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BOSTON (CBS) – If the Boston Bruins want to end their Eastern Conference Finals series against the Tampa Bay Lightning Wednesday night, they will need their best effort.
“I’m one of those guys that believes that the best game of the series has to be the one that gives you the opportunity to clinch, and that’s what we’re going to need tonight” head coach Claude Julien said of the Game 6 matchup with the Lightning.
“They’re a good team to start with, and there’s no denying that,” said Julien. “There’s some desperation in their game as well. So (there’s) two reasons to want to play your best tonight.”
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The Bruins will face a desperate Lightning squad playing to extend their season. But Tampa is focusing more on the game than the fact their season may be over after Wednesday night.
“If you start talking about elimination and pressure, it’s because you’re thinking of failure,” Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher said. ” So right now we’re thinking the first five minutes of the game, like we’ve done every game since being in the Playoffs, and it’s kept our focus very narrow and the emotions in check.”
Boston has already faced one chance to close out a team in a Game 6 this postseason, on the road against the Montreal Canadiens. The Bruins lost 2-1 and needed a Game 7 to get the job done.
“You can take all kinds of situations and use it to your benefit, and that’s one of them,” Julien said of the loss to the Canadiens. “I think we felt ready, but obviously it didn’t happen. There was some penalties in that game that hurt us and I think it’s just a matter of, again, learning from experience. The other part is you get experience from being in those situations and we’ve had that opportunity. It’s a chance to show that you’ve grown from that and that you’re a better team for it.”
Much has been made about the Bruins getting off to a good start in the early periods. Boston managed only four shots in the first period of their 3-1 Game 5 win, and their coach would like to turn that around. He also knows a slow start is does not necessarily mean people should prepare for Game 7 on Friday.
“I think every team in the Playoffs talks about the starts and what it means, and we certainly are one of those teams that believes in that as well,” said Julien. “But at the same time, they got the early goal and they got the good start in the first five minutes, but it didn’t stop us from winning the hockey game.”
“Having said that, it’s not the end of the world, but it’s certainly the best way to start,” he continued. “I think it’s important that you have a great start and if it happens, great. If it doesn’t, you also have to be mentally prepared to fight through that and get yourself back in the game.”
Every game of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Bruins and Lightning can be heard on 98.5 The Sports Hub with pregame coverage beginning 60 minutes before each game with the Dunkin Donuts Bruins Pregame show.