|05.06.11 at 2:38 am ET|
The Bruins can bust out the brooms and prepare for the Eastern Conference finals by eliminating the Flyers Friday night at TD Garden. Of course, given that the B’s could get only the first three wins of the series last year, four is the only number on anyone’s mind. With that being said, here’s a preview based around the number.
Four things the Bruins have to do:
– Don’t even think about letting up. If the B’s have any doubt as to whether the Flyers can bring it, all they have to do is think back to Game 2. The Flyers dominated them in that contest, and the B’s were bailed out by Tim Thomas. In Game 3, it looked like the Bruins feared a 2-1 series even more than the Flyers feared 3-0, and the result was a contest in which Philadelphia was clearly outmatched.
– Keep on hitting. The Flyers won’t be able to come out and make an early statement if the B’s are as physical as they were in Game 3. Brad Marchand racked up seven hits through the first two periods, including a big hit on Ville Leino with the Flyers on the power play in the first.
– Continue to play like it’s scoreless at all times. One thing that hasn’t gotten much attention with these Bruins this postseason is that the scoreboard hasn’t impacted them much. They fell behind by a pair of goals on the road in both Game 4 of the quarterfinals vs. the Canadiens and in Game 2 this series and came back to win both games. Also, the Bruins didn’t seem to slow down at all throughout Wednesday’s Game 3 despite leading in semi-blowout fashion.
– Stay healthy. One way or another, the Bruins are going to win this series, so when they face Tampa Bay in the conference finals, they’ll need to do so with all of their stars. Losing David Krejci last year was disastrous.
– If you’re happy with how Thomas has played against the Flyers thus far, consider that he fared better vs. the Lightning (1.67 goals against average, .950 save percentage) than he did against Philadelphia (1.96 GAA, .942 save percentage) in the regular season. His .935 save percentage this postseason is second only to Dwayne Roloson, who has a .941 mark for the Lightning.
– Nathan Horton‘s Gordie Howe hat trick (goal, assist, fight) Wednesday was the first of his career. His five playoff goals puts him in a tie with Krejci for the team lead.
– The Bruins won 43 of 55 face-offs in Game 3, including a perfect 8-for-8 from Krejci and and a 17-for-19 showing from Patrice Bergeron.
– While Wednesday marked the first game this postseason that the B’s scored a power play goal, it also marked the first contest this series in which the Flyers didn’t score on the man advantage. Philadelphia went 0-for-2 on the power play.
Four key players:
– Whichever Flyers goaltender gets the start: Rhode Island native Brian Boucher has lost all three games this series and has been yanked in two of them (not including briefly leaving Game 2 with an injury). Sergei Bobrovsky has allowed three goals to the B’s in 55:15 this series.
– David Krejci: The dominance continues. Including the playoffs, Krejci has had at least one point in his last 12 games against the Flyers, totaling five goals and 12 assists for 17 points. The B’s are 11-0-1 in those games.
– Tim Thomas: The Vezina nominee allowed three goals in Game 1, two in Game 2, and one in Game 3. The numbers are trending in the right direction, and he’s really stepped it up since his human start to the Montreal series.
– James van Riemsdyk: The former No. 2 overall pick has come a long way since his college days at New Hampshire, and he’s a guy the Bruins rightfully focused on Wednesday due to his two-goal, eight shot performance in Game 2. Van Riemsdyk has been the Flyers’ best player in a series in which they’ve had few candidates, leading them in shots on goal in each of the first three games (his eight tied Mike Richards in Game 1).
|05.05.11 at 1:46 pm ET|
Bruins coach Claude Julien has had to note time and time again that his team is not the same club that blew a 3-0 series lead against he Flyers a season ago. Now up three games to none on Philadelphia, Julien stressed following Thursday’s practice that the B’s are by no means relaxing with the lead.
“This is a group that feels like it has to continue playing the way it has been, and we’re a determined group right now,” Julien said. “We’re certainly not sitting comfortable by any means. We never have, whether it was the last round or whatever.
“We have the right mindset, I think, as we speak, and we know the [importance] of tomorrow’s game and what it means. We’ll be prepared for that.”
The Bruins can sweep the series Friday at TD Garden. Should they eliminate Philadelphia, the B’s will host the Lightning in Games 1 and 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.
|05.05.11 at 1:21 pm ET|
Bruins defenseman Steven Kampfer, who began skating this week for the first time since sustaining a knee injury on April 9 in an AHL game, still isn’t ready to return to the lineup. At any rate, he’s just happy to be back on the ice. On Thursday he practiced with the team for the first time since the injury.
“It’s good to get back out there. It’s been long couple of weeks sitting by and watching, but it’s good to get back out there skating and skating with the guys especially,” Kampfer said Thursday. “It’s definitely a perk. It’s moving ahead, but it’s always slow [progression] at this time.
“I’ve still go to talk to the doctors and everything. I’m just kind of cleared just to skate around to test and see how everything is. The flow drills are I’ve been cleared for, so I’ve got to see the doctors again before we make any decisions.”
As for how he feels out on the ice, Kampfer said that he still feels “the occasional pull,” but that he “wouldn’t be out there if everything wasn’t OK.”
Kampfer spent about a day and a half on crutches after a knee-on-knee collision with a Springfield Falcons player while on an assignment to Providence to get some playing time. General manager Peter Chiarelli figured at the time that the rookie defenseman would be out for “at least two weeks,” and just less than a month later, he remains out. Coach Claude Julien likes the progress he’s seen, but doesn’t expect to see Kampfer being in a position to jump in the lineup if need be just yet.
“We had no contact in our drills, so [Thursday] was a very good skate for him. We’re moving forward as we’re being told by our medical staff,” Julien said after the practice. “He’s looking better every day, so we just have to stay with it, but he’s not ready.”
Had Kampfer been healthy, it’s possible he could have played in a pair of playoff games to this point. He was going to be healthy scratch for the start of the playoffs, but with Zdeno Chara missing Game 2 of the quarterfinals vs. the Canadiens and Adam McQuaid out with a sprained neck, Shane Hnidy has gotten the call to fill in twice. Kampfer, who played in 38 regular season games, isn’t trying to think about what could have been.
“You can think about it, but at the same time, we have eight capable guys who can play. I thought Hnidy did a great job. That’s why we have depth and why this team is so strong. We have guys who can fill in at any time. It’s a good situation that we have eight D that are ready to go. Obviously it was an unfortunate incident that happened to Adam, but it looks like everything’s going to be OK.”
As for McQuaid,the 24-year-old defenseman did not skate Thursday and remains day-to-day. Julien noted that he has been encouraged by how he’s come along since leaving Game 2 after spraining his neck trying to hit Mike Richards.
“He is definitely getting better,” Julien said. “I know we are still saying day-to-day, but there is improvement in him and we are getting very optimistic that things are going to happen quicker than later. Right now we are just keeping our fingers crossed. He seems to be doing well, and hopefully we will have better news here in the next few days.”
|05.05.11 at 1:07 pm ET|
Nathan Horton is usually excited about everything. This time of year, he’s even more excited given that he’s finally in the playoffs. Yet through a personal achievement, it seems Horton has finally revealed something he isn’t particularly excited about: a personal achievement.
The Bruins winger picked a funny time to get his first career Gordie Howe hat trick, but the B’s gladly took the results in a 5-1 win that saw Horton assist David Krejci‘s first-period goal, drop the gloves with Sean O’Donnell in the second, and score in the third. Given Horton’s power-forward style of play, it is a bit surprising that he had never picked up a Gordie Howe hat trick over seven regular-season campaigns. Of course, it wasn’t a surprise for him, as he didn’t even know that Wednesday was the first time he pulled off the feat.
“Of my career?” Horton said when asked about picking up his first Gordie Howe hat trick. “I don’t know. I don’t remember [if I ever did before].”
As for having a goal, assist and fighting major all in one game for the first time, Horton seemed indifferent to it. He plays mean on the ice, but it doesn’t seem he puts much thought into the numbers that come of it.
“I don’t know. Just anything you can do for a win,” Horton said. “That’s what it’s all about. Things happen on the ice. It’s kind of how it went, but the big thing is that we won and want to keep winning.”
The 25-year-old was out of his element a bit when asked about personal achievements, but once the conversation was turned to his team, Horton was, as he usually is, happy as a clam.
“We have such a great team,” he said. “We can win any game we want when we play hard, and we play the right way and the way we can.”
The Bruins go for the sweep against the Flyers on Friday.
|05.05.11 at 1:06 pm ET|
With all the talk about being up 3-0 for the second straight year against the Flyers in the playoffs, “killer instinct” is one cliche that will be brought up over the next 24 hours.
And no one has had more of it than Brad Marchand this series against Philadelphia – even if it’s resulted in the occasional undisciplined penalty.
But Claude Julien and the Bruins will gladly take that if it means finally getting that fourth win against the Flyers Friday night and putting their nightmare of 2010 to rest.
“It was one of those games where I was angry the whole time, and my emotions kind of get the best of me, just trying to run around and kill guys,” Marchand admitted after Wednesday’s 5-1 butt-whipping of the Flyers. “So, it was just one of those games. It’s not like that every night but tonight was one of those nights.”
But the funny part is that Marchand didn’t take any penalties Wednesday night. He just crushed Flyer after Flyer, like everyone on the James van Riemsdyk line that nearly beat the Bruins in Game 2 Monday night. The Bruins didn’t want any player or line doing to them what JVR did in Game 2. They wanted someone to get under the Flyers collective skins and Marchand was just the guy.
Read the rest of this entry »
|05.05.11 at 10:32 am ET|
ESPN NHL analyst Matthew Barnaby joined the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning to talk about the Bruins’ success in the Eastern Conference semifinals. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Boston took a 3-0 series lead on the Flyers with Wednesday night’s 5-1 victory and can close out the series Friday night at TD Garden.
“They’re playing at full tilt and they really aren’t making that many mistakes,” Barnaby said of the B’s. “When you look at the Philadelphia side, they just can’t seem to get anything going. ‘¦ It’s a different team than we saw all year long, very suspect goaltending and Chris Pronger not being in that lineup really changes the dynamic of that team.”
Tim Thomas has been stellar in the Boston goal and drawn comparisons to one of Barnaby’s former teammates. “Tim Thomas is to me right now what I played with in Dominik Hasek when I was with Buffalo,” Barnaby said. “He gets into guys’ heads. He makes you pass when you think you should shoot and shoot when you think you should pass. That plays into guys’ minds.
“Sometimes he has you beat [mentally]. He has shooters passing when they should be shooting, and it’s a tough thing to not think you can score. Because I saw it time in and time out, frustrating other teams, night after night, shift after shift. And that’s what Tim Thomas is doing. You expect him to make that big save, and it plays mind games with you.”
The Lightning swept the top-seeded Capitals in the other Eastern Conference semifinal, and that has Barnaby anticipating an exciting Bruins-Lightning series.
“I love this series,” Barnaby said. “You look at goaltending. Dwayne Roloson and Tim Thomas have been the two best goalies in the postseason so far and would be candidates for the Conn Smythe, early running. You look at power plays. Well, you have to give it to Tampa Bay. They’ve been incredible. I think they have 11 or 12 power-play goals already [12 for a 26.7 percent success rate]. Both with some dynamic forwards. The defensive side, I’d give it to Boston. I think Zdeno Chara, he’s logged so many minutes, he’s such a big man.
“I really think it will be an incredible series and could go seven games.”
Asked who he’d predict to win the series, Barnaby said: “I would take Boston.”
|05.05.11 at 12:17 am ET|
He acted like a man who wanted to believe what he was saying but deep down Ed Snider had the look of a beaten owner of his beloved Philadelphia Flyers.
There isn’t an owner in hockey who has seen more. He brought hockey to the City of Brotherly Love. He rejoiced in 1974 and 1975 when his Flyers became the first expansion team to win the Stanley Cup.
He beamed with nearly as much pride last spring when his team made history by overcoming an 0-3 deficit to beat the Bruins. His team fell two wins short of one of the best Stanley Cup championship of all time.
Well, after being shelled 5-1 in Game 3 at TD Garden Wednesday night, his team is in that very same hole. But in the Flyers dressing room afterward, Snider wasn’t talking like a man who really believes he can catch lightning in a bottle twice.
“It’s a really difficult thing to do and they would be the first team in history to do it two years in a row,” Snider offered.
That’s one way of looking at it.
This is another.
“It’s an awful lot to expect and Boston is playing very well and we’re going to have to step up our game in order to compete with them,” added Snider, who began to finally see the neon writing on the wall. And it’s starts with goaltending and continues with defense. Read the rest of this entry »