|04.21.14 at 9:10 am ET|
It took exactly 72 seconds for Kevan Miller to make his presence felt in Sunday’s series-evening win over the Red Wings at TD Garden.
The hit set the tempo and immediately got the Garden crowd into a game the Bruins desperately needed on Easter Sunday.
“Happy to be able to be out there so I was excited,” Miller said. “I think as a team we kind of wanted to do that, come out early, come out on our toes. It’s always good to try and get a hit to get going early.”
Of course, Miller was just happy to be on his skates himself after the last week when a virulent stomach bug made its way through the Bruins room, also hitting fellow D-man Matt Bartkowski.
“It was tough, started earlier in the week and kind of persisted,” Miller said. “I know it was the same for a number of guys. Me and Bart seemed to have it pretty bad. Just getting fluid back in me, trying to do my best there.
“It was tough. After practice is when things really went south. Just kind of unfortunate.”
The Bruins clearly missed Miller’s physical presence in a 1-0 Game 1 loss. But after the hit on Drew Miller, Miller and the Bruins were most definitely into the flow of the game. Miller didn’t let up there.
In his next shift four minutes later, Miller took out Daniel Alfredsson. Miller had two loud, energizing hits before the Bruins even had a shot on goal.
A minute and a half later, Wings goalie Jimmy Howard decided to play a gamble and throw a puck off the side boards. It backfired when Justin Florek collected the puck, spun and fired a shot under the pads of the scrambling goalie for a 1-0 Bruins lead.
“He stepped up for us huge this year with the absence of some key D-men that we lost throughout the year, and to see him step up like he did here, and how he’s been playing throughout the year, has been great to see,” Milan Lucic said. “He’s a physical guy, he’s a real competitor, and you saw that here tonight, like you said, especially in the first five minutes.”
“Millsy, right from the start, I thought he helped set the tone with a couple of big hits, and I think they were within the first five minutes. I mean, he looks like he’s about to get hit and he still hits the other way, so he reverses and he brings a lot of energy, but he still moves the puck well and he’s a tough guy to beat but he’s just ‘ he’s a very strong competitor and it was great to have him back on the lineup and set that tone early,” added Jarome Iginla.
But perhaps no one appreciated having Miller back than captain Zdeno Chara, who was busy keeping Reilly Smith’s brother out of his face. With Miller back, Chara doesn’t have to carry the whole burden of enforcing the physical style that the Bruins needed so badly in Game 2.
“It’s nice to have him back,” Chara said. “It probably wasn’t fun for him the last few days, but I thought he handled it really well and he played a strong game.”
|04.20.14 at 8:29 pm ET|
A couple of odd things happened Sunday for Justin Florek.
His mom was in attendance for just the second time to watch him play in an NHL game and he scored a goal that was essentially an gift wrapped in an Easter basket from Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard.
With just five minutes gone in the game and the Bruins controlling the play but unable to get a shot on goal, Howard came out to play the puck about 30 feet from his goal, as he did often on Friday night in Game 1. But this time, Howard tried to play the puck to his defenseman Brendan Smith but Smith couldn’t control it and it hit off the near boards too close to the Bruins left winger.
Florek spun and fired it past a scrambling Howard, who couldn’t get back in net in time for a 1-0 Bruins lead, their first of the series.
“Yeah, it was a good present there,” Florek said. “It was good to get the team going, I think that was the biggest thing, get some momentum in the building. So that was a big start for us.”
Could Florek believe his good luck?
“No I couldn’t, but it was nice so I don’t regret it at all. It was awesome,” Florek beamed. “I thought [Howard] kind of was and I just tried to read him. So it was a lucky bounce, I think it hit the defenseman and right to my stick, so just the right spot at the right time I guess.”
“It felt great, you know, just great to get the fans into it and get everyone going, especially the team,” Florek said. “So I think it was a good start for us, and hopefully, you know carry that out through the rest of the series.
“It’s great to get confidence and everything, and to get that goal was pretty cool. But it was just great to get the team going, you know, to put up a couple of goals like that is a good win for our team.”
Florek, moments after a big hit from Kevan Miller on Daniel Alfredsson, finally made all the hard work from the Bruins in the opening minutes pay off.
“I think we came out with the kind of attitude we wanted to play with, and I think it carried throughout the whole game,” Florek said. “I mean that’s part of the game, you’ve got to always be ready. So you’re sitting on the bench you’ve just got to keep your legs loose and everything, and when you get the chance you’ve just got to be ready, so that was a big part of it.
“It was back and forth a couple of penalties to start the game there, trying to get the flow back into the game so it was good to get that goal and get everyone going.”
|04.20.14 at 8:03 pm ET|
Six power plays against. Two shots on goal. Zero goals.
That’s the line for the Bruins’ penalty kill through the first two games of the team’s first-round series against the Red Wings. After allowing one shot on two kills in Friday’s Game 1, the Bruins frustrated Detroit’s power play even more in Game 2, surrendering just one shot on four opportunities.
Boston’s penalty killers didn’t allow easy entries into the zone. They got their sticks and bodies in passing and shooting lanes. They cleared out the front of the net. They won battles along the boards. They pounced on loose pucks. And they made sure their clears went the length of the ice.
“We’re clearing it 200 feet,” Johnny Boychuk said. “It’s just determination, battling, talking, and getting the puck and clearing it.”
Perhaps the most impressive part of this PK dominance is that the Bruins are doing it without several of their regular killers. They played Game 1 without Chris Kelly, Daniel Paille, Matt Bartkowski and Kevan Miller, all of whom have been regulars in the penalty kill rotation this season. Miller returned for Game 2, but the other three remained sidelined.
David Krejci, Justin Florek, Andrej Meszaros and — in Game 1 — Corey Potter have stepped up in their stead, while Boychuk, Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Loui Eriksson and Gregory Campbell have remained penalty-killing rocks. (As an aside, Chara played a staggering 6:31 on the PK Saturday, and Boychuk wasn’t too far behind at 5:28.) Read the rest of this entry »
|04.20.14 at 7:46 pm ET|
The first half of Reilly Smith‘s season was great. The second wasn’t. In the Bruins’ Game 2 win over the Red Wings, he made the start to his playoff career a bit more encouraging than the previous three months.
With the Bruins on a first-period power play and Loui Eriksson providing his signature brand of finesse netfront work, Patrice Bergeron threw a puck on net from high in the zone. Jimmy Howard made the save but left the rebound in front with bodies galore and Smith raced through the crease and put the puck in the net to make it 2-0. The goal went on to be the game-winner, as the B’s allowed just a Luke Glendening tally in its 4-1 victory.
Bruins fans had gotten used to seeing Smith score, but needed their memory refreshed given that Smith had just two goals in the final 30 games of the season after putting up 18 in his first 52 games as a Bruin.
Smith never got ahead of himself when he was leading the Bruins in goals early in the season and was on pace to flirt with 30 goals, but his second-half struggles provided some frustration. As such, a goal in the second game of the playoffs was more than welcome.
“I was hoping it wasn’t going to take a long time in the playoffs, because it can be a little bit of a burden when you’re trying to help out the team,” Smith said after the game. “It was good to see it go in the back of the net and have that kind of opportunity early in the game.”
Smith even took it a step further, saying he didn’t want to become like Tyler Seguin and Jaromir Jagr, who scored one and no goals, respectively, last postseason for the B’s and caught some flack.
“It definitely gives you confidence, and I’m pretty sure the press in Boston, they can get on you if you’re not scoring. I’ve heard, even from Dallas, enough about Seguin and Jagr not scoring too much in the playoffs last year,” he joked. “It is good to get that one in the back of the net and kind of keep you guys off my back a little bit.”
Speaking of jokes, Smith’s brother, Brendan Smith, went after Zdeno Chara at the end of the first period Sunday. Considering that Chara is 6-foot-9 and Brendan Smith is listed at 6-foot-2 and isn’t known for being physical, the idea of a potential fight between the two players was amusing.
It turned out it was amusing for Chara as well, as the Bruins captain laughed and smiled even as the Detroit defenseman took a jab at his face.
Reilly said that he saw it from the bench and could observe that he didn’t look too worried. The Red Wings won in the exchange given that there was no fight and, with matching roughing minors, Chara missed the first two minutes of the second period, but it was still a pretty risky move on Brendan’s part.
“[Chara] wouldn’t be the first guy I’d choose in the NHL to go against,” Reilly said. “[Brendan] should probably think twice next time.”
|04.20.14 at 7:06 pm ET|
After giving up four goals on 29 shots Sunday, including a bizarre momentum-generating tally on Boston’s first goal, Jimmy Howard still feels confident going against the Bruins — that is, if the Red Wings can do one thing.
“I think we’ve got to stay out of the BS out there and just play whistle to whistle, and not worry about getting into the scrums or anything like that, and proving your manhood out there,” Howard said after the Bruins captured Game 2 Sunday, 4-1, at TD Garden.
The last part might be a word of friendly advice to teammate Brendan Smith, who got into it with Zdeno Chara at the end of the first period.
“We just have to skate, play our hockey, don’t get into their motive and get into their scrap, playing real physical,” said Howard. “We just have to get back to playing our game. We knew this was going to be a long series and they played a real solid game today.”
As for Bruins forward Reilly Smith, the brother of Brendan, he perhaps had the best perspective.
“He wouldn’t be the first guy I’d choose in the NHL to go against,” Reilly said of his brother wanting to drop the gloves with Boston’s beast. “He should probably think twice next time.”
Reilly Smith was asked if he could see the laugh and smile on Chara’s face as he prepared to square off.
“Yeah, and I don’t think Chara is too worried,” Smith said. “It’s a moot point in the entire series and the whole outcome of the game.”
Was Reilly worried about his brother’s safety?
“No, not too much,” he said. “That’s the least of my worries right now.”
|04.20.14 at 7:05 pm ET|
Matt Bartkowski, Daniel Paille and Chris Kelly will all travel to Detroit as the first-round series between the Bruins and Red Wings moves to Joe Louis Arena, B’s coach Claude Julien said after Sunday’s Game 2 win.
Bartkowski, who has been out all week with a stomach flu, practiced Saturday but the team deemed him unable to go for Game 2. Kevan Miller missed Game 1 with the same ailment but played Sunday, logging 19:18 of ice time.
“He’d only practiced yesterday quickly here and was probably not 100 percent, trying to recover from that flu, that virus that he had,” Julien said of Bartkowski. “He missed at least six days of not skating, so we didn’t think it was a wise choice to put him in just [from] watching him practice yesterday. Miller was in a different situation. He came back, practiced, missed a game, practiced. He seemed a little bit better. That was a medical kind of decision, seeing who could handle this pace tonight and was a strong enough to do that.
“As far as next game, I don’t know. I keep telling you guys that when we’re talking about a virus, it’s hard to stand here and say this guy will be in, that guy won’t be in. It really becomes a day-to-day situation.”
Paille has been out since last Saturday with what is believed to be a head injury, though he skated Friday and Saturday. Kelly, who missed the final three games of the regular season with a back issue and has not played in either of the first two games against the Red Wings, has yet to be spotted on the ice.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|04.20.14 at 5:50 pm ET|
The Bruins evened their first-round series with the Red Wings at one game apiece with a 4-1 Game 2 victory over the Red Wings Sunday at TD Garden.
After Detroit had shut out Boston in Game 1, the B’s got a pair of power play goals and scored two more at even strength. For the second straight game, Rask held the Red Wings to one goal.
Justin Florek scored the Bruins’ first goal of the series thanks to a miscue from Red Wings netminder Jimmy Howard. With the puck at about the left faceoff dot, Howard skated out and tried to send the puck up, but instead he put it off Brendan Smith, resulting in a loose puck with the net vacant. Florek threw it straight at the net for his first career playoff goal.
Reilly Smith made it 2-0 with a power play goal that came as a result of some tropically good work in front from Loui Eriksson. With Eriksson in front, Patrice Bergeron put a shot towards the net and Smith raced through in front to send it in.
The second period saw the Red Wings find their legs, and they got some momentum back when Darren Helm went around Jarome Iginla and fired a shot that went off Luke Glendening and past Tuukka Rask. Milan Lucic made up for his line’s goal against, however, taking a pass from Torey Krug in the neutral zone and capping off a give-and-go with Iginla with a shot that went off Howard’s stick and in.
Boston got some insurance in the third when Zdeno Chara buried a rebound from an Iginla shot for a power-play goal. Both Iginla and Krug had a pair of assists on the day.
The series will move to Detroit, where the B’s and Red Wings will play Games 3 and 4 at Joe Louis Arena.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Once again, the Bruins penalty kill was very strong, and it had to be Sunday. Boston had to kill off four penalties over the first two periods Sunday and held the Red Wings to just one shot on goal. That followed Friday’s effort in which the B’s held Detroit to no goals and one shot on goal on two penalty kills.
– Eriksson and Chara are both great in front of the net, but for much different reasons, and the B’s got power play goals as a result of both. Eriksson doesn’t outmuscle too many guys, but he is excellent at angling his body and providing a screen. That’s just what happened when Bergeron threw the puck on net.
Chara is obviously more tough to stop, and as such he picked up the rebound of an Iginla shot and put it past Howard.
– Reilly Smith doesn’t show much emotion too often, so you could tell his first-period goal was a long time coming for him. The goal was just his third since Jan. 28. Perhaps with more confidence will come more goals.
– The Bruins needed to battle through some of the interference that the Red Wings may have been getting away with in Game 1, and they did just that when Carl Soderberg drew a penalty on Jakub Kindl about halfway through the first period.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– The Bruins weren’t just fortunate to get out of the third period with a two-goal lead; they were fortunate to have a lead at all at that point. Lucic’s goal followed a really rough stretch for the B’s after Detroit had gotten on the board, with the Wings swarming to the puck (Dougie Hamilton had to take a so-so tripping penalty shortly beforehand to prevent a Pavel Datsyuk bid as he came out of the corner with the puck) and Boston not generating much offense. It looked like the B’s would enter the second intermission hanging on by a thread, but Lucic’s goal — which was Boston’s first shot on goal in five minutes — changed that.
– Speaking of Lucic’s goal, it brought Krejci’s line back to even after it was scored on by a bottom-six Frankenstein line of Helm, Glendening and Drew Miller. Not scoring against Riley Sheahan’s line (as was the case Friday night) is one thing, but a first line getting scored on by bottom-six players is another. Lucic’s goal came against the same trio that had scored on the Glendening goal.
– While it was hilarious to see Zdeno Chara humor Brendan Smith as the Red Wings defenseman tried to fight him at the end of the first period, it gave Detroit a chance to get the last laugh when both players were assessed roughing minors. Smith is a very important piece for the Red Wings, but they would gladly lose him for two minutes if it meant getting two minutes without having to play against Chara. It didn’t end up costing the B’s, as neither team scored during the 4-on-4.
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