At first, it was only the players. The Bruins entered the dressing room after the first period on Saturday night trailing, 1-0. They slogged through the first 20 minutes, registering only four shots.
They were outskated, they were upstaged.
When they convened in the room, they were sullen.
“We were embarrassed, almost,” Tyler Seguin said.
Coach Claude Julien joined the team a few minutes later. And what happened in those roughly 17 minutes — from the end of the first period to the beginning of the second — changed the tone of Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final. It’s what propelled Boston to a 2-1 overtime win.
“We had to regroup in the first intermission,” said Daniel Paille, who scored the winning goal. “Then we found our game in overtime.”
“I felt our team was ready to play, knowing our players,” Julien said. “I was really surprised to see how much we played on our heels.”
The somber mood during intermission didn’t last long. There wasn’t a sense of resentment or bitterness.
“We weren’t angry with ourselves,” Paille said. “We just knew we need to be better.”
So, players began to talk. One of the loudest voices was that of Chris Kelly, who tallied 13 points in the Bruins’ Stanley Cup run of 2011. Kelly had yet to register a point this postseason, a drought that would end with a goal in the second period.
According to Seguin, Kelly is one of the team’s biggest talkers. Other vocal leaders are veterans Jay Pandolfo and Wade Redden, who have been healthy scratches.
“Whether it’s just on the plane or whatnot, they’re still giving their insights,” Seguin said. “I wouldn’t be surprised as these games go on if [Pandolfo and Redden] come in our dressing room just before games to hang out and talk.”
But after the first period, it was up to Kelly.
Seguin said sometimes Kelly yells too much on the bench. He’s too intense.
“Kells is a very passionate person and player,” Seguin said. “I think he’s even better when he’s using it in the right way.”
On Saturday, he did.
“Everyone was very vocal, and I think Kelly was a big part of that,” Seguin said. “Saying things like, ‘We need to be better.’ ”
Added Paille: “Players were keeping each other accountable.”
When Julien entered the room, he knew he didn’t need to say much. The coach always tells his team that at this stage of the season, rest trumps practice.
“Because right now if you don’t know what you have to do out there, you shouldn’t even be here,” Julien explained.
The coach subscribes to the same philosophy for in-game pep talks. He didn’t need to shout too loud or reprimand or teach new strategy.
“Every once in a while, I mean, your decibels have to change a little bit in the dressing room just to get their attention,” Julien said. “Other than that, there’s not a ton that you have to say.”
Julien said it is more about giving the team guidance.
“This is what they’re doing, let’s make sure we do this,” Julien said. “It’s all about adjustments between periods.”
One player who did not speak up after the first period was Tuukka Rask, though he had every right to. The goalie fended away 18 of Chicago’s 19 first-period shots. The defense wasn’t giving him much help, and the offense wasn’t giving him anything.
“We were lucky Tuukka was playing an incredible game,” Seguin said.
But Rask sat in the locker room, quietly.
“He was calm,” Torey Krug said. “When you’re a goaltender, obviously I don’t know the ins and outs of it, but you need to be calm. He understood what was going on.”
The Bruins, too, understood. They regrouped, playing sharper as the game went on. Kelly scored with five minutes remaining in the second period. Boston outshot Chicago, 16-9, in periods two and three.
By the end of regulation, the Bruins were back to their normal selves. Not as much needed to be said.
“My speech between overtime periods lasted a minute, minute and a half,” Julien said.