|Bruins choose to skip Game 7 morning skate||05.14.10 at 11:43 am ET|
On the morning of the biggest game of the season, Bruins coach Claude Julien decided to let his players have the morning off as opposed to coming to TD Garden for a morning skate prior to Game 7 against the Flyers on Friday night. Julien said that since the Bruins had a late night in Philadelphia on Wednesday and practiced at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington on Thursday, that it was appropriate to give his players the day to rest.
“First thing that I think you have to remember is that we had a late game the other night and didn’t get in until the morning. We practiced yesterday and did all the things that we needed to do to prepare for tonight. So, give our guys an opportunity to get some rest, simple as that,” Julien said. “We have done it before, sometimes in back-to-backs. Stay home and come to the rink. That was our idea behind this is that our guys need to rest and basically we have played these guys or we are going to play these guys seven times in a row. There is not much we don’t already know about the other team. So, come ready to play.”
It is the first time of the playoffs that the Bruins have completely skipped the morning skate through they have had optional skates and days off between games where only players receiving treatment have been required to report.
“Both teams are going to be reay,” Julien said. “Anytime you play a Game 7 where the winner moves on you have to be ready. For us it is a matter of not bogging them down with what has happened the last few games but focus on what we have to do tonight. The bottom line is, if you win tonight you move on and that is forgotten. But that is what we have got to do here is stay focused and stay prepared and I think that our guys are up to the task.”
As per usual, Julien declined to give any indication of what his roster would look like on Friday night but there was speculation after practice on Thursday that rookie center/forward Brad Marchand might get into the game after dressing in a grey practice sweater, normally reserved for the second line, as opposed to a red sweater that indicates the checking line and “fifth” line.
“Big players have to come up big in big games but at the same time I have also seen unsung heroes do that same thing,” Julien said in response to how Zdeno Chara could play on Friday. “In those kind of games you go in there and hope that somebody will make a difference and I don’t care if it is your best players or your role players. I just care that somebody comes up big and does something good for us and that is what you try to challenge your whole team to do. If you challenge only your key players then you are telling your other players you don’t care what they do. You want everybody to be difference makers, or go in with that intent anyway.”
|Notes: Game 7 by the numbers||05.13.10 at 3:48 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins are about to play in their 19th Game 7 in team history on Friday night against the Flyers. It will be the 15th Game 7 on home ice and the second time they have been taken to a Game 7 after leading a series three games to none (1939 against the Rangers was the last time). It is the fourth time they have been taken to a Game 7 after holding a three games to one advantage (1939 Rangers, 1992 Sabres, 2004 Canadiens).
The Bruins hold a 9-9 record overall in Game 7s and are 9-5 at home. They are 2-2 when the game is decided in overtime, such as last season in the semifinals against Carolina. The Bruins have lost three straight Game 7s after winning their previous six and this will be the first time they face the Flyers in an ultimate game.
Coach Claude Julien is 1-2 lifetime in Game 7s while Flyers coach Peter Laviolette is 2-1. Julien’s lone win came over the Bruins when he was the coach of Montreal in 2004. Steve Begin (2-0), Mark Recchi (4-3) and Dennis Seidenberg (2-1) are the only Bruins players to have winning records in Game 7s while captain Zdeno Chara is 0-4.
The Flyers will be playing their 14th Game 7 and their sixth on the road where they are 2-3 in their history. This is the first time they have forced a Game 7 after being down three games to none or one. Philadelphia is 7-6 all-time in ultimate games. Chris Pronger has a 1-5 record in Game 7s, Simon Gagne is 1-2 and Ian Lapiererre is 0-3.
Thursday quote — From Brad Marchand, who wore a grey practice sweater and may be in the game for the Bruins tomorrow night:
“It is definitely harder watching. You want to go out and help as much as you can. I would be very happy, very excited. I have been staying in shape and stuff and if I get the call, I will be ready,” Marchand said.
Marchand was asked if he could play the pesky, instigating role that he showed at times during the regular season.
“Well, you know, it is always part of the playoffs. The trouble with that is that sometimes you get dumb penalties and I know that is something we want to stay away from. We kind of let them do that and not focus on that tomorrow. We just want to play our game and if we do that we will be better off,” Marchand said.
|Wheeler on line with Bergeron, McQuaid skates||05.13.10 at 1:28 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — What does a team do that has lost three straight games and is on the wrong end of making hockey history do before the biggest game of the year?
Sleep in, practice late and tweak the lines.
The Bruins practiced at Ristuccia Arena at 1 p.m. after announcing that that they would “arrive” at the rink at noon. When they did show up Blake Wheeler was wearing an unfamiliar sweater color — yellow — that he has not worn all year indicating that be would at least be practicing with Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi on Thursday. Daniel Paille was bumped to the grey sweaters with Vladimir Sobotka and Michael Ryder and, oddly enough, Brad Marchand. The white and red sweaters remained unchanged with Marc Savard, Milan Lucic and Miroslav Satan on the top line and Trent Whitfield, Steve Begin and Shawn Thornton fill out the checking line.
Adam McQuaid was also present for the full team practice to round out a full squad of defensemen with Zdeno Chara, Johnny Boychuk, Dennis Wideman, Matt Hunwick, Mark Stuart and Andrew Ference. The Black Aces on the blue line were also present with Andrew Bodnarchuk, Jeffrey Penner and And Wozniewski.
|Flyers shut down Bruins to force Game 7||05.12.10 at 10:37 pm ET|
Summary — The Flyers became only the sixth team in NHL history to come back from a 3-0 series deficit to force a Game 7 as they beat Boston 2-1 at Wachovia Center in Game 6 of their Stanley Cup semifinal series. Michael Leighton got his first career playoff start and made 30 saves as the Bruins could not end their sudden scoring woes. Tuukka Rask was not up to the task to close out the Flyers for the third straight game as he allowed two goals on 27 Philadelphia shots.
The Flyers continued their charge with their sixth consecutive goal in the series as they opened the scoring at 6:58 in the first period. Simon Gagne put the puck on Rask who made the initial save, but Daniel Carcillo crashed the crease and prevented Johnny Boychuk from clearing the rebound. The puck squirted into the slot where Mike Richards was there to clean up the mess and Philadelphia had an early lead once again.
Danny Briere put the Flyers up by two goals at 16:20 in the second period on the power play as the Flyers had a 4-on-3 advantage with Marc Savard, Daniel Paille in the box for the Bruins and Chris Pronger for Philadelphia. Briere crossed through the slot and let a wrist shot off that Rask got a piece of with his chest and arm but still got through to make it 2-0 heading into the third period.
With Rask on the bench in the final two minutes of play the Bruins pressed the 6-on-5 advantage and Milan Lucic banged home a rebound with 1:00 remaining on the clock to make the final minute of play tense but Leighton was able to hold on. The goal snapped 134:12 of scoreless play from the Bruins as they had not scored since the final minute of Game 4 when Mark Recchi forced overtime.
Mike Richards — Scored the opening goal and assisted on the second to pace the Flyers attack.
Michael Leighton — Withstood the Bruins second period pressure and delivered a win to Philadelphia to push the Bruins to a Game 7.
Matt Carle — The oft-overlooked defenseman paired with Chris Pronger had six blocked shots to keep the puck from getting to Leighton’s crease. Carle also has a plus-6 rating for the series.
Turning Point — Briere’s goal. The Bruins spent most of the second period in the Flyers zone but started taking penalties starting a high-stick by Savard at 15:15 and then a Paille elbow at 15:49. Pronger checked Zdeno Chara at the top of the crease and went for interference and the Flyers wasted no time in the 4-0n-3 as Briere used Rask as a pinball flipper to stop any momentum the Bruins had gained.
Key Play — Leighton made a save on a Mark Stuart shot early in the third period off his shoulder and Miroslav Satan crashed the net but was unable to slam the puck through the crease and a chance for the Bruins to make it a one-goal game was snuffed out. Boston would go on the power play a few minutes later when Matt Carle went for tripping at 5:15 but could muster nothing as the Flyers were aggressive at the point of attack to thwart the chance.
|Taking the edge off the Bruins||05.11.10 at 2:30 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Somebody needs to take a little bit of an edge off these Bruins.
Captain Zdeno Chara made a half-admission after Game 5 on Monday night that the team may have been a touch nervous heading into what could have been a series-clinching victory.
I don’t know if we were maybe a little bit nervous. It’s hard to explain and really find words for it so for sure we didn’t play with the composure we were playing with,” Chara said Monday. “Maybe it wasn’t nervous, it was just’¦ we couldn’t make those plays we normally do, strong plays with the puck, plays that we are normally doing and all of the sudden it was tough for us to make those plays.”
In the grand world of hockey cliches, this is what is called “clutching the stick.” The Bruins need someone, be it Johnny Boychuk and his eccentric antics, Shawn Thornton and his smile and his wife’s cooking or Claude Julien putting “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” on repeat on the team plane.
“Everybody can keep it loose and there is no reason to tense up and grip the sticks too tight,” Boychuk said. “We know what we have to do and just go out there and do it. There are times to keep loose and times to focus and we know that and that is what we have been trying to do.”
Thornton was of the opinion that, heading into Game 5, the team was relatively loose and had a good energy level. For the most part the Bruins tend to be a loose team. Chara and Patrice Bergeron are serious with the media and on the ice but there are moments when you catch them joking around with the guys. Thornton thinks that everybody on the team has a role to play in taking the edge off. He would not name specific characters for fear of being labeled the jokester by the coaching staff.
“We have got a few guys who like to keep things loose. It wasn’t too tense today [Tuesday,” Thornton said. “We did a pretty good job of forgetting about losses and forgetting about wins and moving on. We learned some things today and move on to the next one. There is nothing you can do. There was only seven on the ice but before the game too, there was a lot of energy. I don’t know. We definitely didn’t play the game we wanted to but honestly I thought going into it that we felt pretty good.”
Coach Claude Julien agreed that everybody on the teams plays their part in keeping the room loose and said that, when it really come down to it, winning is what puts a smiles on everyone’s face.
“We all have a part to do in that. I am telling you right now that we have too put yesterday aside and learn from it,” Julien said. “That is what the players have to do and so do the coaches. You know, we have to take the same approach as a group and that is what we have done here. We have to focus as a group and do what we need to do tomorrow and hopefully those are good things and that we can come back with smiles on our faces.”
|Bruins self destruct in Game 5 loss to Flyers||05.10.10 at 9:33 pm ET|
Summary ‘ The Flyers will be going home with their season still alive after taking care of the Bruins 4-0 on Monday in Game 5. Tuukka Rask gave up four goals on 31 shots en route to his second straight loss of the series after winning the first three contests. The series shifts back to Philadelphia on Wednesday as the Bruins have two more chances to try and put the Flyers away to advance to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 1992.
Brian Boucher started in net for the Flyers, but only played in for 24:31 and left the game in the second period after getting his leg pinned back in a scrum in front of the net and having to be helped off the ice. Boucher stopped all nine Bruins shots he faced and left the game with a 1-0 lead. Michael Leighton replaced Boucher and made his first career NHL playoff appearance as well as his first appearance in a game since March 16. Leighton stopped the rest of the Bruins 14 shots to share the first combined shutout of the Bruins in a playoff game since Montreal did it in 1955.
The Flyers got on the board first as Ville Leino’s hard work in the series was rewarded when he slammed home a rebound that Rask left in the slot off a shot from the point by Chris Pronger at 6:41 in the first. It was the second goal of the postseason for Leino. The goal was originally charged to Scott Hartnell but changed to Leino after review in between the first and second periods.
The same Philadelphia line struck again in the second when a blocked shot in the slot in front of Rask led to a loose puck getting throw towards the crease. That’s where Danny Briere caught it at the corner and tried to flip it passed Rask and Hartnell was on the other side to ram home the oscillating puck to make it 2-0 at 11:16. It was Hartnell’s first goal of the playoffs after scoring 14 during the regular season.
After Steve Begin went for a boarding call on Claude Giroux at 17:00, Simon Gagne scored his second of the playoffs on the power play in the second. Gagne got the puck on a rebound from Mike Richards and Leino putting the puck on Rask and got the easy put back to make it 3-0 at 17:53.
Gagne struck again to really put the game out of reach at 6:48 in the third period when Dennis Wideman could not control a back pass at the blue line as the puck slid through him into neutral ice while he dropped his stick. Gagne chased the puck down, easily eluding Wideman’s attempt to box him out and took the breakaway straight on Rask for an easy score to make it 4-0.
Ville Leino — Has been the hardest-working member of the Flyers the past two games and it showed on the scoreboard on Monday with a goal and an assist.
Simon Gagne — The forward played in his second game of the series after toe surgery at the end of the Flyers quarterfinals series against the Devils and has three goals, including two in Game 5, since his return.
Brian Boucher/Michael Leighton — The Bruins did the goaltenders a bunch of favors on the night but they still combined to shutdown the Bruins offense for most of the night to take the game back to Philadelphia for Game 6 on Wednesday. It was the first combined shutout for the Flyers in their playoff history.
Turning Point — Boucher had only seen nine shots before Leighton replaced him and it looked like a golden opportunity for the Bruins to climb back into it. But Hartnell scored about six minutes later and Gagne added the demoralizer on the power play late in the second period as the Flyers took control of the game.
Key Play — Gagne’s goal was the first power play goal Philadelphia scored since Game 1 and came after the Bruins had killed the first five power plays the Flyers had on the night. The three-goal lead would be too much for Boston to overcome on en route to its second straight loss in the series.
|Leighton: ‘I am ready to play’||05.10.10 at 5:56 pm ET|
It is easy to forget that Brian Boucher is actually the third choice for the Flyers between the crease. The first was Ray Emery, lost for the season with a hip injury and the second was Michael Leighton who went down with a high ankle-sprain in early March.
The recovery time for a high-ankle sprain is supposed to be about eight weeks and then perhaps another couple for a skater to get back into optimal game condition. The Bruins Milan Lucic had a high-ankle sprain and has said repeatedly that it was the worst injury that anybody could go through and that he wishes it on nobody. Leighton admitted on Monday before Game 5 against the Bruins that it was definitely the worst injury of his career.
“You can strengthen all the muscles around it but that muscle just takes time to heal,” Leighton said. “You are still going to feel a little bit of pain for a while and it takes a long time to go away. It is a tough injury and I have never had it before and people tell me its the worst and so far it has been the worst of my career.”
Leighton said that he has been pushing for the playoffs because he has never actually played in an NHL playoff game through parts of nine seasons as a backup with 103 games under his belt since 2001. He has 27 games for Philadelphia with a 16-5-2 record, .918 save percentage and 2.48 goals against average. Outstanding numbers if he were able to replicate them through an entire season but up to this point in his career (he turns 29 in nine days) he has not been given the opportunity for full time status.
Now that Boucher has led the Flyers passed the New Jersey Devils in the quarterfinals, it probably does not matter how healthy Leighton is for the rest of series even if Boucher falls off a cliff coach Peter Laviolette will probably not put him in the net.
“He has just recently caught some good practices and we haven’t practiced a lot as a team due to the schedule so he has gotten some opportunities in practice where he has looked good, but I think there is always something to that game situation that you are talking about,” Laviolette said. “As far as the lineup goes tonight, Brian Boucher has played excellent for us. He looked really sharp this morning and I would expect a great game from not only our goaltenders, but everybody that plays the ice in front of them. You don’t have crystal balls to see how a game will pan out but Bouch [Brian Boucher] has been outstanding for us and he has put us in the position where we are today.”
For Leighton’s part, he seems frustrated and ready to usurp Boucher at first possible opportunity.
“I feel good. It has been about seven weeks and have been doing a lot of work and probably ready to play. Tuesday will be eight weeks so I want to get back into the lineup,” Leighton said. “Getting into the butterfly too start was the worst. I was doing a lot of stuff off ice the but the butterfly was the hardest thing to do for the first five or six weeks. I was able to push off it while I was in the butterfly, so, everything feels good now.”