|06.11.13 at 11:21 am ET|
The Bruins are looking for their second Stanley Cup championship in three seasons, while the Blackhawks are chasing their second title in four years. The two Original Six teams will take the ice for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday.
How do you think it will play out?
Who will win the Bruins-Blackhawks Stanley Cup finals?
- Bruins in six (60.0%, 174 Votes)
- Bruins in seven (14.0%, 42 Votes)
- Bruins in five (12.0%, 35 Votes)
- Blackhawks in six (6.0%, 17 Votes)
- Bruins in four (2.0%, 7 Votes)
- Blackhawks in five (2.0%, 6 Votes)
- Blackhawks in seven (2.0%, 6 Votes)
- Blackhawks in four (2.0%, 5 Votes)
Total Voters: 291
|06.10.13 at 9:38 pm ET|
Jaromir Jagr didn’t know where he was shooting the puck. He just wanted to put it on net.
“Good goalies, they always hate to be scored on, even if practice,” said Jagr. “They remember every shot, they remember every goal somebody score. And they tell you after the practice, ‘You lucky.’ They all remember your shot.”
Tuukka Rask stands four wins away from making a permanent mark on the Bruins franchise. By winning a Stanley Cup, the soon-to-be restricted free agent can secure a golden contract, erase any doubts over his play, and forever remove the shadow of Tim Thomas. But the soft-spoken, most “normal” goalie Bruins coach Claude Julien has ever had the pleasure of coaching is no different than any other goalie when it comes down to one simple fact: He hates when you score on him.
“Tuukka hate it,” Jagr confirmed. “Sometimes you just shoot it in the air because you don’t want him to be mad. I scored on Tuuka, I score one goal, and he come to me and say, ‘[Expletive], you never shoot there! You always shoot over there!’ He know where you shoot in practice. How am I supposed to know? I don’t even know where I am shooting.”
Rask’s play is persuading people to forget about the quirky yet extremely talented Thomas. While Thomas refuses to speak to anyone associated with the Fourth Estate, Rask has played outstanding in goal. Through the first three rounds, the 26-year-old Rask’s 2013 playoff numbers are even slightly better than Thomas’ from the Stanley Cup run in 2011. While Thomas had a .932 save percentage and 2.28 goals-against average, Rask’s numbers are even more spectacular. He has a .943 save percentage and an outstanding 1.75 GAA, and stopped 134 of the 136 shots the Pittsburgh put on net in the 4-0 sweep of the vaunted Penguins.
“I feel good,” said Rask. “I don’t feel any better than I’ve felt all throughout the playoffs. The team is helping me out a lot. You let in two goals in [four] games, you’re making some good saves, but we’re blocking shots and taking care of the rebounds pretty well.”
RASK DEFLECTS PUCKS AND PRAISE
Rask is adept at stopping pucks as well as deflecting praise. It simply isn’t in his nature to bask in the glory of his play or take all of the credit for shutting down a team like the Penguins.
“I was feeling good, seeing the puck a lot, being patient, and made some good saves,” said Rask. “But nobody wins these games by themselves. Our defense did a really good job, and a lot of credit goes to them, too.”
|06.10.13 at 5:02 pm ET|
The Bruins have reached the Stanley Cup finals for the second time in three years. And being back so soon hasn’t diminished the thirst to drink from the Cup, some Claude Julien pointed out Monday after another practice at TD Garden.
“I would think so,” Julien responded when asked if the desire to win it all still burns. “There’s no reason why it wouldn’t. Anybody that makes it this far know how hard it is. There’s no doubt we’re hungry.”
That doesn’t mean Julien won’t press a few buttons, something he did mid-practice Monday when he brought all of his troops together for a high-spirited discussion.
Beyond that, Julien and his staff are busy right now trying to impart the right information on the Blackhawks to his troops without bordering on information overload.
“That part of it hasn’t changed for us. Even if we haven’t played them we’ve taken the same approach as far as giving information,” Julien said. “Same thing, even if you’ve played them you don’t want to give them information overload. Like I said, we do all the research as coaches and we have all that stuff for ourselves, so if we need it we can share it with the players. We give them the basics and you give them the things that you really have to be careful with.
“That way you don’t kind of handcuff your players not to play their games because they’re overthinking. It really is all about your team and how well you want to play, and whatever they do extremely well you try to adjust to that. Not anymore than that, even though we haven’t played them it’s really about us having confidence in our game and trying to minimize their strengths like we’ve done with every other team so far.”
Most importantly, Julien made it clear that despite the speed the Hawks possess through the neutral zone in players like Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp, the Bruins have to stick to their game plan and have a strong forecheck in the offensive zone.
“Our forecheck has to be our forecheck,” Julien said. “It’s got to be efficient in order to minimize that. And that means putting pucks in the right places. If you don’t, they’ll have some easy breakouts. They excel at that area. They have a lot of D’s back there that can carry the puck and skate well, so there’s no doubt that that’s going to be a key. Some of our success will be how good we are in those areas.”
|06.10.13 at 2:46 pm ET|
Friday was quite the night for Adam McQuaid.
He fulfilled Milan Lucic‘s prophecy of scoring a goal, a tally that sent the Bruins onto their second Stanley Cup finals appearance in three seasons. He savored the moment, talked to friends who texted him congratulations and got his rest.
Now, all of that is in the distant past.
“That night was pretty fun but turn the page and [get] focused for the next round here,” McQuaid said Monday as the Bruins began to prep for the Blackhawks on the ice. “I had a few more messages than normal. It was nice. Just turn the page now and get re-focused.”
The Bruins skated on Sunday but Monday had more a regular feel as the Bruins staff had a day to break down film and get their team ready.
“Yeah, we need to make sure that we’re ready to go,” McQuaid said. “We’re facing a real tough challenge. We have to make sure we’re focused and at our best here.”
McQuaid and the Bruins defensive corps will have their hands full with the likes of Patrick Kane, Bryan Bickell, Jonthan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa and Michal Handzus. McQuaid was watching all of them Saturday night when the Hawks won Game 5 in double-overtime on a Kane hat trick.
“They’re a well-balanced team,” McQuaid said. “They come hard with a lot of talent. And again, they’re another team that can generate offense and is strong on the puck. It’s going to be a good challenge.”
Both the Bruins and Blackhawks came perilously close to not making this date in the finals. The Bruins had their epic comeback from 4-1 down in the last 11 minutes of Game 7 against Toronto in the opening round. The Hawks were down 3-1 to the Red Wings before winning three straight in the second round.
“To get that point and to be able to come through it, maybe we were able to relax a little bit and go out and play the way we’re capable of playing, where at times before, maybe we weren’t,” McQuaid said of being down in Game 7. “Maybe we were a little too worried about the result instead of going out and playing our game and giving ourselves the best chance.
“I think you see for our teams to get this point usually they go through something like that. Chicago came back from that 3-1 [deficit] against Detroit. I guess we’ve learned nothing is over until it’s over. So, something to learn from, I guess.”
This is not the first trip to the finals for McQuaid, who of course was part of the 2011 Bruins team. He said that might help at first but then, it will come down to execution on the ice.
“Having been there before, everything won’t be totally new,” he said. “But at the same time, it’s a new year. We have to be sure we’re approaching it the right way, that we’re not thinking that just because we’ve been there before that we’re going to have the same result if we just go out and play. We have to make sure we’re approaching this as a new situation, a new year and being ready to go.”
|06.10.13 at 1:38 pm ET|
NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Monday to preview the Stanley Cup finals between the Bruins and Blackhawks.
The B’s and Blackhawks have a number of similarities, but McGuire said no other team has someone who can compare to Zdeno Chara.
“They’re similar in a lot of different respects,” McGuire said. “They’re similar in terms of their star power through the middle. They’re similar in terms of their size and their speed on the wings. They’re similar in terms of veteran experience in goal — or lack thereof. They’re similar in terms of their depth on defense. Chicago’s left defense [Duncan Keith, Johnny Oduya and Nick Leddy] is much faster than Boston’s left defense. That’s a key part of the Chicago team. But nobody outside of Boston has Chara. That is mammoth in a series like this.”
Added McGuire: “Chara’s made a huge impact on these playoffs, as he usually does, and he’s made a huge impact especially in the last series.”
Another similarity is the fact that both teams have an agitator who has some talent: Brad Marchand and Andrew Shaw. Of Shaw, McGuire joked that Bruins fans “are going to learn to love him quick.”
“Like Marchand, Shaw has tremendous offensive skill. … He’s not a guy that’s just a super pest. He’s a player. He’s a real player,” McGuire said. “He’s very similar to Marchand. I don’t know if his top-end skill is as good as Marchand; in fact, I would say it’s not. But his pest factor is as high if not higher. He’s fearless, absolutely fearless. Tremendous player. There’s not a team in the league that wouldn’t want this player.”
|06.10.13 at 12:57 pm ET|
The Bruins’ lineup was the same as they practiced for over an hour Monday at TD Garden. The team will practice once more in Boston tomorrow before heading to Chicago for Games 1 and 2 of the Stanley Cup finals.
The lineup is as follows:
Lucic – Krejci – Horton
Marchand – Bergeron – Jagr
Daugavins – Peverley – Seguin
Paille – Kelly – Thornton
Chara – Seidenberg
Ference – Boychuk
Krug – McQuaid
|06.10.13 at 11:04 am ET|
The NHL made official the schedule for the Stanley Cup finals — pitting the Bruins against the Blackhawks — confirming that it will open on Wednesday night in Chicago (televised on NBC). All games will start shortly after 8 p.m.
Game 2 is Saturday in Chicago (NBCSN). Games 3 (NBCSN) and 4 (NBC) are next Monday and Wednesday in Boston.
If necessary, Game 5 will be Saturday, June 22, in Chicago. Game 6 would be back in Boston on Monday, June 24. Game 7 would be Wednesday, June 26, in Chicago. All those games are scheduled to be broadcast on NBC.
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