Julien: Bruins can't play safe in Game 7
BOSTON -- Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien has officially put his team at DEFCON 1.
With their 3-0 series lead erased by three straight losses to the Philadelphia Flyers, the Bruins face a do-or-die situation Friday night in Game 7 at the TD Garden.
The winner gets the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference finals.
"The biggest thing I know is, you go out there and you play to win," said Julien, who opted not to have a morning skate Friday. "And sometimes they say the term, 'Safe is death.' If you want to play safe, it's not going to help your chances of winning."
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
A year ago, the Bruins were ousted in the second round by the Carolina Hurricanes in a similar Game 7 at the Garden, falling in overtime.
If Boston can't get past Philadelphia, it will have suffered one of the biggest collapses in NHL history. Teams that have led a best-of-seven series 3-0 have won that series 159 of 161 times. The 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs and the 1975 New York Islanders were the only teams to have come back from 0-3 deficits to win.
One of the keys for the Bruins on Friday night will be to score the first goal. Lighting the lamp has been a concern, especially because the Bruins have scored only once in the past two games. Milan Lucic's goal at the 19-minute mark of the third period in Game 6 came with goaltender Tuukka Rask on the bench in favor of an extra attacker and was their first tally in more than 134 minutes of play.
"You've got to make sure you're not bogging them down with the fact that we're not scoring goals," Julien said Friday morning. "You've got to keep encouraging those guys to go to the net and encourage our guys to shoot pucks."
The Flyers blocked 30 shots in Game 6, but the Bruins need to adjust and find a way to get pucks through Philadelphia goaltender Michael Leighton.
"It's been one of those challenges this year, we've had a lot of our key players and goal-scoring players out of our lineup," Julien said. "When everybody has been back, and at the start of the playoffs, we had better balance. You lose [Marco] Sturm, who was your leading goal scorer during the regular season and now you lose [David] Krejci, you're up against a challenge again, but it's not a challenge we can't overcome."
Julien believes the scoring chances the Bruins need to focus on are the tips, rebounds and redirects.
"It just means you have to dig in a little deeper," Julien said. "Those highlight goals aren't going to be there, so you have to grind it out a little bit more and be willing to get your nose dirty."
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette had a simple message for his team prior to Game 7 after his team's optional skate Friday morning: "I feel like we're ready for this. The message hasn't changed."
Joe McDonald covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.