June 13, 2011

Bruins hope to keep magical playoff run going

by Jesse Connolly

Bruins winger Milan Lucic. (Getty)

BOSTON -- If only the Bruins had found a way to win on Friday night. Had they been victorious, the Black and Gold could've set themselves up for a chance to hoist hockey's Holy Grail this evening at TD Garden, handing the Hub of Hockey its first title in nearly four decades.

Unfortunately for the B's and their loyal fans, the final home game of the 2010-11 season won't present such an opportunity. Instead, the Bruins must fight for their own survival and find a way to keep the Canucks from celebrating on their turf.

And while a shot at glory would've made for a far better ending, closing out their home schedule with a win tonight would still be awfully gratifying.

"We definitely want to end it off on a good note," winger Milan Lucic said. "It’s an opportunity for us to get back in the series and it’s an opportunity for us to win our last home game. The fans were loud last game, they were excited, and they’re even more excited going into this game. It's a great experience so far, it’s a great opportunity and we want to make the most of it."

The Bruins' magical playoff run has been both captivating and highly entertaining over the last two months, as fans throughout the region have tuned in night after night to watch Boston's quest for the Cup. The B's would like nothing more than to make that run just a tad longer.

"Obviously the city’s excited," defenseman Andrew Ference said. "It’s been a long run and lots of ups and downs and crazy stuff, but obviously everybody can smell a finish coming up soon and wants us obviously to continue the story for another game."

In order to do that, the Bruins are going to have start by getting more bodies in front of Roberto Luongo, who essentially cruised to a shutout on Friday night as he was rarely tested throughout the tilt.

"We talked about it after the game, we talked about it as a team, and obviously he’s a great goaltender, you know, if he sees it, ninety-nine point nine percent of the time he’s going to stop it," Milan Lucic said. "And for us, when we’re willing to battle in front of the net, fight for loose pucks, get in his face, battle for our space in front of the net and fight for positioning, you can see so far throughout the playoffs, we’ve got results and we need more of that."

Keeping their eyes on the prize will be as big a motivator as any for the Bruins, as they certainly don't want their hopes squashed tonight on home ice.

"Well, I mean, the Cup," Ference simply stated when asked what drives him at times like this. "I mean it, you work your whole life and obviously don’t get too many shots at it and to do it with any team I’m sure is a good time, but we really have a close group that feels like a good family. And we’ve had that all year, it doesn’t just happen in the playoffs. So to do it with guys that you really consider good friends is a lot of fun. And you want to end on a good note."

Forward Shawn Thornton has high hopes they can pull that off.

"My feeling for tonight? I think we’re ready," Thornton said. "I had a good feeling in the room this morning. But I guess we’ll find out this evening. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be. You leave it all out there."

If Thornton and the Bruins hope to live to see another day, they're going to have play like there's no tomorrow.