|05.16.11 at 1:51 pm ET|
NHL analyst and former Bruin Aaron Ward joined the Mut & Merloni show Monday afternoon to talk about the Eastern Conference finals, which the Bruins trail 1-0 after Saturday night’s 5-2 loss to the Lightning. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
Ward cautioned Bruins fans not to panic despite the rough start.
“It’s a feeling-out process,” he said. “It’s funny to listen to Tampa talk about all the time they had off, and [Martin] St. Louis was utterly concerned about the rust level. They obviously didn’t show a whole lot of rust in Game 1. And I think Boston did. That’s why it’s seven games. The sky’s not falling yet. There’s no Chicken Little yet.”
The Bruins power play continues to be a disaster, with an 0-for-4 performance in Game 1 making the B’s 2-for-41 in the postseason. However, Ward said he doesn’t think rookie Tyler Seguin is the answer.
“If they were going to shake it up they would have done it a while ago,” he said. “Right now, if the stat’s right, they’ve got the third-worst power-play percentage in the last 25 years in the playoffs. And that’s just one of those things where maybe it’s a personnel thing. And it’s not that someone’s not getting it done. But maybe you shake it up and you integrate some of the first power play with the second power play, get some new life, new blood in it.
“And I know everybody’s screaming for Seguin, but I think you have enough veteran guys in that locker room that can figure it out amongst themselves. You don’t need to put a young guy on and put the pressure on him to direct the power play.”
Ward said Claude Julien was proven correct to avoid making major moves when the Bruins fell behind the Canadiens 2-0 in the opening round, and that’s the way he’ll continue to manage his team.
“It’s how Claude coaches,” Ward said. “And Claude has my utmost respect. He’s a guy that sticks with what got him there. He’s not a knee-jerk-reaction kind of coach. He knows what he wants out of his team. He knows the philosophies to take into a game. Everybody was screaming for Seguin during the Montreal series and they get out of it. Then they cruise through Philadelphia. It’s part of the playoffs.
“Everybody looks for that, ‘Well, it’s a quick fix.’ It’s not a quick fix. One player doesn’t change the direction of an entire team. Twenty guys on the ice can have that effect. One guy doesn’t have it. One guy can hurt a team. But one guy can’t drastically improve the percentage of winning a team. A guy getting in there, a guy like Seguin can do a lot of things ‘ like, nice, young, fresh legs, very healthy, fresh outlook on the game ‘ and be a catalyst in that manner. But he’s got to be given an opportunity to get himself accustomed to the playoffs.”
|05.16.11 at 1:50 pm ET|
Bruins goalie Tim Thomas offered some perspective on losing Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals to the Lightning on Saturday night. On Monday, following the team’s first full practice since falling behind in the series.
“You think about it but it’s on the outside of your thinking,” Thomas said when asked if he were nervous about Game 2 drawing closer on Tuesday night. “As the game draws closer, you think about it more. We had two days off so naturally, you’re going to be thinking about the game more tonight than [Sunday].
“I think you should get mentally prepared. It can get all-consuming but I don’t think really that’s the right way to go. These hockey games are important, they’re important to us, they’re important to the city but to be realistic, it is just a game. You look around at what’s going on in the world right now, Israel was attacked on numerous fronts yesterday. It can really make you put it in perspective.”
|05.16.11 at 1:32 pm ET|
Bruins coach Claude Julien made the decision to mix up the second and third lines in Monday’s practice, but speaking after the skate, he hardly sounded like a man who had his Game 2 lineup set in stone.
Rich Peverley made the jump to the second line in the practice after playing Game 1 between Tyler Seguin and Michael Ryder. Peverley skated Monday with Brad Marchand and Mark Recchi, while Chris Kelly took his spot on the third line with. Center Patrice Bergeron rotated in with the second line during line drills, centering Marchand and Recchi (his usual trio), as well as Marchand and Peverley.
Julien said he doesn’t know whether he will have Bergeron for Game 2, and that Monday’s lines were put in place to give him more options should he feel a change is in order.
“Just moving guys around a little bit,” Julien said following the practice. “I think it’s important that if we’re going to [mix up lines], that they get used to playing with each other. Kelly has an opportunity to play with that line and has gotten used to them a little bit. Now Peverley [has skated with Recchi and Marchand] and I’ve got some options. Just giving some thought to maybe different combinations if need be, and tomorrow we’ll decide which one we want to go with.”
Mixing up the second and third lines would be nothing new for Julien this series. He moved Seguin up to the second line with Kelly and Marchand in the third period of the team’s Game 1 loss, with Recchi moving down to the third line with Peverley and Ryder.
‘I think me and Kells [Chris Kelly] might do some switching off,” Peverley said. “I think it’s just to give an option down the middle there. I’m just going to try and play my game. I’m not going to try and be Bergy. He’s a tremendous player. I’ll just try and use my speed.
‘Usually, you try and prepare to play with anybody. And you want to be able to play with anybody. I don’t think it’s going to be any different at all.’
As for what needs to change, Peverley broke out a time-tested but very appropriate hockey cliche.
‘We played well but we didn’t play a full 60 minutes,” Peverley said. “Obviously, you make mistakes at this time of year, they end up in the back of your net. Some costly mistakes, a little bit of a lull there and within a minute-25 seconds, we’re down 3-0. We can’t let that happen and we have to be fully prepared.’
|05.16.11 at 1:16 pm ET|
Bruins center Patrice Bergeron took a significant step in his return from the concussion he suffered in Game 4 of the conference semifinals, skating with the team for Monday’s practice. It was his third straight day of on-ice work, and the first with his teammates since suffering the concussion.
Bergeron did not don his usual yellow (second line) jersey, though he did participate in line drills, rotating in on his regular line that now consists of Brad Marchand, Mark Recchi and Rich Peverley. He also took part in special teams drills prior, though he left the ice early without taking contact. Though it seems the center is making quick progress, coach Claude Julien didn’t offer too much on where the 25-year-old stands.
“He’s going through the protocol of what he has to go through,” Julien said. “There’s not much more to update you guys on except [to say] when he is ready to go, you guys will know it. You can’t predict how quickly or how soon it’s going to be. It’s just one of those situations where right now, you see him going through today’s skate. That’s protocol. Right now we’re not ready to make any comments, because he’s just going through those stages.”
Asked specifically about Bergeron’s chances of playing in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals vs. the Lightning on Tuesday, Julien was not ready to lean either way.
“No comments,” the coach said. “I don’t know.”
|05.16.11 at 11:41 am ET|
The Bruins scored just once in the first 58 minutes of Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Lightning in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Meanwhile, Milan Lucic had to take a momentary seat on the bench after taking a slap shot from Seguin on the right foot during pre-practice warmups.
|05.16.11 at 11:17 am ET|
In a sign that he may be ready to return for Game 2 Tuesday night against the Lightning, Patrice Bergeron returned to full practice Monday morning with the rest of the Bruins. Bergeron has missed the last week – including Boston’s 5-2 loss in Game 1 of the Eastern finals against Tampa Bay Saturday night – with a mild concussion, suffered when he was hit by Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux on May 6.
Before practice, Bergeron came on the ice and skated in front of general manager Peter Chiarelli before participating in power play and penalty kill drills.
He was then cleared by the coaching staff to join in full practice. Bergeron participated in a light skate before Saturday morning’s pregame skate at the Garden and skated again Sunday before being cleared for Monday morning’s practice.
Bergeron skated with the power play until then worked on penalty kill drills against the Bruins’ second power play unit. Bergeron then took a shift with his normal linemates of Brad Marchand and Mark Recchi before leaving the ice at about 11:25, while the Bruins continued practicing. Bergeron was on the ice for approximately an hour.
|05.15.11 at 2:10 pm ET|
Tomas Kaberle has taken a beating from the media — this space included — since he’s come to Boston. He hasn’t been as advertised, he’s made costly turnovers and as positive and upbeat a guy as he is, that can come off as a lack of accountability when things are going wrong.
Unfortunately for Kaberle and the Bruins, Game 1 of the conference finals vs. the Lightning didn’t feature the step in the right direction many are still waiting for him to take. Kaberle gave the puck away behind his own net to give Teddy Purcell an easy unassisted goal in the first period, and he looked like a combination of Fulton Reed and Uncle Rico with some of his shots on the power play. It hasn’t been easy for Kaberle since coming over in Feb. 18, and it may be weighing on the veteran defenseman.
“There is no doubt he is pressing a little bit,” Claude Julien said Sunday at TD Garden. “I would say that because he knows what is expected of him and he knows what is being said about him. He knows all that stuff, at one point you hope that he is capable of focusing on just doing the job. We have confidence in him and we are going to work with him for him to get better, because we are going to need him to play at his best if we plan on moving on here and winning some hockey games.”
Kaberle has generally contented throughout his struggles that he needs to leave any negative moments in the past, but as they continue to pile up, it seems they could be sticking with him when he’s out on the ice. A player of Kaberle’s caliber isn’t used to being a weak link, and there’s still time for him to be a strength on the Bruins. It will need to come sooner rather than later, and once the defenseman can clear his head, the B’s could be in the clear with what’s looking like an uglier trade with each passing day.