|06.01.13 at 11:58 pm ET|
Claude Julien watched as his team scored first, then he scolded them for turnovers. Then the Bruins coach sat back and watched his team take Pittsburgh’s best punch and beat the Penguins, 3-0, in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals Saturday night at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.
The Bruins got a first period goal from David Krejci, the first of two on the night from the team’s leading scorer in these playoffs. In the second period, Julien said he was worried that the team was giving Pittsburgh too many chances.
“I thought for a while, halfway through the second period, I was saying to our players that we were turning too many pucks over in the neutral zone or just outside or inside the offensive blueline,” Julien said. “Sure enough, they’re a team that really takes advantage of those turnovers.
“We got caught into a run‑and‑gun type of game. I think we all know we’re not a team that does well in those run‑and‑gun games.
In the third period, we settled down, played more of our game. I think that’s why we spent more time in our own end and managed the puck better. I thought there was some average puck management in the second period, too. That’s what I mean, some of the passes they would intercept, we tried to hit our D, they would cut those off. Luckily, whatever little mistakes we made, Tuukka was up to the task.”
Rask stopped all 29 shots on the night and even took a shove from Sidney Crosby at the end of the second period, prompting a center ice scuffle as the teams went to the dressing room. Julien said Rask’s work with goaltending coach Bob Essensa all week paid off, preventing any possible rust from a six-day layoff.
“Bob has been with us all week,” Julien said. “He did some work with us before practice, worked on all the things he wanted to work on.
Those are all things that obviously helped us. [Rask] got some rest. So tonight, as far as I’m concerned, he wasn’t good, he was outstanding.”
Julien downplayed the scuffle at the end of the second period and didn’t go after public enemy No. 1 in Matt Cooke for his hit on Adam McQuaid in the first period that resulted in game misconduct on Cooke.
“I don’t know if it had any impact at all, to be honest with you,” Julien said when asked. “Again, I didn’t get a chance to look at it closely. I was asked that question on the bench. I can’t comment on that stuff. I didn’t see it clearly enough. Was he in that position ahead of time, that Cooke could see him in a vulnerable position? I don’t know. I’ll have to look at it.
“No matter what I say, the league will rule on that stuff and move forward with it. You got to trust, again, they’re going to make the right decision.”
As for the scuffle at the end of the second that also featured a fight between Patrice Bergeron and Evgeni Malkin and ended with a shouting match between captains Sidney Crosby and Zdeno Chara, Julien said that stuff happens.
“Whatever. I didn’t see everything happen except that there was a fight,” Julien said. “I saw Sidney push our goaltender as he’s skating off.
This is playoff hockey. Those things are going to happen. You don’t whine or complain about it, you just deal with it. What we had to deal with tonight was winning a hockey game. That’s all that mattered. Whichever way we took at the end of the night, that’s all that mattered.”
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|06.01.13 at 11:14 pm ET|
The Bruins got off to a strong start in the Eastern Conference finals by shutting out one of the most prolific offenses in recent Stanley Cup history with a 3-0 win over the Penguins Saturday night at Consol Energy Center. Here, thanks to the Bruins media relations department, are some postgame notes.
• The Bruins now have a 48-45 lifetime record in Game 1s of best-of-seven series.
• They are 33-14 lifetime when leading a best-of-seven series 1-0 and they are 29-17-1 lifetime in Game 2s when leading a best-of-seven series 1-0.
• The Penguins now have a 23-25 lifetime record in Game 1s of best-of-seven series.
• They are 12-12 lifetime when trailing a best-of-seven series 0-1 and they are 13-11 lifetime in Game 2s when trailing a best-of-seven series 0-1.
• In the previous four series between these teams, each team won the first game twice and both teams were 1-1 in the series in which they won the first game.
• Tuukka Rask made 29 saves for his first career playoff shutout.
• It was the 43rd playoff shutout by a Bruins goaltender and the first since Tim Thomas earned a 1-0 overtime win over Washington on April 12, 2012.
• It was the 17th time the Penguins have been shut out in a playoff game and the first since Tampa Bay’s Dwayne Roloson earned a 1-0 win on April 27, 2011.
|06.01.13 at 10:46 pm ET|
PITTSBURGH — Tuukka Rask’s first career playoff shutout came against the toughest offense he’s ever faced in the playoffs, as Rask blanked the Penguins in a 3-0 Bruins victory in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Rask stood tall for the B’s shutting down the Penguins’ high powered offense and keeping them quiet through four power plays, while Krejci scored in the first and third periods to give him seven goals this postseason and an NHL-leading 19 points.
Krejci’s first tally came a slapshot that went off of Paul Martin’s skate and past Tomas Vokoun, and he increased Boston’s lead by knocking in his own rebound in front in the third. Shortly after, Nathan Horton picked up his sixth of the playoffs to make it 3-0.
The game was by no means a clean contest, and the foul play was highlighted by a Matt Cooke hit from behind on Adam McQuaid in the second period. Cooke, who infamously elbowed Marc Savard in 2011 and gave him concussion issues that have since ended his career, came in with speed and shoved McQuaid from behind, with the Boston defenseman going into the end boards head first. McQuaid left the game but eventually returned. Cooke was given a game misconduct for the hit and figures to face additional discipline.
Brad Marchand also turned in a rather dirty hit in the second period, shoving James Neal into the boards in front of the Pittsburgh bench. Marchand was given a two-minute minor for boarding, but given what a dangerous hit it was, Penguins fans were justified in wanting more punishment for Marchand.
The second period ended with a fracas that followed Sidney Crosby bumping Rask, with the situation culminating in Patrice Bergeron fighting Malkin in a heated bout.
The teams will next play Monday for Game 2 before the series returns to Boston.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- Rask entered this series with mediocre numbers this postseason, but the B’s get past the Penguins it will likely be because he vaults himself into Conn Smythe consideration. Rask made 29 saves in the shutout, and while the Bruins definitely shouldn’t expect
- The B’s were saved by the bell in the first period, as the Penguins got big chances late. Their best chance came when an intentionally wide shot off the endboards yielded a rebound to Malkin in front, with Malkin’s bid going through the crease with just two seconds left. Furthermore, Johnny Boychuk appeared to hook Malkin in the chest in front on the play and got away with it.
- It was definitely a surprise to see Andrew Ference back in the lineup, but he made a positive impact in his return. Ference picked up the secondary assist on Krejci’s goal and also made it possible by driving to the net and bringing Martin with him. Without Martin there attempting to block the shot, Vokoun likely would have seen it cleanly and stopped it. Instead, it went off Martin’s foot and past the Pittsburgh netminder.
- It’s kind of an obvious note, but it’s big that the Bruins were able to get one of the first two games in Pittsburgh. At worst, they’ll head home split.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- Matt Cooke strikes again. The funny thing is that because his last suspension came in March of 2011, Cooke actually doesn’t qualify for repeat offender status. In order to be considered a repeat offender, one’s last suspension has to have occurred within the last 18 months, which in this case it did not. Of course, there’s no way Brendan Shanahan won’t consider the whole package with Cooke when deciding on his punishment.
Cooke would be a rather big loss for the Penguins, as he’s played well this postseason and is a big part of Pittsburgh’s bottom-six depth.
- It’s a method that worked, but it was interesting to see how sparingly Claude Julien used his fourth line early on. Daniel Paille played less than three minutes in the first period and a half, but he should be of more use in this series given his speed and defensive prowess. If Tyler Seguin really isn’t going to do anything (he had a pretty bad giveaway in the first period), it wouldn’t be crazy for Julien to consider putting Paille on the left wing of Chris Kelly’s line and move Rich Peverley back to right wing. Normally you wouldn’t want to mess with the Merlot Line, but if they aren’t going to play much, why not?
|06.01.13 at 1:36 pm ET|
PITTSBURGH — Defensive pairings aside, the Bruins’ top two lines have their work cut out for them.
The Bruins will likely try to match the Milan Lucic - David Krejci – Nathan Horton line, with the Zdeno Chara-Dennis Seidenberg pairing, against the Penguins’ top line of Evgeni Malkin between James Neal and Jarome Iginla. Patrice Bergeron‘s line can be expected to be matched up against the Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis line.
This will be as challenging a series as the Bruins will have this postseason for any of their players, but it will be especially tough on Boston’s top six forwards as they try to handle Pittsburgh’s forecheck while also trying to outscore the team that led the regular season in scoring.
“Obviously you’ve got to be responsible,” Lucic said of handling the Malkin line. “They’re great hockey players. I mean, all three guys on that line have scored 40 goals, two of them (Malkin and Iginla) scored 50. It’s no secret what they can do if you’re making careless plays and turning pucks over. Even on the other line, you look at Kunitz and Dupuis. Both scored 20 goals in a shortened season, and Sidney Crosby is Sidney Crosby. Their top two lines are full of fire power. You can’t be careless and make stupid turnovers.
“As much as there is focus in playing well defensively, we also need to score goals as well. We need to be making good hard plays and try to spend as much time in the offensive zone as we can.”
All six members of Pittsburgh’s top two lines have at least 10 points through 11 games this postseason, with Malkin leading the way with 16 points. Though Krejci leads all postseason players with 17 points through 12 games, the Bruins haven’t had the type of offensive consistency in the playoffs as the Penguins. Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin led the team in goals with 18 and 16, respectively, during the regular season but have combined for just three this postseason, with Seguin having since been demoted to the third line.
Though Krejci, Horton and Lucic all have at least 10 points so far, the Bergeron line hasn’t gotten that type of production. Marchand has nine points (two goals, seven assists), Bergeron has seven (three goals, four assists) and Jaromir Jagr has no goals and four assists.
Stopping the Penguins’ loaded offense is one thing, but the B’s need to also match their production.
“They’ve definitely had consistency throughout their lineup from start to finish of the season and also so far throughout the playoffs,” Lucic said. “That hasn’t been a problem for them for a while now.”
|06.01.13 at 12:53 pm ET|
PITTSBURGH — The Bruins will play a hockey game for the first time in a week when they finally open the Eastern Conference finals against the Penguins at CONSOL Energy Center. From the looks of it, there will be no changes to their lineup, although Andrew Ference could be a possibility to return.
Both Ference and Matt Bartkowski took rushes with Johnny Boychuk on Boston’s second pairing in the morning skate, with Bartkowski taking the majority of them. After the skate, Claude Julien declined to tip his hand regarding Ference’s status for the game, with Ference saying he wants to play but that the decision is up to the coaches.
Another notable takeaway from the morning skate was that it appears the Zdeno Chara-Dennis Seidenberg pairing will be kept together, presumably to play against the Penguins’ top line of Evgeni Malkin between James Neal and Jarome Iginla.
The Bruins’ lineup looked as follows in the morning skate:
Milan Lucic – David Krejci – Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Jaromir Jagr
Rich Peverley – Chris Kelly – Tyler Seguin
Daniel Paille – Gregory Campbell – Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara – Dennis Seidenberg
Matt Bartkowski/Andrew Ference – Johnny Boychuk
Torey Krug – Adam McQuaid
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
|05.31.13 at 2:21 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Andrew Ference is close to playing. How close? Well, that depends on whom you ask and when.
Ference, himself, said that he’s had a very good and productive week of practice as he comes off a left foot injury that sidelined him for the last two games of the first round series against Toronto and all five games against the Rangers.
“I’ve had some really good practices. I think it’s a matter of trainers and coaches figuring out that,” Ference said after Friday’s practice. “The only thing I can do is skate and do what I have to do to make myself ready. But, at a certain point, it’s in other people’s hands as well.”
“We’re certainly not going to tip our hands,” Julien said when asked about possible maneuvering with defensive pairings. “If Ference is cleared, we have to consider that.”
Ference was skating for a fourth straight day with Aaron Johnson. As it stands now, Zdeno Chara and Johnny Boychuk would start the series as the top D pair, followed by Dennis Seidenberg and Matt Bartkowski and then Adam McQuaid and Torey Krug. Given Krug’s firepower on the power play, Bartkowski figures to be the odd man out when Ference is cleared.
“I feel good. I feel good,” Ference repeated moments later. “Good practices. I was able to take part in everything. It was nice to be at full speed with the guys. Feeling great. I think everybody is excited to get going here. We’ve done a lot of watching of the other series over the last few days. [Good to] get back to the real deal.”
The other major theme regarding Ference is his return to Pittsburgh. The Bruins are playing the Penguins in the playoffs for the first time since Ference began his career in Pittsburgh in the 1999-2000 season, after being an eighth-round pick in 1997.
“As far as going back to Pittsburgh, I’m actually surprised this is the first time our teams have met up in the past few years. Obviously, we’ve both had success. Should be great hockey. Obviously, good for the game to have those good, big markets left over here,” Ference said.
Ference broke in on a team that included Jaromir Jagr, Martin Straka, Mario Lemieux, Kevin Stevens and Alexei Kovalev. That team made it to the Eastern Conference finals in 2001 before bowing out to the Devils in five games.
|05.31.13 at 12:09 pm ET|
NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Friday to talk about Saturday’s Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.
McGuire agreed with a suggestion from studio guest Lyndon Byers that the Bruins should try to take the Penguins out of their game by being physical.
“Absolutely, if I were Boston that’s all I’d be talking about, it turning it into a street fight early,” McGuire said. “I would take a page out of what Philadelphia did to Pittsburgh last year. They didn’t play nice with Pittsburgh, and Pittsburgh decided that they didn’t want to play nice and it got them out of their offense and their free flow and their attack game. It got them thinking more about retribution than about scoring goals.
“If I were Boston, that’s exactly what I’d try to do. Because that’s the one thing they have — Boston, that is — that a lot of teams in the league don’t have. They have four lines that can play. They have four lines that can bring some physical dimension. And they have four lines that can contribute offensively. But the one through four physical part is huge.”
Added McGuire: “If Boston can play a nasty game without taking penalties and goad Pittsburgh into getting off their game, that’s huge. And if Pittsburgh doesn’t retaliate and Boston gets a lot of penalties called against them and their power play is as good as we’ve seen, Boston’s going to be trouble.”
Looking at the line matchups, McGuire said he expects the Patrice Bergeron line to go up against the Sidney Crosby line in a matchup of longtime friends.
“If I were betting money, I’d say Bergeron against Crosby,” McGuire said. “They’re real good friends. It goes back to the ’05 World Junior. Crosby played on a line with Corey Perry and Patrice Bergeron. It goes back to the World Championships; they played together. They played in the Quebec Major Junior League against one another.
“A lot of people don’t know this: These guys are so close, they went on snowmobiling trips together in the winter during All-Star breaks when they weren’t playing in the All-Star Game, or during the lockout. Just so you have an idea how close these guys are. They’re extremely, extremely close.”
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