Although gambling on the NHL is discouraged, you could’ve received long odds on wagering that the Boston Bruins would emerge from their 10-game-in-18-night stretch with an 8-1-1 record.
But after the Bruins took down the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings to end the difficult stretch of game Saturday, you would’ve been able to cash in on that bet. The Bruins lost just once in regulation (at Buffalo) and once in a shootout (at New York) during the group of games that amounted to a simulation of a playoff series with an average of one game every other night.
Bruins head coach Claude Julien, who gave his team Sunday off and will have his club back on the ice for practice today, said after the win Saturday that he was proud of how his players handled themselves during one of the most grueling portions of the schedule.
“Well, it was definitely a challenge,” he said. “When we looked at the schedule and saw it was 10 games in 18 days, even as a coaching staff, we sat down and talked about it and how we were going to handle our club, how we were going to manage it with the rest and types of practices and everything else that went with it. We also talked about the importance of taking care of themselves, whether it’s nutrition or rest and everything else. To be able to go through that 10 in 18 days, you have to be disciplined, extremely disciplined.
“That was also on the ice. The more we stayed disciplined, the more we were able to use our whole bench to our advantage. There were a lot of things put into place to be able to get through that stretch. I think the guys did a great job. In a way, you’re kind of sad that it’s over because you have a pretty good run going, you feel like you have something going. So hopefully we won’t lose that and we’ll bring that with us to Florida.”
Of course, the Bruins didn’t escape the stretch unscathed. Defenseman Andrew Ference (foot) and winger Marco Sturm (concussion) both dropped out of the line-up along the way. But with Matt Hunwick stepping in on the blue line and Petteri Nokelainen taking a spot up front, the Bruins persevered.
Detroit head coach Mike Babcock, who can count a Stanley Cup ring and two trips to the Final among his possessions, was impressed by the Bruins.
“They have good players,” he said after the game Saturday. “I think they are starting to come of age. They have been drafting high for a long time and it starts to show after a period of time. I thought that the goalie (Manny Fernandez) played really well tonight. And I think they have one of the best, if not the best statistically-wise, in Tim Thomas. He didn’t play tonight. I don’t know if they were showcasing Fernandez or what they were doing with that.
“That (Phil) Kessel kid can really fly. (Marc) Savard is more committed than he has been in the past. (Milan) Lucic is a big body and really skates. I thought that the (David) Krejci line with (Blake) Wheeler and (Michael Ryder), I thought they were effective against us tonight. (Patrice) Bergeron is a great two-way player, with (P.J.) Axelsson. … That’s three good lines.”