Less that 12 hours after Game Seven of the First Round ended, Boston Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney addressed the media at Warrior Ice Arena. The GM took some time to reflect on the seven game bout against the Maple Leafs before shifting his focus to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“Happy to be here.” Those were the four words Boston Bruins‘ GM Don Sweeney opened up his press conference with Thursday morning. It was a bit of an understatement as heading into the third period Thursday night, the Boston Bruins had relinquished a 3-2 lead and all the momentum was on the Maple Leafs side.
But four goals, and their best period of the season later, the Bruins are moving on and have a date set with the number one seed Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.
On top of that, the franchise is now has now advanced to its farthest point since Sweeney took over as GM in May 2015.
When asked about the seven game series against the Original Six Rival, he responded:
"A really quality team. Very dangerous offensively and certainly well coached. We had our work cut out for us and it took every ounce of our hockey club to find a way to win. We’re fortunate that our best effort was put forth in the third period and we’re moving on."
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On to Tampa Bay
The first round has quickly been put in the rear view mirror, as Game One against the Lightning is Saturday afternoon in Tampa Bay.
Although the Bruins finished one point behind Tampa for the Number One seed in the East, Boston did have success against them. In four games against the Lightning, the Bruins went 3-1.
"Well they won the Eastern Conference, I think it’s an equally formidable, if not even more so, task. Not a lot of holes in their lineup. We had some success in the regular season against them. We’re going to have to find a way to replicate that and probably be even better. We had pockets of our game in this past series that we know we need to improve upon and it’s going to take our best effort from start to finish to play against Tampa. We’re a confident group to go in. We deserve to be here. We’re moving on and I’m sure they feel the same way."
BOSTON, MA – APRIL 25: Tuukka Rask
Rask is up to the Task
More importantly, Tuukka Rask started all four of those games, posting a 2.00 GAA and a .926 SV% to go along with a shutout. Did Rask allow a few goals against the Leafs that he should have stopped? Absolutely. But, in order for the Bruins to keep advancing, Rask is the best option, and hopefully has turned the corner for good. He played much better in the second half of Game Seven, stopping every shot that came his way after Kasperi Kapanen’s breakaway goal six minutes into the second period.
From Sweeney’s point of view, he is still exuding confidence in his number one goaltender.
"We’re through. We got through that round, Some games he played really, really well. At the end of the day, we have a lot of confidence in Tuukka. I think going into the next series we’ll remain the same level of confidence that he can get the job done and he’ll be there for us.”"
The team had the day off today to recover from the grueling seven game series. They will be back on the ice for practice Friday, before taking off for Florida.