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Some pregame hijinks from the Carolina Hurricanes

05.06.09 at 7:42 pm ET
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RALEIGH — Interesting pregame hijinks from the game production people here at the RBC Center home of the Carolina Hurricanes. First they announced “Bucky Dent” as one of the refs for tonight’s game, and then they showed the entire clip of Price is Right Host Bob Barker beating the tar out of Happy Gilmore wearing a Bruins jersey. Very creative and pretty funny.

This place, by the way, is just as loud as Aaron Ward and Mark Recchi promised it would be. Getting ready for the game to start.

The key to Game 3 is crashing Carolina’s net party

05.05.09 at 6:14 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — There has been enough idle chatter about neutral zone puck play, impressive fourth line performances and sloppy tendencies over the last few days to sink a hockey battleship, so let’s get to the crux of the matter against these playoff-worthy Hurricanes.

All of factors above were certainly present during Boston’s Game 2 loss at the hands of the mighty Tropical Storms, but there’s a limit to the sloppiness factor when a team is able to squeeze off 36 shots and limit the opposition to 25 shots on goal. The Bruins were able to retain possession of the puck and level an adequate numbers of outside attempts on the Carolina cage, but there was one vital playoff ingredient they were sorely lacking on Sunday night: a determined and consistent net front presence.

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Bruins power play needs more puck pizzazz

05.04.09 at 2:51 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — A lot of Bruins chatter on Monday morning concerning power play outages and sharpness issues in the wake of a somewhat listless loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 2 at the TD Banknorth Garden on Sunday night. The team didn’t conduct any type of skating practice, but instead held a full team workout on Monday morning at Ristuccia Arena. 

The power play is now 0-for-14 dating back to the middle of the Montreal series, and Boston’s special teams unit seemed overwhelmed by the pressure that the Canes exerted on both points and at Marc Savard conducting things on the right sidewall during each PP attempt.

The B’s coach felt that the haphazard-looking power play was part of a bigger malady that struck at the Black and Gold over the first two periods: lackadaisical, out-of-sync play that infected all facets of their game. 

“I thought our power play reflective of our whole game. We’re not as sharp as we can be and our whole decision-making was just iffy,” said B’s coach Claude Julien. “That followed through on the power play with the same thing. The power play was reflective of our whole game: winning battles, decision-making, and moving the puck. We weren’t sharp. We didn’t play as hard as we could have.  We did in the third period when we started to play a little harder, but we need to play like that for 60 minutes rather than 20.”

With all that being said, there could be changes coming to the power play unit when it next makes an appearance at the RBC Center in Raleigh on Wednesday night for Game 3. Perhaps Milan Lucic will be inserted in place of Mark Recchi by the goal post, or Patrice Bergeron will be plunked down low as he was during PP moments in the last quarter of the season.

PP triggerman Marc Savard said the key to the man advantage is getting back the timing and puck movement that seemingly slackened during their long layoff prior to playing the Canes, and find alleys for more pucks through the forest of trees and in toward Cam Ward.

“We went in the third last night, and in our second to last power play we got back to basics and got pucks to the net and we were all around him. We couldn’t find a hole,” said Savard. “We just need to simplify things. We went through stretches during the year when things weren’t great, and we always seemed to stay in the top 10. We just need to get pucks to the net and get guys in front whacking away at it.

“We can’t be pretty. We need to get dirty in order to score goals,” added Savared. “It’s also about moving it quicker so a guy has a lane to shoot. In that last one we were getting (the puck) back, around and over and moving those lanes. I think when we’re not at our best we’re dusting (the puck) and holding it and looking. We need to be bang-bang and get more results.”

Or perhaps my own personal dream team power play will be constructed. What would it be, you ask? Putting David Krejci and Marc Savard both on the same five-man unit with perhaps Michael Ryder as a shooter/grinder in the corner collecting pucks and Patrice Bergeron and Dennis Wideman at the two point positions. The two centerman play together in 5-on-3 situations, and it would be interesting to see if they could work together on the same unit during 5-on-4 action. But, then again, there’s also a reason I’m blogging and Claude Julien is making space on his trophy shelf for a Jack Adams Award.

–Julien said that there is nothing bothering Zdeno Chara physically after suffering through a tough Game 2 that saw him finish with a bogus -3 for the night. Chara has appeared — at points during the season — to be slightly favoring his left knee, but Julien said he is “100 percent” healthy. Chara was not available to answer questions following the team workout on Monday.

“It was a tough night for the whole team. I guess because he gets a lot of credit for the way he plays, when he’s not on top of his game the first thing we do is notice it,” said Julien. “He’s going to be fine. He is 100 percent. No questions asked. Honestly, there are no issues there at all.”

–Recchi is obviously very familiar with the loud NASCAR-loving, Waffle House-eating Hurricanes home crowd and expects the B’s to be walking into something of a hockey hornet’s nest for Game 3 and 4 at the RBC Centre in Raleigh.

“It’ll be loud. It’s an energetic building, it’s loud and they get into it,” said Recchi. “They’ll be tail-gating all afternoon on Wednesday and they just feed off the energy. It’s going to be loud, so we’re going to have to prepare for it. It’s one of the loudest buildings I’ve ever been in, period. It’s the same as Montreal. You have to be ready to counter their start, push back and challenge them as well.”

–Patrice Bergeron mulled a little bit over the open net he missed in the first period of Game 2 and what might have been had he connected early in the game and given his team the quick lead, but the center was focused on Game 3 once the team worked out on Monday morning.

“You always think about it, but the puck was rolling and I caught it flat,” said Bergeron. “Yes, I should have put it in, but there are so many plays in any game that happen. You think about (a little), but you can’t think about it anymore.”

Pending further review: no goal for LaRose at end of second

05.04.09 at 2:34 am ET
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It isn’t going to be the most controversial replay in the world because the Hurricanes were already leading 2-0 in Sunday night’s Game 2 — and they ended up taking a 3-0 victory anyway — but a good number of hockey lovers and puck followers believe that Bruins caught a lucky break with the “no goal” call at the end of the second period.

Let’s set the scene: Carolina defenseman Dennis Seidenberg hammered a puck in from outside the blueline that Tim Thomas was able to get a pad on and deflect, but he directed the rebound right to a hustling Chad LaRose. LaRose fired a shot right back at Thomas, and the puck hit the crossbar and right post and then bounced up on edge before tumbling around the goal line.

David Krejci eventually swept the puck out of the danger area, and the refs made the on-ice call that it wasn’t a goal. So, the NHL offices in Toronto would have needed a “beyond a reasonable doubt” piece of evidence to overturn the call and obviously didn’t find what they were looking. The NHL ruled there wasn’t enough evidence to call it a goal, and the Bruins caught something of a break headed into the third period.

The B’s couldn’t get anything going, however, and Cam Ward was there to stop any signs of life for the Bruins in the third period. It’s obvious from the video that the TSN telecast analysts thought that LaRose’s bid should have been favorably reviewed as a goal with 0:00.2 seconds left on the clock.

Either way, it took seven minutes for the NHL officials to finally uphold the on-ice ruling of “no goal” and the debate is still raging. Here’s a look at the video that is causing a little bit of a stir with people that feel like the puck definitely snuck behind the line.

My own take? It definitely snuck inside the goal line after hitting the crossbar and the right post, and it should have counted as Carolina’s third score of the day headed into the second period intermission. But alas it didn’t, and the Hurricanes waited to add that additional score with an empty-net goal from Eric Staal that clinched the game for Carolina. What do you think?

Hurricanes take a 3-0 decision over B’s in Game 2

05.03.09 at 9:36 pm ET
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19:30: Big miss by Savard off a nifty pass from the side of the net by Kessel. That’s two Grade A bids that the B’s haven’t cashed in on tonight.

18:31: Slashing on Andrew Ference. First PP of the night for Carolina.

15:19: Good little backhand bid by Wheeler with Krejci jamming in front of the Carolina net. Ward made the quick glove save on the shot, though, and then Krejci and Ryan Bayda engaged in a little pushing and shoving in front of the Canes net.

12:17: What a quick stick move by P.J. Axelsson to fake Corvo off his skates. He fired a shot from the slot directly afterward, but Ward closed the pads before the puck could trickle through.

11:30: Good pressure by Bruins with a bid in close by Chuck Kobasew at the left goal post, and a one-man rush by Bergeron up the right side. But Ward was able to stop both of them.

10:21: Good blocker-side save by Ward on a Savard shot from the high slot. Ward is much better than he was in Game 1, but the Bruins have also helped him at times.

7:45: Bonehead play by Tim Gleason. Flipped the puck right over the boards with hardly any pressure from the B’s in his own zone. Delay of game penalty for Canes. B’s PP is 0-for-2.

6:07: Ward saved his best of the night for this PP. Great toe saves on Michael Ryder when he tried to wait out the goalie following a scramble in front and then another pad-extended beauty on Dennis Wideman from the high point.

3:07: Penalty on Pitkanen for cross-checking Dennis Wideman. Another PP for the Bruins to close things out in the third period.

1:51: Tim Thomas pulled during PP, but a bad Kessel pass out of the offensive zone gets an off-sides whistle and a faceoff.

1:28: Thomas pulled again. 6-on-4 for 22 seconds and then a 6-on-5.

00:27.1: Eric Staal empty-netter when the Bruins couldn’t keep it in the zone. Good effort by Ward tonight and the B’s missed a few golden chances early, but the Canes really seemed to want it more. Plain and simple.

The Hurricanes beat the Bruins by a 3-0 score in Game 2 at the TD Banknorth Garden.

Corvo and Cullen give the Canes a 2-0 lead

05.03.09 at 8:37 pm ET
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17:30: A great shift by Carolina turns into their first goal. A Joe Corvo bomb from the left point with Staal drifitng in front of the net. This came directly after a quick snap shot from Staal off a short little push pass by Ray Whitney after he broke into the offensive zone.

16:01: Good takeaway from Lucic. He stripped Staal of the puck and moved it up the neutral zone and then into the offensive zone. He slipped a pass over to Phil Kessel in the high slot, but Ward was able to make the stop.

15:59: Big bomb from Dennis Wideman off the draw in the offensive zone, but Ward made the juggling catch with his glove hand.

14:36: Ryan Bayda decked Wideman behind the Boston with a huge shoulder hit. Good clean hockey hit right there.

13:50: Another good shift by the fourth line with Yelle and Thornton both getting good pressure on Ward.

13:36: First penalty of the game for these two well-mannered, disciplined hockey teams. It’s Joni Pitkanen for two minutes, but we can’t confirm whether it’s for having a woman’s first name or not.

We have confirmation. It’s for elbowing.

12:28: Great PK work by Chad LaRose. He broke up a point-to-point pass from Chara to Wideman and then beat both D-men back to the loose puck in Boston’s zone. He was stuffed in a quick short-side attempt when he tried to slip the puck inside the left post, but he flipped a pass out from to Matt Cullen in the slot. Cullen ripped away at a quick shot that Thomas didn’t have a shot at stopping.

And all of a sudden the Garden is silent.

9:17: Good cycling shift by Lucic, Savard and Kessel with a flurry of shots at the Carolina net, but nothing in the score sheet.

3:06: Great spinorama, no-look shot bid by Blake Wheeler from the right faceoff circle that was right on target, but Ward wasd there to stop it.

2:11: Holding penalty by Dennis Seidenberg when he was hanging to Lucic as he basically dragged him across the blue line. B’s PP didn’t look good the first time around.

00:48.6: Long shot by Wideman that was deflected and then just missed connecting with Mark Recchi in front of the Boston net. Recchi took a quick swipe at the pad, and then Corvo shoved him into the boards behind the net.

00:0.2: It looked like a Chad LaRose Carolina goal on a breakaway once Seidenberg jumped out of the penalty box, but the refs never called it a score. The puck bounced off the inside of the left post and landed on the goal line, and then it landed straight on the goal line. Mark Stuart swiped the puck away before it drop into the net, and the refs are currently reviewing it.

“No goal” call from the boys in stripes after a 10 minute replay delay.

The Canes have taken a 2-0 lead over the Bruins after two full periods during Game 2 at the TD Banknorth Garden.

B’s and Canes are locked in a scoreless tie

05.03.09 at 6:43 pm ET
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19:33: Big bomb from high slot area by Zdeno Chara that Cam Ward snatched out of the air with his glove. Erik Cole, Eric Staal and Ray Whitney are starting Game 2 together, and once again Patrice Bergeron, Mark Recchi and Chuck Kobasew are matched up against them.

18:08: Staal attempted to throw a big screen with his big body in front of an Anton Babchuk shot, and got a Chara shove for his efforts after Tim Thomas made the stop.

16:14: Great shift by Shawn Thornton, Stephane Yelle and P.J. Axelsson that produced a couple of quality scoring bids. One by Yelle on a follow-up stuff in at the post and a long bomb attempt by Dennis Wideman.

Big hand during TV timeout for Tim Thomas, Zdeno Chara and Claude Julien for being named finalists for the Vezina, Norris and Jack Adams trophies after great respective regular season performances.

12:30: Little wipe-out for Cam Ward when he was trying to corral a puck behind the Hurricanes net. Didn’t lead to anything substantial from the B’s, however.

10:34: Good rush by Blake Wheeler up the right side of the ice. He pin-balled into Tim Gleason as he rushed the puck into the offensive zone, dropped Gleason to the ice and then feed Krejci for a fumbling shot attempt in the slot.

8:56: A couple of good bids by Milan Lucic at the edge of the left faceoff circle while he was battling with Niclas Wallin for the puck in front of the net.

8:31: Big missed chance by Patrice Bergeron. Chuck Kobasew wrestled the puck away from a Carolina defenseman and feed a rushing Bergeron all alone in front. Bergeron missed over the crossbar with his attempt.

8:11: Solid shoulder block of a shot by former Boston College winger Patruck Eaves from the left faceoff circle. Good action up and down the ice by both teams over the last five minutes.

5:41: Another bid in tight from Bergeron by the left post, but Ward played big and gobbled up the shot attempt.

3:19: The pounding of Eric Staal continues. Chara dumps him down the ice. Aaron Ward dumps him down the ice. Then Staal shows a little frustration by bumping Ward after the whistle in front of the Boston net. It looks as if the Z treatment is starting to get to him.

00:55: Good save by Thomas after Cole picked Chara’s pocket behind the Boston net and fed a pass off the boards to Staal on the other side. Staal wheeled around and trying to slam in a wraparound shot at the right post, but Thomas beat him to it and closed off the opening.

Hurricanes outshoot Bruins by a 13-8 margin for the period.

The B’s and Hurricanes are locked in a scoreless tie after one full period during Game 2 at the TD Banknorth Garden.

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