|05.28.11 at 2:16 am ET|
Bruins assistant captain Mark Recchi made his decision to return for a 22nd season in the NHL last summer, electing to re-up with the B’s after the team was eliminated in the second round by the Flyers. Now that his team is in the Stanley Cup finals, the two-time Cup winner said after Friday’s Eastern Conference-clinching victory over the Lightning that this is what he had in mind when he decided to return.
“This is what I play for, to get this opportunity one more time, and probably my last time is pretty special,” Recchi said. “WIth this group of guys, right from Day 1 in training camp we put a lot of belief in each other, a lot of trust, and a lot of working together. I’m going to end my career at some point and say this is one of the better groups I played with. I’m proud to play with them regardless of what happens.”
At 43 years of age, Recchi may very well be in his last season, as he said late in the regular season that he would retire if the Bruins won the Cup. Now, he’s glad he made the choice to go one more year.
“It’s been a fun year for me,” he said. “This is what I came back for. I’m proud to say I’ve played with these guys.”
|05.28.11 at 1:55 am ET|
“I mean, that makes it extra special,” Lucic said. “A lot of good things have happened to me in Vancouver.”
They sure have. Lucic, who was born and raised in Vancouver, got the chance to play junior hockey there for three seasons with the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League. He helped lead the Giants to a Memorial Cup title in 2007, and when the Bruins visited Vancouver earlier this season, the Giants held a “Milan Lucic Night” and inducted him into the club’s Ring of Honour. That trip was made even more memorable when Lucic scored what proved to be the game-winner in a 3-1 Bruins win.
Lucic said it will be great to play in front of friends and family in the finals, but that he might have some work to do when it comes to convincing them to root for his team.
“I know I am going to have to convert a lot of my, well my family is already converted, but a lot of my friends into Bruins fans,” Lucic said. “So that is going to be a little tough to do.”
|05.28.11 at 1:14 am ET|
While Dwayne Roloson was putting forth the performance of a lifetime – epic by even Stanley Cup playoff standards – it was fair to wonder if it just wasn’t meant to be for the Bruins in Game 7.
But for these Bruins, thankfully, that question never even entered their mind. That’s essentially why they were finally able to beat the apparently unbeatable 41-year-old goalie for one Nathan Horton tally with 7:33 left and make it stand in a Game 7 1-0 win for the ages that sends them to the Stanley Cup finals.
“We’ve had a few games like that, even in regular season,” Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said. “To have that performance in Game 7, it’s just nice to see. Everybody bought into it. It was really a strong mindset before the game, throughout the whole game. I was very impressed the way we played and never changed anything.”
“We talked about it between periods, just stick with it, stick with it and eventually, it did happen,” Chara said. “It’s something you have to do that to be able to accomplish something. Everybody has to play the same way. It’s a team discipline.”
Chara and the Bruins were being denied time after time by Roloson, a goalie, who entering Game 7, was 7-0 in elimination games in his career, including four wins in these 2011 playoffs, alone. Read the rest of this entry »
|05.28.11 at 12:42 am ET|
During Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, defense partners Andrew Ference and Johnny Boychuk and assistant coach Doug Houda talked about a play they thought would break the Lightning’s 1-3-1 neutral zone setup. Instead of gathering speed through the neutral zone to win the race to a dump-in, they discussed using that speed to make short passes and skate the puck into the offensive zone.
The Bruins used that plan to varying amounts of success throughout the series, but it never really worked out well enough to result in a goal… until the third period of Game 7.
The play started with all three forwards circling back toward the defense to pick up some speed as Ference walked the puck into the neutral zone. Then Ference made a quick pass to David Krejci that sprung the speedy center clear through Tampa’s three-man front at center ice.
“I’ve been waiting for that all series,” Ference said. “All series, we’ve talked about that. I talked about that play with Doug Houda, I think Game 1. Johnny and I, we’ve been in that situation, I don’t know, 50, 60 times this series where we bring up the puck into the forecheck that they have. Game 1, we drew that play up and said, ‘Boys, look for this play. It’s gonna work, it’s gonna work.’ We tried it a couple times, but tonight was the first time it really just worked perfect, the timing and everything. Krejci came through with the perfect timing and obviously the finish was sick.”
That finish was a criss-cross by Krejci and winger Nathan Horton once they entered the zone, a quick pull-up by Krejci in the left circle, and a crisp centering pass that Horton tipped home from the top of the crease.
“We knew we wanted to come back and get some speed,” Horton said. “You want to have speed to get going through the zone and we kind of did that. We had a little bit more than they probably thought, so it worked out well. That’s what you want. You want Dave coming over the blue line with the puck. I just tried to give him some space and he made an unbelievable pass to me.”
Claude Julien said that play gave the Bruins a nice second option on entries, allowing them to keep the Lightning on their toes.
“I liked the way our guys made some decisions tonight as far as knowing when to run it in because we have guys going with speed,” Julien said. “I think that was a great play where you walk the puck in, and obviously Dave made a great play hanging onto it and Horts went to the net.”
|05.28.11 at 12:41 am ET|
Tim Thomas has waited his whole career to get to this point and now the Bruins goalie will have the chance to play on hockey’s biggest stage and play for the most famous trophy in all of North American sports. Thomas stopped all 24 shots Friday night, posting his second shutout of the playoffs and third career in the postseason, in Boston’s 1-0 win that sends them to the Stanley Cup finals starting Wednesday in Vancouver.
“This is a great moment,” the 37-year-old Thomas said. “There’s no doubt about it. When’s the last time Boston’s been to the Stanley Cup finals? Twenty-one years. It’s been a long time for Boston, it’s been a long journey for me to get here. Now, you want to take advantage of this opportunity. There’s more work to be done. Unfortunately, that’s the way it is. You can’t ever be too happy for too long until you’re the last man standing.
“They had to earn. We pressured them, offensively. The only reason it was a 1-0 game was because of Dwayne Roloson. He played an incredible game.”
Roloson stopped the first 34 shots he faced before Nathan Horton put one past him with 7:33 left in the third for the deciding goal in the Eastern Conference finals.
|05.28.11 at 12:39 am ET|
|05.27.11 at 10:58 pm ET|
By DJ Bean and Scott McLaughlin
The Bruins have had to wait a long time since they last played in the Stanley Cup finals, so the 50-plus minutes they had to wait for their first goal in their series-clinching 1-0 Game 7 victory over the Lightning probably felt like nothing.
With the game scoreless through the first 52 minutes of the game, Nathan Horton took a feed from David Krejci at 12:27 and tipped it past Dwayne Roloson for his eighth postseason goal. It was Horton’s second series-clinching goal, as he played the hero in Game 7 of the conference quarterfinals with an overtime tally past Carey Price of the Canadiens. He became the first player ever with two Game 7 game-winners in the same postseason.
For a game with such a high billing, it did not disappoint. Both teams played an impeccable game, with Roloson and Tim Thomas and shining for their respective clubs.
The Bruins will now play in their first Stanley Cup finals since 1990, and are shooting for their first Cup since 1972. In order to get the elusive Cup, they’ll need to get past the Vancover Canucks, who led the NHL in points during the regular season and are coming off a five-game Western Conference finals victory over the Sharks.
The Bruins and Canucks met only once in the regular season, with the B’s coming away with a 3-1 win at Rogers Arena. Game 1 will be played Wednesday in Vancouver.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– The Bruins clearly got the memo that they needed to get more pucks on Roloson, as they landed 15 shots on net in the first period after totaling just 20 in all 60 minutes of Game 6. Andrew Ference led the way with three shots on goal in a very fast-paced, high-energy first period. The team’s first-period assault on net was tied for their third-highest total of the postseason. The B’s had 18 first-period shots in Game 2 vs. the Lightning and had 16 in Game 2 vs. the Flyers.
– Good showing from Rich Peverley, whom Claude Julien decided very early on to use more. Penciled in on the fourth line, Peverley was moved around in the lineup and skated on all four lines. Peverley gave Milan Lucic the pass that set up No. 17’s first-period breakaway, which was the Bruins’ best chance early on. Roloson stopped Lucic on the play in an early sign that the Tampa goaltender had brought the good stuff.
– Dennis Seidenberg blocked an incredible four shots in the first period (for comparison’s sake, no one else had more than two in the frame) and a game-high eight shots over the full 60 minutes. Two in particular stood out — one on a shot from the high slot that had a chance of beating Thomas had Seidenberg not kicked it away, and another on an odd-man rush. Friday night marked the fifth time this postseason that Seidenberg, who entered the game with a team-high 47 blocks in the playoffs, has blocked at least four shots in a game. That shouldn’t really come as a surprise given the fact that Seidenberg led the NHL in blocks two seasons ago and ranked eighth this season.
-Much has been made about Tomas Kaberle‘s play throughout these playoffs, but there’s no denying that he’s been much better these last two games. On Friday night, he broke up two quality scoring chances to keep the game scoreless. The first came in the first period when he tied up Dominic Moore on a rebound in the slot, allowing a teammate to clear the puck away. Then in the second, he lifted Steven Stamkos‘ stick on a backcheck to break up what started as a 2-on-1.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– Horton had something going on after a collision with Blair Jones in the first period. He left the bench, came back to the bench, took a shift and left the bench again before making his return at 1:11 of the second period. He played regular shifts as the game went on and managed five shots on goal through the first two periods. Obviously, whatever the issue, he ended up contributing in a huge way.
– Roloson was on all night for Tampa, and nothing — redirections, second chance opportunities, or anything else — shook him. He came up with a pair of mammoth stops on Mark Recchi in the second period in succession to keep the B’s from getting on the board. The stat of Roloson being 7-0 in elimination games is a bit deceiving given how poorly he played in Game 6, but he proved his reputation right throughout the night. It seemed a real shame for his streak to be ended on a night in which he turned in such a stellar performance.
-The refs were clearly letting the teams play, which is good, but only to a certain extent. Regardless of the magnitude of the game, obvious penalties need to be called. That didn’t happen in the second period when Moore basically tackled Horton into the right goal post on a Bruins rush. In any other game, that would have been called without hesitation. It should’ve been called Friday night, too. Letting the ticky-tack stuff go is great, but letting guys get away with blatant interference is not.