|Johnny Boychuk: ‘So far so good’ after return from knee injury||04.13.12 at 2:20 pm ET|
Without Johnny Boychuk and Andrew Ference playing effectively as the second pairing, the whole operation could fall apart, especially against a team like Washington that spreads its offensive talent to create a more balanced attack.
For that reason, the Bruins should be breathing a sigh of relief. Playing in his first game since spraining his right knee on April 3 against the Penguins, Boychuk handled his return well, helping to shut down Nicklas Backstrom‘s line. He looked so much like himself, in fact, that his partner didn’t even realize he was playing in his first game back from an injury.
“I forgot that was his first game back,” Ference after a pause when asked to assess Boychuk’s return. “Honestly, I did until you just said it. He got those couple of good practices in, and [the fact that he was returning from injury] didn’t even actually cross my mind.”
Ference laughed and added, “I guess that means he did good.”
Boychuk said he felt comfortable Thursday as he logged 17:58 of ice time without feeling especially limited. He said it’s a case of “so far so good,” and overall he was more pleased with how the defense as a whole played.
“In the first two periods we held them to under 10 shots,” he said. “You can’t say more than that. They’re one of the best offensive teams in the league, so if you limit them to under 10 shots in two periods, it’s obviously a good job by the D men and the forwards.”
Said Claude Julien: “He’s good. He played well and had a couple good shots from the point and I thought he was a real decent player. He didn’t look like a guy that missed any games. I was good with his whole play physically and moving the puck and everything that comes with his game.”
|David Krejci expected to play in Game 2||04.13.12 at 2:19 pm ET|
Bruins center David Krejci did not practice Friday, a day after he was hit in the back with a pane of glass following Chris Kelly‘s game-winning goal in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. Krejci said he was not tested for a concussion, and that he will play in Game 2 Saturday despite some neck pain.
“I’ve got a little sore neck, but other than that I’m good and I’ll play tomorrow,” he said.
Krejci, who led all players with 12 goals and 23 points last postseason, was celebrating with his teammates in the Washington zone when the glass fell on him.
“I guess fans got kind of carried away from the Kels goal, and it just happened,” he said. “Glass fell.”
Added Krejci: “I looked, like ‘What happened?’ because I didn’t expect that, so I looked at what happened. Then I got up, skated away, and that’s about it.”
Bruins coach Claude Julien said after the practice that though Krejci was supposed to practice Friday until the pain kept him out, the center is “scheduled to play” Saturday.
Krejci also had stitches on his philtrum as a result from a high stick from Capitals forward Jay Beagle in the first period.
|Adam McQuaid misses practice again||04.13.12 at 2:19 pm ET|
Aside from David Krejci (stiff neck), defenseman Adam McQuaid was the only player missing from Friday’s Bruins practice. He hasn’t skated all week, so it would appear his status for Saturday’s Game 2 against the Capitals would be unlikely.
McQuaid is still dealing with an upper-body injury. He has not played since April 5.
|The new Jacket: Bruins hope Chain keeps them together||04.13.12 at 1:14 am ET|
Chris Kelly looked like rapper Lil Jon after he won Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals with his goal in overtime.
Kelly was the first to sport what will likely be referred to as The Chain, Andrew Ference‘s latest token of team spirit he’s given to the Bruins in the postseason.
Last year it was The Jacket. Ference had purchased on old Bruins windbreaker on eBay that players took turns wearing. The Jacket was given to that game’s best player, and it was fittingly given to Mark Recchi as a retirement gift.
This season, it’s a chain. Kelly was the easy choice to wear it first.
It’s something kind of like last year with The Jacket,” Kelly explained as he wore the gigantic chain with a lock and Bruins logo on it. “Andrew made something that symbolizes a team, a chain. Try not to be that weak link, and it’s one of those things that you pass out after a game. It’s one of those things that’s all in good fun.”
Tim Thomas chimed in, noting that Kelly “wasn’t the weak link tonight.”
The Jacket became a pretty big thing with the Bruins and in Boston last season. The Chain’s popularity will simply depend on how long the B’s are in the postseason to wear it.
|Chris Kelly the Game 1 hero as Bruins win in OT||04.12.12 at 10:28 pm ET|
The Bruins were no strangers to having their third line win games for them this season, and Chris Kelly took his turn Thursday night by delivering them a 1-0 overtime victory in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against Washiington.
Kelly beat Braden Holtby with a slapshot just 1:18 into overtime, securing the victory and the early series lead. Tim Thomas picked up his second consecutive postseason shutout, dating back to last season’s Game 7 victory over the Canucks.
Playing in his first career postseason game, Holtby, the Capitals’ third-string goaltender, impressed by stopping all 29 shots in regulation. Thomas faced only 16 shots in regulation, but came through when needed.
The Bruins and Capitals will play Game 2 at the Garden on Saturday at 3 p.m.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– The Bruins came through with a big penalty kill in the third period after Zdeno Chara went off for cross-checking. Given that they’d only had eight shots on goal on the night at the time, the power play seemed like an opportunity for the Capitals to finally test Thomas with the Bruins’ best defenseman off the ice. They did just that, but Thomas came up with a big stop on Alexander Ovechkin after the dangerous winger fired a one-timer from the left circle after taking a feed from Nicklas Backstrom. It would be Washington’s only shot of the power play, as Johnny Boychuk blocked their only other attempt, which came from Alexander Semin.
– Speaking of Ovechkin, so much focus was put on him entering the series, but he didn’t live up to the hype Thursday. He had zero shots on goal (with only one attempt) through the first two periods and was the recipient of a couple of hits from Dennis Seidenberg. The longer Ovechkin stays quiet in this series, the better it is for the Bruins.
– Partially because of all of the time the Capitals spent on the penalty kill, the B’s were able to limit their opponents shots, just as they did so often late in the season. The Capitals had just seven shots on goal in the first two periods, none of which came on legitimate scoring opportunities, and it took them over 10 minutes before they registered their first shot on goal in the second period. Entering the night, the lowest total of shots Thomas had faced in a 60-minute game was 13, which came in the Bruins’ 8-0 blanking of the Capitals on March 19. Thomas had to actually start making saves in the third period, but he rose to the challenge by stopping all nine shots he saw.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– While the Bruins registered nine shots on goal in the first period, they didn’t get the quality scoring chances to rattle Holtby early. The 22-year-old goalie seemed to be plenty comfortable by the time the second period arrived, and he kept the game scoreless through two periods despite the B’s holding a 26-7 shots on goal advantage.
– The power play looked just like it did this time last year, as the B’s went 0-for-4 on the man advantage. The B’s strongest showing on the power play came after Jay Beagle took a double-minor for high-sticking David Krejci, as the B’s finished the first period and began the second on the man advantage. Holtby and the Capitals were able to hold them off, and second after the penalty expired Troy Brouwer put Washington back on the penalty kill by sending a puck out from the defensive zone. That power play would prove to be far less impressive for the B’s, as they did not manage a single shot on goal.
– The Bruins took a page out of Washington’s book and then some in the third period, as it took them 10:59 to register their first shot of the period. Altogether, they managed only three shots on goal in the third. The B’s did have their chances in the period, however. Joe Corvo hit a post, Milan Lucic whiffed with a wide open net and Kelly was stopped by Holtby with Pouliot trailing behind.
|Bruins-Capitals Game 1 Live Blog: Scoreless in OT||04.12.12 at 7:19 pm ET|
|Who needs experience? Braden Holtby is up for the challenge||04.12.12 at 2:57 pm ET|
If all went according to plan, Braden Holtby wouldn’t have had an enormous media scrum surrounding him at TD Garden Thursday morning. If all went according to plan, he wouldn’t have even been there.
But that’s the hand the Capitals were dealt. First, starting goaltender Tomas Vokoun has been dealing with groin issues this season and aggravated the injury on March 29 against the Bruins. Then backup Michal Neuvirth suffered a lower-body injury when Panthers forward Marco Sturm fell on him on April 5.
All of this resulted in 22-year-old Holtby, the starting goaltender for Hershey in the AHL, getting the call to be the No. 1 for the Capitals as Washington opens the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Bruins.
“The whole reason I’m here is injuries, and that’s unfortunate, but that was my job coming into the year as the third guy in Hershey, to be here to step up when there are injuries,” Holtby said Thursday. “Unfortunately, they’re at this time of year, but it’s my job to [make up for] those unfortunate parts. I know both of them want to be on the ice, so I’m trying to take the team with me, to bring them up.”
He’s never been in the postseason before, and the fact that he’s untested in the playoffs is made worse by the circumstances. He’s facing the Bruins, who had an NHL-best 81 goals last postseason and averaged 3.24 goals per game in the playoffs. The Bruins’ 3.2 goals per game in the recently concluded regular season ranked second in the league.
“It’s a great challenge,” Holtby said. “You have to get through everyone to make it to the Stanley Cup. Everyone’s talking about the Bruins and the Rangers. Well, you’re going to have to play either of them or both of them. If it’s Boston right now, we’re up to the challenge.”
In 40 games in the AHL this season, Holtby had a 2.61 goals-against average and a .906 save percentage. Those AHL marks are actually worse than Tim Thomas‘ NHL numbers this season, making it tough to compare the two net minders. That’s fine for Holtby, as he says he doesn’t look at games and feel he’s going against the opposing goaltender. Of course, he wouldn’t mind having Thomas’ success a year after Thomas had four shutouts in the Bruins’ Stanley Cup run and won the Conn Smythe.
“He’s obviously a battler, and that’s the reason he’s been so good,” he said. “It’s great to see a guy like that, that goes off of pure heart and determination and has been successful. It’s great and I respect the guy obviously a lot, but that goes out the window. I just want to win games right not.”
The fact that he’s even playing games right now wasn’t something the Capitals had been planning on entering the season, but Holtby has the opportunity to surprise a lot of people this postseason.