June 1, 2011

Bruins have their eyes on the prize

by Jesse Connolly

Bruins winger Milan Lucic answers questions during media day at the Stanley Cup Finals. (Getty)

For the Boston Bruins, getting this far in the Stanley Cup playoffs is a truly commendable feat. It's been 21 years since the Black and Gold weren't spectators for the final round of the postseason, as they fell short time and time again -- often in disastrous fashion -- throughout the past two decades.

And while the Bruins are undoubtedly happy to be here, when it's time to turn out the lights and exit the big stage, they want to do so with the Stanley Cup in tow.

"It’s a special feeling, it’s a special experience, you know, you always wish for this opportunity growing up as a kid," Milan Lucic said at media day on Tuesday. "I think Timmy said it best yesterday, ‘It’s not a dream just to get to the finals, it’s a dream to win the Stanley Cup.' And that’s how it is right now.

"It’s fun to get here, it’s fun to go through this, the media day and see all the hype about it. We had a good practice out there (Tuesday) and I think there’s definitely a good feeling going around our room heading into (Game 1)."

It's certainly no stretch when each and every member of the Bruins says that this could be a once in a lifetime opportunity. Only four of the 22 players that have participated in the playoffs for Boston have ever reached the Finals. Shawn Thornton and Mark Recchi have each hoisted hockey's Holy Grail, while Andrew Ference and Chris Kelly found themselves on the losing end in their trips to the big stage.

So soaking in the whole experience is certainly on the Bruins agenda, but that takes a backseat to taking care of business.

"You look around and you see all the Stanley Cup Final things and it’s pretty intense," said Michael Ryder. "There’s two teams left and it’s exciting. We have to enjoy the moment but then we have to give it all we've got because we might not get this opportunity again and you have to take advantage of it."

Doing so, as the entire hockey universe knows, won't be easy.

"I think they're the best team in the NHL," said Nathan Horton. "They proved it through the regular season. I think they have a mix of everything, scoring and grit. For us, we got to play them one time and we got a little taste of it but it’s hard to compare them to other teams because they’re a good team and they have a lot of talent. Like I said, we have to be prepared to work real hard and play hard against them because you want any easy opportunity to score."

Given the magnitude of the moment and the challenge that lies ahead, perhaps it'd be best for the Bruins to follow Brad Marchand's plan for not getting too caught up in all the hype.

I’m trying to keep it out of my mind because if it starts sinking in I’m going to realize how big it is and I don’t want to get too nervous," Marchand said on Tuesday. "So I’m just trying not to think about it at all and just make the days go by as fast I can, sleep the days away and hope I don’t realize what I’m doing here before the game starts."

The Bruins will surely be up and at 'em when Game 1 gets underway at 8 o'clock this evening, and they're going to be hungry for a victory.

"Winning that game at home and winning the conference championship, I felt something I hadn’t felt before," rookie Tyler Seguin said of the B's 1-0 win over the Bolts on Friday to punch their ticket to the Finals. "It feels like now you want more of it, you want the whole prize, so I think that’s what everyone is very excited for."