|04.26.10 at 8:46 pm ET|
The Bruins are 20 minutes away from heading to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs for a second straight year as they lead Buffalo, 2-1, after two periods.
It seemed the Bruins would come out regretting the roughing penalty taken by captain Zdeno Chara at the 20-minute mark of the first period that wiped out a power play to open the second.
Then apparently Buffalo’s Tim Connolly felt bad for Chara and the Bruins as he took an equally puzzling and terribly-timed undisciplined penalty of his own.
Connolly’s cross-checking penalty penalty just 16 seconds in led to a pretty power play goal for the Bruins as David Krejci found Mark Recchi down low to the left of Ryan Miller. Recchi wasted no time with the one-timer that beat Miller for a 2-0 Boston lead just 61 seconds into the second.
With the gold towels going crazy the Bruins seemed to be on the verge of putting away the Sabres.
But after Boston killed its 18th straight penalty in the series, Dennis Wideman turned the puck over in the defensive zone and the Sabres found some new life when Patrick Kaleta scored with just over 13 minutes left in the period to make it 2-1.
The Bruins killed off yet another penalty near the end of the period for too many men on the ice and now are a perfect 19-for-19 in the series.
|04.26.10 at 7:49 pm ET|
The Bruins, who struggled all season finding the back of the net on the man-advantage, scored for the 5th time in 18 power play chances this series.
The assist was Recchi’s 75th career in the playoffs, by far more than any active player in the playoffs.
With the Bruins looking for an early strike in Game 6, it was the Sabres who got the game’s first big break.
Steve Begin was whistled for a cross-checking penalty at 2:32 of the first period.
But as it has been all season and in this season, the Bruins penalty kill came up huge.
Not only did they remain perfect in 17 kill chances this series, the Bruins were the ones who created the best scoring chances.
Patrice Bergeron collected a loose puck in the neutral zone on sloppy play by Buffalo and skated in on Miller. He lost control near the top of the right circle but Marco Sturm was there to gather it and fired point blank. The shot deflected off the crossbar keeping the game scoreless.
Daniel Paille had another clean shot on net on Buffalo’s power play from the left point but Miller made a nice pad save.
Buffalo’s best chance came with just over eight minutes left in the period on a re-direct when Nathan Gerbe got his stick on a puck in front of Rask but the Bruins netminder made the clean save with no rebound.
And the Bruins appeared certain to start the second on the power play thanks to a Henrik Tallinder, who flipped the puck out of play with 5.6 seconds to go for a delay-of-game call. But Zdeno Chara was called for an undisciplined roughing call in a scrum at 20 minutes to nullify the advantage.
|04.26.10 at 3:08 pm ET|
According to WEEI’s Michael Holley, Bruins center Marc Savard will not make his first appearance since March 7 when the B’s host the Sabres in Game 6 of their series Monday night. Savard skated with the team Monday morning but did not address the media. He previously said he would have another neuro-psych test Monday afternoon to check on how he is recovering from his concussion. Bruins coach Claude Julien said only “No confirmation right now” when asked about Savard’s availability following the moring skate.
Meanwhile, Sabres forward Thomas Vanek appears likely to make his return for Game 6. “All indications point to him playing,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said Monday. Vanek has been out since sliding into the end boards and injuring his left ankle following a slash on the knee from Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk in Game 2.
|04.25.10 at 1:36 pm ET|
Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff made some tweaks to his lineup before Game 5 that ended up working out well for Buffalo. To the bench went Raffi Torres, who has yet to score a goal for the Sabres after being a deadline acquisition with the express intent of providing some scoring pop. Up came Cody McCormick and former Boston College star Nathan Gerbe and Ruff put them on a line with Paul Gaustad in Game 5 to good results.
The Bruins probably do not need to do something as drastic as a roster move the likes of bringing Gerbe up from Portland but Sunday’s practice at TD Garden did give a different look from what has been seen in this series.
Coach Claude Julien flipped Marco Sturm back to his old line with Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi while Milan Lucic join Miroslav Satan and David Krejci. It is the third line change of the series for Lucic after riding the wing with Krejci and on the fourth line with Steve Begin and Daniel Paille.
“I think, obviously, playing with new guys, I haven’t played up to my potential or the caliber of hockey that I know I can play,” Lucic said. “Maybe third time’s a charm. Third different line in the playoffs but hopefully they can get me going and I think I would like to find a way to get myself going with more of an edge, for sure. If I do play with an edge I am helping out the team a lot more and so I just got to do whatever I can to find it in me.”
Julien said not to think too much into the new lines. He is right. Monday will be Game 88 of the Bruins’ season through the regular season and playoffs. Just about everybody on the team has played with everybody else so there should not be a great adjustment.
“There is not much to talk about as far as those guys have played together before. We’ve moved guys around all year. There is not a ton of reasons behind it. I just felt that it was time to try that out for today and we will see what we have tomorrow,” Julien said.
Sturm is the latest of the Bruins so-called scoring forwards to go completely absent from the goal column. He has had one goal and one assist since March 11, with the goal coming in the last game of the season against the Capitals.
“I was trying to get involved a bit more and be aggressive. We had some good battles in their end and I think it was better,” Sturm said. “I know where I am going to be and I he is going to be on the puck and Recchi, like I played it in the past. Relax and have fun.”
It is now time for the daily update on Marc Savard.
The center skated on Sunday with the team. He stayed on the ice longer than most other players doing conditioning and working on starting and stopping along with sustained skating. Savard said that he has another test tomorrow after the morning skate at the hospital to determine where is in the recovery process. Depending on the results, Savard may be cleared to play or maybe just to receive permission to do fuller contact drills in practice.
“I felt great out there and I was controlling the puck good,” Savard said. “I still have one more test tomorrow. I don’t know what the situation is, we have’t talked much about it so at this point it is not looking good right now.”
Julien kept to the party line when asked about Savard — wait for the doctors and get him in shape.
“He is certainly coming around, no doubt but that is all I can tell you right now because that is all we have. We have not yet been told by the medical staff that he is has been cleared so there is nothing more we can do besides keep working with him and get him in shape,” Julien said.
Tickets still available
The Bruins just announced that an extra ticket hold of approximately 500 seats will be released for purchase at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
|04.24.10 at 2:01 pm ET|
The Bruins were never concerned that they would be without their big man for Game 6 on Monday. In their eyes the real instigator in the mini-brawl as time expired on Game 5 was Paul Gaustad and his slashing stick that set captain Zdeno Chara off and he began punching Gaustad and any other Sabre in the immediate vicinity.
That was just about every other Sabre on the ice. Nathan Gerbe and Cody McCormick entered the fray and the three of them toppled Chara like and Oregonian red wood. Even Ryan Miller got into the act as the pile on Chara thickened with both Sabres and Bruins as the goaltender came in and tried to pull Miroslav Satan out of it only to get tangled in it himself.
“To me I wasn’t even worried because I could not see it [a suspension] happening,” coach Claude Julien said. “It did not take long for them to rescind that stuff and it just didn’t make any sense, you know, a guy gets slashed behind the leg with a two-hander and he just turns around and takes a pop and three guys jump him. Where does all this stuff come from? I don’t know. It is just common sense and I just felt he didn’t deserve it.”
The Bruins players made available to the media Saturday morning at TD Garden were instantly dismissive of the notion that Chara would ultimately receive the instigator-within-five-minutes-of-the-end-of-a-game suspension. Andrew Ference did not even think it was a real fight even though Chara took a five-minute fighting major though Gaustad did not.
“That wasn’t even a fight, an instigator is when there is a fight and that wasn’t a fight,” Ference said. “The guy clearly slashed in in the ankle on the ice, if you really want to talk instigator so, but there was no fight so it was not an issue.”
Did Gaustad think he could have gotten away with the slash because the clock was expiring? Maybe he was thinking it would be a tit-for-tat move after Johnny Boychuk took out the Sabres best player, Thomas Vanek, with a slash in Game 2. The difference in the situations of the hits is clear. Boychuk was defending a partial breakaway in a one goal game. Chara was skating towards the bench areas after the Sabres had cleared the puck out of their zone with second remaining in a game that his team had already won.
“We stand up for ourselves too. It is about doing it at the right time. Sometimes a guy takes a cheap shot at you at the time of the game it gives you a power play and you say well ‘OK, I know who it is and it is a long game.’ But the game is over there. Obviously it was a cheap shot and it was unwarranted, the two-hander and he responded so I don’t think there is any damage there this time except listen, we will turn the cheek when it is time to and there’s times when you have to stand up for yourselves and he stood up for himself,” Julien said.
|04.23.10 at 9:38 pm ET|
Summary – Buffalo cut into the Bruins series lead by taking Game 5 with a desperation effort 3-0 at HSBC Arena on Friday night. Ryan Miller took the win with 34 saves to keep the Sabres hopes alive while Tuukka Rask let in three goals on 32 shots in taking his second loss of his young playoff career.
For the fifth straight game in the series the Sabres scored the first goal within the first ten minutes of the first period. Adam Mair was the culprit this time when he took the puck behind Rask’s crease, turned and fired a whipcord wraparound that went to the far side of the net at 1:54 for the early lead.
Buffalo, desperate from the start, put up a two-goal advantage at 18:54 of the first when the Bruins could not clear the puck from their zone. Andrew Ference tried to skip it up the wall but hit Blake Wheeler with the puck instead. It bounced off Wheeler and Vladimir Sobotka could not track it down as it travelled to the high slot where Derek Roy rejoined the play and put the puck on Rask. Jason Pominville, in on the initial giveaway, beat Ference down the slot and scored on the rebound by putting the puck around Rask’s pads.
The Sabres ballooned their lead to three goals at 9:22 in the second when Paul Gaustad when a quick-snap face off on the right circle that went straight to the stick of Michael Grier who took a slap shot the beat Rask to the right side of his crease. It was the first three goal lead by either team in the series and Grier’s second of the playoffs.
Johnny Boychuk scored the Bruins lone goal with a power play slap shot at 17:30 in the third period to make it 3-1. Boston emptied Rask from the net immediately thereafter and the Sabres cleared the puck from their zone, bouncing at the wall at center ice and sliding to the Boston net. Rookie Tyler Ennis won race to the puck, dove and swept it in for the empty-netter to account for the final score.
Ryan Miller — He would not get burnt in the third period for the third time against Boston and was able to bring Buffalo back to within a game of the Bruins.
Adam Mair — The fourth line center had his first of the series to give the Sabres quick confidence with a lightning strike early in the first period.
Michael Grier — Not only did he score the third goal of the game, he threw his body around to the tune of five hits and three blocked shots including one that put him out of the game for a bit in the third period.
Turning Point – Pominville’s goal. The giveaway was the essence of the Bruins night at HSBC Arena. Wheeler could not get out the way of a clearing puck, Sobotka cannot track it down as it slides to the slot and Ference gets burned by Pominville as he crashes the net. The two-goal advantage would be all that Miller would need to put the Bruins away.
Key Play – All of the goals that Rask let in could have been avoided one way or another but the one that gave the Sabres the first three goal lead by either team in the series was more of the net minder’s fault than the first two. Gaustad won the face off and Grier shot. Simple enough. It was the type of goal that the Bruins hardly ever allow and could not afford to do so when trying to put the series away.
|04.23.10 at 8:41 pm ET|
In classic hockey statistics (no advanced metrics here) the blocked shot could be considered the “desperation meter” stat.
In that regard, the Sabres are all over Boston through the first two periods. The actual shot total (those that got all the way to the goaltender or net) is 27 to 13, indicating the Sabres total dominance of the first 40 minutes but Buffalo also leads in blocked shots by a double digit margin. Boston has gone to their desperation mode as they try to climb back into the contest. The Sabres have been throwing themselves around everywhere, much like they did in taking a 2-0 lead in the first two periods Game 4 at TD Garden before the Bruins came back to tie it in the third and win it in double overtime.
It has added up to some prime time frustration for the Bruins attack and some extra time with the puck for the Sabres. The Boston defensive corps is not having its best effort of the series with turnovers and bad exit passes from its own zone and Buffalo has capitalized all game. The first three goal lead that has been seen at anytime in this series came at 9:22 in the second when Michael Grier scored his second of the series with a slap shot off a face off won by Paul Gaustad on the circle to the left of Rask.
The Sabres are 31-2-0 this season, including playoffs, when taking a lead into the third period. The only positive thing for Boston? Those two Sabres’ losses came Game 2 and Game 4 of this series.
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