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VIDEO: Savard comes ‘half-circle’

05.01.10 at 6:22 pm ET
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Marc Savard, playing his first game since the ‘Matt Cooke incident’ on March 7, may have scored the game-winner at 13:52 of overtime on Saturday but he wanted to make sure to thank Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci for doing their part earlier in the game to make it possible.

“I felt bad for Bergy and Krech because I was doing all those half-circles and they ended up playing 25-26 minutes,” Savard said. “But they did a great job. They battled hard and they’ve been playing great all playoffs, so I just got a break tonight.”

Savard, who skated 23 shifts in his 15 minutes, 16 seconds of ice time, expected the Flyers to test his readiness and they didn’t disappoint.

“I think they played me hard and that’s part of the playoffs,” Savard said. “You don’t make too many friends out there. And that’s the way [Chris] Pronger plays against everybody. He just took me out hard a couple times. [Mike] Richards is a fierce competitor, but that’s part of the game. We had a couple words for each other, but that’s part of the game.

“So I’m sure it’s not going to get any easier. They’re a good hockey team out there, you got to give them credit. They were down all night and they kept battling back and put us in a tough spot. Tuukka [Rask] made some huge saves again when he had to, and I’m just proud of every guy. Every guy played hard again. It was a lot of guys keep their heads up high and just kept working.”

Now that Savard has his legs, he’s going to work on his focus.

“I mean it’s been a whirlwind for me,” Savard admitted. “Obviously I went through a lot of tough days and I don’t know what happened. I felt like when they tied it and we went in the room I felt like, ‘Geez, I think this is how it’s supposed to be right here.’ I mean, everybody played great tonight. I kept it as short as I could. Obviously I did a couple circles and then came back off. But when Wides [Dennis Wideman] pinched, Wides [Wideman] made a nice pinch there and kept it alive, I was just thinking, ‘As soon as this thing lands, I’m shooting it.’ And it found a way in.”

“I guess you can’t script it any better, if you ask anybody,” he added. “It’s only Game 1, you got to remember that. I’ll have a lot of time to enjoy it actually because it was an afternoon game, so that was nice. But, just get my rest, keep working through it, and hopefully get after Game 2.”

And maybe by then Savard will be skating full circles around the Flyers.

Read More: Bruins, Flyers, Marc Savard, NHL

Savard triumphs in overtime to take Game 1

05.01.10 at 3:46 pm ET
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Marc Savard made a triumphant return, scoring the game-winning goal in overtime to lead the Bruins past the Flyers Saturday. (AP)

Marc Savard made a triumphant return, scoring the game-winning goal in overtime to lead the Bruins past the Flyers Saturday. (AP)

Summary — The Bruins and Flyers are off to the races in their Eastern Conference quarterfinals and it was Boston that came out a leg ahead in Game 1, taking it 5-4 in overtime on Saturday afternoon at TD Garden. Philadelphia came back from two down in the last ten minutes of the third period to send the game to extra time. Marc Savard scored the game-winner to clinch the series opener when he beat Brian Boucher in overtime. Tuukka Rask took the win with 32 saves while Boucher was the loser by allowing five goals on 46 shots.

There was bad news for the Boston right off the bat as forward Marco Sturm tried to check Matt Carle into the boards but Carle sidestepped and Sturm only registered a partial hit. As Sturm skated away he crumpled and fell in the slot and could not make it off the ice on his own and had to be assisted by trainers off the ice and down the tunnel.

Irony would then strike and so would the Bruins. Steve Begin, who took Sturm’s spot on line with with Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi, scored his first career playoff (in 30 appearances) goal at 2:39 when he caught a loose puck off attempts from Recchi and Bergeron on the right side of Boucher’s crease and snapped it top shelf for the early lead. It was only the second time in the playoffs (though second straight game) where the Bruins have scored the first goal of the game.

The Bruins would make it 2-0 at 12:54 on a quick snap-bang-slam play between Bergeron and Dennis Wideman. Bergeron won a face off to the stick of Wideman at the point and the center went straight to the net as Wideman wound up and put a slap shot on Boucher’s pads. The puck bounced up and Bergeron put it behind the goaltender for his second point of the game and third goal of the playoffs.

The Flyers cut into the lead at when Ryan Parent found the puck idling up the high slot after Mike Richards and Arron Asham put pressure on Rask at 7:38 of the second period. Parent skated in with a full head of steam and got every piece of it to send it screaming through traffic in front and rattle around the back of the net to make it 2-1.

But Boston insisted on keeping its two-goal advantage and used the power play to its advantage (Mike Richards, Daniel Carcillo and Marc Savard all for roughing at 9:58) when Johnny Boychuk hit a liner from the point that deflected off of defenseman Braydon Coburn’s skate straight onto the stick of Miroslav Satan on the right dot for the put back and a 3-1 lead at 11:43 in the second period.

Philadelphia gradually shook off the rust from its long layoff between series as the game went along and kept itself in the game and the Flyers finally broke down the Bruins penalty kill late in the second. Chris Pronger was the culprit as the puck was cycled to him in the high slot and he skated over to the right point and took a seeing-eye slap shot that went through Rask’s pads to make it 3-2 at 15:58. It was the first power play goal the Bruins had allowed all postseason through 21 opportunities.

David Krejci put Boston back up by two goals at 7:25 in the third when a shot by Satan got through traffic in front of the net and slipped through to crease level where the center could wait for Boucher to commit, which he did on Krejci’s second fake, and put it in the corner passed the goaltenders skate to make it 4-2.

Philadelphia stormed back with two goals four minutes apart in the back half of the third period. The first was a rebound put back by Richards at 12:37 to cut the Bruins momentum and keep the Flyers hanging around long enough to make it a contest. The strike would prove pivotal as Danny Briere tied the game at 16:38 when he took the puck straight down the middle of the ice, through the neutral zone and high slot and split Wideman and Matt Hunwick in half to shoot, rebound and score on Rask to knot it at four goals apiece.

Three Stars

Marc Savard– Had the game-winner in overtime.

Patrice Bergeron — Boston’s biggest engine propelled the team to a hot start with a goal and an assist in the first period and another in overtime giving him seven points (three goals, four assists) through seven playoff games.

Mike Richards — The Flyers’ captain had two assists and a goal as Philadelphia kept up with the Boston attack.

Turning Point –  Briere torched Matt Hunwick and Wideman by skating straight down the ice, through the slot and put a shot on Rask, picked up the rebound and put in in the net without ever really slowing down to tie the game at four at 16:42 in the third to bring the Flyers back from what seemed a certain defeat in the opening game of the series and eventually send the game to overtime.

Key Play – Savard scored the game-winner in overtime when he found the puck on the right circle and whipped it with vigor at Boucher who had little chance at the screamer that sent TD Garden into a riot.

Read More: Brian Boucher, Chris Pronger, Danny Briere, David Krejci

2nd period summary: Bruins vs. Flyers Game 1

05.01.10 at 2:11 pm ET
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The Flyers showed some life in the second period, outscoring the Bruins, 2-1, but it’s the home ice team that still leads, 3-2, after 40 minutes.

The Flyers scored their first goal after their killed off a penalty to Mike Richards, who came out of the penalty box to stand in front of Tuukka Rask.

Ryan Parent blasted a slap shot through a heavy screen to make it, 2-1, Bruins at 7:38 of the period.

Boston came right back though and scored on the power play when Braydon Coburn blocked a shot from Johnny Boychuk from the right point. The carom came out to Miroslav Satan at the top of the right circle. His shot beat Brian Boucher to re-establish the two-goal advantage at 11:43.

But the Flyers responded with the first power play goal against the Bruins in these playoffs after 21 consecutive kills as Chris Pronger scored his third of the playoffs on a blast from the right point at 15:48.

The Flyers outshot the Bruins, 11-6, in the second.

It’s the first time the Flyers have trailed after two periods in six playoff games this year.

Read More: Bruins, Flyers, Stanley Cup Playoffs,

1st period summary – Bruins vs. Flyers Game 1

05.01.10 at 1:16 pm ET
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The Bruins came out with the early energy and dominated the Flyers in the opening minutes of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals and lead 2-0 after 20 minutes.

The only bit of bad news was an apparent right knee injury to Marco Sturm.

Sturm will not return to Game 1 after colliding with Philadelphia’s Matt Carle along the offensive corner boards in the first two minutes of the first period and apparently banging his right knee.

He was helped off the ice by teammates Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. Sturm’s replacement, Steve Begin, scored the game’s first goal, his first in 30 playoff games. The goal came at 2:39 of the first.

Bergeron, who assisted on Begin’s goal, scored one of his own when he put a collected a loose rebound offered up by Brian Boucher on Dennis Wideman’s slap shot from the right point. Bergeron’s flipped it past Boucher for a 2-0 lead at 12:54.

Both goals were even strength and both were the result of lots of traffic in front of Boucher. No penalties in the first.

The Bruins outshot the Flyers, 15-8, in the opening period.

Read More: Bruins, Flyers, Stanley Cup Playoffs,

Julien: ‘I think some of our players weren’t even born’

05.01.10 at 12:25 pm ET
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Bruins coach Claude Julien held a pre-game press conference at TD Garden Saturday morning before puck drop of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Flyers. Julien touched on how he will monitor the return of center Marc Savard, the play of rookie defenseman Adam McQuaid and the playoff history of the two teams. Along those lines, Julien said not to expect the same type of series that was waged between the two franchises during the heyday of the Broad Street Bullies of the 1970s.

“Because the past is the past and we all anticipate the same thing to happen that happened in I think it was 1975, that was quite a few years ago. I think some of our players weren’t even born,” Julien said. “Nonetheless, we want to associate that with today. The game has changed, the rules have changed, so much has changed. I’m not saying it won’t be a physical game, but to try and associate those two, I don’t think there is going to be a ton of comparison.”

The Bruins and Flyers have not met in the playoffs since the semis in 1978 when the Boston took down Philadelphia in five games.

Julien was noncommittal about who would make the lineup come game time though word has just come down that Shawn Thornton is the healthy scratch. He participated in warmups but will be on his way to the press box to watch shortly. Blake Wheeler will get the nod at the forward spot on the fourth line.

Here is the transcript of the press conference, courtesy of the Bruins media relations staff:

On how the team is going to handle Philadelphia is going to try and rough up the thin defensemen core:

Well, Mick I think we have been dealing with that for about a month now, since those two other guys [Mark Stuartand Dennis Seidenberg] got hurt and we have had to use more those [other] players. It hasn’t been an issue so I don’t know why we should be looking at it as an issue again. Guys know what to do. They want to stay out of the box. We have to stick together. It’s the same old cliche as you hear everyday so, again, it’s not a big deal for me and we will deal with it the way we have dealt with it so far and if it becomes more of an issue, then we will make the adjustment.

On how he monitors how Marc Savard is playing and feeling:

I think you get a pretty good idea by watching what he is doing out there and seeing the energy he is deploying and at one point he gets to the bench, you can see if he is overly tired. You can do that with any player right now. When you see them on the bench, you have a pretty good idea if a guy needs an extra break, so those are all things that we have to look at. The thing is, we talked about putting him in situations where he is going to help our hockey club. At the same time, this is playoff hockey. We can’t wait or sacrifice our team for the sake of giving him that opportunity. It is important for him to go out in the situations we put him in and really try and help our team out. It’s as simple as that. We are here to win. We are not here to cater to anybody, but we have to do what it takes for the team and that is why he has been working hard for the last ten days to get into the best shape possible so that he can step in and at least contribute in some way or fashion.

On Adam McQuaid and how he has been prepared for the playoffs:

He is a stay at home defenseman, we know that. You’re not going to see him rush up the ice a lot, but what he does is take care of his own end and takes care of it well. He is a good sized defenseman that has a good presence. He can certainly take care of the toughness area. He takes care of himself extremely well there. He makes a good first pass and that is what we’re getting out of him and that’s what we expect out of him. I don’t think we are going to ask him to do more than what he does well. I think he has done a tremendous job when called upon. That is where he fits in and we are happy with the way he has answered.

On if he expects the style of play to be the same between the two teams as it was in the past:

I don’t know. We always want to predict here before it starts and a lot of times we predict rough and tough and all of the sudden it is a good, fast-paced hockey game. I think we will probably have a better idea after tonight which direction the series is going into. I know that we just want to go out there and play our game and I think they want to do the same thing here. Because the past is the past and we all anticipate the same thing to happen that happened in I think it was 1975, that was quite a few years ago. I think some of our players weren’t even born. Nonetheless, we want to associate that with today. The game has changed, the rules have changed, so much has changed. I’m not saying it won’t be a physical game, but to try and associate those two, I don’t think there is going to be a ton of comparison.

Read More: Adam McQuaid, Claude Julien, Marc Savard, Philadelphia Flyers

Milbury on D&H: Sitting Thornton would be ‘a crime’

04.30.10 at 4:49 pm ET
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Mike Milbury

Mike Milbury

NESN and NBC hockey analyst Mike Milbury joined Dale & Holley Friday afternoon to discuss the Bruins-Flyers Eastern Conference semifinal series and the rest of the matchups in the NHL playoffs.

With the likely return of Marc Savard for Game 1 tomorrow at TD Garden, it will have to come at the expense of another player on the roster. That looks like it might be Shawn Thornton, and Milbury said that that move would be a mistake. “I would shed a real tear if I were a Bruins fan, if that happens,” he said. “I don’t think his presence in the lineup is given enough importance by the people in management, frankly. I’ve seen him sort of get jerked around this year and I thought it was a mistake. If he doesn’t play tomorrow I think it is a mistake, and if he doesn’t play every game the rest of the way I think it’s a crime.”

Milbury agreed with the hosts that sitting Blake Wheeler would be a better option for the Bruins. “Why would they not sit Blake Wheeler? … I know there isn’t a lot of choices there, but when it comes to a guy you want to count on every game or you want to count on somebody in the last minute to get the puck out from along the wall, I sure as heck would count on Shawn Thornton. And if you are looking for a goal right now, picking Thornton over Wheeler is a 50-50 bet.”

Though he is not so high on the performance of Wheeler, Milbury said that he has been impressed by Tuukka Rask. When asked which goaltender remaining in the playoffs he would prefer, Milbury didn’t hesitate. “I don’t think for the age or the money, but just based on performance I don’t think you’d want to go with anybody but Tuukka Rask right now.

“I don’t know how much better he is going to get, but some of these games he has been absolutely terrific,” he said.

As for the B’s opponent, Milbury said the Flyers are in the second round thanks to the play of Boucher. “Philadelphia’s surprise for me is that they found a goaltender when they needed it the most, and it is a recycled goaltender at that,” he said. “Without him to lean on I don’t know how they get any further. There were moments when was shaky, but in the end I thought he played real well.”

To listen, click on the Dale & Holley audio on demand page. A full transcript is below.

Give me three reasons why the Bruins lose or win this series.

I hate making predictions because usually it is the kiss of death for my favorite time. But I’m going to pick the Bruins. “I’ll pick Tuukka Rask, because he’s a better goaltender than Brian Boucher. He’s got the composure to play at this level, at this stage without missing a beat. I have that much confidence in him. Second would be the return of Marc Savard. I know there is a little bit of Vegas gambling going on with him,  but I think his presence in the lineup, on the power play, is going to be a major factor, maybe the tipping point in the series. And the third one is that the Bruins have somehow found a way to bounce back after a turbulent year. I think they really put themselves in a position where they have the mental toughness to win this series. I don’t think anybody expected Philadelphia to be there. People probably didn’t expect the Bruins to be there. They match up pretty evenly. But I think what the Bruins have gone through gives them a little bit of an edge.

The third one I had was that the Flyers are so beat up, I think that will be for them to overcome.

If I put my other shoe on here I would be picking Philadelphia because Boucher has figured it out, their defense is probably deeper with the absence of  [Mark] Stuart and [Dennis] Seidenberg and up front despite the fact that [Jeff] Carter is not there and they lost [Ian] Laperriere and [Simon] Gagne, they’ve still got some pretty good weapons in Mike Richards and Danny Briere. It is a pretty good matchup and this could go the distance I think.

There is a great piece from John Powers in the Globe today about young goaltenders and you are quoted talking about Mike Moffat. He was thrown in there and it might have killed his career.

He was not equipped to handle it. I mean he said, ‘I can’t do it. I can’t go out there.’ And Gerry [Cheevers] said, ‘Put your mask on and go out there. And he wound up throwing up in his mask. He went out there and he was absolutely brilliant in that entire series. We lost in seven games to Quebec that year on a lousy floater goal from the point. It was a heck of a run and Moffat was a huge part of it, but he couldn’t summon that kind of energy for every game in his career and eventually he decided it wasn’t for him.

Why is the list so small of rookie goaltenders who have been a part of championship teams?

Well, it is the most challenging emotionally in terms of a position. I don’t get the mentality of who wants to be a goalie. It is OK when you are stopping tennis balls in the street instead of a hard rubber disk going about 100 mph. Your mind has got to be of a different sort. It usually takes a goaltender awhile, and by awhile I mean if you go back and look at it usually they are about 25 or 26. That is the time frame for most goaltenders. However, you are seeing all these guys come into the league at 18, 19 or 20 and they are making an impact and I would suspect that goaltenders are not far behind. The training is so much better, the preparation is so much better. They are playing on big stages at 14 and 15 and I would suspect that goaltenders sooner or later will be in that ballpark. Read the rest of this entry »

Bruins know what to expect from the Flyers

04.30.10 at 2:32 pm ET
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The Bruins are in for a physical series. It’s just the nature of Philadelphia sports — if you play there, you have to bring an edge. This group of Flyers is no exception, with bruising bodies including Chris Pronger and Braydon Coburn on the blue line and pesky, instigator forwards Daniel Carcillo and Scott Hartnell up front. Carcillo put up an impressive 207 penalty minutes during the regular season and then another 18 in five games against the Devils in the quarterfinals. A big part of the how the series swings will be how Boston manages the physical game and how well the B’s keep their tempers when the Flyers inevitably get under their its skin.

An interesting situation pops up with the Bruins as the return of Marc Savard from concussion causes a player to get bumped from the lineup. Indications from the last three days of practice are that nominal enforcer Shawn Thornton will sit, as Blake Wheeler may take his spot on the checking line. Coach Claude Julien warned not to assume that a decision had been made, but often this season what we have seen in practice is what we see come game time. Either way, Julien does not seem to see the loss of Thornton on the ice as a major concern.

“We are, I guess I would consider us ‘team tough.’ I don’t see any issues any way we go, and if there is, they will be addressed. It is as simple as that,” Julien said.

Thornton does not see himself as only a tough guy, to his credit because he does do other things well on the checking line. At the same time, he is always willing to ring the bell when his particular services are called upon.

“To tell the truth, I think I can play the game besides for that and be a factor in anything, not just the tough man. If that stuff happens, I am more than willing to take care of it. I think it is more that I play with a chip on my shoulder and don’t back down and showing through the last few that I don’t just want to play against the tough team but that I try to contribute in every game,” Thornton said.

Boston did well against the Sabres when it came to keeping net-crashers out of the way of Tuukka Rask, and the team is going to have to keep cutting the timber again to make sure that the goaltender can see where would-be goal-scorers are coming from.

“The less time you spend in the D-zone is for the best, but they are going to get their cracks and you just have to stay composed and stay where you are supposed to stay and just work in front of Tuukka, because if you let him see the puck he is going to stop the majority of things,” Wheeler said.

Rask, as per his normal demeanor, did not seem too concerned about the Flyers’ style of play. The Bruins have seen it before and they know what to expect.

“We know them and we played against them and their style. They like to get pucks in and crash the net. That is what a lot of teams do, but they have big forwards and really that is their style of play to get in front of the net and get pucks in,” Rask said. “I mean, guys block shots and get me a lane to see shots, and in the last series we did a great job with that. As a goalie it really helps when you can see the shooter and maybe one more thing and when you see the puck it becomes much easier.”

The Bruins also need to be aware that the Flyers have a history of the quick strike while on the penalty kill. They had just six short-handed strikes (same as the Bruins) in the 2009-10 regular season but led the league with 16 in 2008-09 and were near the top with 13 in 2007-08. Granted, without Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne for the series because of toe injuries (Gagne may return if the series goes the distance but Carter definitely is out), the Flyers’ short-handed capabilities are hindered, but that does not mean the Bruins should take the possibility lightly.

“Definitely, you have to be smart with the puck, even on the power play. You can’t make lazy passes, and if you find yourself turning the puck over it is going to be going the other way pretty quick,” Wheeler said. “Eliminate turnovers is probably first and foremost. I think they live on turning the puck over and going the other way, and if we eliminate those things I think we will give ourselves a great chance.”

Read More: Blake Wheeler, Claude Julien, Daniel Carcillo, Scott Hartnell
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