|04.21.11 at 2:43 pm ET|
MONTREAL ‘ There are two very different scenarios that could come of Thursday ngiht’s Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. A Canadiens win puts Montreal up, 3-1, in the series, while a Bruins victory would send the teams back to Boston tied at two games apiece.
While a win for each side would dramatically shift the series in its own way, the two teams do have one thing in common headed into a pivitol Game 4 at Bell Centre: they’re not thinking about it.
‘The implications are there. Two-2 and and 3-1 sound like very different stories,’ Habs forward Michael Cammalleri said. ‘I’ve said it all along, and I’ll say it again: It does us no good to worry about those implications. We go play as well as we can, and the results will figure themselves out.’
‘Obviously, we realize the situation being 2-2 or 3-1, but it’s all about the process and doing the right things,’ Brent Sopel said. ‘If we come out here and do the right things from the drop of the puck until the end, we’ll give ourselves an opportunity. We need to feel good about our game, and how that is either way, if the outcome comes out good or bad. It’s all about doing the right things for a complete 60, and then we’ll make that determination.
Players were saying the same thing in the Boston room after the two teams held their morning skates. If the Bruins are going to take Game 4, they’re going to do so thinking about what’s on the ice, and not what the future holds.
‘Just go out there and don’t think about anything. Just really go out there and play the game,’ David Krejci said. ‘That’s what we did the last game, so we’ve got to do the same thing.’
|04.21.11 at 2:40 pm ET|
MONTREAL — Claude Julien doesn’t like to share certain things in press conferences. Questions about the lineup or goaltending are generally met with something along the lines of a short, “I guess we’ll see tonight.” On Thursday, however, Julien decided to share his sense of humor.
Following the Bruins’ morning skate, a reporter asked Julien if he saw a difference in the overall mindset of the team following their trip to Lake Placid this week. The usually serious Julien saw the opportunity and took it.
“Yeah, I saw a miracle, in case you’re looking for that word,” Julien said, referencing the 1980 Miracle on Ice and causing an eruption of laughter from the packed room of reporters and cameramen.
“No,” he continued. “I think we just went there and wanted to go and relax and have some quality practices. We weren’t looking for any miracles, we just thought that was a good place for the team to be. We went out on the ice and skated the same way we skated the last time we were here.”
“Thanks,” the reporter said, to which an amused Julien shot back, “you’re welcome.”
“We all got our quote,” another reporter mused. “We can leave now.”
|04.21.11 at 12:55 pm ET|
MONTREAL — Bruins center Chris Kelly will be in the lineup for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals after being cleared by team doctors. Kelly, who returned to Boston to be examined following a hit into Carey Price’s goal on Monday, wore a cage in morning skate and will do so Thursday night. He said there was no fracture after seeing the doctors.
“I’m good to play tonight,” Kelly said afterwards. “I went back to see our doctors in Boston and they gave me the green light and said everything is great and to just go out and have fun.”
Coach Claude Julien confirmed that Kelly would play, saying the third-line center is “good to go” and that “he’s going to be in the lineup tonight.”
Kelly was shoved by Habs forward Scott Gomez while the Bruins were on a 3-on-1 in the first period. The B’s center said he took no issue with the hit, which caused him to slide head-first into the post and left him with a shiner below his right eye.
“I know Gomez. I played against him for a lot of years,” Kelly said. “He’s a good, honest player and works hard. I don’t think it was deliberate by any means.”
As for wearing a cage for the first time since he was 14 years old, Kelly said that his comfort with it is “much better” than he expected it to be. Kelly even joked that if he were to play well with it, he could keep it on a la Richard Hamilton with the Detroit Pistons, who kept a clear mask on as his signature look in the 2003-04 season.
“He kept it on,” Kelly joked. “Who knows?”
As for any lineup changes, it appears there won’t be any. Mark Recchi was the only Bruin to not take the ice for the morning skate, though it’s likely the veteran was simply given the morning off. Rookie Tyler Seguin stayed out on the ice with the scratches following the skate.
|04.21.11 at 10:50 am ET|
MONTREAL — The Habs seemed to have held a semi-optional morning skate Thursday in anticipation of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals vs. the Bruins. In addition to both goaltenders, nine forwards (Michael Cammalleri, Tomas Plekanec, Jeff Halpern, Ryan White, Benoit Pouliot, David Desharnais, Lars Eller and Tom Pyatt) and six defensemen (Jaroslav Spacek, Paul Mara, Brent Sopel, Yannick Weber, Hal Gill and P.K. Subban) took the ice.
Among the missing for the skate were Brian Gionta, Andrei Kostitsyn, James Wisniewski, Mathieu Darche and Roman Hamrlik.
|04.21.11 at 7:48 am ET|
MONTREAL — The truth is that every playoff game is important. The stakes are always high, and every loss brings a team one game closer to elimination. Yet if Bruins fans can’t help but place a bit more emphasis on Game 4, it wouldn’t be so irrational.
Take a look at Wednesday night, and a game that put the Rangers in a real hole. As Jason Chimera tapped the game-winning goal past Henrik Lundqvist in the second overtime, the Rangers had to have known that they blew it.
Leading 3-0 earlier in the game (sound familiar?) the Rangers let the Capitals get back into it, and three quick tallies in the third period suddenly made it 3-3.
To lose such a game (especially on your own ice) in that sort of fashion is a tough pill to swallow, but the Rangers’ No. 1 concern should be with the fact that they have spotted the Capitals a 3-1 lead in the series. A 3-1 deficit, while not insurmountable, is obviously far from ideal, and the Bruins, despite being able to return home for Game 5, should be viewing it as such. Game 4 is every bit as much a must-win as Monday’s Game 3 victory was.
Unless a team has won the first three, that’s generally the nature of Game 4. Thursday night, the rest of the series could begin to look a bit clearer. Easily the most interesting non-elimination game of a series, the Bruins can tie it with two of the three remaining games to be played at TD Garden, while the Habs are looking to put the Bruins just one loss away from failing to advance to the second round for the first time in three years.
A 3-1 deficit in a series is far from impossible to overcome (Bruins fans of course know that a 3-0 deficit in a series is not impossible to overcome thanks to the Flyers), and the Flyers weren’t the only team to do it last season. The other team to come back from being down three games to one? The very Canadiens that will host the B’s Thursday night. Two of eight teams in such a position last postseason were able to come back and win the series, though the Bruins would just as soon skip out on that discussion altogether by grabbing a road win in Game 4.
One could suggest the B’s have momentum on their side after taking Monday’s Game 3 by a 4-2 score. Claude Julien wouldn’t agree with that logic, but if it’s something that is going to motivate the Bruins at the Bell Centre Thursday, he’ll probably take it. Whether or not the B’s are feeling that momentum and whether the Habs are feeling any added pressure remains to be seen.
One thing the Bruins can expect on Thursday, aside from the possible return of Jeff Halpern to the lineup and the removal of Benoit Pouliot, is for the Habs to come out flying. Given the way they turned it on for the final 30 minutes of Game 3, the Habs have to know that if they can start better and take advantage of the early breaks (such as the two penalties the Bruins took in the first eight minutes of the game), they have a far better chance of playing the third period with a lead rather than bombarding Tim Thomas with shots in a desperate attempt to tie it late.
If the Bruins can get a full game of what Thomas brought on Thursday night, even a great 60 minutes from the Habs might not matter. This has not been the prettiest series for the Vezina shoo-in, but he dominated late in Game 3, and if he can do so for all three periods Thursday, perhaps the series will return to Boston with the home team having yet to win through four games.
The Bell Centre is a loud and hostile environment. The Bruins were able to hang on to send the fans home hanging their heads Monday, but if they want to leave Montreal Thursday knowing they will return for a Game 6, they’ll need to block out the deafening boos for Zdeno Chara and notch the ever-important Game 4 win. If they lose, it could be a hole too big to come back from. A win and they are suddenly favorites once again to win the series. They’ll need more than they brought Monday night, but if they get it, they can breathe just a bit easier.
|04.20.11 at 7:59 pm ET|
MONTREAL — Brad Marchand stood straight-faced in the hallway at Whiteface Lake Placid Olympic Center Wednesday and spoke about what the playoffs mean to him, not even acknowledging how ridiculous he looked.
Marchand, the Bruins’ 22-year-old rookie wise guy, was sporting two different shoes — a white one on the right and a taped-up black one on the left — as he touched on his first taste of playoff hockey at the professional level.
“The amount of emotion and energy of the crowd, it’s so exciting and you get such an adrenaline rush every time you’re on the ice,” Marchand said. “It’s a special time of year.”
Of course, Marchand’s quirks are why he’s become a fan favorite in his rookie campaign in Boston. Off the ice, he isn’t afraid to blast a player or team (he called out Matt Cooke and essentially called the Canadiens divers at different points this season), and on the ice his mouth is just as active as his legs.
Chippy and chirpy, Marchand is the type of player referees keep an eye on, and when going against similar guys, provides great entertainment.
That’s part of what has made this year such a great year (injuries and ugliness aside) for the Bruins/Canadiens rivalry. The additions of Marchand, James Wisniewski and P.K. Subban have provided proof that when it comes to the Bruins and the Habs, the hatred is just as apparent among the players as it is with its fans.
“I know a lot of fans and media like to build it up, but we do [too]. We try to use it to our advantages,” Marchand said of chirping. “It’s a different asset, and in a seven-game series, you can use it to your advantage. Even if the other team takes one penalty, you can capitalize on that one opportunity and it can change the game. Every guy who plays that role — me and Subban and Wisniewski — whoever it is, you definitely want to use it to your advantage.”
Marchand and Wisniewski have been frequent partners in the game of trash-talk. After all, it was Marchand’s hit on Wisniewski after a whistle on Feb. 9 that led to the line-wide scrap that culminated in the world’s worst goalie fight between Tim Thomas and Carey Price. Subban also crushed Marchand in the Dec. 16 game, causing Marchand to miss some time.
Wisniewski was acquired by the Habs back in December in a deal that sent a couple of draft picks to the Islanders. Like Marchand, he is known for using lip as an asset on the ice, so despite their history from the Feb. 9 game, Marchand sees the similarities between the two players as the biggest reason as to why they’ve developed their yapping rapport.
“I don’t know if it’s been like that [just because of Feb. 9]. He’s one of those guys who likes to chirp a bit, and I’m the same way,” Marchand said. “We’ve just kind of been at each other a little bit. It’s just part of both teams’ games to kind of chirp a bit. They play that same style, and we do too.
“When you get two teams like that, there’s always a little bit more after-the-whistle stuff. Maybe at some point it’s kind of taken away from my game, so I might settle down a little.”
The regular season was an exercise in not going over the line with his extracurricular activity on the ice. He would often admit that it could be difficult to know when he was crossing it, and that Claude Julien had a stare reserved for when he did.
Now in the playoffs, Marchand hasn’t seemed to change the way he’s gone about trying to bug the opponent. He can thank the nature of the playoffs, which generally sees referees more lenient, for that.
“I think that kind of helps a little bit, but at the same time, you are always aware of what you’re trying to do out there. You don’t want to be the guy that takes that bad penalty that ends up in a bad goal. You’re always a little extra careful, but at the same time, you don’t want to change the game too much.”
|04.20.11 at 3:02 pm ET|
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — From the semi-update-that-really-isn’t-an-update department: Bruins captain Zdeno Chara fully participated in Wednesday’s practice at Whiteface Lake Placid Olympic Center. After playing in Game 3, it would appear that the illness that hospitalized Chara Friday and kept him out of Saturday’s game is far enough in the rear-view mirror that the B’s won’t have to worry about it going forward. The B’s like to keep that stuff quiet, though, so whether Chara is still playing through any discomfort remains unknown.
“I’m feeling much better,” he said Wednesday when asked for a health update. Asked whether he still needs to monitor it, he replied, “I’m feeling much better.”
Well, at least there’s good news on that front. Chara is obviously expected to play in Game 4 vs. the Habs on Thursday in Montreal.