Bruins hope experience trumps long layoff

Bruins hope experience trumps long layoff
May 28, 2013, 7:00 pm
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WILMINGTON, MA – A week off between Boston’s elimination of the New York Rangers and their opener against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals isn’t such a bad thing.

The Bruins ended a stretch of playing 45 games in 85 days when they dusted off the Blueshirts at TD Garden last weekend, and finally stopped to take a few breaths after the breakneck pace to finish the season. It was necessary after the Bruins ended the season playing six games in nine days due to the three postponements, and the regularly scheduled grueling months in March and April in a compacted 48-game schedule.

“Once it got to playing [games] every other day for 2 ½ months, and with everything that happened with the rescheduled games, it was something that we had to battle through,” said Lucic. “It was a lot of fun, I’ll say that. It was a good experience. But would I ever want to go through that again? No, because I never want to have to experience another lockout again.

“There’s a lot of experience in this room, and we’ve been through quite a bit in the playoffs over the last three or four years. We just need to bring it in practice. We need to have some good, hard practices, and with all the time we have we should be making the most of it to make sure that we’re prepared.”

But that kind of layoff in the middle of a playoff run can have both positive and negative effects on the postseason run for a hockey club. The Bruins had no problems with an eight day layoff between sweeping the Philadelphia Flyers and facing the Tampa Bay Lightning in the conference finals two years, but an 11-day break between the first and second playoff round did them against the Carolina Hurricanes back in 2008-09.

The Bruins have learned from all these experiences in the playoffs over the last six seasons, and Claude Julien is always hoping to put that knowledge into practical application.

“I think our team has matured a lot more in regards to that. We had a long break, too, when we swept Philly [Philadelphia Flyers] in four straight a few years ago, and we handled it well,” said Claude Julien. “Based on today’s practice, I thought we practiced really well, lots of energy, worked hard. I think the focus is still there.

“[The year against Carolina] I think we had almost 11 days off, [the layoff] was closer to two weeks.  That was a lot and somehow we felt like we slipped out of [our game] and by the time we got back into it, we were in deep trouble. I think we were down 3-1 against Carolina. That was something that, hopefully, we learned from. Right now, I don’t sense that, to be honest with you. I think our guys are pretty focused right now. I liked our intensity and our focus and our jump in practice today.”

That will be one byproduct of seasoned hockey clubs in both Boston and Pittsburgh: there won’t be much that surprises either team given all that they’ve said and done with over 1,000 games of playoff experience on both rosters.