|06.01.11 at 12:09 pm ET|
Hall of Fame defenseman Brian Leetch joined the Mut & Merloni show Wednesday morning to talk about the Stanley Cup finals, which get under way Wednesday night in Vancouver. To hear the interview, go the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
Leetch, who grew up in Connecticut and played collegiately at Boston College, was asked about the Bruins being underdogs in this series.
“I know they don’t feel an underdog,” he said. “When you have two good teams playing, sometimes it’s just an easier pick to pick the team with more points during the regular season, or they had a couple of better stats. But you look at their stats up and down, these teams ‘ we’ve almost gotten to 100 games now ‘ are almost identical. Right through the playoffs and the regular season, there’s not much that separates them. The goaltending is both excellent, their top players, their depth.”
Asked about the Bruins being physical while avoiding penalties, Leetch said: “I think when we talk about the Bruins playing physical, it kind of gets taken a little out of context, of them going outside of their game or playing some different style. Really, their game is to get the puck in, is to finish their checks. It’s not to physically intimidate a team or to injure or to get a different style of play going.
“It’s their strength. It’s the way they play. And that doesn’t mean taking the extra run, it doesn’t mean going out of your way. It means getting he pucks int eh areas where you can get in on the forecheck, where you can take the body, where you can play physical. And the Bruins know as a team, you’ll hear it come out of each guy’s mouth, that we’re at our best when we play that way. We’re at our best when we finish checks, we’re moving our feet, we’re involved physically. So, I don’t think it does anything to take them out of a comfort zone or to run around. It’s just emphasis on playing the game the right way, which for the Bruins means playing physical.”
|06.01.11 at 10:16 am ET|
The Bruins will begin their first Stanley Cup finals since 1990 Wednesday in Vancouver. Their last appearance was in 1990. Their last title came in 1972.
The Bruins have been in five Stanley Cup finals since ’72, and WEEI looks back at all of them.
1974: Bruins vs. Flyers
The Bruins finished the 1973-74 regular season first in the East Division, with Phil Esposito, Bobby Orr, Ken Hodge and Wayne Cashman finishing 1-2-3-4 in scoring in the NHL. They were heavily favored against the Flyers, although the Flyers finished first in the West, just a point behind the Bruins.
The Bruins won Game 1 by a 3-2 count, with both Orr and Cashman scoring a goal and recording an assist. In Game 2, the B’s led 2-0 after one period thanks to goals by Cashman and Esposito, but three third-period Flyers goals ‘ two by center Bobby Clarke ‘ cost the Bruins the game and home-ice advantage.
The Flyers took Games 3 and 4 at the Spectrum, holding the Bruins scoreless after the first period of both Games 3 and 4.
The Bruins protected home ice with a 5-1 Game 5 victory thanks to two goals from Orr, but in Game 6, Rick MacLeish scored his 13th goal of the postseason for a 1-0 win and the title. Goalie Bernie Parent was named MVP of the playoffs.
1977: Bruins vs. Canadiens
Although the third-seeded Bruins had won the Adams Division during the regular season, they were no match for the top-seeded, defending champion Canadiens in the 1977 finals. The Canadiens outscored the Bruins 16-6 in the four-game sweep.
|06.01.11 at 12:14 am ET|
The Bruins swung a deal for Peverley and defenseman Boris Valabik on their day of retooling on Feb. 18, though the speedy forward was the centerpiece of the deal that sent Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart to Atlanta. Now, Peverley’s Atlanta teammates officially know that they’ll be playing in Winnepeg next year due to relocation of the team. Peverley said he’s been in touch throughout the process.
“I think a few guys are disappointed,” Peverley. “They really enjoyed the city, but at the same time, they’re going to have to move on, and I think a lot of guys are excited about the opportunity to play in a Canadian market. That’s going to bring a lot of passionate hockey to the city, and I think they’re really excited about that.”
Peverley still has another deal remaining on his contract, so he would have been a part of the team’s relocation unless he was dealt away. He seems clearly disappointed that the franchise with which he played parts of the last three seasons couldn’t stay where it was, but he also understands it.
“I think it’s a tough market if you’re not winning,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of hockey fans there that might be other fans and not necessarily Thrashers fans, so I think hockey could work in that city, but when you make the playoffs one out of 10 years, you put yourself behind the 8-ball a little bit.”
One reason for the relocation you shouldn’t rule out: Perhaps it’s just because the Peverley Hillbillies stopped giving the team their money after Feb. 18.
“I don’t know,” Peverley said with a laugh. “I have no idea [what happened to them].”
|05.31.11 at 11:29 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — It’s a cliche to say that if one can’t get excited to play this time of year, that they had better check their pulse. Maxim Lapierre‘s pulse is probably berserk right about now.
The 26-year-old Quebec native is realizing a lifelong dream of not only playing in the Stanley Cup finals, but doing so against the Bruins. A childhood of rooting for the Canadiens and five years of playing for the Habs made it so Lapierre could never have anything but negative feelings for the Bruins.
“It’s pretty special,” Lapierre said of facing the Bruins. “Being from Montreal, all my life I was kind of raised to hate them, so it’s unreal. I can’t wait to play tomorrow. It’s going to be a great experience for everybody.”
Lapierre was traded from the Canadiens to the Ducks on Dec. 31 of this season. He didn’t stay there long, as he was dealt to the Canucks after playing 21 games for Anaheim.
Now, he finds himself four wins away from the Stanley Cup. His Canucks eliminated the Sharks in five games in the Western Conference finals, so Lapierre and his teammates had plenty of time to watch the Bruins and Lightning series play out. He admits that at least on some level, he hoped it would be the Bruins who would advance.
“A little bit,” Lapierre said. “It would make it special. It’s really special to play against this team. They’re a great team — well-coached, good players, they’re physical, so we’re going to have a real taste of the Stanley Cup finals.”
Lapierre has had more of a taste of facing the Bruins in the postseason. He was on the 2007-08 Habs team that eliminated the B’s in the first round in seven games, and he was with Montreal when the Bruins swept them the following year.
Though he’s scored some goals and racked up some penalty minutes in his 35 career games against the Bruins (including the playoffs), when it comes to the B’s, Lapierre may be best known for being the recipient of a cross-check to the head from Milan Lucic in Game 2 of the 2009 quarterfinals. Lucic received a match penalty and was suspended for Game 3 of the series.
“Tomorrow is a new day. It’s the playoffs. Everybody wants to play their role,” Lapierre said about facing Lucic in the postseason again. “We know Milan is a great player. He’s strong, he’s physical. He’s going to be in our face and he’s going to be ready to play, and so are we.
“That’s part of the game, and I understand that. He’s playing a great role for this team. He’s a good player, and he’s going to be there tomorrow like a warrior and the same thing for our guys. Everybody’s going to be ready. It’s the Stanley Cup finals.”
While Lapierre no longer dons a Canadiens jersey when he goes to work, his Montreal ties remain as strong as ever as he and the Canucks try to take down the Bruins. Lapierre knew he’d be getting support from his loved ones anyways, but when the Bruins are the opponent, it makes it even sweeter.
“A lot of people from Montreal are behind us now, but it won’t be easy at all,” Lapierre said. “This team is unreal. We’re going to have to be ready from the first shift to the last one.”
|05.31.11 at 9:06 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — When it comes to the Bruins playing the Canucks in the Stanley Cup finals, there is a buzz throughout the entire organization. From players, to coaches, right on up to management, the excitement for the B’s to reach the highest level is clear.
One guy to whom this series may be even more special is team president and former player Cam Neely, who hails from British Columbia and began his career with the Canucks before being traded to the Bruins in 1986.
“I got to Maple Ridge in 1976 and became a huge Canuck fan,” Neely recalled. “… Unfortunately it didn’t work out well for me here, and things worked well in Boston.
“I certainly kept tabs on what happened to the Canucks over the years, of course except when they played us. But it’s home, Boston is home as well. It’s fun to see what the Canucks have been able to accomplish, especially this year. They’ve got a great team. It’s going to be a pretty interesting series.”
Though Neely could not hoist the Cup in his playing days, he hopes to do so as an executive, something he spoke to Tuesday.
“It would be by far the next best thing, there’s no question,” Neely said. “Absolutely no question. I mean, when you’re a player, your goal is to make the NHL. Once you get into the league, you want to win the Stanley Cup. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to do it in a uniform, but hopefully can do it in a suit.”
Neely admitted that despite years in press box with the B’s, he still hasn’t totally settled into watching a game without the intensity that comes with being on the ice, saying it’s “much harder than playing,” and that he is “still getting used to it.”
While winning the Cup as a player would have been the ultimate prize for Neely, at least he can watch his team now knowing he’s watching a good product.
|05.31.11 at 8:05 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — Only extra defenseman Shane Hnidy was missing from Tuesday’s Bruins practice at Rogers Arena. The practice, which lasted about an hour, was the team’s final regular practice before the Stanley Cup finals begin Wednesday vs. the Canucks.
Rich Peverley skated with the second line again, donning the gold sweater along with Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi. Peverley took shifts on the line in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, spelling Recchi from time to time.
|05.31.11 at 2:52 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — The Canucks held their practice on Tuesday at Rogers Arena, part of the Stanley Cup finals media day. Center Manny Malhotra (eye), who was recently cleared for contact participated in Monday’s scrimmage, was not on the ice. According to a tweet from Vancouver Province Canucks writer Ben Kuzma, Malhotra missed the skate due to an eye appointment.
Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, meanwhile, was once again on the ice for practice. He missed Games 4 and 5 of the Western Conference finals due to an upper body injury and is considered day-to-day. He was also on the ice Monday and said he feels good to go.