In a game in which players were getting into each other's faces within the first few minutes, Julien discussed the rality of the competition. "There’s no time to be holding hands out there and try to make friends or try to make enemies out there," he said after his Bruins lost 1-0. "It’s about going out there and playing for your team."
It was an incredibly slow-paced game, with the Bruins winning the shots on goal category 25-to-24. While the chances on net were rare for both teams in the first two periods, the pressure in each attacking zone was intense throughout the third.
"I think the one issue for tonight is we didn’t have the puck enough, and when we had it, we got to start putting pucks in the areas where we can get them back, and we got to get pucks in areas where once we get it, we can hang on to it," Julien said.
"And tonight, I thought we didn’t play with the puck as much as we normally do but the one thing about our team tonight — I thought we got better and better as the periods went on. So the third period was obviously our best period, but we started playing more of our game in the third period than in the first two. So we got to kind of make those adjustments here and hopefully have three periods more like the third period was and capitalize on the chances that we had."
The focal point of the game came down to the matchup between a pair of assistant captains: Patrice Bergeron and Pavel Datsyuk. Bergeron, who played the most shifts for a forward for the Bruins Friday night at 25, had a peculiar assignment on the goal scorer. But Datsyuk, whose ripping wrister through two Bruins defenders was the only score of the night, has the same assignment on his end.
"I’m okay with that matchup and so is [Mike Babcock] so I can’t speak for him," Julien said. "It’s just — this means that you feel good about those two lines and I do about the Bergeron line. They’re very reliable. They have been all year and obviously he feels the same about his."
But his goalie was eventually exposed late in the game, allowing Datsyuk's fantastic bullet of a shot to pass through. Datsyuk deked through three Bruins defenders and received some help from Justin Abdelkader's run through the middle of the defense, then unleashed a wrister that had the power of a slapshot across Rask.
"Well he was by himself there and so I’m just thinking a shot and he drags it across and releases from his legs," Rask said. "You just try to get the puck in your eyes and I couldn’t. Usually he tries to make a pass, but I thought he was by himself there."
But it was Zdeno Chara who let Datsyuk cross him up on that play. Chara, who had a game high seven hits – all of which came in the first two periods – was disappointed but looking forward after the loss.
"Well, it was a pretty even game I thought, for the most part. Eventually it came down to whoever was going to score that one goal. You know, it was a lot of battle, the goalies were very good, and there were some chances on both sides. Eventually, it went for them. It’s going to be an even series."
Justin Florek spoke about getting a chance to have a role in Claude Julien's team and nearly came through with what would have been a tying goal.
"It’s one of those where you get that in the slot and you want to get it on net," said Florek. "Unfortunately I didn’t get there. I knew I was trying to go high glove but missing that was just unfortunate, especially in a one-nothing game like that."
Florek played a key role in the chemistry that produced several great chances in the third period, many of them missing by inches. Although he only saw the ice for 13:08, his presence was notable. He was ready for the pace of the playoffs, getting help from his teammates ahead of his first post season game.
"I didn’t know what to expect but everyone [was] kind of giving me tips here and there, so everyone was really helpful. I just went out there and tried to play my game."
It was also the post season debut for Corey Potter and Reilly Smith. But the real surprise was the responsibility heaped on Andrej Meszaros, who is such a recent addition to the Bruins that his profile on the Philadelphia Flyers web site comes up at the top of his google search. Stepping in for a flu-ridden Matt Bartkowski, Meszaros got in to the third defensive line Friday with Potter.