (79) and a lot of them were blocked (30, with 18 missed and 30 stopped by Leighton).
"It's been one of those challenges this year. We've had a lot of our key players, our goal-scoring players, out of the lineup. When everybody was back, more or less at the beginning of these playoffs, we were OK. We had better balance.
"But then we lose (Marco) Sturm (in Game 1), our leading goal scorer in the regular season, and now we lose (David) Krejci (in Game 4). We're up against a challenge again but it's not a challenge we can't overcome. It just means we have to dig in a little deeper. Maybe those highlight goals are going to be there, but we have to grind it out a little more and we have to be willing to get our noses a little dirty around that net, whether it's for rebounds or tip-ins or whatever the case may be. Somehow, we have to find a way to get the puck to the net and get yourself to the net as well."
Julien was asked after Game 6 if he would consider any roster changes, perhaps inserting Brad Marchand
, a nearly point-a-game player for AHL Providence this season, to get more scoring. He said Wednesday that he and his assistant coaches would be considering their options, but that Marchand hadn't played in over a month and his success came at a lower level.
He dodged a similar question Friday morning.
"We'll see tonight. You guys keep trying to pull that one out of me," Julien said. "My lineup will be done at game time. As far as making adjustments or what we can do, we watch tapes after every game. Every coach does it. We made some adjustments that hopefully will give us some better opportunities to score goals tonight."
The Bruins are drawing support from their Boston sports colleagues. After winning their conference semifinal series against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday, Boston Celtics guard Ray Allen gave reporters a message to pass along to the Bruins: "Tell them we warmed up the building for them." Julien smiled when a reporter mentioned Allen's remark.
"Hopefully, they did warm it up and when we start the game tonight, we can keep them warm," Julien said. "And that's probably the biggest message I can give my players right now. We talked about our start and how important the start is. It's something we have to be better at tonight. Be ready to go right at the get-go. Drop the puck and let's start taking the play to them. We just have to show that we're ready. We know we're going to get some resistance from a team that's played well. We have to be up to the task and push forward."
Contact John McGourty at firstname.lastname@example.org