‘Miracle’ site might provide inspiration for practicing Bruins

WILMINGTON, Mass. — We won’t know for a few days if the Bruins will need a miracle to beat Montreal in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.

But we do know that the Bruins are headed to the site of hockey’s greatest “Miracle” between Game 3 and 4 of the series.

The Bruins announced Tuesday they’ll head to Lake Placid, N.Y., for two practices next Tuesday and Wednesday rather than wait out the two-day break in Montreal. The USA Rink at the Whiteface Lake Placid Olympic Center was the site of the U.S. Olympic Team’s triumphs in the 1980 Olympics, victories that inspired an entire crop of top-notch athletes to pursue hockey. For two days, it’ll be the Bruins’ home away from home.

Goaltender Tim Thomas, the only American regular in the Bruins’ lineup, was among the group inspired by Jim Craig, Mike Eruzione and the rest. He said today after practice at Ristuccia Arena that he hadn’t thought much about the historical significance of the visit. But he was looking forward to getting a closer look at area. While with the University of Vermont, Thomas played in the arena but he said all the team did was pull in, play and pull out.

“It’ll be interesting to see the scene of the 1980 ‘Miracle on Ice’ sort of deal. I’ve seen the arena but just to see the whole … I know it’ll be different because the Olympics aren’t actually there right now and it’s been a long time, but still. I thought it’d be pretty cool,” said Thomas.

Head coach Claude Julien, a Canadian, wasn’t nearly as reflective about the decision to skate on sacred ground.

“It’s just a decision we made. We felt we had a couple of days and it’s a good area just to get some practice time,” said Julien. “And that was the decision behind going there. There was no use for us staying longer than we had to [in Montreal]. And we have a job to do, we have to practice and stay focused, so we felt that was the best thing to do because of the way the scheduled was put out.”

Well, we’ll know if Julien has any more appreciation for what Herb Brooks’ ragtag bunch of amateurs did 31 years ago if the Bruins aren’t playing up to par through the series’ first three games and he makes his squad skate “Herbies.”

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