BOSTON – Daniel Briere might think his Philadelphia team is in the Bruins’ heads because of the historic comeback the Flyers made last season from 0-3 down in the second round of the playoffs.
But he can only be about half right, because of the 18 regular skaters from last season’s squad, only nine are expected to battle for the Bruins when this year’s Eastern Conference semifinal series between Boston and Philadelphia opens Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center.
Center Gregory Campbell is among the Boston newcomers that don’t have last season’s collapse hanging over their heads.
“I feel like it’s motivation for the guys that were here,” said Campbell today after the Bruins practiced at TD Garden for the first time since winning Game 7 of their first-round series with Montreal. “But for me, I don’t necessarily get asked those questions because I wasn’t a part of it. Obviously I was aware of what happened; I watched the series. But to be honest with you I think it’s not really … it’s in our minds, but it’s not the focal point of this series.”
Most of the players who are entering their second playoff series with Philadelphia in as many years admit that it’s difficult to block out last season. That doesn’t mean their only focus is revenge.
“For some of the guys, obviously, here last year, it should be a little bit of motivating tool and a learning lesson,” said forward Shawn Thornton. “But that being said, last year was last year, this year is this year. Half the team has been turned over. We’ve brought in some great people. So, it’s a whole new year. They have new players, we have new players. It doesn’t really have a factor on this year’s series, except for the fact we haven’t forgotten about it because you guys [in the media] remind us day in and day out, and I’m sure you will for the next two weeks.”
David Krejci, like teammates Dennis Seidenberg and Brad Marchand (who was a healthy scratch), sort of falls into a third camp – a roster player that was helpless to stop the bleeding because of injury. Krejci famously suffered a broken wrist after an open-ice hit by Flyers captain Mike Richards in Game 3. It was no coincidence that after the Bruins won that game, they lost four straight without their best offensive center.
“It’s a new series, it’s a new season. It’s going to be nice after the season, when it’s over and I can tell myself ‘we finally did it,’” said Krejci, who obviously thinks the Bruins are going win this season. “So after the season’s done, it’s going to feel good. Now it’s just a new season. They have a little different team; we have a little different team. So it’s just a good challenge for us.”
As for the notion that the Flyers – who came back from 3-2 down in the series and 2-0 down in Game 6 against Buffalo in the first round – have a mental edge because they know there’s no deficit they can’t overcome against Boston, Campbell says that they’re allowed to think that way. But the veteran believes Boston is just as psychologically tough.
“Well sure, they can think that. That’s obviously something that they’ll feed on,” he said. “They are a good team at staying composed, as you saw in the first round as well. But I think we are too. We were down 2-0 [in the series to Montreal]. It’s a new year, there’s nine new guys on the team and the lesson’s been learned. It’s just a fresh start for this team, I think.”