|05.04.11 at 6:58 am ET|
Everyone knows what happened after Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals last year: a Flyers Game 4 victory followed by three more in what ended up being one of the most devastating ends to a season in Bruins history.
This time around, the Bruins have set about righting that wrong, if it’s possible, and they’re off to the best start they could have through two games: a 2-0 series lead. Even if they take Game 3, it won’t be anything new for a team that was in the same position a year ago, but they’ll be sitting pretty.
It looks like they’ll have to play Game 3 without Adam McQuaid, as the rookie defenseman sprained his neck trying to hit Mike Richards in Game 2. Expect Shane Hnidy to be in his place for the veterans second game this postseason. Hnidy played just 4:13 in Game 2 of the quarterfinals vs. the Canadiens when he filled in for an ill Zdeno Chara.
Injuries and substitutions aside, Wednesday’s game is a pivotal one. As the B’s saw last week, winning Game 3 when you’re down 2-1 can change plenty, and that’s what the Flyers will aim to do. On the other hand, if the B’s can grab a 3-0 series lead, they’ll be in good position to do what 99% of teams do with 3-0 leads. Here are a few quick points on where things stand entering a big game at the Garden:
KREJCI REMAINS KEY
Sure, the L’s didn’t start coming until game four, but the Bruins suffered a major loss in Game 3 last season when David Krejci broke his wrist. Without Krejci, the B’s weren’t the same team, and it had a lot to do with why Philadelphia was able to crawl back to make it a series.
This year, and after a pedestrian first round vs. the Canadiens, Krejci has been as a big a force as anyone else (except for perhaps Tim Thomas) through two games. After having difficulty finishing plays vs. the Habs, Krejci has lit up the Flyers to the tune of five points in two games, including the game-winner in overtime in Monday’s Game 2.
With Marc Savard making only a 25-game cameo, Krejci was the de facto top center on the team most of the year, yet he didn’t always play like it. Krejci’s a guy who runs hot and cold, but he’s showing that he’s using the right faucet when it counts.
The Bruins aren’t going to sit back and play the “what if” game with what they could have done with a healthy Krejci last year, but so far they’re finding out what they can do with him this year.
THE WINNING WAY: CIRCUMVENTING REGULATION, POWER PLAY?
Four overtime games, zero power play goals, and only one win in which they’ve outshot their opponent. Those are some of the interesting details of the Bruins’ postseason thus far, but they’ll take the results.
The B’s are in no way welcoming more OT games, but given that they’ve won all four they’ve played so far, they’ve got to like the reputation they’ve developed. Contests like Game 2 are ones they most certainly won’t win every time, as Thomas faced 32 shots in the third period and overtime, while the B’s mustered just 12 shots. As they say, a win’s a win. You’d think the B’s would just rather win the way they did in the 7-3 fashion in which they took Game 1.
As for the power play, the mystery of when “the streak” will finally end (they’re at 0-for-29 thus far in the playoffs), is growing in legend. Will it get to 30? 35? It looked better late in the second period Tuesday, and perhaps with the confidence of winning will come the confidence to get this ugly streak out of their heads. The B’s just need to make sure their power play looks more like it did in Game 2 than it did in Game 1, when the Flyers were easily gaining possession and sending it the length of the ice.
THOMAS HAS BEEN IN OCTOBER FORM IN THE PLAYOFFS
Blaming the goaltender would be absurd, but it would be fair to say after the first two games of the quarterfinals that Thomas wasn’t quite where he was earlier in the regular season. The rebounds were big, and the Habs were game-planning around them. Since then, the B’s netminder has played to the lights-out standard he set way back in October. The line of thinking back then was that if the Bruins could get that kind of performance in the postseason, they’d be tough to beat. Well, they’ve gotten that performance, and they sure are tough to beat.
As Brad Marchand pointed out after Game 2, the Bruins had no business winning that game. The Flyers came out harder, played a fantastic game and got 54 shots on Thomas. Yet Thomas was the exception to the rule that if a team can come out flying at home, they should win.
Consider that James van Riemsdyk, who had two goals in the first 9:31 of Game 2 but was stopped on his following bids, should have had even more than the hat trick he didn’t get (we make too many Ovechtrick jokes in this space, explaining the absence of an obvious reference here), but Thomas shut him down on a night nobody else could. Regardless of what an opposing team can throw out there, it seems Thomas, when at his best, trumps all. He may not have the numbers from the first month of the season, but he is playing like it and giving the B’s a great chance to win each night.
Wednesday, it will be interesting to see how each team comes out. The Flyers should be desperate to avoid a 3-0 deficit, but it would be hard to top the effort they gave in Game 2. The Bruins should come out stronger if they don’t want to leave it up to their goaltender again. Even if it does fall in Thomas’ hands, he proved in Game 2 that he can handle it.
|05.04.11 at 6:57 am ET|
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The Bruins and Flyers are back in Boston for Game 3 tonight at TD Garden (7 p.m.) and there’s no extended wait between Games 2 and 3 like there is with the Celtics and Heat. And that’s probably a good thing on many levels for the Bruins.
There’s little time to think about being up two games in the series, having dominated the Flyers in pretty much every aspect of the game – except the power play, of course. There’s little time to answer questions about what it’s like being on the flip side of the 2-0 equation just one series after wiping out the deficit and beating the Canadiens in seven games.
These Bruins aren’t about to complain about being up two games despite losing to the Flyers in a similar position last year and overcoming the 0-2 hole in the last round.
‘Well it’s good to be on the other side this round,” Game 2 hero David Krejci said. “We can control our own things and bring it back to our building. We are going to use our fans as our seventh player and just go out there and take it game by game. Hopefully we can win the third one and go from there.’
‘Like Dave said, it’s better to be on this end,” added Tim Thomas, who stopped 52 of 54 shots Monday, including all 10 in OT. “We do know from the way that we were able to come back last series though that a 2-0 lead in a series doesn’t mean that the series is over. We still have a lot of work in front of us. As long as we take the same approach one game at a time, one period at a time, one shift at a time I think that’s the right approach. So that’s the way we will approach it going forward.’
2010 met 2011 in the post-game following Game 2 when a reporter asked Bruins coach Claude Julien if he realizes how tenuous a two-game lead can be. Sure, it’s a great spot to be in heading home but the Bruins know what the Canadiens did.
‘Well, you know, it is a nice position to be in, especially when you win the first two on the road,” Julien said. “There is no doubt that it is the perfect scenario for the first two games on the road, but we are not thinking about that. We are thinking about this year. Probably half the players were not even here last year, so we can bring up whatever we want. Our goal here is to focus on what is happening this year. What happened last year is last year, so it hasn’t really been on our minds. We have absolutely learned from that. We are using those kinds of things as a learning tool.
‘They took a two to nothing lead and we never gave up. I believe teams that make is this far are teams that have a lot of character. We know they are not going to give up, and we know has what happened with this team. They are capable of bouncing back just as they did in the last round, so we have to be ready for them. We need to understand that the second half of tonight’s game was not good enough for this hockey club. We hold ourselves responsible for higher standards, and we are going to have to be better.’
|05.03.11 at 2:04 pm ET|
It can be tempting to think a series is over once a team takes a two-game lead, but no one around the Bruins is thinking that way ‘ or at least not publicly admitting it. After coming back from a 2-0 series deficit against the Canadiens in the first round this year and blowing a 3-0 series lead against the Flyers last year, the Bruins know this series is far from over.
“I’m not looking so much at where we are in the series more than what’s at stake in [Wednesday] night’s game and how well we have to play,” Claude Julien said. “The rest will take care of itself. If we play well, we’ll be up by another game. I don’t think there’s anybody in that dressing room, including the coaching staff and players, who’s sitting comfortably right now.”
Defenseman Andrew Ference concurred with his coach and said that feeling complacent or expecting anything to come easy would be a recipe for disaster.
“I don’t think we need to look too far back to know that guys aren’t going to be too comfortable with leads and to know that the playoffs are hard-fought and you have to earn victories,” Ference said. “I think it would be silly for anybody to think that the guys in this locker room are comfortable.”
In fact, the Bruins know there are still plenty of areas they can improve. One is obviously the power play, which is now 0-for-29 in the playoffs after going 0-for-2 Monday night.
“We’ve talked about that quite a bit,” Julien said of the power play. “I’m getting tired of it, actually. I think yesterday we certainly moved the puck a lot better. We spent more time in their end. We had some chances and we just didn’t bury them. To me, although we didn’t score, I thought our power play was better. If we can keep getting better, hopefully we’ll get the result here soon.”
Julien said his team will also have to do a better job of playing its game for the full 60 minutes and not getting away from the game plan. That was a problem in the third period of Game 2, when the Bruins got outshot 22-7 and only managed to force overtime because of the great play of Tim Thomas in net.
“We just totally lost focus on the things we had to do,” Julien said. “We kind of got caught in the run-and-gun type of game. Certainly that’s never served us well in the past, to play that type of game. Because of that, you saw some great scoring chances and you saw some breakaways. They had a lot of space in the neutral zone.
“Those are the kinds of adjustments we’re talking about. We have to get a little bit better as far as the 60-minute focus on the things we have do in order to minimize those scoring chances that they seem to have gotten yesterday.”
|05.03.11 at 12:45 pm ET|
Defenseman Adam McQuaid is day-to-day with a sprained neck, Claude Julien said Tuesday. McQuaid suffered the injury when he crashed face-first into the boards after missing a check on the Flyers’ Mike Richards in the first period of Monday night’s Game 2 victory in Philadelphia.
McQuaid was taken to an area hospital, but he traveled back to Boston with the team after the game. Julien said all the X-rays on McQuaid have come back negative.
If McQuaid can’t go for Wednesday night’s Game 3, Shane Hnidy would likely be his replacement. Steven Kampfer skated Tuesday for the first time since suffering a knee injury back in April, but Julien said he is “still going to be a while.”
|05.03.11 at 12:14 am ET|
PHILADELPHIA — After his team fell into an 0-2 hole with a 3-2 overtime loss to the Bruins Monday night, Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette attempted to play a psychological card on the Bruins. Simply put, Laviolette said all the pressure is on Boston to advance now that that have a stranglehold on the series for the second straight year.
‘We have to go into Boston and win one hockey game,” Laviolette said. “Going to the well is not an easy thing to do. It’s a difficult thing to do and we did it last series and we did it last year against Boston. When you lose your first two games in your home building, I would say there’s a real expectation for the Bruins to win the series now. So it relieves us of the pressure, I believe, a little bit to just go in and play a game in Boston. And while it relieves us of the pressure, it certainly mounts onto them to be successful now that they have a 2-0 lead.”
The Flyers came back from 3-2 down against the Sabres in the first round while the Bruins overcame losing the first two games to the Canadiens on their home ice to advance. Laviolette went as far as to guarentee that his team would play well enough in Games 3 and 4 in Boston to bring the series back to Philadelphia for a Game 5 this Sunday.
‘I really like our guys,” Laviolette said. “I think we’re going to go into Boston, we’re going to play a strong hockey game, we’re going to win a game. This team never quits. We get to remove some of that pressure right now and just go play, have some fun and see if we can score some more goals than we did tonight. I truly believe this team still has a lot of fight in it.’
|05.02.11 at 11:54 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — After being taken to a Philadelphia hospital after falling head-first into the boards late in the first period, Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid will travel back to Boston with the team, Bruins coach Claude Julien said after Boston’s 3-2 overtime win.
McQuaid was shaken after tripping over the leg of Mike Richards and falling into the boards. He was tended to on the ice by Bruins medical staff before being helped off by teammates Milan Lucic and Zdeno Chara and taken to a Philadelphia hospital.
“Adam is coming back home with us,” Julien said. “He’s on his way back. He was sent to the hosital for further evaluation. I don’t know the [complete] details but he’s coming back with us and that’s a good sign in itself. Our D did a great job of stepping up.”
The Bruins were forced to play with five defenseman for the rest of the game, including overtime. Dennis Seidenberg played 36 minutes while Chara played 31 minutes and had to leave briefly after a long shift in overtime before returning.
|05.02.11 at 11:51 pm ET|
Bruins fans know two Chris Kellys. There’s the one who had five points in 24 regular-season games with the Bruins after being acquired via trade in Feburary, and there’s the one with the cage. Given that the latter has six points in six games since having to wear his full cage thanks to a Game 3 shove from Scott Gomez, people prefer that one.
Yet the running joke with media members that Kelly will have to keep the cage even when his face, which hit goal-post after sliding from the play with Gomez, fully heals, is getting old for the third-line center, who has often played along with the joke.
Though he spoke about the cage Monday morning, he was asked about it once again after scoring the Bruins’ first goal in their 3-2 overtime victory in Game 2. His reaction?
“You guys are taking that cage and running with it, eh?” he asked a group of laughing reporters.
“The cage will come off when I’m suggested to take it off, regardless of how things keep going here. That will be my final statement on the cage,” he added with a grin.
Not if he keeps it up. That second Kelly has been too big for the Bruins.