|06.06.11 at 6:34 pm ET|
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara was announced as a finalist for the 2011 Mark Messier Leadership Award on Monday, with Messier making the announcement at TD Garden prior to Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals. The award is given to players based on their leadership and contributions to society. The other finalists are Shane Doan of the Coyotes and Nicklas Lidstrom of the Red Wings.
Past winners include Sidney Crosby (2010), Jarome Iginla (2009) and Mats Sundin (2008). Of Chara, Messier said “I’m a big fan of Zdeno’s from the time he came into the league” and “I don’t think there’s a player who’s improved as much as this guy.” Chara has captained the Bruins since signing as an unrestriceted free agent in 2006.
Messier is the only player in NHL history to captain Stanley Cup champions in two different cities, as he won it as captain of the 1990 Oilers (who defeated the Bruins in the finals) and the 1994 Rangers.
|06.06.11 at 2:29 pm ET|
Former longtime NHL player Ray Ferraro, who now has a radio show in Vancouver and provides game analysis for Canadian television, joined the Mut & Merloni show Monday and offered a small dose of optimism for Bruins fans. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
“I think the Bruins can get back in the series tonight,” said Ferraro, who retired in 2002 after 18 NHL seasons and 898 points (408 goals). “I think if you played 100 games, I think the Canucks would win more. I really do. I think the Canucks are a deeper, better team. But that doesn’t mean that they’re going to win this series. What it means is tonight is absolutely imperative to the Bruins. They lose, they don’t have a chance. They win, then they’ve got a chance. They give themselves a chance in Game 4 to even this series.
“I think the Bruins can win tonight. But they’d better be letter perfect, because the Canucks are a good road team.”
Ferraro said it’s important for the B’s to get off to a good start, and physical play from Shawn Thornton ‘ who has not dressed the first two games ‘ might help in that regard.
“I would make that move,” Ferraro said, adding: “If the Bruins are going to get back in the series — and really, without poo-pooing a 2-0 deficit, they haven’t really haven’t lost anything. They haven’t lost at home. At some point, they’ve got to win a game in Vancouver to win the series. Now, they’ve got to take care of their business here at home.
“They’re looking for an aggressive start. Well, Dan Paille is playing four minutes a game. So, if Shawn Thornton goes into the lineup in his place, the opportunity Thornton plays those four, five, six minutes ‘ and he had a good season for the Bruins ‘ he’ll give you some physical play. If I’m coaching, I’m really thinking about it. The only concern I would have is if the pace of the game is too fast for Thornton. You’ve got to make sure that he can keep up with the pace of play, because right now it is a track meet out on the ice. It is extremely fast.”
Canucks forward Alex Burrows had two goals and an assist in Game 2 after apparently taking a bite of Patrice Bergeron‘s finger in Game 1. Ferraro said he felt it was a suspendable offense.
“I do,” Ferraro said. “I’m on the radio in Vancouver and it wasn’t a real popular position. I’m not a fan of ‘ let me put it this way: I know there’s different standards for playoffs and regular-season games. I thought Nathan Horton should have been suspended for Game 7 [of the Bruins-Lightning series] for squirting a fan with a water bottle, because you get suspended in the regular season for that. And I thought Burrows should have been suspended for Game 2.
“The other thing, too, guys, is like, OK, so they decide not to suspend him. But for them to say there’s no conclusive evidence of him biting Bergeron ‘ I said on our show, if that’s the case then I want to rob a bank in the city of the NHL, because I’ll never get caught. How much more evidence do you need than that? He shouldn’t have been in the game. And then you’re right, it is the NHL’s worst scenario, that a player that shouldn’t be in the game goes and has such a direct impact on the outcome of the next game.”
|06.06.11 at 1:48 pm ET|
If Bruins fans are looking for a reason to remain optimistic, they don’t have to look any further than the first round, when the Bruins overcame an 0-2 series deficit to knock off the Canadiens. Sure, it was against a six-seed rather than the Presidents’ Trophy winner, but the Bruins say they can still draw from the experience.
“Obviously you want to look back at lessons that you’ve learned throughout the season, throughout the playoffs, and look back on experiences that you’ve had,” Chris Kelly said. “I think it’s good that we have experienced this situation before. We’re used to it. It’s nothing new. Obviously it’s not a situation we want to be in, but we are. We know we have to come out and play well.”
That said, Kelly warned against relying on that first-round comeback too much. He said the team recognizes how tough the road ahead is.
“We can’t rely on, ‘Well, we’ve been here before and we managed to pull it off,’ ” he said. “This is a new team, new challenge, and we need to come out with our best effort.”
Claude Julien‘s message to his team now is the same as it’s been all season — stay even-keeled. Julien and the Bruins were praised during the first round for remaining calm and poised after dropping the first two games, and Julien said that needs to happen again.
“You ask your team not to get too high when things are going extremely well and not too low when there’s challenges,” Julien said. “That’s something we’ve been doing throughout the playoffs. It’s helped us through some tough times.”
Julien said that from everything he’s seen, his team is doing just that.
“If you had a chance to go in the dressing room, you noticed that those guys are in pretty good spirits,” Julien said. “We’ve been through it. You always have to find the bright side of things. The bright side of things is we’re down to two teams and we’re one of the two. We’re fortunate and happy to be here. For us to look at it any differently and then come today hanging our heads is ridiculous.
“There’s a lot of time to get back in this series,” he added. “We believe in it. The only thing left is to go out there and show it. That’s what we’re getting ready for, is a big tilt tonight that we think is an important game for us and will hopefully turn this series around.”
|06.06.11 at 1:11 pm ET|
There may not have been any biting in Game 2, but there was still plenty going on after the whistle. While Claude Julien and the Bruins players downplayed the significance of the league’s decision to not suspend Alexandre Burrows, Canucks forward Maxim Lapierre chose to mock the whole incident by sticking his fingers in Patrice Bergeron‘s face after a whistle and appearing to offer him a bite.
When asked about the incident on Monday, Julien initially said he wasn’t going to say much about it, but then he went on to say quite a bit.
“If it’s acceptable for them [to do that], then so be it,” Julien said. “It certainly wouldn’t be acceptable on our end of it. I think you know me enough to know that. … The NHL rules on something. If they decide to make a mockery of it, that’s totally up to them. If that’s their way of handling things, so be it.”
When asked to respond to Julien’s comments, Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault denied having any knowledge of the incident.
“If that happened in between whistles, I didn’t see it,” Vigneault said. “I focus on the play that’s going on between whistles, so I can’t really comment on that.”
Lapierre also took the easy way out by giving a “no comment” when asked about the incident.
In the Bruins’ room, Chris Kelly said everyone has pretty much come to expect that kind of behavior from Lapierre.
“That’s nothing new with him,” Kelly said. “We know what type of player he is. It is what it is.”
Taunting opponents might be unacceptable to Julien, but getting caught up in it or worrying about getting revenge would be just as bad, according to Julien.
“We can’t waste our time on that kind of stuff,” Julien said. “We really have to focus on what we have to do. The last time I looked, we’re down two games to none. All our energy has to go towards that.”
|06.06.11 at 11:04 am ET|
NESN Bruins analyst and former defenseman Gord Kluzak called in to the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to discuss the Stanley Cup finals. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Kluzak said that the Bruins could have won either of the first two games had they played slightly better.
‘I think they have had breakdowns at times that have really hurt,’ Kluzak said. ‘I think if they get back to what they can do ‘ and the model is Game 7 vs. Tampa Bay ‘ this thing is very winnable. I’m much more optimistic than I hear you guys were this morning.
“I don’t think Vancouver is as good as advertised. I’ve never been overly impressed with the Sedins. I think [Ryan] Kessler may be hurt, the way that [Johnny] Boychuk hit happened early on in Game 2. I didn’t think Kessler was the same player, and I think if you’re the Bruins you’re trying to be as physical as you can with him because he is the key, in my opinion. I think this is still very winnable. The Bruins obviously have to play near-perfect hockey, but I think they can do that.’
‘Chara up front in the power play is just a waste of energy and time,’ Kluzak said. ‘Look at the way Milan [Lucic] scored his goal. It was a rebound in front. Well, that’s what the power play is all about. That’s why you need him out there, and it doesn’t help you to have the guy that you rely on the most in your own zone up front of the net on the power play when you have a guy that’s probably better at it and would be more suited to it.’
Kluzak said he thought that Peverley’s speed ‘would open the ice up a little bit more for Bergeron.’
Kluzak said he did not think fatigue is an issue for Chara. ‘This is a guy who rides 110 miles on a bike through the mountains every summer day,’ Kluzak said. ‘This guy is the best-conditioned athlete I think I’ve ever seen.’
Despite Shawn Thornton‘s physicality, Kluzak said more playing time for the enforcer is not the answer for the Bruins.
‘The guy you would have to take out of the lineup is [Daniel] Paille, and Paille is an outstanding penalty-killer,’ Kluzak said. ‘He’s executed that, and I think you really need that skill set. You don’t want to use your better offensive players in that penalty-killing situation.’
|06.06.11 at 9:15 am ET|
Vancouver’s Green Men, Force and Sully, stopped by the WEEI studio for a visit with Dennis & Callahan Monday morning while in Boston for Games 3 and 4 of the Stanley Cup finals. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
The two Canucks fans clad in spandex bodysuits made a name for themselves by annoying opposing players in the penalty box at Rogers Arena, but the NHL restricted their behavior after they became cult favorites.
“The NHL directly told us: ‘No more handstands, you can’t touch the glass.’ We were told we were not allowed to agitate the players,” Sully explained. “So, we just have to step up our game and be more creative. It seems to be working. We’re getting under a few people’s skin.”
Diminutive Bruins forward Brad Marchand engaged in a feud with the pair last week. “Marchand gave us a couple of chirps, I got doused with some water,” Sully explained. “You get that when you ask if he’s sitting on phone books.”
Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, on the other hand, enjoyed the Green Men’s tribute to Bruins legend Cam Neely‘s acting career. “We had the Cam Neely ‘Sea Bass’ from ‘Dumb and Dumber’ reference ‘ the trucker caps,” Force explained. “Seidenberg appreciated that. He said he’d pass that along to Cam Neely.”
Added Force: “I think Cam Neely upstairs is either laughing or wanting to fight us. I’m not sure.”
|06.06.11 at 1:54 am ET|
The Bruins have a tall task ahead of them as they look to overcome an 0-2 hole and turn the Stanley Cup finals into an actual series. Both games have been determined by just one goal thus far, and though the Bruins have played poorly from the most part, the first two games have shown the B’s can hang with the Canucks, even if they haven’t totally shown up yet. With the number three in mind, here’s a preview of Monday’s Game 3.
THREE THINGS THE BRUINS NEED TO DO
– Get better looks vs. Roberto Luongo and establish a net-front presence. We’ll say it until it changes, and it didn’t change enough in Game 2. The Canucks have been able to box the Bruins out so far in the series, but look at how the B’s scored their goals in Game 2. Milan Lucic buried a rebound from in front, and Mark Recchi redirected a shot in front of Luongo. When the Bruins were able to set up shop and do things from close range, the puck went in. It seems trying it any other way is an exercise in futility.
– Keep moving Zdeno Chara around on the power play. Recchi’s goal came as a result of Claude Julien moving Chara back to the point, but Julien should keep mixing it up when it comes to the Bruins’ mammoth captain. He still appeared to be a nuisance in front of Luongo in Game 1, so Julien should have enough confidence in Chara’s abilities in both areas to play him in different spots from power play to power play.
– Use the home crowd to their advantage. Whether or not they want to admit it, Rogers Arena was absolutely electric and had to have been a tough place to play. If the Garden can turn down the music and let the fans create an authentic atmosphere, maybe the Canucks can truly feel like they’re at an opponent’s home and not a wrestling match.
– Both the Bruins and Canucks have seen four of their last five games be determined by one goal. The Bruins are 2-3 in that span, while the Canucks are 4-1.
– The four goals Tim Thomas has allowed over the last three games ties this stretch with his best of the postseason. Thomas let in four goals over Games 2 through 4 of the conference semifinals vs. the Flyers, though the difference is that the Bruins won all three of those games and have lost two of the three games in this stretch.
– Brad Marchand has gone four games without scoring. In the other two instances this postseason in which he went four straight without a goal, he scored the following game.
THREE PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON
– Tim Thomas: He plays aggressive ‘ the sky is falling! As bad as the game-wining goal he allowed in overtime Saturday looked, the reaction by some suggest nobody has actually watched Thomas before. He’s all over the place, and he plays farther out of his net than most. It will be interesting to see how be performs in Game 3 given all the heat he’s been under for his style this series.
– Alexandre Burrows: The Bruins have every reason to be furious that Burrows wasn’t suspended for Game 2, though they’re not showing it. At any rate, their No. 1 concern should be finding away to stop the guy who showed Saturday that his offensive ability (2 G, A in Game 2) is just as sharp as his teeth.
– Rich Peverley: Where to play the speedy winger? Peverley has seen time on the second line, third line and fourth line (and the first if you want to count him taking one of Nathan Horton‘s shifts in Game 7 of the conference finals when Horton was banged up) in recent games. Peverley could continue to take some of Mark Recchi‘s shifts on the second line, or he could skate with Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder, as he did from late in the second period Saturday to the end of the contest. If and when Julien makes a move to get Shawn Thornton in the lineup at the expense of Tyler Seguin this series, the line of Kelly centering Peverley and Ryder would make sense.
Also, don’t rule out Peverley having a target on his back in Game 3. His two-handed slash to the back of Kevin Bieksa‘s knee didn’t go over well with Bieksa, his teammates or his coaches. Given the nature of the play, it shouldn’t have. Peverley really got away with one, and had he scored on his shot that followed the non-penalized slash, it would have looked even worse.