CHICAGO — The word was resilient. That’s the way that coach Claude Julien kept describing his Bruins, a team that came back from significant deficits in each of the two runs to the Stanley Cup Final in the last three years.
And they’ll need to be, after losing a heartbreaking Game 1 to the Blackhawks Wednesday.
“We’ve been through a lot,” he said. “You go back to the year we won, we were down, 2-0, to Montreal, losing our first two games at home. We bounced back from that. We were down, 2-0, against Vancouver in the Final, and we came back.
“I don’t think much is going to rattle our team. We’re a pretty resilient group of guys. We live in the moment.”
Patrice Bergeron attributed it to the makeup of the team, to being able to find ways through situations when they absolutely need them. They built character that way, and won games that way, and they’ve made it work for them.
Andrew Ference said it was partly because there’s no time for anyone to feel sorry for himself. The team atmosphere doesn’t allow that to happen, to fester. Excuses aren’t accepted. Instead, the expectation is that each player moves on and doesn’t dwell on the negativity. It is “the tough love approach,” said Ference.
“We’ve been through a lot,” Julien said. “You can chalk that down to the experience of having been through a lot, the ups and downs. We don’t get rattled anymore. We know what we can do. We’re very capable of staying in the moment and not living in the past.”
It’s not something that he has to bring up to his team, he said.
“You’ve got to turn the page,” Julien said. “Our team is resilient. Wasting our time thinking about what could have and should have is a lot of wasted energy. Our team just kind of turns a corner and we start focusing on next game. What’s done is done.”
It’s a fact that Ference doesn’t share when he’s in the Boston area. But the Bruins defenseman was a neighbor of Petr Klima growing up in Edmonton. Klima scored the goal in the third overtime against the Bruins in Game 1 of the 1990 Stanley Cup Final. The Oilers went on to win the Cup.
“It actually was one of my first summer jobs, is when he went home for summer vacation, I had to mow the lawn,” Ference said. “He was my dad’s tennis player growing up. I don’t tell too many people in Boston that.
“I don’t even think I took payment. He’d just take me to practice. I have like 100 sticks in my house now. I still have [Mark] Messier’s stick and [Esa] Tikkanen and all those guys.’’
Julien said that the Bruins penalty for too many men on the ice was fluky, given what happened on the play. “I don’t think you can blame anybody on that,” Julien said. “They had to make that call. Our guy is coming off, and they shoot the puck right at him and it hits him in the foot. He’s not trying to play it. He’s trying to come off. If that puck’s not anywhere near the bench or hits him, there’s no too many men on the ice penalty.” The Blackhawks were called for too many men twice in Game 1 . . . While the Bruins didn’t appreciate the result, the were able to appreciate the quality of Game 1. “Absolutely,” Julien said. “I even talked about it with our management. In reality, it was a great hockey game. When you’re watching the video afterwards and you see the excitement and the chances and everything else. The only thing I would be mad about is the fact that we didn’t win. Other than that, this was a great hockey game for people to watch.” Said Bergeron, “It was great hockey. It was physical, but it was clean. It’s fun to play in those situations, fun to play in those games.” . . . The Bruins were happy that they get two days off before Game 2. Playing two games in one night isn’t easy on the body. “It was a lot,” Bergeron said of the three overtimes. “But that’s when you’ve got to dig deep, especially mentally, and use your mental strength to find the extra energy.”