|Bruins-Flyers: Three points heading into Game 3||05.04.11 at 6:58 am ET|
Everyone knows what happened after Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals last year: a Flyers Game 4 victory followed by three more in what ended up being one of the most devastating ends to a season in Bruins history.
This time around, the Bruins have set about righting that wrong, if it’s possible, and they’re off to the best start they could have through two games: a 2-0 series lead. Even if they take Game 3, it won’t be anything new for a team that was in the same position a year ago, but they’ll be sitting pretty.
It looks like they’ll have to play Game 3 without Adam McQuaid, as the rookie defenseman sprained his neck trying to hit Mike Richards in Game 2. Expect Shane Hnidy to be in his place for the veterans second game this postseason. Hnidy played just 4:13 in Game 2 of the quarterfinals vs. the Canadiens when he filled in for an ill Zdeno Chara.
Injuries and substitutions aside, Wednesday’s game is a pivotal one. As the B’s saw last week, winning Game 3 when you’re down 2-1 can change plenty, and that’s what the Flyers will aim to do. On the other hand, if the B’s can grab a 3-0 series lead, they’ll be in good position to do what 99% of teams do with 3-0 leads. Here are a few quick points on where things stand entering a big game at the Garden:
KREJCI REMAINS KEY
Sure, the L’s didn’t start coming until game four, but the Bruins suffered a major loss in Game 3 last season when David Krejci broke his wrist. Without Krejci, the B’s weren’t the same team, and it had a lot to do with why Philadelphia was able to crawl back to make it a series.
This year, and after a pedestrian first round vs. the Canadiens, Krejci has been as a big a force as anyone else (except for perhaps Tim Thomas) through two games. After having difficulty finishing plays vs. the Habs, Krejci has lit up the Flyers to the tune of five points in two games, including the game-winner in overtime in Monday’s Game 2.
With Marc Savard making only a 25-game cameo, Krejci was the de facto top center on the team most of the year, yet he didn’t always play like it. Krejci’s a guy who runs hot and cold, but he’s showing that he’s using the right faucet when it counts.
The Bruins aren’t going to sit back and play the “what if” game with what they could have done with a healthy Krejci last year, but so far they’re finding out what they can do with him this year.
THE WINNING WAY: CIRCUMVENTING REGULATION, POWER PLAY?
Four overtime games, zero power play goals, and only one win in which they’ve outshot their opponent. Those are some of the interesting details of the Bruins’ postseason thus far, but they’ll take the results.
The B’s are in no way welcoming more OT games, but given that they’ve won all four they’ve played so far, they’ve got to like the reputation they’ve developed. Contests like Game 2 are ones they most certainly won’t win every time, as Thomas faced 32 shots in the third period and overtime, while the B’s mustered just 12 shots. As they say, a win’s a win. You’d think the B’s would just rather win the way they did in the 7-3 fashion in which they took Game 1.
As for the power play, the mystery of when “the streak” will finally end (they’re at 0-for-29 thus far in the playoffs), is growing in legend. Will it get to 30? 35? It looked better late in the second period Tuesday, and perhaps with the confidence of winning will come the confidence to get this ugly streak out of their heads. The B’s just need to make sure their power play looks more like it did in Game 2 than it did in Game 1, when the Flyers were easily gaining possession and sending it the length of the ice.
THOMAS HAS BEEN IN OCTOBER FORM IN THE PLAYOFFS
Blaming the goaltender would be absurd, but it would be fair to say after the first two games of the quarterfinals that Thomas wasn’t quite where he was earlier in the regular season. The rebounds were big, and the Habs were game-planning around them. Since then, the B’s netminder has played to the lights-out standard he set way back in October. The line of thinking back then was that if the Bruins could get that kind of performance in the postseason, they’d be tough to beat. Well, they’ve gotten that performance, and they sure are tough to beat.
As Brad Marchand pointed out after Game 2, the Bruins had no business winning that game. The Flyers came out harder, played a fantastic game and got 54 shots on Thomas. Yet Thomas was the exception to the rule that if a team can come out flying at home, they should win.
Consider that James van Riemsdyk, who had two goals in the first 9:31 of Game 2 but was stopped on his following bids, should have had even more than the hat trick he didn’t get (we make too many Ovechtrick jokes in this space, explaining the absence of an obvious reference here), but Thomas shut him down on a night nobody else could. Regardless of what an opposing team can throw out there, it seems Thomas, when at his best, trumps all. He may not have the numbers from the first month of the season, but he is playing like it and giving the B’s a great chance to win each night.
Wednesday, it will be interesting to see how each team comes out. The Flyers should be desperate to avoid a 3-0 deficit, but it would be hard to top the effort they gave in Game 2. The Bruins should come out stronger if they don’t want to leave it up to their goaltender again. Even if it does fall in Thomas’ hands, he proved in Game 2 that he can handle it.
|Joke’s gotten old, but as Chris Kelly’s production grows, so too does the legend of the cage||05.02.11 at 11:51 pm ET|
Bruins fans know two Chris Kellys. There’s the one who had five points in 24 regular-season games with the Bruins after being acquired via trade in Feburary, and there’s the one with the cage. Given that the latter has six points in six games since having to wear his full cage thanks to a Game 3 shove from Scott Gomez, people prefer that one.
Yet the running joke with media members that Kelly will have to keep the cage even when his face, which hit goal-post after sliding from the play with Gomez, fully heals, is getting old for the third-line center, who has often played along with the joke.
Though he spoke about the cage Monday morning, he was asked about it once again after scoring the Bruins’ first goal in their 3-2 overtime victory in Game 2. His reaction?
“You guys are taking that cage and running with it, eh?” he asked a group of laughing reporters.
“The cage will come off when I’m suggested to take it off, regardless of how things keep going here. That will be my final statement on the cage,” he added with a grin.
Not if he keeps it up. That second Kelly has been too big for the Bruins.
|David Krejci wins it for Bruins in OT||05.02.11 at 10:42 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — It took some extra time and some extra nail-biting, but the Bruins grabbed a 2-0 series lead over the Flyers in the Eastern Conference semifinals Monday thanks to a 3-2 overtime victory. David Krejci scored the game-winner at 14:00 of the first overtime period. It was Krejci’s third goal the last two games, and the Bruins’ fourth overtime victory this postseason.
The Flyers jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the game’s first 10 minutes thanks to a pair of goals from James van Riemsdyk. The 21-year old beat Tim Thomas 29 seconds into the contest to give the Flyers the lead, and he followed it at 9:31 with a power play goal.
The B’s would come roaring back, as Chris Kelly put a puck past Brian Boucher with traffic in front of the net at 12:50, with Brad Marchand scoring 1:25 later. The teams played to a scoreless second period, though Boucher would leave with an apparent hand injury after from a Johnny Boychuk slap shot. Boucher was replaced by Sergei Bobrovsky for the remainder of the period, but would return in the third and play the rest of the game.
Thomas made 42 saves in regulation, while Boucher stopped 28. Bobrovsky saved all six shots he saw.
The teams will now head to Boston, where they will play Games 3 and 4 at TD Garden on Wednesday and Friday, respectively.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- The Bruins have trailed by multiple goals on the road twice this postseason, and have come back to tie it in both instances. The B’s trailed by a pair in the second period of Game 4 of the quarterfinals vs. the Canadiens and went on to win the game in overtime, and once they got going, they needed less than three minutes to come back from the Flyers’ 2-0 lead in the first period.
- This is some start to the series for Marchand. After totaling an impressive five points in the Montreal series, the rookie has four points, including three goals, in the first two contests of the quarterfinals. His goal on Monday was a big one, as his snipe on a wrist shot in the first period tied the game at two. He did have one of the occasional moments that comes with his play when he took a cross-checking penalty 3:21 into the third period.
- Chris Kelly can say he hates his cage all he wants, but the fact of the matter is that he’s had six points in six games since first donning in in Game 4 of the quarterfinals vs. the Canadiens. It’s either a good-luck charm or perhaps there’s far more to Kelly than was initially seen when the B’s traded for him in February.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- Adam McQuaid left the game in the first period and did not return. The rookie defenseman went to hit Mike Richards in the Boston zone, but it seem his stick hit Richards’ skate, causing him to trip over it and go head-first into the boards. He was taken to Jefferson Hospital for evaluation. If he is unable to play in Game 3, you can expect Shane Hnidy ‘ unless Steve Kampfer is ready to return.
- The Flyers really applied the pressure in the third period, with 22 shots begin fired on Tim Thomas. Luckily for the Bruins, their netminder was up for the challenge and shut down many serious bids from Philadelphia. The B’s had seven shots in the third period.
- JVR has been a thorn in Boston’s side, and there’s no question about it. The 21-year-old New Jersey native has scored three goals in the first two games of the series, even after Thomas stoned him on a 2-on-1 with Nikolay Zherdev in Game 1. The UNH product has now scored in four straight games, and three straight playoff games against the Bruins. He had the goal late in the first period of Game 7 against the B’s that started the Flyers’ comeback.
The flashy play from van Riemsdyk wasn’t limited to just his scoring. He had a boat-load of opportunities for the Flyers Monday on a night in which he was clearly the best player on the ice. Among his chances was a breakaway in which he missed the net with Dennis Seidenberg giving chase.
- Speaking of defensemen, Zdeno Chara most definitely gave Danny Briere a little extra something in front of the Bruins’ bench with 2:39 remaining in the game, going off for roughing and giving the Flyers a big power play at the wrong time.
|(Not) very superstitious: Chris Kelly just wants to ditch the cage||05.02.11 at 12:42 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — Bruins forward Chris Kelly is still sporting the full cage, and he’s itching to get rid of it. Kelly has had to wear the cage since Game 4 of the first round, when he slid head-first into the post in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Canadiens. Though he’s feeling better, he’s still proceeding with caution.
“The face is fine,” he said Monday. “I’m not sure how long, but obviously I’ll go on what the trainer suggests and kind of go forward from there.”
As for when the cage will come on, Kelly just hopes it’s as soon as possible. He had joked in Montreal that if he played well with it, he might keep it on as a signature piece of equipment, a la Richard Hamilton with the Detroit Pistons. Coincidentally or not, Kelly has five points in five games since he started wearing the cage, after totaling one in the first three playoff games prior. Monday, he corrected the record, noting that even if he struggles without the cage, that he’ll just “deal with it.” Once the mask comes off, he hopes it will be off for good.
“I’m not a superstitious person,” he said with a smile. “Not by that extreme.”
It’s hard to miss Kelly when he’s on the ice given the cage, something he says he hasn’t worn since he was 14 years old. It could make him a target for chirping, but if Flyers players are saying things, he isn’t hearing them.
“Not that I’ve heard of,” he said when asked if players have been poking fun at him. “Maybe I don’t hear as much with the cage on. Maybe they are chirping. I don’t know.”
|James van Riemsdyk proud to be an American amidst bin Laden news||05.02.11 at 11:43 am ET|
PHILADELPHIA ‘ The Flyers have a game to focus on Monday night, but the morning after it was learned that Osama bin Laden had been killed, Philadelphia forward and New Jersey native and former UNH Wildcat James van Riemsdyk couldn’t help but think back to what it was like as a youngster as the events of Sept. 11, 2001, unfolded.
“I remember exactly where I was when everything happened,” van Riemsdyk, 21, said Monday. “I remember being in middle school, sixth grade. I think I was at lunch at the time — that’s when we first found out — and they didn’t want to tell us what happened, but there were rumors going around the school, and then we got home. To see all the stuff that had happened, it was just a terrible thing. It was just a very tough time.
“There was a buzz about it, and I think right before I went home, we heard about what happened. I actually had a computer class, and they told us to stay off the Internet, but I was pretty eager and curious to see what happened and go on CNN.com to hear what had happened.”
A friend of van Riemsdyk’s lost his father in the terrorist attacks, as he was at the World Trade Center at the time, while two people from his home town of Middletown, N.J., also were killed.
“There was a big memorial in our town that they did a pretty nice job on,” van Riemsdyk said. “It definitely affected a lot of people close to me. ‘¦ It was definitely a sad day. A lot of good people died that day, but it’s good that some justice finally came out of it now.”
The winger, who has represented the United States in international play in multiple competitions, including winning the gold with the U.S. under-18 team in 2006, said his father could see the events unfold from where he worked. Frans van Riemsdyk was one of the first people he spoke to Monday morning.
“They saw the second plane come cruising in,” he said. “They thought it was like an accident at first. No one knew what was going on, and then you see this plane take a direct course [toward the World Trade Center]. It was a pretty crazy thing.”
A day after chants of “USA” broke out at Citizens Bank Park during Sunday night’s Phillies-Mets game, JVR can only imagine what the atmosphere will be like for the Flyers’ pregame tradition of “God Bless America,” a duet sung by Lauren Hart with a video of the late Kate Smith.
“The fans and the atmosphere should be great for that part of the game,” van Riemsdyk said. “It’s a proud day in our history, you could say now, is the day that this guy was brought to justice. At that point last night, I know hockey was put on the back burner for a second there when you kind of think of all the things that have been affected and all the people close to you that maybe lost someone. It’s obviously a good thing that all this came to justice last night.”
|Bruins looking for positives as results continue to escape power play||05.01.11 at 6:09 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — The Bruins’ power play struggles have gone from concerning, to laughable, to just being a sensitive subject. An 0-for-26 showing in the playoffs will do that, but right now the B’s are simply looking for signs of progress.
“We’re just trying,” Zdeno Chara said after Sunday’s practice at Wells Fargo Center. “We’re always trying to get better. We’re still working on it, and I thought we created some better scoring opportunities yesterday. Hopefully it happens sooner rather than later.
“We controlled the puck pretty well, made some plays, had some quality shots. We had some power plays where we got in really easily, and we had some of them where we couldn’t really get past the blue line. It’s just a little inconsistent on that part.”
The Flyers, who killed off all five of the Bruins’ power plays in Boston’s 7-3 Game 1 victory Saturday, boasted a middle-of-the-pack penalty kill unit in the regular season. Their 82.7 penalty kill percentage was 15th in the NHL, though in the first round against the Sabres, they gave up seven goals on 31 Buffalo power plays, meaning they were successful only 77 percent of the time. Against a team that’s struggled as much on the man advantage, it doesn’t seem to matter how the Flyers’ PK operates.
“No results,” Claude Julien said Sunday of the team’s power play. “That’s one thing, but I thought there was a few things better. Hopefully it continues to get that way, but we just need it going.”
The Bruins will make their latest attempt at breaking the unflattering streak Monday night in Game 2.
|Danny Briere wishes Zdeno Chara would be more careful with his stick||05.01.11 at 3:43 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — Flyers forward Danny Briere isn’t about to put up a stink over a missed call in the Bruins’ 7-3 Game 1 victory over Philadelphia Saturday. Speaking with reporters after Sunday’s practice, Briere said he didn’t think Zdeno Chara meant any harm when he got him with a stick to the face in front of the net during the third period, but that it could have been avoided.
‘I don’t think it was intentional,” Briere told reporters Sunday. “He was battling with someone else in front of the net, but the thing with him is that every time he battles he always has his stick is always in the air. At the size he has, I don’t think he needs to do that. You are supposed to be in control of your stick. But it happened, [and] like I said, it wasn’t intentional on his part.’
Briere said Chara’s stick got him on the right side of his head. No penalty was called on the play, though the Bruins did take five penalties in the third period.
The 33-year-old Briere had the Flyers’ first goal of the game Saturday, beating Tim Thomas to tie the game at a goal apiece in the first period. He leads all postseason skaters with seven goals in the playoffs thus far.
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