May 26, 2011

Julien: B's confident, excited for Game 7

by Jesse Connolly

Coach Claude Julien and the Bruins are a confident bunch heading into Game 7. (Getty)

After defeating the Lightning 3-1 on Monday to take a 3-2 lead in their conference finals series, Bruins coach Claude Julien looked at things from a simple perspective. The Black and Gold had two chances in front of them to win one game.

Now back in Boston on the eve of a decisive seventh game, the Bruins have just one shot left to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals. However, they're hardly rattled by their missed opportunity a night ago in Tampa.

"I don’t think we’re deterred," said Julien, as his club fell 5-4 in Game 6. "We’ve got a Game 7, it’s at home, and we’re one game away from going to the Stanley Cup Finals, and the opportunity’s in front of us. So, why shouldn’t we be excited? This is what the playoffs is all about.

"I guess if you had told us at the beginning of the year that we had to win one game to go to the Stanley Cup Finals, we would be excited about it, and that’s where we’re at right now."

The coach doesn't foresee any trouble keeping his team loose or a need to do anything to reinforce the magnitude of the game that lies ahead of them.

"There's no reason to be tight," Julien said. "I think right now, you have to look at the opportunity. And if you’re a team that has been resilient, a team that believes in itself, you’ve got to be positive. I think there’s no other way to look at it. You don’t look at failure, you look at success. And right now we’re looking at success."

One aspect that will be working in the Bruins favor is the fact that tomorrow's tilt will take place at TD Garden, where they've gone 6-1 over their last seven playoff games since suffering back-to-back losses against Montreal at the start of the postseason.

"Well that’s what you play for all year," the coach said of his team's home-ice advantage. "People say you battle, you battle, it doesn’t really matter where you fit in, as long as you make the playoffs. Well that’s partly true, but at the same time I think what’s more important is that the higher you finish, the more advantages you get at the end of the year, and I’d rather play at home right now than play in Tampa."

Friday's game will be the fourth do-or-die, Game 7 at the Garden for the Black and Gold over the past three years, as they were eliminated by the Hurricanes and Flyers in consecutive postseasons before knocking out the Canadiens in round one last month.

Julien hopes that experience helps, but at the end of the day, neither trends nor histories have any real effect on what transpires in the Hub of Hockey tomorrow night.

"We went through this in the first round against Montreal," the coach said. "And again, I keep mentioning that because they’re one of our biggest rivals, and we’re going into a Game 7 with them at home. We know how, if we had not won, how things would’ve turned out. And we came out and responded well.

"There’s no reason that tomorrow’s not (going to be) the same thing. And our guys are very confident. They’re not discouraged and they’re not disappointed. But as I said throughout the whole playoffs, the past is the past and you think about what’s ahead. And right now we’ve got a great opportunity to win a hockey game and get ourselves in a Stanley Cup Final."

With the level of anticipation growing by the hour, New England has its collective fingers crossed that the Bruins seize it.