|05.11.14 at 11:10 pm ET|
It isn’t just because the Bruins have a 3-2 lead in the series, but they have plenty reason to be confident in themselves right now.
With two chances to close out the Habs, the B’s are playing their best hockey of the series. The first two games of the series saw them have to rely on third-period comebacks to allow them to split the games at the Garden, while Game 3 saw them make far too many mistakes in a 4-2 loss. Yet the last two games have seen them turn a corner of playing sound defensive hockey while managing to get offense both on the power play and an increasingly strong third line.
‘I like the way we’ve gotten better as a team. I like that we’ve progressively improved our game,’ Gregory Campbell said Sunday. ‘We’ve been fairly strong mentally. Montreal’s a tough place to play and we were down 2-1, but we fought our way back and put ourselves in a good position.’
Bruins players seemed to be in agreement that Saturday’s 4-2 victory in Game 5 was their best game of the series. That game saw their power play break through with a pair of goals, while the fact that they got on the board early and built a 3-0 lead allowed them to play all but the first 13:19 with a lead.
“We had a solid game last game,” Matt Bartkowski said. “We had a good start and had the lead for once, which was nice. I think we played a pretty complete game. I said that before the game, if we play a full 60 minutes, we don’t really give them much and we’re fine.”
The Bruins didn’t give the Habs much in Game 5. After shutting out Montreal in Game 4 to even the series, the B’s kept the Habs quiet in five-on-five play, with Montreal’s only goals coming in the form of power play tallies, the second of which was a six-on-four goal with Carey Price pulled with 2:29 remaining.
Whether Game 6 sees as few penalties as the first two in Montreal did (the B’s took two penalties) remains to be seen, but if the refs lay off the whistles it will be advantageous to the Bruins. Boston is the better five-on-five team anyway, but the way the B’s have silenced Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais (thanks largely to Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron) has made up for the lack of offense out of David Krejci‘s line and left Montreal looking for answers.
With the Bruins having found their way and the Canadiens struggling to find a way to beat Tuukka Rask, the best thing the Canadiens have going for them in Game 6 is the fact that it’s at the Bell Centre. Remember, the last time the Bruins had a 3-2 series lead and the opportunity to end the series in Montreal, they couldn’t do it. The roster is plenty different from that 2011 team, but it doesn’t take a genius to know that closing out the Habs at the Bell Centre won’t come easy.
“Our biggest focus right now is to close out the series as fast as we can,” Reilly Smith said. “You don’t want to give a team like Montreal time to linger around because anything can happen in games and their goalie’s been pretty hot. If you give them a chance to shut you out, he’ll definitely do that. We’re going into the Bell Centre trying to [win]. That’s definitely our main focus.”
|05.11.14 at 11:21 am ET|
Thornton squirted Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban with a water bottle at least once during the game, with Subban complaining to the official and yelling at Thornton after the second occurrence in the final minute of the game.
“With Thorty, I don’t know if it was him, but somebody had squirted water twice at the end of the game there,” Subban said after the Bruins’ 4-2 win. “Hit me in the visor. I couldn’t even see the last minute and a half out there. I was pretty upset about that.”
After the fine was handed down, Thornton spoke to the media about it, taking no questions. Thornton seemed irked by the life the story has taken on and didn’t sound overly apologetic.
“I obviously got caught up in the moment. I’ll pay the fine. We obviously agree with what the league does there. I’ll pay the fine and move on. I’m sorry that the silly incident kind of overshadowed how my teammates played and the great win and how good the series has been.
“I think that there are definitely more important things to be focusing on. I got caught up in the moment. I probably shouldn’t have done that. I’ll move on, get ready for Game 6, pay the fine, and hopefully have a good showing.”
Claude Julien said Sunday morning that upon seeing the video of Thornton squirting Subban, he gave Thornton a talking to. Julien also made clear that he doesn’t support such behavior.
“As a coach, you always want to support your players, but there are certain things you can’t support,” Julien said. “I don’t think I can support Shawn on those actions. To me, I don’t think we like seeing our players do that. Whether he got caught up in the game or whatever, to me, he’s got to own up to it. That’s all I’m going to say about it.”
The fine was the maximum possible for unsportsmanlike conduct under the current CBA.
It’s been a costly season for Thornton, who forfeited approximately $84,615.45 earlier in the season during his 15-game suspension that stemmed from his Dec. 7 incident with Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik. This season is the first in which Thornton has made over $1 million, as he signed a two-year contract that would pay him $1.1 million both last season and this season, but he lost somewhere in the neighborhood of $456,000 during last season’s lockout.
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|05.11.14 at 8:33 am ET|
Keep it simple.
It’s a time-tested cliche in sports and the Bruins third line is proving that it’s also a very effective way to finally get through the Canadiens’ wall of defense and establish the style of play needed to advance.
Loui Eriksson and Carl Soderberg each had a goal and an assist while Matt Fraser added an assist to help the Bruins build a 3-0 lead on their way to a 4-2 win Saturday night in Game 5 of their best-of-seven series against the Canadiens at TD Garden.
The third line was responsible for the only goal of Game 4 as Fraser scored within the first two minutes of overtime on a rebound from a shot by Soderberg. Since being down 2-1, the Bruins re-worked third line has single-handedly turned the Canadiens and the series around.
“We’re playing really good. We’re playing smart and simple and making good plays and we’re getting some really good chances out there. So, it definitely feels good. We have to keep doing that,” Eriksson said. “I thought in the game the other night we played really well, too. It was nice that we kept going in this game and I thought we played a really good game. So, it was definitely nice.”
“We are pretty good team to play with a league and they are, too,” said Soderberg, who was wearing the winner’s jacket on the dais postgame. “So I think in four of five games, the first goal scorers have won the game. It’s always important, especially in the second and third.”
Since Chris Kelly went down late in the regular season, the Bruins have been searching for an answer on the third line. They tried Justin Florek, who had a measure of success against the Red Wings in the opening round. But before Game 4 in Montreal, Peter Chiarelli decided to call up Fraser, who along with Reilly Smith and Eriksson, is yet another product of the Tyler Seguin trade.
“Yeah, I play with whoever Coach [Julien] wants to play with me. But right now since Fraz [Matt Fraser] came in and he scored the game winner last game and it seems like he is fitting in pretty well with our line. Loui [Eriksson] and I, I think we have played good the whole playoffs but we haven’t scored so it is a good both of us scored,” Soderberg said of the line chemistry.
“It always takes [time] — with [Chris] Kelly we had before, it took like 10 games, 15 games to get the chemistry together but then it was all set. Loui [Eriksson] and I had that chemistry for a long time and now we have changed the third guy in our line and, I don’t know. It seems like Fras [Matt Fraser] is a pretty good option there.
|05.11.14 at 7:00 am ET|
With a little more than 10 minutes remaining in Saturday’s Game 5, and with the Bruins leading 3-1, Max Pacioretty appeared to have his chance. He grabbed the puck just inside his own blue line and turned up ice. The Bruins were in the middle of a change, and he had an open lane down the left wing — the opposite side of the ice as the Bruins bench.
Unfortunately for Pacioretty, the first guy over the boards was Patrice Bergeron. The Selke Trophy favorite made a beeline for Pacioretty, and within a matter of seconds, all that space Pacioretty appeared to have was gone. He was forced to settle for a long snap shot that Tuukka Rask kicked right to Bergeron.
Then Bergeron did what he’s done all series, and all season. He turned up ice, led a rush through the neutral zone, and helped set up an offensive-zone cycle with linemates Brad Marchand and Reilly Smith. Pacioretty and his linemates — David Desharnais and Brendan Gallagher — didn’t sniff the Bruins zone the rest of the shift.
That shift perfectly encapsulated what Bergeron and his linemates do so well. They’re often called a shutdown line, especially in the playoffs. You hear about how they “take away time and space” and “keep guys to the outside.” Bergeron did both of those within the first five seconds of that shift.
What you don’t always hear enough about is what the trio did over the next 30 seconds of that shift. They don’t give up second and third chances. They get the puck and flip the ice. They cycle. They attack. They possess the puck and pin their opponents deep in their own zone.
In football, you often hear the cliche “The best defense is a good offense.” The idea is that if your offense keeps getting first downs and holds onto the ball, the other team’s offense can’t get on the field. The same applies in hockey.
Bergeron and his linemates shut down top offensive players, like Pacioretty, by not allowing them to have the puck. Yes, they’re also great at defending when those guys do get the puck, but they’re most effective when they’re able to keep those guys about 175 feet away from the Boston net. Read the rest of this entry »
|05.11.14 at 6:37 am ET|
WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and DJ Bean review the domination displayed by the Bruins Saturday night in their 4-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens, giving them a 3-2 series lead. The Bruins can wrap up the series with a win in Game 6 Monday night in Montreal.
|05.10.14 at 11:36 pm ET|
Johnny Boychuk remembers Game 7 of the 2011 first round run to the Stanley Cup championship very, very well. The Bruins led 3-2 late in Game 7 when the P.K. Subban tied the game late on a power play goal. The Bruins escaped when Nathan Horton scored in overtime as the Bruins won the first of three Game 7 showdowns that spring.
After winning Game 5 Saturday night, 4-2, the Bruins are in the same position they were in three years ago, leading 3-2 heading up to Montreal for a potential closeout in Game 6. He’d like to avoid that scenario repeating itself. But more than just the convenience and rest that comes with closing out a series before the limit, Boychuk feels the Bruins need to win Monday night to advance.
“I mean, it’s basically a must-win game,” Boychuk said Saturday night. “You can’t sugarcoat it. It’s going to be a tough game. We have to battle hard and they’re a great team. We have to be prepared for everything. They’re going to be putting everything on the line and we shouldn’t be expecting anything less because they are a good team and we better be prepared.”
It was Boychuk’s drive to the stanchion behind Carey Price in overtime of Game 4 that set up Carl Soderberg to put a shot on net. That shot wasn’t controlled and Matt Fraser scored the game-winner. As it stands now, that is the pivotal sequence of the series. And Boychuk knows the Bruins were fortunate to get that bounce that put them in the position to come back to Boston and take a series lead, which they accomplished Saturday night.
“It was 0-0 for the whole game,” Boychuk said of Game 4. “I mean nobody made too many mistakes and it was a lucky bounce and we had to play that way, because we didn’t want to come back obviously 3-1 to Boston instead now we are going to Montreal 3-2.
“They’re better chances, but you can’t count them out. We’ve been in situations before and we might of taken a team lightly, but you can never take this team lightly because they are a great team and you have to respect them.”
The Bruins lost Game 6 in 2011 by a 2-1 count before escaping in Game 7. Again, it is the memory of that series that was fresh in Boychuk’s mind after Saturday’s game.
“We have to keep going like that,” he said. “You can’t give them a chance to get into it and build momentum for them. They’re a good team and if you give them a chance they are going to burn you.”
What made Boychuk most pleased is that the Bruins came out and took it to the Canadiens from the opening puck drop.
“I mean we just played the way we should be playing,” Boychuk said. “Before we were trying to do things that were uncharacteristic and we knew that. We have to play our game in order for us to succeed or have a chance to win.”
“I mean that’s our game. I mean once we start trying to do things that we’re not used to doing it usually turns out bad. We know that and whenever we did today or any game it turns out bad and if we minimize those we have a better chance of winning.”
|05.10.14 at 11:03 pm ET|
It had been three games since the did-he-duck controversy involving P.K. Subban and Shawn Thornton, which means we were way overdue.
The flames were stoked again in Game 5, as Subban accused Thornton of squirting water at him late in the game. With less than a minute to go in the Bruins’ 4-2 win, Subban circled back to the Bruins’ bench after a whistle and confronted Thornton. NBC’s Pierre McGuire, who was sitting one seat over between the benches, reported on the broadcast that Subban said Thornton squirted him in the face.
Subban elaborated when asked about the incident after the game.
“With Thorty, I don’t know if it was him, but somebody had squirted water twice at the end of the game there,” Subban said. “Hit me in the visor. I couldn’t even see the last minute and a half out there. I was pretty upset about that.”
Subban insisted he didn’t want the incident to become a big story, but nonetheless noted that it would be if the roles were reversed.
“I’m sure if that was me that did it, it would be a different story,” Subban said. “Probably be on the news for the next three days. But I don’t expect that to be a story. Whatever it takes to win, right?”
Thornton was not made available to the media after the game, while Bruins coach Claude Julien said he didn’t see the incident.
“I didn’t see that,” Julien said. “I’ve heard the same thing about that. I certainly don’t support those kinds of things, but I didn’t see it, so I can’t comment more than that.”
Here is video of the whole incident:
And here is a GIF (via @myregularface on Twitter) in which you can briefly see the water, although it’s unclear if it actually hits Subban in the face:
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