|How Bruins can finally finish their series against Maple Leafs||05.12.13 at 12:05 am ET|
TORONTO — The Bruins weren’t supposed to let it get this far, but they did.
With the series back in Toronto, the Maple Leafs can force a winner-take-all Game 7 with a win Sunday night at Air Canada Centre. Here are six things the Bruins can do in Game 6 to prevent that from happening:
Match Toronto’s intensity with a fast start
The Bruins knew the Leafs were going to be desperate in Game 5, but they chose not to match their energy early on.
Though the Leafs are the only team that actually face elimination, the Bruins should have every reason to be desperate. The chunk of extra days rest they would have gotten went out the window Friday night, but now it’s about not getting to a Game 7.
Are the Bruins the better team? Yes. Have both of their losses this series come because of things they did? Yes. However, anything can happen in a Game 7, so they should be as frantic at puck drop Sunday night as they were in the last 15 minutes Friday.
Get the Bergeron line going
Paging Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin.
Marchand and Seguin were the Bruins’ top two goal-scorers with 18 and 16 goals, respectively, in the regular season. Through five games, they have combined for zero goals this postseason.
Seguin has gotten the most flak for not showing up in the playoffs, but don’t let Marchand off the hook. Bergeron (one power play goal) should almost always be exempt from criticism because of his defensive contributions, but even he needs to step up his game.
Through five games, the line has been on the ice for just one Bruins goal (Johnny Boychuk’s goal in Game 2). That needs to change fast.
Get the same Tuukka Rask they got in Game 5
The good thing about Game 5 was that Tuukka Rask showed he can handle having everything thrown at him.
Rask stopped all 19 shots he saw in the first period Friday, and that followed two games in Toronto in which he saw a total of 95 shots. Rask has always said he’s felt more comfortable when he’s seen a lot of shots, and he can expect a lot more Sunday.
Go Krejci one more time
So much for all of those questions about David Krejci’s first-round struggles.
After totaling four points (one goal and three assists) in the first round of the last two postseasons (14 games), Krejci has led the Bruins with 5 goals and 11 points. He has at least a point in every game this postseason, a streak the Bruins would like to see kept alive.
A few things have been established in this round, and one of them is that when the Krejci line is going at full capacity, there’s nothing the Leafs can do about it. As Rask said after Game 4, Krejci can do whatever he wants when he’s playing like he did in Game 4.
Avoid the defensive mistakes
What do both of the Bruins’ losses this round have in common (besides the fact that they came at home)? Both of them came as a result of defensive issues. In Game 2, the B’s allowed too many odd-man rushes and Dennis Seidenberg found himself on the ice for three Toronto goals when separated from Zdeno Chara due to the Andrew Ference suspension.
Game 5 saw Ference mishandle a puck that led to a shorthanded goal for the Leafs, with Toronto getting its other goal when a missed connection between Johnny Boychuk and Nathan Horton gave Clarke MacArthur a partial breakaway.
When the B’s have been defensively sound, they’ve won. The Chara-Seidenberg pairing is stable as a table, and it will need to shut down Phil Kessel once more.
Get to James Reimer
If the rebounds are there on Sunday, the Bruins need to get to them. Even on nights when Reimer has shined, he hasn’t held on to too many pucks, and too often the B’s haven’t gotten to them.
Reimer should undoubtedly be feeling more confident after Game 5, as he stole the show in the second period with 17 saves, including a Tim Thomas-esque stop on Bergeron. The Maple Leafs aren’t a particularly strong defensive team, however, and they’re playing without Mark Fraser, who was hit in the face by a Milan Lucic slapshot in Game 4.
If the B’s have their top three lines going Sunday, they could make it a tough night for Reimer. Krejci’s line has been there and Chris Kelly’s line played better in Game 5, but they still need a more balanced effort. Offensive depth wore down opposing defenses and goalies two years ago. They have the talent to do it again, but they just need the production.
|Patrice Bergeron on Game 5 loss: ‘We’re not looking into the past’||05.11.13 at 12:20 am ET|
The Bruins spoke nearly consistently over the 48 hours before Game 5 about coming out with energy because they knew they would have to match the urgency of the Leafs.
Yet, they couldn’t do it.
They were outworked and outmuscled for most of the first 40 minutes before a last period push fell short in a 2-1 loss to the Maple Leafs Friday night at TD Garden.
“Yeah, we’re expecting them to come out hard,” Patrice Bergeron said. “They did and we didn’t match it. Yeah, it is disappointing, but at the same time it’s a series so we got to think about the next game now and make sure we’re ready.
“We didn’t come out the way that we should have come out in order to win the game, in order to get some momentum and we knew they were going to come out hard and we didn’t match it and we were kind of scrambling after that. But, I thought we got to play like we did in the third and now look forward to Game 6, but it’s going to be a tough one so we need to make sure we’re ready for a big game.”
The next game will be Sunday night and somehow the Bruins will have to find a way to win all three games in Toronto if they are to avoid a Game 7 winner-take-all Monday night back at TD Garden.
The Bruins did show signs of life in the third, and the hope is that will carry over to Sunday night. But right now, it’s only hope.
“That’s the way we had to play in order to get the result,” Bergeron said of the Bruins’ third period, in which they scored the only goal and outshot Toronto, 19-4.
“They’re a good team, and we thought that the third period was much better and the chances were there to show for them,” Bergeron said. “I thought we didn’t get the start we wanted obviously, and they have some good forwards, so you got to make sure you do the job with the puck, in the critical situation of the bluelines, and some breakdowns in our zone that we got to be better also. So, like you said, it is a game of mistakes, but we got to make sure we avoid them as much as possible.”
As far as thinking about the what-if of losing Game 6, Bergeron said the Bruins can’t afford to think about past failures in close-out situations. They are now 4-7 in their last 10 such games.
“Well, obviously we’re not looking in the past,” Bergeron said. “We’re thinking about this year and tonight it wasn’t the start that we needed in order to do close that game and that series. So, now we have to look ahead at Game 6.”
|Andrew Ference on his turnover: ‘It sucks to mishandle the puck’||05.10.13 at 11:02 pm ET|
In a game when your offense isn’t finishing, every mistake is magnified. And in a playoff game, that magnification can become enormous.
Andrew Ference knows this only too well.
The Bruins defenseman mishandled a puck at the right point in the Bruins offensive end while on the power player and it led to Tyler Bozak scoring just the second shorthanded goal of the season for Toronto. Tyler Bozak won a footrace with Ference, who tried desperately to get back but couldn’t as Bozak broke a scoreless tie and the Maple Leafs held on for a 2-1 win in Game 5 Friday night at TD Garden.
“Well, it sucks,” Ference said. “It sucks to mishandle a puck, but it’s not a bad decision or anything like that. It just happens, so it’s fine. It’s happened to all of us and you deal with it.”
Now the Bruins must hit the road for Game 6 in Toronto Sunday night at Air Canada Centre.
“I can’t really recall anything ever being easy for any team,” Ference said. “Like I said, wins are difficult to get this time of year and they have to be earned. Like I said, if you don’t match a team at the beginning of a game like that, you spot them a couple of goals, it’s a tough win this time of year.”
Ference was playing with Johnny Boychuk on defense the entire game while Matt Bartkowski replaced the injured Wade Redden on defense.
“It’s tough to miss anybody, but there’s always people to come in and play well and fill a role that they need to fill,” Ference said. “Every team has to deal with that. There’s guys that go down for every single team, so there’s no feeling sorry for yourself or wishing you had a guy. You just deal with it.”
Did the Bruins miss Redden’s offense on D?
“Well, of course, but he wasn’t able to play so you don’t get into the ‘we wish this.’ It’s not the way it is,” Ference said.
|Maple Leafs stay alive, force Game 6 vs. Bruins||05.10.13 at 9:43 pm ET|
The Maple Leafs gave it all they had for the second straight game, and it was enough to keep them alive Friday at TD Garden with a 2-1 win over the Bruins that forced a Game 6 Sunday in Toronto.
After a scoreless first period that was heavily Toronto-dominated, the Maple Leafs got a shorthanded goal from Tyler Bozak in the second period and an even strength tally from Clark MacArthur 1:58 into the seconds. Both Toronto goals came off Bruins turnovers, the first of which came from Andrew Ference on the power play and the other of which came when Nathan Horton didn’t hustle to a pass from Johnny Boychuk in the neutral zone. Zdeno Chara scored on a wrist shot with 8:48 to play, but it wasn’t enough as James Reimer held the fort.
The Bruins caught a break late in the one-goal game when Bozak took a delay of game penalty for flipping the puck over the glass in the defensive zone with 3:48 left, but they were unable to score on the power play.
With the series now 3-2 in Boston’s favor, the teams will head to Toronto and play Game 6 of the series at Air Canada Centre.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- After Rask had to shine in the first to keep it a one-goal game, Reimer came up huge multiple times for the Leafs, with his biggest save occurring shortly before van Riemsdyk’s penalty, when Patrice Bergeron had half the net to shoot at and Reimer getting his right leg on it to keep the game tied. That save went a long way, as the Leafs took the lead shortly after.
- The absence of Wade Redden was felt more than expect. Andrew Ference was on the point on the power play in place of the injured Redden and committed the turnover that led to Bozak’s breakaway goal. That just goes to show you that any loss — even a third-pairing defenseman — can be a big one.
- The Bruins won 12 of 15 faceoffs in the first period, yet the Leafs completely carried the play. The reason the Bruins pride themselves on having good faceoff guys — and the reason the Leafs made such a big stink when they were losing them — is because starting with the puck is an important facet. Despite the Bruins’ big faceoff advantage in the first, they were outshot, 19-8.
- Five games into the series and the Patrice Bergeron line has yet to score a goal. The line’s been active in some games and was on the ice for Johnny Boychuk’s Game 2 goal, but the second line needs to be a source of more offense for Boston. THe trio had their chances Friday, with Seguin and Bergeron finishing with five shots on goal. Brad Marchand, however, had none.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- David Krejci continued his impressive pace by picking up the primary assist on Chara’s goal. Krejci now has five goals and six assists for 11 points and leads the playoffs in both goals and points.
- Tuukka Rask stood on his head for the B’s and he had to in the first period. Much of the first period was spent in Boston’s zone, with Rask needing to come up with save after save, the biggest of which came Mikhail Grabovski with the B’s shorthanded. Rask stopped 31 of the 33 shots he faced, and Bozak’s goal came on the breakaway.
|Chris Kelly, Milan Lucic ready to tough it out in Game 5 for Bruins||05.10.13 at 2:37 pm ET|
A few little scrapes aren’t about to get in the way of a hockey player’s appointed Stanley Cup rounds.
Just ask Milan Lucic (right eye) and Chris Kelly (right cheek), both of whom took nasty shots in Game 4 and both of whom have the bruises and stitches to show for it. Both will be ready to go in Game 5 against Toronto.
“I’ve been icing it the last few days, but I probably have the worst eyesight on the team and I’m squinting all the time [normally], so it shouldn’t be a problem,” Lucic joked. “I feel good. I’m looking forward to tonight. Obviously I’ve got a little bit of a shiner on my right eye, but looking forward to tonight and there’s a lot on the line for both teams. After last game, we expect them to come out hard and bring their best because we know what they’re playing for and we need to come out with the same approach as the Leafs are.”
As for Kelly, he was injured when he took a high stick to the face from Toronto’s Nazem Kadri in the opening minute of the third period Wednesday. He received what he called “nine or 10 stitches” and returned.
“Just a little swollen, just a cut, it’s fine,” Kelly said Friday morning. “It was bleeding and the refs knew it was bleeding, so there’s no need for me to lay on the ice; skate off and get it done quickly.”
At least Lucic and Kelly are playing. The same can’t be said for Toronto defenseman Mark Fraser. He had surgery Thursday to repair a broken bone in the forehead after being hit with a puck shot by Lucic in the third period.
“He’s back home resting comfortably,” Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said Friday. “It is tough when you lose players, and lose players to that type of injury.”
|Now that he’s actually in Boston, Matt Bartkowski ready to contribute||05.10.13 at 1:40 pm ET|
Matt Bartkowski knew there was a possibility he’d be able to join the Bruins during the playoffs at some point, but he was a little confused when he was first rumored to get the call.
When Andrew Ference was suspended for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Maple Leafs, Claude Julien told reporters the day of that game that Bartkowski was a possibility to replace him in Boston’s lineup.
There was just one issue, though. Bartkowski wasn’t on the team. He hadn’t been called up and he was in Hershey with the Providence Bruins for their playoff series, yet reporters unaware of the situation went with it and wrote that Bartkowski might be in Saturday’s game.
“A couple of guys on the team told me that, and I was just kind of wondering, like ‘Well, I’m sitting here in Hershey. Can I just jump on a horse and ride over?’” Bartkowski recalled Friday with a laugh. “It was kind of funny.”
Indeed, no arrangements were made to zip Bartkowski to Boston, and he stayed with Providence through their first-round series win over Hershey. He was preparing for the second round against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton when the Bruins recalled him Thursday night. With Wade Redden ruled out for Game 5 of the Bruins’ series against the Leafs, Bartkowski is likely to step into the lineup.
While fans may clamor for Dougie Hamilton‘s services rather than Bartkowski’s, Bartkowski is the better fit because the B’s need to replace a left-side defenseman in Redden, and Bartkowski is a lefty. When the Bruins put Hamilton, a righty, in place of the left-shooting Ference in Game 2, they had to break up their top pairing of Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg in order to move Seidenberg to the left side. Not only was that a lot of work, but they lost the game due to shaky defensive play. With Bartkowski, the B’s can just slide him onto the third pairing in place of Redden, just as they did in Friday’s morning skate by pairing the 24-year-old with Adam McQuaid.
Bartkowski was sent down late in the season because the Bruins had extra defensemen but couldn’t send Aaron Johnson down to Providence without him having to clear waivers. Given that, they sent Bartkowski down to get more game experience, and he picked up five points (all assists) in the five-game series against Hershey.
His play at both the AHL and NHL levels has Bartkowski feeling more confident this season than in past campaigns. He admitted earlier in the season that he was too afraid of making mistakes in his Boston stints the last two seasons (nine total games), but that this season and his first professional playoff experience has prepared him for this challenge.
“Now I know how to play and I know I can play my game at this level,” Bartkowsi said. “Then playing playoff hockey down there — because all in all, it’s the same, playoff hockey, anywhere. It’s just different speed, size and pace.”
|James van Riemsdyk hopes to be part of another big comeback vs. Bruins||05.10.13 at 1:07 pm ET|
Though the Maple Leafs are in their first postseason in eight seasons, they are at least a little prepared for the daunting task they face entering Game 5 of their series against the Bruins thanks to one player who is proof that series aren’t over until a team wins four games.
James van Riemsdyk has been in a 3-1 hole against the Bruins before. He’s also been in a 3-0 hole against them, and, two games later, a 3-2 hole. He’s been in a series that was tied, 3-3, against the Bruins, and he’s helped put them away in Game 7.
With the Leafs facing elimination on Friday night at TD Garden, van Riemsdyk is using his 2010 postseason experience with the Flyers as he and his team try to come back in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the B’s.
“You’ve just got to not look at the whole task as getting back to that point,” van Riemsdyk said Friday. “You’ve just got to take it one game at a time and just kind of start chipping away. We know, obviously, it’s not an ideal position we’re in, but you’ve got to take it one game at a time. You win one game and you never know what can happen.”
Folks around these parts know what happened back in the 2010 Eastern Conference semifinals. As a rookie, van Riemsdyk scored the Flyers’ first goal of Game 7 after Boston jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period. The Flyers came back in that game, just as they had in the series, and eliminated the B’s in shocking fashion.
Now, three years, a Bruins Stanley Cup run in which the B’s swept the Flyers, and one trade later, the now-24-year-old Maple Leafs winger recalls being the rookie on a team that believed it could come back in a series that looked all but over. He remembered the players buying into the concept of only looking at what was directly in front of them, and not farther ahead of them. They broke their task into shifts rather than games or pages of history books.
“You can kind of psyche yourself out a bit if you worry too much about being down 3-1 vs. just focusing on, ‘We need to win a hockey game,’ ” van Riemsdyk said.
The Bruins have had a hard time finishing teams off when the pressure hasn’t been at its greatest. Under Claude Julien, the B’s are 3-6 when they can eliminate a team in a non-Game 7 situation. Going back to that 2010 season, the B’s had three chances against the Flyers and lost all three. The next year, they had 3-2 leads against both the Canadiens and Lightning and lost Game 6, though they swept the Flyers and came back to force Game 7 against the Canucks. They hope this series doesn’t last any longer than it has to for them.
“We’ve learned both sides of the coin,” Andrew Ference said. “When you don’t close out a series and give a team life, it can be a pretty dangerous fire to play with.
“It gets tossed around a lot that the fourth win’s the hardest, but I don’t think it’s any harder than the first, second or third. Every win is tough. In the playoffs, the victories are earned. There’s no freebies.”
Despite the score of the series and the fact that three of the first four games were determined by two or more goals, the games have been played tighter than many expected. There’s a reason that Game 4 went down to the wire when both teams were playing strong, fast-paced hockey. The Leafs, who many wrote off entering the postseason, believe they can hang with the Bruins.
“We’ve responded to adversity pretty well throughout the whole season, so that’s what we’re going to continue to do,” van Riemsdyk said. “We’ll find out a lot about our team by our effort tonight.”
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