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Though Habs may soon await, Bruins focused on Red Wings 04.21.14 at 9:07 pm ET
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Claude Julien is thinking about his current team, not his former team. (AP)

Claude Julien is thinking about his current team, not his former team. (AP)

One major difference brought about with the change to the NHL‘s playoff format is the fact that in each series, teams have a 50-50 chance of knowing who they’ll face next.

Usually, it isn’t until the conference finals that teams know that they will play one of two teams should they advance, but with the divisional, non-reseeding format the league changed to for this season, that scenario is provided throughout the playoffs.

The Bruins and Red Wings both know that, should they win, they will face the winner of the series currently being played between the Canadiens and Lightning. Well, that series could be over awfully soon, as the Habs hold a commanding 3-0 series lead over the Bolts.

The Boston-Detroit series, on the other hand, has just begun. Tied 1-1 heading into Tuesday’s Game 3, the series has at least three games to go, and with the way it has looked thus far, could go four or five more. The Montreal series could be over as soon as Tuesday night, in which case the Canadiens would both have a lot of time to wait for their next opponent and face a potential matchup against the Bruins.

“That’€™s their series. We’€™re worried about ours right now,” Claude Julien said Monday. “Our players shouldn’€™t worry about that. As coaches, you worry about your team but you also are allowed to watch and prepare in a certain way by watching the other series as well, so I don’€™t think it’€™s a big issue.

“I know that there were times in the past where we were done and we had to watch a couple of different series because we didn’€™t know, depending on who would win, who we’€™d play, so there’€™s no doubt it’€™s a lot clearer now. We don’€™t have to look too far to find out who our next opponents could be, but at the same time, it’€™s about getting out of this one here, and right now it’€™s a 1-1 tied series that, to me, has the potential to go a long ways.”

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Read More: Claude Julien, Patrice Bergeron,
Matt Bartkowski, Daniel Paille, Dennis Seidenberg, Adam McQuaid take part in optional Bruins practice 04.21.14 at 12:47 pm ET
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The Bruins held an optional non-contact practice Monday at TD Garden before departing for Detroit to play Games 3 and 4 of their first-round series against the Red Wings.

Matt Bartkowski, who has not played in either of the first two games due to a stomach flu, did take part in the skate. After skating together earlier in the day, Dennis Seidenberg and Adam McQuaid also participated in the practice. Daniel Paille, Chad Johnson and Corey Potter were the other participants.

Paille, who hasn’t played in since April 12, has been skating since Friday. Chris Kelly has not skated since April 8.

Regarding Paille and Kelly, Julien said that both players have been out of game action long enough that they would need to take contact in practice before playing.

As for Seidenberg, who has been ahead of his recovery from ACL/MCL surgery from early January, Julien said that he is isn’t overly surprised that Seidenberg has been skating for nearly two weeks. Seidenberg was expected to miss the rest of the season and be out for 6-8 months.

“I guess according to our trainers and our doctors, they thought he’d be going through that process and at one point he’d be skating before next season,” Julien said. “So he’s on track right now, probably even a little ahead of the curve because of his conditioning and how strong he was, even before that injury. I guess he’s a well-trained individual, and those guys have a tendency — athletes have a tendency — to recover a little quicker than the normal person. He’s on that track right now.”

The Bruins won’t rule out a potential return for Seidenberg this season, though they say they’re not expecting it to happen. The fact that Seidenberg is skating more and more and taking sharper turns would suggest the possibility that he could play if the team makes a deep run. Julien said he’s not getting overly excited.

“Because nobody’s told me anything that would get me excited, that’s why,” Julien said. “I went to our trainers and asked if it was OK for him and McQuaid to skate with the rest of our team because there’s no contact, no drills. It’s the same drills they did when they went on the ice earlier. A lot of it is for encouragement reason. Just those two on the ice together for a while gets tough, but being out there with more players and do a little more, it’s exciting for them. I thought mentally, it would be a good opportunity to meet with the rest of the guys because of the type of practice we were having.”

Read More: Daniel Paille, Dennis Seidenberg, Matt Bartkowski,
Reilly Smith stops cold streak ‘burden’ from leaking into playoffs 04.20.14 at 7:46 pm ET
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Reilly Smith

Reilly Smith

The first half of Reilly Smith‘s season was great. The second wasn’t. In the Bruins’ Game 2 win over the Red Wings, he made the start to his playoff career a bit more encouraging than the previous three months.

With the Bruins on a first-period power play and Loui Eriksson providing his signature brand of finesse netfront work, Patrice Bergeron threw a puck on net from high in the zone. Jimmy Howard made the save but left the rebound in front with bodies galore and Smith raced through the crease and put the puck in the net to make it 2-0. The goal went on to be the game-winner, as the B’s allowed just a Luke Glendening tally in its 4-1 victory.

Bruins fans had gotten used to seeing Smith score, but needed their memory refreshed given that Smith had just two goals in the final 30 games of the season after putting up 18 in his first 52 games as a Bruin.

Smith never got ahead of himself when he was leading the Bruins in goals early in the season and was on pace to flirt with 30 goals, but his second-half struggles provided some frustration. As such, a goal in the second game of the playoffs was more than welcome.

“I was hoping it wasn’t going to take a long time in the playoffs, because it can be a little bit of a burden when you’re trying to help out the team,” Smith said after the game. “It was good to see it go in the back of the net and have that kind of opportunity early in the game.”

Smith even took it a step further, saying he didn’t want to become like Tyler Seguin and Jaromir Jagr, who scored one and no goals, respectively, last postseason for the B’s and caught some flack.

“It definitely gives you confidence, and I’m pretty sure the press in Boston, they can get on you if you’re not scoring. I’ve heard, even from Dallas, enough about Seguin and Jagr not scoring too much in the playoffs last year,” he joked. “It is good to get that one in the back of the net and kind of keep you guys off my back a little bit.”

Speaking of jokes, Smith’s brother, Brendan Smith, went after Zdeno Chara at the end of the first period Sunday. Considering that Chara is 6-foot-9 and Brendan Smith is listed at 6-foot-2 and isn’t known for being physical, the idea of a potential fight between the two players was amusing.

It turned out it was amusing for Chara as well, as the Bruins captain laughed and smiled even as the Detroit defenseman took a jab at his face.

Reilly said that he saw it from the bench and could observe that he didn’t look too worried. The Red Wings won in the exchange given that there was no fight and, with matching roughing minors, Chara missed the first two minutes of the second period, but it was still a pretty risky move on Brendan’s part.

“[Chara] wouldn’€™t be the first guy I’€™d choose in the NHL to go against,” Reilly said. “[Brendan] should probably think twice next time.”

Read More: Brendan Smith, Reilly Smith, Zdeno Chara,
Matt Bartkowski, Daniel Paille, Chris Kelly all to travel with Bruins to Detroit 04.20.14 at 7:05 pm ET
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Matt Bartkowski

Matt Bartkowski

Matt Bartkowski, Daniel Paille and Chris Kelly will all travel to Detroit as the first-round series between the Bruins and Red Wings moves to Joe Louis Arena, B’s coach Claude Julien said after Sunday’s Game 2 win.

Bartkowski, who has been out all week with a stomach flu, practiced Saturday but the team deemed him unable to go for Game 2. Kevan Miller missed Game 1 with the same ailment but played Sunday, logging 19:18 of ice time.

“He’d only practiced yesterday quickly here and was probably not 100 percent, trying to recover from that flu, that virus that he had,” Julien said of Bartkowski. “He missed at least six days of not skating, so we didn’t think it was a wise choice to put him in just [from] watching him practice yesterday. Miller was in a different situation. He came back, practiced, missed a game, practiced. He seemed a little bit better. That was a medical kind of decision, seeing who could handle this pace tonight and was a strong enough to do that.

“As far as next game, I don’t know. I keep telling you guys that when we’re talking about a virus, it’s hard to stand here and say this guy will be in, that guy won’t be in. It really becomes a day-to-day situation.”

Paille has been out since last Saturday with what is believed to be a head injury, though he skated Friday and Saturday. Kelly, who missed the final three games of the regular season with a back issue and has not played in either of the first two games against the Red Wings, has yet to be spotted on the ice.

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

Read More: Chris Kelly, Daniel Paille, Matt Bartkowski,
Bruins even series with Game 2 win over Red Wings 04.20.14 at 5:50 pm ET
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Justin Florek

Justin Florek

The Bruins evened their first-round series with the Red Wings at one game apiece with a 4-1 Game 2 victory over the Red Wings Sunday at TD Garden.

After Detroit had shut out Boston in Game 1, the B’s got a pair of power play goals and scored two more at even strength. For the second straight game, Rask held the Red Wings to one goal.

Justin Florek scored the Bruins’ first goal of the series thanks to a miscue from Red Wings netminder Jimmy Howard. With the puck at about the left faceoff dot, Howard skated out and tried to send the puck up, but instead he put it off Brendan Smith, resulting in a loose puck with the net vacant. Florek threw it straight at the net for his first career playoff goal.

Reilly Smith made it 2-0 with a power play goal that came as a result of some tropically good work in front from Loui Eriksson. With Eriksson in front, Patrice Bergeron put a shot towards the net and Smith raced through in front to send it in.

The second period saw the Red Wings find their legs, and they got some momentum back when Darren Helm went around Jarome Iginla and fired a shot that went off Luke Glendening and past Tuukka Rask. Milan Lucic made up for his line’s goal against, however, taking a pass from Torey Krug in the neutral zone and capping off a give-and-go with Iginla with a shot that went off Howard’s stick and in.

Boston got some insurance in the third when Zdeno Chara buried a rebound from an Iginla shot for a power-play goal. Both Iginla and Krug had a pair of assists on the day.

Kevan Miller returned to the lineup for Boston and made his postseason debut. Matt Bartkowski, Chris Kelly and Daniel Paille all missed the game.

The series will move to Detroit, where the B’s and Red Wings will play Games 3 and 4 at Joe Louis Arena.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- Once again, the Bruins penalty kill was very strong, and it had to be Sunday. Boston had to kill off four penalties over the first two periods Sunday and held the Red Wings to just one shot on goal. That followed Friday’s effort in which the B’s held Detroit to no goals and one shot on goal on two penalty kills.

- Eriksson and Chara are both great in front of the net, but for much different reasons, and the B’s got power play goals as a result of both. Eriksson doesn’t outmuscle too many guys, but he is excellent at angling his body and providing a screen. That’s just what happened when Bergeron threw the puck on net.

Chara is obviously more tough to stop, and as such he picked up the rebound of an Iginla shot and put it past Howard.

- Reilly Smith doesn’t show much emotion too often, so you could tell his first-period goal was a long time coming for him. The goal was just his third since Jan. 28. Perhaps with more confidence will come more goals.

- The Bruins needed to battle through some of the interference that the Red Wings may have been getting away with in Game 1, and they did just that when Carl Soderberg drew a penalty on Jakub Kindl about halfway through the first period.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- The Bruins weren’t just fortunate to get out of the third period with a two-goal lead; they were fortunate to have a lead at all at that point. Lucic’s goal followed a really rough stretch for the B’s after Detroit had gotten on the board, with the Wings swarming to the puck (Dougie Hamilton had to take a so-so tripping penalty shortly beforehand to prevent a Pavel Datsyuk bid as he came out of the corner with the puck) and Boston not generating much offense. It looked like the B’s would enter the second intermission hanging on by a thread, but Lucic’s goal — which was Boston’s first shot on goal in five minutes — changed that.

- Speaking of Lucic’s goal, it brought Krejci’s line back to even after it was scored on by a bottom-six Frankenstein line of Helm, Glendening and Drew Miller. Not scoring against Riley Sheahan’s line (as was the case Friday night) is one thing, but a first line getting scored on by bottom-six players is another. Lucic’s goal came against the same trio that had scored on the Glendening goal.

- While it was hilarious to see Zdeno Chara humor Brendan Smith as the Red Wings defenseman tried to fight him at the end of the first period, it gave Detroit a chance to get the last laugh when both players were assessed roughing minors. Smith is a very important piece for the Red Wings, but they would gladly lose him for two minutes if it meant getting two minutes without having to play against Chara. It didn’t end up costing the B’s, as neither team scored during the 4-on-4.

Matt Bartkowski out, Kevan Miller returns for Bruins in Game 2 vs. Red Wings 04.20.14 at 2:00 pm ET
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Matt Bartkowski will remain out for the Bruins as they face the Red Wings in Game 2 of the first round Sunday afternoon. Kevan Miller, who also missed Game 1 with what is believed to be a stomach flu, is back in the lineup.

With Bartkowski out, Andrej Meszaros will play again. Daniel Paille and Chris Kelly are both out. Paille skated prior to Saturday’s practice but has not played or practiced with the team since last Saturday. Kelly has yet to skate since suffering a back injury late in the regular season.

With Paille and Kelly still out, the forward lines are as follows:

Lucic – Krejci – Iginla
Marchand – Bergeron – Smith
Florek – Soderberg – Eriksson
Caron – Campbell – Thornton

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

Read More: Kevan Miller, Matt Bartkowski,
What Bruins need to do to win Game 2 vs. Red Wings 04.20.14 at 8:18 am ET
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The Bruins will look to avoid falling into an 0-2 hole to begin the first round when they face the Red Wings Sunday afternoon at TD Garden.

Coming off a 1-0 loss in Game 1, they might be getting healthier, as Matt Bartkowski and Kevan Miller practiced Saturday after missing Friday’s game. If both players can return to the lineup, they will replace Andrej Meszaros and Corey Potter, respectively.

Yet even if they don’t play and Daniel Paille and Chris Kelly remain out as expected, the B’s should still be able to handle the eighth-seeded Red Wings. Jimmy Howard was strong for the Red Wings in earning a 25-save shutout, but if the Bruins can possess the puck more and generate more offense, they can make things way harder on him Sunday than they did Friday.

Here’s what they should look to do to take Game 2:

Krejci line needs to take advantage of matchups

If Patrice Bergeron‘s line is relatively quiet this series, it would be understandable given that they are matchup up against Pavel Datsyuk‘s line. That should mean better opportunities for the Milan LucicDavid Krejci - Jarome Iginla line playing against Detroit’s second line of rookie Riley Sheahan between Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist.

While the Sheahan line didn’t generate much offense against the B’s either (see below), that line should be one that Krejci and friends can exploit, but they didn’t get a Grade A chance until late in the game on Milan Lucic‘s redirect of a Jarome Iginla pass.

That Krejci line even saw a couple shifts against Luke Glendening’s line, which should also be a mismatch, and couldn’t take advantage. Krejci is known as being one of the best playoff performers in the NHL, so you have to think that line won’t have many repeat performances of Game 1.

Turn in the same defensive performance

Before you get carried away with the fact that the B’s lost Game 1, keep in mind that they held Detroit to one goal. Offense was the problem, not defense.

Detroit had the puck more than Boston, but it wasn’t like they spent the entire game peppering Tuukka Rask.

In fact, the scoring chances seemed about even by the end of the game. On Saturday, Mike Babcock said his coaching staff had the scoring chances being in Game 1, with each team getting nine chances.

Though Tomas Tatar’s five shots on goal were the most of any player in the game, the Bruins were able to limit Daniel Alfredsson (zero shots on goal), Gustav Nyquist (one) and Tomas Jurco (one).

Furthermore, Boston was strong on the penalty kill. Detroit had two power plays in the game, generating one shot on goal in the first and none in the other one. In fact, a Loui Eriksson shorthanded shot was the only puck put on net by either teams as Boston killed off a Torey Krug holding penalty.

Get Carl Soderberg’s line going

The trio of Soderberg between Loui Eriksson and Justin Florek also looked like a line heading into this series that could take advantage of its matchups. Playing against fellow bottom six lines in Darren Helm’s trio and Luke Glendening’s line should be manageable, but the real money-maker there should be Detroit’s third pairing of Jakub Kindl and Brian Lashoff.

That third pairing looked like it could be trouble for Detroit playing against Soderberg and Eriksson in this series, but Soderberg’s line’s good chances didn’t start coming until midway through the third period following Boston’s only power play of the game.

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