It’s no secret that the Bruins have experience some difficulty in the first round of the playoffs. In four of the six previous seasons under Claude Julien, the Bruins have been pushed to seven games in the opening round, and they’ve split those Game 7s, 2-2.
It’s also been three straight seasons that the Black and Gold have been pushed to overtime in Game 7. They memorably took wins against Montreal in 2011 and Toronto in 2013, but lost in gut-punching fashion to the Washington Capitals in 2012 while in the throes of a Stanley Cup hangover.
Clearly, the Bruins want to dictate things early in this series, establish their physical game and discourage the Red Wings from pushing their speed/skill agenda into playoff wins. They also want to match the intensity of the Red Wings, who were battling fiercely for a playoff spot long after the Bruins had clinched everything during an extremely successful regular season.
That “fat cat” mentality is one of the things that’s plagued the Bruins at times in past series where it’s taken them a game or two to find their postseason intensity.
“In a Game 1 you want to get off to a good start in a physical kind of game,” said Milan Lucic. “The best way to do that is to get the puck, dump it in and establish a forecheck while going from there. One of the pressures of my job is to do that as best as I can.
“[Detroit] is a team that’s been in playoff mode for a while, and they don’t quit.”
While it might very much appear to a be a Bruins phenomenon of having difficulty escaping the first round, Claude Julien sees a league-wide trend where the Black and Gold aren’t alone. It’s why Julien said with bemusement that the Red Wings have been playing the “underdog card” headed into the series despite a considerable amount of proven talent on their roster.
“I don’t think [David vs. Goliath] exists anymore. I’ve been mentioning that for the last couple of days, about the percentage of upsets in the first round over the last couple of years,” said Julien. “It just goes to prove to you that anything can happen in the playoffs. We’ve seen it many times before, and I don’t expect that to change this year also.
“No matter what we’ve accomplished, we know that good things happen from hard work. The minute we stop working hard and focusing on the areas we need to focus on, things can change.”
The Bruins are well aware how quickly things can change in the first round of the playoffs, so expect them to be fully on guard once the puck drops Friday night at TD Garden.