|05.27.11 at 1:23 am ET|
It’s only appropriate that we get carried away with the number seven with the Bruins and Lightning set to square off in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals Friday. Here are seven players to keep an eye on.
– Dwayne Roloson: Make no mistake about it ‘ Roloson was bad in Game 6. So bad that the Bruins really have to be frustrated that Tampa limited them to only 19 shots. Asked after the game to assess his goaltender’s performance, Guy Boucher replied, ‘we won.’
– Tim Thomas: The Vezina favorite has allowed at least four goals in four of the series’ six games thus far, but his Game 5 performance was even more impressive than his Game 3 shutout. Thomas has been human too often in this series, and he’ll need to rise to the occasion with an otherworldly performance in Game 7.
– Steven Stamkos: Look who woke up. After being a ghost in Game 3 and going both Game 3 and 4 without a point, the Lightning’s leading goal-scorer in the regular season contributed a goal and a pair of assists in Game 6. It marked the second time this series that Stamkos has had three points in Game.
Here are the numbers for Stamkos in Games 2 and 6: 2 G, 4 A, 11 SOG.
And the his stats in Games 1, 3, 4 and 5: 0 G, 1 A, 7 SOG.
– Tyler Seguin: Remember him? Seguin scored his first postseason goal in Game 1, took over the second period in Game 2 and looked like a savvy veteran in Game 3. Since then, he’s done little and has been given the appropriate ice time as a result. He might be the most talented player in this series, but he needs to stop going out of his way to avoid contact. If Seguin’s gift can take over, he could be Boston’s secret weapon again. Otherwise, it could be back to the fourth line for the rookie.
– Johnny Boychuk: Oof. It’s been bad for Boychuk this series. The 27-year-old was on the ice for all five of Tampa’s goals in Game 6, and his shakey showing in the second round also led to a minus-3 rating in Boston’s 6-5 win in Game 2.
– Sean Bergenheim: Before leaving Game 5 with a lower-body injury, Bergenheim led all postseason players with nine goals in the playoffs. He missed Game 6 with the undisclosed injury, but skated earlier in the day on Wednesday. If he returns to Tampa’s lineup, the B’s would have to worry about a guy who’s already burned them twice this series. Boucher said Thursday that Bergenheim’s status ‘doesn’t necessarily look like something positive’ for the Lightning.
– Mark Recchi: This could very well be Recchi’s last game should the Bruins lose and he opt to retire in the offseason, and it would be a tough way to go if he kept up his production-less streak. The second-line winger had zero points this series, is a minus-5 and has totaled just six shots on net in six games.
|05.26.11 at 11:35 pm ET|
BEDFORD — When it comes to cliches, a Game 7 brings no shortage. From “do or die,” to “most important game of the year,” to “this is why you play hockey,” they’re all hit on.
Another one you’ll hear is players talking of giving a “60 minute effort.” With the way the Eastern Conference finals has gone, maybe the Bruins should consider breaking it down even further. After winning Game 2 and losing Games 4 and 6 in the second period, perhaps they should view it more as bringing three 20-minute efforts. One period has made the difference too often in the series, and the Bruins know it.
“That’s been our biggest challenge all year, is to put three solid periods together each and every game,” Gregory Campbell said Thursday. “Tomorrow night is going to be no different. We have to take the first period and play well in that. Whether we’re up or down, the game is not won in one period. We have to make sure that we’re playing well in all three periods.
“If it goes extra time, that’s fine. We have the confidence that we can win those games, and we’ll just have to make sure that we’re executing and competing and working as hard as we can.”
The Bruins held a 3-0 lead in Game 4 and a 2-1 lead in Game 6, both of which were held after one and were erased after two. If you take away the second period of Game 2 in which Tyler Seguin had four points in a five-goal Bruins’ second period, the B’s would have just two second-period goals this series. That isn’t to say that the B’s have been dominated in second periods, as it speaks more to a point that applies to both teams. Leads aren’t safe, despite the fact that this was billed as being such a big goaltender’s duel. Any team can steal a game with one strong period, and the B’s see playing three good periods as a starting point for success.
“I think you want to play a consistent 60 minutes,” Chris Kelly said, “and maybe that will be our focus for tomorrow night — coming out and playing all three periods.”
|05.26.11 at 7:17 pm ET|
Lightning coach Guy Boucher confirmed Thursday that Dwayne Roloson will be his starting goaltender in Friday’s Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals. Boucher has started five of the series’ first six games and was pulled in two of them. He made 16 saves in Wednesday’s 6-4 win in Game 6 and has just a .851 save percentage in the series. Asked Friday whether Roloson would get the nod, Boucher replied, “yep.”
Boucher offered an update on forward Sean Bergenheim, who has nine goals this postseason but has not played since leaving Game 5 with an undisclosed lower-body injury.
“Well, he’s seeing our doctors again today,” Boucher said Thursday. “He’s going to have another evaluation tonight and tomorrow morning. And we’ll see, but right now it doesn’t necessarily look like something positive for us.”
|05.26.11 at 6:07 pm ET|
The Bruins have experience winning a Game 7 at home, having done so against the Canadiens in the first round. But how much can they actually draw from that come Friday night? Players say at least a little.
“We got some confidence,” David Krejci said Thursday. “We know we’ve been there before, so it’s nothing new to us. Hopefully we can use our experience to our advantage tomorrow.”
Perhaps that will be the case, but there a few flaws in the theory that the Game 7 against Montreal will give Boston any sort of an advantage Friday. First, the Bruins didn’t look nervous at all to start that game. They jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first 5:33, which is an anomaly for a team that has surrendered seven goals in the opening three minutes of games this postseason. So you can’t really make the argument that they’ll be less nervous.
Second, and more importantly, the Lightning aren’t new to this whole Game 7 thing either. They beat the Penguins on the road in Game 7 in the first round, so no one should expect them to be overwhelmed by the atmosphere and magnitude of the game.
“Obviously we have played in a Game 7, but so have they,” Chris Kelly said. “You can kind of look back and realize how you approached it, but at the end of the day, it’s two new teams, a new situation and a new experience.”
Kelly hit the nail on the head with that last line. A Game 7 in the first round is one thing. A Game 7 in the conference finals with a berth in the Stanley Cup finals on the line is another.
Claude Julien said his team realizes that and that he hopes his players are excited about it.
“Why shouldn’t we be excited? This is what playoffs is all about,” Julien said. “If you had told us at the beginning of the year that we had to win one game to go to the Stanley Cup finals, we would be excited about it. And that’s where we’re at right now.”
|05.26.11 at 5:07 pm ET|
BEDFORD — Much has been made of the fact that the Bruins’ power play has looked better with Zdeno Chara set up in front. It has appeared to frustrate whoever the Lightning have had in net, it resulted in Chara drawing a penalty in Game 5, and it finally paid off with a goal in Game 6 when Matthias Ohlund stuck to Chara, freeing up David Krejci to tip home a pass from Nathan Horton.
Something that has gotten lost in the shuffle, though, is the job Chara has done forechecking on entries into the zone while playing forward. He has consistently either been the first to the puck or been right on the Lightning player who retrieves it.
As a defenseman — and one who doesn’t jump into the rush all that much — Chara doesn’t get too many chances to be one of the first guys in on the forecheck. He said he understands exactly what he has to do, though.
“Obviously when you’re up front, you have to get to the pucks and win the battles and races and get the puck to our guys,” Chara said Thursday. “It’s not really that big of an adjustment. You just have to time the speed going into the zone and kind of predict where the puck’s going to be.”
Once he helps the Bruins get possession, Chara knows his assignment is to park his 6-foot-9 frame right at the top of the crease.
“I try to just create some more traffic in front, some room for other guys, and do whatever I can to help the power play,” Chara said.
|05.26.11 at 4:38 pm ET|
The Bruins will be fighting for their playoff lives when they take the ice for yet another decisive Game 7.
How many times have B’s fans heard that phrase in the last 10 years? Well, Friday night’s Game 7 against the Lightning in the Eastern Conference finals will be the sixth time in the last decade that the men in black and gold have played in the most-pressure packed game in professional hockey. In fact, Boston has played in a Game 7 in five of the seven seasons that it qualified for the playoffs over that span.
But that Game 7 history hasn’t been necessarily a good one. The Bruins are a horrid 1-4 in Game 7’s since 2001, with the lone win finally coming this season in the opening round against the rival Canadiens.
Here’s a look back at how the B’s fared in each of their Game 7’s of the past decade.
2004 Eastern Conference quarterfinals, 2-0 L vs. Canadiens
As the second seed in the Eastern Conference, this series against the seventh-seeded Habs should’ve been an easy one on paper. After the first four games of the series, it looked like that would certainly be the case as Boston jumped out to a 3-1 lead. But this was still the NHL playoffs, arguably the least predictable of all the professional North American postseason tournaments, and the Habs stormed back to score five goals in both Game 5 and Game 6 to tie the series.
In Game 7, it was Montreal goalie Jose Theodore‘s time to take over. The netminder stoned all 32 shots from the Bruins while Richard Zednik potted both goals in the third period, one on an empty net in the waning seconds, to give the Habs the series win. The Game 7 win marked the first time Montreal had ever come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a playoff series. If there’s any silver lining for the Boston fans looking back on this loss, it’s that current Bruins bench boss Claude Julien was actually calling the shots for the Canadiens at the time. (Julien is 2-3 in Game 7’s for his career.) Read the rest of this entry »
|05.26.11 at 4:19 pm ET|
The NHL made the Stanley Cup finals schedule official Thursday, and it will open in Vancouver on Wednesday, with two days off between Games 1 and 2. The series will follow the 2-2-1-1-1 format rather than the 2-3-2 (none of this is to be confused with the 1-3-1, of course). Here it is, per the league.
2011 Stanley Cup Final Schedule
Game 1 Wed., June 1 8:00 p.m. Eastern Conference Champ. at Vancouver CBC, NBC, RDS
Game 2 Sat., June 4 8:00 p.m. Eastern Conference Champ. at Vancouver CBC, NBC, RDS
Game 3 Mon., June 6 8:00 p.m. Vancouver at Eastern Conference Champ. VERSUS, CBC, RDS
Game 4 Wed., June 8 8:00 p.m. Vancouver at Eastern Conference Champ. VERSUS, CBC, RDS
*Game 5 Fri., June 10 8:00 p.m. Eastern Conference Champ. at Vancouver CBC, NBC, RDS
*Game 6 Mon., June 13 8:00 p.m. Vancouver at Eastern Conference Champ. NBC, CBC, RDS
*Game 7 Wed., June 15 8:00 p.m. Eastern Conference Champ. at Vancouver CBC, NBC, RDS
Sorry folks, this means Milan Lucic could not win the Stanley Cup in his hometown on his birthday.