|Adam McQuaid on M&M: ‘It’s pretty easy to dislike who you’re playing against’||05.09.13 at 2:18 pm ET|
Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid checked in with Mut & Merloni on Thursday afternoon to talk about Wednesday’s night’s overtime victory over the Maple Leafs that gave the B’s a 3-1 series lead.
The intensity in this series hit a new high in Game 4, a back-and-forth game that featured plenty of hard hitting. Although Toronto doesn’t have the obvious villains like some of the Bruins’ more fierce rivals, McQuaid said it’s not difficult to develop some animosity toward the skaters in blue and white.
“We’re playing for the Stanley Cup, and the guy across from you is the one that’s trying to prevent you from getting that, so it’s pretty easy to dislike who you’re playing against. They’re trying to take something away from you,” McQuaid said. “You kind of know who you’re playing against. At the same time, we’re kind of trying to focus on ourselves and make sure that we’re playing hard.”
Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel has been surprisingly successful in this series after struggling in regular-season action against his former team.
“He’s got a lot of speed. He’s a great offensive talent,” McQuaid said. “He’s got a quick shot, so he doesn’t need much time to get a good opportunity. So, you have to do your best to try and limit his opportunities and be aware when he’s on the ice.”
Tuukka Rask had a big game Wednesday, the same day the league announced the finalists for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goaltender. Despite posting stats that put him at the top of the list, Rask is not one of the three finalists.
“We know how valuable he is to our team and what he brings to our team,” McQuaid said. “We let him know in our eyes that he deserved to be there. Some guys are joking around that he’s just going to have to be better next year. … We know how important he is to our team and how good he is. There was a little bit of surprise that he wasn’t nominated. But like I said, his value within our team, we know how important he is.”
McQuaid has been paired in this series with Wade Redden, the veteran who spent two years in the minors before returning to the NHL this season and being acquired by the Bruins from the Blues at the trade deadline in April.
“He’s a guy that has a ton of experience,” McQuaid said. “Him going through what he went through the last couple of years I think speaks volumes to the type of person he is. To persevere through that. I was just happy to see him have the success that he’s had. I feel pretty fortunate to have a D partner like that.
|Claude Julien: ‘You need breaks in the playoffs. … We scored on the opportunity given to us’||05.08.13 at 11:21 pm ET|
To Claude Julien, Game 4 came down to the Bruins getting a break and making one of their own. Tuukka Rask made a glove save on Joffrey Lupul midway through overtime through a partial screen.
Minutes later, David Krejci took advantage of Dion Phaneuf taking out Nathan Horton in the Bruins’ end and went off on a break that ended in the game-winning goal in overtime as Boston beat Toronto, 4-3, at Air Canada Centre. Krejci’s hat trick produced a dramatic win that puts Boston up, 3-1, in the best-of-seven series, meaning the Bruins can clinch their first postseason series win since winning the Cup in 2011 with a win Friday night in Boston.
“I think they definitely wanted to win this game for the sake of going back to Boston tied,” Julien said. “At the same time, we wanted to win this game as well to put ourselves in the position to just have to win one more game.
“In overtime it was about making sure we made plays and not pass up on shots. Rask made a great save there on Lupul. He was screened and stuck the glove out and made the save, and that was huge for us. There was a post there by Kessel. You need breaks in the playoffs and we got some in overtime and you make your own. We scored on the opportunity that was given to us.”
As for Krejci and his line in this playoff series, Julien couldn’t be happier.
“Obviously, his line has been good through the whole series but tonight, David certainly was the guy shining and was on top of his game. He’s been a real good playoff performer for years for us and he continues to do that. There are just certain players that thrive on playoff hockey and he’s one of those guys.
“There’s a couple of things. We know he’s a great playmaker. He’s a great skill player but the other part is he doesn’t shy away from traffic, he doesn’t shy away from a physical game. He’s very gritty when he needs to be gritty. If he’s got one weakness, it’s that he’s very hard on himself at times when things aren’t going well. But when you see him play like that, not sure you want to call it a weakness because when he does find his game, he’s a pretty dominant player.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Postgame notes after Bruins beat Leafs, 4-3, in OT in Game 4||05.08.13 at 10:50 pm ET|
Courtesy of the Bruins, here are some key postgame notes in the wake of Boston’s 4-3 overtime win in Toronto on Wednesday night.
• The Bruins now have a 13-15 lifetime record in Game 4s of best-of-seven series in which they entered with a 2-1 series lead.
• Their Game 5 record when leading a best-of-seven series 3-1 is 9-8 and they are 15-2 overall in best-of-seven series in which they
have led 3-1.
• The Maple Leafs now have an 18-12 lifetime record in Game 4s of best-of-seven series in which they entered trailing the series 1-2.
• Their Game 5 record when trailing a best-of-seven series 1-3 is 4-10 and they are 1-13 overall in best-of-seven series in which they have trailed 3-1.
• The Bruins defeated the Maple Leafs by a 4-3 score in the first overtime game of this series. It was the second career playoff overtime goal for David Krejci and completed his second career playoff hat trick.
• The Bruins played their 118th lifetime playoff overtime game and they now have a 50-65-3 record in those games. It was their 63rd on the road and that record now stands at 23-38-2.
• The Maple Leafs played their 108th lifetime playoff overtime game and they now have a 55-52-1 record in those games. It was their 68th on home ice and that record now stands at 36-32-1.
• This was the 17th playoff overtime game between the Bruins and the Maple Leafs, with Toronto now holding an 11-6 record in the previous 16 contests.
|David Krejci’s hat trick puts Leafs on brink of elimination||05.08.13 at 10:25 pm ET|
TORONTO — David Krejci scored the third goal of a hat trick at 13:06 of overtime to give the Bruins a 4-3 win and put the Bruins, who now hold a 3-1 series lead, a win away from closing out the Leafs as the teams head to Boston for Game 5.
The Maple Leafs took a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals from Joffrey Lupul and Cody Franson. The Bruins came back to take the lead in the second period thanks to a power-play goal from Patrice Bergeron and a pair of goals from Krejci, the second of which also came on the man advantage. The Maple Leafs answered Krejci’s go-ahead goal quickly, with Clarke MacArthur tying the game just 44 seconds later. The teams skated to a scoreless third period in which Toronto outshot Boston, 14-7. The Leafs held a 37-36 shots on goal advantage in regulation.
Tuukka Rask made 45 saves, while James Reimer stopped 41 pucks.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
• Milan Lucic kept up his impressive pace this postseason by picking up his eighth assist of the postseason. With eight points this postseason, Lucic now has as many points as he did in the first round the last three seasons combined, a span of 20 games.
Lucic had an injury scare late it the first period, as a puck from Zdeno Chara was redirected and hit him somewhere in the face, causing him to bleed. The 24-year-old was back on the ice for the start of the second period, however, and was able to battle in front on his first shift, which allowed Bergeron to get to the rebound of Chara’s shot and fire it past Reimer.
• Speaking of Bergeron’s goal, the reigning Selke winner finally got his first point of the postseason with that tally. Brad Marchand had an assist on Krejci’s first goal of the game, which gives the member of Bergeron’s line three points this postseason. Johnny Boychuk‘s Game 2 tally remains the only one of those goals the line has been out there for.
• For the first time this series, the Bruins held the Maple Leafs without a power-play goal. That included rising to the challenge when Toronto got a 53-second 5-on-3 late in the second heading into the third as well as a third-period high-sticking penalty to Chara. The Leafs finished 0-for-4 on the power play after going 4-for-12 in the series’ first three games.
• The Bruins failed to capitalize on what was a nearly four-minute power play when Nazem Kadri cut Chris Kelly on a high stick 58 seconds into the third period, toward the end of Gregory Campbell‘s slashing penalty. However, the team still went 2-for-5 on the power play Wednesday after going 1-for-9 over the series’ first three games.
• Boychuk is a tough cookie. He looked hurt on two consecutive shifts after taking a puck off the knee and was limping very slowly down the tunnel in the second period. Despite the apparent pain he seemed to be in, he returned to the ice in short order. Still, that might be something to watch going forward.
|Andy Brickley on M&M: Tuukka Rask was a better goalie than Henrik Lundqvist this year||05.08.13 at 2:15 pm ET|
NESN’s Andy Brickley talked with Mut & Merloni on Wednesday about the Bruins’ top two lines, his thoughts on Tuukka Rask being passed over for a Vezina nomination, and what he’s seen from the Leafs’ top scoring threats so far.
Brickley said he was surprised and disappointed that Rask wasn’t nominated for the Vezina Trophy as the league’s best goalie (Henrik Lundqvist, Antti Niemi and Sergei Bobrovsky are the nominees). He said he thought Lundqvist only edged Rask because the Bruins were a stronger defensive team than the Rangers, making Rask’s achievements look less impressive to some.
“Why don’t you compare defensive systems to defensive systems and not have that be part of it — just have the eyeball test and say, who were the top three goalies in the league this year?” Brickley said. “And I would not put Lundqvist ahead of Rask even if the numbers were that similar. Rask was a better goalie than Lundqvist this year.”
With Game 3 in Toronto under the Bruins’ belts and Game 4 coming up tonight, Brickley said he’s been impressed by the Leafs’ home atmosphere.
“It reminded me a lot of what Montreal can bring in the postseason, but this one had a different feel because they hadn’t had a playoff game in eight or nine years,” he said. “It was almost as if it had a similar atmosphere to the finals in 2011 in Vancouver. That’s how much they wanted something special to happen in Game 3. But the Bruins would not allow it to happen — they played a real smart game, something they didn’t do in Game 2.”
Part of the Bruins’ success has been the performance of David Krejci‘s line with Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton. Brickley said it’s no surprise to see Krejci play well in the postseason, but that his linemates’ improved play has helped him stand out as well.
“He was dealing with a couple of guys that were underperforming on his line, basically,” Brickley said. “Now he has Milan Lucic on top of his game, doing the things that he does best. Nathan Horton was still trying to find his way, he wasn’t making any plays, he was mishandling the puck, and now he’s doing what he does best, and that’s score goals. David Krejci’s history and resume suggested that he would be a really good player in the postseason and now he has these two weapons with him playing up to their capabilities.”
|Happy Milan Lucic Appreciation Day||05.08.13 at 1:47 pm ET|
TORONTO — Wednesday morning was Milan Lucic Appreciation Day at Air Canada Centre, with the power forward’s resurgence a big topic among the media (for those keeping track, Tuesday was Jaromir Jagr is Still Getting It Done At His Age Day). Here’s a gem from Shawn Thornton when asked what Lucic has that he wish he did:
“Everything. He skates better than me, he’s got a better shot than me, hits better than me, he’s a lot younger than me,” Thornton said. “He’s definitely a combination you don’t see too often, but that’s why he’s getting six sheets next year. It’s not like you can find those guys everywhere. He gets paid accordingly.”
The “six sheets” line refers to the $6 million Lucic will average over the next three seasons, when the $18 million extension he inked prior to the lockout will begin. Lucic had just seven goals and 20 assists during the regular season, but he’s stepped it up in the playoffs. His six points (all assists) through three games are more points than he had over his final 12 games of the regular season.
As a former 30-goal-scorer, Lucic is there to put pucks in the net. Though he still hasn’t scored this postseason, the fact that he’s been able to contribute as much as he has (Claude Julien said Wednesday that Lucic has been arguably Boston’s best forward this postseason) speaks to what David Krejci says is an under-appreciated ability to make plays.
“Definitely I would say his passing ability is underrated,” David Krejci said. “I’ve been playing with him for a long time, a few years now, so I know what he can bring to the table. He’s not only about hitting the guys and putting the puck in the net and fighting. He can do more things and he’s shown it in the playoffs so far, with three games and six assists that he can help the team in the other part of the game, too.”
|Shawn Thornton ‘can’t believe’ Tuukka Rask not a Vezina finalist||05.08.13 at 1:15 pm ET|
TORONTO — The three finalists for the Vezina Trophy were revealed Wednesday and the Bruins were surprised to hear that Tuukka Rask was not one of them.
Rask, who finished third in the league with a .929 save percentage and was tied for first with five shutouts in 36 games this season, was beat out by favorite Sergei Bobrovsky of the Blue Jackets as well as San Jose’s Antti Niemi and Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist. Rask’s 2.00 goals-against average ranked sixth in the NHL this season, while he played seven games less than both Niemi and Lundqvist.
While the Bruins say they’re focused more on the postseason than any individual awards, some admitted to being confused as to why Rask wasn’t a finalist for the award, which is voted on by the league’s general managers.
“I can’t believe he’s not nominated,” Shawn Thornton said. “I don’t know what the reason is. It’s the same as three years ago, when he started with us. If I’m not mistaken, he had the best save percentage, the best goals against in the league and he wasn’t even a question mark for the Calder or the Vezina.”
Rask’s numbers during the regular season are very similar to his stats from the aforementioned 2009-10 season, when, as Thornton pointed out, his 1.97 GAA and .931 save percentage were tops in the league. Thornton thought he deserved more recognition then just like he thinks he deserves it now, and though he said that Rask “definitely” flies under the radar because Boston is known for being such a strong defensive team, he still thinks Rask’s numbers tell a lot of the story of Boston’s success. He isn’t alone in that line of thinking, either.
“From the first game this year, Tuukka has been the guy to go. He’s won some games for us in the season,” David Krejci said. “He’s been great for us in the playoffs. He had 47 shots against the last game and he kept us in the game last game and the first two games as well. It’s great to have somebody back there that you can rely on. He’s been so good for us the whole year. I just hope that he’s going to keep playing the way he is.”
Rask’s backup, Anton Khudobin, said he was surprised that Rask wasn’t a finalist either, saying the 26-year-old “put up good numbers and had a lot of shutouts.” While he understands that people may associate the Bruins as being a great defensive team because of players like Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, he doesn’t think that’s a reason for people to discount numbers like Rask’s.
“I don’t think any goalie has an easy job in this league,” Khudobin said. “I don’t think so. Of course we have great defensemen, there’s no doubt. Plus it’s a team sport, to win something, every piece has to be good.”
Thornton and Claude Julien both said that they don’t think Rask will lose too much sleep over being excluded, a quality they like about their netminder.
“I don’t know what the reason is,” he said. “I’m just glad we have him on our team. I know that the type of person he is, he doesn’t need the recognition. He’s going to continue to play no matter what, but it’s unfortunate because both years he’s been our starter he’s been unbelievable.”
On a less surprising note, Chara was not one of the top three vote-getters from writers for the Norris Trophy. The three finalists for the award are P.K. Subban, Ryan Suter and Kris Letang.
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