- Joe McDonald, Reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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BOSTON -- Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien spoke to his team, and the media, on Monday about the difference between playing with determination and playing with desperation. He hopes determination wins out at Bell Centre on Tuesday night, when the Bruins have a chance to clinch this Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with the Montreal Canadiens.
Boston learned a valuable lesson last spring -- after their historic collapse to the Philadelphia Flyers after being up 3-0 in the semifinals -- that no lead is ever protected. And from the start of training camp, when Julien and GM Peter Chiarelli addressed the team about the implosion, the Bruins have vowed to draw strength and motivation from it.
It has been interesting during this series that Julien and many of his players have talked about last spring and how they insist on changing the script this time.
Boston's even remembering what happened in one of its last regular-season games against the New York Rangers earlier this month. The Bruins had a 3-0 lead in that game and eventually lost 5-3. So lessons learned from allowing the opposition back into a game or a series are fresh in the players' minds.
"I think everybody definitely has it in the back of their minds," said Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg. "It might help. When we played against New York we were up 3-0 and we ended up losing that game, and I think everybody thought about that series last year. It's definitely going to help us moving forward, having experienced such a situation."
"You can't give hope, or life, to a team in a series. It's about making sure you can finish," said Bruins assistant captain Patrice Bergeron. "It's not over and we can't be satisfied."
"We're not thinking about Game 7. We're thinking about Game 6," Julien said after the team's practice Monday morning at TD Garden. "That is what is on our mind and that is what should be on our mind. We realize how important it is to come play probably our best game of the series.
"We have to focus on the moment and the moment is [Tuesday] and us being ready to play Game 6," he said.
After losing the first two games of this series, the Bruins played with desperation and that equaled success for the next three games. Now with a 3-2 lead, many of the Bruins players are relaxed and playing with confidence, but they can't settle for anything less than playing with that killer instinct.
"You have to have the killer instinct because you know they're not going to give up," said Bruins forward Daniel Paille. "You have to match, or exceed, their effort in order to get a win out of there."
In order to advance in the Stanley Cup playoffs, a team needs to be lucky, determined and resilient. The Bruins have been all three.
Speaking of three, Boston was fortunate to win Games 3 and 4 at Bell Centre, and winning a third in that building is going to be tough.
"It's a tough place to play, but at the same time we have to make sure to play our game," Bergeron said. "We obviously need to have that winning attitude there and make sure we get the win because it'll be the toughest one yet. If you want to win you have to exceed and play better. That's the attitude and approach because the fourth [win] is the toughest."
The Bruins have momentum, especially after winning a pair of back-to-back overtime games. The puck is bouncing their way right now and the last thing they want is to allow the Canadiens to force a Game 7.
"We all realize the importance of the game and we have to bring the same mental approach," Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said. "We have it in our hands and the further we go, every game is so important."
"For us it's about determination," Julien said. "For them it's about desperation and you have to hope that the determination is better than their desperation. It's as simple as that."
Joe McDonald covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com.
With a 3-2 lead, the Bruins vow to draw from lessons learned last spring.