|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 »
|05.04.11 at 11:49 pm ET|
After Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals a season ago, the questions surrounding the Bruins weren’t about whether they could close out a 3-0 series. They were about how the Bruins could potentially reach their ultimate goal without David Krejci, who had left the game with what would later be diagnosed as a broken wrist. This time around, there’s a storyline with Krejci, but it’s far different. With Boston’s first-line center healthy, he’s shown just how much of a factor he can be, and the Flyers have been the biggest victim.
That isn’t news for Krejci. For one reason or another, the 25-year-old center has been an absolute force vs. Philadelphia, and it continued Wednesday night with his fourth goal in three games, as well as an assist on Zdeno Chara‘s power play goal in the third period.
Dating back to last year’s Winter Classic, and including the playoffs, Krejci now has 17 points (five goals and 12 assists) in his last 12 games vs. the Flyers. The B’s have won 11 of those 12 games, with the one loss coming this season in overtime.
“One thing is that my shots are finding the back of the net, and that’s a good thing,” Krejci said after Game 3. “Hopefully it’s going to keep coming. I don’t think it’s anything different from other teams. I’m just trying to play the same way as I always do, and I guess I just hope that it’s going to keep going well.”
The Flyers have certainly made it a point to limit Krejci’s chances, but the first line has continued to click. He ended Game 2 in overtime with a goal off Brian Boucher, and his tally in the first period Wednesday also proved to be a game-winner. Try as the Flyers might, there’s been no silencing Krejci this time around, and the Bruins, with a healthy Krejci, have a far better 3-0 lead than they did a series ago.
“They’re playing me hard, that’s for sure,” Krejci said. “They’re all letting me know that it’s going to be tough, but the puck’s going in for me right now.”
Krejci isn’t one to boast about personal achievements, so you won’t catch him reflecting too much on his dominance vs. the Flyers, or even admitting it exists. The mere acknowledgement of it Wednesday was enough from a guy who certainly knows he’s in a groove.
“I know I was doing well last year before I got hurt, and obviously this year I know how I’m doing,” he said. “I just hope I can keep going.”
Given that he had just one point in the first round against the Canadiens and already has seven points through three games vs. Philadelphia, it’s clear that Krejci just steps it up against Philadelphia, and that the Flyers have had no fun when he’s been in the lineup. Krejci said Wednesday that he “didn’t plan” to get hurt last year, but he isn’t thinking about it. With the way he’s going, he might not even have to think about Philadelphia much longer, as his play could put them in the Bruins’ rear view mirror.
|05.04.11 at 11:43 pm ET|
Last year, the Bruins failed to keep their foot on the gas pedal and let the Flyers back into a 3-0 series and back into a 3-0 Game 7. Whether the Bruins can finish off the Flyers in this series remains to be seen, but they showed on Wednesday night that they’re not about to ease off the gas again. After jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the game’s opening 63 seconds, the Bruins refused to let up and continued to pressure the Flyers at both ends of the ice.
‘I think we knew there was still lots of hockey left to play, and it was important for us to keep playing our game and not all of a sudden go into a shell or sit back,’ Claude Julien said. ‘They’re a team that is very good offensively and if you give them some space or if you sit back, they’re going to make you pay for it.’
The Bruins made it clear they weren’t going to sit back with a pair of huge hits on the forecheck. First it was Brad Marchand, who knocked Ville Leino clean off his skates with a hard shoulder to the chest. Later in the first period, Daniel Paille unloaded on Kris Versteeg and sent the forward sprawling into the boards.
‘There were a couple big hits, and we need that,’ said defenseman Johnny Boychuk, who had a nice hip check of his own on Leino in the defensive zone. ‘It’s a physical game in the playoffs. We just need guys to play like that and not run out of position to get that hit and give up an odd-man rush or something like that. They picked their spots and there were a couple great hits.’
Even when they weren’t landing bone-jarring hits, the Bruins were consistently disrupting Philadelphia’s breakouts. They got sticks on passes, forced them to circle back toward their own end and pressured them into turnovers.
‘I think our forecheck was really good,’ defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said. ‘Our forwards were really getting on their D. Even when they were coming out of their zone, our guys were stepping up and having good gaps and just keeping them from coming with speed into the middle.’ Read the rest of this entry »
|05.04.11 at 11:10 pm ET|
On Wednesday, the Bruins took just the series lead that they have been associated with for nearly a year. In holding a 3-0 edge over the Flyers in the Eastern Conference semifinals, the Bruins have the very lead that they blew a season ago when they were eliminated by Philadelphia in seven games. The Bruins are trying to block out the comparisons to last year, but given where they stand, it’s only natural.
“About half the guys weren’t here last year. It’s different,” center David Krejci said after the team’s 5-1 win. “We have better depth in our lineup, and we showed it in the first round. Hopefully that’s going to help us in the second round, too.”
While the roster itself is different, many of the veterans who were on the squad know that the B’s did learn from last season’s collapse — even ones who weren’t playing.
“We learned last year that the fourth win is the hardest,” Tim Thomas said. “We are playing one game at a time, one period at a time, and one shift at a time. We are going to try to play it the same way come Friday.”
The B’s can go for the sweep Friday at TD Garden.