As Milan Lucic was being asked after Sunday’s practice what the Bruins know about the Blackhawks, the man at the stall next to him piped up: “We don’t know anything about them.”
Brad Marchand was joking, but he’s not far off.
After the Bruins got through their Eastern Conference playoff opponents — the Maple Leafs (four regular-season meetings), Rangers (three), and Penguins (three) — they’re faced with a bit of a mystery in the Stanley Cup Final. Boston didn’t play Chicago (or any other Western Conference opponent) this season, and hasn’t played the Blackhawks since Oct. 15, 2011.
The Bruins had played the Canucks just once (and won) in the regular season in 2010-11, when they beat them for the Stanley Cup.
“Other than what we’ve seen on TV, we don’t really know much about them, other than that they’re a real good hockey club,” Lucic said. “They’ve probably been the most consistent team since the start of the season. It’s a big reason why they won the Presidents’ Trophy this year.”
Of course, as coach Claude Julien said on Sunday, the information is out there, and the Bruins have done their best with it.
“We have a pretty good idea [of the matchups],” he said. “We’ve done our homework, we see what they have. We’re not going in there blindly. We’re not going in there not knowing what we want to do. I wouldn’t be here if that was the case. Whether it works or not, we’ll see.”
And he wasn’t the only member of the Bruins downplaying the unfamiliarity of this matchup.
“I think at this point in hockey, there’s so much video, we break down the game so much, both sides will be pretty familiar with each other come the first game on Wednesday,” Chris Kelly said.
The Bruins know that the Blackhawks have an explosive offense, and “very mobile defense unit that jumps in offensively,” as Dennis Seidenberg said.
They’ve seen their games. And while the heavy video studying hasn’t begun — Seidenberg said the Bruins haven’t talked about the Blackhawks yet – that video is out there. The scouting is out there. The Bruins (and the Blackhawks) just need to get to it, and they’ll have almost all the information they need.
“Even the teams that we played, we relied a lot on video,” Julien said. “The only advantage you have sometimes is that you know from going head to head with them what’s worked and what hasn’t worked. When it comes to that, it’s the same for both teams.
“I think we’ve done a lot of pre-scout and watched them play enough, have an idea of how they’ve played — just like I’m sure they’ve done with us. You do your research, you talk to people, you do a lot of things. It’s about preparing your team more than anything else. There’s not too many secrets left in this game.”
. . .
After the Bruins and Penguins had a weeklong wait to start the Eastern Conference finals, the Bruins and Blackhawks will get a much shorter break before the Stanley Cup Final.
“I just watched the game [Saturday] night, thinking it would be nice if Chicago won just to get it started sooner than later, and not have a whole week to sit out again and think about it,” Lucic said. “It’s great that it’s starting on Wednesday. I’m sure the fans are happy that it’s starting sooner than later, too.”
There’s another benefit — a 2½-hour flight against the six-hour flight to Los Angeles if the Kings had come out of the West.
“It’s probably good to get it going,” Julien said. “That gives us quite a few days to rest before the series starts and enough time to practice. Rest is one thing, but at this time of year you don’t want to be practicing five, six days in a row.”
. . .
Julien was asked to recall Game 7 of the Toronto series by a reporter. His response? “I don’t want to go back there.” . . . Of playing on the fourth line with Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton in place of the injured Gregory Campbell, Kelly said, “Those two have been playing great all year. It was an easy adjustment for me to go in there.”