Archive for April, 2013

Bruins secure first-round date with Toronto after 4-2 loss to Senators

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

The Bruins failed to secure the Northeast Division title, losing 4-2 to the Senators on a goal by Jean-Gabriel Pageau in the game’s final five minutes.

Although they outshot the Senators, 36-22, and got a goal from Dennis Seidenberg to tie the game early in the third period, the Bruins didn’t follow up on enough of their chances to get the best of Ottawa goalie Robin Lehner. Here’s a look at what went right and what went wrong for the Bruins, who will now face Toronto in the first round of the playoffs.

WHAT WENT WRONG

– The Bruins had 36 shots on Lehner and didn’t score until their 29th. That’s partly a credit to Lehner’s early play, as he had to make some tough saves, but for the most part, especially in the second period, the Bruins didn’t make him work as much as they could have.

Few rebounds were pursued, and after Patrice Bergeron’s and Gregory Campbell‘s lines created some chances on the doorstep in the first, the Bruins didn’t get many looks from close to the net in the second. Ottawa’s defense kept them mostly to the perimeter, making Lehner’s job easier.

Tyler Seguin had plenty of chances to get on the board, but he couldn’t put them away. Seguin was quick enough to set up a pair of rushes for himself in the second period, but on the first, he waited long enough to shoot that Marc Methot had time to dive back and knock the puck away. On the second, he fired well high of the net with no Senators near him.

Shortly after that miss on the second breakaway, the Senators came back down the ice to score their second goal.

– Although Tuukka Rask might like to have the Sens’ second goal back, it would have been tough for him to do more on the game-winner. Ottawa had possession in the Bruins’ zone for a long time before Marc Methot took a slap shot from the point, which Rask saved. But the rebound wasn’t cleared, and Pageau was in perfect position to put it away.

The Bruins had seven shots in the third period – just five after the first minute.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

– After a flat showing on their first power play, the Bruins got a man-advantage goal from Rich Peverley with 3.4 seconds remaining in the second period to make it 2-1.

Wade Redden made the goal happen, getting a pass off cleanly to Peverley even as he absorbed a check. Peverley shot low on Lehner for his sixth goal of the year, his second on the power play.

– The Bruins did manage 36 shots, spending a respectable amount of time in Ottawa’s zone. Through most of the game, holding the puck in the offensive zone for prolonged periods wasn’t an issue – the problem was getting it to the net and following up.

One notable instance where they did get to the front of the net was Kaspars Daugavins‘ chance in the first period, in which he drove through the slot, avoiding Ottawa’s defenders, and got a backhander off that Lehner managed to stop.

– Seidenberg’s goal was his second in his last three games (he also scored on April 25 against the Lightning), and it gave the Bruins a clean slate with 19:46 left to play, although they couldn’t capitalize on that second chance.

Patrice Bergeron takes home the hardware in regular season finale

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

The Bruins announced their regular season award winners before the regular season finale with the Senators Sunday night. Patrice Bergeron was the recipient of the Eddie Shore Award (exceptional hustle and determination, chosen by the ‘€œGallery Gods’€) as well as the Elizabeth Dufresne Trophy (outstanding performance during home games, determined by the Boston Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association).

Gregory Campbell was selected for the John P. Bucyk Award (greatest off-ice charitable contributions, chosen by John Bucyk); and Tuukka Rask (First Star), Bergeron (Second Star) and Tyler Seguin (Third Star) were named the Bruins Three Stars (top performers at home over the course of the season).

Eddie Shore Award and Elizabeth Dufresne Trophy

Bergeron, the team’s alternate captain to Zdeno Chara, was also selected by the ‘€œGallery Gods’€ as the Eddie Shore Award winner for demonstrating exceptional hustle and determination throughout the 2013 campaign. The reining Selke Trophy winner currently leads the Bruins with a +25 rating (5th NHL), is second in assists (22) and is tied for fourth in points with 32 (10-22). The Bruins centerman also leads the NHL in faceoff percentage, winning puck drops at a 61.9-percent clip.

In addition to the Eddie Shore Award, the BPHWA has selected Bergeron as the Elizabeth Dufresne Trophy recipient for his outstanding performance during Bruins home games this season. At TD Garden this year, Bergeron has notched eight goals and 13 assists for 21 points. The forward’€™s +20 rating and 66.8% (280/419) faceoff percentage in Boston, leads all Bruins players.

John P. Bucyk Award

Gregory Campbell has been an active participant in the Boston Bruins off-ice charitable events in this years condensed NHL season. Campbell has spent many of his rare off days making community visits throughout the Greater Boston area, including visits to the Charlestown Boys & Girls Club, Home for Little Wanderers and was a one of the team’€™s participants in their annual ‘€œCuts for a Cause’€ event. (more…)

Bruins put Northeast Division title in jeopardy in bad loss to Capitals

Saturday, April 27th, 2013

The Bruins blew a two-goal lead in the third period and put their division hopes in jeopardy with a 3-2 overtime loss to the Capitals.

With the B’s leading, 2-0, entering the third, Washington came back in the first eight minutes of the third with a pair of power-play goals from Mike Green. With Zdeno Chara in the box in overtime, Eric Fehr scored on a rebound to give Washington the win. The B’s got goals from Milan Lucic and Andrew Ference in the first and second periods, respectively. Lucic also had an assist on Ference’s goal.

Though he brought the Capitals back to tie the game, Green ended up doing the Bruins a favor when he took a hooking penalty with 1:39 remaining and the teams already playing 4-on-4 with Brad Marchand and Alexander Ovechkin in the box. The penalty gave the B’s a 4-on-3 through the end of regulation and the first 21 seconds of overtime, though they failed to score on the man advantage. Zdeno Chara ended up taking a hooking penalty to give the league’s best power play a two-minute 4-on-3 in overtime, leading to Fehr’s game-winner.

The Canadiens were up big on the Maple Leafs in the third period when the Bruins and Capitals finished, so the B’s will presumably need two points Sunday against the Senators in order to win the Northeast Division.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

– It was yet another blown lead in the third period for the Bruins, and the regularly with which they’ve done it is alarming this season.

– The B’s took three penalties in the first 10 minutes of a third period that began with the B’s holding a two-goal lead. Green got the Capitals on the board on a power play that came from an Adam McQuaid tripping penalty called at 5:11, and Rich Peverley took a tripping penalty of his own just over a minute after Green’s goal first goal to set up Green’s game-tying strike.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

– It took a bit of luck for Lucic to score his second goal in the last 15 games, as David Krejci won a faceoff in the offensive zone and drew it back to Lucic. The left winger threw a shot on net and it went off the left leg of Karl Alzner and past Braden Holtby. It had to feel good for Lucic to get the goal any way he could, and the fact that it came at the embarassment of last year’s playoff nemesis in Alzner had to to be icing on the cake.

– Lucic may have gotten some luck on his goal, but he was active Saturday and played a big role in Boston’s second goal. Lucic took the puck through the neutral zone and fed Rich Peverley entering the Capitals zone before going hard to the net. By the time Ference took a pass from Peverley and fired it on net, Braden Holtby had a hard time seeing it as it went past him. Additionally, Lucic finished second to Tyler Seguin with four shots on goal.

– Though the two goals Rask allowed in a short span were two more than Rask had allowed in his last two starts combined, the Bruins’ starting netminder turned in another strong showing. The B’s wanted him to get hot at the right time and it appears he is doing just that.

Will the playoffs be the time for Tuukka Rask to shine?

Friday, April 26th, 2013

The last time Tuukka Rask started a playoff game was one all Bruins fans would like to forget.

It was May 14, 2010. Rask was spotted a 3-0 lead in the first period of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Flyers. The Bruins would lose the game on a power play goal by Simon Gagne when the Bruins were called for too many men on the ice.

The game marked Boston’s collapse after going up 3-0 in the series and three goals in the final game on home ice. Rask was thrown into the spotlight that season when Tim Thomas was nursing an injured hip that eventually required surgery. Rask was 7-6 in the playoffs that season with a 2.61 goals against and a .912 save percentage. Not bad but a lot of Bruins fans felt Rask was exposed.

Of course, that was all forgiven 12 months later as Thomas and the Bruins won their sixth Stanley Cup in history.

Now, Thomas is gone. It’s Tuukka’s time to shine, and shine is exactly what Rask has done this season. He has five shutouts, including a 2-0 blanking of the Lightning on Thursday in which he turned aside all 30 shots. He is a leading candidate for the Vezina Trophy awarded to the top goalie, sporting a 19-9-4 record with a sparkling 1.97 goals against and a .930 save percentage.

There’s no doubt he’s the goalie going into the playoffs. Still, there were questions about Rask and the Bruins in the last three weeks, as the team has struggled with consistency.

How important was Thursday night in terms of confidence? Even Rask isn’t sure it means all that much.

“I don’€™t know. I guess you always try to take the positives no matter how it goes, but the playoffs is a different season,” Rask said. “Everybody knows that. I just try to feel comfortable out there and play the game one at a time.” (more…)

Claude Julien on bounceback win: ‘I’m not looking for perfection, I’m looking for reaction’

Friday, April 26th, 2013

After his team shut out the Lightning, 2-0, to clinch home ice in the first round of the playoffs, Bruins coach Claude Julien said he was happy with his team’s response to Tuesday night’s loss in Philadelphia.

“Like I said [Thursday] morning, we’€™re going to find out quickly if it was just a little bump in the road or whether it was a step back,” Julien said. “I thought our guys played hard tonight. I’€™m not looking for perfection, I’€™m looking for reaction.”

What kind of reaction?

“Reaction, to play with some emotion, play with some grit, desire, determination,” Julien added. “I saw all those things tonight. The identity of our team is as such, we’€™re a team that prides ourselves on being a physical team, a team that’€™s hard to play against. We have to create that, the rest of the game will come along. That’€™s what we’€™re looking to see from our guys for 60 minutes and I think they did a good job of playing a full 60 tonight.

Tuukka Rask was a big part of the reaction Thursday, turning back all 30 shots in recording his fifth shutout of the season.

“Overall, I thought we played hard, we moved the puck quickly, when there was a breakdown Tuukka was there to make the big saves. I was pretty happy with the game, I know that if we keep playing that way we’€™ll only get bet better.”

Fourth line getting into postseason form for Bruins

Friday, April 26th, 2013

It’€™s getting to be the time of year when tight games are often decided by players like Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton. As the Bruins wrapped up home ice in the first round of the playoffs with a 2-0 win over the Lightning on Thursday, their Merlot Line came through with a goal that solidified the victory, playing the way they’ll likely need to when the postseason begins.

Paille became a 10-goal scorer for the first time since 2009-10 at 13:31 of the second. Campbell found him open at the top of the right circle and sent the puck right into his wheelhouse, setting up Paille to fire a one-timer past Tampa Bay goalie Anders Lindback.

Paille had three shots and another that was blocked on Thursday, as many as any Bruin. Although they weren’€™t all over the scoresheet, the fourth line was one of the Bruins’€™ most energetic, creating chances with an aggressive forecheck and consistently maintaining possession in the Lightning’€™s zone.

‘€œWe know, for our line, if we don’€™t score it’€™s not a big deal, but the main goal for us is to create as much energy as we can and it felt like we did that today,’€ Paille said. ‘€œWith [Thornton] taking the puck from a couple of guys, and [Campbell] as well, you know, I thought we all contributed in a positive way today, even if we didn’€™t score.’€

Entering Thursday’€™s game, the trio had a combined 16 goals on the year. They’€™re not on the ice to score on every shift, but the Bruins will welcome any offensive contributions from them, especially with just two games left in the regular season. And although they haven’€™t been exempt from the Bruins’€™ recent line-shuffling, Paille acknowledged that the three of them do always seem to wind up back together.

‘€œWe know we’€™re not going to play a ton of minutes, but we’€™re happy with who we play with,’€ Paille said. ‘€œAnd I think that’€™s a big thing going on the last few years that we’€™ve been here.’€

Bruins coach Claude Julien said he thought that line did its job on Thursday, overcoming some issues it had earlier in the year.

‘€œThere’€™s some confidence there — you know, [Campbell] making that pass and Paille not hesitating, great shot, and the goaltender didn’€™t have much time to get across,’€ Julien said. ‘€œSo overall making the right plays and keeping pucks in down low and battling. And [Thornton], the same thing. Not only that, but they’€™ve had some challenges at times this year where they weren’€™t making good line changes and leaving the next line … hanging. But they were sharp in all those areas tonight, so I thought they were good.’€

Tuukka Rask, Bruins blank Lightning to lock up home ice in first round

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

Tuukka Rask made all the timely saves a coach could ask for as the Bruins clinched home ice in the first round of the playoffs with a 2-0 win over the Lightning at home on Thursday.

Rask earned his fifth shutout of the season, tying a career high set in the 2009-10 season. Dennis Seidenberg chipped in with his third goal of the year, a slap shot through traffic from the point, and while the Bruins didn’t have a particularly inspiring start to the game, they finished strong, holding off a late Lightning onslaught for the win.

Here’s a look at what went right and wrong for the Bruins on Thursday.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

– Rask was sharp from the start and ultimately made 30 saves. Perhaps his most memorable stop came in the second, when he robbed Steven Stamkos on an odd-man rush for the Lightning, sliding across the crease to snatch Stamkos’ wrister out of the air. Shortly afterward, he drew chants of his name from the Garden crowd when he made two impressive kick saves in rapid succession.

Late in the third, with the Bruins maintaining a 2-0 lead, Rask shut down another Lightning rush, stopping Tampa leading scorer Martin St. Louis.

Rask also kept the Bruins in the game when they were being outshot and outworked early in the first period, stopping a number of quality chances from close range. He effectively put his brief but unspectacular outing in Philadelphia, in which he allowed three goals on 13 shots in relief of Anton Khudobin, behind him.

(more…)