|05.15.14 at 12:25 am ET|
Patrice Bergeron stood in front of his locker and searched for the words that never really came. How did the Bruins lay such an egg in Game 7 with their 54-win, 117-point season in the balance?
“You can’t really, there’s no words to explain it,” Bergeron said. “Obviously got to give them credit, but we didn’t execute and we didn’t score the goals that we needed to get the momentum or whatever.”
From the moment the Canadiens’ Dale Weise took a pass from Danny Briere and beat Tuukka Rask, with Matt Bartkowski looking on, the Bruins looked demoralized.
“That first goal definitely sucked the energy out of us and it was hard to get it back,” Bergeron said. “We had some shifts that we did, but again, all in all, when we had some good chances they scored that second goal again. And bottom line, we’ve got to execute and score. Like I just said, we’ve got to definitely give them some credit where they deserve it, but we’ve got to be better.
“I don’t know if it was nerves, I think we’ve been there before, but yeah, definitely not the start that we needed. And that goal definitely took that energy out of us.”
|05.14.14 at 11:37 pm ET|
Technically speaking, Jarome Iginla has gotten closer to the Stanley Cup than this. In 2004, his Flames made it all the way to Game 7 of the Cup finals before falling to the Lightning. Last year, his Penguins got to the conference finals before getting swept by the Bruins — the same B’s he had spurned at the trade deadline when he elected to go to Pittsburgh.
Perhaps because he realized that decision was a mistake, or maybe just because Boston gave him the best offer, Iginla decided to sign a one-year deal with the Bruins over the summer. The future Hall of Famer believed the B’s gave him the best chance to win his first Cup.
The Bruins didn’t get to play for the Cup. They didn’t even reach the conference finals. But Iginla still feels this was as good a chance as he’s ever had.
“This year’s been a lot of fun. It’s been great being here with these guys,” Iginla said. “It’s the best chance that I’ve had with a group. It’s very hard to take.”
Iginla posted 30 goals and 31 assists in the regular season, marking the 12th straight non-lockout season in which he’s reached 30 goals. He started slow in the playoffs, but wound up finishing with a team-high five goals in 12 games, including the Bruins’ lone goal in Wednesday’s Game 7 loss.
It remains to be seen whether or not Iginla will re-sign with the Bruins, but based on his production and how his teammates and coaches talk about him, you would have to figure that’s something the B’s would be interested in doing.
“He had a good year. Thirty goals again. Those 30-goal scorers are hard to find,” Claude Julien said. “Certainly he scored some goals for us in the playoffs as well. He gave us some life there in the second period [Wednesday night].
“He’s an unbelievable player, but also an unbelievable person. He was great. He fit in beautifully in our room, with our players. He was a real important part of the success that we had.”
|05.14.14 at 10:43 pm ET|
No one was more furious with Canadiens playing the disrespect card after a 3-1 Game 7 win over the Bruins than Milan Lucic. Then again, the Canadiens weren’t exactly happy with Lucic. Specifically, Habs forward Dale Weise said that Lucic was threatening players in the handshake line.
Weise says Lucic threatened him in the handshake and said something similarly threatening to Emelin. Emotional series ends with tough words.
‘ Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) May 15, 2014
Lucic was as upset with Weise sharing their exchange with the media.
“That’s said on the ice, so it’ll stay on the ice,” Lucic said. “So if he wants to be a baby about it, he can make it public.”
The Canadiens had said over the last two days that they felt disrespected by the Bruins throughout the series. Boston celebrated goals with a chest-pound — something Claude Julien said after the series was meant to be a “Boston Strong” gesture — while Shawn Thornton squirted P.K. Subban with a water bottle at the end of Game 5.
The Bruins were confused by the Habs’ overuse of the word “disrespect,” but Lucic was furious.
“Disrespect? I don’t know what they’re talking about,” Lucic vented. “Disrespect? Having a goal celebration, what kind of disrespect is that? I’m not going to say anything. I’ve got nothing to say about that.”
|05.14.14 at 9:49 pm ET|
The Presidents’ Trophy will have to do, as the Bruins were eliminated in the second round by the Canadiens Wednesday night. The Canadiens started stronger and finished better as they upset the No. 1 seeded Bruins by taking a 3-1 victory in the winner-take-all Game 7.
The Bruins had a nightmare of a first period, turning the puck over seven times and seeing Dale Weise sneak behind Matt Bartkowski and tap a pass from Daniel Briere past Tuukka Rask just 2:18 into the game. The Bruins were dominated throughout the first 20 minutes but survived — including the killing off of two penalties — having just allowed the one goal.
Brad Marchand was penalized for spraying Carey Price on the first shift of the second period, so the Bruins didn’t get a chance to push back until they killed off the minor penalty. That push came about four minutes into the period, but their best chances fell short as Price stopped Patrice Bergeron on a two-on-one and David Krejci shot the puck over the net after taking a drop pass from Jarome Iginla.
Boston’s push would prove to be for naught, as a collection of breakdowns led to David Desharnais feeding Max Pacioretty alone at the right circle and Pacioretty send the puck past a diving Rask to make it 2-0.
Though the Bruins had only one shot on a power play that they received less than two minutes later, they got another chance when Pacioretty was whistled for holding the stick at 16:05 and they capitalized when Jarome Iginla redirected a Torey Krug shot past Price to get the Bruins on the board.
The Bruins were forced to kill off a David Krejci holding the stick penalty late in the second period, which carried over into the first 1:14 of the third period. Iginla hit yet another post on a chance to tie the game about four and a half minutes into the third period. Iginla had plenty of space after getting the rebound of a Krejci shot, but his sliding bid hit the right post to contribute to Boston’s double-digit post count for the series.
The backbreaker came in the final five minutes, when Johnny Boychuk took an interference penalty in the neutral zone following a Krejci giveaway in the offensive zone. That led to a power play goal that saw a puck from Briere go off Zdeno Chara‘s skate and in to make it 3-1 with 2:53 remaining.
The Canadiens will advance to play the Rangers in the Eastern Conference finals. The Bruins will have the offseason to mull a promising season that ended short of expectations.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS Read the rest of this entry »
|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.”
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