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Canadiens blank Bruins to force Game 7

05.12.14 at 10:22 pm ET
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MONTREAL — The Bruins can only hope that the Canadiens didn’t save anything for Game 7 after the beating handed out by the home team Monday night. The Canadiens trounced the Bruins, 4-0, in Game 6 at Bell Centre to stay alive and force a winner-take-all Game 7. The series will be decided Wednesday at TD Garden.

The B’s gave one to the Canadiens 2:11 into the game when Kevan Miller caught a bad bounce on an attempt to send the puck out from behind the Boston net. The puck bounced off his stick and in front, where Tuukka Rask tried to get it, but Lars Eller put it in to give the Habs a 1-0 lead.

Though the Bruins pushed back hard in the second period, the Habs scored twice in the final five minutes of the period to put the game out of reach for Boston. Max Pacioretty scored his first goal of the series with a partial breakaway goal that came as a result of gaffes from both Zdeno Chara and Tuukka Rask at 15:24 of the second, while Thomas Vanek buried a loose puck in front on a power play at 17:39 to make it 3-0.

The B’s went 0-for-3 on the power play on the night, while the Canadiens were 1-for-3. Though they didn’t score on the power play that followed Milan Lucic‘s trip of P.K. Subban at 3:58 of the third, the timing of the penalty was enough to hurt Boston’s minimal chances of a comeback.

The Bruins nearly got on the board with under 10 minutes to play in the third period on a shot from Zdeno Chara that bounced up and over Carey Price, but David Desharnais fell on it just before it crossed the line. The play was reviewed, with the no goal call being confirmed. Price’s shutout was his first this series.

Desharnais would later assist Vanek’s second goal of the game as Vanek buried an empty netter to seal the victory for Montreal.

The Bruins are no strangers to results like Monday’s, as they also failed to close out the Habs in Game 6 in 2011 after taking a 3-2 series lead; that year, Boston bounced back in Game 7 en route to a Stanley Cup. Whether they advance to the conference finals this year remains to be seen.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS Read the rest of this entry »

Brad Marchand on Game 6: ‘This series has nothing to do with what happened three years ago’

05.12.14 at 3:05 pm ET
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MONTREAL — The marching orders have been delivered. The Bruins are not to talk or think about what happened in Game 6 in 2011, when they had a chance to close out the Canadiens but allowed a pair of 5-on-3 power play goals in a 2-1 loss that extended the series to the fateful Game 7, won by Nathan Horton in overtime.

“This series has nothing to with something that happened three years ago but Montreal always a great power play,” Brad Marchand said. “They’re always very dangerous and have been all series long and we definitely have to make sure we do a good job of staying out of the box.”

Head coach Claude Julien had the same reaction, beginning with forgetting about what happened in 2011.

“I don’t [remember],” Julien quipped. “No short-term memory.”

Of the 13 goals the Bruins have allowed in the series, seven have come on the power play, including the overtime game-winner in Game 1 and both goals in the Game 5 win over the Canadiens. Montreal is 7-for-19 on the power play this series. While the seven number is significant, the 19 might be more alarming since the Bruins know they need to avoid penalties at all costs to avoid a Game 7 Wednesday night in Boston.

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Read More: Boston Bruins, Brad Marchand, Claude Julien, NHL

Pierre McGuire on M&M: ‘Montreal doesn’t have an answer for Carl Soderberg’

05.12.14 at 2:57 pm ET
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NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Monday to discuss the Eastern Conference semifinal series between the Bruins and Canadiens. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

The Bruins took a 3-2 series lead on Saturday by defeating the Canadiens by a score of 4-2 in Game 5 at TD Garden. Four skaters scored for Boston, while Tukka Rask recorded 31 saves in the contest.

“€œThe Boston Bruins played a tremendous game. They had a good start, they had tremendous supplemental offense from the third line, which Montreal doesn’t have an answer for, with Carl Soderberg, Matt Fraser and obviously Loui Eriksson,” McGuire said. ‘€œTheir penalty killing was very solid until the P.K. Subban ripper.

“I thought, quite frankly, that it was Boston playing a very good game and Montreal not playing up to their normal level because Boston didn’t allow it.”

Soderberg was particularly impressive in Boston’€™s last game, scoring his first goal of the postseason and adding two assists in the win. McGuire said that Soderberg’€™s size and playmaking ability has caused problems for Montreal throughout this series.

“€œAs a smaller team, Montreal doesn’t have an answer for Carl Soderberg,” McGuire said. “If you’re going to win a series, you need to have an X-factor player — someone that doesn’t get canceled out. The X-factor player so far in this series has been Carl Soderberg.”

Added McGuire: “Montreal doesn’t have an answer size-wise and skilled-wise for the depth of the Boston Bruins lineup. That’€™s the biggest issue that’€™s haunting them.”

Boston has the tall task of eliminating Montreal in the Habs’€™ home, the Bell Centre. The Canadiens posted a 23-13-5 record during the regular season and sit at 3-1 this postseason when playing in the friendly confines of their home arena.

“€œ[The Bruins are] a different team when they play here,”€ McGuire said. “€œThey play a much smarter brand in terms of penalty management. … They play a more physical, attacking style in Boston, they’€™re really comfortable playing and they want to provide that for their fans. When they go on the road, they want to take the crowd out of it and I thought they did a really great job in Game 4 in taking the crowd out of it and taking P.K. Subban out of it.”

Following are more highlights from the interview. For more on the Bruins, visit the team page at weei.com/bruins.

On the potential return of Dennis Seidenberg in the Eastern Conference finals: “I had a really nice visit with Dennis on Saturday night before the game. I would say that there’s a very good chance, if the Bruins were to progress, that he would be back for that next round.”

 On what Matt Fraser has brought to the third line over the last two games: “[He brings] better board play and the ability to maintain a cycle and dominate the defense and put duress on Carey Price because of that cycle play. … He can shoot the puck. He can shoot the puck from in tight and elevate it or he can shoot the puck from about 20 feet and get it there with a lot of velocity, so that makes a difference.”

On Shawn Thornton spraying Subban with water during Game 5: “As soon as the play was blown dead, I saw that [Subban] was angry and that there was some water on his visor. … Obviously, it was Shawn. He pays a price, he pays the fine. … I don’€™t think it’€™s that big of a deal, quite frankly.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Carl Soderberg, Matt Fraser, Montreal Canadiens

Bruins not afraid of Bell Centre magic entering Game 6

05.12.14 at 2:19 pm ET
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MONTREAL — Monday’s Game 6 marks the Bruins’ last game at the Bell Centre this season. It’s up to them to decide whether the same goes for the Canadiens.

There’s no home-ice advantage like the Bell Centre. Look up home and away records and it will tell you otherwise, but there is no crowd like the Montreal crowd — both in decibel level and in influence.

The Bruins actually had a much better home record (31-7-3) than the Canadiens (23-13-5) this season, which makes sense because the Bruins were the best team in the NHL. The Bruins already have a victory at Centre Bell this series, and they can fondly recall the days of winning Games 3 and 4 in Montreal in 2011. Yet as the teams prepare for Monday’s Game 6, the idea of eliminating the Canadiens in their own building is daunting. The B’s couldn’t do it when they had the chance in 2011, as it took a seventh game and Nathan Horton overtime heroics to close out that series.

Should the Canadiens take Game 6, as they did in that classic 2011 series, they’ll have a full head of momentum headed into Boston for a winner-take-all seventh game. It’s do-or-golf time for the Habs, and they wouldn’t rather face it anywhere else.

“We understand they use their crowd to their advantage here,” Torey Krug said after Monday’s morning skate. “They come out very fast. When you can handle that, it does well for your team. We’re just going to come in and make sure we focus on the first 10 minutes and then after that we’ll see what happens and let it take care of itself.”

The Bruins aren’t going to psych themselves out, however. They know the building and they’ve won in the building. As intimidating as it may be to sit in the dressing room and hear all the madness going on during Montreal’s epic — and it is epic — pregame ceremony, they’re smart enough to try to avoid it. That especially goes for the younger guys.

“You try to focus on yourself. The biggest thing is you know they’re going to have their game plan and we’re going to have ours,” Matt Fraser said. “I think for us, we want to dictate the pace of play and dictate how things out there. That’s the biggest thing. We’ve got to stick to our game plan.”

Fraser handled his first real experience in the Bell Centre (he’d played a preseason game there back in September) extremely well, as he was given a career-high 14:44 of ice time and scored the game’s only goal on his first shift in overtime of Game 4. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Matt Fraser, Torey Krug,

David Krejci feels breakthrough coming: ‘My time is about to come and I’m going to be big for my team’

05.12.14 at 1:35 pm ET
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MONTREAL — It’s not often that you hear professional athletes in any sport make a prediction, but David Krejci couldn’t help but make one Monday morning before Game 6 against the Canadiens.

With his team one win away from the Eastern Conference finals, the man who has led the Bruins in playoff scoring since 2011 feels a breakout is coming. Krejci, with only three assists and a minus-3 rating in 10 playoff games so far, says he owes a debt of gratitude to his linemates Milan Lucic and Jarome Iginla and his teammates, in general, for picking him up so far in these playoffs.

“That’s what you need in the playoffs. You need different guys to step up,” Krejci said. “I believe my time is about to come and I’m going to be big for my team. I owe to it these guys, so I’m going to do everything I can to start tonight.

“It feels like it’s right there. We have to execute on our chances. We have to start putting the puck in the net more often. My linemates have been doing a pretty good job at it. They’ve been great for me all year. I want to return the favor for them and I’m going to try and be better for them.”

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Read More: Boston Bruins, David Krejci, Montreal Canadiens, NHL

Bruins’ Dennis Seidenberg begins taking contact

05.12.14 at 12:41 pm ET
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MONTREAL — Dennis Seidenberg has begun taking contact, marking a sizable step in his road back from ACL/MCL surgery.

Seidenberg, who had surgery in early January after tearing the ligaments in his right knee on Dec. 27 and being ruled out for the season, stayed out after Monday’s morning skate and did one-on-one battle drills in the corner with Jordan Caron and Andrej Meszaros. Seidenberg has been skating since April 8, doing more and more until eventually joining the team in practices late last month. Monday was his first time taking contact.

The 32-year-old had said last week that he felt good enough to play but that he still wasn’t healed. Now that he is taking contact, the chances of him returning this postseason — assuming the Bruins advance past the Habs — become much more realistic, but the timetable is unknown. Daniel Paille, who was working his way back from a concussion, had begun taking contact on April 25 before playing May 1, but Seidenberg has been out much longer, and such timetables vary from player to player and injury to injury. It’s safe to assume that Seidenberg would need at least a week of contact before the team could start considering him as an option to play.

The Bruins initially had said that Seidenberg’s recovery time would be 6-8 months, but he has been well ahead of schedule. Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli has declined comment on the status of the player since the beginning of the playoffs, saying only that the team is not assuming that the player will return at some point.

“We’€™re not counting on Dennis to be back,”  Chiarelli said on April 14. “We’€™re going to be very cautious with this injury. He has been skating and that’€™s pretty much all I can say on it.”

If Seidenberg were to return, he would provide stability on the B’s back end in a spot that has seen some inconsistency. Both Meszaros and Matt Bartkowski have struggled on the left side of the second pairing, and though Seidenberg traditionally has served as Zdeno Chara‘s postseason partner, he might be better served strengthening Johnny Boychuk‘s pairing.

For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.

Read More: Dennis Seidenberg, Peter Chiarelli,

Though not perfect, Bruins playing their best hockey of series with chance to close out Habs

05.11.14 at 11:10 pm ET
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It isn’t just because the Bruins have a 3-2 lead in the series, but they have plenty reason to be confident in themselves right now.

With two chances to close out the Habs, the B’s are playing their best hockey of the series. The first two games of the series saw them have to rely on third-period comebacks to allow them to split the games at the Garden, while Game 3 saw them make far too many mistakes in a 4-2 loss. Yet the last two games have seen them turn a corner of playing sound defensive hockey while managing to get offense both on the power play and an increasingly strong third line.

‘€œI like the way we’€™ve gotten better as a team. I like that we’€™ve progressively improved our game,’€ Gregory Campbell said Sunday. ‘€œWe’€™ve been fairly strong mentally. Montreal’€™s a tough place to play and we were down 2-1, but we fought our way back and put ourselves in a good position.’€

Bruins players seemed to be in agreement that Saturday’s 4-2 victory in Game 5 was their best game of the series. That game saw their power play break through with a pair of goals, while the fact that they got on the board early and built a 3-0 lead allowed them to play all but the first 13:19 with a lead.

“We had a solid game last game,” Matt Bartkowski said. “We had a good start and had the lead for once, which was nice. I think we played a pretty complete game. I said that before the game, if we play a full 60 minutes, we don’t really give them much and we’re fine.”

The Bruins didn’t give the Habs much in Game 5. After shutting out Montreal in Game 4 to even the series, the B’s kept the Habs quiet in five-on-five play, with Montreal’s only goals coming in the form of power play tallies, the second of which was a six-on-four goal with Carey Price pulled with 2:29 remaining.

Whether Game 6 sees as few penalties as the first two in Montreal did (the B’s took two penalties) remains to be seen, but if the refs lay off the whistles it will be advantageous to the Bruins. Boston is the better five-on-five team anyway, but the way the B’s have silenced Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais (thanks largely to Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron) has made up for the lack of offense out of David Krejci‘s line and left Montreal looking for answers.

With the Bruins having found their way and the Canadiens struggling to find a way to beat Tuukka Rask, the best thing the Canadiens have going for them in Game 6 is the fact that it’s at the Bell Centre. Remember, the last time the Bruins had a 3-2 series lead and the opportunity to end the series in Montreal, they couldn’t do it. The roster is plenty different from that 2011 team, but it doesn’t take a genius to know that closing out the Habs at the Bell Centre won’t come easy.

“Our biggest focus right now is to close out the series as fast as we can,” Reilly Smith said. “You don’t want to give a team like Montreal time to linger around because anything can happen in games and their goalie’s been pretty hot. If you give them a chance to shut you out, he’ll definitely do that. We’re going into the Bell Centre trying to [win]. That’s definitely our main focus.”

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