|06.17.13 at 1:09 pm ET|
Chicago sportswriters realized over the weekend what Bruins fans have known for quite some time: Tuukka Rask is really, really good.
Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune writes that Rask has been the Bruins’ 'saving grace,' his 1.73 goals-against average and .944 save percentage in the playoffs a huge reason the Bruins have gotten this far. She credits Rask, who collected 33 saves Saturday's Game 2 overtime win, with preventing the game from 'spinning wildly out of the Bruins' control.'
Count Tyler Seguin among those appreciative of the netminder's performance.
'He shows on a consistent basis why we have so much confidence in him, but he also gives us more motivation to do it for him sometimes,” Seguin said. “Especially if you look at [Saturday's] game, it could have been 4-0 or 5-0 after the first. We weren’t ready. We were on our heels, and they were playing great. He kept us in the game.”
Kane quotes Rask, however, as staying his usual, humble ' albeit tired after not sleeping much Saturday night ' self.
“I don’t try to prove anything to anybody else but for myself and my teammates,” Rask said. “I always feel like I’m in a zone. '¦ It's nothing different. It’s just another game.'
|06.17.13 at 1:04 pm ET|
Two years ago, home-ice advantage was the second-biggest factor in the Stanley Cup finals, just behind having a sane goaltender.
After the Canucks took the first two games of the Stanley Cup finals with wins that were decided in the final seconds, the Bruins came back to Boston and blew Vancouver out by a combined score of 12-1. They won all three home games that series by a combined score of 17-3 before finally winning a road game in Vancouver in Game 7. Dennis Seidenberg remembers the atmosphere of the Garden being “crazy” for those games.
It obviously won’t be that way this time around. For starters, the first two games were split, although they did come down to the wire, just like Games 1 and 2 in Vancouver. The idea of the Bruins torching the Blackhawks in blowout wins like they did the Canucks now that they’re at home? You shouldn’t bet on that either. The Blackhawks are far too defensively sound a team for that to happen, so the Bruins should expect these games to remain close. Maybe they won’t go into overtime every night, but this series has been something of a stalemate.
“Who knows?” Seidenberg said of games being closer in this series than the last time they were in the Cup finals. “It’s tough to predict what’s going to happen tonight, but we have to focus on our game. We have to come out a little better than we did and we’ll see what happens.”
The argument can be made that it took Aaron Rome‘s hit on Nathan Horton to fire up the Bruins with them trailing by two games, as Game 3 was scoreless in the first period. Then Horton went down, and after the Bruins lifelessly struggled to get anything going on their five-minute power play, they came out after the intermission and scored 11 seconds into the second period.
The B’s can only hope that they don’t need an injury to get them into this game, as they were fortunate to escape Saturday’s Game 2 against the Blackhawks with a victory given that they weren’t into it early on.
|06.17.13 at 10:53 am ET|
The Bruins sported the same lines in Monday’s morning skate as they did in the second half of Saturday’s Game 2 win against the Blackhawks.
The third line remains Chris Kelly between Daniel Paille and Tyler Seguin, while the team’s fourth line of Rich Peverley between Kaspars Daugavins and Shawn Thornton likely won’t be used much. Though the B’s are a team that rolled four lines throughout the regular season, expect more of a three-line rotation for the majority of this series.
Lucic – Krejci – Horton
Marchand – Bergeron – Jagr
Paille – Kelly – Seguin
Daugavins – Peverley – Thornton
Chara – Seidenberg
Ference – Boychuk
Krug – McQuaid
Thornton, who played just 4:56 in Saturday’s overtime win, was on D&C (with M) Monday and had a great quote about the lines.
“When I’m with Paille and Kells it’s the fourth line,” Thornton said. “When Segs is with them it’s the third line. I don’t understand how that works.”
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|06.17.13 at 9:50 am ET|
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning to talk about the Stanley Cup finals leading into Monday night’s Game 3 at TD Garden.
The Bruins were outshot 19-4 in the first period of Saturday night’s Game 2, but some inspiring words in the locker room got the B’s motivated and they responded with a 2-1 overtime win. Thornton wouldn’t reveal which players led the talk, but he said the feeling in the room was mutual.
“We knew we were not good enough,” he said. “But we also brought up the fact that even though we were terrible, that was probably as good as they were going to be be, and maybe as bad as we were going to be, that Tuukka [Rask] gave us a chance to only be down 1-0. If we could regroup, then we could get things going.”
Thornton said while the Bruins started slow, the Blackhawks deserve some credit for dominating the opening 20 minutes.
“I don’t have a reasoning for [the slow start]. All I can say is it wasn’t good enough, and we can’t let it happen again,” Thornton said. “Give them credit, though. They came out flying. They were ready from the drop of the puck. They really pushed the pace. We’re fortunate to have [Rask] in there backstopping. If it wasn’t for him, it would have been a lot different.”
Pressed as to why the Bruins came out so flat, Thornton said: “I have no idea. My only thought is maybe it took 20 minutes for guys to get their legs underneath them after the long game [Wednesday]. But I don’t want to sound like excuses, because there isn’t. I have no idea why everyone wasn’t ready to go right from the drop of the puck. There’s no excuse for it.”
Thornton said he expects a stronger start in Game 3.
“It better be,” he said. “We’re at home, we should be able to feed off our crowd and be ready to go for the drop of the puck. The good news is it’s an 8 o’clock game [the first two games started at 7 p.m. Chicago time]. Last time we didn’t show up ’til 8.”
|06.17.13 at 9:26 am ET|
Don Cherry joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning, and the CBC Hockey Night in Canada analyst said he is sticking with his pick of the Bruins to win it all against the Blackhawks.
'They are going to win the Cup,' Cherry said point-blank. 'I picked Boston all the way through.”
'It's funny how the Bruins can turn it on like that,' he added, referencing the Bruins seemingly flipping a switch in the middle of Game 2 Saturday night. 'It was like how it was against Toronto [in Game 7]. 'Oh, 4-1? We're going to turn it on for about 15 minutes.' And that's what they did in the overtime. If Chicago plays like they did in the overtime, it's not going to go long.”
Part of that, the former Bruins coach said, was the result of the B's consistently physical play, particularly after the first period.
'A few [Blackhawks] guys are hearing footsteps '¦ and the defense gets rid of the puck early,' Cherry said. 'Instead of taking their time a little, they know guys like [Milan] Lucic are coming, that little shot’s coming, and they get rid of the puck early.”
Cherry acknowledged that both goalies, Tuukka Rask and Corey Crawford, have been playing superbly, and he doesn't expect any blowouts in either direction.
'Timmy Thomas did play great — I'm not putting him down — but Rask is unbelievable,' Cherry said. 'He is in a zone right now.”
Cherry also spoke highly of Tyler Seguin, saying he fully expects the young forward to start producing more soon. The key is giving Seguin, in the form of ice time and confidence, the opportunity to succeed. Now that that is starting to happen again, the puck should start to fall.
'When you don't play, you're not going to be anything,' Cherry said. 'He was taken off the line when [Jaromir] Jagr came. How would I handle him? I'd play him to death. And when you play him to death, he'd come through for you.'
|06.16.13 at 8:47 pm ET|
The Blackhawks know they aren’t the NHL’s most physical team — both coach Joel Quenneville and defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson acknowledged the fact on Sunday. Whether or not that played a role in the Bruins’ comeback win in Game 2 is harder to determine, but Quenneville said it’s a possibility.
“It’s hard to gauge,” Quenneville said. “I know you look at the hit sheet game to game, and I think we’re always on the underside of it by whatever number or margin. You’ve got certain guys that are more physical than others. I think we’ve got to be harder to play against than we were last night.”
The recorded number of hits the Bruins had compared to the Blackhawks isn’t particularly significant, given that hits can be measured differently in every venue. But as the Bruins worked their way back from a flat first period, outmuscling their opponents for loose pucks and seeing their hardest hitters — like Milan Lucic, who saw more time on the ice than any Bruins forward except David Krejci — play their hard-nosed style helped them even out the game.
The Blackhawks have faced teams known for their physicality before in this postseason, most notably the Kings. Quenneville said they’ve responded to the Bruins’ big hits much the same way they did to Los Angeles’.
“As long as we’re not deterred in where we have to travel to be successful, is something we’ll talk about,” Quenneville said. “L.A. is a physical team. Boston, they’re a big team. At the same time, we can’t get distracted knowing if we get out-hit, it makes a difference. Our guys have to travel, whether it’s to the net or first to pucks, we’ve got to be there.”
Defenseman Duncan Keith agreed, saying he thought the problems came when the Blackhawks were outworked in puck battles.
|06.16.13 at 5:58 pm ET|
There were plenty of sideline coaches suggesting Torey Krug sit Game 2 out after his gaffe in Game 1 that led to Chicago’s second goal and gave the Blackhawks momentum to begin their comeback.
But not Claude Julien.
He stuck with his talented rookie defenseman. And all the justification he needed from Krug was provided early in Game 2.
“Extremely well,” Julien said when asked how he thought Krug handled Game 2. “He didn’t lose any confidence. Again, you look at last night, he pushed the puck up the middle again, was able to come back, nothing came out of it. But, you know, his game continued to go in the right direction.”
“I thought I did play my game pretty well in Game 2, jumping up on the ice when I could, clearing the puck a little bit better,” Krug said. “Basically, there are still some things I can fix but I felt very confident, especially in overtime. We were up in the offensive zone a little bit more than we were the whole game. I felt a lot better.”
The irony is that Krug didn’t lean on a fellow defenseman for support after Game 1. It came from Patrice Bergeron, a forward, and given his propensity for offense, maybe that’s appropriate.
“He’s got the same routine every game,” Krug said. “I have never seen him play a bad game, but if he is having a bad game, I don't think he changes anything up so that's important in being a professional. He always goes about his business. He is an unbelievable leader and he does the little things that's what's amazing about him. Read the rest of this entry »