|05.05.10 at 12:58 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — Centermen think they are so clever.
Faceoffs. Simple science or mischievous underworld of cheats and chicanery? A sub-theme to the Bruins and Flyers series that developed during Game 2 and is carrying into Game 3 in Philadelphia on Wednesday has been the Boston’s dominance on the dot. Flyers captain Mike Richards did not fare well on Monday against Patrice Bergeron in the circle and he is hoping that being home in the Wachovia Center will help take away the Bruins advantage.
“They are good faceoff guys and they used the home ice to their advantage,” Richards said. “He [Bergeron], is strong, I think he has a enough respect where he is allowed to cheat a little bit more. I am not sure what else but faceoffs are all about who can cheat the most and in the long run it is a lot easier taking face offs at home than it is on the road.”
Boston centerman David Krejci said after Game 2 that “every center has his tricks” and then refused to elaborate on exactly what tricks he has up his sleeve. It is like every center in the NHL is part of a little fraternity and each unit has their own secret handshake when it comes to gaining the advantage on the dot.
“Every one cheats on faceoffs, it is just about who does it the best,” Richards said. “Home ice I think it is a lot easier to take faceoffs than it is on the road and obviously is better to play with the puck so we will use that to our advantage tonight.”
What Bergeron does so well in the circle is get his shoulder down, quick stick and box out. Some guys do not come to a full stop when skating in for the drop, giving them more momentum in getting that shoulder down and the other center off the puck.
“I do it too. I do it all the time, everybody does,” Richards said. “Just look for the edge to win the faceoffs and I think the refs have been doing a great job of letting us pause a little bit.”
Richards mentioned multiple times that “it is easier to win faceoffs on home ice.” What he is basically saying is that is when teams have the last change they can craft their matchups to their benefit. For instance, Richards never touched the ice in the first two games without Bergeron and Zdeno Chara on his back. Flyers coach Peter Laviolette would double shift Richards and Chara would double shift as well. Laviolette has been scrounging around for trios and pairs that can break down the Bruins.
“I don’t think there was as much line juggling as you guys would call it,” Laviolette said. “It is more of trying to get somebody away from somebody cause we can get different matchups. It will be easier at home where we can start where we want and play from there. We are double shifting some guys in the lineup so that is a cause (of the line juggling) as well. Just with opportunities when we have been behind, we need to get guys out on the ice so we have some guys who we will shift them a little bit more with the guys out of the lineup.”
Laviolette is, of course, referring to Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne as the guys out of the lineup. Richards was Laviolette’s primary center during the regular season and took 1373 faceoffs at 50.7 percent success rate. Carter was the next guy on the list with 1314 at 52. 4 percent and both were about 500 ahead of the next guy on the team, Blair Betts at 855.
“We have to do a better job of doing being ready on the face offs,” Laviolette said. “I thought there were some faceoffs that we won and they picked it up and therefore it looked like their win. We have to be ready as a group. The centermen have to do a good job but our wingers have to do a good job as well.”
Can the Flyers change their fortunes around in this series with the simple advantages that come with being on home ice? Creating matchups for the purpose of forechecking and winning face offs is definitely an important part of the game but, as Laviolette points out, the Flyers still have to execute.
|05.05.10 at 12:21 pm ET|
Daniel Carcillo has become enemy No. 1 to Bruins fans, and Mike Emrick, of NBC Sports and Versus, said the Flyers tough guy will have extra attention from the officials as the series continues Wednesday night in Philadelphia.
“Carcillo with the various fake moves and all of that is starting to draw attention of the entire staff,” Emrick said to Dale & Holley on Wednesday. “I don’t think it’s going to play to well as the series goes on and you can probably see that he is not going to get a fair shake on some of these things if he had been probably the model player. I have a feeling that there is going to be some rank among the staff and they’ll keep a eye closer on him than they will someone else.”
Emrick said Game 3 probably will be the most “aggressive” of the series, and that the physical players like Carcillo or a Milan Lucic have always been fan favorites, especially in Boston and Philly.
“The Jesse James guys are really good, and we really don’t have too many guys who are difficult to deal with in the sport, but they are the best guys,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s just because they have a fairly humble roll to take on and they’ve agreed to do it. … But the one thing is they are the most likeable creatures that there are.”
The voice of the NHL on NBC said he he didn’t know why Bruins made such a turnaround in these playoffs, but he said they can be contenders going forward.
“Whatever it was they ought to bottle it up and Claude Julien can open a stand and sell it,” he said. “Whatever it is it’s worked. There are all kinds of radical turns that occur at playoff time.”
Emrick said it all started with winning at home.
“They started playing better at home at that point,” Emrick said, referring to a late-season win against the Rangers. “They’d only won one game at home since Fenway. That made it two and they built on it from there and got much better. I’m not sure what it was. I’m not sure if someone said something in the room or if it was one of those spontaneous things where they got confidence. … Whatever it is, they’ve done it really well and it’s a thrilling thing for their fans to see.”
|05.05.10 at 10:48 am ET|
Bruins forward Mark Recchi joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning to discuss his team’s playoff series against the Flyers.
With the Bruins up 2-0 in the series on the day of Game 3, Recchi expects the Flyers to come out with plenty of intensity as they face a must-win situation. “We know it was two good games, two hard-fought games, and it is going to be no different tonight,” he said. “We are going to have to weather the storm of their home crowd for the first 5-7 minutes and then push back. And if we can do that, it will play into our favor as well.”
Asked how he thinks his younger teammates will handle the hostile crowd, Recchi said he doesn’t think it will be much of an issue. “They won’t get unnerved about stuff like that at all,” he said. “Our guys are ready for everything. We’ve been in it, and Buffalo was a pretty crazy building as well. We’ve seen it first-hand, and Philly fans probably take it up a notch, but at the same time that won’t bother our guys.”
The Bruins’ struggles during the regular season were well documented. Despite that, the team has persevered and made it to the Eastern Conference semifinals. Recchi was asked if he ever had doubts that the Bruins would right the ship during moments like the team’s 10-game losing streak. “When you believe in the guys sitting beside you, in the dressing room, that never crosses your mind,” he said. “My biggest thing was I knew we had it in us, because we could control games and dominate games, but then we just couldn’t find that consistency. And I knew it was there. We did it the year before. a lot of these young guys had done it the year before. So in the end I wasn’t too unhappy that we went through that rough patch because I believe it makes you grow.”
The 42-year-old also talked about his transitions as a player over the last 20 years. “At 22 I was just a young offensive player who was very gifted offensively,” he said. “I was still learning to be a leader, but I had some great guys in the dressing room like Bryan Trottier and Joe Mullen. Thirty-two, I had become kind of a leader and was better at it. I was still an offensive player but I was getting better at two-way. And 42 is not as good offensively, but responsible defensively and I think I am a good leader in the dressing room.”
To listen to the interview, click here. A transcript is below.
Even though you guys are up 2-0, is the fact that you could have lost either of those games a good or bad thing in the team’s mind?
Well, as long as we understand that it could have went both ways I think that is the important thing — that you learn from it. We know it was two good games, two hard fought games and it is going to be no different tonight. We are going to have to weather the storm of their home crowd for the first five to seven minutes and then push back. And if we can do that it will play into our favor as well.
You almost have to expect this will be their best effort tonight. Is that safe to say?
Absolutely. They will throw everything at us but the kitchen sink. We’ll have to be ready for it and like I said we’ll have to push back. And if we can and we can weather it then it is going to be a tight game again.
If it doesn’t work for the Bruins, and it does for the Flyers, when do you expect it to get ugly?
Well, you never know with this rivalry. Both are big teams and physical teams, so you just never know.
Does the hostile crowd affect you?
Once you get out there playing, it doesn’t really matter. It is loud and when team’s come to our building it’s loud and energetic. It is a fun atmosphere to be in regardless of what building you are in. That’s what it is all about and the playoffs are fun, so you’ve got to enjoy it. Enjoy that 18,000 people hate you. Read the rest of this entry »
|05.05.10 at 8:42 am ET|
Bruins forward Mark Recchi joined the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning to talk about the B’s playoff run. To hear the interview, click on the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Asked about advice the 42-year-old veteran gave to the team’s younger players, Recchi said: “This is a great time of year right now. Enjoy it. Embrace it. Don’t let the pressure grab you. If you do that, you’re going to really have a good time with this and we’re going to be a better team for it.”
The Flyers have been trying to get under the Bruins’ skin in the first two games, but Recchi said all they’ve done is “wake the sleeping giant.” Said Recchi: “When we get involved in these games, we seem to really get the emotion and are able to play a better hockey game.”
Recchi said the key reason for the Bruins’ late-season turnaround was the team sticking together. “We believed in ourselves in the dressing room, and what we were trying to do,” he said. “We knew we weren’t consistent, so we really didn’t give [the fans] a lot of reasons to believe in us. But at the same time, we knew that if we found that consistency and that competitive edge every night, then we would be a team that’s very tough to play against. We found it at the right time. With all the injuries and everything we’ve been through, we really stuck together as a group. Through all the doubters and the naysayers, we hung in there together. We didn’t push apart. We actually grew together as a team more than anything.”
Recchi said he never lost faith in his team. “When you believe in the guys sitting beside you, in the dressing room, that never crosses your mind. My biggest thing was I knew we had it in us, because we could control games and dominate games, but then we just couldn’t find that consistency. And I knew it was there. We did it the year before.”
Recchi was asked which players are the best and funniest trash-talkers. “Shawn Thornton, he’s really protective of his players, his teammates,” Recchi said. “Our coach behind the bench is probably one of them, too. It’s pretty funny.” Asked about Flyers instigator Daniel Carcillo, Recchi said: “He’s actually not funny at all. There’s nothing funny to his repertoire at all.”
|05.04.10 at 2:57 pm ET|
Bruins forward Milan Lucic joined the Dale & Holley show Tuesday afternoon to discuss the B’s 3-2 win over the Flyers on Monday night. Lucic scored the game-winner with 2:57 left in the third period, sending the Bruins to Philadelphia with a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal showdown. Following is a transcript. To hear the interview, click on the Dale and Holley audio on demand page.
So you picked that corner, took the shot, and knew exactly where it was going, right?
Exactly, and it’s easy to pick them when the puck is bouncing like that, too.
I said the same thing about Savard’s goal in Game 1, it was bouncing around and he tucked it in then top corner.
Yeah, it’s weird, both game-winning goals so far, the puck was in the air, landed, and we caught it on the first bounce. Those are real hard shots for goalies to read because they don’t really know where it’s going to go, and for us, as players, those are the ones we just have to get on net, and sometimes they find a way and find a hole.
So was that the plan — just get it on net and maybe something will happen?
Yeah, to be honest, I didn’t really have a play, because [Miroslav Satan] and [David Krecji] were kind of covered by the defensemen there, and both our D-men were kind of covered, so I thought if I could just shoot it and get it past the first man, then I had a chance. Read the rest of this entry »
|05.04.10 at 2:40 pm ET|
Not everyone in black and gold had bad things to say about the physical play of the Flyers on Monday night in Boston’s 3-2 win.
Defenseman Johnny Boychuk – who put the Bruins on top with a first-period goal – was drilled on a clean, hard hit by Philly’s Scott Hartnell midway through the ‘eventful’ second period, just seconds after Boston captain Zdeno Chara took a run at Hartnell behind the Flyers net.
The result was Boychuk going airborne and landing hard on the ice. Boychuk wasn’t hurt except for his ego momentarily and acknowledged that he expects to see more of that kind of play when the series shifts to Philadelphia Wednesday night for Game 3.
“It wasn’t too wide-open There were some timely goals each team scored and some good hits, like the one on me. It was a great hit.”
Boychuk also believes the Bruins can learn something from Game 5 in Buffalo when they were playing a desperate Sabres team looking to stay alive. They were blown out, 4-1, and had to come back to Boston to seal the deal.
“We were in Buffalo and they took it to us,” Boychuk said. “We’re going to have to learn from that. Hopefully, we can overcome their intensity when we go to Philly.”
There will be some 20,000 fans not cheering on the Bruins on Wednesday and Boychuk and the Bruins are more than bracing themselves for what to expect.
“It’s a good barn play in and it’s tough barn to play in,” Boychuk said. “They’re going to come out hard and we have to match their intensity.”
Chara agreed with Boychuk’s assessment and won’t be shocked when the black and orange sweaters are out in force at the Wachovia Center.
“The further you go, it’s going to get tougher and tougher and the games are going to be harder and harder,” Chara said. “It’s just normal. That’s just the playoffs. It’s Philly and they like to play that kind of style and obviously, we like to play physical. It’s just two teams meeting each other with similar physical styles of play.”
|05.04.10 at 2:31 pm ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley, who also was part of the play-by-play team for Monday night’s game broadcast nationally on Versus, joined the Dennis & Callahan show Tuesday morning to discuss the B’s victory over the Flyers Monday night. Following is a transcript. To hear the interview, click on the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
How does Savard bite a gloved finger, and how is he the only one to go to the box after that little exchange?
Yeah, when you do a game for Versus, you’re supposed to be right down the middle, but I was lost for an explanation as to why there were no penalty minutes at all for the Flyers in that scrum. I’ll give you the fact that if you want to give Savard a slashing penalty because they really try to protect the goalie, even though it wasn’t all that much, it was not an uncommon play — if you want to give him a slash, fine. But there had to be some kind of penalty for either [Daniel] Carcillo and/or [Kimmo] Timonen in that scrum, but that’s not the way the officials saw it, and it’s not my job to beat them up, because those are the things you have to play through as players. The officiating has not been strong across the board in the playoffs this year.
Did Carcillo drop the gloves, or was he face-washing him with the gloves on?
He started with the gloves on, but eventually they came off in that skirmish. But you know, biting somebody’s hand when you can’t throw punches is not an uncommon thing. It has happened certainly several times in my career in the last 30 years, and I don’t see what the big deal is.
You say it happened — meaning you did it to somebody else, right?
OK, I was playing in Pittsburgh, we played Montreal, I hit Ryan Walter with an open-ice hit, where my shoulder caught him right in the side of his head, he was knocked out before he hit the ice, and obviously you knew what was going to happen as soon as that happened — it was just an all out five-on-five brawl. I’m on the bottom of the pile, Mark Hunter jumped on my back, neither one of us could throw punches, and he was trying to eye-gouge me. What was my defense? I had to bite his hand in order to protect myself.
So tell me what Savard did that he needs to apologize for?
He defended himself, in a position where he was outnumbered. He has to apologize for nothing.
I think this is significant — but you tell me. Of the Bruins’ six playoff wins, two were in OT, three were one-goal games, and the other was a two-goal game with an empty netter at the end. Significant?
The Bruins are comfortable in those types of games. They’ve played their share of them throughout the regular season, and I know the playoffs are a different animal altogether, but they’re comfortable because they believe in the system that they play. They know they don’t have all their weapons at their disposal, some key injuries, as do the Flyers, but they expect to play those kinds of games, where it’s just going to be one goal, one way or the other, whether it’s special teams, five-on-five. But they really feel that if they play their system, execute it, get contributions from everybody on their roster, they like their chances, because they also feel they have one of the best goalies if not the best goalie in right now in the National Hockey League playoffs. So, when you have that kind of formula, and you get the lead, which is what they’ve been able to do the last couple of times at home, they feel like they’re going to win most nights.
Are the Flyers now confident that they nearly won two games in Boston, or quite the opposite, being that that they lost two games they could have had?
Their mindset has to be that this could be a 2-0 series for them, it could be 1-1, OK, it’s 0-2. What we’ve proven is that we’ve given ourselves an opportunity to win games, what are the adjustments we have to make in order to make sure we win some one-goal games on home ice? We’re going to use the crowd, number one, we’re going to try to be very aggressive on our forecheck, which they tried to do more of last night, and were successful at times, although I thought the Bruins almost gave them their two goals, certainly their opportunities to score those two goals in that 3-2 win last night, but they will play with even more of an edge, and try to maintain a certain amount of discipline, and kind of intimidate Boston a little bit. Philadelphia has a rich tradition of being good at home, intimidating at home, use the crowd and up their desperation. I mean, it’s that simple. They cannot go down 3-0. They know if they’re going to win this series they’re have to come back to Boston and win in Boston, but the only opportunity they will have is if they hold serve in Games 3 and 4.
Rumor has it when you tried to interrupt Jack Edwards during his soliloquy about the Edmund Fitzgerald, he bit you — is that true?
I’m going to take the fifth on that.
You know how good you are, Brick. You don’t seem like a homer on NESN, or a homer now on Versus.
Well that’s not my concern. I guess what I’m saying is when I watch a Bruins game or analyze a Bruins game, I try to analyze it from a Bruins point of view or a Bruins fan’s point of view, but when you do Versus you really have to try to see both sides. I don’t think it’s walking the line that’s the issue, because I have an educated fan base, they’re watching television, they’re seeing basically the same stuff I’m seeing, even though I have a full view of the ice and I can answer the question why, but they see it so I don’t have to make things up, I just try to explain what’s going on and what the players are thinking.
When did you see this coming. When was it possible for the Bruins to make this kind of run – and do you think it could continue?
To be honest, I had my doubts like any other Bruin fan. I don’t think I was as negative, even when they were winless in 10 straight. I thought that if they could just get to the postseason, that if they drew the right matchups they could advance. What convinced me was those final 12 games of the regular season, how they played with guys going down, and still able to use the system and believe in it, and excuse a game-plan. And then, become accountable to one another. I don’t think they had that accountability throughout the year, for a variety of reasons. But once they arrived there, they looked at the he postseason as a season of redemption, a chance to prove themselves – and the experience that they had last year, that bitter disappointment in Round 2, especially for the young guys that were really just kind of finding their way in the postseason, those were the things that convinced me that they had a real good chance, certainly to beat Buffalo.
Wasn’t Carsillo’s hit on Begin way closer to crossing the line than [Steve] Begin’s hit on Carcillo, which, by the way, Carcillo put a major swan-dive flop on?
Yeah, if you watched a lot of that Sabres series, the guy kind of reminds you of Patrick Kaleta a little bit. You know, plays on the edge, finishes his hits high, even though they start within the rules, and then when he’s on the receiving end, the embellishment, and the flopping, I agree with all of that. I thought his hit was a little high, and possibly a penalty on Begin. You know, you have to make a split-second decision at that point if you’re Begin. You have to calculate, what am I going to do here to retaliate? Do I wait? Do I bide my time? Do I take a number? Do I react right now? And you have to say — early in the game, home ice, it’s Carcillo, we’re up 1-0, I need to respond right now. And I agreed with the response, even though it put his team down a man.
When does Philly get ugly, if they lose Game 3?
No, I think it could happen in Game 3, I think it could happen early. I don’t know if ugly is the right word, but certainly a far more aggressive, if they can, game plan against Boston. Again, it’s that home ice, it’s that raucous crowd, it’s that desperation, ‘We’ve got to win this game, let’s try to get this lead and win the game in the first period,’ but that could be problematic. If you get outside your discipline, and you take some penalties, and you give up some two-on-ones, three-on-twos because you’re taking yourself out of position to be over-aggressive, then it can work against you. So it’s a fine line, if you’re Peter Laviolette, he’s got to really channel his guys in the right direction. But using what they use best, and that is that very physical, aggressive stuff.
A lot of expectations were placed on Lucic when he showed up. Compared to Cam Neely, would you say he’s an underachiever?
No, even when he was playing his best at whatever time over the last two, three years, it was totally unfair to make that comparison. Sure, he’s a big guy, he’s a tough guy, he can be intimidating, can drop the gloves, won the majority of his fights, showed a goal-scoring touch you know, with 17 goals on a team that was one of the best offensive teams in the league, everybody had terrific seasons, and that got the Bruins fans excited about what he could be. But to compare him to Neely is totally unfair. I think he’s a different kind of player, a different kind of skater. Would he develop into a consistent 30-goal guy? That would be awesome if he did that, and did everything else that he does do. But his game is really based on that hard forechecking, get to the front of the net, get some ugly goals, like that turnaround — I wouldn’t say it was ugly, but it wasn’t a thing of beauty last night, it was just a monster shift where you win a lot of one-on-one battles. Cam really took his game to another level, especially when he got hurt. He learned to use the ice and the players around him, he got smarter, he got to areas in a different way, he didn’t have to run over people, he did it in more of a Brett Hull style, where he was in the slot, out of the slot, got back in there, took nice passes and that great, quick release. So, if Milan Lucic gets to anywhere near that comparison, I think he’s had a good career.
Tuukaa Rask aside, who has impressed you the most in this playoff series?
Wow. I mean, that list is long for me, because of what I’m watching. If I start with the elite guys, like a [Patrice] Bergeron number one, I mean, this guy is just incredible. The ability to control the puck and win pucks, when they’re out there for 50-50s, who’s going to get it, he wins so many of those battles. He’s great in the faceoff circle, he plays in every situation, and he’s just a great role model for everybody else to watch. And he plays alongside Mark Recchi — this guy’s 42 years old, and he just keeps logging monster minutes and making all the right plays. And I love his commentary, you know, you’ve got to embrace the playoffs, enjoy this, this is why we play — and let’s play to win when the game’s up for grabs, he talked about that going into overtime in Game 1, he talked about it going into the third period last night. Don’t overlook Chara — the Bruins have had the ability to match up against Richards these whole first two games because they have the home ice. Johnny Boychuck, I love this kid, seventh defensemen to start the year, he played more minutes than anybody in Game 1, that’s how effective he’s been. The list goes on and on, [Dennis] Wideman’s resurgence after taking a lot of heat this year, understandably. [Miroslav] Satan — where did he come from? They got this guy out of Long Island who was just practicing with some pro guys — wasn’t even part of an NHL camp, or had any kind of opportunity, he’s got big points for Boston — so the list just goes on and on of the contributions you’re getting from guys you probably didn’t expect.
Could you see this team riding on the duck boats with the Stanley Cup a month from now? Is that possible?
Why not? They’ve been impressive, I know that’s getting way ahead of ourselves, but look at the seeds in the East. The top three seeds are all out, so I think it’s anybody’s to be had in the East. And then once you get into the finals, who knows? Who knows what players are available, injuries are a big part of the postseason, what you can withstand, what you can’t. And then, of course, it all starts on the goal line. As we mentioned already, Rask is showing that this is a big-time, prime-time goalie.
They might have a scheduling problem, because the Celtics are going to need the duck boats one day themselves.
What a feel-good morning this is, after watching the Boston sports last night.
Latest from Bleacher Report
- Do the Bruins Need to Make Major Change on Defense Before 2014-15?
- Should the Bruins Re-Sign Shawn Thornton?
- Bruins Prospects Look to Preserve Their AHL Playoff Run
- Complete Guide to Bruins' 2014 Offseason
- Final Report Card for Bruins' 2013-14 Season
- Game 6 Keys for Bruins, Canadiens
- Takeaways from Canadiens vs. Bruins Game 5