Archive for May, 2011

Claude Julien won’t touch that Stanley Cup till ‘he’s earned it’

Monday, May 30th, 2011

Bruins coach Claude Julien admitted Monday to one of the long-standing traditions of NHL coaches and players who compete in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Julien said he has avoided coming in direct contact with the oldest trophy in North American professional sports and will keep from having his picture taken with it until he’s earned that privilege by winning it.

“I have [avoided the Stanley Cup],” Julien said following the Bruins final skate before departing for Vancouver and Game 1 of the finals on Wednesday. “I’ve seen it in the Hall of Fame in Toronto. I have stayed away from it. And all I said is the day that I even get a picture or touch it will be the day that I’ve earned it. And that’s been my philosophy throughout my career as a coach.”

Julien is coaching in his first Stanley Cup finals in eight seasons as a coach, and fourth in Boston.

Shawn Thornton advises teammates on how to deal with time change

Monday, May 30th, 2011

One advantage the Canucks could have over the Bruins is that they’re more comfortable traveling through time zones. Given that the entire Eastern Conference is located in the Eastern time zone, the Bruins rarely have to deal with changing time zones. The Canucks, meanwhile, are one of just four teams located in the Pacific time zone, so they do it on a weekly basis. In fact, the Canucks have already played two opponents in the Central time zone (a two-hour difference) in these playoffs — Chicago and Nashville.

The biggest adjustment for the Bruins will be getting on their normal sleep schedules while losing three hours during the flight to Vancouver. Shawn Thornton, who played on the West Coast with the Ducks in 2006-07, said he gave his teammates some advice on how to deal with that change.

“You’re going to be tired, but you try and force yourself to stay up the first night,” Thornton said. “In my experience, it’s stay up until midnight if you can, then go to bed, and hopefully you’ll wake up around 7 in the morning. If you go to bed too early, you’re going to stay on the same schedule. I’ve seen so many people come out to visit me when I was in Anaheim that would make that mistake. They’d be exhausted by 9:30, go to bed, and be up by 4 in the morning, twiddling their thumbs until everyone else was up. I think you have to try and stay up and that should get you back on schedule.”

Thornton didn’t dress for the last five games of the Eastern Conference finals, but his veteran leadership continues to be a valuable asset for the Bruins. He is one of just two Bruins (along with Mark Recchi) who has won a Stanley Cup, having done so with Anaheim in 2007.

“Embrace it. Enjoy it,” Thornton said when asked what he told his teammates about being on this stage. “You got to take the positive out of everything that’s going on. Just sit back and enjoy it, drink it in.”

Claude Julien said it’s important to have that sort of experience in the locker room.

“Those guys are always valuable in the dressing room,” Julien said of Recchi and Thornton. “They’ve been through it. They’ve seen what’s happened. They can tell a player, ‘Listen, if you thought there was a lot of pressure, there’s going to be even more in the finals, and the intensity just goes up another notch.’ So they’re just giving guys words of wisdom.

“And we also have a coach in Doug Jarvis who’s won as a player, who’s won as a coach. He’s also been a valuable influence on a lot of young players who have talked to him about that stuff. So it’s good to have those people around. They become really important elements of your team at this time of year and we’re happy to have them.”

Bruins fans agree: ‘We want the Cup!’

Monday, May 30th, 2011

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Approximately 2,000 raucous fans attended a rally outside TD Garden to send off the Bruins as they left for Vancouver and the opening of the Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday night in British Columbia.

Fans chanted “We want the Cup!” over and over as players and coaches signed autographs before hopping on charter buses for Logan Airport and a cross-continent, six-hour flight to Vancouver.

“I just wanted to support the team,” said Mike Cifrino of Hingham. “Bring back the Cup.”

Reminded that Vancouver won the President’s Trophy for posting the best record in the regular season, Cifrino said that doesn’t change his expectations for a close series.

“Some hard-fought games,” he added. “It’s going to be a defensive game, I think.”

Autographs weren’t the main priority for his son but rather getting multi-media opportunities.

“My son got a lot of videos of his favorite players,” Cifrino said. “We just can’t wait to have them back in Boston.”

The Bruins play Games 1 and 2 Wednesday and Saturday in Vancouver before returning to Boston for Games 3 and 4 next Monday and Wednesday.

The team held its final skate in Boston at the Garden amidst light fog on the ice before leaving for Vancouver. The team will take part in media day in Vancouver Tuesday, with Game 1 set for Wednesday night at 8 p.m. ET.

WEEI.com’s Scott McLaughlin contributed to this report.

Canucks’ Cory Schneider on M&M: Bruins ‘a tough matchup’ in Stanley Cup finals

Monday, May 30th, 2011

Former Boston College standout and current Canucks goaltender Cory Schneider joined the Mut & Merloni show Monday morning to talk about the upcoming Stanley Cup finals. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Schneider said that although the Canucks didn’t learn all that much about the Bruins from their 3-1 loss in February, what he’s noticed most from watching the playoffs is Boston’s depth.

“They have three deep lines, and offensively even their fourth line is effective in what they do,” Schneider said. “On any given night for them a different guy can step up and be the difference.”

Schneider also said the Canucks would need to keep track of Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron in particular. He called Lucic a “big guy who can disrupt a lot of plays and go to the net and create problems.” He compared Bergeron with Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler: a multi-talented player who contributes on offense, defense, faceoffs and special teams.

“He [Bergeron] can really burn you if you’re not paying attention,” Schneider said.

Schneider also complimented Zdeno Chara’s defense, calling him a “No. 1 guy”.

“He’s got such a long reach that it doesn’t matter who you put out against him, he’s going to try and find a way to shut them down,” Schneider said. He added that the Canucks’ Swedish twins, Daniel and Henrik Sedin, might be able to beat Chara.

“You probably haven’t seen anything like them when they’re playing down low,” Schneider said. “They’re cycling the puck and they make these soft passes to each other, you have no idea how they made it. It’s pretty incredible to watch. That will be a great matchup.”

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Welcome to Vancouver

Sunday, May 29th, 2011

VANCOUVER — Welcome to Vancouver, where the Bruins will arrive Monday in anticipation of Games 1 and 2 of the Stanley Cup finals. We’ll have both the Bruins and Canucks covered Monday, as Mike Petraglia and Scott McLaughlin will hold down the fort in Boston for Bruins’ availability, while I’ll handle the Canucks. Media day is Tuesday, followed by Game 1 on Wednesday and Game 2 Saturday.

Fans can see the Bruins off by showing up at the front parking lot of TD Garden Monday at 1:15 p.m.

Judging by the common attire, Vancouver seems just as hungry for the Cup as Boston. Lots of people sporting Canucks gear, though there have been no sightings of green men Sully and Force. That should change Wednesday. The million dollar question: given that they’ve used Vince Vaughn (Chicago) and Carrie Underwood (Nashville) as props, who do they use to give their antics a Boston twist?

Canucks’ Manny Malhotra cleared to play in Stanley Cup finals

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

Canucks center Manny Malhotra, who has been out since March 16 with a serious eye injury, has been cleared to play, coach Alain Vigneault said Saturday. Vigneault said Malhotra is “basically on a day-to-day basis” and wouldn’t confirm his status for Game 1 Wednesday night.

Malhotra, who served as the Canucks’ third-line center and had 30 points in 72 games this season, has undergone several surgeries since being hit in the left eye with a deflected pass in a game against the Avalanche. There were concerns about his vision and on March 21, the Canucks announced that he was done for the season. His recovery has gone better than expected, though. He started skating with the team on May 12 and he was cleared for contact on Friday.

“It’s a very exciting prospect for me at this point,” Malhotra said Saturday. “Coming from where I was two months ago, making the statement the season was over, to potentially having a possibility to play in the NHL Stanley Cup final is incredibility exciting for me.”

Beyond giving the Canucks some offensive depth, Malhotra’s return would also give them their best faceoff man. He ranked second in the NHL this season with a 61.7-percent success rate on draws.

Peter Chiarelli likes how Bruins match up vs. Canucks in Stanley Cup Finals

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli did a pretty honest job Saturday in breaking down how he feels his team matches up with the semi-heavy-favorite Canucks in the Stanley Cup finals, which are set to begin Wednesday in Vancouver.

Chiarelli liked the way the Bruins stuck to their game plan for 60 minutes against the Lightning in Game 7, using disciplined defensive play and a strong forecheck to chip away at the Lightning in what became a 1-0 win after Nathan Horton beat the Tampa defense to tap in a pass from David Krejci with 7:33 remaining. It’s the type of game that the B’s brought Friday that makes him like his team’s chances with Vancouver.

“I think we match up size-wise, like you saw in the game last night,” Chiarelli said. “As the game went on — and I could feel this too — as the game went on, you got the sense that you were going to wear them down and something good was going to happen if you just kept kind of them same process, the same system, the same approach. Pucks deep, get behind the D. And I think the same can apply to these guys. Without giving away completely our game plan, that’s how I see us matching up.”

There is no shortage of star power on the Canucks, as Vancouver’s roster boasts the likes of Henrik Sedin, who leads all playoff skaters with 21 points and 19 assists, and identical twin brother Daniel Sedin, whose 104 regular season points led the NHL. Daniel Sedin and Ryan Kesler each had 41 goals in the regular season, whereas the Bruins’ only 30-goal scorer was Milan Lucic.

“Obviously they’ve got the Sedins,” Chiarelli said. “And they’ve played a lot below the goal line, and I think we match up well in that sense because we’re strong defensively. We’ve got some big bodies on defense. And we cover well below the goal line. Now they’re magical sometimes those guys so they’re always dangerous.”

“Their D is strong, I don’t know who they’re getting back. I know [Christian] Ehrhoff has been hurt. And the last pair was, I think it was [Christopher] Tanev and [Keith] Ballard, their five-six pair. But historically throughout the year, their D has been the strength of their team. From the puck-moving perspective, you’ve got the [Alexander] Edlers, the [Kevin] Bieksas, the [Sami] Salos. They can all move the puck and shoot a puck. And of course Ryan Kesler has had a terrific playoffs. He is a similar player to Patrice [Bergeron]. So there’s a lot of similarities. Obviously you’ve got the goalies. There’s a lot of similarities.”

One area in which Chiarelli feels Vancouver has an edge (duh) is special teams. The Bruins have just five power play goals this postseason, while the Canucks were able to knock that out over Games 2 and 3 vs. the Sharks. Vancouver has 16 power play goals this postseason.

“Obviously their special teams are better,” Chiarelli said. “Their power play is better and they throw it around pretty good.

Wednesday’s Game 1 will not be the first meeting between the two teams this season, as the B’s defeated the Canucks, 3-1, on Feb. 26 in Vancouver. For the Bruins, it was the team’s fourth victory in a seven-game win streak, while the Canucks had taken turns winning and losing their eight previous games (4-4-0) entering the contest.

“That game was one of the best games I’ve seen, the game that we played against them, one of the best games that we’ve played throughout the year,” Chiarelli said. “For them, I think they were in a bit of a funk. I had seen them the game before up there and it’s all relative. Their funk is a top twenty-five percent team, top quartile team.”