|05.01.13 at 9:44 pm ET|
If Wednesday’s Game 1 was any sort of indication as to how the Bruins-Maple Leafs series is going to go, you can expect this to be a quick one. The B’s swarmed the Leafs in an uncharacteristically relentless effort and took the opening game of the series at TD Garden, 4-1.
The Leafs took an early lead on a power play goal from James van Riemsdyk, but it was all Bruins from there. Wade Redden validated Claude Julien’s decision to put him in the lineup by tying the game on a slap shot that trickled past James Reimer, and it was Redden’s shot that was tipped past the Toronto goalie with 12 seconds remaining in the first to make it 2-1.
The B’s added second period goals from David Krejci and Johnny Boychuk to put the game out of reach, though Toronto coach Randy Carlyle stuck with Reimer the whole way. Both Redden and Krejci’s goals were stoppable, but the Leafs turned in a really poor effort in front of their goalie.
Tuukka Rask didn’t have a very tough night and was able to stop 19 of 20 shots he faced. Van Riemsdyk’s goal came from a rebound tap-in out in front.
The series will resume Saturday at TD Garden.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- The Bergeron line was absolutely buzzing for the Bruins. Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand had three shots on goal apiece in the first period alone, with Seguin finishing the night with a game-high seven shots on goal. Though the B’s didn’t get a goal from the line, they almost got two. Seguin hit the crossbar/left post corner in the second period on a goal that was waved off, and Bergeron crashed the net to knock in a puck that was ruled no-goal because it had been whistled dead. If the Bruins get performances like that out of the Bergeron line, they’ll be sitting pretty.
- Where was Phil Kessel? The former Bruin didn’t register a shot on goal until the third period. In 23 career games against the Bruins now, Kessel has three goals and six assists for nine points and a minus-22 rating.
- David Krejci was a slow starter in the last two postseasons, but he kicked off the 2013 postseason with much better production. Krejci, who had two goals and two assists for four points in 11 first-round games over the last two seasons, scored in the second period and had a helper on Horton’s goal, which gives him more points (two) than he had in the first round against the Canadiens two years ago in a seven-game series in which he only produced a goal.
The most comical part of Krejci’s goal was that it started out as a bad play by the center, but the Leafs gave him an easy opportunity to correct it. Entering the zone, Krejci sent an ill-advised pass to the swarmed Horton, and the pass was broken up in front. Krejci was able to step over, gain control of the puck and wheel around to beat Reimer, who didn’t seem to expect a shot on net.
- The Bruins had three goals in only one of their last nine games of the season, and that three-goal performance on April 21 included an empty-net goal. They were able to get to three goals in just over halfway through the game Wednesday. Yes, they were playing a team that allowed the second-most goals of the 16 playoff teams during the regular season, but they also stepped up their game big time. All that talk of “not being able to flip a switch”? It’s bogus.
- With his goal, Nathan Horton now has 18 points (nine goals, nine assists) in 22 career playoff games. Horton’s only other playoff experience came in the 2011 season, when he scored three game-winning goals and five others.
- The Bruins didn’t score on the power play against the Maple Leafs in the regular season (0-for-7), but Horton’s goal came on the power play. The tally came following a shorthanded bid from James van Riemsdyk in which the Toronto left wing hit the cross-bar. The goal was reviewed to see if Horton, who tipped it in, had his stick above the crossbar at the time.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- While the top two lines were dominant for the Bruins, the third line was not. The trio of Chris Kelly between Kaspars Daugavins and Jaromir Jagr had just one shot on goal in the first period, and each member had one shot on goal apiece through the first 40 minutes.
- The Bruins really got away with one when Andrew Ference elbowed Mikhail Grabovski in the head with the Maple Leafs already on the power play. With both players coming from different directions into the corner, Ference threw a high elbow that knocked Grobovski to the ground. Watching it live, it seemed like Grabovski was fishing for a call, but replays showed that Ference got away with a dirty play. Here’s the video.
- JVR strikes again. He’s had some big games against the Bruins in the playoffs in the past, and he could have had a second goal Wednesday had he not hit the crossbar. Van Riemsdyk led the Bruins with five shots on goal.
|05.01.13 at 6:55 pm ET|
The Bruins scratched Rich Peverley and Dougie Hamilton for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Maple Leafs. Boston’s other healthy scratches were Carl Soderberg, Jay Pandolfo and Aaron Johnson.
The lineup in warmups was as follows:
Milan Lucic ' David Krejci ' Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand ' Patrice Bergeron ' Tyler Seguin
Kaspars Daugavins ' Chris Kelly ' Jaromir Jagr
Daniel Paille ' Gregory Campbell ' Shawn Thornton
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
|05.01.13 at 2:29 pm ET|
The Maple Leafs don’t have as much playoff experience, but they do have one guy who has seen their current opponent plenty in the postseason. And he’s 23.
James van Riemsdyk, who was traded to Toronto from Philadelphia in the offseason, is now facing the Bruins in the postseason for the third time in his career. Additionally, the UNH product knows the Garden well from his college days. He played in the double-overtime loss to BC in Hockey East tournament in 2008 and a year later was responsible for getting the ball rolling on the Flyers’ Game 7 comeback from a 3-0 defecit.
“It seems like every year in the playoffs it’s against the Bruins,” van Riemsdyk said Wednesday. “Obviously, they’re a strong team and it’s a fun building to play in here, but you’re going to have to bring a strong game if you want to be successful.”
As a rookie, van Riemsdyk got the Flyers on the board late in the first period with Boston up, 3-0. The Flyers came back to win the game, capping off a four-game comeback after the B’s took the first three games of the season.
A year later, the Flyers and B’s met in the Eastern Conference semifinals for the second consecutive year, with van Riemsdyk turning in one of the best single-game performances of that postseason from someone not named Tim Thomas in Game 2. He scored on his first shift and added another tally at 9:31 to give the Flyers a 2-0 lead in the first 10 minutes. The B’s came back to win the game in overtime, but that game should be remembered for being a showdown of van Riemsdyk vs. Thomas, the B’s goalie had to deal with eight shots from the young scorer.
While those two performances make for some major highlights of the 23-year-old’s career, JVR is hardly a Bruins killer. He has four goals in 11 playoff games against the B’s, but he hopes to add significantly to that total this year. After a successful season in which he scored 18 goals in his first campaign for the Leafs, he knows from experience that he’ll need to reach an even higher level this month and hopefully beyond.
“Obviously [the Bruins'] level of play kind of raises a bit in the playoffs, but these guys have had quite a bit of success the last few years,” van Riemsdyk said. “So you know you’re in for a tough game every time.”
The situation in which van Riemsdyk finds himself is an interesting one. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound winger went from being a kid on a team used to making the playoffs to someone with more postseason experience with most of his teammates on a team that is in the playoffs for the first time since 2004.
“Maybe those teams had a little more playoff experience, but obviously when you make the playoffs you know you’re doing something right,” he said when asked to compare the Flyers squads that faced the B’s to this Maple Leafs club. “We obviously have a lot of skill in this room. We’re capable of doing good things. It’s just a matter of us going out there and taking it one shift at a time and focusing on the details of the game.”
|05.01.13 at 2:15 pm ET|
NESN’s Andy Brickley joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to talk about the Bruins’ approach to the playoffs, some lineup decisions they’ve made, and how they match up with the Maple Leafs.
Brickley said he would have preferred to see the Bruins face the Islanders in the first round, but he thinks Toronto is a better matchup for them than Ottawa would have been.
“Toronto, they’re a little porous on defense,” Brickley said. “I’m still not sold on [James] Reimer being an elite guy. He’s got no experience, really, when it comes to NHL postseason play. So I think it’s a pretty good matchup. My preference would have been the Islanders, but be careful what you wish for. But it should have all the elements of a playoff series they can win, which is physical play, 5-on-5 hockey. If Toronto wants to initiate, the Bruins will oblige, but I’m looking for the Bruins to initiate.”
“I’m not surprised,” Brickley said of Chara and Seidenberg playing together. “I don’t know if it’s my preference. Toronto, one of their strengths this year is the fact that they have more than one scoring line. You put those guys together and you try to play them against Phil Kessel and his threesome, and they can still hurt you with [Joffrey] Lupul, [Nazem] Kadri. But that’s something they wanted to do. They were committed to it before the season ended. Now it’s up to the other four defensemen that are in the lineup to get the job done on the matchups.”
Brickley said that while Dougie Hamilton looks likely to sit in favor of Wade Redden in Game 1, Hamilton likely will crack the lineup at some point in the playoffs.
“I absolutely think we’ll see Dougie, whether it’s an adjustment or an injury or trying to get a little bit more on your power play,” Brickley said. “They want to get him some playoff experience, no doubt, but it’ll all be determined on how the Bruins play and how healthy they are on the back end.”
|05.01.13 at 1:55 pm ET|
When the Bruins’ biggest deadline-day acquisition was Wade Redden, it appeared that the B’s were making a smaller move for depth, with Jaromir Jagr figuring to be the only acquisition to have a real impact down the road.
Fast forward to the beginning of the playoffs, and that is not the case. Redden has played his way into the Bruins’ lineup and figures to be Adam McQuaid‘s partner in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference, with Dougie Hamilton being a healthy scratch.
“This is what we all play for this time of year,” Redden said after Wednesday’s morning skate. “Everything is on the line, so it’s going to be fun. I’m going to try to enjoy as much as I can. It’s obviously an intense atmosphere. To try to go out there, play loose and play free. That’s the best way to approach it.”
It’s been a tough few years for Redden. The former second overall pick signed a six-year, $39 million deal with the Rangers prior to the 2008-09 season, and saw a fall from grace so great he spent the last two seasons in the AHL before being brought out prior to this season and signing a one-year deal with the Blues.
When he was traded to the B’s, he didn’t know if he’d be given the opportunity that he’s been given. He’s obviously happy with the way things have worked out.
“You never know what’s in store for you,” Redden said. “I went down, I approached the game I always have. That hasn’t changed today, so I’m use going to play my game, go out there and have some fun. I’m looking forward to it.”
In six games for the B’s, the 35-year-old has a goal and an assist for two points and an even rating.
“I think Wade feels pretty good about himself right now,” Claude Julien said. “He's had some tough years, as far as where he was, whether how he's been traded and everything else, but he's come in here, and he's got a fresh chance to prove himself. The games that he played, he moved the puck extremely well. His experience is invaluable, and his confidence right now is pretty good. When you have Wade in that zone, he becomes a pretty good player.”
One more note on Redden: The Bruins sent a conditional 2014 seventh-round pick to St. Louis in the deadline deal, with the condition being that the pick becomes a 2014 sixth-rounder if he plays at least one playoff game. That pick figures to vest Wednesday, making it a sixth-rounder for the defenseman.
|05.01.13 at 1:29 pm ET|
Phil Kessel is happy to be back in the playoffs, but the former Bruin would probably prefer a different opponent.
There are plenty of storylines in the Bruins-Maple Leafs series, the first one since 1974, and chief among them is that Kessel is facing his old team and the players (Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton, the latter of whom will be a healthy scratch) that were chosen with the first-round picks the Leafs traded to Boston in 2009 for the young scorer.
Kessel ducked the Toronto media on Monday because he didn’t want to face the inevitable questions of what it will be like to face a Boston team that includes a coach that put him in the doghouse, a defenseman who has made their meetings a nightmare and a flashy young Ontario native who could one day become a better scorer than him. After Wednesday’s morning skate, there was nowhere for the shy and oft-criticized Kessel to hide.
“It’s never been me to be much for attention,” Kessel explained. “I’ll talk when I have to talk and that’s about it.”
That is within Kessel’s rights, and he isn’t the first player to do it. Even Seguin, who is far more outgoing than the keep-to-himself Kessel and is more than accommodating of the media, left Edmonton reporters high and dry last year when Taylor Hall and the Oilers were in town. That isn’t the issue though. Bruins fans don’t like Kessel because he didn’t want to play in Boston and the Bruins didn’t want to give him a ridiculous contract. That combination, plus the package Brian Burke and the Leafs were willing to send Boston’s way (two first-round picks, both of which became top-10 picks, as well as a second-rounder), led to Kessel’s exit from the team that drafted him fifth overall in 2006 and saw him become a 36-goal-scorer.
Since then, Kessel, despite continuing his ascent to becoming one of the best scorers in the league (an average of 33 goals over his first three seasons with Toronto and 20 goals in 48 games this season), Kessel has notably disappeared against the Bruins. In 22 career games against the B’s, he has just three goals and six assists for nine points with a woeful minus-22 rating. Fans have gotten on him, at first chanting “Thank You, Kessel” when Seguin (10 goals, six assists for 16 points and a plus-8 vs. his hometown team) has scored against the Leafs, but now just frequently chanting it anyway.
“I had three great years here,” Kessel said Wednesday. “Some great memories. They were great to me when I was here. I figure when you leave, you’re always going to get the grief, right? So it’s OK, but I enjoy playing here. They have great fans and I think it’s going to be a good atmosphere tonight.”
Though Kessel has obviously been silenced on the ice by Zdeno Chara when he has faced the B’s, but it will be interesting to see if he elevates his play in the postseason. After being a healthy scratch for the first three games against the Canadiens in 2008, he had four points (three goals and an assist) in four games. The next postseason, his last one in Boston, he had 11 points (six goals, five assists) in 11 games.
Kessel’s clearly done thinking about that, though, just as he is with his whole Boston experience. He’s back in the playoffs as a Maple Leaf and is more focused on beating his former team than thinking about his days with them.
“That’s four years ago, right?” Kessel said. “I don’t think it matters that much anymore.”
|05.01.13 at 12:26 pm ET|
Claude Julien insisted on Tuesday that his lineup for Game 1 wasn’t set, and after showing the same one in Wednesday’s morning skate said the same thing. Until different lines and defensive pairings take the ice, assume he’s fibbing.
The lineup Wednesday morning was as follows:
Julien said that Horton is a game-time decision after missing the last five games with an upper-body injury, but Horton said Tuesday that he expects to play and has practiced the last two days. The coach did admit that Dougie Hamilton will “probably” be a healthy scratch in favor of Redden.
It’s really unlikely that a coach whose lineup has been in flux would really change his lines last-minute before the playoffs start, so expect to see that lineup for Game 1. The one area where there could be a late change would be the left wing spot on the third line, where Rich Peverley could enter the lineup in favor of Daugavins. Peverley appears to be in Julien’s doghouse, but he’s versatile and just so happened to lead the Bruins with three goals and five points in their seven playoff games last season.
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
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