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How much has first goal mattered in Bruins-Canadiens series? 05.14.14 at 1:40 pm ET
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The team that scores the first goal Wednesday night will win Game 7 and advance to the Eastern Conference finals, provided it is a 1-0 game.

Aside from that, the first goal, for all the hype that comes with it, has by no means been a ticket to victory. Though the team that’s scored the first goal has won each of the first six games this series, two of those games involved the winning team relinquishing their lead before winning the game later.

The Canadiens scored first in Game 1 and took a 2-0 lead before the B’s came back in the third to tie the game. The Habs eventually won in overtime. In Game 2, Boston scored first but allowed three straight goals before coming back with four in a row in the third.

Playing with a lead is extremely important, but it isn’t until a team has a two or three goal lead — especially if its early — that they can smother the opponent by sitting back and relying on the counterattack.

“I don’t think you can really pack it in at any point of the game,” Mike Weaver said Wednesday morning. “Boston’s notorious for coming back, even with six minutes left. They’re a team that keeps on coming at you, and you can’t let your foot off the pedal at any point in the game.”

Another good example of this is Game 6. The Canadiens took a 1-0 lead in the opening minute of the game on a Lars Eller goal, yet it wasn’t until they got a pair of goals late in the second period that they were able to put the B’s away. Much of the first two periods — especially early in the second — saw the Bruins match or outplay the Habs and generate plenty of chances.

“The scoring chances were there,” Daniel Paille said of how the B’s played down a goal. “It’s more about bearing down and not getting frustrated. We know that goals can come and some nights they don’t go in, but for us, it is key to maintain composure and not stay too frustrated.”

There was no comeback for the Bruins in that game. There were comebacks in the first two games of the series, and though Weaver said there was no lesson to be learned in those games, it did serve as a reminder that playing with the lead isn’t always a run-out-the-clock situation.

“I think we got away from our game,” Weaver said of the Bruins’ comebacks. “It’s something that, you’ve got to play a full 60. Especially with what has happened in the playoffs. You guys remind of stats that kind of happen through all the playoffs, not just this series. You have that in the back of your mind that you have to keep on going, keep on pushing.”

Matt Fraser provided the most memorable “first goal” of the series with the overtime winner in Game 4, with Nathan Horton‘s goal in Game 7 of the 2011 conference finals standing as perhaps the most memorable in recent history. That game was played 5-on-5 the whole way, with no penalties taken on either side.

The first goal can obviously be a difference-maker, and the later it is, the better. This series has shown that it’s that second goal that matters more.

Read More: Daniel Paille, Mike Weaver,
Canadiens getting as much out of ‘disrespect’ card as they can 05.14.14 at 1:10 pm ET
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Teams come up with different ways to psych themselves up for big moments. The Canadiens are using the Bruins’ lack of respect of them — regardless of whether there’s actually a lack of respect — as fuel heading into Game 7.

On Tuesday, it was Brandon Prust, saying that when it came to the Bruins dissin’ his crew, the Habs wouldn’t “stoop to their level.” After Wednesday’s morning skate, Mike Weaver weighed in.

“I think they play the same way, whatever way they’re playing,” Weaver said. “Obviously we’ve got to earn our respect, too. That’s Boston for you.”

It’s all so vague, and at face value, it seems like a team stretching to come up with motivation. Disrespect? The teams don’t like each other, sure, but are the Bruins stealing cabs from Canadiens players around Boston or something?

Perhaps it’s the muscle-flexing, the water-bottle-squirting, the participation in scrums. Much of what happened late in Game 6, which started this whole weird narrative, was the result of a David Desharnais slew-foot and an Andrei Markov stick to Zdeno Chara‘s groin that went uncalled.

So what are the Canadiens talking about when they say they’re being disrespected?

“Well, watch the clips. The whole entire series you can see little things out there,” Weaver said. “But I think that’s their game. Our game is just playing. The other stuff isn’t really a factor.”

Claude Julien said after Game 6 that he wasn’t saying the Bruins were innocent, but said that the idea that the Bruins are the bad guys and the Canadiens are good guys is overstated. Both teams pull stunts, which is true. Shawn Thornton shouldn’t have squirted P.K. Subban, but Subban shouldn’t have put Thornton in a dangerous spot in Game 2.

The mocking has gone both ways. Dale Weise has now mocked the Bruins twice — once by pounding his chest (a Bruins celebration) in Game 3 and once by flexing (like Milan Lucic) in Game 6.

Is that “disrespectful?” Maybe, but who cares? The Weise stuff is hilarious, and it’s more of a “we won’t take any guff” statement than anything else.

There’s an important game to be played Wednesday, and unless bad penalties are taken, manners will have nothing to do with it.

Read More: Brandon Prust, Mike Weaver,
Claude Julien: ‘I’d be very surprised’ if Dennis Seidenberg played Game 7 05.14.14 at 11:34 am ET
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There is virtually no shot that Dennis Seidenberg will be available to play in Wednesday’s Game 7 of the second round against the Canadiens, but it was a question worth asking in Claude Julien‘s press conference following the morning skate.

Seidenberg, who took contact Monday for the first time, was a participant in Wednesday’s morning skate. Considering he is working his way back from a torn ACL and MCL, you would think he would need at least a week’s worth of contact before he would even enter the discussion as a playing possibility.

Julien was asked if there was any chance that Seidenberg would play Wednesday, leading to the following exchange:

“Uh,” Julien said, pondering. “I don’t think so.”

“That’s not a ‘no,’” replied the reporter.

“I’d be very surprised,” said Julien.

Should the Bruins advance, Seidenberg could be a possibility at some point during the Eastern Conference finals or Stanley Cup final.

For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.

Read More: Dennis Seidenberg,
7 thoughts on Game 7: What are Canadiens talking about? 05.14.14 at 6:00 am ET
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Oh, Montreal.

Yes, there is a pretty important hockey game to be played and I know I’m taking the bait as a member of the media by playing up all of this non-hockey stuff, but a tipping point has to be reached with the love-fest going on with the Canadiens, their coach and perhaps some of their media with what Claude Julien would call “crap.”

When the Canadiens are involved, everything is magnified. Everything’s a story. So much so, in fact, that storylines appear from absolutely nowhere. First, it was the Bruins saying that they had “solved” Carey Price by learning to shoot high on him after Game 2, when, in fact, no Bruins had said that.

This bit from Tuesday takes the cake, though:

 

 

So it’s been decided — one way or another — that the Bruins, who just got the crap (word of the series) kicked out of them in Game 6, are disrespecting the Canadiens. At that point on Tuesday, the Bruins had had no availability that day and no Bruins had said anything on the record since immediately after Game 6. The biggest thing said there was Julien saying the Canadiens’ on-ice antics should make people reconsider the narrative the Bruins are bad and the Canadiens are good. Were those late-game scrums the Bruins disrespecting the Habs? Who knows what they’re talking about.

Julien said after his postgame rant Monday that the Bruins aren’t innocent in the shenanigans that we’ve seen in the series. That’s true, with Shawn Thornton‘s water bottle squirt making headlines for a reason. Yet even that was overblown.

Read the rest of this entry »

Claude Julien calls out Habs for late-game antics, says he expects Bruins to win Game 7 05.12.14 at 11:08 pm ET
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MONTREAL — Claude Julien had a field day with officials in the final minute of the Bruins’ 4-0 Game 6 loss to the Canadiens Monday night, and that frustration carried over into his postgame press conference.

Julien was angry that the Canadiens were taking liberties and not getting called for dangerous plays. Julien was angry that what he believed to be a David Desharnais slew-foot on Brad Marchand went uncalled in the third period, with emotions boiling over after Andrei Markov put his stick between Zdeno Chara‘s legs and whacked the Boston captain in the groin.

Scrums ensued from there, and Julien said such things will happen when dirty plays go unpunished.

“Although we’re perceived as the bad guys and they’re the good guys, when Markov trips Chara and then he puts his stick between his legs and nothing’s going to be called, eventually somebody’s going to react,” Julien said. “Whether it’s right or wrong, Zdeno reacted and then everything else started.

“There was a slew-foot before — Desharnais on Marchand. It’s a slew foot. Those are things that we keep talking about that are dangerous in our game. It’s a rivalry and there are some things going on on both sides.”

The Bruins are considered to be the aggressors in pretty much any series they play given their physicality and a tendency to cross the line. Julien said that the Bruins have pulled their share of stunts as well this series, but that Game 6 should show that it isn’t one-sided.

“I’m not portraying ourselves as innocent here,” Julien said. “I’m just saying it takes two teams to [tango].”

Julien was asked one more question after that, with a reporter asking what he expects from the seventh game.

“I expect us to win,” Julien said.

For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.

Read More: Brad Marchand, Claude Julien, Zdeno Chara,
Canadiens blank Bruins to force Game 7 05.12.14 at 10:22 pm ET
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MONTREAL — The Bruins can only hope that the Canadiens didn’t save anything for Game 7 after the beating handed out by the home team Monday night. The Canadiens trounced the Bruins, 4-0, in Game 6 at Bell Centre to stay alive and force a winner-take-all Game 7. The series will be decided Wednesday at TD Garden.

The B’s gave one to the Canadiens 2:11 into the game when Kevan Miller caught a bad bounce on an attempt to send the puck out from behind the Boston net. The puck bounced off his stick and in front, where Tuukka Rask tried to get it, but Lars Eller put it in to give the Habs a 1-0 lead.

Though the Bruins pushed back hard in the second period, the Habs scored twice in the final five minutes of the period to put the game out of reach for Boston. Max Pacioretty scored his first goal of the series with a partial breakaway goal that came as a result of gaffes from both Zdeno Chara and Tuukka Rask at 15:24 of the second, while Thomas Vanek buried a loose puck in front on a power play at 17:39 to make it 3-0.

The B’s went 0-for-3 on the power play on the night, while the Canadiens were 1-for-3. Though they didn’t score on the power play that followed Milan Lucic‘s trip of P.K. Subban at 3:58 of the third, the timing of the penalty was enough to hurt Boston’s minimal chances of a comeback.

The Bruins nearly got on the board with under 10 minutes to play in the third period on a shot from Zdeno Chara that bounced up and over Carey Price, but David Desharnais fell on it just before it crossed the line. The play was reviewed, with the no goal call being confirmed. Price’s shutout was his first this series.

Desharnais would later assist Vanek’s second goal of the game as Vanek buried an empty netter to seal the victory for Montreal.

The Bruins are no strangers to results like Monday’s, as they also failed to close out the Habs in Game 6 in 2011 after taking a 3-2 series lead; that year, Boston bounced back in Game 7 en route to a Stanley Cup. Whether they advance to the conference finals this year remains to be seen.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS Read the rest of this entry »

Bruins not afraid of Bell Centre magic entering Game 6 05.12.14 at 2:19 pm ET
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MONTREAL — Monday’s Game 6 marks the Bruins’ last game at the Bell Centre this season. It’s up to them to decide whether the same goes for the Canadiens.

There’s no home-ice advantage like the Bell Centre. Look up home and away records and it will tell you otherwise, but there is no crowd like the Montreal crowd — both in decibel level and in influence.

The Bruins actually had a much better home record (31-7-3) than the Canadiens (23-13-5) this season, which makes sense because the Bruins were the best team in the NHL. The Bruins already have a victory at Centre Bell this series, and they can fondly recall the days of winning Games 3 and 4 in Montreal in 2011. Yet as the teams prepare for Monday’s Game 6, the idea of eliminating the Canadiens in their own building is daunting. The B’s couldn’t do it when they had the chance in 2011, as it took a seventh game and Nathan Horton overtime heroics to close out that series.

Should the Canadiens take Game 6, as they did in that classic 2011 series, they’ll have a full head of momentum headed into Boston for a winner-take-all seventh game. It’s do-or-golf time for the Habs, and they wouldn’t rather face it anywhere else.

“We understand they use their crowd to their advantage here,” Torey Krug said after Monday’s morning skate. “They come out very fast. When you can handle that, it does well for your team. We’re just going to come in and make sure we focus on the first 10 minutes and then after that we’ll see what happens and let it take care of itself.”

The Bruins aren’t going to psych themselves out, however. They know the building and they’ve won in the building. As intimidating as it may be to sit in the dressing room and hear all the madness going on during Montreal’s epic — and it is epic — pregame ceremony, they’re smart enough to try to avoid it. That especially goes for the younger guys.

“You try to focus on yourself. The biggest thing is you know they’re going to have their game plan and we’re going to have ours,” Matt Fraser said. “I think for us, we want to dictate the pace of play and dictate how things out there. That’s the biggest thing. We’ve got to stick to our game plan.”

Fraser handled his first real experience in the Bell Centre (he’d played a preseason game there back in September) extremely well, as he was given a career-high 14:44 of ice time and scored the game’s only goal on his first shift in overtime of Game 4. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Matt Fraser, Torey Krug,
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