|04.18.14 at 11:59 am ET|
Every Stanley Cup playoff series got a head start on the Bruins and Red Wings. Now, on Friday night, Patrice Bergeron and the Bruins get their chance to show how ready they are after a league-best 117 points in the regular season.
“It was great to have those games and get in the mode of playoff hockey and watching it all helps to get a focus,” Bergeron said Friday morning after participating in a light optional skate before Friday’s Game 1 at TD Garden. “I was getting antsy just watching, for sure. You want to get out there, you want to get going. It’s nice that it’s finally tonight.
“I’m not rooting for anyone except us right now, so I’m just watching games and, like I said, it helps me getting focused just by watching it and being ready for tonight.”
The biggest break for the Bruins and the Red Wings is that they’ve had a full four days off since the regular season ended on Sunday.
“I think it’s good for everyone, just with the schedule we’ve had after the [Olympic] break,” Bergeron said. “It was pretty crazy so it was good everyone to get ready and now we’re looking forward to it.”
|04.18.14 at 11:44 am ET|
Matt Bartkowski was once again not on the ice Friday for the Bruins’ morning skate, meaning he has not skated at all this week. Bartkowski, who was spotted in the Bruins’ dressing room Friday after showering, may have been one of the Bruins battling the flu this week.
With Bartkowski’s status for Game 1 against the Red Wings in question (Claude Julien is not giving updates on his players), Andrej Meszaros could be called upon to play Friday night to play on the second pairing alongside Johnny Boychuk. If he is, he says he’s ready.
“Yeah, if I play, I’m ready to go,” Meszaros said Friday morning. “I can’t wait actually to start the playoffs. It should be fun.”
The Bruins acquired Meszaros, a left shot defenseman who can play both sides, at the trade deadline from the Flyers for a conditional draft pick. Assuming everyone on Boston’s back end is healthy, Meszaros would likely serve as an extra defenseman.
The fact that the Bruins’ opponent is Detroit makes the situation all the more interesting, as Meszaros had one of his worst games as a Bruin in Boston’s 3-2 loss to the Red Wings on April 2. Meszaros, who was paired with Boychuk for that contest, was a minus-2 in the game and was exposed by Detroit’s speed.
In particular, Darren Helm flew by him in the neutral zone with the B’s on the power play in the second period before Tuukka Rask stopped the shorthanded bid. He was also on the ice for Tomas Jurco’s game-tying goal in the third period.
“They’re a really, really good team,” Meszaros said. “They have a lot of skill and a lot of speed. We have to be ready for that and match their intensity. It’s going to be a fast game.
“We should have won that game, but obviously we didn’t,” he added. “We had a lot of chances. [Jimmy] Howard played way too good. You have to put pucks on net and get traffic in font and get as much traffic as we can. When you go to the net, you’ve got score goals.”
Meszaros was rotated in and out of the Bruins’ lineup down the stretch and has played 14 games with two goals and there assists for five points with the B’s. He admitted there was an adjustment when he came over, but says he’s all caught up now.
“I understand everything. Everything is fine now,” Meszaros said. “I know the system, so it’s just about execution and playing hard and playing the right way that they want me to play.”
|04.18.14 at 10:21 am ET|
Bruins forward Daniel Paille skated with defenseman Adam McQuaid prior to Friday’s morning skate, which might suggest he will not be in the lineup for Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs against the Red Wings. Paille has been out since last Saturday with what appeared to be a head injury.
The morning skate was optional, with Chris Kelly and Matt Bartkowski — neither of whom have practiced this week — among the missing. That group of absent players also included Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask, Jarome Iginla, Milan Lucic, Kevan Miller and David Krejci.
Following the skate, Claude Julien said there were “no updates” to offer on the status of his players.
Before you rule out Paille, here’s a quick conspiracy theory: Considering morning skates are non-contact, perhaps the B’s just had Paille do his work before to throw folks off the scent as to his availability. However, his skating beforehand should be taken as a sign he won’t play.
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
|04.18.14 at 9:47 am ET|
The Bruins will take on the Red Wings in Game 1 of the playoffs Friday evening at TD Garden.
“We like what we have,” Thornton said. “We said that at the deadline when people were talking about it. We like the group of guys we have. We like the room, how it’s made up, so hopefully that equates to some success here.”
Boston is favored in the matchup despite going 1-3 against the Red Wings during the regular season.
“If you start believing your own hype, it comes back to bite you sometimes,” Thornton said of the expectations for the Bruins.
Thornton added that it’s difficult to accurately predict the outcome of a hockey game.
“You put the work in and play the right way,” Thornton said. “You hope that you’re doing the right thing that will get you the win. We don’t really look at the big picture too much.
“You’re right, hockey is a sport that can go either way. Freaky things happen out there. … You just focus on playing our game and hopefully we get the win out of that.”
Following are more highlights from the interview. For more team news, visit weei.com/bruins.
On Jordan Caron: “We’ve played with him during the year. He’s a big body, good skater. He hasn’t played a whole lot of playoff games, but we have some chemistry — me and [Gregory Campbell] with him. He plays a straight-line game. It should be pretty good.”
On Chris Kelly and Daniel Paille: “They’re both really good players. They’re both really fast skaters. Their speed is a big attribute for us. I don’t know what’s going on there if they’re in or out.”
On the B’s needing hatred for the Red Wings to play at their best: “This time of year you shouldn’t need anything extra to motivate you. It’s playoffs. I think, like you said, we can play without [hatred]. If it happens, it happens. I like the way our team’s built. We can play any style game that way as far as we’re not going to get pushed around, but we’ve got a lot of skill that can play hockey, too.”
|04.17.14 at 1:04 pm ET|
Chris Kelly, Daniel Paille and Matt Bartkowski were all absent from Thursday’s practice, which puts their availability for the start of their series against the Red Wings in question. Kevan Miller, who had not practiced Tuesday or Wednesday, did return to practice.
Following the practice, Claude Julien wouldn’t rule any of the three out.
Paille has not played since leaving the team’s win over the Sabres last Saturday with what appeared to be a head injury, while Kelly sat out the last three games of the season with back spasms. Neither have practiced this week, while Bartkowski, who didn’t have any injury-related absences from games this season, has been off the ice as well. He may be dealing with the flu, as several Bruins had been sick earlier in the week.
“I don’t know that it’s official yet on any of that stuff,” Julien said. “Today was another day where we had another player, so we’ll see what tomorrow brings. It’s hard for me to start giving you my lineup when I don’t know what’s going to happen day to day. Hopefully it continues to improve, which it has this week, and we’ll go from there.”
Dennis Seidenberg skated again prior to practice Thursday, which marked at least the fourth consecutive day in which he took the ice. Seidenberg did the same routine that he had done in recent days (big laps, smaller circles in the neutral zones, shooting and moving laterally across the blueline), but added a drill in which he skated out to a cone and took a tight turn before catching a pass and turning. Tighter turns would suggest further progress as he tests what his surgically repaired right knee can handle. Video of that drill is below.
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
|04.16.14 at 10:30 pm ET|
In the interest of transparency, following is my ballot for the 2013-14 NHL awards.
Before I jump into it, I will freely admit that the votes that you see here are the ones I had in the final hours before they were due Wednesday at 7 p.m. and I changed my mind on some of them several times leading up to the deadline.
I also didn’t arrive at my votes totally by myself – nobody does – but through discussions with other writers. In particular, I discussed the various awards with two non-voters in WEEI.com’s Scott McLaughlin — one of the premier advanced stats nerds and a major help to geezers like me who see a place in the world for some of the crazy numbers out there but can’t always understand them — and the MetroWest Daily News’ Dan Cagen. The Pro Hockey Writers’ Association cut the number of voters this season down to 150, with Cagen being Exhibit A of the baby being thrown out with the bath water.
At the end of the day, any votes here you don’t like are still my fault. Also, the PHWA doesn’t vote for the Vezina Trophy or the Jack Adams, as those are determined by NHL general managers and broadcasters, respectively.
[Also, in the interest of transparency, I will admit that the first explanation I wrote was for Hart and was way too long. Given that I had other work to get to, I decided to only write out explanations for the heavy hitters (Hart, Norris and Selke). If you have any questions about any of the votes, you can find me on Twitter @DJ_Bean.]
(“To the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team”)
The Penguins led the NHL in man games lost due to injury with 429. While that was happening, Sidney Crosby was doing everything, and he finished with an NHL-best 104 points en route to leading the Penguins to the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. Points-wise, it wasn’t even close, as nobody else had 100, or even 90. Getzlaf was second with 87. Plus, it wasn’t like achieved his numbers by being surrounded by Pittsburgh’s star forwards. His third most-common linemate was Lee Stempniak.
Bergeron was a real toughie, because I believe in the eye test over stats when appropriate. I gave Jonathan Quick a Hart vote the year they won the Cup for that reason even though other players had better numbers. Yet when determining a middle-of-the pack Hart candidate who didn’t have the traditional numbers, it’s difficult to figure out where they fall. For example, I had him ahead of Seguin despite not having similar numbers, so why wouldn’t I have him ahead of Getzlaf?
|04.16.14 at 1:11 pm ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley made his weekly appearance with Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to talk about Dennis Seidenberg and the upcoming playoff series against the Red Wings. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
When Seidenberg tore his ACL last December, most assumed he was done for the season. But with Seidenberg back on the practice rink, some have speculated that he could be back at some point, including Peter Chiarelli. Brickley said if Seidenberg is going to come back, he has to come back at full strength.
“He’s just such an incredibly strong athlete that if he can look like he’s able to play and actually get up to speed and be a productive player then that would be a tough decision, but a good decision to have to make,” Brickley said. “That being said, I’m still in the camp that I just totally don’t expect it.”
Added Brickley: “I think if he’s back he’s going to play regular minutes. And I don’t think they want him in a 10-15-minute range. … If he’s in the lineup and he’s playing, he needs to be able to handle similar minutes.”
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock was the coach of the Canadian team for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, with Claude Julien his assistant. While the two shared coaching ideas and strategies during that time, Brickley doesn’t see it as an advantage for either coach.
“I don’t think we’re at any point of the season now where there are any secrets, with all the video pre-scouting that you do, with all the actual scouts that represent Detroit that have been following the Bruins over the last month or two,” Brickley said. “Everybody is well aware of how the Bruins play and everybody is well aware of how Detroit defends as well. Usually Claude Julien gets the checkmark when it comes to who’s got the better coaching when you’re comparing two teams, but this one is a pretty even matchup when it comes down to that.”
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