|Bruins need more out of Jaromir Jagr, third line||05.06.13 at 1:34 pm ET|
TORONTO — Two years ago, the Bruins’ third line made a big difference in the Eastern Conference finals. After losing the first two games at home, the line of Chris Kelly between Michael Ryder and Rich Peverley made a big difference going forward and played a major role in the B’s getting out of the first round.
This season, the Bruins haven’t had the depth they had the past two years. Though most of the faces on offense have stayed the same, the lack of production from the third line has been glaring practically all season. The trio of Chris Kelly between Chris Bourque and Peverley didn’t work and then Kelly got hurt and missed 14 games in just the second game of the Jordan Caron-Kelly-Peverley experiment. Jaromir Jagr, Kaspars Daugavins, Carl Soderberg and Jay Pandolfo have all seen time on what has been a constantly changing line.
Now, the Peverley-Kelly-Jagr line is hoping to be the one that reverses the fortune of what’s been an unproductive area of Boston’s lineup. Peverley figures to stick on the left wing after being a healthy scratch in favor of Daugavins in Game 1. Through two games, the line has produced no points and eight shots on goal. Jagr is a minus-2, while Kelly is a minus-1 and Peverley has an even rating.
“Obviously it would be nice to have a little more in-zone time, but I think we have done a lot of good things in the first two games,” Kelly said after Monday’s morning skate. “Communication is extremely important, especially moving forward.”
Peverley’s addition was welcomed on Saturday, as he won 10 of 12 faceoffs after Kelly had gone 2-for-9 on draws in Game 1.
Jagr, meanwhile, could be an ace in the hole if he can get going for Boston. The veteran right wing missed the last two games of the season with the flu and said prior to the playoffs that he still wasn’t feeling well.
The 41-year-old was on the ice in Monday’s morning skate, though he spent a lot of time by the bench and was not made available to the media. Claude Julien said Sunday that Jagr still wasn’t at 100 percent, but Kelly still likes what he’s seen thus far from him.
“Jags has been good,” Kelly said. “He’s a big strong guy who makes things happen. I think we could support him a little bit better, especially in the offensive zone. Like I said, communication is key. Holding onto the puck and making the right plays out there will help us generate more offensive chances.”
The B’s can only hope that line generates more chances. The members of the third line scored five goals over Games 3 and 4 against Montreal two years ago, with Michael Ryder scoring the game-winner in overtime of Game 4 to tie the series.
The Bruins won the Stanley Cup because of their offensive depth (and a couple guys named Thomas and Chara), and they’ll need to have it again after going too long without it this season.
|Bruins, Maple Leafs prepare for Game 3||05.06.13 at 1:08 pm ET|
TORONTO — Tuukka Rask and Nathan Horton were the only Bruins not to take the ice in Monday’s morning skate as the B’s prepared for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Maple Leafs.
Boston didn’t do full line rushes and Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic left before most of their teammates, so there were no indications of what Monday’s lineup will be. It’s expected that the forward lines will be the same as they were in Game 2, while the defense should return to Zdeno Chara-Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ference-Johnny Boychuk and Wade Redden-Adam McQuaid with Ference back from a one-game suspension.
Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle declined to share whether he’ll tweak his lineup from Game 2, but based on his team’s offensive success Saturday, it would be surprising if Carlyle made any changes. One thing to keep an eye on is Carlyle uses last change to his advantage in Toronto’s never-ending quest to have Phil Kessel on the ice without Chara. Kessel’s breakaway goal on Saturday — his first even-strength goal against his former club in 24 games — came against the Seidenberg-Boychuk pairing.
|Bruins enter amped atmosphere as Toronto gets playoff hockey back||05.05.13 at 7:49 pm ET|
TORONTO — These Bruins have dealt with a wider variety of atmospheres than any other team. They’ve played playoff games in Montreal, where the Bell Centre has been pretty close to deafening. They’ve played in front of an overly passionate Vancouver crowd with the Stanley Cup on the line. Most notably, they’ve played at TD Garden two days after a terrorist attack on their own city.
Obviously, the first two don’t compare to the third for pretty much every reason you could think of, but the B’s have seen more than their fair share of buzzing barns. They’ll probably be able to add Monday’s scene to the list, as Toronto will host its first playoff game since 2004. With the series tied at a game apiece, the crowd on Monday night will have plenty to be excited about.
The Air Canada Centre opened its doors in 1999, and the Maple Leafs made the playoffs in each of the arena’s first six seasons. Dougie Hamilton was just a kid (or, to put it correctly, a younger kid than he is now).
“I think I remember going to playoff games as a kid and I know the fans are pretty good in Toronto,” Hamilton said. “I’m sure it’ll be a really good atmosphere.”
The Air Canada Centre hasn’t hosted a postseason game since that six-season run, and you can bet that a city that eats, sleeps and breathes hockey (and produces NHL stars aplenty — Hamilton, Tyler Seguin and Nathan Horton are among the big-name Bruins who hail from the area) will be more than up for the game.
More importantly, you can count on the Leafs being up for it. After looking like a team that didn’t know it was in the playoffs in Game 1, the Leafs boasted a more balanced attack (thanks to both altered lines and the Bruins playing a messy defensive game) and, with the exception of a ton of rebounds from James Reimer, looked far more confident in Game 2. Considering they won the game and got big production from its stars in Joffrey Lupul (two goals), Phil Kessel (his first even-strength goal against his former club) and James van Riemsdyk (his second goal in as many games as he continues to establish himself as a big-time playoff performer against the Bruins), they should be feeling good.
“We’ve got the best fans in the National Hockey League, so I’m sure they’ll be excited to cheer loud,” Dion Phaneuf said. “We’re happy with the way that we played [in Game 2], but we’ve got lots of work to do yet.”
So with a buzzing barn and a team coming off a big win to even the series, what can get in the way of Toronto taking a series lead or at least splitting the games at ACC? Two things: The obvious one is a better game from the Bruins, and the other is the play of Reimer. Read the rest of this entry »
|No hearing for Dion Phaneuf regarding hit on Daniel Paille||05.05.13 at 10:54 am ET|
According to multiple reports, there will be no hearing with the league for Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf regarding his high hit on Bruins forward Daniel Paille in the third period of Saturday’s Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
With less than eight minutes to play, Paille played the puck along the boards at center ice before getting hit high by Phaneuf, whose shoulder appeared to cut Paille’s nose. Though the play looked worse at full-speed, replays show that it was not an elbow. Phaneuf was not penalized for the play.
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Phil Kessel, Maple Leafs come back to life in Game 2 to tie series||05.04.13 at 11:40 pm ET|
Whether it was jitters, lack of playoff experience, or just an off night that plagued the Maple Leafs in Game 1 against the Bruins, those obstacles appeared to be overcome in Game 2 as they evened the series with a 4-2 win on Saturday.
“We were a little tight, first game,” said Joffrey Lupul, who scored twice for Toronto. “We weren’t executing. We were missing 12-foot passes that NHL players usually don’t miss. We were a little tentative, whether we want to admit it or not. Those nights happen, and it’s how you react. We reacted pretty well tonight.”
The Leafs came back with a steady, opportunistic performance, taking advantage of several defensive miscues by the Bruins after Nathan Horton gave Boston a 1-0 lead in the second period. They took 32 shots after managing just 20 in Game 1, and they earned second and third chances, forcing both Zdeno Chara and Tuukka Rask to stop multiple shots in a row in one second-period sequence.
But the exclamation point on the Leafs’ improved performance was their third goal, the one that belonged to former Bruin Phil Kessel. Less than a minute into the third period, Kessel was approaching the Bruins’ blue line and looking for a pass that came from Nazem Kadri back in the Leafs’ zone.
Kadri hit him in his stride, and Kessel blew past Dennis Seidenberg to beat Rask five-hole. It was his first even-strength goal in 24 games against the Bruins, silencing the fans who’d chanted his name mockingly earlier, at least for the moment.
“I was happy, obviously,” Kessel said. “It’s been a long time. Felt nice to score. I just got lucky. … I had a couple other chances tonight, and just snuck it past him.”
For most of the game, the Bruins kept Kessel off the board by matching him up with Chara. On that play, though, it was Seidenberg and Johnny Boychuk on the ice, neither of whom were anywhere near him by the time he scored.
|Maple Leafs even series with Game 2 win||05.04.13 at 9:55 pm ET|
The Maple Leafs pulled even with the Bruins Saturday night, coming away with a 4-2 win at TD Garden and sending the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals back to Toronto with the series tied, 1-1.
Nathan Horton scored his second goal in as many games early in the second period to open the scoring, but the Leafs tied it and jumped out to a 2-1 lead on a pair of goals from Joffrey Lupul. The Leafs widened the gap early in the third, with Phil Kessel scoring his first even-strength goal against the Bruins in 24 career games vs. his former club. Johnny Boychuk made it a one-goal game with just under 10 minutes to play by sending a shot through traffic and past James Reimer.
James van Riemsdyk sealed the game with his second goal of the postseason, tucking the puck into the corner of the net while losing his balance to put the contest out of reach.
For reasons explained below, the Bruins badly missed Andrew Ference, who was suspended for the game due to his illegal check to the head of Mikhail Grabovski in Game 1. His absence put the B’s in a defensive jam during a penalty kill that led to Lupul’s goal, while the domino effect of his absence had a hand in Kessel’s tally.
Tuukka Rask stopped 28 of 32 shots he saw, while Reimer made 39 saves on 41 shots in the win.
The series will head Air Canada Centre, where the teams will play Game 3 Monday and Game 4 Wednesday.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- The Seidenberg-Boychuk pairing was on the ice for both of Toronto’s first two even-strength goals, while Seidenberg was on the ice for all of them and was a minus-3. Zdeno Chara had a forgettable night as well, taking two penalties and nearly injuring Brad Marchand with a slapshot (see below), though he did get a helper on Boychuk’s goal.
- The Bruins were the best penalty-killing team in the league until late in the season and eventually finished fourth. It seems those special teams struggles have carried over into the postseason, as Boston has allowed a power play goal to the Leads in each of the first two games of the series.
With Zdeno Chara in the box and Andrew Ference suspended, the B’s were pretty thin on the backend on the power play that yielded Lupul’s goal. Jake Gardiner fired a shot on net, and with a pairing of Adam McQuaid and Wade Redden in front, Lupul sent the rebound past Rask to tie the game at one goal apiece. While most Bruins defenders have experience playing together, Redden and McQuaid don’t fit that description.
- The B’s had a couple of injury scares on their second line, but nothing that forced anyone out of the game for good. Patrice Bergeron missed the last five minutes of the first period with an unknown issue. On his last shift prior to leaving he got tangled up with Nikolai Kulemin after making a pass, as Kulemin slid into him. Bergeron fell on the play but seemed fine, as he got up and finished his shift but did not return to the ice until the start of the second period.
With just under five minutes left in the second, Brad Marchand took a Chara slapshot off the back of the leg and limped down the tunnel. Luckily for the B’s, he was back on the bench shortly after and didn’t miss a shift.
- The Bruins gave up too many odd man rushes, as Toronto had a pair of 2-on-1s in the first period before Kessel scored on a breakaway in the third.
- Speaking of Kessel’s goal, Zdeno Chara wasn’t out there on the play, with the Seidenberg-Boychuk pairing instead playing against No. 81. Kessel was kept quiet in Game 1, and the Chara-Seidenberg pairing had a lot to do with it. The B’s had to break it up in order to put Dougie Hamilton into the lineup, as Seidenberg plays the right side with Chara but normally plays the left side. Given that Hamilton is a righty, they needed another guy on the left side with Ference (left) suspended.
- It’s been 11 games since the Bruins won back-to-back games. You kind of have to win consecutive games to go far in the postseason.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- Nathan Horton has goals in both games of the series thus far and now has 10 goals and nine assists for 19 points in 23 career playoff games.
After the Milan Lucic – David Krejci – Horton line went without a shot on goal, they got the B’s on the board when Krejci fed Horton entering the zone, who left a drop pass for Lucic. The left wing fired a slapshot that yielded a rebound that went off Horton, who had gone right to the net, and in.
- It wasn’t all good for Rich Peverley (like the second-period delay of game penalty he took for flipping the puck out of the defensive zone), but he won 10 of 12 faceoffs in his return from being a healthy scratch.
- While on the subject of Bruins with two goals in two games, did anyone think that would apply to Johnny Boychuk? The defenseman had one goal in 44 games during the regular season but has now doubled that in just two contests in the postseason.
- Give Tyler Seguin for battling in front on Boychuk’s goal. It might be a while before physicality is a part of his game, but Seguin staying in front and taking contact is what allowed the puck to trickle through traffic and in to make it a one-goal game.
Seguin had a game-high eight shots on goal, giving him 15 through the first two games of the series.
|Dougie Hamilton, Rich Peverley in for Bruins in Game 2||05.04.13 at 6:47 pm ET|
Dougie Hamilton and Rich Peverley are both in Boston’s lineup for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Maple Leafs Saturday night at TD Garden. Hamilton beat out Aaron Johnson to play in place of the suspended Andrew Ference, while Peverley is in over Kaspars Daugavins.
The lines and defensive pairings in the pre-game warmup were as follows:
Lucic – Krejci – Horton
Marchand – Bergeron – Seguin
Peverley – Kelly – Jagr
Paille – Campbell – Thornton
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
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