|05.14.14 at 1:40 pm ET|
The team that scores the first goal Wednesday night will win Game 7 and advance to the Eastern Conference finals, provided it is a 1-0 game.
Aside from that, the first goal, for all the hype that comes with it, has by no means been a ticket to victory. Though the team that’s scored the first goal has won each of the first six games this series, two of those games involved the winning team relinquishing their lead before winning the game later.
The Canadiens scored first in Game 1 and took a 2-0 lead before the B’s came back in the third to tie the game. The Habs eventually won in overtime. In Game 2, Boston scored first but allowed three straight goals before coming back with four in a row in the third.
Playing with a lead is extremely important, but it isn’t until a team has a two or three goal lead — especially if its early — that they can smother the opponent by sitting back and relying on the counterattack.
“I don’t think you can really pack it in at any point of the game,” Mike Weaver said Wednesday morning. “Boston’s notorious for coming back, even with six minutes left. They’re a team that keeps on coming at you, and you can’t let your foot off the pedal at any point in the game.”
Another good example of this is Game 6. The Canadiens took a 1-0 lead in the opening minute of the game on a Lars Eller goal, yet it wasn’t until they got a pair of goals late in the second period that they were able to put the B’s away. Much of the first two periods — especially early in the second — saw the Bruins match or outplay the Habs and generate plenty of chances.
“The scoring chances were there,” Daniel Paille said of how the B’s played down a goal. “It’s more about bearing down and not getting frustrated. We know that goals can come and some nights they don’t go in, but for us, it is key to maintain composure and not stay too frustrated.”
There was no comeback for the Bruins in that game. There were comebacks in the first two games of the series, and though Weaver said there was no lesson to be learned in those games, it did serve as a reminder that playing with the lead isn’t always a run-out-the-clock situation.
“I think we got away from our game,” Weaver said of the Bruins’ comebacks. “It’s something that, you’ve got to play a full 60. Especially with what has happened in the playoffs. You guys remind of stats that kind of happen through all the playoffs, not just this series. You have that in the back of your mind that you have to keep on going, keep on pushing.”
Matt Fraser provided the most memorable “first goal” of the series with the overtime winner in Game 4, with Nathan Horton‘s goal in Game 7 of the 2011 conference finals standing as perhaps the most memorable in recent history. That game was played 5-on-5 the whole way, with no penalties taken on either side.
The first goal can obviously be a difference-maker, and the later it is, the better. This series has shown that it’s that second goal that matters more.
|05.14.14 at 1:10 pm ET|
Teams come up with different ways to psych themselves up for big moments. The Canadiens are using the Bruins’ lack of respect of them — regardless of whether there’s actually a lack of respect — as fuel heading into Game 7.
On Tuesday, it was Brandon Prust, saying that when it came to the Bruins dissin’ his crew, the Habs wouldn’t “stoop to their level.” After Wednesday’s morning skate, Mike Weaver weighed in.
“I think they play the same way, whatever way they’re playing,” Weaver said. “Obviously we’ve got to earn our respect, too. That’s Boston for you.”
It’s all so vague, and at face value, it seems like a team stretching to come up with motivation. Disrespect? The teams don’t like each other, sure, but are the Bruins stealing cabs from Canadiens players around Boston or something?
Perhaps it’s the muscle-flexing, the water-bottle-squirting, the participation in scrums. Much of what happened late in Game 6, which started this whole weird narrative, was the result of a David Desharnais slew-foot and an Andrei Markov stick to Zdeno Chara‘s groin that went uncalled.
So what are the Canadiens talking about when they say they’re being disrespected?
“Well, watch the clips. The whole entire series you can see little things out there,” Weaver said. “But I think that’s their game. Our game is just playing. The other stuff isn’t really a factor.”
Claude Julien said after Game 6 that he wasn’t saying the Bruins were innocent, but said that the idea that the Bruins are the bad guys and the Canadiens are good guys is overstated. Both teams pull stunts, which is true. Shawn Thornton shouldn’t have squirted P.K. Subban, but Subban shouldn’t have put Thornton in a dangerous spot in Game 2.
The mocking has gone both ways. Dale Weise has now mocked the Bruins twice — once by pounding his chest (a Bruins celebration) in Game 3 and once by flexing (like Milan Lucic) in Game 6.
Is that “disrespectful?” Maybe, but who cares? The Weise stuff is hilarious, and it’s more of a “we won’t take any guff” statement than anything else.
There’s an important game to be played Wednesday, and unless bad penalties are taken, manners will have nothing to do with it.
|05.14.14 at 12:54 pm ET|
NBC Sports analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to preview Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals between the Bruins and Canadiens at TD Garden. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
While Monday’s 4-0 Game 6 win never seemed in doubt for the Canadiens, the Bruins set a physical tone with a scrum, which appeared to come out of frustration, at the end of the game, something that came as little surprise to McGuire with a deciding game upcoming.
“You’re trying to plant the seed doubt, no question about that,” he said. “I was a little surprised it didn’t take place with about eight minutes to go. In fact, I may have mentioned to [play-by-play announcer] Kenny Albert in the last 10 minutes that there would be more shenanigans.
“That’s just the way it works. It’s a long series, it’s a hard series, it’s a rivalry series. Boston has one significant advantage over Montreal: They’re most robust, they’re bigger. That’s just the reality, you can’t argue with it. Play to your advantage.”
Whether or not the Bruins will be allowed to play their physical style in Game 7 may depend on the officiating. Wednesday night’s referees will be Dave Jackson and Dan O’Rourke — who previously officiated the Bruins’ Game 2 victory that included B’s coach Claude Julien picking up a bench minor — while Shane Heyer and Brad Kovachik will be the linesmen.
“Dave Jackson will blow his whistle a lot,” McGuire said. “He’s called [games] by the letter of the law — now, only on stick infractions; hooking, holding and that stuff. He lets you play physical, chest to chest, shoulder to shoulder. … Dan O’Rourke is the best skating official in the league right now and he keeps up with the play very well. He will not be a whistle-blower.”
The team that has scored first in each game this series has won the game, something that McGuire believes will be equally important on Wednesday, especially with it being a Game 7.
“In the last 19 Game 7s, 17 times the first goal has won, and the only time we had a deviation was in the first round where Colorado scored the first goal against Minnesota, and San Jose scored the first goal against Los Angeles in Game 7,” he said. “That’s the only two deviations we’ve had. … That’s pretty significant.”
|05.14.14 at 11:34 am ET|
There is virtually no shot that Dennis Seidenberg will be available to play in Wednesday’s Game 7 of the second round against the Canadiens, but it was a question worth asking in Claude Julien‘s press conference following the morning skate.
Seidenberg, who took contact Monday for the first time, was a participant in Wednesday’s morning skate. Considering he is working his way back from a torn ACL and MCL, you would think he would need at least a week’s worth of contact before he would even enter the discussion as a playing possibility.
Julien was asked if there was any chance that Seidenberg would play Wednesday, leading to the following exchange:
“Uh,” Julien said, pondering. “I don’t think so.”
“That’s not a ‘no,’” replied the reporter.
“I’d be very surprised,” said Julien.
Should the Bruins advance, Seidenberg could be a possibility at some point during the Eastern Conference finals or Stanley Cup final.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|05.14.14 at 11:11 am ET|
TSN’s renowned radio host Tony Marinaro believes he has found the magic touch to send the Canadiens to the Eastern Conference finals with a Game 7 win over the Bruins on Wednesday night. Prior to Monday’s Game 6 in Montreal, with the Habs facing elimination, Marinaro had the Rev. Joseph Fugolo say a prayer for the Canadiens, particularly struggling forward Max Pacioretty, who scored in Montreal’s 4-0 win.
On Wednesday, Marinaro — who is broadcasting from the WEEI studios and will appear with Mut & Merloni at 1 p.m. — had Fugolo back again to “bless a white Canadiens road jersey” in hopes of keeping luck on the Habs’ side.
Whether you believe in the power of prayer or not, Pacioretty had arguably his best game of the series on Monday with a goal and an assist, and said after the game that it “felt good” to get back on the scoreboard after missing some opportunities in previous games. Pacioretty is hoping that kind of effort continues for him in Wednesday’s deciding Game 7 at TD Garden.
Montreal’s Nathan Beaulieu is hoping to bring some pride to the organization’s contingent of “Black Aces.” The Black Aces are the minor league players the Habs call up from the Hamilton Bulldogs — the team’s AHL affiliate — in the last month of the season, and Beaulieu is the one who got the call before Game 6 on Monday. Beaulieu’s efforts on the big stage made an impression on Canadiens coach Michel Therrien.
Even on the road, there’s no avoiding a crowded Bell Centre for a Habs-Bruins game. The Canadiens will host a viewing party with Game 7 being shown on the big screens at the arena. Tickets were sold for $10 with proceeds going to the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation.
Some Canadiens fans are so excited for Wednesday’s Game 7 that they have swarmed into a pair of local barber shops to have the Habs logo shaved in their hair. The barbers told CBC that fans have been lining up by the hundreds, and designs have included the Stanley Cup and P.K. Subban‘s face.
As is to be expected, there is plenty of support for the Habs north of the border in this series. But one Canadian bar went so far to hang a Zdeno Chara doll from the ceiling by a noose.
No matter who wins on Wednesday night, the Montreal Gazette’s Jack Todd writes that hockey is the real winner in this series. However, he did save room to leave his prediction at the end: a Canadiens win and eventual return to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since 1993.
Adrian Dater of the Bleacher Report sees the Canadiens as not only the hungrier team, but also the better team, giving them the advantage over the Bruins in Game 7. Dater views the Bruins as worn down and offensively challenged, and he expects Carey Price to once again outplay Tuukka Rask.
Alternatively, Yahoo’s Nicholas J. Cotsonika refuses to count the Bruins out despite the celebrations on the streets of Montreal after the Habs’ win on Monday. Cotsonika cites Boston’s recent Game 7 experience — the Bruins have played nine deciding games in the last seven years — and home-ice advantage as enough reason to like their chances.
If the Bruins want to win Game 7, playing their physical game may be the best way to do it. Sports statistics website FiveThirtyEightSports compiled penalty numbers from recent postseasons and determined that teams take significantly fewer penalty minutes in Game 7s than any other game in a playoff series, a likely result of officials swallowing their whistles rather than more disciplined play.
|05.14.14 at 9:19 am ET|
The Bruins and Canadiens will end their Eastern Conference semifinals series Wednesday night at TD Garden. Which team will skate into the conference finals?
How will Game 7 turn out?
- Bruins win close game in regulation (43%, 175 Votes)
- Bruins win big (19%, 78 Votes)
- Canadiens win close game in regulation (16%, 66 Votes)
- Bruins win in overtime (9%, 38 Votes)
- Canadiens win big (7%, 30 Votes)
- Canadiens win in overtime (6%, 22 Votes)
Total Voters: 409
|05.14.14 at 6:00 am ET|
Yes, there is a pretty important hockey game to be played and I know I’m taking the bait as a member of the media by playing up all of this non-hockey stuff, but a tipping point has to be reached with the love-fest going on with the Canadiens, their coach and perhaps some of their media with what Claude Julien would call “crap.”
When the Canadiens are involved, everything is magnified. Everything’s a story. So much so, in fact, that storylines appear from absolutely nowhere. First, it was the Bruins saying that they had “solved” Carey Price by learning to shoot high on him after Game 2, when, in fact, no Bruins had said that.
This bit from Tuesday takes the cake, though:
‘ Dave Stubbs (@Dave_Stubbs) May 13, 2014
‘ Dave Stubbs (@Dave_Stubbs) May 13, 2014
So it’s been decided — one way or another — that the Bruins, who just got the crap (word of the series) kicked out of them in Game 6, are disrespecting the Canadiens. At that point on Tuesday, the Bruins had had no availability that day and no Bruins had said anything on the record since immediately after Game 6. The biggest thing said there was Julien saying the Canadiens’ on-ice antics should make people reconsider the narrative the Bruins are bad and the Canadiens are good. Were those late-game scrums the Bruins disrespecting the Habs? Who knows what they’re talking about.
Julien said after his postgame rant Monday that the Bruins aren’t innocent in the shenanigans that we’ve seen in the series. That’s true, with Shawn Thornton‘s water bottle squirt making headlines for a reason. Yet even that was overblown.
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