|05.14.09 at 12:01 pm ET|
Aaron Ward went on the Dennis & Callahan Show this morning to discuss the advantage of home ice in Game 7 of the second-round playoff series against the Carolina Hurricanes, the Capitals’ failure to show up in Game 7 against the Pittsburgh Penguins and, of course, to discuss the punch by Scott Walker that left him with a black eye and potential for a broken bone in his face.
“It is a complete joke,” Ward said of the failure to suspend Walker. “If this happened to Sidney Crosby or someone of high value (there would have been a suspension), I’m a plumber in this whole situation, it’s easier to sweep it under the rug.”
Here are some excerpts from the interview, which can be heard by clicking here:
Q: What do you know for sure about Game 7 tonight?
A: I make it a practice to never notify the media that I listen to them so I was listening to you guys on the way in and you guys had some interesting theories.
It’s imperative that you get home ice and you keep home ice throughout the playoffs because you always need that added ingredient to your confidence and psyche. You’re more composed, you feel as if you have the masses behind you and for some reason, it adds to your confidence on the ice. I can’t explain why but it’s just a fact of life, as an athlete, when you have a rowdy crowd, it can be uplifting for your team.
Q: Can the ‘us against the world’ idea work for a team?
A: I honestly think at this stage in the playoffs, the game is played out there and the crowd has an effect on the game. That’s pretty good in the first round but come the second round, I’m not so sure that works anymore.
Q: How’s the shiner looking this morning?
A: I’ve got one. It’s not looking too bad. He got the outside of my eye. Seems like it’s fine right now. If I start putting makeup on the ice, we’ve got bigger issues.
Q: Is there any fracture there?
A: In the playoffs, we aren’t allowed to reveal what is going on so I’ll tell you what I have is a lower body injury.
Q: Did you consider wearing a visor?
A: Back in 1993 I took it off when I was in college and I vowed I would never wear it again. I wore it for two months but I can’t stand it. It’s just the way you’ve been and you’re not willing to change.
Q: To what extent will injuries affect you guys?
A: I think it goes with the game; it’s a badge of honor. You expect to get injured. If you’re not getting injured in a distorted way it means you’re not getting into the corners and getting dirty. That’s more or less the mantra of this team. Zdeno, just by nature. He’s not a guy who shies away from contact. He’s naturally going to have it happen. It’s a war of attrition out there with us and that’s where your medical staff comes into play.
Q: Was going up 2-0 in Game 6 both a blessing and a curse?
A: For us, getting up 2-0, it quelled the crowd. They’re now sitting down. But on the other hand, it’s tough as a road team to go into an opponent’s building and not sit back and protect. Something about it is human nature to try and sit back and protect and I don’t know why it is. You have to fight it. Shift by shift on the bench, players talking to each other insuring that something’s got to change. If someone told me I was going to have a 2-0 lead in Carolina, I would’ve taken the drink out of his hand.
Q: Any reasonable explanation as to why Walker did not get suspended?
A: Have I gotten reasonable explanation? No. My inkling is that sometimes it’s out of convenience, fellas. If you don’t want to do anything about it, then you can find a reasonable explanation and just accept it. I try not to be sour grapes. My biggest retribution of this whole situation is to shake someone’s hand and tell them, ‘Have a good summer.’ I would love to shake hands and know that I’m going to go on and play the Pittsburgh Penguins in the near future. We were able to exercise the way we wanted to play in that game and it was frustrating for them.
Q: He implied in his statement that there was some exchange between you two.
A: It was kind of an intimidating experience to stand there in front of 70 media members and tell them that it’s a joke. I called the media sheep because if you can look at that video and see anything that I said, the only thing I did with Walker was to brush off his punch with my left arm. How I became the instigator or the symbolic idiot in this situation baffles me. I represent everything that has gone wrong in this series for the ‘Canes. We’re a pretty gritty team. It is a complete joke.
I said nothing, he knows I said nothing, management knows I said nothing. If this happened to Sidney Crosby or someone of high value, I’m a plumber in this whole situation, it’s easier to sweep it under the rug.
Q: Blowout or close game tonight?
A: My Game 7 experiences usually get out of hand. I think someone forgot to tell Washington yesterday that the game was going on. Ovechkin was baffled and that guy can only carry the team so far.
Q: What went wrong in the second and third game for you guys?
A: It’s the playoffs. Nothing went wrong. It’s the playoffs. That’s why they make it a seven-game series. It is truly a war of wits amongst the coaches, players playing the system properly, we couldn’t find our momentum and now we’ve found it.
|05.13.09 at 3:24 pm ET|
Bruins coach Claude Julien reiterated this morning that Marc Savard is expected to suit up and play in Game 7 on Thursday night after suffering a knee-on-knee hit from Chad LaRose during the third period of Game 6. The center was helped off the ice following the hit and took a quick shift before retiring to the dressing room for the remainder of the game.
In the Cloak and Dagger world of Stanley Cup playoff injuries, I’ll remain skeptical that there still may be some uncertainty whether the B’s All-Star can play at 100 percent effectiveness on Thursday night – but the B’s coaching staff is sending the same message that there’s no question about Savard’s availability.
”Same as last night,” said Julien. ”I don’t anticipate any reason he couldn’t play.
”I know it’s Chad LaRose, and everyone would like to think it was dirty, but it wasn’t. It was a collision, and there is nothing more to say than it was two guys colliding.”
–The team worked out off the ice, but rehabbing forward Marco Sturm was the only skater going through on-ice workouts.
|05.12.09 at 8:59 pm ET|
RALEIGH, N.C. — 18:52: Looking a little bit of a knee-on-knee or leg-whip hit by Chad LaRose on Marc Savard while he was holding the puck near the sideboards in the offensive zone. Savard had to be helped off the ice, and he looked pretty upset at LaRose for the leg it.
Good little tidbit by Versus. The Bruins haven’t blown a three-goal lead entering the third period in a playoff game dating back to 1971.
15:59: Solid shot from the high slot by Ryder off a Bitz feed. Bitz certainly adds something to that line — the same of physicality and size that Lucic brought to them when he was skating with the pair.
13:48: Savard just left the ice to go back to the dressing room.
12:40: Samsonov and Staal working and grinding in front of the Boston net, and the Russian forward finally popped one by Thomas after the third try. This place just woke up.
11:49: Boarding for Steve Montador after hitting Tuomo Ruutu into the corner. PP for the Hurricanes, and a good job by the Finnish forward of selling the call.
11:38: Great save by Thomas on a Joe Corvo big blast from the left point and then a follow from Staal right in front.
11:28: Another huge Thomas save on a Corvo blast from the high slot that he kicked out of the danger area.
7:56: Great individual play by Patrice Bergeron on a short-handed rush at the Carolina net. He got dumped by a defender as he swooped in to the cage, but he still put the shot on net from the seated position. Bergeron has played a great game tonight.
6:30: Somehow Thomas got a glove on a Cullen shot from point blank while he was in the butterfly and then fell on the puck. He’s been immense in goal tonight.
2:00: Cam Ward is out for the Canes.
The Bruins have taken Game 6 over the Canes by a 4-2 score at the RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C. The deciding Game 7 will be at the TD Banknorth Garden on Thursday night at 8 p.m.
|05.12.09 at 8:03 pm ET|
RALEIGH — 19:35 Booming one-timer from Staal in the left facoff circle off a pass from Ray Whitney, but Thomas came up with the juggling save.
17:11: The Bruins have been playing with fire for the last few minutes and they finally got burned. Shane Hnidy was beat to a puck in the corner by Matt Cullen, peeled off him and allowed him to get the net after he passed the puck and then Scott Walker found him in front. Thomas poked the puck away, but Cullen recovered and flipped a backhand past Thomas.
There was a scrum minute or two after the goal, and PJ Axelsson looked a little shaken up afterward. Keep an eye on that.
Things just turned up a notch physically. Erik Cole dumped Chara back behind the play with the Bruins moving the puck up the ice.
12:37: The Bruins have settled things down a little. A nice sequence there where Montador and Wideman were having trouble getting the puck out of the zone with speed, so Bergeron came back to help the B’s move the puck swiftly through the neutral zone.
12:36: Great neutral zone pass by Byron Bitz to a rushing David Krejci, but the nifty centerman couldn’t control the puck and shake his defender for a shot.
11″07: That was a big time play. Milan Lucic picked up the puck around the blue line and dangled through Tuomo Ruuto, Jussi Jokinen and Joni Pitkanen before dishing to a wide open Marc Savard at the right faceoff dot. Savard banged it into the open net, and the B’s have answered the Canes challenge again.
9:00: Quick glove save on Scott Walker after a testing bid from the right faceoff dot.
5:49: Interference call on Pat Eaves when he dumped Axelsson in front of the Carolina net. First PP for the Bruins. The Cainiacs are sitting down with hands folded, and are pretty quiet right now.
5:30: Big time save by Thomas on Cullen during a short-handed rush when Wideman turned the puck over from the left point.
4:18: Big glove save by Ward on a Kessel snap shot on his trademark curl and drag move from the left side boards.
3:37: Wideman just hit a left post on a blast from the right faceoff circle after Kessel had rushed the puck up the ice. That was a full wind up and blast from Wideman that beat Ward cleanly.
1:57: Another score. Bergeron carried the puck down low in the Canes end and then fired a shot in front of the net just as Kobasew reached the post. Kobasew tucked the puck between Ward’s pads for his third goal of the playoffs.
00:33: Mick Colageo of the New Bedford Times keeps calling Byron Bitz a “Young Man’s Knuble” and I can’t disagree. Bitz draws a penalty behind the net as Anton Babchuk basically hog-tied him to get the puck away from him. Somehow I don’t see Blake Wheeler drawing a penalty like that behind the Boston net.
The Bruins are beating the Hurricanes by a 4-1 score after two full periods during Game 6 at the RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C.
|05.12.09 at 7:12 pm ET|
17:59: Bruins score that immediately silences that crowd. Bergeron again rushed the puck up the right side of the all by himself, cut through the Hurricanes defense and then dished to a wide open Mark Recchi as Anton Babchuk took out Cam Ward at the net and knocked the post off the moorings. It looked liked the puck got through before the post came unhinged, but it’s under review.
Call on the ice stands. It’s a goal.
17:33: A bad Carolina turnever in their own end leads to another Michael Ryder snap shot from the slot. The Canes look sloppy in this one early.
14:56: Wow. Great behind the back tip pass from David Krejci in the high slot to Steve Montador at the right left point, and Montador beats Ward up high with a slap shot blast. The Carolina crowd’s silence is deafening.
12:06: Big pad save by Thomas on a Tim Gleason bomb from the right point. The Canes look as if everything is coming from the outside in the early going.
Just like I wrote in this piece, it looks like the Bruins players have made a little bit of an adjustment and are sometimes just lugging the puck all the way up the ice with speed rather than passing around too much and letting the forecheck hem them in their own zone.
8:14: Phil Kessel fired a shot from the slot and then just couldn’t corral the rebound in a prime shooting spot in front of the net.
7:40: Best save of the night for Thomas as he was falling forward on a doorstep bid by Eric Staal and basically leapt forward at the puck to block the shot in tight.
5:55: Great job by Patrice Bergeron of forechecking and stealing a puck out of mid-air and then battling with Chad LaRose for a potential one-on-one bid with Ward. Bergeron couldn’t quite get past LaRose, though, and just pushed a diving forehand bid to the right of the goal.
The B’s are putting heavy pressure on Ward in this period from very close to the night.
5:04: Good job by Thomas of blocking a Matt Cullen shot and then directing it toward the side of the net.
4:05: That was Thomas’ best save of the net. Sergei Samsonov rifled a shot from the left faceoff circle and Thomas kicked it to Jussi Jokinen in the slot. Jokinen fired but Thomas able to deflect the shot and avert a really messy situation in close to the B’s cage.
00:30.1: The Hurricanes have really started turning up the pressure, and the Staal, Cole, Whitney line kept the puck in the B’s zone for at least a minute with some really rapid fire puck movement. The possession resulted in Zdeno Chara blasting Eric Staal behind the net and holding him down behind the cage while his teammates tried to get the puck out of the zone. First PP for the Canes.
Big for the B’s to hold off the Canes and sustain their two-goal lead after getting hit with a pretty good shot by Carolina there at the end.
The Bruins have taken a 2-0 lead after one full period of play during Game 6 at the RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C.
|05.12.09 at 7:00 pm ET|
RALEIGH, N.C. — For the second straight game rookie winger Blake Wheeler is the scratch for the Boston Bruins — along with Andrew Ference and Matt Hunwick — and Byron Bitz is again in the lineup and skating with David Krejci and Michael Ryder.
|05.12.09 at 2:28 pm ET|
RALEIGH, N.C. – There are obviously intriguing player matchups and clear strengths and weaknesses to each of the seven elite NHL hockey teams still alive during the postseason, but a great deal of any best-of-seven Stanley Cup playoff series comes down to momentum and pressure.
Which team is riding high on the momentum wave, and which team is slowly crumbling under the pressure?
The Carolina Hurricanes clearly rode a tsunami-like blast of momentum to a 3-1 lead in the series and utilized quick D-to-D passing and a strangling forecheck as something of a Shock and Awe attack on a sleepy Bruins outfit. The Hurricanes stifled, confused and obstructed a frustrated Bruins team that clearly didn’t respect the Canes after blowing them out in Game 1 of the series.
But after the B’s woke up out of hibernation ‘ something that Mark Recchi admitted during the team’s last disastrous trip through Carolina for Games 3 and 4 last week ‘ the real Black and Gold team took a big step forward on Sunday night. The Boston defenseman suddenly remembered that part of their job is to move the puck up the ice with speed and good decision-making, and the forwards remembered to provide back pressure while taking care of all of the little details needed to slow down a Carolina team with far greater team speed along the blueline than the Bruins.
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