|05.25.11 at 10:28 am ET|
NESN hockey analyst Andy Brickley joined the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning to offer his views on the Eastern Conference finals. The Bruins are in Tampa for Game 6 Wednesday night, holding a 3-2 series lead. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
“I think the Bruins have the edge,” Brickley said. “I guess there’s a piece of them that says, ‘Look, even if we don’t win this game, we still have Game 7. We play it on home ice. We know that we’ve beaten this team three times. We’re confident. We’re coming off a victory. We’ve shown that we’re a bigger, more physical, stronger team when we execute the way we’re supposed to play. We felt that we were a deeper more balanced team coming into this playoff series.’
“So, I think the advantage goes to Boston. They feel they have another level to their game that they haven’t reached yet. They really haven’t put together that proverbial, perfect 60 minutes. They feel that if they do that, there won’t be a Game 7.”
However, Brickley predicts there will be another game in this series Friday night. “I originally said it was going to be Boston in seven … and I’m going to stand by that,” he said. “I like Boston tonight, I think they’re going to play well. But I expect to get Tampa’s best game of this series.”
Lightning coach Guy Boucher will return Dwayne Roloson to goal after giving him a break in Game 5. Brickley said he agrees with Roloson starting. “I was more surprised that he actually played Mike Smith, to be honest with you,” Brickley said. “As well as Smith has played in this series, I felt that that trust between GM, coach and goaltender when they acquired Roloson was for this purpose, was to play the biggest games, the biggest moments. I thought last game was one, and certainly tonight is another.”
|05.25.11 at 7:56 am ET|
Legendary Bruins defenseman Ray Bourque stopped by for a chat with Dennis & Callahan Wednesday morning during a charity benefit for the Massachusetts Soldiers Legacy Fund at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Boston. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Asked if the Lightning have a psychological edge over the Bruins in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday night because they are the more desperate team, Bourque said: “I think it brings the best out of you, so I’d say yes. But the flip side of that, the Bruins are kind of a good counter-puncher kind of a team.
“Sometimes when you come out with that kind of energy or intensity, you might try to do too much and make mistakes and counter and maybe take advantage of those mistakes and go down early in the game, like you saw in Game 4 in Tampa. That’s what happened. It’s not that the Bruins played an incredible first period and came out of that period up 3-0. It’s Tampa that made some mistakes, and the Bruins capitalized on it. So, a game like tonight, you could see that happening again.”
Should the Bruins finish off the Lightning, the challenge in the Stanley Cup finals would be enormous. “Vancouver’s going to be very tough,” Bourque said. “That’s going to be by far their toughest series.”
Bourque said no matter how the season ends this year, the future looks bright for this Bruins team. “I think it’s a very good team with a great goalie, and a team that’s only going to get better, I think, in years to come,” he said. “And experiencing what they’re experiencing this year in the playoffs, the growth of some of these players is going to be tremendous.”
“I think defensively he’s better than both of us,” Bourque said. “He’s a shutdown D that is like no other in the league. I’ll tell you that any player playing against him ‘ you’re not hearing much about [Martin] St. Louis or [Vincent] Lecavalier because of Zdeno. That’s why.
“Defensively, he’s the best, and one of the best that’s ever been because of his size and his strength and his reach. I mean, this guy’s 7 foot on skates and his reach is incredible. You just watch him, like Inspector Gadget all of a sudden ‘ bang, that stick comes out, and it’s amazing.”
|05.24.11 at 6:28 pm ET|
TAMPA — The Bruins are one win away from being somewhere they haven’t been in a long time.
Sure, they have closed out their first two opponents this postseason and are 2-1 in potential series-clinching games, but Wednesday’s Game 6 will be, much like this series has been, uncharted territory. The B’s can advance to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since 1990 with a win. The one-game-at-a-time approach is one from which they’ve benefitted, but given what they’d be playing for if they advanced, the B’s should come out just as hungry for a shot at the Cup as the Lightning will be to stay alive.
“You have that in the back of your mind, and maybe that’s a little bit of motivation just to try to get it done,” forward Rich Peverley said Tuesday in Tampa. “They’re a great team, and we expect nothing but their best.”
While Tim Thomas said after Game 5 that the B’s must view Wednesday as just another game, players would be lying if they said they weren’t thinking about what lies ahead.
“I think it’s only natural to look ahead and to say, ‘this is an opportunity to play in the finals,'” Gregory Campbell said. “For a lot of players on our team, it will be our first time, and if we do make it there, it will probably be the last chance a lot of players will have. It is natural to want to get excited and look ahead.
“I know it’s been said by tons of people, but it’s so important just to play our game well and not really focus on the results. It’s more just how we’re playing. If we’re playing well, good things will happen, but for us to start setting our sights on the next series is usually a dangerous thing to do.”
|05.24.11 at 6:10 pm ET|
TAMPA — Claude Julien meant nothing personal at all by his comments but the Bruins coach was clear Tuesday that he doesn’t want his team putting everything on the shoulders of Tim Thomas as they try to advance to the Stanley Cup finals with a win Wednesday night in Game 6 at St. Pete Times Forum.
Clearly, that would be easy to do when Thomas was the single-biggest reason the Bruins stole Game 5 on home ice Monday night. But that’s also a good way to get pounded and wind up with a Game 7 Friday in Boston, something every Bruins fan, player and coach wants to avoid.
“You don’t want to rely on your goaltender,” Julien said. “He’s an important part of our team, and it’s nice to be able to rely on him, but you don’t want to go into the game relying on him.
“You want to do your job. And there’s going to be some games, like we said yesterday, that what’s important is a win is about finding a way. And you fall down 1-0 in the first two minutes of the game, and, you know, it’s a team that usually shuts other teams out pretty good. We stayed the course. We weren’t our best, but we stayed the course, and we found a way to get back into the game.”
Then there was the take of veteran Mark Recchi, who realizes the Bruins were extremely fortunate to ride their hot goalie to a win.
“Right off the bat, we have to be a lot better. The first period was not our hockey club. Give them credit, they came out to win and Timmy gave us that opportunity and he shut the door. We had a little tension last night and it showed in our play.
“We know we got away with one [Monday] night but at the same time, we found a way to win and the guys’ attitudes are great like that way. We’re going to have to be a lot better in Game 6 if we expect to finish this series.” Read the rest of this entry »
|05.24.11 at 5:31 pm ET|
TAMPA — Bruins coach Claude Julien made it very clear Tuesday. Coaches are completely preoccupied with their teams in the playoffs, not really leaving time for socializing.
But even Julien had to notice the video board during Game 1 and Game 5 Monday night when Patriots coach Bill Belichick was spotted and featured throughout.
Monday night, as “Bruins fan of the game” Belichick, sporting a suit and tie, smiled and waved the black and gold hanky each time he was shown on the video board.
“I think what he’s done is reached out to us by doing what he’s done,” Julien said on the off day before Game 6 Wednesday night at St. Pete Times Forum. “I think coaches understand — and I would be the same way — I would never dare call him or any of those guys when they’re in the playoffs. But I’d certainly be there to show my support, which I did the Patriots when it was time and I’ve done it for the Red Sox.
“I’ve been there a few times. And I’m a big fan of those Boston teams, the Celtics included. And I think it’s about showing support. You don’t need to necessarily talk unless somebody really needs to talk to you. And I think if I reached out to him myself, he’d be more than happy to talk to me.”
In Game 1, Belichick was dressed down considerably from Monday, wearing a more casual outfit that included a cutoff Bass fishing shirt. During each game, girlfriend Linda Holliday was in attendance by his side.
|05.24.11 at 5:10 pm ET|
TAMPA — On Tuesday Bruins coach Claude Julien used the same word as he did Monday — “fine” — to describe defenseman Johnny Boychuk, who left Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals a little over halfway through the third period after hit from Tampa Bay forward Steve Downie.
“Nothing has changed,” Julien said. “He’s fine.”
Boychuk himself said that he will play in Wednesday’s Game 6 and that despite feeling a bit woozy following the hit that earned Downie a boarding penalty, he knew that he was OK.
“I was a little foggy, but then after I got off the ice, I felt totally fine,” Boychuk said Tuesday. “Even when I was on the ice, they just wanted to make sure I was OK before I even tried to skate. I didn’t really want to fall.”
Boychuk said that the hit caught him by surprise, and though he noted players in his position have “got to be aware of their surroundings,” not knowing Downie was coming didn’t help matters.
“I didn’t see him’¦ obviously,” Boychuk said. “I didn’t see him coming. You can’t really brace yourself if you can’t see him.”
Downie was not disciplined by the league for the hit, and Boychuk took a respectable approach when asked his feelings on it.
“I saw the hit,” he said. “If it’s suspendable, then the league will do it, but I’m feeling fine and that’s the main thing.”
|05.24.11 at 3:36 pm ET|
TAMPA — Maybe it’s because he didn’t like what he saw in Game 5. Or maybe it’s because he thinks Mike Smith is best coming off the bench. Or, maybe Guy Boucher wants the grizzled veteran in net for a do-or-die game with the team’s season on the line.
Whatever the real reason, Boucher announced Tuesday that he is going back to Dwayne Roloson as his starting goalie for the team’s do-or-die Game 6 against the Bruins Wednesday night at St. Pete Times Forum.
Boucher thought – with the series tied – it was time to give Roloson a blow and let him have the night off.
“He was the guy that took us here, and that’s how I felt before last game,” Boucher said Tuesday. “But like I said, I felt like it was time to give him a little breather. And at the same time I felt that Smitty played really well. So it’s a perfect situation to put Smitty in. If something were to go wrong in the previous game, put a new goaltender in for a do-or-die, I don’t think it would have been a good moment for anybody.
So this is a perfect situation. He’s going to be the only rested guy on the two teams.”
Boucher is convinced that Roloson – at the age of 41 – will come back refreshed on Wednesday night.
“He’s had tremendous stretches with us,’ Boucher said. “And I remember there was one time where it wasn’t going so well. We gave him two days off and he came back and he was outstanding after.
So he’s like everybody else. He puts — he’s one of the hardest working guys on our team. He puts in a lot of hours and a lot of time. And he’s like everybody else, at some point or another just needs to breathe a little bit.
“He needed a little break like everybody else. Whether you’re a goaltender, defenseman or forward, I know players on both sides are getting more tired as the series are evolving. And it’s normal. Everybody’s expecting that. And your most important player is your goaltender. So he’ll be rested.”
After relieving Roloson in goal in Games 2 and 4, Mike Smith made his first career playoff start and stopped 17 of 19 shots before Rich Peverley‘s empty-net goal with 12.1 seconds left sealed Monday’s Game 5 win for the Bruins.
Roloson entered the Eastern Conference finals against Boston with a playoff-leading 2.01 goals against average. That has skyrocketed to 2.52 as the Bruins beat him six times in Game 2 to tie the series and then chased him in Game 4 last Saturday. In Game 4, Roloson stopped just six of nine shots before being pulled with two minutes left in the first period when Patrice Bergeron scored shorthanded.
Smith entered the game and stopped all 21 shots he faced, allowing the Lightning to rally to a 5-3 win and even the series before Monday night’s 3-1 Bruins win.