|06.03.11 at 7:22 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — The Bruins are three days into the Stanley Cup finals, and they’re already sick of the way it’s being perceived.
After losing Game 1 in a contest that was scoreless for all but 18.5 seconds, a couple of members of the Bruins’ first line made it clear Friday at the University of British Columbia that the press might not be giving them a fair enough shake.
“You know, it’s clear that you guys aren’t giving us much of a chance,” Milan Lucic said. “We’ve just got to do whatever we can to prove people wrong.”
The B’s top line has played against the Canucks’ second line of Ryan Kesler between Mason Raymond and Christopher Higgins. How the Bruins will deal with Kesler, a 41-goal-scorer in the regular season, has been a popular topic in the series. The series may be young, but Krejci is already sick of hearing about Kesler.
“He’s the best player in the world, right? That’s what it looks like,” Krejci said when asked about playing against Kesler. “That’s why everybody’s asking me about him. It’s not about him. Obviously, he’s a great player. He’s a really good player, but my game is to focus on my game and what I have to do, and not about other guys.”
Kesler poked a puck past Johnny Boychuk at the blue line Wednesday and hit Jannik Hansen with a pass, who then set up an easy Raffi Torres goal with Tim Thomas respecting Hansen’s shot. Krejci noted that for all the attention the second line receives, Kesler was playing with third-liners (the team was in the midst of a line change) on the game-winning goal, and that it was a closer game than he feels people are remembering.
“It was a zero-zero game all the way,” Krejci said. “You guys are making such a big deal that we lost. I mean, it could have gone either way. His line, I know he got an apple, but he was with the two other guys from another line.”
Krejci and Nathan Horton each had five shots on goal in Game 1, which tied for tops on the Bruins. Many of those shots came on the power play, but the play of the line in general was a strong point for the B’s on a night in which nobody could beat Roberto Luongo.
“It’s still good,” Krejci said. “We’d like to have over 10 shots every game, but I feel like we can maybe bring a little more to our game, especially create some chances. I don’t think we had that many great scoring chances the last game.”
Due to concerts at Rogers Arena, the home of the Canucks, the teams have had to deal with a two-day gap between Games 1 and 2. Lucic noted that he’s blocked out any chatter in that time and is focused on giving the media something positive to talk about after Saturday’s Game 2.
“Obviously we can’t control what you guys say,” Lucic said. “That’s why we try not to watch or read too much of what you guys say. For us, it’s definitely a big opportunity going into Game 2. We know we have to play better. We need to play better. We need to play the way we did prior coming into this series to give ourselves a chance to win.
“They finished first in the league, in the standings, for a reason,” he said of the Canucks. “They beat the three teams before us to get here for a reason. They’re a really good team. They beat us in Game 1 because they played better than us.”
Whether or not the media has actually been hard on the B’s, it looks like the two days off have the Bruins itching to get back on the ice in Game 2 and show that they can hang with the Canucks. For 49 minutes and just over 17 seconds, they did on Wednesday.
|06.03.11 at 4:49 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — The Bruins took the ice Friday at the University of British Columbia after not holding a regular practice on Thursday. All players were accounted for, with the exception of third goaltender Anton Khudobin. The lines looked the same as they have in previous practices, with Rich Peverley the fourth man in a gold, second-line sweater.
For now, it doesn’t look like there will be any lineup changes for Game 2, so expect Peverley to play on the fourth line and float in and out of the second line with Thornton the healthy scratch.
|06.03.11 at 4:08 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — Canucks center Manny Malhotra skated Friday at the University of British Columbia after missing recent skates in his attempt to return from an eye injury suffered in March. Both he and coach Alain Vigneault were tight-lipped about where Malhotra stands on a possible return to Vancouver’s lineup during the Stanley Cup finals.
“As I said on Saturday, it’s a day-to-day situation,” Malhotra said Friday. “From one day to the next, things have changed. I didn’t feel proper to go on the ice, so I took a couple days off.”
Vigneault would only offer that “Manny is day-to-day.” Malhotra had 11 goals and 19 assists for 30 points in the regular season.
|06.03.11 at 3:23 pm ET|
Announcer Mike “Doc” Emrick, who is calling the Stanley Cup finals for NBC and Versus, joined The Big Show Friday afternoon to offer his insight into the Bruins-Canucks series while watching injured Canucks forward Manny Malhotra practice with his team in Vancouver. To hear the interview, go the The Big Show audio on demand page.
Discussing the Bruins’ struggling power play, Emrick said: “I’m not sure that there’s a solution to this problem, or the Bruins would have had it by now. So, maybe they’re just going to have to win the way they know how to win, which I thought was the way they played in Game 1.”
Added Emrick: “This is kind of like a team in the NFL winning key games with a negative rushing yardage. You just don’t see it. But then again, this has been an exceptional team that has played really well, done a lot of things just like this. There’s nothing that says if you can win a seventh game in overtime against Montreal and not score a power-play goal in any of the seven games ‘ including overtime, when you had a power play ‘ then maybe you’re a team of destiny. We’ll know a little more after the second game.”
Touching on the controversy involving Alex Burrows‘ alleged bite of Patrice Bergeron‘s finger, Emrick questioned the league’s decision not to suspend Burrows.
“I was surprised, because I thought there was ‘ at least to the layman ‘ I thought there was adequate evidence,” he said. “And I think the thing that meant more to me than actually watching the video ‘¦ was to talk to players who were not affiliated with either Boston or Vancouver and who were retired, who know the players’ mentality. And this may seem naive, but I approached it in this way: Does he know what he’s about to do, and does he know what he’s doing when he does it? And the clear answer was yes, he does. So then, if you add that together with the video evidence, you have to say that’s suspendable.”
|06.03.11 at 2:25 pm ET|
Bruins winger Brad Marchand joined the Mut & Merloni show Friday afternoon from Vancouver, as he and his teammates prepare for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals Saturday night. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
Marchand said the Bruins are working on fixing the mistakes they made in Wednesday’s 1-0 loss in Game 1.
“We just have to clean it up a little,” he said. “We were a little sloppy in areas. We still didn’t put our best game forward, so we just have to clean up a few areas around the blue line and in our own zone.”
The Canucks are known for their skill, but they also showed a propensity for stirring up trouble in the opening game.
“There were a few cheap shots out there,” Marchand said. “I got a little rattled about that when I got speared when I was going to the bench, and I ended up taking a penalty because of it. But we do, we hate this team, they hate us. There were a lot of guys running around out there, so I think it’s only going to get worse as the series goes on. There’s no love between us right now.”
Asked how the B’s can stay away from retaliating and receiving penalties, Marchand said: “It’s tough. They’ve got a few guys over there that like to play that style, try to suck guys in. Me being an emotional guy, I’m going to be one of the guys they go after. So, I have to make sure that I just kind of skate away from it, anytime someone’s talking to me, just kind of turn my head and skate away. It’s tough, though. You want to go back, but that’s exactly what they want. We just have to skate away from everything right now and play between the whistles. If we do that, maybe we’ll frustrate them. I think that’s the biggest thing we can do.”
Canucks forward Alex Burrows appeared to bite Bruins center Patrice Bergeron‘s finger Wednesday but escaped punishment from the league.
Said Marchand: “It’s a tough situation there. I think if we weren’t in the finals, maybe it might be a different situation. But it’s tough to give a guy a suspension in the finals. There’s so much riding on the line right now. That’s a tough situation. But I don’t think you much greasier than that.”
One of Vancouver’s Green Men, an individual who goes by the name “Force,” joined The Big Show Friday and said that he was on the receiving end of a water bottle spray from Marchand while taunting the player from just outside the penalty box.
Said Marchand: “I think those guys in those green masks, they’re too ugly to show their faces in public, so they’re just trying to cover up their faces while they go to the game. ‘¦ They’re just trying to get a taste of the life. They paid a couple of grand to watch us play, so they can enjoy it.”
|06.03.11 at 7:48 am ET|
Hall of Fame center Mark Messier joined the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning to talk about the Stanley Cup finals, which continue Saturday night in Vancouver. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Messier said the Bruins can build on their performance despite losing, 1-0, in Wednesday’s Game 1.
“It might be a confidence-builder for Boston,” he said, adding, “Any time you can hold Vancouver to one goal, I think that you have to be happy. They’re not happy that they didn’t win the game; they had their opportunities as well. But overall, I don’t think either team was leaving that game deflated with the loss. Obviously, Vancouver’s more than happy that they won it. I think Boston can take some solace that they played an excellent game. With some bounces the other way there, they could have come out on top in Game 1.”
The Bruins were unable to solve Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo Wednesday, but Messier said the B’s shouldn’t be looking to try anything new Saturday.
“It would be my message to don’t change your game plan, do what we’ve always done, and let the goalie make a mistake,” he said.
Touching on the NHL’s decision not to suspend Canucks forward Alex Burrows for his apparent bite on Patrice Bergeron‘s finger, Messier indicated that he supported the league’s ruling. “I think the NHL made the right decision in that regard,” he said. “I think that Boston’s probably a little disappointed, because they would like to see Burrows out of the lineup. But in the end, nobody’s really hurt, nobody’s going to miss any games. Tough decision, but I think the right decision was made.”
|06.02.11 at 8:02 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — Biting aside, one hot-button issue to emerge from Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals was where Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas set up shop. The Vezina favorite drew a questionable tripping call on Alexandre Burrows in the second period of Wednesday’s game, which caused Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault to question Thomas’ positioning outside of the crease.
Following the game, Vigneault said one big difference between Thomas and Roberto Luongo, both of whom entered the series with nearly identical postseason numbers, is that his guy stays put.
“Our goaltender always plays in the blue, stays in his ice. Their goaltender is always out of the blue and comes into other people’s ice,” Vigneault said after Game 1. “We’re going to need a little bit of clarification there, especially when he’s initiating contact with our team. I’m sure we’ll be able to figure it out.”
If Vigneault needs clarification, he can simply go to Rule 69.4, which applies to contact outside the crease. Here is the part of that rule that would pertain to Wednesday’s play:
“A goalkeeper is not ‘fair game’ just because he is outside the goal crease. The appropriate penalty should be assessed in every case where an attacking player makes unnecessary contact with the goalkeeper. However, incidental contact will be permitted when the goalkeeper is in the act of playing the puck outside his goal crease provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such unnecessary contact.”
Thomas defended his ground Thursday when the subject was brought up during the Bruins’ media availability.
“Basically I have the right to go anywhere there’s open ice,” Thomas said. “If I’m set, I have a right to that ice. If I’m out of the paint and I’m set, I also have the right to get right-of-way to get back to the crease. That’s the way I understand it.”
That’s just what Thomas felt he was doing on the penalty taken by Burrows. As for the notion that the Canucks could need clarification on what he can and can’t do, Thomas pointed to how rare it is that he has drawn such a penalty. If the Canucks are worried about it happening often, they may be reading too far into things.
“I don’t think I’ve drawn that many penalties this playoffs,” Thomas said Thursday at the University of British Columbia. “Yesterday on the one on [Burrows], I went to make the first stop, then the puck was going off to the side. I was retreating back to the center of my net, felt resistance behind my leg, and I was actually just going with it. I was going to basically flip around, flip my body around, to be able to at least have a chance to stop that rebound that went to the side of the net.
“I didn’t know if it was my guy or their guy or who [tripped me]. I was backing up and there was something behind my leg. It sort of put me off balance.”
Bruins coach Claude Julien didn’t see reason for concern either and figured Luongo could do the same thing if he wanted.
“If he gets a chance to challenge, he challenges,” Julien said of Thomas. “The rule is pretty clear. You’re entitled to your ice. If he steps out and he’s got that ice, he’s entitled to it. That’s what he’s done through the whole process.
“Now, we all know that goaltenders are to be protected. If you’re going to say he’s out of his crease, he’s fair game, that should be the same thing behind the net. ‘¦ If he’s entitled to his ice, and he’s got it, then afterwards I don’t think people are entitled to run over those guys. If Luongo comes out of his net, he’s got his ice, it’s his, it belongs to him. The rule to me is pretty clear so I don’t see any issues there.”
Maybe Vigneault and the Bruins will have to agree to disagree, and though Thomas may have gone down a little easily on the play, the ruling seems clear enough.