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Bruins prepare for Game 5 vs. Canadiens

05.10.14 at 11:40 am ET
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Milan Lucic was the only absence from the Bruins’ morning skate Saturday, though different players have been kept off the ice for practices and morning skates throughout the postseason for rest’s sake.

Lucic skated Friday and was spotted in the Bruins’ dressing room after Saturday’s skate, so it’s best to assume that the player was simply taking his option, as Carl Soderberg did Thursday before playing in Game 4.

All other players were on the ice for the B’s, including Dennis Seidenberg. The veteran defenseman has still yet to take contact as he tries to work his way back from a torn ACL/MCL.

Game 5 of the second round against the Canadiens will be played Saturday night at TD Garden. The series is tied, 2-2.

 

Read More: Carl Soderberg, Dennis Seidenberg, Milan Lucic,

Matt Bartkowski: ‘I know when I play well; I know when I play bad’

05.10.14 at 12:22 am ET
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If the Bruins advance past this round, the chatter about Dennis Seidenberg will inevitably grow louder and louder. Until Seidenberg does come back — if that ever happens this postseason — the Bruins will make due with either Matt Bartkowski or Andrej Meszaros in their lineup. Both have been given their shot at points this postseason, and both have struggled to establish a stranglehold on the position.

All things considered, Bartkowski is a superior player to Meszaros. He skates better and he’s stronger, but he’s struggled since returning to the lineup after missing the first two games of the first round with the flu.

Bartkowski had rough showings in Games 4 and 5 of that series, and a Game 1 performance against the Canadiens that saw him take two penalties (the first of which was on a Dale Weise dive, the second of which was a penalty he took in double overtime), Claude Julien opted to play Meszaros over him in Games 2 and 3. Meszaros predictably struggled and saw a blocked shot of his end up going the other way for the game-winning goal in Game 3, so Bartkowski was put back in for Thursday’s Game 4.

Back and forth, in and out, and still looking to regain the form he had before he was sick. Despite being the class clown of Boston’s blueline when it comes to his sense of humor, Bartkowski is generally pretty blunt when it comes to assessing his work. As such, he doesn’t fret about whether he’ll be in the lineup from game to game.

“I mean, I kind of know if I’m going to be in or not,” Bartkowski said. “I know when I play well; I know when I play bad.”

So what did he think of Game 1?

“I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t even remember, to be honest.”

Earlier in the week, Peter Chiarelli suggested that Bartkowski had “got out of sync a little bit” after returning from the flu, but the player says he doesn’t want to use his early postseason illness as an excuse for his play of late. Since he’s been in, Bartowski said, he’s been fine physically.

“I just wasn’t playing to my potential,” he said of his play.

If he’s OK physically, he still needs to bring a sharper game to the ice. He’s been caught out of position and he’s struggled to knock guys off of pucks. At points, Bartkowski’s been more prone to taking himself out of the play than the player he’s defending.

Though neither he nor Meszaros are slam-dunks, it’s worth remembering that Bartkowski was a hesitant player early on in his NHL career because he didn’t want to make mistakes in his brief NHL stints. Knowing a bad performance means a trip to the press box might add some of those jitters Bartkowski used to face. Then again, it’s been three seasons since he’s gotten his first taste of the NHL and he has since established himself as someone who would be a regular NHL blueliner on most teams, so there’s a good enough chance he’s outgrown all of that.

Remember, it was just a year ago that Bartkowski had scored in Game 7 of the first round and went on to perform well in the second round against the Rangers with Boston’s blue line banged up. Bartkowski has shown in the past that he can play in the postseason, but the Bruins could use a reminder.

Read More: Andrej Meszaros, Johnny Boychuk, Matt Bartkowski,

Pierre McGuire on M&M: ‘Bruins really played a methodical, smart, surgical kind of game last night’

05.09.14 at 1:35 pm ET
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NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Friday to discuss the Bruins’ Game 4 overtime win against Montreal. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Matt Fraser, who played in his first playoff game on Thursday, became an unlikely hero when he scored 1:19 into overtime to give the Bruins a 1-0 win in Game 4.

“You could almost sense it coming from that line, to be perfectly honest,” McGuire said. “I made that point a lot during the broadcast. I thought both [CarlSoderberg wanted it off the crossbar, [LouiEriksson was really pushing the pace and obviously Fraser fit in really well with them. Peter Chiarelli and the scouting staff of the Bruins and Bruce Cassidy out in Providence deserve a lot of credit.

“This is a kid who was an undrafted player coming out of the Western Hockey League, and he’s part of a big trade last summer with Rich Peverley going the other way and Tyler Seguin going the other way. He fits in so well. It was just a ping-pong play off the back board.

“I thought the Bruins really played a methodical, smart, surgical kind of game last night.”

The Bruins have had just two penalties during the past two games of the series.

“I just think they’re worried about taking penalties,” McGuire said. “The Bruins win that double-overtime game in Game 1, they become more of a beast, more physical, but they went down 0-1 in the series. They knew they couldn’t go down 0-2, they had to scramble to win Game 2, they lose Game 3 and now they’re saying, ‘Uh-oh, we cannot allow these guys to get man advantages,’ so they changed a little bit of their dynamic. I also think heading into tomorrow’s game, now that it’s 2-2 and heading back to Boston, I truly believe we’ll see a more physical Bruins team, more like the Bruins team the fans in Boston are used to seeing.”

The first line has consistently struggled throughout the series with Jarome IginlaDavid Krejci and Milan Lucic combining for a total of five shots during Thursday’s game.

“Just for whatever reason, David Krejci looks a little fatigued to me,” McGuire said. “I think today maybe he gets a day off and he goes into the game tomorrow energized and he plays a little bit better, but he wasn’t managing the puck well during that game, especially during the power play. They need to be better, and I think they will be better. I think the biggest part of it was Krejci with the Olympics, with all the games he played last year, the fact that he’s not an overly large guy. I think there’s a fatigue factor with him.”

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Read More: Andrej Meszaros, Dennis Seidenberg, Dougie Hamilton, Matt Bartkowski

Shawn Thornton on D&C: ‘You focus on winning tomorrow’

05.09.14 at 11:05 am ET
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Bruins forward Shawn Thornton joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday following Thursday’s overtime win against the Canadiens in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The Bruins are 2-2 in their series with Montreal after Matt Fraser scored in overtime to give Boston a 1-0 win Thursday night. The series will return to TD Garden for Game 5 on Saturday.

“It is a three-game series,” Thornton said of the rest of the semifinals, “but I think you look at it, honestly, just as tomorrow and you focus on winning tomorrow. I think if you start looking at, ‘Oh, we’ve got to get two out of three, got to win both at home,  you just start — all focus should be on the first period tomorrow, then the second period, then the third period.

“That’s how I approach it. That’s how our team approaches it and that’s why we’ve been pretty good in the playoffs the last few years.”

The Bruins have struggled with puck luck as several of their shots have hit the post in this series.

“[It’s] eight, nine times now?” Thornton said. “Keep saying to yourself the next one’s going to go in, the next one’s going to go in, I guess. It has been a lot of ringing it off the bar. I think three last game? Carl [Soderberg], [Reilly Smith] and [Jarome Iginla] had a couple the game before. 

“You hope the hockey gods start letting those go in for you.”

The Bruins’ first line in particular has struggled to find the back of the net in the series.

“The effort’s there,” Thornton said. “It’s not like they’re just coasting around. The pucks are going to start going in for them. They’re too good for them not to.”

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Claude Julien: ‘I don’t think we’ve played our best hockey’

05.09.14 at 12:37 am ET
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MONTREAL — It was a lot easier for Claude Julien to admit the obvious after a 1-0 overtime win in Game 4 than the alternative. His team still does not look like the squad that won 54 games and the Presidents’ Trophy with 117 points.

If it weren’t for the efforts of a player just called up from Providence to bolster the third line, the Bruins could easily be looking at being down 3-1 heading into Game 5 Saturday night back at TD Garden.

But Matt Fraser saved the day and Julien was grateful, not only to the player who got 14 games under his belt this season but to his boss Peter Chiarelli, who called Fraser up in time for Game 4. What did Julien expect?

“The winning goal,” Julien quipped. “He’s been playing well lately in Providence and actually has been scoring some goals. He’s been playing some pretty good hockey and he showed that tonight. I liked his game, not because he scored but his whole game. He seemed to be strong on the puck, making some good decisions, wasn’t turning pucks over, seemed to be skating well. It was nice to see [goal] happen. The GM probably deserves the credit because he was the one who called him up. He’s a good player. We knew that. We had him for quite a while there this year. He can certainly shoot the puck and he has a knack to score some goals. In this series, we need that.”

Then Julien seemed to go back to reality, the reality that his top two lines seem stuck in the mud against Montreal’s system, giving them precious little room to maneuver in the offensive zone. David Krejci, Brad Marchand, Jarome Iginla and Patrice Bergeron have been bottled up in this series. Things were so bad that Julien tried to loosen everyone up by completely breaking up the lines in the Thursday morning skate.

“A win was important obviously to get us back in this series,” Julien said. “I don’t think we’ve played our best hockey. That’s not to downplay this win. We’ve played hard but I know I’ve seen our team play better. But you know it seems to be a process right now and we’re working through it. You hope that this win here helps us to get better anyways, and you go from there.

“There’s no doubt these guys are working hard, they care, they want to. Just because it doesn’t always go as smooth as we like it to be, what I like is we’re showing character and we’re battling through it and trying to find ways to win games.

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Read More: Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Matt Fraser, Montreal Canadiens

Matt Fraser on his Game 4 OT winner: ‘Words can’t even describe that feeling’

05.08.14 at 11:59 pm ET
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MONTREAL — Boston has a new humble hero and his name is Matt Fraser.

Just seven hours after joining the Bruins on a recall for Justin Florek, Fraser calmly stepped into the playoff fray between the B’s and the Canadiens, scoring the game-winning goal on a rebound from a Carl Soderberg shot just 79 seconds into overtime, giving the desperate Bruins a 1-0 win in Game 4 of the second-round series.

Trying to describe his emotions while recollecting the goal that pumped new life into the Bruins, Fraser sounded an extraordinarily genuine and humble tone.

“Words can’t even describe that feeling,” Fraser said. “I just watched the replay of it and, you know, I don’t even want to begin to try and explain that because that’s something I wish every kid could feel.”

What exactly does he remember about the game-winner?

“I wish I could remember,” he said. “It just happened in a blur. The puck got to the net and was bobbling around in front. I tried to sniff it out and knock it in.”

More specifically, it was Johnny Boychuk who fired a shot high off the stanchion behind the net. The puck ricocheted in front of Carey Price, who stopped all previous 34 shots. Soderberg collected the puck and put a shot on net in the low slot. Price couldn’t contain the rebound and Fraser was more than happy to jam at the puck, with some help from Canandiens defenseman Mike Weaver, and put it past Price to even the series, 2-2, heading back to Boston Saturday night for Game 5.

“As you can tell from my voice, it’s pretty exciting,” Fraser said. “I hardly slept today and I’m sure I’ll hardly sleep tonight. But at the same time, you have to keep it in perspective. This is one game. We’ve evened the series and now we have to go back to Boston and come with the same effort.

“I actually turned my phone off today. It’s just easier to focus on the game rather than talk to everyone. It’s most important that I talk to my parents. I always try to talk to them after the game. Hopefully, my dad was impressed with this one.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Carey Price, Matt Fraser, Montreal Canadiens

Matt Fraser the OT hero as Bruins even series

05.08.14 at 10:33 pm ET
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MONTREAL — Matt Fraser proved Claude Julien right for putting him in the lineup, as he scored the only goal of Game 4 to help the Bruins even their second-round series against the Canadiens with a 1-0 overtime win Thursday at the Bell Centre.

Tuukka Rask outdueled Carey Price for the Boston goaltender’s second shutout of the postseason.

Despite struggling to find space and going 0-for-2 on the power play, the Bruins got their chances throughout the night, but continued to hit posts. Carl Soderberg and Reilly Smith both fell victim to the iron, with Soderberg hitting the crossbar at the end of the first period and Smith hitting the left post during Boston’s third-period power play.

In the lineup for the B’s were Matt Bartowski and Fraser, the latter of whom was recalled on Wednesday and skated on Boston’s third line. Jordan Caron and Andrej Meszaros were both healthy scratches after playing Game 3.

Game 5 will be played Saturday night at TD Garden.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

— Rask was big for the Bruins through the first two periods. The Vezina favorite was particularly cruel to Michael Bournvial, who had numerous chances Thursday. Bournival’s best bid came in the first period off a Brad Marchand turnover in the Bruins zone, but Rask stopped that, as well as a shot from the Montreal forward in the second period and a high shot in the third.

That wasn’t all. After the Bruins dominated the first five minutes of the second period, the B’s netminder came up with a big save on a Lars Eller tip. Later in that shift, Brian Gionta missed the puck on the doorstep off a rebound of an Eller shot. Read the rest of this entry »

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