|05.21.11 at 12:24 pm ET|
TAMPA — The Bruins are expecting a big rush from the Lightning at the beginning of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals. If they can withstand that, many Bruins feel they’ll have a good chance to win the game and head back to Boston with a chance to clinch on Monday night at TD Garden.
“Definitely excitement, that’s for sure,” Bruins winger Michael Ryder said of the feeling in the dressing room prior to Saturday’s 1:30 p.m. game. “It’s a big game, it could be an even series or up 3-1. It’s the biggest game of the series so far. For us, we have to take that mindset. I think we’re ready to go. It’s all about the first 10 minutes of the [first] period. We have to come out hard, throw pucks in and just get that momentum and take it to them quick.”
On the rare occasion this season the Bruins failed to look energized, it seemed to always come on a Saturday afternoon. Daniel Paille says he’s not exactly worried about that today, considering a win will leave the Bruins one win from the Stanley Cup finals and a chance to clinch Monday night at TD Garden.
“There’s no excuse for that,” Paille said of any energy drain from an early Saturday afternoon start. “I think everyone one of our guys and their guys will provide a lot of energy. If you can’t get up for Game 4 in the conference finals, you’ve got a lot of trouble. I know, myself, I’ll be really energized today.”
|05.21.11 at 11:55 am ET|
TAMPA — The last time the Bruins played a day game, they took a 7-3 contest in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, the first step of sweeping the Flyers. They will have their earliest start of the postseason with Saturday’s 1:30 Game 4 vs. the Lightning.
“I think we’re glad to get an earlier game,” forward Daniel Paille said Saturday at St. Pete Times Forum. “We’ve played the late games, so we’re happy to get the game started. I know we’re all anxious. We just want to play, and to get our afternoon games again is great to see.”
The Bruins have won eight of their last nine games and are hoping that nothing can disrupt their run. They don’t feel a matinee should be an issue.
“You’ve just got to make sure you go out there for the warmup and get your legs underneath you,” defenseman Johnny Boychuk said. “That’s more or less what it’s all about.”
|05.20.11 at 8:43 pm ET|
TAMPA — No one in black and gold felt the heat more late in the season and during the first two rounds than Tomas Kaberle. But the Bruins and Claude Julien believe the 33-year-old veteran blueliner has turned a corner – with his confidence.
The Bruins coach knows his players better than anyone and he could see that the defenseman obtained at the trade deadline to bolster a lagging power play was pressing and struggling.
Julien tried everything. He sat him more. He played him more. Finally, last week, Julien took some of the burden off his shoulders by talking to him and letting him know that he and the team still believe he will help the team at critical times and that there was no reason to be putting the struggles of the Bruins power play unit on his shoulders.
It was during Tuesday night’s 6-5 shootout win in Boston that Julien could really start to sense that Kaberle was heeding the message. Ironic that Julien would see Kaberle start to shine in a high-scoring game, of all things. On Thursday, during a more typical 2-0 shutout win, Julien could see the confidence growing in the veteran defenseman as he and Bruins’ D cleared lanes for Tim Thomas to see and stop all 31 shots.
“I don’t know if it was our best but obviously, it was good enough to win a hockey game,” Kaberle said of the Bruins’ team D effort. “And Timmy behind us was playing pretty well and he saw a lot of shots and we spent a lot of time in their end. When we do that we have a good chance to win a hockey game.”
“I think he’s played really well in the last couple of games,” Julien said Friday. “And we had a conversation about maybe taking some pressure off his shoulders about everything that wasn’t going right about the power play. Fingers kept pointing at him.” Read the rest of this entry »
|05.20.11 at 2:55 pm ET|
TAMPA — Despite a dominating defensive perfomance in Game 3 and watching his team record its first shutout of the playoffs, Bruins coach Claude Julien isn’t letting his team think about what could be if they win their next two games. Julien was asked Friday if being two wins away from the team’s first Stanley Cup finals appearance in 21 years provides motivation.
“We don’t even talk about that, honestly,” Julien said. “Right now, all we’ve talked about is how important a game tomorrow is for us. We don’t want to live in the past. Yesterday was yesterday. [Saturday] is what we want to talk about. We want to live in the present. And today is about getting some good rest and making sure that tomorrow we’re well rested, we’ve got the energy and the focus to do a job. That’s what we’ve been doing since the start.
“And that’s what’s helped us get through it. The same thing in Montreal. We lost the first two games. We went to Montreal not thinking about the two losses but what we had to do that night. It’s really helped us get through things, and that’s what our guys are all about right now. So I don’t have to worry about what you just asked, because we’re not thinking that way.”
The players would certainly appear to be heeding the message.
“You can’t take any situation for granted,” Milan Lucic said after Friday’s mainly optional skate at St. Pete Times Forum. “You can’t take any team for granted, and that’s what we’ve done so well. We’ve got to keep being determined to push for more.”
“At this point, there’s not much you can say,” Lucic added. “You’ve got to know what needs to be done, and when they speak, you can learn a lot from them. They’ve done a great job leading the way so far, and hopefully they keep leading the way and staying vocal and getting us ready for every situation.”
The Bruins play Game 4 against the Lightning Saturday afternoon at 1:30 at St. Pete Times Forum before returning to Boston for Game 5 Monday night in Boston.
|05.20.11 at 2:37 pm ET|
TAMPA — Bruins center David Krejci was among those absent from Friday’s practice at St. Pete Times forum. Krejci was crushed by Tampa Bay’s Marc-Andre Bergeron in the neutral zone late in the first period, but returned to play the second and third periods after staying on the bench for the remainder of the first. After practice, coach Claude Julien said that it was simply a day of rest for Krejci, and that his status for Saturady’s Game 4 is not in question.
“David is fine,” Julien said. “We had a bunch of guys with the day off today. It was more of an optional and short skate. There’s no issues with David, and he’s playing tomorrow with no issues at all.”
Bergeron was given a two-minute minor for elbowing on the play, which replays would show was an incorrect call given that it appeared to be a clean hit that featured more shoulder than anything else. Julien had no problem admitting that that’s how he saw it.
“If you have time to look at the replay and look at it in slow motion and do all that stuff, you’re going to say, ‘Well, it was a good hit.’ It’s happened to us before from our end of it, and sometimes you get called for penalties. The one thing that we’ve always said is that the league is very sensitive to head issues, so sometimes they’re making a call.
“Maybe it wasn’t the right call, but at the same time, they could have had a second penalty on that same play where the goaltender touched the puck outside the [trapezoid]. The referee was there, and I think he didn’t call it because he was probably trying to make up for it. This is about being smart with those kind of things, and there were no issues from my end of it. It kind of made up for it, and I think it all evened out in the end.”
Krejci had the team’s game-winning goal when he beat Dwayne Roloson in the first period to make it 1-0 in a game the B’s would win, 2-0, on Thursday. The Czech center leads the Bruins with seven goals this postseason.
|05.20.11 at 2:23 pm ET|
TAMPA — Three key stars of Thursday night’s 2-0 win over the Lightning in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals were given the day off on Friday from the team’s brief practice at St. Pete Times Forum.
Captain Zdeno Chara, Tim Thomas and David Krejci were all absent as the team skated and went through drills for about 40 minutes in preparation for Game 4 Saturday afternoon in Tampa. Krejci scored the game’s first goal 69 seconds into the opening period Thursday while Tim Thomas turned away all 31 Lightning shots in recording the team’s first shutout of the 2011 playoffs.
Veterans Dennis Seidenberg and Mark Recchi were also given the day off. The Bruins will be looking to take a 3-1 series lead before the series shifts back to Boston for Game 5 Monday night at TD Garden.
The Bruins will be looking to take a 3-1 series lead before the series shifts back to Boston for Game 5 Monday night at TD Garden.
|05.20.11 at 12:32 pm ET|
Rookie winger Brad Marchand joined the Mut & Merloni show Friday morning, hours after the Bruins took a 2-1 series lead over the Lightning in the Eastern Conference finals with a 2-0 Game 3 win. To hear the interview go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
Following the 6-5 win in Game 2, the Bruins delivered a dominating defensive effort Thursday night.
“We weren’t very happy with how we were playing defensively. We wanted to clean it up a bit,” Marchand said. “Obviously, Timmy [Thomas] helped that a bunch. He played a great game and really kept us in it there when they had any opportunities. We really played tight defensively. We were really happy with how we played last game.”
Marchand said the open-ice style is not good for his mental state. “It’s so nerve-racking when you play that style,” he said of Game 2. “We were up by three goals, I think it was, and then they started to come back. I’ve never so nervous in a game the last few minutes there. We’re not very good at playing that way. We always get in trouble when we do. We’re more comfortable playing the relaxed, defensive style. ‘¦ I’m a lot more calm in that way. it’s tough to play like that, especially with a team with so much skill, you can’t really keep up with them in that style.”
The return of center Patrice Bergeron was a huge boost to the B’s.
“I think someone was telling me at one point in the game his faceoffs were 18-6. That’s outrageous,” Marchand said. “It just shows how important he is on the faceoff dot. When you have a guy that’s winning draws like that, you get so many more opportunities offensively and you’re not chasing the puck as much and you’re starting with it all the time. It makes it really easy to play out there. That’s why he’s so important to our team.”
Rookie Tyler Seguin has made a huge impact in this series. Marchand said he’s not surprised, based on what he’s seen from the teenager on non-game days.
“He’s playing unbelievable,” Marchand said. “I remember even thinking to myself before the series started, when we knew he was going to play, he was one of our best players in practice every day. He was dominating in practice. I was really excited to see him play. It’s obviously showed. He’s played unbelievable the last three games. He’s a big part of our team right now.”
Marchand said Seguin has been handling his sudden fame well, although there was at least one incident when the youngster proudly soaked it all in.
Said Marchand: “Me and him and [Gregory] Campbell and [Dennis] Seidenberg went out to dinner and there was like five different TV ons, all on different stations, and at one point they were all talking about Segs at the same time. It was hilarious. Segs was loving it. He was laughing and pointing at the TVs.
“Everyone’s chirping him pretty hard about it. They’re trying to keep him calm. Obviously, it’s a very exciting time for him. And we want him to enjoy it. But at the same time, we need to make sure he’s focused for every game. But he’s doing a good job with that. He knows he’s got to get ready for each and every game. And he was last night. He played another great game last night. So, he did a good job following that game up.”