WILMINGTON, Mass. — Watching the Vancouver Canucks beat the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal series last night proved to be a learning experience for the Boston Bruins.
Those Bruins players who chose to flip on the game got to see that getting back into action after a nine-day layoff isn’t as difficult as some might think.
“They came out hard to start the game. I thought they had a real good first two periods,” said Bruins winger Milan Lucic after the club held its morning skate at Ristuccia Arena. “And obviously Chicago showed a lot of character coming back to make that 3-3. But I mean, they had the same number of days off as we did and came out hard. So it just shows we can’t have any excuses and we have to go out there and play hard.”
The Bruins will host the Carolina Hurricanes at TD Banknorth Garden tonight in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference semifinal series after not playing since last Wednesday. The Canucks squandered a three-goal lead in the last period of their game before scoring late to go up 1-o in the series. Some observers might think that the layoff caught up to Vancouver in that final stanza, but Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas has another theory.
“Every situation’s a little bit different. The first couple of shifts, I think Vancouver came out with a little bit of rust and I think Chicago helped them by taking 10 minutes in penalties,” said the netminder. “I think part of Chicago taking just taking over in the third period was just that they found their legs, not necessarily because Vancouver lost theirs.
“We just have to be as mentally and physically prepared as we can to come out and play, not just right away, but the whole 60 minutes.”
Lucic is hoping that the Garden crowd will aid the cause tonight.
“(Vancouver) got a crowd there to feed off of, and obviously we’ve got a great crowd here to feed off,” he said. “I think most importantly, early in the game we’ve got to do things to keep it simple and not make turnovers at the blue line and do those types of things, getting the pucks out along the walls and down low and winning puck battles and those types of things.”
As always, head coach Claude Julien has set his expectations high as far as what he wants to see out of his team.
“Everybody’s wondering whether we’re going to be rested or rusty. Obviously, I think Vancouver’s a good example to take, as far as they came out and played well in the first period,” he said. “So I’m expecting and I would expect our players to feel the same way, that we can come out and play the way we know we can and put all the excuses aside.”
We’ll find out if the Bruins can continue to hurdle obstacles rather than make excuses in a little less than seven hours.