|Bruins-Capitals Game 7 Live Blog: Jordan Caron in, Shawn Thornton out||04.25.12 at 7:26 pm ET|
|Will Bruins go with Jordan Caron or Shawn Thornton in Game 7?||04.25.12 at 1:28 pm ET|
Shawn Thornton or Jordan Caron?
That’s the question that Bruins coach Claude Julien faces going into the most important game of the season. Caron played in his first career postseason game Sunday when Julien called his number for Game 6.
“I was waiting for that for a little while, so I was pretty happy when Claude told me I was going to play,” Caron said. “It went well, so I was pretty happy with it.”
Julien had been saying throughout the series that he was keeping Caron in mind when it came to Boston’s lineup. When Patrice Bergeron had to leave Game 5 but was healthy enough to go in Game 6, the B’s went with Caron, presumably because he could play on the second line if anything were to happen to the Selke finalist.
On Wednesday, Bergeron was on the ice for morning skate but did not take faceoffs. That means that he’s still banged up a little bit, something that could have been assumed when No. 37 wasn’t on the ice in Tuesday’s practice.
Julien has confirmed multiple times that Bergeron will be in the lineup in Game 7, but if his status is still even the least bit shaky, the team could elect to keep Caron in and Thornton out. Another option is to play Thornton anyway, and if anything happens to Bergeron the team could explore putting Brian Rolston on right wing of the line with Rich Peverley at center.
With Caron unsure of his status, he’s had to do something he’s done a lot of over the last two seasons: prepare as though he’s playing and hope for the best.
“I think a lot of it is mentally. You just need to prepare,” he said. “You don’t know if you’re playing or not, so I think you’ve just got to be ready to jump in and do your job.”
Said Julien: “We talked to him before the series started, because I thought if anything, he was a real good player for us in that last stretch of the regular season. It was tough to take him out [before the playoffs] but we went with some experienced guys, first and foremost. The one thing that we said to him ‘ we said you’ve got to stay ready because there’s going to come a point where we’re going to need you and obviously we did last game.”
|Quick notes from morning skate: No faceoffs for Patrice Bergeron||04.25.12 at 12:15 pm ET|
The Bruins held what may have been their last morning skate of the season Wednesday, and everyone (except the injured Adam McQuaid) was present for it.
Patrice Bergeron skated Wednesday after taking Tuesday off, but he was a notable nonparticipant during faceoff drills. That means you can expect Rich Peverley to handle those duties again after doing so in Game 6.
With Bergeron skating on the second line, Jordan Caron took turns skating with the Merlot Line. It’s unknown whether Caron or Shawn Thornton will be the healthy scratch in Game 7 Wednesday night against the Capitals.
After the skate, Julien reiterated for a third time that Bergeron is in the lineup. In fact, he opened his press conference by asking, “Anybody want to know if Bergeron’s playing?”
For the Capitals, it appears Jeff Schultz will indeed go back into the lineup in place of John Erskine.
Here are the Bruins’ lines:
Greg Zanon ‘ Mike Mottau
|Bruins-Capitals Game 7 preview: Seven stats, players to watch and keys to victory||04.25.12 at 12:08 am ET|
It’s all about seven as the Bruins host the Capitals in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. Here’s everything you need to know and more, with seven the central theme.
‘¢ According to some impressive research done by Brian McNally of the Washington Examiner, Jay Beagle has an incredible 61.6 success rate in the faceoff circle (53-for-86). Even more impressive is that he’s won 13-of-21 faceoffs against Patrice Bergeron, who led the league in faceoff wins during the regular season.
‘¢ Tim Thomas‘ 14 goals allowed through the first six games of the series equals the total he allowed in the first six games of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals last season against the Canadiens. He faced only 12 more shots against the Habs through six than he has entering Wednesday’s Game 7.
‘¢ Alexander Ovechkin has two goals and two assists for four points and a minus-1 rating in four career Game 7s. He and the Capitals have gone 1-3 in those games.
This series, Ovechkin is tied with Rich Peverley with five points.
‘¢ Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic each have four career points in Game 7s to lead the Bruins. Lucic has three goals and an assist in six Game 7s while Marchand had two goals and two assists in three Game 7s last postseason.
‘¢ This series is the only one in NHL history to have the first six games decided by one goal. Both teams have scored 14 goals apiece with no empty-netters.
‘¢ Dennis Seidenberg has played in four Game 7s and won them all. He has four assists and plus-4 rating in those games, and has never had a negative rating in a Game 7.
‘¢ The Bruins have scored on the power play in just one of their six Game 7s since 2008. That game was Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Flyers, a contest in which they scored two on the man advantage. Since 2008, the B’s are 2-for-13 on the power play in Game 7s.
|Last chance: Bruins must expose Braden Holtby in Game 7||04.24.12 at 6:37 pm ET|
The Bruins have one more chance to get to Braden Holtby. If they do it, they should be able to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals against either Ottawa, Florida or Philadelphia. If they don’t, they’ll be bounced in the first round for the first time in four years.
For the B’s, two of their three losses to Washington have been products of the team not being able to get clean looks against the Washington rookie. They’ve struggled to get legitimate shots by the shot-blocking Capitals and through to the net, so their bids either haven’t made it to Holtby, or he’s been able to see them perfectly.
In recent games, the Bruins have fared better. Though they dropped Game 5 at home, they got a goal on a rush (Dennis Seidenberg from Milan Lucic), a hard drive to the net (Brad Marchand) and missile from the point (Johnny Boychuk). In Game 6, the B’s put four pucks past Holtby, the last of which came on a rush in the form of Tyler Seguin’s game-winner.
“It definitely took us a while, but you’ve got to give it to him,” Marchand said of Holtby. “He’s been playing great hockey and making a lot of big saves, but we’re doing a pretty good job of getting bodies in front now and finding different ways to score on him. We’re going to have to try and do the same thing tomorrow.”
Holtby has had an impressive .935 save percentage in the series, but his numbers have been helped by the fact that he’s had performances such as Game 2 (43 saves) and Game 4 (44 saves) in which he faced a large total of shots but faced few legitimate scoring chances. Many of the shots Holtby stopped in those games came from outside the perimeter due to Washington’s excellent shot-blocking and overall defensive play.
Now, having seen enough of Holtby, the B’s hope they break through and have a high-scoring affair for once (no team has scored more than four goals in a game this series, and each game has been decided by one goal). One thing to watch is whether the B’s, if given the opportunity, take advantage of Holtby’s agressive style. In two overtime plays Sunday — Zdeno Chara‘s early bid and Seguin’s game-winner — the Bruins were careful to hold onto the puck until the last possible second in an attempt to get the goaltender to challenge them. It didn’t work for Chara, but Seguin kept Boston’s playoff chances alive by doing it.
David Krejci, who scored on the power play in Sunday’s Game 6 victory, agrees that the B’s have gotten progressively better looks against Holtby. Krejci was notably frustrated after Game 4 at his inability to produce, but he feels that he and the offense as a whole have worked harder to make the 22-year-old goalie’s job difficult.
“I think we had a tougher start, but the last couple of games, it was getting along,” Krejci said. “We’ve just got to keep it going. It’s a Game 7. We’ve all been there before, so we’ve just got to go out there, do our best and try to get a win.”
|Shawn Thornton contributes to Bruins whether or not he’s playing||04.24.12 at 4:13 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Shawn Thornton embodies what the Bruins are all about in so many ways, but will he be in the lineup in the biggest game of the season?
Boston had to scratch Thornton in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals due to Patrice Bergeron‘s situation. With Bergeron clearly not 100 percent, Claude Julien had to insert Jordan Caron — a good two-way forward with some experience as a top-six guy — into the lineup in case anything happened to Bergeron during the game. That meant, as was the case when Tyler Seguin heated up in the third round against the Lightning, that Thornton had to sit.
Now, with Bergeron definitely in the Bruins’ lineup for Wednesday’s Game 7, it is unknown whether he will be healthy enough for the B’s to run the risk of going without Caron. Thornton doesn’t know his status, but the veteran isn’t complaining.
“This is my 15th year,” Thornton said. “I’ve been through this a number of times. I don’t know how many playoff games, but I will stay ready for when I’m called upon, whether it’s next game, or whenever it may be. If it’s not next game, then I’ll do whatever I can to support my teammates.”
Last year, a concussion to Bergeron led to Seguin jumping into the lineup after being a healthy scratch for the first two rounds. Seguin scored three goals in the two games the team was without Bergeron, so he remained in the lineup and Thornton was scratched. Seguin looks back on it all and remembers Thornton remaining supportive of him even after the rookie took the veteran leader’s spot in the lineup.
“Thorty’s a great team guy,” Seguin said. “He was the guy that definitely helped me align the way all last year. It doesn’t matter what role he’s doing for the team, he’s always going to be doing whatever he can to help the team out and help us be successful.”
If Thornton’s in the lineup for Wednesday, the B’s will know what they’re getting from the energetic forward. After all, it was a shift by the fourth line — Thornton, Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille — that started to swing the momentum for the Bruins in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals last June after the Canucks took it to the B’s in the early going.
Should Thornton not play, the team will still rely on what he brings in the dressing room as a vocal leader. Regardless of whether he’s in the lineup, he always has something to give the Bruins.
” We appreciate him as a player first and foremost and as a person, but what he does when he drops the gloves is something that is part of his strength,” Julien said. “Sometimes a coach has to make decisions. It’s nothing personal, it’s nothing about necessarily the player’s [experience], it’s what we need for this certain game and that’s all it was.
“He understands that stuff. He’s been through it many times, even before he came here. He’s all about the team and whatever we need to do he’s going to support us. He’s as happy as today as he was the day before he got pulled out of the lineup.”
|Brad Marchand responds to accusations of diving||04.24.12 at 1:54 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Brad Marchand is a man of many names.
There’s his given name, Bradley. There’s Marshy. There’s “The Little Ball of Hate,” as he was called by President Obama. There’s The Brat, The Rat, The Baseball Bat (not really) and probably a dozen other things Marchand’s been called.
Marchand doesn’t care what you call him, just so long as you don’t call him a diver.
The 23-year-old pest has been critical of diving in the past, such as last year when he called out the Canadiens, but recently, it’s been Marchand who’s been accused of diving.
Marchand has been accused of trying to sell calls at points during the Bruins’ series with the Capitals’ series, such as in Game 3 after an elbow from Karl Alzner and in Game 6, when minimal contact was made between he and Jason Chimera in the Washington zone. Marchand fell to the ice, grabbing his face and Chimera went down the other end and scored. Replays showed that Marchand got himself in the face with his stick as he was going down, but the play drew heavy criticism of the second-year player.
“You don’t see the guy coming and you get clipped,” Marchand said Tuesday. “For them to judge what knocks you down, they don’t know your balance or whatnot on the play. They’re sitting at home watching on TV. I don’t really care what they say. They have no impact on my game, my life. They mean nothing.”
Marchand explained the play, which led the to Caps tying the game in the second period.
“I just got caught off guard, and I wasn’t really ready,” he said of why he stayed down. “I got hit in the mouth, and by the time I got up and I was getting back, they scored.”
The lesson may have been learned on Marchand’s part. Though there’s been inconsistency on the referees’ end when players have remained down during the series, Marchand says everyone needs to be prepared to finish the play if at all possible.
“In a situation like that, blowing down a play can result in a team scoring or not scoring,” he said. “At this point in the playoffs, the refs seem to let a lot go. The further you go, they let more and more go. You have to realize that and jet try to continue with the play.”
Marchand expressed no frustration with the fact that he didn’t get a whistle before Chimera scored. Though the Capitals got whistles earlier in the series when their players went down, the Bruins had seen enough proof — such as Zdeno Chara staying down late in the first period of Game 5 — that team’s can’t bank on those calls.
“There are different refs every night, depending on the game,” Marchand said. “You can’t really blame the inconsistency on the refs. They’re all different. Maybe if you had the same one every night, but that’s not the case. We just have to try to find out how the refs are calling it and play within the rules.”
In Wednesday night’s Game 7, it goes without saying that there will be little-to-no margin for error. If a guy stays down on the ice, not only may he cost his team a goal, but the chances may be slimmer that he even gets a call. If the two defensive-minded teams are playing as tight and carefully as they’d like, the refs may be less inclined to influence the game with penalties.
“You see it every year,” Marchand said. “Last year against Tampa, I don’t think there was one penalty all game. You never really know how it’s going to get called. There could be a bunch and there could be none. We just have to play between the whistles hard and leave your best effort on the ice.”