Bruins Learn Lessons Without Taking Loss in Opening Games Against Flyers


Bruins Learn Lessons Without Taking Loss in Opening Games Against Flyers Had the puck bounced differently in either of the opening games of the Bruins' second-round matchup with the Flyers, the B's could very well could find themselves in a 2-0 hole.

Thanks to a pair of Mighty Ducks knucklepucks from Marc Savard and Milan Lucic, however, the team is in the infinitely advantageous position of essentially needing to just win Game 3 to put the series out of reach for Philadelphia. That's not to say the wins were lucky — in the playoffs, nothing comes easy and every goal is earned — but given the way the Bruins have not been able to put away the Flyers in either game, the wins have been fortunate.

B's head coach Claude Julien admitted that his team let off the gas pedal at times.

"It's about trying to stay with it," Julien said after his squad's narrow 3-2 victory in Game 2. "The third period [in Game 1] wasn?t as good as we would have liked it to be. We had to go into overtime, but I think it?s important for our team to play to win. Sometimes you play not to lose … you get tight. Right now it's about playing to win and doing the things that you need to do in order for those things to happen. … Our guys kept their focus [after Daniel Briere tied Game 2 late in the second], and they went out there in the third, determined to win a hockey game."

They did, though it wasn't how they drew it up. David Krejci tried to sneak a pass to the high slot to find Andrew Ference, but the puck deflected off the shaft of Lukas Krajicek's stick. Lucic, who's been among the Bruins' hardest workers this postseason, was rewarded when the puck fell between his legs. Though the puck was on edge, Lucic fired the slapshot just above the right pad of Brian Boucher. It was Lucic's first tally in his home building that was scored on a goaltender all season long.

Even Lucic didn't think his shot would find the back of the net.

"Not at all — my whole thought process was just get it on net," Lucic said. "That was just a turn and shoot, get it on net. Luckily, it found a hole."

On Saturday, Savard's game-winner, as poetic as it may have been, came after a puck bounced about six feet in the air and settled at the centerman's feet. Granted, Dennis Wideman created the opportunity with a timely pinch from the blue line, but there was no mistaking that a fortunate bounce could be credited with the primary assist.

Julien said that while he was happy to insert Savard into his lines, he wasn't exactly expecting him to produce the way he did.

"Any time a guy steps into your lineup and hasn't played in two months and scores an overtime winner, you got to take it certainly with a smile," Julien said. "And you know, it was the right time [to shoot]. We had a delayed penalty called against [James van Riemsdyk], and [Savard] just threw it at the net. Great shot and great way to finish."

Both goals were undeniably great ways to finish, but the Bruins know that either game could have gone the other way. In that sense, they've learned valuable lessons that teams tend to learn in playoff losses, only they're in the driver's seat with a 2-0 lead.

What the Bruins need to work on is in parts measurable and other parts intangible. The penalty kill was better in Game 2, keeping Philly scoreless on four man advantages, but the Flyers were clearly the better team in the second period, skating circles around the Bruins and simply playing with more desperation and intensity. The same could be said in the second and third period of Game 1, though the B's came out flying in overtime to seal the victory.

Given their lapses in the first two games, the Bruins know what they need to improve. They also know they're up two games to none.

"You want to go into Philly knowing that it?s going to be a battle every night, every game," Julien said. "I know our team is certainly not overconfident. The games were decided, one in overtime, the other one by one goal, so they can go either way. Right now, we got a 2-0 lead, but that doesn?t mean anything. I think it's important for us to really go in there [in Game 3-] and be ready to battle, because they're going to be ready."

On the other side of the spectrum is Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette, who finds it difficult to be upset with his team's performance thus far.

"I think it's more frustrating because you're in there two times swinging in the opposition's building and you got opportunities to walk away with a win, and you don't, and you find yourself with two losses. So that to me is more frustrating," he said. "A goal can happen in any different manner, but I think it's because we're in both games and an overtime game and less than five minutes left in a game, and we're looking to score, and both times, it goes to them."

Given the way his team's played, Laviolette doesn't appear to be sweating the deficit too badly.

"I'm not concerned with how we're going to respond," he said. "We're going back to our building, and that's been a place where we've played well for a while now. Our fans have been great, our players have had a lot of energy, the building has had a lot of energy, similar to here [Monday night] for them. We seem to have been able to harness that. We've got a resilient group. We've been through a lot. We've been through ups and downs, and we had to scrape our way into the playoffs. I have no question that we'll respond with a good effort."

The Bruins are aware of that, and Lucic, who was credited with a team-high three hits on Monday, isn't taking the 2-0 lead for granted.

"They have a lot of character guys on their team that step up and play hard for that team," said the 21-year-old winger, who has 25 games of playoff experience under his belt. "Their ability to get back in game, they have shown that all series long so far, and they are showing that they are not going to quit no matter what the score is. They are a desperate hockey club right now, and it is just going to go up another notch for them."

Thanks to a pair of bounces in the right direction, the Bruins have been able to withstand that charge. Based on their reactions after two victories, they appear to be prepared to respond when the puck bounces the other way.

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