Archive for April, 2011

Train Blogging: A look at what the Bruins are facing in Philadelphia

Friday, April 29th, 2011

The Bruins are hoping for better results this time around against the Flyers than they got in last year's playoffs. (AP)

The second round is almost here for the Bruins, and WEEI.com is on its way to Philadelphia to cover the series. As we blog on the train, here’s the information you need heading into the opening games of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The Schedule:

Game 1: Saturday, 3 p.m.
Game 2: Monday, 7:30 p.m.

Games 1, 2, 5 and 7 to be played at Wells Fargo Center (*if necessary)

(ALL) BUSINESS CLASS  (who is getting the job done): Patrice Bergeron was the Bruins’ best player against the Canadiens. His seven points vs. the Canadiens led the Bruins, and his first-round performance seemed to rub off on Brad Marchand. Remember, Bergeron would have been a free agent after the season had the B’s not inked him to an extension back in October. Right now it’s looking like a good thing that the B’s have avoided a bidding war on the 25-year-old center.

THE CONDUCTOR (who needs to set the tone): Milan Lucic had a couple of big assists in setting up both of Nathan Horton’s overtime goals in the first round, but those were his only two points of the series. Lucic led the B’s with 30 goals in the regular season, and has generally been a solid contributor in the playoffs. He had nine points in two series in each of the last two years, so his two points thus far are both uncharacteristic of his performance this year and a dropoff from his normal postseason production. Lucic is the Bruins’ top goal-scorer and needs to perform like it.

COMING UP IN THE CABOOSE  (who might have a bigger factor in this series): Rich Peverley racked up five points in the first round but still seemed to fly under the radar a bit. You’ve got to love the way he plays, as his speed and willingness to throw pucks on net make him a real asset on that third line. Peverley’s 15 shots on goal in the first round were third among Bruins forwards, behind only Patrice Bergeron (22) and Marchand (18). Peverley’s line with Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder is definitely clicking, and he could wind up with more goals in the second round after scoring one vs. Montreal.

Claude Julien: We don’t need to change ‘a ton’ for the Flyers

Friday, April 29th, 2011

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Before the team left Boston for Philadelphia Friday, Bruins head coach Claude Julien said the Flyers are a better match up for his team than the Canadiens were in the first round. The Bruins captured three of the four meetings in the regular season and were even able to score on the power play four times, something they failed to do in 21 tries in the opening round.

“We match up well against them and they’re always close in tight games and we got to go in there with some confidence and obviously some determination,” Julien said. “Playoffs is a different situation than the regular season, but again as I mentioned it’s just one of those things that we feel that we don’t have to change a ton of things. And if there’s adjustments to make along the way, we just have to be prepared to make them.”

The Flyers, however, did not have big defenseman Chris Pronger at their disposal in the last meeting on March 27 in Philadelphia as he was still healing from the effects of a broken hand.

“He’s an experienced guy, a guy who has got good size as well and has got a good shot,” Julien said. “I know he certainly hadn’t used it much when he’s come back now. Whether he’s 100 percent, we don’t know, and it really shouldn’t matter to us.

“But he’s been a big part of their power play and when you get a guy like that back, it’s no doubt that it’s a boost for their hockey club and certainly helps. So we’ve just got to continue I guess playing the way we have been against them for most of the year this year. I thought we played them well and we came out with three wins, and I think we had the overtime loss.”

The Bruins’ only loss to the Flyers came with three seconds left in overtime on Dec. 11 at TD Garden when Mike Richards beat Tim Thomas with a wrist shot. The Bruins also showed they can win all sorts of games against Philly, 3-0, in Philly on Dec. 1, 7-5 in a Garden shootout on Jan. 13 and 2-1 on Brad Marchand’s goal late on March 27. The Bruins also appear to have the clear advantage in goal with Thomas starting all seven games of their series against Montreal while Brian Boucher was one of three different Philadelphia netminders to see action against Buffalo. (more…)

Shawn Thornton laughs off 2010 comparisons, sort of

Friday, April 29th, 2011

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Following their final practice Friday morning at TD Garden, the Bruins packed their bags and headed for Philadelphia and Saturday’s Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals with the Flyers. But before departing, the Bruins addressed the media and spoke of their thoughts on the even of the playoff rematch with the team that came from 3-0 down in the series and Game 7 to eliminate them last spring.

“You think if I answer this question right now, I won’t have to answer it the rest of the series? Promise?” Shawn Thornton said with a smile, before adding, “For some of the guys, obviously, here last year, it should be a little bit of motivating tool and a learning lesson. But that being said, last year was last year, this year is this year. Half the team has been turned over. We’ve brought in some great people.

“So, it’s a whole new year. They have new players, we have new players. It doesn’t really have a factor on this year’s series, except for the fact we haven’t forgotten about it because you guys remind us day in and day out, and I’m sure you will for the next two weeks.”

“It’s always a new situation, a new opportunity, and that’s how we’re looking at it,” added coach Claude Julien. “Just a new opportunity for us to get past these guys and hopefully, win this series.”

Game 1 is 3 p.m. on Saturday with Tim Thomas in net for the Bruins and Brian Boucher expected to get the call for the Flyers. Game 2 is Monday night, also at Wells Fargo Center before the series shifts to Boston next Wednesday and Friday for Games 3 and 4.

Tim Thomas on M&M: P.K. Subban’s act ‘a travesty to the game’

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas joined Mut & Merloni Thursday to discuss the B’s Eastern Conference quarterfinals win over the Canadiens. In talking with Mike Mutnansky and Lou Merloni, Thomas said he does not respect the play of Habs defenseman P.K. Subban, who appeared to dive in an attempt to draw a penalty on Gregory Campbell with Montreal already on the power play late in the first period Wednesday.

“I have respect for the Montreal Canadiens team and the way they played that series and the way that they battled, but to be completely honest, I don’t have respect for actions like that,” Thomas said when asked about Subban. “That’s a travesty to the game. That’s not the way the game is supposed to be played. When I saw that happen in the first period, when he threw himself back on Campbell… it can be infuriating.

“If anything, it seems the refs let him get away with more, which I’m very surprised at. He’s making the refs look not good on a regular basis. He’s got enough talent, and he’s a good enough player that there’s no need for stuff like that.”

Thomas is not the first Bruin to publicly criticize Subban’s style of play. Center David Krejci was open about his feelings for the rookie defenseman after Game 1 of the series.

“I don’t like him,” Krejci said after Subban appeared to embellish on a play to draw a hooking call in the Habs’ 2-0 win. “I’m not going to say what I think about him, but I don’t like him.”

While Thomas is no fan of Subban’s play, he is clearly a supporter of the Canadiens’ netminder in Carey Price. Both Thomas and Price allowed 17 goals over the course of the series, and though they fought back on Feb. 9, there is clearly a mutual respect between the two.

“He battled hard from start to finish in that series,” Thomas said. “I’ve got to give him a lot of credit. As an opposing goalie, it’s team vs. team. You’re not really playing goalie vs. goalie. In this scenario, when the other goalie’s playing that well, he pushes me to be as good as I can be.

“There were moments where you just kept waiting for him to hopefully break. It just never happened. A lot of times, if you put enough pressure for a long enough time on the opposing goalie, they’ll break. That didn’t happen.”

The Bruins will open the Eastern Conference semifinals Saturday in Philadelphia vs. the Flyers.

No suspension for Andrew Ference after hit on Jeff Halpern

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli told reporters Thursday that defenseman Andrew Ference will not be suspended for his collision with Canadiens forward Jeff Halpern in the third period of Boston’s 4-3 overtime win over Montreal Wednesday.

Halpern went down hard after hitting the shoulder of Ference in the Bruins’ zone, and it was reported following the game that Ference would have a phone hearing with the league at 11 a.m. on Thursday.

Ference had two hearings with the league during the series. He was fined $2,500 for giving Canadiens fans the middle finger after scoring in Game 4.

Think the Bruins are looking forward to a rematch with the Flyers? You bet

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

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Don’t be fooled by Cam Neely.

The Bruins finally get their chance at revenge on the Flyers – and they want it badly.

“This probably gives you guys more to write about I’m sure,” Neely said with a grin following Boston’s 4-3 overtime over the Candiens in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals Wednesday. “We don’t have the same team as we did last year, and Philly doesn’t have the exact same team either. That’s certainly going to be mentioned a lot and talked a lot about, but first and foremost we’ve got to concern ourselves [with] how we play in that first game.”

At least Neely would recognize their next round opponent. The same could not be said for Tim Thomas.

“I told you, I have at least until midnight before I have to think about that,” Thomas said when asked repeatedly about the second-round series that opens Saturday afternoon at Wells Fargo Center.

Yes, the teams have tweaked their rosters, but they still have two of the most identifiable logos on the crests of their sweaters. Claude Julien wanted to focus on the fact that his team just beat another franchise with a pretty famous logo on its sweater – and did so in historic fashion.

“I mean, it is what it is and the fact is we got ourselves down two nothing in this series,” Julien said of overcoming the 0-2 hole against Montreal. “I think it was important for ourselves to get back into this series. There was a lot at stake in this series as well. We understand the rivalry between Montreal and Boston and it’s been there many times. And we also know the statistics of the winning percentages of both teams when they play each other.”

Then came Julien’s acknowledgment of the next opponent.

“It was a big deal for us and we really focused on that and there is no doubt that tonight, we knew winning this game would give us another opportunity to play Philly. If anything I think it’s going to make it interesting. I think a lot of people are going to be watching this to see how it develops, and we’re excited to have that opportunity.”

First round hero Nathan Horton wasn’t even on the Bruins team that couldn’t close out last year against the Flyers, but he senses the pain and the desire for redemption.

“Well, this is huge, and definitely with what happened last year, we can put that in the past now,” Horton said. “It’s a new year. We’ve gone through it. Anything can happen in the playoffs. You’re up three-nothing, or down two-nothing, and things can turn. You’ve just got to work through it, and be prepared to always continue to work until you get that fourth win, because like everyone says, it’s the hardest one to get.”

Now, if they can just repeat it three more times.

Report: Andrew Ference will have league hearing for hit on Jeff Halpern

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

According to a tweet from TSN’s Bob McKenzie, Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference will have a hearing with the league at 11 a.m. Thursday regarding his hit on Canadiens forward Jeff Halpern in the third period of the B’s 4-3 overtime win in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. Halpern remained on the ice after colliding with the B’s defenseman’s shoulder in the Bruins’ zone.

“It was pretty solid [contact], actually,” Ference said of the play. “I kind of braced myself because I saw him off the side, and I definitely felt him hit me.”

Ference maintained that he did not intend to injure Halpern, who seemingly was not significantly injured given his quick return to the game.

“Oh yeah?” Ference responded when a reporter suggested he may have raised his shoulder. “No. It was like [I explained]. “I was holding my ice, and he was out the next shift.”

This will be Ference’s second hearing of the series, as he had one following an obscene gesture to Canadiens fans in Game 4.