Julien switches things up at practice
WILMINGTON, Mass. -- In a change of pace, the Boston Bruins practiced for nearly an hour Thursday at Ristuccia Arena in preparation for Friday night's decisive Game 7 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Philadelphia Flyers.
The routine throughout the playoffs after getting in late from a road game has been to take the day off or have an off-ice workout. But the Bruins went through drills and used a couple different lines.
Stanley Cup Playoffs
The underdogs face off as the Bruins host the Flyers in an old-school showdown. After knocking off the Nos. 3 and 2 seeds, respectively, only one will earn a spot in the conference finals. Follow the matchup from Day 1 on ESPN.com. Series page
On Wednesday night, the Bruins dropped their third straight game to the Flyers, 2-1, and saw their 3-0 series advantage completely erased. Now, they face a do-or-die Game 7 at the Garden as they try to avoid becoming just the third team in NHL history to lose a best-of-seven series after winning the first three games.
"I really feel our team is ready for the challenge," Bruins coach Claude Julien said Thursday. "It's win or go home -- simple as that."
This is the 17th series in which the Bruins have taken a 3-0 series lead but just the second time they have been forced to a Game 7 (they won Game 7 of the 1939 NHL semifinals against the Rangers). So what's the Bruins' state of mind after dropping three straight?
"I wouldn't say relaxed; I wouldn't say we are panicking," captain Zdeno Chara said. "I would say the right level of excitement and we all realize that we didn't play our best these games, but we are in the situation that we still have a chance to win the series."
A key for the Bruins will be to get shots through the Flyers' layers of defense. Philly was credited with 30 blocked shots, including six off the stick of Dennis Wideman, in Wednesday's Game 6 victory.
"They're stacking up," Wideman said. "They're doing a good job, they're getting their forwards and their D lined up, and if you don't have a shot then you just put her back down."
At Thursday's practice, the Bruins, who have just one goal in the last two games, changed things up a bit on their top line. Blake Wheeler skated on the left wing next to Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi in the spot previously held by Daniel Paille for most of this series.
"I'm excited," said Wheeler, who hasn't scored since Game 3. "I'm real excited to have the opportunity to play with those two guys and it's a great time to hopefully get some chemistry and create some good chances tomorrow night."
Paille dropped down and was one of four players skating in gray sweaters, along with Michael Ryder, Vladimir Sobotka and rookie Brad Marchand. Marchand has not played in these playoffs and seems to be an unlikely candidate to get into Game 7.
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com.
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