|05.25.11 at 1:43 pm ET|
TAMPA — In case you haven’t heard, one team is in the Stanley Cup finals. After tying it with 14 seconds left in regulation and getting the game-winner in overtime from Kevin Bieksa, the Canucks have moved past the Sharks and into the the finals.
“I watched the tying goal and I was like ‘I’m going to bed,'” Dennis Seidenberg said Wednesday. “I went to bed, and this morning I watched the goal and was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s a tough one to lose on.'”
Of course, now the Bruins know that they have a team waiting for them. All they need is one more win vs. the Lightning before it becomes all about Vancouver and the Cup. They can close it out in Game 6 Wednesday night and send Boston into a frenzy. They were quick to note on the morning of the game that while they know that one team is in, they don’t know who else is.
“Obviously, you know that whoever goes through this series is going to play Vancouver, but at the same time, we don’t know who’s going through,” rookie forward Brad Marchand said. “If we start thinking that it’s us, then Tampa’s going to come back and take over control of the series. We have to make sure we don’t worry about that and just worry about our game.”
Shawn Thornton has been in this situation before. In fact, for the man who won a Cup with the Ducks in 2007 after sinking the Red Wings in the west for a spot in the finals, it’s comically similar.
“I was actually in the exact same position. I was in the press box watching Games 5 and 6,” Thornton, a healthy scratch since Game 3 this round, said Wednesday morning. “I remember. It was against Detroit, and it was the same type of thing. ‘¦ Two good teams, and a tough series.”
Now that he’s once again one win from going back, the last thing he wants to talk about is the finals. In fact, he politely declined talking about the next round.
“I can’t speak for everybody, but my mentality is I never look past what’s going on here. If you start looking [ahead] and then you forget about what you’re [doing]. That’s not even in our heads. It shouldn’t be, anyways,” Thornton said. “We have to focus on Game 6 tonight, and that should be our only focus.”
One more win, and a very realistic possibility becomes even more real. The players aren’t trying to let the fact that a team and Cup awaits them, even if it’s a finals matchup some saw coming.
“I think the whole playoffs, we’ve kind of seen who could be possible opponents, and for me at the beginning, I thought it was Vancouver,” Seidenberg said. “They were one of the strongest teams, but at the end, it doesn’t really matter who it is. Right now, our main focus is on tonight and focusing on our game and making sure we’re gonna win tonight.”
|05.25.11 at 1:05 pm ET|
TAMPA — Bruins rookie standout Brad Marchand admitted Wednesday morning, just hours before Game 6, that the pressure is on the Bruins to close out the Lightning tonight and avoid sending the Eastern Conference finals back to Boston for a Game 7 Friday night at TD Garden.
“Yeah, we want to,” Marchand said. “There’s definitely a lot of pressure. If it goes to a Game 7, anything can happen and it’s a situation we don’t really want to be in. We have to make sure we put our best game forward tonight and give ourselves the best opportunity.
“We do have to keep our emotions in check. The Stanley Cup finals, that’s obviously the end goal but there’s still a long ways to go to get there. They’re going to have to play an amazing game tonight, there’s no question about that. We have to make sure we’re really ready to counter these guys and put on a good game here.”
The veteran he is, Daniel Paille had a slightly different take. He was more concerned with the end result than how they got there.
“I don’t think we feel any more pressure tonight than we did the last game,” Paille said. “Even though we started out slow, we responded well and came out with a big win. It shouldn’t be any more or less than the last game.”
Paille and Marchand would probably agree on one thing for sure – don’t expect the Bruins to get outshot 14-4 in the opening 20 minutes like they were on Monday, only to recover and score twice in the second and stabilize the game.
“We want to carry the momentum from the last game into our first period and make sure we have a big start,” Marchand said. “They’re going to come out flying tonight and try to build off that. We have to make sure we have a lot better first period than we did last game. We were nowhere to be seen in that first period [Game 5] and we have to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”
If the Bruins beat the Lightning tonight, they will face the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup finals after Vancouver advanced with a 3-2 win over San Jose in double overtime Tuesday night. Face-off tonight at St. Pete Times Forum is 8 p.m. ET.
|05.25.11 at 10:28 am ET|
NESN hockey analyst Andy Brickley joined the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning to offer his views on the Eastern Conference finals. The Bruins are in Tampa for Game 6 Wednesday night, holding a 3-2 series lead. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
“I think the Bruins have the edge,” Brickley said. “I guess there’s a piece of them that says, ‘Look, even if we don’t win this game, we still have Game 7. We play it on home ice. We know that we’ve beaten this team three times. We’re confident. We’re coming off a victory. We’ve shown that we’re a bigger, more physical, stronger team when we execute the way we’re supposed to play. We felt that we were a deeper more balanced team coming into this playoff series.’
“So, I think the advantage goes to Boston. They feel they have another level to their game that they haven’t reached yet. They really haven’t put together that proverbial, perfect 60 minutes. They feel that if they do that, there won’t be a Game 7.”
However, Brickley predicts there will be another game in this series Friday night. “I originally said it was going to be Boston in seven … and I’m going to stand by that,” he said. “I like Boston tonight, I think they’re going to play well. But I expect to get Tampa’s best game of this series.”
Lightning coach Guy Boucher will return Dwayne Roloson to goal after giving him a break in Game 5. Brickley said he agrees with Roloson starting. “I was more surprised that he actually played Mike Smith, to be honest with you,” Brickley said. “As well as Smith has played in this series, I felt that that trust between GM, coach and goaltender when they acquired Roloson was for this purpose, was to play the biggest games, the biggest moments. I thought last game was one, and certainly tonight is another.”
|05.25.11 at 7:56 am ET|
Legendary Bruins defenseman Ray Bourque stopped by for a chat with Dennis & Callahan Wednesday morning during a charity benefit for the Massachusetts Soldiers Legacy Fund at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Boston. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Asked if the Lightning have a psychological edge over the Bruins in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday night because they are the more desperate team, Bourque said: “I think it brings the best out of you, so I’d say yes. But the flip side of that, the Bruins are kind of a good counter-puncher kind of a team.
“Sometimes when you come out with that kind of energy or intensity, you might try to do too much and make mistakes and counter and maybe take advantage of those mistakes and go down early in the game, like you saw in Game 4 in Tampa. That’s what happened. It’s not that the Bruins played an incredible first period and came out of that period up 3-0. It’s Tampa that made some mistakes, and the Bruins capitalized on it. So, a game like tonight, you could see that happening again.”
Should the Bruins finish off the Lightning, the challenge in the Stanley Cup finals would be enormous. “Vancouver’s going to be very tough,” Bourque said. “That’s going to be by far their toughest series.”
Bourque said no matter how the season ends this year, the future looks bright for this Bruins team. “I think it’s a very good team with a great goalie, and a team that’s only going to get better, I think, in years to come,” he said. “And experiencing what they’re experiencing this year in the playoffs, the growth of some of these players is going to be tremendous.”
“I think defensively he’s better than both of us,” Bourque said. “He’s a shutdown D that is like no other in the league. I’ll tell you that any player playing against him ‘ you’re not hearing much about [Martin] St. Louis or [Vincent] Lecavalier because of Zdeno. That’s why.
“Defensively, he’s the best, and one of the best that’s ever been because of his size and his strength and his reach. I mean, this guy’s 7 foot on skates and his reach is incredible. You just watch him, like Inspector Gadget all of a sudden ‘ bang, that stick comes out, and it’s amazing.”
|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.