The Bruins celebrated their 4-3 first-round series win over the Montreal Canadiens last night, happy with the outcome, though perhaps a bit conservative in their enthusiasm.
"We found a way,'' said Patrice Bergeron, who had an assist, giving him 2-5--7 totals in five of his last six games. "Now we can just think about the second round.
"I think we showed a lot of character. Like I said, We had to put ourselves in a little bubble and don't think about the pressure and what people are saying around us. I think we did a great job with that and stayed resilient all game and all series, and found a way.''
Nathan Horton, who scored his second overtime winner of the series, was predictably happy, if a little foggy on the details. "It felt pretty good,'' he said of his goal at 5:43 of overtime. "I don't remember too much. I remember [Milan Lucic] coming up with the puck and I just tried to get open, and I tried putting the puck towards the net. Luckily it got deflected off someone and it went straight in. That's all I remember. It was pretty special; again, it doesn't get any better.''
Bruins president Cam Neely held court for a while in the locker room, wearing a blue suit and a visible expression of relief.
"Based on how we finished last year, this year we had a lot of expectations to do really well, and they had a good regular season,'' said Neely. "And we knew it was going to be a tough series against Montreal, just based on how we played against each other throughout the course of the regular season. And in this sport, there's always little expectations and there's always pressures.''
Neely described the Bruins' overtime victories over Montreal as "confidence boosters for the guys.'' "It can do nothing but help your confidence, for sure,'' said Neely. "Especially the way we ended up winning this series. It was being down in the first two at home and then going back to Montreal, which is a tough place to play, and winning most of the games, and then coming back in Game 4, and this, a couple of overtime games which you know can go either way.''
Said defenseman Andrew Ference, who had two assists, giving him 1-3--4 totals in three of his last four games, "It was such a close series, a matter of just getting the right bounce or just the right chance that goes by. I mean, every single game was tight and I think it's like one of those things where it's easier to say, obviously, after winning, but there's no shame on their side either because that's all it came down to. .... As much as we're rivals, I think there's a lot more respect than most people probably realize about how hard it was for both sides to compete against each other.''
The Bruins take tomorrow off, before tackling strategy for their next opponent: the Philadelphia Flyers.
"I'm not going to lie, it's a good opportunity for us to hopefully exorcise some demons,'' said Ference, of playing the team that ousted the Bruins in Game 7 of their second-round series last season, after Boston had the Flyers all but pinned at 3-0.
"There's new guys on this team. This is a fresh start for us. We learned lessons from last year, no doubt about it. There's guys that are still on the team and we're not afraid to talk about those lessons and stuff, so we've got a chance to try to make things a little bit better this year.''