PHILADELPHIA -- A very relaxed group of Boston Bruins, minus a half-dozen forwards, held an optional practice Wednesday morning prior to Game 6 against the Flyers (8 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN, NESN, CSN-PH).
"There's always pressure, you know that, but you have to stay calm, stay composed, you can't grip your stick too tightly, because it will bite you," defenseman Johnny Boychuk said.
"This is why we play the game, for games like this, the Stanley Cup Playoffs," he said. "I'll be ready and I know everybody else here will be, too. It will be a good one."
The optimism in the Bruins' locker room was real. Michael Ryder said he and his linemates, Blake Wheeler and Vladimir Sobotka, will be the difference Wednesday. Across the room, Daniel Paille was saying the same thing, because he's playing with Mark Recchi and Patrice Bergeron.
"Those two are determined players and they want to win," Paille said. "We all should look at them and work as hard as they do because you know they're going to give 110 percent tonight."
Coach Claude Julien was asked if the team did anything special together on the off day that might have produced the upbeat, confident mood in the dressing room.
"I don't think there was anything special last night," Julien said. "We didn't have a team dinner. Our guys know that in order to have success, we can't be tense. Being relaxed might not be the right word, maybe being in the right frame of mind. Hopefully, that's what we show tonight when we start the game."
Stuart improved -- Bruins defenseman Mark Stuart said he felt much better in Game 5 after struggling in Game 4, his first game back from an infected finger that caused him to miss 14 games.
Coach Claude Julien said he expects a big game from Stuart, one of the Bruins' strongest defensemen. The Flyers have been crashing the net and Stuart's physical presence is needed to counter that.
"Anybody who has been out for a long time, it just doesn't come back overnight," Julien said. "What we need to see is a guy getting better and better and I think Mark was better in the second game than he was in the first and hopefully better in the third than he was in the second."
"I felt 10 times better than I did in the first game," Stuart said of Game 5. "My comfort level was better and I felt my legs were stronger. I was skating a lot better. It was kind of night and day."
"Any night, we want to protect our goaltender and moving bodies out from in front of the net," Stuart added. "We don't want to let them get those second chances. A lot of their goals are with their guys crashing the net and being on top of our goaltender. We need to make sure we're clearing bodies but also clearing pucks to help Tuukka (Rask)."
Hit or be hit -- Johnny Boychuk has thrown some big hits in the first two Stanley Cup Playoff series, against Buffalo and Philadelphia, but the Flyers have been targeting him the last few games. Will we see more of Boychuk hitting the Flyers, or the Flyers hitting him?
"I think we'll see both," Boychuk said. "I think this will be a very physical game tonight. Nothing has changed. We just have to get pucks in deep and see what this goalie's got. We have to get shots on him. He hasn't seen any action in a while."
Same old, same old -- The Bruins don't see much, if any, drop-off in Philadelphia's goal from Brian Boucher, who was injured in Game 5, to Michael Leighton, who replaced him. Leighton went 16-5-2 for the Flyers this season.
Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk and Leighton had long AHL careers before seizing the best NHL opportunities of their careers this season. Boychuk was asked if he had success against Leighton when they were in the AHL.
"Not really, because I was usually on a bad team," he cracked. "I think I made the playoffs in the minors one year out of five."
Million-dollar game -- Flyers goalie Michael Leighton will be a free agent at the end of this season, the best of his NHL career. Bruins goalie Tim Thomas was told that while people are talking about the pressure of being forced into the net late in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Leighton also might be looking at this game as key to his financial future.
"This could be a million-dollar game for Leighton," Thomas was told. "Now, that's pressure."
"Oh man, there's enough going on around here for me to think about," Thomas said. "I haven't even begun to think about Michael Leighton's problems. But I think after the year he had, his value can only go up."
Sitting it out -- Mark Recchi, Milan Lucic, Marc Savard, Miroslav Satan, Michael Ryder and Steve Begin all skipped the optional skate, but all of the Bruins' defensemen were on the ice, as were the three goalies -- Tuukka Rask, Tim Thomas and Dany Sabourin.