|04.30.11 at 2:18 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — The Bruins were fortunate to survive the Canadiens in the opening round and they know it will only get harder from here.
The biggest difference for the B’s will come in containing Philadelphia’s potent offense, which led the Eastern Conference with 259 goals, third overall in the NHL behind the Canucks (262) and the Red Wings (261).
“Last series it was two good lines. This series it’s three.” Defenseman Johnny Boychuk said just two hours before Game 1.
To Boychuk’s point, the Flyers have two 30-goal scorers in Jeff Carter and Danny Briere. The have five more who have scored at least 20, and Ville Leino who scored 19 and kept the Flyers’ season alive with an OT goal against the Sabres in Game 6 in Buffalo.
That’s where the top concern – and emphasis – will be for the Bruins. The fact that the Flyers are a physical team and create chances from a big forecheck helps the B’s, according to Boychuk.
“I think it’s the similar style. For me personally, when you’re playing a physical team, that brings the best out of all the players and it’s the same style we like to play. So, it should be a great series for that.”
The Flyers can roll out three high-quality lines led by centers Carter and captain Mike Richards. The Bruins might be catching a break as Carter is nursing a right knee injury from Game 4 in the first round.
|04.30.11 at 2:12 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — Bruins forward Brad Marchand did not have to suffer last year’s collapse against the Flyers in uniform, but the rookie is happy to be a part of the continuation of what is becoming an interesting playoff rivalry.
“There’s a lot of hype going into this series right now, especially with what happened last year,” Marchand said. “It’s nice just to be here and hopefully we can write our own chapter.”
Marchand scored 21 goals in the regular season, making him one of the bigger additions to this year’s Bruins lineup. After five points in the first round vs. the Canadiens, he hopes to bring the B’s past the Flyers and into the Eastern Conference finals. Last year, however, he could only watch as the B’s blew a 3-0 series lead.
“It was really tough being there watching. Even though I didn’t play, it was tough it was tough watching what was going on and being part of it. we’re really excited this year, and we have a full new crop of guys. We’re pretty excited going into this series.”
|04.29.11 at 9:00 pm ET|
The second round is almost here for the Bruins, and WEEI.com is on its way to Philadelphia to cover the series. As we blog on the train, here’s the information you need heading into the opening games of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Game 1: Saturday, 3 p.m.
Game 2: Monday, 7:30 p.m.
Games 1, 2, 5 and 7 to be played at Wells Fargo Center (*if necessary)
(ALL) BUSINESS CLASS (who is getting the job done): Patrice Bergeron was the Bruins’ best player against the Canadiens. His seven points vs. the Canadiens led the Bruins, and his first-round performance seemed to rub off on Brad Marchand. Remember, Bergeron would have been a free agent after the season had the B’s not inked him to an extension back in October. Right now it’s looking like a good thing that the B’s have avoided a bidding war on the 25-year-old center.
THE CONDUCTOR (who needs to set the tone): Milan Lucic had a couple of big assists in setting up both of Nathan Horton‘s overtime goals in the first round, but those were his only two points of the series. Lucic led the B’s with 30 goals in the regular season, and has generally been a solid contributor in the playoffs. He had nine points in two series in each of the last two years, so his two points thus far are both uncharacteristic of his performance this year and a dropoff from his normal postseason production. Lucic is the Bruins’ top goal-scorer and needs to perform like it.
COMING UP IN THE CABOOSE (who might have a bigger factor in this series): Rich Peverley racked up five points in the first round but still seemed to fly under the radar a bit. You’ve got to love the way he plays, as his speed and willingness to throw pucks on net make him a real asset on that third line. Peverley’s 15 shots on goal in the first round were third among Bruins forwards, behind only Patrice Bergeron (22) and Marchand (18). Peverley’s line with Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder is definitely clicking, and he could wind up with more goals in the second round after scoring one vs. Montreal.
|04.29.11 at 2:06 pm ET|
Before the team left Boston for Philadelphia Friday, Bruins head coach Claude Julien said the Flyers are a better match up for his team than the Canadiens were in the first round. The Bruins captured three of the four meetings in the regular season and were even able to score on the power play four times, something they failed to do in 21 tries in the opening round.
“We match up well against them and they’re always close in tight games and we got to go in there with some confidence and obviously some determination,” Julien said. “Playoffs is a different situation than the regular season, but again as I mentioned it’s just one of those things that we feel that we don’t have to change a ton of things. And if there’s adjustments to make along the way, we just have to be prepared to make them.”
The Flyers, however, did not have big defenseman Chris Pronger at their disposal in the last meeting on March 27 in Philadelphia as he was still healing from the effects of a broken hand.
“He’s an experienced guy, a guy who has got good size as well and has got a good shot,” Julien said. “I know he certainly hadn’t used it much when he’s come back now. Whether he’s 100 percent, we don’t know, and it really shouldn’t matter to us.
“But he’s been a big part of their power play and when you get a guy like that back, it’s no doubt that it’s a boost for their hockey club and certainly helps. So we’ve just got to continue I guess playing the way we have been against them for most of the year this year. I thought we played them well and we came out with three wins, and I think we had the overtime loss.”
The Bruins’ only loss to the Flyers came with three seconds left in overtime on Dec. 11 at TD Garden when Mike Richards beat Tim Thomas with a wrist shot. The Bruins also showed they can win all sorts of games against Philly, 3-0, in Philly on Dec. 1, 7-5 in a Garden shootout on Jan. 13 and 2-1 on Brad Marchand’s goal late on March 27. The Bruins also appear to have the clear advantage in goal with Thomas starting all seven games of their series against Montreal while Brian Boucher was one of three different Philadelphia netminders to see action against Buffalo. Read the rest of this entry »
|04.29.11 at 12:38 pm ET|
Following their final practice Friday morning at TD Garden, the Bruins packed their bags and headed for Philadelphia and Saturday’s Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals with the Flyers. But before departing, the Bruins addressed the media and spoke of their thoughts on the even of the playoff rematch with the team that came from 3-0 down in the series and Game 7 to eliminate them last spring.
‘You think if I answer this question right now, I won’t have to answer it the rest of the series? Promise?” Shawn Thornton said with a smile, before adding, “For some of the guys, obviously, here last year, it should be a little bit of motivating tool and a learning lesson. But that being said, last year was last year, this year is this year. Half the team has been turned over. We’ve brought in some great people.
“So, it’s a whole new year. They have new players, we have new players. It doesn’t really have a factor on this year’s series, except for the fact we haven’t forgotten about it because you guys remind us day in and day out, and I’m sure you will for the next two weeks.’
“It’s always a new situation, a new opportunity, and that’s how we’re looking at it,” added coach Claude Julien. “Just a new opportunity for us to get past these guys and hopefully, win this series.”
Game 1 is 3 p.m. on Saturday with Tim Thomas in net for the Bruins and Brian Boucher expected to get the call for the Flyers. Game 2 is Monday night, also at Wells Fargo Center before the series shifts to Boston next Wednesday and Friday for Games 3 and 4.
|04.28.11 at 2:09 pm ET|
Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas joined Mut & Merloni Thursday to discuss the B’s Eastern Conference quarterfinals win over the Canadiens. In talking with Mike Mutnansky and Lou Merloni, Thomas said he does not respect the play of Habs defenseman P.K. Subban, who appeared to dive in an attempt to draw a penalty on Gregory Campbell with Montreal already on the power play late in the first period Wednesday.
“I have respect for the Montreal Canadiens team and the way they played that series and the way that they battled, but to be completely honest, I don’t have respect for actions like that,” Thomas said when asked about Subban. “That’s a travesty to the game. That’s not the way the game is supposed to be played. When I saw that happen in the first period, when he threw himself back on Campbell… it can be infuriating.
“If anything, it seems the refs let him get away with more, which I’m very surprised at. He’s making the refs look not good on a regular basis. He’s got enough talent, and he’s a good enough player that there’s no need for stuff like that.”
Thomas is not the first Bruin to publicly criticize Subban’s style of play. Center David Krejci was open about his feelings for the rookie defenseman after Game 1 of the series.
‘I don’t like him,’ Krejci said after Subban appeared to embellish on a play to draw a hooking call in the Habs’ 2-0 win. ‘I’m not going to say what I think about him, but I don’t like him.”
While Thomas is no fan of Subban’s play, he is clearly a supporter of the Canadiens’ netminder in Carey Price. Both Thomas and Price allowed 17 goals over the course of the series, and though they fought back on Feb. 9, there is clearly a mutual respect between the two.
“He battled hard from start to finish in that series,” Thomas said. “I’ve got to give him a lot of credit. As an opposing goalie, it’s team vs. team. You’re not really playing goalie vs. goalie. In this scenario, when the other goalie’s playing that well, he pushes me to be as good as I can be.
“There were moments where you just kept waiting for him to hopefully break. It just never happened. A lot of times, if you put enough pressure for a long enough time on the opposing goalie, they’ll break. That didn’t happen.”
The Bruins will open the Eastern Conference semifinals Saturday in Philadelphia vs. the Flyers.
|04.28.11 at 12:49 pm ET|
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli told reporters Thursday that defenseman Andrew Ference will not be suspended for his collision with Canadiens forward Jeff Halpern in the third period of Boston’s 4-3 overtime win over Montreal Wednesday.
Halpern went down hard after hitting the shoulder of Ference in the Bruins’ zone, and it was reported following the game that Ference would have a phone hearing with the league at 11 a.m. on Thursday.
Ference had two hearings with the league during the series. He was fined $2,500 for giving Canadiens fans the middle finger after scoring in Game 4.