|05.06.10 at 10:42 am ET|
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.
|05.06.10 at 12:09 am ET|
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.’
|05.05.10 at 11:23 pm ET|
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.
|05.05.10 at 9:31 pm ET|
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.
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.
|05.05.10 at 8:39 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — For the first time in the series, neither team found the back of the net in a period and, as a result, the Bruins stand just 20 minutes from a nearly insurmountable 3-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Flyers.
The Flyers ended the period with a power play but as has been the case nearly all season long, the Bruins penalty was more than up to the task.
The only Boston concern remains the injury bug. Neither David Krejci nor defenseman Adam McQuaid will return to the game due to undisclosed injuries, the team’s media relations staff announced late in the second. Both players appeared in just two shifts of the first period before leaving the game.
The Flyers are outshooting the Bruins, 27-17, after 40 minutes.
|05.05.10 at 7:48 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — The Bruins grabbed a 2-1 lead after the first period and became the first visiting team to lead in the series so far. But it came at a cost as David Krejci and Adam McQuaid were sent to the dressing room with undisclosed injuries.
The first 20 minutes of the series in Philadelphia in the series featured the first lead by the Flyers.
Rookie defenseman Adam McQuaid, who might be playing his last game if Mark Stuart returns Friday for Game 4, turned the puck over at the offensive blue line. The bobble led to a 2-on-1 rush by Flyers Claude Giroux and Aaron Asham.
But the Bruins wasted little time gathering themselves and mounting a comeback as less than two minutes later Blake Wheeler scored on a re-direct in front of Brian Boucher at 4:11, his first career playoff goal in 17 games.
Mike Richards, who reportedly threatened to take out Savard during Game 2, took out Krejci instead in the neutral zone. But just before the hit, Krejci found Milan Lucic at the right point. Lucic found a streaking Miroslav Satan down the slot. Satan skated in alone on Boucher and beat the Flyers goalies with a nice backhanded deke at 5:45 for a 2-1 Bruins lead, the first by a visiting team in the series.
Krejci did not return for the remainder of the period.
The Flyers outshot the Bruins, 12-8 in the opening period.
|05.05.10 at 2:03 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — Claude Julien said at the onset of the series that everyone should not automatically turn the clocks back to 1975 when looking at this Eastern Conference semifinal series between his Bruins and the Flyers.
Well, Julien may want to revise that a bit, or at least caution his team of the possibility heading into Game 3 tonight. The ‘Broad Street Bullies’ of the 1970s were known to attempt to intimidate for an edge. They played in the old Spectrum, which still stands to the north, across the parking lot from the Wachovia Center.
Julien’s team heads into a hostile building against a team that is cornered and still believes they can win the series, even though the Bruins hold a somewhat commanding 2-0 series lead.
Add to that Marc Savard doesn’t have the TD Garden crowd tonight waving yellow hankies but rather 20,000 rabid Flyer fans wanting blood for his alleged chomp on Dan Carcillo’s right hand in the second period of Game 2.
The Bruins have a chance to put the Philadelphia Flyers in a 3-0 hole tonight in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series. But to do so, Boston must get the job done on the road, a task they were unable to finish the last time they had the chance in Buffalo
Julien put the team through an optional skate Wednesday morning at the Wachovia Center before addressing the media and the importance of understanding what’s at stake in Game 3.
“I think both teams have their approach,” Julien added. “Obviously, the Flyers want to get back in the series and there’s no doubt they’re going to be ready. We don’t want to let them back in the series so we need to be ready. It’s not a very complicated thing. I think it’s a matter of understanding the urgency of both sides and be ready to counter what the other team is going to throw at you.”
Savard did not take part in the optional pregame skate, choosing to get his rest for tonight. He is more than prepared to hear some not-so-nice things from the fans tonight.
“It’s part of the game and whatever comes, it just makes you play better,” Savard said Wednesday morning.
Savard is not alone in wanting to be disciplined tonight as the Flyers figure to at least attempt to draw the Bruins into some penalties the way they did in the second period Monday.
“I wouldn’t say distracting,” Bruins defenseman Dennis Wideman said. “We’ve played in loud buildings before and this is one of the louder ones. And it’s a little tougher when they’re not cheering for you but we have to find a way.”
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