|05.24.11 at 6:28 pm ET|
TAMPA — The Bruins are one win away from being somewhere they haven’t been in a long time.
Sure, they have closed out their first two opponents this postseason and are 2-1 in potential series-clinching games, but Wednesday’s Game 6 will be, much like this series has been, uncharted territory. The B’s can advance to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since 1990 with a win. The one-game-at-a-time approach is one from which they’ve benefitted, but given what they’d be playing for if they advanced, the B’s should come out just as hungry for a shot at the Cup as the Lightning will be to stay alive.
“You have that in the back of your mind, and maybe that’s a little bit of motivation just to try to get it done,” forward Rich Peverley said Tuesday in Tampa. “They’re a great team, and we expect nothing but their best.”
While Tim Thomas said after Game 5 that the B’s must view Wednesday as just another game, players would be lying if they said they weren’t thinking about what lies ahead.
“I think it’s only natural to look ahead and to say, ‘this is an opportunity to play in the finals,'” Gregory Campbell said. “For a lot of players on our team, it will be our first time, and if we do make it there, it will probably be the last chance a lot of players will have. It is natural to want to get excited and look ahead.
“I know it’s been said by tons of people, but it’s so important just to play our game well and not really focus on the results. It’s more just how we’re playing. If we’re playing well, good things will happen, but for us to start setting our sights on the next series is usually a dangerous thing to do.”
|05.24.11 at 6:10 pm ET|
TAMPA — Claude Julien meant nothing personal at all by his comments but the Bruins coach was clear Tuesday that he doesn’t want his team putting everything on the shoulders of Tim Thomas as they try to advance to the Stanley Cup finals with a win Wednesday night in Game 6 at St. Pete Times Forum.
Clearly, that would be easy to do when Thomas was the single-biggest reason the Bruins stole Game 5 on home ice Monday night. But that’s also a good way to get pounded and wind up with a Game 7 Friday in Boston, something every Bruins fan, player and coach wants to avoid.
“You don’t want to rely on your goaltender,” Julien said. “He’s an important part of our team, and it’s nice to be able to rely on him, but you don’t want to go into the game relying on him.
“You want to do your job. And there’s going to be some games, like we said yesterday, that what’s important is a win is about finding a way. And you fall down 1-0 in the first two minutes of the game, and, you know, it’s a team that usually shuts other teams out pretty good. We stayed the course. We weren’t our best, but we stayed the course, and we found a way to get back into the game.”
Then there was the take of veteran Mark Recchi, who realizes the Bruins were extremely fortunate to ride their hot goalie to a win.
“Right off the bat, we have to be a lot better. The first period was not our hockey club. Give them credit, they came out to win and Timmy gave us that opportunity and he shut the door. We had a little tension last night and it showed in our play.
“We know we got away with one [Monday] night but at the same time, we found a way to win and the guys’ attitudes are great like that way. We’re going to have to be a lot better in Game 6 if we expect to finish this series.” Read the rest of this entry »
|05.24.11 at 5:31 pm ET|
TAMPA — Bruins coach Claude Julien made it very clear Tuesday. Coaches are completely preoccupied with their teams in the playoffs, not really leaving time for socializing.
But even Julien had to notice the video board during Game 1 and Game 5 Monday night when Patriots coach Bill Belichick was spotted and featured throughout.
Monday night, as “Bruins fan of the game” Belichick, sporting a suit and tie, smiled and waved the black and gold hanky each time he was shown on the video board.
“I think what he’s done is reached out to us by doing what he’s done,” Julien said on the off day before Game 6 Wednesday night at St. Pete Times Forum. “I think coaches understand — and I would be the same way — I would never dare call him or any of those guys when they’re in the playoffs. But I’d certainly be there to show my support, which I did the Patriots when it was time and I’ve done it for the Red Sox.
“I’ve been there a few times. And I’m a big fan of those Boston teams, the Celtics included. And I think it’s about showing support. You don’t need to necessarily talk unless somebody really needs to talk to you. And I think if I reached out to him myself, he’d be more than happy to talk to me.”
In Game 1, Belichick was dressed down considerably from Monday, wearing a more casual outfit that included a cutoff Bass fishing shirt. During each game, girlfriend Linda Holliday was in attendance by his side.
|05.24.11 at 5:10 pm ET|
TAMPA — On Tuesday Bruins coach Claude Julien used the same word as he did Monday — “fine” — to describe defenseman Johnny Boychuk, who left Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals a little over halfway through the third period after hit from Tampa Bay forward Steve Downie.
“Nothing has changed,” Julien said. “He’s fine.”
Boychuk himself said that he will play in Wednesday’s Game 6 and that despite feeling a bit woozy following the hit that earned Downie a boarding penalty, he knew that he was OK.
“I was a little foggy, but then after I got off the ice, I felt totally fine,” Boychuk said Tuesday. “Even when I was on the ice, they just wanted to make sure I was OK before I even tried to skate. I didn’t really want to fall.”
Boychuk said that the hit caught him by surprise, and though he noted players in his position have “got to be aware of their surroundings,” not knowing Downie was coming didn’t help matters.
“I didn’t see him’¦ obviously,” Boychuk said. “I didn’t see him coming. You can’t really brace yourself if you can’t see him.”
Downie was not disciplined by the league for the hit, and Boychuk took a respectable approach when asked his feelings on it.
“I saw the hit,” he said. “If it’s suspendable, then the league will do it, but I’m feeling fine and that’s the main thing.”
|05.24.11 at 3:36 pm ET|
TAMPA — Maybe it’s because he didn’t like what he saw in Game 5. Or maybe it’s because he thinks Mike Smith is best coming off the bench. Or, maybe Guy Boucher wants the grizzled veteran in net for a do-or-die game with the team’s season on the line.
Whatever the real reason, Boucher announced Tuesday that he is going back to Dwayne Roloson as his starting goalie for the team’s do-or-die Game 6 against the Bruins Wednesday night at St. Pete Times Forum.
Boucher thought – with the series tied – it was time to give Roloson a blow and let him have the night off.
“He was the guy that took us here, and that’s how I felt before last game,” Boucher said Tuesday. “But like I said, I felt like it was time to give him a little breather. And at the same time I felt that Smitty played really well. So it’s a perfect situation to put Smitty in. If something were to go wrong in the previous game, put a new goaltender in for a do-or-die, I don’t think it would have been a good moment for anybody.
So this is a perfect situation. He’s going to be the only rested guy on the two teams.”
Boucher is convinced that Roloson – at the age of 41 – will come back refreshed on Wednesday night.
“He’s had tremendous stretches with us,’ Boucher said. “And I remember there was one time where it wasn’t going so well. We gave him two days off and he came back and he was outstanding after.
So he’s like everybody else. He puts — he’s one of the hardest working guys on our team. He puts in a lot of hours and a lot of time. And he’s like everybody else, at some point or another just needs to breathe a little bit.
“He needed a little break like everybody else. Whether you’re a goaltender, defenseman or forward, I know players on both sides are getting more tired as the series are evolving. And it’s normal. Everybody’s expecting that. And your most important player is your goaltender. So he’ll be rested.”
After relieving Roloson in goal in Games 2 and 4, Mike Smith made his first career playoff start and stopped 17 of 19 shots before Rich Peverley‘s empty-net goal with 12.1 seconds left sealed Monday’s Game 5 win for the Bruins.
Roloson entered the Eastern Conference finals against Boston with a playoff-leading 2.01 goals against average. That has skyrocketed to 2.52 as the Bruins beat him six times in Game 2 to tie the series and then chased him in Game 4 last Saturday. In Game 4, Roloson stopped just six of nine shots before being pulled with two minutes left in the first period when Patrice Bergeron scored shorthanded.
Smith entered the game and stopped all 21 shots he faced, allowing the Lightning to rally to a 5-3 win and even the series before Monday night’s 3-1 Bruins win.
|05.24.11 at 12:10 pm ET|
Lightning forward Steve Downie will not be suspended for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals, according to a tweet by TSN’s Bob McKenzie. Halfway through the third period of the Bruins’ 3-1 win in Game 5 Monday, Downie slammed Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk in the back, receiving a boarding call for the hit. Boychuk was shaken up and didn’t return to the game, although Bruins coach Claude Julien later acknowledged that the blue-liner was “fine.”
Downie has 40 penalty minutes in 15 playoff games in 2011 and had already received a one-game suspension in these playoffs for leaving his feet on a hit on in the conference quarterfinals against the Penguins.
|05.24.11 at 10:23 am ET|
ESPN NHL analyst Barry Melrose called in to the Dennis & Callahan show Tuesday morning and predictably talked about the play of Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, who allowed just one goal on 34 shots in Boston’s 3-1 win over Tampa Bay Monday night in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals and made perhaps the best save of the playoffs in the third period on a shot from Tampa Bay’s Steve Downie. (To hear the entire interview, click over to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.)
“Last night, he was the only guy to talk about,” Melrose said. “The Bruins basically took the first half of the game off and left Timmy Thomas out to fend for himself. The guy was great. He was fantastic. He made that game-saving save later in the game. But right off the start, he was very solid. You could tell he was on his game. He was very aggressive. He was outside the crease. And that’s how you tell if Timmy’s ready to play or not. If he’s making saves inside the paint, it’s going to be a long night. If he’s out challenging and outside the paint and very aggressive, it’s going to be a good night for Timmy Thomas. Last night, he was really on his game.”
Melrose was also willing to discuss the Lightning situation between the pipes. Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher gave Mike Smith the start in net instead of Dwayne Roloson, who had started the previous four games in the conference finals. Despite Tampa Bay’s loss on Monday, Melrose said he would stick with Smith going forward.
“I think Mike Smith. I think number one it’s hard to go back to Roloson,” Melrose said. “You have a 41-year-old goaltender. You pull him twice. You bench him and then say, ‘Hey man, we made a mistake. We want you back.’ So I think it’s Mike Smith’s series now, win or lose. And Mike Smith played well, those two goals he gave were basically unstoppable. The guy handles the puck well. That created a lot of problems for Boston. If Boston falls asleep, Mike Smith will make that long pas and create a breakaway at the other end. So that gives Boston another thing to worry about when they’re looking at their gameplan.” Read the rest of this entry »