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Melrose on D&C: B’s ‘playing a great brand of hockey’

05.07.10 at 9:05 am ET
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ESPN hockey analyst Barry Melrose joined Dennis & Callahan Friday morning to talk about the Bruins-Flyers series. To hear the interview, click on the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

“I think Boston, of the eight teams left, are playing the best playoff hockey,” Melrose said. “They’re giving up nothing. They’re playing a great brand of hockey right now.”

Melrose said the Bruins’ discipline in coach Claude Julien’s system has been great to watch. “I love the way Boston’s playing,” he said. “When they give up a shot, it’s from the side. Tuukka Rask is playing great. No outnumbered chances — no 3-on-2s, 2-on-1s. Boston’s playing the system to a ‘T.’ But again, are they going to be able to score? [David] Krejci’s out, [Marco] Sturm’s out, [Marc] Savard’s probably about 75-80 percent. It’s been amazing how they’ve been able to score with all these guys out of the lineup.”

Melrose said that if the Bruins take command in this game the Flyers will focus on the physical aspect, but don’t expect any brawls. “It won’t get ugly like it did in the ’70s, but it will get chippy,” Melrose said. “Philly’s a chippy team anyways. They always take a lot of penalties. They’ve got some guys on the ice that will go a little stir crazy. But it will be nothing like the old days. There won’t be any fights or anything like that. There will be maybe a couple of pushing and shoving matches, a few scrums. The dark days of hockey are over. It will never be like those days. But it will get chippy if the game gets out of hand.”

If the Bruins can close out the Flyers, Melrose suggested B’s fans should pull for the Canadiens to upset the Penguins in the other Eastern Conference semifinal. “I think if Boston plays Montreal they can beat them,” he said. “I don’t think Boston can beat Pittsburgh.”

Read More: Barry Melrose, Bruins,

Julien has to make decisions for Game 4

05.06.10 at 3:34 pm ET
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PHILADELPHIA — The Bruins are focused.

It could be sensed on Wednesday which team is walking the concentrated, confident path and which one a little bit lost in the dark. The Bruins have the swagger, the Flyers need a flashlight.

So, when it comes to the loss of a key guy like David Krejci, the collective Boston dressing room bucks up and comes together to continue down the road. It is a key loss, for sure, but it is not like these Bruins have not been dealing with it all season. They lost Marc Savard to a Grade 2 concussion for two months and have been without two of their top for defenders in Mark Stuart and Dennis Seidenberg throughout the playoffs. Yet, here they are, one game away from the Eastern Conference finals.

“It is never easy to lose guys like that. We’ve got two guys in our top four ‘D’s’ who are out of our lineup still,” coach Claude Julien said. “It is part of the game. It is one that you can’t dwell on because it takes away your focus on what you need to do to succeed so as a coach you look at what you got there and you have to make the best of what you got.”

Julien has not yet made a decision on who will replace Krejci in the lineup, it will be either Trent Whitfield or Brad Marchand but the coach also has to figure out who will take rookie defenseman Adam McQuaid’s spot as well. The blue liner was lost for the rest of Game 3 after being hit behind the net in the first period on Wednesday and tallied three shifts for 1:49 of ice time. Julien said on Thursday that he had a “lower-body injury” and is “very doubtful” for Game 4. His options in the cupboard are either Andy Wozniewski, Andrew Bodnarchuk, Jeff Penner or maybe, just maybe, Stuart.

“He suffered what we would call a ‘lower body injury,’ in the playoffs. Basically, very doubtful for tomorrow but then will be a day-to-day situation,” Julien said of McQuaid.

There is still no word on medical clearance for Stuart coming back from a cellulitis infection in his left pinky. He has been skating and practicing but has not been fully cleared to get into a game. McQuaid going down will not speed up the timetable for Stuart and Julien reserves the right to make the decision on if the defender is ready when he does get clearance.

“No, we are not going to accelerate [Stuart],” Julien said. “If [Stuart] ever plays it is because he is ready to play and he is also a guy who, when I say re-evaluted, we haven’t gotten clearance from the medical staff yet but he has been cleared for full practice so all we need now is full clearance. If we do have that tomorrow, whether we get it or not, then it will be our decision.”

Stuart has been practicing with an IV cast that he moves around his arms and is still on antibiotics until May 25th. He feels he has good conditioning and has repeatedly stated the desire to get into the playoffs as soon as he is cleared. On Thursday he skated with Penner, Wozniewski, Bodnarchuk, Whitfield and Marchand along with goaltenders Tim Thomas and Dany Sabourin. Outside of the net minders, pluck two players from that list, perhaps Bodnarchuk and Whitfield as a first guess, and insert them into the Bruins lineup for Game 4 on Friday.

“I think we have a lot of guys who have been around our team for a while now and we will keep that decision probably for tomorrow,” Julien said. “I still got a whole day to sort things out here and we have a lot of guys capable of jumping in and doing the job here. It is a matter of picking and choosing who we want. So, there are still a couple of question marks. We talk about Stuart, we talk about the other ‘D’s’ available, we are definitely going to need a guy there and definitely going to need another forward. So, there will be two new additions in our lineup tomorrow.”

On a separate injury related note, Seidenberg had his hard cast removed from his left forearm on Monday to reveal a two to three inch scar from where he suffered a tendon laceration. He wears a splint over it and has been working out though not yet able to take the ice. He is about four weeks through the eight weeks of expected recovery time which might make him available if the Bruins go to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Read More: Brad Marchand, Claude Julien, David Krejci, Dennis Seidenberg

Boychuk on D&H: Krejci ‘took a hit for the team’

05.06.10 at 1:35 pm ET
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Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk joined the Dale & Holley show Thursday afternoon to talk about the Bruins’ success in the Stanley Cup playoffs. To hear the interview, click on the Dale & Holley audio on demand page. Boychuck was asked if he felt capable of providing more offense to help make up for the loss of Marco Sturm and David Krejci to injuries. “I know I can do it for sure,” Boychuk said. “With those two guys out, everybody’s going to have to step up their game. I can’t really jump up in the rush at the wrong time, but when I see an opportunity to jump up in the rush, I’m going to make sure to do it and try to put the puck in the back of the net.”

On the hit from Flyers forward Mike Richards that injured Krejci Wednesday night, Bochuk said: “It actually looked like a clean hit to me. It was unfortunate that Krejci got hurt on it, but he made a play and we scored a pivotal goal in the game last night. He took a hit for the team, and we made sure to capitalize when it happened.”

Boychuk took some heat from Sabres fans for his hit that injured forward Thomas Vanek in the first round, but Boychuck said he doesn’t care if he’s the bad guy in Buffalo. “I don’t even think it was a cheap shot,” he said. “It was just a hockey-instinct play. It wasn’t like I was trying to hurt him. But they had to point the finger at somebody, so they had to point it at me, I guess. I just take it as it is. If they want to point the finger for their loss at me, then go ahead. That’s fine by me. It won’t bother me at all, and I’ll just keep playing the way I am.”

On the contributions of veteran forward Mark Recchi, Boycuk said, “I think we have to check his birth certificate, because he sure doesn’t play like a [42]-year-old. He’s a great team leader, and he plays like he’s 25. Having him in the dressing room — just his presence in the dressing room helps our whole team out just by keep it calm, keeping it cool. He gets goals for us that we need and want.”

On goalie Tuukka Rask, Boychuck said, “He’s kind of like an ice man. Nothing really bothers him. He’s always focused and into the game. You can’t really get him off his game easy.”

Read More: Bruins, Johnny Boychuk,

No Krejci could mean no Cup

05.06.10 at 10:42 am ET
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PHILADELPHIA — All of a sudden the Bruins are missing 89 points of production out of their lineup.

This is not a team that has all that much production to lose, let alone almost 100 points. Marco Sturm (22 goals, 15 assists) may not be seen as a huge loss for Boston, as he had not scored a goal in the playoffs and only had two strikes since March 13, but the loss of David Krejci (17 goals, 35 assists) to a reportedly broken wrist after a hit from Flyers captain Mike Richards in Game 3 is a huge blow.

Krejci was the key player to spur the Bruins to their late-season run and has been instrumental in their playoff success. It took the young Czech center a while to get going this year coming off of offseason hip surgery but he has been near the top of his game since the Olympic break, constantly creating chances around the net and showing that he has the potential to be a top-tier offensive talent in the league. He can be a joy to watch as he breaks down would-be defenders, like he did in Game 2 against the Flyers when eluding pressure on the half wall before sending the puck to the other side of the rink where Dennis Wideman and Blake Wheeler ended up assisting Miroslav Satan (who else?) on a goal.

Fact of the matter is, without Krejci, this magical playoff run the Bruins are on will probably come to and end. Center is the deepest position on the Bruins between Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Marc Savard, Vladimir Sobotka and Steve Begin but Sobotka is not the type of guy who can step up his game to the point of coming anywhere near being able to replace Krejci. Sobotka is a high-effort guy, concerned enough with just keeping his spot on the roster, let alone turning in to an offense-first NHL centerman.

So, sans Krejci, Boston just does not have another guy like that who can extend their roster. Savard, Bergeron and Krejci are supposed to complement each other, not replace each other. If Savard could have started ramping up his production coming off a Grade 2 concussion, you would have to like the Bruins chances against anybody in the NHL with their skill down the middle. There are no forwards on the roster who, without some extraordinary breakout playoff hysterics, can pick up that production. If you look at the Bruins roster they are strong on defense (and about to get stronger if Mark Stuart can come back soon), great in goal with Tuukka Rask or even Tim Thomas (because, yes, Thomas can still be a great goaltender) and deep down center. Forward is the lacking position and [potential No. 2 overall pick] Taylor Hall would be quite a welcome addition to the team come training camp next fall.

But that does not help the Bruins right now. With or without Krejci, there is almost no way that the Flyers are going to beat Rask four straight to take the series, but the production and roster-lengthening effect of Krejci cannot be replaced. This is especially pertinent if the Bruins end up playing the Penguins who are perhaps the deepest team at center in the entire league with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal.

Either way, it is a sad day for the wily Czech. Knowing his quiet intensity, it will be difficult for him to watch his teammates continue to battle for Lord Stanley’s Cup from the press box.

UPDATED — Now with correct math.

Read More: David Krejci, Mike Richards,

The ‘perfect’ road win

05.06.10 at 12:09 am ET
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PHILADELPHIA — The Bruins had plenty of chances to be demoralized in the opening four minutes of the game. They fell behind 1-0 on a misplay by a rookie defenseman. They then lost one of their leading playmakers and the same rookie defenseman to injuries.

But instead of hanging their heads, the Bruins produced one of the gutsier performances of the season, quickly turning the tables on the Flyers in a dominating 4-1 win on Wednesday night. As a result, they now stand one win away from their first trip to the Eastern Conference finals since 1992.

These Flyers had no bite to them at all and it was because of the tenacity of the Bruins, even when they lost one of their top specialty teams players in David Krejci to a reported broken wrist and another defenseman, Adam McQuaid to an undisclosed injury.

“I think we want it,” Blake Wheeler said. “I think we realize through the course of this year, we’ve had a real tough time scoring goals and we’ve kind of learned to adapt and score goals maybe not the prettiest way but the more efficient way.”

More importantly, the Bruins showed early in this game the kind of scoring punch they lack for most of the season. Then, once with the lead, they completely shut down the Flyers, even strength and on the penalty kill, even without the services of penalty killer extraordinaire David Krejci.

“The majority of my goals this year have been right in front of the net, off my head, off my skate,” Wheeler said. “You have to do what you have to get goals. And we kind of learned the hard way.”

Wheeler was the catalyst on Wednesday, redirecting Matt Hunwick’s shot from the left point past Brian Boucher. The Philly crowd had barely had time to bark about their first lead of the series when Boston promptly applied the muzzle.

“That tends to happen when the visiting team plays tight defensively and that’s kind of our game,” Wheeler added. “For the most part, I thought we did a really good job of letting Tuukka see the puck. If you don’t give them anything to cheer about, they can’t really get too loud. It was kind of the perfect road game for us. Keep the crowd out of it and keep it as boring as possible.”

And Wheeler’s coach couldn’t agree more about the quality of the win or the character his team showed.

“I thought it was a real good road game on our part if you want to look at the statistics of shots for and against,” Claude Julien said of his team being outshot 35-20 and still winning the game. “They’re a desperate team, they needed this win. For us to go down to a short bench and be able to sustain that and everything else, I thought our guys responded well. If anything, I thought it was a real gutsy effort on our part.”

Read More: Blake Wheeler, Bruins, Flyers,

Report: Krejci done with broken wrist

05.05.10 at 11:23 pm ET
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PHILADELPHIA — David Krejci was taken to a local hospital for treatment of an undisclosed injury following a hit by Philadelphia’s Mike Richards in the first period. Krejci was on just his second shift of the game when he was drilled in the shoulder by Richards in the neutral zone. Just before the hit, Krejci found Milan Lucic, who then fed Miroslav Satan for the go-ahead goal at 5:45 of the first period.

“It was a clean hit and there are no issues there,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said afterward.

The Bruins have not confirmed a CSNPhilly report that Krejci suffered a broken wrist and is scheduled to have corrective surgery in Baltimore.

The Bruins also played most of the game without defenseman Adam McQuaid, who was being evaluated by Bruins medical staff after the game for an undisclosed injury. Both Krejci and McQuaid played just two shifts before leaving and not returning.

Read More: Bruins, David Krejci, Flyers,

Bruins ready to bury Flyers with Game 3 victory

05.05.10 at 9:31 pm ET
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PHILADELPHIA — The Bruins took a big step toward the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday night, taking a Game 3 win over the Flyers at the Wachovia Center. Boston put Philadelphia down 3-0 in the best-of-seven series with a 4-1 victory and will look to sweep away the Flyers in Game 4 on Friday. Tuukka Rask continued his solid playoff play and won his seventh game of the postseason, while Brian Boucher has fallen from his high perch coming out of the Flyers’ quarterfinals series and took the loss by allowing three goals on 19 Boston shots.

Philadelphia put a digit on the board first for the first time in the series when Arron Asham struck 2:32 into the game. The play was set up when Bruins rookie defenseman Adam McQuaid turned the puck over to center Blair Betts at the blue line to start a 2-on-1 the other way with Claude Giroux and Asham. Giroux waited long enough down the left wing to put the puck on Asham’s stick for a flip across the crease on Rask for the early advantage.

Boston came storming back. Blake Wheeler scored the first playoff goal of his career (in his 17th postseason game) when he tipped a Matt Hunwick shot from the left point through the crease to tie the game at 4:11 in the first. A minute later, the Bruins took the lead when Flyers center Mike Richards was over-aggressive in hitting David Krejci as the Bruins center made his way out of the zone and sent the puck sliding through the neutral zone to Milan Lucic making the entry on the blue line. Lucic flipped to Miroslav Satan rushing down the seam and the Slovakian forward made an up fake with his stick and went around a diving Boucher’s glove to make it 2-1 at 5:15. Krejci would not return to the game after the hit.

Mark Recchi made it 3-1 at 2:30 of the third period on the power play when he was able to slam home a bouncing puck off a shot from Zdeno Chara in the high slot was blocked to the ice by Wheeler. It was Recchi’s fourth of the playoffs and the 54th playoff goal of his career. Patrice Bergeron added an empty-netter at 18:02 to put the exclamation point on the victory.

Three Stars

Miroslav Satan — Scored the Bruins second goal and continues to lead his legions in playoff scoring with 10 points through nine games (5 goals, 5 assists).

Tuukka Rask — The Finnish rookie withstood the storm to emerge dry on the other side as the Flyers put up the most shots they had through the series.

Blake Wheeler — Scored his first career playoff goal and assisted on Recchi’s in the third for his second career playoff multi-point night (second of playoffs).

Turning Point – Asham took a tripping penalty at the 50-second mark of the third period that was a touch of a questionable call as Matt Hunwick had lost an edge on the end boards on the sub-optimal Wachovia Center ice. The Bruins would take advantage on the power play when Chara slipped into the high slot and sent a screamer to the crease that Wheeler blocked down to the ice with his chest, straight to the stick of Recchi waiting for it to fall and bang home for the two-goal lead at 2:30.

Key Play — The Flyers had a great chance to tie the game at two around 14:52 of the second period when Asham put a ricochet rebound of Rask’s pads back on the goaltender. Rask could not corral the rebound and Asham flipped it back to the far side, as Rask was out of the crease attacking the point of attack. But the forwards attempt hit the post and the Bruins were able to clear it out of the zone and protect their lead in a period where they were outshot 15-9.

Read More: Arron Asham, Blake Wheeler, Brian Boucher, Claude Giroux
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