|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.
|05.04.11 at 9:39 pm ET|
By DJ Bean and Scott McLaughlin
The Flyers can say they have the Bruins right where they want them, but the B’s now have a 3-0 lead in their best-of-seven series and a stranglehold on their Eastern Conference semifinals clash.
Nathan Horton had a Gordie Howe hat trick and David Krejci continued his dominance of the Flyers in a 5-1 Bruins’ win. Horton assisted Krejci’s goal in the first period, fought former Bruin Sean O’Donnell at 3:31 of the second, and scored his fifth playoff goal at 15:14 of the period. Even the power play scored, as Zdeno Chara scored his second of the night on a 5-on-3 in the final minutes.
Though they essentially stole Game 2, the Bruins came out and beat the Flyers Wednesday night just about as handily as they could beat anyone. Chara scored his first goal of the playoffs with a rocket past Brian Boucher just 30 seconds in, and Krejci scored his fourth goal of the last three games just 33 seconds later, and from there, the Flyers’ response was minimal. Andrej Meszaros provided Philadelphia with its lone tally in the second, though it was after the B’s had scored four and chased Boucher for the second time this series. In pulling Boucher in the second period for Sergei Bobrovsky, Flyers coach Peter Laviolette has now changed goalies mid-game due to performance five times in 10 postseason games this year.
The Bruins will go for the sweep in Game 4 at TD Garden Friday. Should the Flyers take that contest, the series would continue in Philadelphia on Sunday.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Once again, Krejci got on the scoresheet against the Flyers, which at this point should come as no surprise. With his first-period goal and third-period assist, Krejci extended his point streak vs. the Flyers to 12 games, including the playoffs. Krejci has four goals thus far in the series, and dating back to last year’s Winter Classic, he has five goals and 12 assists vs. Philadelphia. Even better? The Bruins are 11-0-1 in those games.
Krejci’s goal also proved to be the game-winner, giving him two game-winning goals in the Bruins’ three wins in the series against Philly. He scored in overtime to clinch Game 2 in Philadelphia.
– The Bruins really couldn’t have asked for any better of a start. They assaulted the Philadelphia net right from the get-go, resulting in Chara’s first goal of the playoffs just 30 seconds in. Boucher made the initial stop on a pretty centering pass from Patrice Bergeron to Brad Marchand, but Marchand collected the rebound at the side of the net and fed Chara for a laser-guided one-timer into the top corner. The B’s struck again just 33 seconds later when Milan Lucic found Krejci in front for his fifth of the postseason. Boston didn’t let up after the fast start, either, as it continued to dominate pretty much all aspects of the game (including an astounding 14-3 advantage on faceoffs) throughout the first.
– The Bruins were the more physical team from the beginning, and they did what they could to get that point across. Marchand absolutely crushed Ville Leino in the corner with the Flyers on the power play early on, and Boychuk followed suit. Marchand had a team-leading seven hits in the first two periods.
– As a fourth-liner, Paille doesn’t get a ton of ice time, but he certainly made the most of it Wednesday night. In the first period, he did an outstanding job killing the Flyers’ first penalty of the night. Paille was on the ice for the first 55 seconds of it and he was all over the place. He disrupted several passes and twice cleared the puck the length of the ice. Later in the period, he landed a huge hit on Kris Versteeg at the Flyers’ blue line. Paille’s hard work paid off with his first goal of the playoffs 13:39 into the second when he took a pass from Gregory Campbell on a 3-on-2 and rifled it over Boucher’s shoulder.
Give credit to Boychuk on the play as well, as it was a heads up play in intercepting a Flyers’ pass that started the play.
– With his assist on Chara’s goal early in the first, Bergeron is now tied with Philly’s Claude Giroux for the most points in these playoffs with 12 (2g, 10a). The assist wasn’t even the most impressive part of Bergeron’s game, though. He won 16 of 18 faceoffs to help lead a team-wide domination on draws (the B’s won 39 of 51 for the game). Bergeron also came close to ending Boston’s power-play drought on three occasions. He missed just wide on a one-timer in the first period. In the second, he got robbed by a sliding Bobrovsky and then hit the left post just a few seconds later. The B’s won 43 of 55 faceoffs ‘ Bergeron won 17 of 19.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE FLYERS
– Laviolette can try all of the “the Bruins are supposed to win” head games that he wants, but the Flyers are in deep, deep doodoo. The B’s know they can take advantage of the Flyers’ goaltending, and the idea of it holding up for four straight games is very hard to imagine, even given the history.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– It was going to be the power play, but Chara changed that when he made it 5-1 with 1:22 remaining in the contest.
|05.04.11 at 6:54 pm ET|
Join DJ Bean, Mike Petraglia and others from TD Garden as the Bruins and Flyers square off in Game 3 ofthe Eastern Conference semifinals. Boston has a 2-0 series lead.
|05.04.11 at 4:07 pm ET|
The Bruins announced Wednesday that they have signed 2009 third-round pick Ryan Button to an entry level contract. The defenseman played seven games for the Providence Bruins this year via an amateur tryout agreement and picked up one assist in the process.
Button split this past season in the WHL between Prince Albert and Seattle. He had five goals and 30 assists for 35 points between the two teams. The Edmonton native’s high in points came in 2008-09, when he had five goals and 32 assists for 35 points with Prince Albert.
|05.04.11 at 1:20 pm ET|
A 2-0 series lead is a good thing, but not the thing that a team ultimately wants. It’s a case of a team having desired results so far, but still not having the desired result. One game can change everything, and with the Bruins holding a 2-0 lead on the Flyers entering Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Wednesday night, the Bruins know that. They should have as good a perspective on that as anyone else.
No, this isn’t about the players who were on last year’s team thinking back to the blown 3-0 series lead in 2010. Instead, the B’s can simply think back to the last series. With the Canadiens winning the first two games of the quarterfinals, the Bruins took Games 3 and 4 in Montreal and eventually won the series in seven games. It all started with that 4-2 Game 3 win, and they know it.
“[We were thinking] that if we got the third game, the series would completely turn around, and that the pressure would be on them, and we’d be right back in it,” Brad Marchand recalled Wednesday. “Anything could happen from that point forward, so the third game is a huge turning point. We knew that, and that’s what we want to focus on. They’re definitely doing that [in the Flyers’ room] right now.”
The similarities are there for the Bruins in the first round and the Flyers in the second round. Both teams lost the first two games at home, the second of which they had to play without their key defenseman. If the two teams are to share another thing in common, it could come in the form of a win on the road for the Flyers in Game 3.
“We want to make sure that we’re ready and not waiting. We’re prepared for that. We know that we were down 2-0, and we came back,” Marchand said Wednesday. “You kind of use that to put ourselves in this situation here and make sure that we don’t give them any opportunity to get back in this series.”
While some players are using their first-round triumph to give themselves perspective on how possible a Flyers’ comeback is, others are blocking everything out altogether. For Shawn Thornton, it’s as simple as winning a game.
“We’re not really talking about last series. We know that this is Game 3. It doesn’t matter what the record is. It’s Game 3, either way. I haven’t really put too much thought into anything except for preparing for tonight’s game as best as possible.”
The idea of not thinking about the score of the series is one shared by Thornton’s linemate in Daniel Paille. The fourth-liner remembers the feeling of having to “prove a point” after Game 2 of the last series, but doesn’t want to even consider the fact that the B’s could potentially have a stranglehold on the series with a win Wednesday. The way he sees it, they haven’t accomplished anything yet.
“[Leading] 2-0 doesn’t mean much. The way we look at it, it’s still 0-0 right now because if start thinking ahead of ourselves, we get in trouble. When we start doing that, it’s just not good a team, so we try to do everything we can to stay focused and avoid all of those types of situations.”
The Bruins are in the right situation entering Wednesday, but they know as well as anyone that it could be a completely different story when the game is concluded.