|Dare to dream: Bruins hope to keep things 5-on-5 at Bell Centre||05.06.14 at 1:57 pm ET|
MONTREAL — The Bell Centre can be a tough place to play, especially in the postseason.
The fans are crazy and the pregame presentation is second to none, but home ice calls overshadow everything. The Canadiens get their power plays one way or another, and if their power play is anything like it’s been the last two games, they score.
Yet with nine power plays in the first two games of the series in Boston, the Canadiens proved something that was proven throughout the regular season: They get calls anywhere. Montreal had 140 power plays at home this season and 139 on the road.
As such, it’s safe to assume the Habs will get something like nine power plays over the next two games. Whether it’s the same way they got them in Boston — with some diving, some should-be matching minors that weren’t matching and the Bruins losing their cool — remains to be seen. Either way, the B’s have to know the power plays for Montreal are coming.
When they do, the Bruins have to look more like the group that held the Red Wings to two power play goals and less like the group that has allowed four goals to Montreal through two games.
The biggest issue has been stopping P.K. Subban, who has been able to get too many pucks to the net. Only one of the four goals he’s created (two scored, two assisted) has come off a one-timer, with the others being a normal slap shot, a wrist shot and a pass.
The solution there is getting in the shooting lanes and stopping those bids, which for whatever reason the B’s haven’t done. Zdeno Chara, Gregory Campbell and Brad Marchand have all been guilty parties in that regard.
‘That’s one of the areas we have to be better at,” Chara said Tuesday morning. “He’s putting those shots really quickly through our players and we’ve got to make sure we do a better job.’
It goes without saying, but if the Bruins can stay out of the box, they’ll be in tremendous shape. The B’s were the best five-on-five team in the NHL this season and have outscored the Canadiens, 7-2 in the second round.
“Five-on-five I thought we’ve played very well. Carey Price is a good goalie and he’s made some big saves, but I think that we’ve had enough chances that we can win games five-on-five,” Reilly Smith said. “We’ve been the stronger team five-on-five for sure.”
Perhaps the most notable penalty thus far wasn’t given to a player at all, but rather Claude Julien. The Bruins were given a bench minor late in the second period of Game 2 when Claude Julien cussed out an official.
The B’s don’t want that to happen again, but Julien said Tuesday that he isn’t ashamed of the penalty.
“I don’t regret doing what I did,” Julien said. “I thought I stood up for my team at the time. But the biggest thing there is is you turn around and you tell your team to turn the page and go out there in the third and play the way they can. That’s part of the message that our team has to take from the last game. When we focus on the things we can control, it’s a lot more beneficial than not.”
|Claude Julien, Bruins trying to manage media spin machine vs. Michel Therrien, Canadiens||05.06.14 at 12:51 pm ET|
MONTREAL – Claude Julien and the Bruins are no strangers to postseason wars of words.
In what looks a bit like the 2011 Eastern Conference finals, when Julien and Guy Boucher went back and forth with comments in the media, Julien and Habs coach Michel Therrien have had some things to say about one another in the second round.
After the Bruins won Game 2, Julien said that the B’s won the game despite putting up with “a lot of crap.” Therrien fired back Monday morning.
“[Claude]‘s not happy with all that ‘crap,’ ‘’ Therrien said. “They try to influence referees. That’s the way they are. That’s not going to change. That’s the way that they like to do their things. … But we all know what they try to do.”
Therrien’s words were similar to Julien’s comment in 2011 about Boucher lobbying for calls with his comments in the media. On Tuesday, Julien declined to take things any further with Therrien.
“You know what? Everybody’s entitled to their comments,” Julien said. “People are trying to make more out of this on-ice rivalry, trying to turn it into an off-ice rivalry. Everybody’s entitled to their comments. Some of it can be gamesmanship; whatever it is doesn’t really matter. Right now I’m focusing on my team and what we need to do. That’s what both teams are trying to do, I think.”
Therrien also asserted that the Bruins started this week’s popular storyline that the Bruins have “solved” Carey Price by shooting pucks high. That wasn’t the case, as both Torey Krug and Dougie Hamilton were asked Sunday about scoring goals high on Price with him moving laterally across the net. Hamilton essentially said that goalies look low when you screen them, which was then spun into the Bruins saying that they’ve figured out Montreal’s goaltender.
“I don’t know if we’re really trying, but we’ve definitely noticed that,” Hamilton said Sunday. “I think when we can get our shots through past their defensemen — especially when they’re trying to block it — I think we have a good chance of getting it in.”
That somehow turned into a proclamation that the B’s have uncovered the secret to scoring on Price.
“We hope that people will write the things that were actually said,” Julien said in French. “It’s that Carey Price, I had him for several weeks with Team Canada, he’s one of the best goalies in the National Hockey League. I don’t think we’re here talking about weaknesses or things like that. It’s pretty obvious that thanks to him his team is very good at the moment, he’s been playing some great hockey from the start. Some things said by a young player were taken out of context, and something bigger was made of it. As I said earlier, we’re looking after our own stuff and we’re keeping the focus on what we need to do on the ice, not off the ice.”
The biggest oddity regarding the “shoot high” narrative is that the Bruins have only scored three times this series from shooting the puck high on Price. The players themselves find the storyline something between amusing and silly.
“It’s just the press and the media trying to create arguments and create banter,” Reilly Smith said. “We stay away from that kind of stuff, and if that’s the way the media wants to portray the series and talk between the teams, that’s what they’ll do.”
|Why the book on Carey Price is not out||05.05.14 at 1:24 pm ET|
Last year it was Corey Crawford‘s glove, and now it’s the top half of the net against Carey Price. As the Bruins score their goals in certain spots, the idea of “the book being out” on the opposing goaltender naturally emerges.
Yet in the case of the Bruins vs. Price, the narrative developing isn’t quite accurate. Speaking to the Bruins goaltender — whom we all know is extremely honest – the whole thing is silly. In Tuukka Rask‘s mind, goaltenders can’t reach the NHL with free spaces on their bingo boards.
“I think every goalie in this league feels like if you see the shot, you should stop it pretty much,” Rask said Monday. “I mean, there’s tendencies where guys get scored on more than other places, but I don’t think there’s one particular spot on any goalie where you just want to keep shooting and shooting.”
On Sunday, Bruins players were asked about the Bruins having scored a lot of goals this series on Price by shooting high, and their answers suggested that to be the case. Dougie Hamilton even said that B’s shooters had picked up on the fact that Price was looking low.
“I think we’ve definitely noticed that when he’s screened he’s looking low and he gets really low,” Hamilton said. “I think we can score a lot of goals up high when we have a net-front presence. I don’t know if we’re really trying, but we’ve noticed that.”
That may be the case, but after looking through all seven goals the B’s have scored on Price through the first two games of the series, it’s barely even a tendency. In fact, only three of Boston’s goals have come from shooting high: Reilly Smith‘s third-period goal in Game 1 while Price was trying to look around a screen, Daniel Paille‘s snap shot in Game 2 (which wasn’t even shot all that high; it went off Francis Bouillon and up) and Hamilton’s Game 2 snap shot glove side high as Price was moving across his net.
If anything, taking advantage of Price on the move has been key for the Bruins. Hamilton’s goal and Smith’s Game 2 goal both came as a result of that, as Smith shot the puck glove side around the middle of the net as Price was moving across.
|Tuukka Rask welcomes baby daughter||05.05.14 at 12:16 pm ET|
Tuukka Rask and his girlfriend welcomed a baby girl this weekend, making the Bruins goaltender a father for the first time.
The due date for the child to arrive was Friday, the day after Game 1 of the second round against the Canadiens, and the baby was born either Sunday or early Monday morning. There was a state police officer at Friday’s practice, perhaps to provide an escort if need be, and the Bruins would have had a plan to get Rask to Boston from Montreal had the baby come after the Bruins had left for Canada on Monday.
Bruins backup goaltender Chad Johnson told ESPN Boston on Thursday that he was prepared to play in case Rask had to leave Game 1 to tend to the situation.
“I’ve sort of talked to him about it. You don’t know what’s going to happen there, so you sort of have to be ready,” Johnson said. “I don’t know if he’s going to leave or not leave in that situation, but again, you can’t really control anything. I just have to try to be ready for any situation, if I get to start or I get put in, I want to make the best of it and try to do as well as you can.”
Understandably with a lot on his mind, Rask had an uncharacteristic performance Thursday and vented about his own play following the 4-3 double-overtime loss to Montreal.
The weight off the new father’s shoulders was celebrated by the entire team Monday, as the B’s selected Rask to lead the team’s stretch at the end of Monday’s practice.
Games 3 and 4 of the second round will be played Tuesday and Thursday at the Bell Centre.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Andrej Meszaros glad to be back in Bruins lineup||05.04.14 at 2:06 pm ET|
When Matt Bartkowski got healthy and was given his usual spot on the Bruins’ second pairing back midway through the first round against the Red Wings, Andrej Meszaros had to know that he wasn’t going to sit for long. It’s the playoffs; players get hurt.
Yet when Meszaros made his return to Boston’s lineup in Saturday’s Game 2 against the Canadiens, it wasn’t because of injuries, but because Bartkowski was having a tough go of it. Bartkowski, who beat out Meszaros for the job as Johnny Boychuk‘s partner down the stretch, returned from the flu for Game 3 against the Red Wings, but struggled in Games 4 and 5 against Detroit.
When Bartkowski had another tough performance in Game 1 against the Canadiens — most notably taking the penalty that led to P.K. Subban‘s double-overtime-winner, Claude Julien showed just how short a leash he’s keeping his players on and put Meszaros back in the lineup for Game 2.
“It’s what we decided to do; it’s as simple as that,” Julien said Sunday. “I think we felt we needed a change and we made that.”
Meszaros had an assist and took a roughing penalty Saturday. His penalty for getting into it with Tomas Plekanec — which should have been matching — led to a Thomas Vanek power play goal.
By the looks of it, Meszaros will remain in the lineup going forward, as Bartkowski skated with the injured players and scratches Sunday.
“I had to prepare myself because you never know what’s going to happen, if there’s going to be injuries or whatever,” Meszaros said Sunday. “But obviously being out of the lineup it’s tough for anybody, not just for me. But I’m glad I got the opportunity to go out there and play. It was a fun game.”
There is one interesting wrinkle to Meszaros’ situation: The pick that was traded to the Flyers at the trade deadline was conditional, and it’s in jeopardy of vesting. As is, Boston has sent a third-round pick in the upcoming draft to Philadelphia for Meszaros, but if the B’s advance to the Eastern Conference finals and Meszaros plays in two thirds of Boston’s postseason games, the Flyers would get Boston’s second-round pick instead.
Meszaros has now played in three of the Bruins’ seven playoff games, but if the B’s beat the Canadiens, he’ll have played in at least 6 of Boston’s 10. In other words, if the Bruins beat the Canadiens and Meszaros stays in the lineup for the rest (or even most) of Boston’s playoff run, the Flyers will get that pick. Philly also gets that pick if the Bruins re-sign Meszaros before the draft. Should the B’s sign him after the draft, the Flyers get a fourth-rounder 2015 in addition to this year’s third.
|No practice for Bruins; Adam McQuaid has ankle surgery||05.04.14 at 1:40 pm ET|
Adam McQuaid, who has been out since Jan. 19 with a quad strain, is officially done for the season after getting arthoscopic surgery on his right ankle. McQuaid played 30 games this season, the last of which was Jan. 19 in Chicago before missing the rest of the season with a quad strain.
McQuaid was last seen skating on April 19. According to an industry source, the decision was made for McQuaid to have surgery on the ankle — an issue that he’d already been dealing with — once it became clear that he wouldn’t be able to play this season due to the quad injury. At that point, it made sense to take care of the ankle immediately.
It was obviously a very trying year for McQuaid, who initially hurt himself on Nov. 9 against the Maple Leafs and made multiple comeback attempts that didn’t take. He returned for three games in November before re-aggravating his quad injury and then came back in December to play 11 games before getting injured again. The team shut him down for over a month in March, but he never returned to game action.
“Every time I’ve come back, I’ve hoped that that was going to be the end of it, but it’s hockey and things happens,” McQuaid said in February. “So it goes in life.”
It could be tougher for McQuaid going forward, as Kevan Miller may have claimed the third-pairing right spot — McQuaid’s usual role — for good. McQuaid has one more year on his current contract after this season with a $1.56 million cap hit, while Miller is signed up for the next two seasons at $800,000 a year.
McQuaid’s teammates stayed off the ice for the most part Sunday as they have a two-day break between Saturday’s Game 2 victory in Boston and Tuesday’s Game 3 in Montreal.
On the ice for the Bruins Sunday morning were Dennis Seidenberg, Corey Potter, Justin Florek and Matt Bartkowski. Florek and Bartkowski were both healthy scratches in Game 2 against the Canadiens.
Potter’s presence on the ice is a good sign, as he suffered a shoulder injury between Games 4 and 5 of the first round against the Red Wings.
As for Chris Kelly, who has yet to skate since suffering a back injury late in the season, Claude Julien gave minimal update on Boston’s third-line left wing. Julien would only say that each day has been better for Kelly.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|P.K. Subban apologized to Shawn Thornton for ducking||05.03.14 at 5:18 pm ET|
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton left the game in the third period after hurting his right knee on a collision with P.K. Subban in the neutral zone. Thornton was going for a hit on Subban, who lowered himself as he sent the puck into the Bruins zone. Thornton ended up returning to the game, but he said after the game that he didn’t like the position Subban put him in and that the Canadiens defenseman apologized to him for the play.
“I don’t like people ducking. I think [Brad Marchand] got about five games for it once,” Thornton said. “I will say, off the draw he apologized afterwards, so there’s that. I think it’s a dangerous play, personally. But it’s playoffs, it’s hockey, I’m fine, so we’re OK.”
The suspension to which Thornton referred was Marchand’s ban in the 2011-12 season for a low-bridge hit on Sami Salo. Marchand’s offense was far more egregious than Subban’s, and no penalty was called on Saturday’s incident.
“I don’t know what happened,” Subban said of the play. “I just tried to shoot the puck around the zone and I sort of lost my footing there. Obviously you don’t want to see anybody go off hurt, but he came back. I don’t know if he stayed in the game, but [I was] happy to see that.”
When Thornton got back on the bench, the Bruins were still trailing by a pair of goals in the third period. He delivered them a message on the bench midway through the period: one goal every five minutes.
“I’m not psychic. It’s a pretty standard statement depending on the time and the score,” Thornton said. “I think I said two goals, but we’re a resilient crew here. We have been all year, so I knew the character would be there’I was just hoping the pucks would go in.”
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