|04.17.11 at 1:25 pm ET|
The most alarming part of Saturday’s no-show by the Bruins was their complete inability to pick up the emotional or physical slack left by the absence of Zdeno Chara. From the drop of the puck, the Bruins looked shell-shocked when Chara skated pregame but couldn’t go, leaving them without their best defenseman and captain.
“Well, number one you can’t every say that you didn’t miss him,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “He’s one of the best defensemen in the league and when you lose a guy like that it leaves you with a big hole. Having said that, I still think our Ds are capable of handling themselves and can definitely be better.
“And those costly goals are what we’re talking about. They have to make the other team earn their goals and I don’t think that was the case tonight. We certainly have to get better in regards to that and those kinds of mistakes and are type we can’t keep making.”
“Yeah, he’s our captain but at the same time, we all need to step up in here,” added Patrice Bergeron, the man who likely would be captain if not for Chara. “Yeah, it hurts missing “Z” but it’s playoffs and it’s adversity and it’s things we have to go through. We’re not the only team that’s missing key players. We have to find a way.”
And while Julien announced Sunday that Chara will be making the trip to Montreal for Monday’s Game 3, there’s still no guarantee he plays. Whether Chara is on the ice or not, the Bruins can’t afford to bumble and stumble like they did in the first two minutes Saturday night or their season will – for all intents and purposes – be over.
“I don’t know if it’s about making up for the loss,” Julien said. “We need to make some better decisions. We did the same thing in that first game as well. The two goals we gave up were, they are glaring mistakes, to our eyes anyway. And like I said after the first game, they’re uncharacteristic of our hockey club and we’re here talking about the same thing. So yeah, we have to correct that and we have to correct it starting next game. We have to make sure those things are eliminated from our game if we want to give ourselves a chance to win this series.”
Things like flipping the puck blindly up the middle of the neutral zone, leading to a turnover and an odd-man rush that ended in Yannick Webber‘s back-breaking goal late in the second, restoring Montreal’s two-goal cushion and crushing Boston’s comeback hopes.
“I was looking up ice,” said Seidenberg of his ill-fated transition attempt. “It seem like the boards were taken so I tried to hit Horty going through the middle. But their D stepped in front.”
Julien knows his team has one more shot Monday to redeem themselves before being put on life-support.
“It’s the best-of-seven,” Julien said. “We’ve lost the first two games. And, let’s be honest here, our team has not played at all close to the way we know we can. You can outshoot them, you can do a lot of things, but the mistakes that we have made in this series so far are very uncharacteristic of our hockey team, and we need to be better than that. If they’re going to score some goals, they need to earn them a lot more than they have. We had to work pretty hard tonight just to get that one goal, and I don’t think they had to work as hard to get theirs.
“And that’s basically the difference right now in the games, is the execution of one team, compared to the execution of the other one. I’m going to stand here and tell you that our execution isn’t good enough and it needs to be better. That’s what we have to do from here on in.”
|04.17.11 at 1:28 am ET|
The Bruins have gotten a lot of shots on goal in their series against the Canadiens — 66 through two games — but they’ve also had a lot blocked. Montreal has registered a staggering 47 blocks in its pair of wins, including 27 in Saturday night’s 3-1 triumph. By comparison, the Bruins have blocked just 21 shots in the series.
‘We have some guys who are actually really good at it,’ forward Michael Cammalleri said. ‘[Brent] Sopel and [Hal] Gill right away come to mind. Those guys are two premier shot-blockers in the NHL. They’re leading the way and other guys are feeding off that.’
Gill led all players with five blocks in Game 2, while Sopel’s seven in the two games combined are a series high. It’s not just those two, though. Fourteen of the 19 Canadiens who have dressed in the series have blocked at least one shot. At the other end of the ice, only seven Bruins have registered a block.
‘That’s what it takes to win in the playoffs,’ forward Mathieu Darche said. ‘It wasn’t only our third and fourth line guys or our D. It was everybody.’
Defenseman James Wisniewski said the Canadiens have to make sure they’re getting in shooting lanes because the Bruins are a hard team to clear away from the front of the net. If they don’t block shots, he said, there’s a chance the Bruins could tip them or prevent goalie Carey Price from seeing them.
‘That’s the type of thing that’s huge for our team,’ Wisniewski said. ‘We can’t outmuscle them in front of the net, so we have to make sure forwards get in the shooting lanes. And if it gets by our forwards, we can come out and front the puck and get the puck out of our zone.’
The Canadiens play a layered defense that has become more and more common at all levels of hockey, and that makes it even more difficult for their opponents to get shots through.
‘It’s kind of a skill,’ Wisniewski said. ‘You have to see what the forward is taking away, if he’s taking blocker or glove-side away. If he’s taking blocker, then you step out and take glove-side. So it’s kind of like a double block that we’re doing.’
Price said it requires almost constant communication between him and his defensemen and between the defensemen and the forwards to make sure guys are blocking shots and not just deflecting them or screening him.
‘There’s a lot of talk on the ice,’ Price said. ‘It’s not always easy with the noise in the building, but communication is really important.’
|04.17.11 at 12:47 am ET|
After posting the best regular-season save percentage in NHL history, Tim Thomas is having a nightmarish playoff series against the Canadiens. He allowed three goals on Saturday night, two of which came after he allowed bad rebounds in front of the net. But after Saturday’s 3-1 loss, Thomas said there is still time to salvage the series and his season with a great performance on Monday night in Game 3 at the Bell Centre, with the Bruins trailing the Eastern quarterfinal series, 2-0.
“The proof will be in the pudding,” Thomas said, adding he’s not worried about the team’s confidence. “I’m so focused on just trying to do what my job is that I’m not really thinking about that.”
Asked if the hostile crowd in Montreal will be hard to handle, Thomas said the Bruins can use it to their advantage if they can score early in Game 3.
“Well, there’s a lot of energy,” Thomas said. “If you can grab that energy and focus it in the right way it can actually help you. Winning four out of the next five games. It’s pretty simple, that’s the biggest challenge.”
Just 43 seconds into Saturday’s Game 2, the challenge got a lot harder after news that their captain wouldn’t be about to make a go of it. But Thomas said he didn’t sense panic.
“I don’t know,” Thomas said. “I’m not on the bench, I’m in goal. So I don’t really, I don’t know. I didn’t pick up that mood from the locker room, and I’m not on the bench.”
Then there were the questions about the rebounds he gave up on the second and third Montreal goals.
“Well the first one, I kicked out the perfect rebound,” Thomas said. “The second one, it went off Seidenberg’s shin pad, it was just bad luck. It just changed the angle by about three or four inches and that’s the difference between controlling the rebound easily and having there be a rebound.”
Thomas faced questions about his rough night on the rebound but also acknowledged the whole team needs to be better if they are to have a shot Monday.
“Yeah,” Thomas said. “Straight up down the line, you know? It’s easy to accept because it is. It is what it is. We’ve got our backs against the wall, and we’ll see how we respond.”
As for the one goal of offensive support in the first two games, Thomas said that’s pretty self-explanatory.
“We need to score more. We know that,” Thomas said. “You take a step back and start focusing on Monday. You don’t feel sorry for yourself, because no one else is going to feel sorry for you.”
|04.16.11 at 11:50 pm ET|
After winning Games 1 and 2 in Boston, the Canadiens have a chance to close out the series in front of their own fans if they can defend home ice and win the next two games at the Bell Centre, where they went 3-0 against the Bruins in the regular season. Just don’t expect them to be looking ahead to Game 4 and the possibility of a sweep.
‘We’re not concerned about the second game or coming back here,’ said Canadiens goalie Carey Price. ‘All we’re worried about is the next game. It’s a clichÃ©, but that’s really all we’re looking forward to, is the next day and the next game.’
Don’t expect them to spend any time celebrating their two straight road victories over their rivals, either.
‘I’ve got no time for that,’ Michael Cammalleri said. ‘Seriously. If we’re sitting here happy about that and celebrating, then we’re making a crucial mistake. The fans can be happy and our parents and our families can be happy, and good for them, but I’m dead serious. We have no time to be happy right now.’
The Canadiens know the Bruins are capable of playing better than they have in the first two games and they’re not taking anything for granted or expecting anything to come easy.
‘We’re happy with those two games, but we really can’t be satisfied,’ Mathieu Darche said. ‘It’s just going to get tougher. They’ll come to Montreal with a vengeance. We know they’re going to be better, and we’ll have to be better also.’
Price said the Canadiens also can’t get caught up in the excitement of the crowd or get down if something goes wrong.
‘We’re going to have to really maintain our composure,’ Price said. ‘I think that’s going to be the biggest thing. The crowd’s behind us and obviously there’s going to a lot of adrenaline, so we have to make sure everybody stays composed.’
The Bruins, meanwhile, aren’t getting down on themselves. They know they’ve been a good road team all season — their 24-12-5 record on the road was fifth-best in the NHL — and even though they’re down 0-2 and haven’t won in Montreal this season, they remain confident.
‘It might be a good thing for us to get there and really simplify things and get more composed than we are right now,’ Mark Recchi said. ‘We’ll be fine as long as we regroup here and as long as we embrace it and get ready for a big situation on Monday. The pressure is on us now. I believe in this group of guys and we’re going to have to go show them on Monday.’
|04.16.11 at 11:07 pm ET|
After the Bruins’ 3-1 loss to the Canadiens in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals Saturday, coach Claude Julien defended B’s captain Zdeno Chara, who did not play due to dehydration. The 6-foot-9 blueliner, who played in 81 regular-season games, went out for warmups but was not able to overcome the issues that had hospitalized him Friday.
“He came off the ice and he was sweaty, he was dizzy. There was no way in the world we could have used him tonight and played him. Absolutely no way,” Julien said. “The doctors said the same thing. I spoke to him, and even attempting to come was courageous on his part, but there was absolutely no way that he could have played tonight. It’s unfortunate. We missed him, but certainly he did the best he could to even try. To be honest with you, it wasn’t even close.”
As for Chara’s status for Monday’s Game 3, Julien said the team will “see how these next two days go,” though he did say that dehydration was not the only issue with Chara. The coach also proceeded to call out any members of the media questioning the captain.
“[Dehydration] is one of the situations, and we’re not going to comment any further than that,” Julien said. “I know that he’s been jumped on a little bit by some of the media that think they know better than anybody else, but there was no way he could play.
“You’re going to say, ‘Oh, well we don’t know the whole thing’ — I think if he could have played, he would have played tonight. He tried his best and he couldn’t play. I was disappointed that people would even question this guy for what he is and what he’s done.”
|04.16.11 at 9:47 pm ET|
By DJ Bean and Scott McLaughlin
If the Bruins weren’t feeling the pressure before Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, they should be now. A 3-1 loss to the Canadiens gives the Habs a 2-0 series lead and means the Bruins suddenly have to show they can win at the Bell Centre.
Playing without Zdeno Chara (dehydration), the B’s saw the Habs jump out to a 2-0 lead in the game’s first 2:20. Michael Cammallari put a rebound off a James Wisniewski shot past Tim Thomas 43 seconds into the game, while Mathieu Darche struck on the power play shortly after.
The Bruins did get on the board in the second period with a Patrice Bergeron tally that injected some life into the building, but after two games the B’s have been able to put just one puck past Carey Price through two games.
The Bruins played a more physical game than they did Thursday night, but were reckless at times. After a no-show from the top line in Game 1 and not enough of what Claude Julien wanted in the first two period, Claude Julien broke up the Milan Lucic – David Krejci – Nathan Horton trio by sending Horton to the third line in favor of Rich Peverley.
The B’s will play Game 3 in Montreal on Monday night. They need to get a win at the Bell Centre (where they went 0-2-1 in the regular season) either Monday or Thursday to bring the series back to Boston for a fifth game.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– For much of the game, the Bruins’ puck-movement appeared to be that of strangers in a pickup game. They repeatedly made passes that were either off the mark, intended for a player who wasn’t looking or easily intercepted by a Canadien. Boston looked particularly shaky in its own end, as the defensemen struggled to retrieve pucks in the corners and start clean breakouts. Montreal’s second goal came as the direct result of a bad Andrew Ference pass behind the net.
– Speaking of passes — and hindsight is 20/20 — but maybe the B’s should have passed on the Tomas Kaberle deal. Aside from a shot hitting the post on the power play in the second period, there was nothing encouraging about Kaberle’s night, and that’s been a pretty common occurrence. He had issues keeping the puck in the offensive zone on routine plays, but the icing on the cake came when Krejci and P.K. Subban were getting rough behind the net in the first period. With Price out of his net, Krejci sent the puck back to the point. Before any whistles were blown of Kaberle knew the play was dead, he actually passed the puck to Johnny Boychuk with a clean look (if he looked) at an empty net.
In Kaberle’s defense, he looked much better on the the power play when Subban went off for tripping Daniel Paille in the third period. Still, you really have to wonder whether the B’s will re-sign him for the money he commands after such a bad run.
– This was not Thomas’ most impressive showing. Though he came up with a big stop on a Tomas Plekanec on a second-period breakaway, the goals from Cammalleri and Weber came as the result of big rebounds. Further evidence that having the best goaltender in the playoffs doesn’t guarantee success. Thomas is human, as is Price, though the latter has two wins.
– Bad night for Dennis Seidenberg. The 29-year-old was a minus-2 on the night, while his interference penalty at 2:14 of the first gave the Habs the power play on which Darche scored.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– For at least the middle portion of the second period, the Bruins did a better job going to the net and making things difficult for Price. That culminated in their first goal of the series when Bergeron charged down the middle and tipped home a centering pass from Brad Marchand. For the next few minutes, the Bruins got traffic in front, battled for position and weren’t afraid to jam away at rebounds and harass the Montreal netminder. Had the Bruins played like that for the whole game, it might be a different story heading to Montreal for Game 3.
– Shane Hnidy fighting Wisniewski in the second period following the Habs defenseman’s charging call was brilliant. At that point in the game, Hnidy had played 2:58 to Wisniewski’s 10:00. The Bruins will send their reserve blueliner to the box any day of the week if it means a top-four defenseman on the other team is doing the same.
|04.16.11 at 7:07 pm ET|
In a surprise development, Zdeno Chara will not play in Game 2 of the Eastern Confence quarterfinals Saturday after being hospitalized with dehydration a night earlier. Shane Hnidy is in the lineup in his place.
Bruins coach Claude Julien had said Saturday morning that he expects captain Zdeno Chara to be in the lineup for Game 2.
“Until our medical staff tells us he can’t go, he’s in tonight,” Julien said.
Chara led all Bruins skaters with 25:06 of ice time on Thursday, totalling five shots on goal in the team’s 2-0 loss to the Canadiens.