BOSTON — After what seems like an eternity since the last time they played a game, the Bruins held a full morning skate at the TD Garden today with Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final a mere nine hours away.
Everyone except Mark Recchi, who has made it a tradition in the postseason not to take the morning skate, was on the ice for the Bruins. Tampa Bay followed up with an optional morning skate, and a handful of players opted out.
The Bruins and Lightning aren’t exactly tradition rivals. Coming off emotional series with Montreal and Philadelphia, regardless of the layoff (Boston’s was seven days, Tampa Bay’s eight) between series, the Bruins would be excused if they found it difficult to build up much ire for the team from the Sunshine State.
That’s something the Bruins will guard against after the puck drops tonight.
“I guess we don’t the history with this team as we do with the others, but each team’s trying to keep each other from getting to where we want to get to,” said defenseman Adam McQuaid. “So if that’s not enough reason to come out and play hard, I really don’t know what is.”
Shawn Thornton’s pretty sure it won’t take long for Boston and Tampa Bay to become bitter enemies.
“I’m sure a rivalry will build as we go here. We play them four times in a year and there were a couple emotional games,” said Boston’s tough guy. “It’ll probably get going the more we get going. But you have to be ready to go. It’s the playoffs. Be ready to go.”
That’s part of head coach Claude Julien’s message for his players: make sure you’re not caught lollygagging at the start.
“Well, it’s the same for both teams, obviously, first time playing each other in the playoffs,” said the coach. “But I think if you don’t get into it early, you might regret it. So that’s how important this first game is, to make sure you’re set to go in for a tough series. And you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do here in order to win. We need to get our heads into it, I know that much. And that’s something that’s been expressed to our players and I think they’re ready for it.”