WILMINGTON – With the Eastern Conference finals looming Saturday night in Pittsburgh, Bruins coach Claude Julien began tapering his team for Game 1 against the top-seeded Penguins by putting his team through a relatively light half-hour workout at Ristuccia Arena, the last 20 minutes of which were spent working on special teams drills.
Holding what essentially was a Black and White intrasquad scrimmage, Julien split the team into two groups that donned black and white jerseys, putting forwards Chris Kelly, Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell, Shawn Thornton, Jay Pandolfo, and Carl Soderberg in black defensemen’s garb.
Meanwhile, defensemen Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, and Torey Krug dressed out with the white squad.
“We just did a couple of drills and we just wanted to work on our power play today and our penalty-kill,” Julien said. “So basically the bulk of the practice was 20 minutes, the other drills was more to warm the guys up before we did those drills. So we were already dialing down. Tomorrow we’ll have a quick-paced practice and then head to Pittsburgh.”
David Krejci, who is the leading scorer in the NHL playoffs with 17 points in 12 games (5 goals, 12 assists), was absent. But Julien indicated there was nothing to be alarmed about.
“Just maintainence,” Julien said of Krejci’s absence. “Minimal maintenance.”
Julien said defensemen Andrew Ference, who skated with the team for the third consecutive day after suffereing a lower body injury in Game 5 against Toronto and sat out the semifinal series vs. the Rangers, had not been medically cleared to play Game 1 at Pittsburgh.
“I haven’t been told yet, no,” Julien said.
In other items:
* Julien expressed his sympathy for John Tortorella, who was fired Wednesday after 4 1/2 seasons behind the Rangers bench. Asked if he felt for Tortorella, Julien replied, “Sure I do. I’ve said all along before the series started, I like Torts. You know, Torts has his personality and when you respect a person for who he is – and I know he has a lot of qualities, but his team has made the playoffs four out of the last five years. He made it to the conference finals last year and he’s won the Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay, so how can you not respect a guy like that?
“He’ll be back in the league,” Julien said. “But do I feel for him? Sure I do, because nobody likes to lose his job, especially in that situation where you’re into the second round and you’ve made the playoffs four out of the last five years and for some reason it doesn’t work out. But I have all the faith in the world that he’ll be back, because good coaches are hard to find.”
* Julien spoke about the difference between facing the Rangers in the semifinals and the Penguins in the conference finals: “The one thing I would say about Pittsburgh is the skill level is so deep. We know the Rangers didn’t score that easily. You shut down a few players and it took a lot of their scoring away. With Pittsburgh, you’ve got to shut down more than a few players. I’m going to say even more than three or four. They come in bunches. So that’s the respect you have to have for that team, knowing that any time you’re on the ice, don’t think it’s going to be an easy shift.”
* Julien laughed when he reacted to the probing question about if his personality and whether he was a karaoke-bar guy on the road: “Karaoke is definitely not my style. Not because I don’t like to go there, but because I can’t sing. So that’s admitting your weaknesses. I go about my own business. What you see in me, here in Boston, is what you see in me for the most part. I know for a fact I’m not a self-promoter. I don’t need that in my life. I love my job. I like going out there and doing my job and doing what needs to be done. It’s just the way I am and I can’t change myself, so I accept myself the way I am and I’m comfortable with it.”