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Wheeler on line with Bergeron, McQuaid skates

05.13.10 at 1:28 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — What does a team do that has lost three straight games and is on the wrong end of making hockey history do before the biggest game of the year?

Sleep in, practice late and tweak the lines.

The Bruins practiced at Ristuccia Arena at 1 p.m. after announcing that that they would “arrive” at the rink at noon. When they did show up Blake Wheeler was wearing an unfamiliar sweater color — yellow — that he has not worn all year indicating that be would at least be practicing with Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi on Thursday. Daniel Paille was bumped to the grey sweaters with Vladimir Sobotka and Michael Ryder and, oddly enough, Brad Marchand. The white and red sweaters remained unchanged with Marc Savard, Milan Lucic and Miroslav Satan on the top line and Trent Whitfield, Steve Begin and Shawn Thornton fill out the checking line.

Adam McQuaid was also present for the full team practice to round out a full squad of defensemen with Zdeno Chara, Johnny Boychuk, Dennis Wideman, Matt Hunwick, Mark Stuart and Andrew Ference. The Black Aces on the blue line were also present with Andrew Bodnarchuk, Jeffrey Penner and And Wozniewski.

Read More: Adam McQuaid, Blake Wheeler,

Brickley on D&C: B’s need to be ‘close to perfect’

05.13.10 at 12:40 pm ET
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Andy Brickley

Andy Brickley

NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley was on the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning to talk about the Bruins and their Stanley Cup playoff series with the Flyers that will go the full seven games after Philadelphia captured Game 6 by a 2-1 score Wednesday night. He said that the Bruins have a tall task ahead of them if they are to keep the Flyers from becoming just the fourth team in North American professional sports history to win a seven-game series after losing the first three games.

“With that kind of talent up front and the four big guys that can really skate with the puck on the back end, this is a pretty good Flyers team,” he said. “The Bruins, they have to get pucks to the net. They have to get bodies to the net. They have to be physical. Hence, their only chance, and in all probability, if they’re going to win Game 7, it’s going to have to be 1-0, 2-1, that kind of score.”

A transcript follows. You can listen to the interview by visiting the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

You’ve had about 10 hours to digest what’s happening to the Bruins. What are we watching here? Are we watching a team choking away a series or are we watching a team that just doesn’t have enough offensive bullets in the gun?

I think it’s the latter. I hate to think that it’s about choking. I think they did not play well obviously in Game 5, so coming into last night’s game, you wanted to make sure that this was a team that played like they wanted the series to end. They wanted to play with that desperation, that urgency, all the catchphrases that you hear, and where was their compete level and all that stuff. I think they played pretty hard, and I thought they played very smart and I think the fact that they just can’t score goals right now is the reason that the Flyers have been able to come back.

It’s not the only reason. Philadelphia getting [Simon] Gagne back has really created a nice three-line formation for them where they’re strong down the middle with [Mike] Richards, [Danny] Briere and [Claude] Giroux. If they can roll three lines, that means they’re going to get the edge in matchups because the Bruins, they try to play their entire roster, but with that kind of talent up front and the four big guys that can really skate with the puck on the back end, this is a pretty good Flyers team. The Bruins, they have to get pucks to the net. They have to get bodies to the net. They have to be physical. Hence, their only chance, and in all probability, if they’re going to win Game 7, it’s going to have to be 1-0, 2-1, that kind of score.

You’ve seen every minute of these six games, Andy. On the whole, who’s better?

I think it’s an even match, to be honest with you. I really do. Take a look at all the games. I mean, Philadelphia won their one game 4-0. Boston won their other game 4-1. Other than that, the other games could have gone either way. Plain and simple. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Andy Brickley, Bruins, Flyers,

Julien chooses not to discipline his team

05.13.10 at 4:27 am ET
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PHILADELPHIA — At least publicly, Bruins coach Claude Julien failed to lash out at his team for their 2-1 loss to the Flyers that has forced a seventh and deciding game in the series.

Nor did Julien take issue with Daniel Paille for an elbow penalty that the coach thought – at the very least – was questionable, leading to a Flyers 5-on-3 advantage in the second, and eventually a 4-on-3 power play goal for the Flyers.

“It’s important, but again not to criticize. It puts us down five on three when they called the elbow,” Julien said. “If you look at the replay he doesn’t even touch him. There’s a space between his arm and the guys face but he puts his head back and the [referee] calls it. Do you blame your players for that? I don’t think so, I think we have to stay on the puck.

“There’s no doubt about that, but I don’t know that we were overly undisciplined. We were the other night [Game 5] and it ended up costing us. Tonight, we had some power plays and we weren’t able to capitalize. We had some opportunities as well, a couple tough penalties, but other than that I thought we were pretty disciplined.”

Paille’s penalty was made even worse because Marc Savard was already serving a penalty. Then to finish the second period, Blake Wheeler takes an even worse penalty for holding with just under 27 seconds left in the period.

Can Julien sense tenseness in his players?

“It’s a situation where the winner of the game moves on,” the coach said. “Tonight, in the first three minutes of the game they really took it to us, but after that I thought we settled in and played hard. We didn’t probably get enough scoring chances although we had the puck in our end for quite a bit. In the third, we got more scoring chances and hit a few posts; the pucks just weren’t going in for us tonight. I’m not going to criticize my players’ effort.

“I thought we were ready, but somehow we have to find a way to score goals. They had about 30 blocked shots tonight so we shot about 61 shots at the net and 30 of them got blocked so they did a great job at fronting our shots. You have to give them credit for doing that.”

Milan Lucic did finally score in the final 60 seconds of the game, snapping a 134-minute drought for the team. Julien can only hope that momentum carries into Game 7 on home ice.

“It just gave us an opportunity to be in the game and you hope you can go get him a goal soon after,” Julien said of the Lucic goal. “Unfortunately, it was a little too late and we weren’t able to get that last one, but these are things that we’re going to have to find ways to score hopefully earlier and get more scoring chances earlier in the game instead of the third period tonight. If we can do what we did in the third, I think our chances are good.

“You really wish that line would get rewarded with some goals with the work they put in there. They work so hard, they make good things happen but unfortunately they haven’t been rewarded with the goals and that’s the unfortunate part. I guess everyone on the bench was routing for [Trent Whitfield] to score that goal because he’s been a good soldier for us, he’s been working hard and waiting for his turn to get in there and did a great job to spring himself loose. That would have been a big goal for us.”

Read More: Bruins, Claude Julien, Flyers, Mike Petraglia

Bruins to ‘embrace challenge’ of Game 7

05.13.10 at 12:53 am ET
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PHILADELPHIA — Sometimes you just have to tell yourself things will be okay in the face of adversity.

The Bruins will spend the next 24 hours preparing themselves and reassuring themselves of the positives – namely win one game on home ice and earn the right to have home ice advantage against the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference finals.

Only minutes after losing their third straight in the series to the Flyers, 2-1, many Bruins attempted to put on a brave face as they now face a do-or-die Game 7 at TD Garden on Friday night.

“Like my buddy once said, ‘Pressure is five kids, no job.’ This is just fun,” Bruins forward Shawn Thornton said. “Game 7. Enjoy it. Just drink it in as they say.”

Milan Lucic, who scored Boston’s only goal and the first by the Bruins in nearly 135 minutes of play in the series, also attempted to put things in perspective.

“We’re just looking forward to the challenge ahead of us,” Lucic said. “We know it’s going to be an exciting game. I’m not nervous. I think you have to embrace the struggle, embrace the challenge and have fun with it.”

Of course, if the Bruins don’t win, they join the 1942 Detroit Red Wings, the 1975 Pittsburgh Penguins and the 2004 New York Yankees as the only teams in major professional North American sports to blow a 3-0 lead and lose a best-of-seven series.

Read More: Bruins, Flyers, Milan Lucic, Shawn Thornton

Flyers shut down Bruins to force Game 7

05.12.10 at 10:37 pm ET
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Summary — The Flyers became only the sixth team in NHL history to come back from a 3-0 series deficit to force a Game 7 as they beat Boston 2-1 at Wachovia Center in Game 6 of their Stanley Cup semifinal series. Michael Leighton got his first career playoff start and made 30 saves as the Bruins could not end their sudden scoring woes. Tuukka Rask was not up to the task to close out the Flyers for the third straight game as he allowed two goals on 27 Philadelphia shots.

The Flyers continued their charge with their sixth consecutive goal in the series as they opened the scoring at 6:58 in the first period. Simon Gagne put the puck on Rask who made the initial save, but Daniel Carcillo crashed the crease and prevented Johnny Boychuk from clearing the rebound. The puck squirted into the slot where Mike Richards was there to clean up the mess and Philadelphia had an early lead once again.

Danny Briere put the Flyers up by two goals at 16:20 in the second period on the power play as the Flyers had a 4-on-3 advantage with Marc Savard, Daniel Paille in the box for the Bruins and Chris Pronger for Philadelphia. Briere crossed through the slot and let a wrist shot off that Rask got a piece of with his chest and arm but still got through to make it 2-0 heading into the third period.

With Rask on the bench in the final two minutes of play the Bruins pressed the 6-on-5 advantage and Milan Lucic banged home a rebound with 1:00 remaining on the clock to make the final minute of play tense but Leighton was able to hold on. The goal snapped 134:12 of scoreless play from the Bruins as they had not scored since the final minute of Game 4 when Mark Recchi forced overtime.

Three Stars

Mike Richards — Scored the opening goal and assisted on the second to pace the Flyers attack.

Michael Leighton — Withstood the Bruins second period pressure and delivered a win to Philadelphia to push the Bruins to a Game 7.

Matt Carle — The oft-overlooked defenseman paired with Chris Pronger had six blocked shots to keep the puck from getting to Leighton’s crease. Carle also has a plus-6 rating for the series.

Turning Point – Briere’s goal. The Bruins spent most of the second period in the Flyers zone but started taking penalties starting a high-stick by Savard at 15:15 and then a Paille elbow at 15:49. Pronger checked Zdeno Chara at the top of the crease and went for interference and the Flyers wasted no time in the 4-0n-3 as Briere used Rask as a pinball flipper to stop any momentum the Bruins had gained.

Key Play – Leighton made a save on a Mark Stuart shot early in the third period off his shoulder and Miroslav Satan crashed the net but was unable to slam the puck through the crease and a chance for the Bruins to make it a one-goal game was snuffed out. Boston would go on the power play a few minutes later when Matt Carle went for tripping at 5:15 but could muster nothing as the Flyers were aggressive at the point of attack to thwart the chance.

Read More: Danny Briere, Matt Carle, Michael Leighton, Mike Richards

2nd Period Summary: Bruins vs. Flyers Game 6

05.12.10 at 9:57 pm ET
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PHILADELPHIA — Just when it seemed they weathered the first period storm and were gaining momentum and showing discipline, the Bruins had it all come undone in all areas. And it may lead us to where no one thought possible five days earlier – a Game 7 in Boston on Friday – as the Bruins trail 2-0 after two periods.

Daniel Briere scored on a 4-on-3 power play with 3:40 left in the second period as Marc Savard and Daniel Paille took penalties within 30 seconds of each other. The Bruins appeared to catch a break when Chris Pronger was called for a questionable interference penalty in front of Rask.

But on the 4-on-3, Briere came down the right wing and fired a shot toward the right shoulder of Rask. The puck glanced off his chest and past him for a two-goal Flyers lead heading into the third period.

In the first 10 minutes of the period, Rask single-handedly kept the Bruins in the game as he made big saves on Mike Richards and Simon Gagne midway through the period.

Making matters worse, Blake Wheeler took a penalty in the final 20 seconds of the period and the Flyers will start the third period with a power play for 94 seconds.

What makes the last five minutes of the third so disappointing is that the Bruins were showing offensive life, thanks to good skating and deep puck movement by the likes of Satan, Savard and Lucic. It finally result in a power play chance when Braydon Coburn was whistled for hooking at 13:26. But Claude Giroux and Mike Richards were aggressive on the kill and the Bruins got only three looks at Michael Leighton before it expired.

1st Period Summary: Bruins vs. Flyers Game 6

05.12.10 at 8:45 pm ET
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PHILADELPHIA — From well before the opening face-off, this game in Philadelphia had a far different feel – in terms of energy in the building – than the previous two. The Flyers capitalized on the early momentum by taking a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.

And the Wachovia Center crowd, fired up by video board inspiration from Vince Lombardi, Winston Churchill and graphics that screamed in bold letters, “WE WILL MAKE HISTORY,” had plenty to cheer early on. The Flyers applied pressure in their opening three shifts.

The Flyers rewarded their fans when Mike Richards netted a loose rebound in front of Tuukka Rask at 6:58 of the first period. As he has been since returning to the lineup, Simon Gagne was again the difference-maker, starting the play by putting a quick backhander on Rask that the Bruins goalie could not control.

The Flyers then had a chance to go up two on the first power play of the game. But it was the Bruins who nearly tied it when Trent Whitfield intercepted a pass at the Boston blue line and skated in on Michael Leighton. The Flyers goalie replacing Brian Boucher came up with his biggest save of the season, stoning Whitfield and keeping it, 1-0.

The only bigger save for Philly this season came on the same end of the same sheet of ice on the last day of the regular season when Boucher stopped Olli Jokinen of the Rangers in a shoot-out to send the Flyers to the playoffs.

The Bruins, with Zdeno Chara pinching in deep as he did during the season when the Bruins were searching for offense, applied good pressure in the final three minutes but still couldn’t break Leighton.

The Bruins, with the late rush, outshot the Flyers, 9-8.

Read More: Bruins, Flyers, Michael Leighton, Mike Richards
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