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Next Stop: Vancouver — Bruins advance to Stanley Cup Finals

05.27.11 at 10:58 pm ET
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By DJ Bean and Scott McLaughlin

The Bruins have had to wait a long time since they last played in the Stanley Cup finals, so the 50-plus minutes they had to wait for their first goal in their series-clinching 1-0 Game 7 victory over the Lightning probably felt like nothing.

With the game scoreless through the first 52 minutes of the game, Nathan Horton took a feed from David Krejci at 12:27 and tipped it past Dwayne Roloson for his eighth postseason goal. It was Horton’s second series-clinching goal, as he played the hero in Game 7 of the conference quarterfinals with an overtime tally past Carey Price of the Canadiens. He became the first player ever with two Game 7 game-winners in the same postseason.

For a game with such a high billing, it did not disappoint. Both teams played an impeccable game, with Roloson and Tim Thomas and shining for their respective clubs.

The Bruins will now play in their first Stanley Cup finals since 1990, and are shooting for their first Cup since 1972. In order to get the elusive Cup, they’ll need to get past the Vancover Canucks, who led the NHL in points during the regular season and are coming off a five-game Western Conference finals victory over the Sharks.

The Bruins and Canucks met only once in the regular season, with the B’s coming away with a 3-1 win at Rogers Arena. Game 1 will be played Wednesday in Vancouver.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

– The Bruins clearly got the memo that they needed to get more pucks on Roloson, as they landed 15 shots on net in the first period after totaling just 20 in all 60 minutes of Game 6. Andrew Ference led the way with three shots on goal in a very fast-paced, high-energy first period. The team’s first-period assault on net was tied for their third-highest total of the postseason. The B’s had 18 first-period shots in Game 2 vs. the Lightning and had 16 in Game 2 vs. the Flyers.

– Good showing from Rich Peverley, whom Claude Julien decided very early on to use more. Penciled in on the fourth line, Peverley was moved around in the lineup and skated on all four lines. Peverley gave Milan Lucic the pass that set up No. 17’s first-period breakaway, which was the Bruins’ best chance early on. Roloson stopped Lucic on the play in an early sign that the Tampa goaltender had brought the good stuff.

Dennis Seidenberg blocked an incredible four shots in the first period (for comparison’s sake, no one else had more than two in the frame) and a game-high eight shots over the full 60 minutes. Two in particular stood out — one on a shot from the high slot that had a chance of beating Thomas had Seidenberg not kicked it away, and another on an odd-man rush. Friday night marked the fifth time this postseason that Seidenberg, who entered the game with a team-high 47 blocks in the playoffs, has blocked at least four shots in a game. That shouldn’t really come as a surprise given the fact that Seidenberg led the NHL in blocks two seasons ago and ranked eighth this season.

-Much has been made about Tomas Kaberle‘s play throughout these playoffs, but there’s no denying that he’s been much better these last two games. On Friday night, he broke up two quality scoring chances to keep the game scoreless. The first came in the first period when he tied up Dominic Moore on a rebound in the slot, allowing a teammate to clear the puck away. Then in the second, he lifted Steven Stamkos‘ stick on a backcheck to break up what started as a 2-on-1.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

– Horton had something going on after a collision with Blair Jones in the first period. He left the bench, came back to the bench, took a shift and left the bench again before making his return at 1:11 of the second period. He played regular shifts as the game went on and managed five shots on goal through the first two periods. Obviously, whatever the issue, he ended up contributing in a huge way.

– Roloson was on all night for Tampa, and nothing — redirections, second chance opportunities, or anything else — shook him. He came up with a pair of mammoth stops on Mark Recchi in the second period in succession to keep the B’s from getting on the board. The stat of Roloson being 7-0 in elimination games is a bit deceiving given how poorly he played in Game 6, but he proved his reputation right throughout the night. It seemed a real shame for his streak to be ended on a night in which he turned in such a stellar performance.

-The refs were clearly letting the teams play, which is good, but only to a certain extent. Regardless of the magnitude of the game, obvious penalties need to be called. That didn’t happen in the second period when Moore basically tackled Horton into the right goal post on a Bruins rush. In any other game, that would have been called without hesitation. It should’ve been called Friday night, too. Letting the ticky-tack stuff go is great, but letting guys get away with blatant interference is not.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs,

Sean Bergenheim out for Lightning in Game 7

05.27.11 at 8:01 pm ET
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Lightning forward Sean Bergenheim is out Tampa’s lineup for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals vs. the Bruins. Bergenheim missed Game 6 with an undisclosed lower body injury suffered in Game 5 of the series. Coach Guy Boucher said Friday mornign that it was “doubtful” Bergenheim would play in Game 7, though he did participate in team’s warmup prior to the game.

Prior to suffering his injury, Bergenheim’s nine goals led all postseason players. David Krejci and Martin St. Louis are tied for the lead with 10.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Sean Bergenheim,

Bruins-Lightning Live Blog: How the Bruins punched their ticket to Vancouver

05.27.11 at 7:31 pm ET
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Join DJ Bean, Mike Petraglia and plenty others from the Garden for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals between the Bruins and Lightning.

Bruins-Lightning Game 7 Live Blog

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs,

Jeremy Roenick on The Big Show: Tim Thomas needs to play better

05.27.11 at 5:34 pm ET
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Versus hockey analyst and former NHL star Jeremy Roenick joined The Big Show show Friday afternoon to talk about the decisive Eastern Conference finals Bruins-Lightning Game 7 matchup. To hear the interview, go to The Big Show audio on demand page.

Though Bruins goalie Tim Thomas will likely win the Vezina Trophy for the year’s best netminder, Roenick said he needs to improve his play for Game 7.

“I really don’€™t think he’€™s been very good in this series,” Roenick said. “I think he has to find a way to be just a little bit better, a little bit sharper. He doesn’€™t have to make saves like he did in Game 5. That was probably one of the best saves I’€™ve ever seen. But he has to find a way to keep this team, Tampa, down to two or three goals, because if he gives up another five goals, I don’€™t know if they’€™re going to be able to do anything.”

Roenick was even more critical of defenseman Tomas Kaberle, who came to Boston in trade from the Maple Leafs in February.

“He’€™s got a stick made of Jell-O,” Roenick said. “Kaberle doesn’€™t have a very good shot. He’€™s a playmaker and a very good playmaker. He shouldn’€™t be at the top putting shots on net. You should have Dennis Seidenberg up at the top pounding the puck on net, Kaberle on the side dishing the puck to the net.

“I think Kaberle played his best game maybe of the playoffs his last game. But I don’€™t think he’€™s been very good in the playoffs at all, not to mention since he’s come over from Toronto. He’€™s got to up his game another level. He hasn’€™t been in the playoffs for seven years. He’s got to show it a little bit harder tonight, but he’€™s one of those guys who can make a difference if he just makes the simple play and the right play like he has for many years, which has made him so good.”

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Read More: Jeremy Roenick, The Big Show, Thomas Kaberle, Tim Thomas

Regardless of age, Bruins know they might not get this opportunity again

05.27.11 at 2:01 pm ET
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At 19 years old, Tyler Seguin may be as close to the Stanley Cup as he’ll ever be.

Well, at least that’s a possibility. With the Bruins one game from a trip to the finals against the Canucks, the cliche of “you never know when you’ll be back” rings true.

“You know that that’s the case, but you’re going to do everything you can to seize the moment, seize the opportunity,” Seguin said after Friday’s morning skate in anticipation of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals. “Obviously it’s a great opportunity, and it could be the only conference final Game 7 I ever play in, but who can predict that? Every year you just go out, work your hardest, stay focused and see what happens.”

Soon-to-be 23-year-old Milan Lucic is in a similar boat. He said after Game 6 that Friday’s game was the biggest of his and many of his teammates’ careers, and reiterated his point on Friday. In his case, there’s even more incentive to take down the Lightning at TD Garden, as a win at home would take him to his real home in Vancouver for the finals.

“You never know what can happen in the future. You look at myself, as young as I am even, you never even know if you’ll get another chance like this,” Lucic said Friday. “Especially for myself it’s a chance where if you win a game here, you get to play in your home town for the Stanley Cup. You’ve got to go out there and have fun with no regrets, and lay it all out on the line.”

In Seguin’s case, his rookie campaign has him somewhere where many of his veteran teammates have never been. He isn’t surprised by that, but he knows he and his teammates have to make the most of it.

“Obviously, coming into this year, I knew the Bruins were a Cup-contending team, and you never can predict or know what’s going to happen,” Seguin said. “You’ve just got to take advantage of everything you have, every opportunity you have. That’s what I’m doing and that’s what the team’s doing.”

The Bruins are able to appreciate that this isn’t just any opportunity. Regardless of age, it could be the only time (or the last time) they come this close to playing for a Stanley Cup. They have perhaps the best man for getting that message across to the youngsters.

“We’ve talked a lot about it. You just don’t get that opportunity all the time,” 43-year-old Mark Recchi said. “It’s tough to get to this point in this league. It’s a hard league, and there’s a lot of parity in the league. We have a chance to grab it and run with it. It’s just something you’ve really got to enjoy.”

None of the Bruins know whether they’ll ever come this far again in their careers. Their job now is to take it further.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, 7, Mark Recchi, Milan Lucic

Bruins and Lightning taking different approaches on day of Game 7

05.27.11 at 1:33 pm ET
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There are plenty of ways a team could treat a game of Friday night’s magnitude, and the Bruins and Lightning are taking two different approaches. Claude Julien said on Thursday that he wanted his players to be excited and he wanted them to fully realize the opportunity that was in front of them. He reiterated that Friday morning.

“Our guys just have to enjoy this whole process,” Julien said. “As I mentioned yesterday, there’€™s 27 teams right now that would love to have the opportunity that we have in the playoffs right now. This is one of those days where I think if you don’€™t enjoy the moment, you’€™re wasting a pretty precious day. You take advantage of it today, you get ready, you get excited about it, you come out tonight and you leave it all out there on the ice. Simple as that. Anything less than that is a waste of a day.”

The Lightning are taking a slightly different approach. Guy Boucher is trying to rein in his team’s emotions and not get caught up in the magnitude of the game.

“I think that’s the challenge is to be able to control these emotions,” Boucher said. “We didn’t want our players or ourselves playing the game last night or this morning or this afternoon. It’s our job to make sure that we stay focused on what we’ve got to to do, not the hype of everything else that this game means.”

It will be interesting to see if one approach pays off more than the other, or if either approach even has an effect on the game. Players often say that everything goes out the window once you get into the flow of the game anyway, so it’s entirely possible that neither team’s game-day mindset will mean anything once the puck is dropped.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Claude Julien, Guy Boucher,

Ed Olczyk on M&M: Put Patrice Bergeron on top power play instead of Tomas Kaberle

05.27.11 at 1:05 pm ET
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Versus NHL analyst and former NHL center Ed Olczyk joined the Mut & Merloni show Friday to talk about the Eastern Conference finals Game 7 showdown between the Bruins and Lightning. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Olczyk made a comment during the Game 6 broadcast on Versus about Bruins coach Claude Julien needing to mix up the lines to get more consistent offense. While he acknowledged Friday, “I think Claude has pushed a lot of the right buttons,” he stood by his analysis.

“If you look at the [David] Krejci line, with them having the majority of the success at even strength, I just kind of felt at that time, when you look up at the shot [totals] and there’s not a lot of generating going on, you look to try to change it up,” he said. “You look to add a little spark somewhere.”

Olczyk also suggested making a change on the Bruins’ power play, which has struggled all postseason.

“If you are struggling ‘€” and I think at times the Bruins have done all the right things, they just haven’t been able to score,” he said. “So, the issue is, the check and balance is, do you drastically change your personnel and load up? I think for me, I think at some point if you’re going to play Big Z [Zdeno Chara] in front of the net, I think you’ve got to put Patrice Bergeron on a point on the power play if you’re not going to play him down low because you’ve got Krejci and [Nathan] Horton and Chara down there and you’ve got [Dennis] Seidenberg and [Tomas] Kaberle. I think you load up. I think you put Patrice Bergeron on a point on the power play with Dennis Seidenberg ‘€” if that’s my first unit.”

Added Olczyk: “I would suggest loading up your first-power-play unit. And Patrice Bergeron’s got to be on that first power-play unit. I just think he has that ability. He had a quiet game [Wednesday]. I think he’s been terrific since he’s come back, but he was very quiet, probably a little too quiet in Game 6. But for me, I would put Bergeron on a point with Seidenberg. I would put Kaberle on the second unit. And I would load up with Chara, Krejci and Horton on that first power-play unit. If you’re going to go down, go down with your best guys. Go down swinging.

“But if the Bruins can play well defensively, and I think they will, I think they’ll take on the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup finals.”

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Read More: Claude Julien, David Krejci, Dwayne Roloson, Ed Olczyk
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