BOSTON – The Bruins played Pittsburgh three times this season and lost all three by one goal. Now they await the top-seeded Penguins in the Eastern Conference finals, and the Bruins are trying to figure out what went wrong in those games.
"We'll look at our games and things that we did well, things that we need to be better at," Bruins coach Claude Julien said Monday during a news conference at TD Garden. "But we also look at the playoff games. We look at everything.
"There's not much that doesn't get looked at. That's the way hockey is today. But the regular season is one thing, playoffs is another. So we're certainly not hanging our hats on the fact that our record wasn't good against them this year. There's only three goals difference at the end of the day. So I don't think in three games that's a big thing to worry about."
Julien gave his team a second straight day off the ice since the Bruins won their second-round series against the New York Rangers with a 3-1 victory Saturday. The Penguins had an equally easy time of advancing through the second round, taking out the Ottawa Senators in five games.
The NHL has not announced the schedule yet for the Bruins-Penguins series.
"The rest is obviously important," said Julien, whose team needed seven games to beat Toronto in its first-round series. "We know we've been through a grueling schedule there for quite a while. So to have that opportunity is good. We'll still have lots of time to practice. But this time of year, rest is extremely important. Everybody needs a rest, I guess. So it's good for the whole team."
The time off could prove valuable. Dennis Seidenberg returned to play in the series-clinching win against New York, but defensemen Andrew Ference and Wade Redden were unavailable. Both are making progress, with Ference returning to the ice for the first time since the weekend.
With rookies Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski productively filling in, Julien may face a tough decision or two about his lineup.
"A lot goes into it," he said. "At one point you make a decision and it doesn't mean that it's an easy one because it's not. We'll deal with it when the time comes. We did it with Seidenberg. And if Ference becomes available we'll have to deal with that, too."
The uncertainty of the schedule for the next round could affect preparation, but Julien isn't too worried. In any case, he says Monday is his players' last day off.
"They need to get back on the ice here," he said. "I thought two days was a good thing because we'll have at least a couple of days — Tuesday, Wednesday — to practice. This time of year there's not a ton of things you can do with your team more than get them some rest and still have a couple of days to accomplish a lot.
"I keep repeating, with the regular-season schedule that we ended with and a seven-game series and the way the playoffs have gone, I think it was important for our guys to just get two days off and then come back and try to be as fresh as we can for the next series."