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Dale Hunter thinks Bruins are targeting Nicklas Backstrom’s head 04.17.12 at 1:32 pm ET
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WASHINGTON — Capitals coach Dale Hunter thinks the Bruins are targeting Nicklas Backstrom‘s head. That’s a big accusation, especially given Hunter’s track record as a player.

Backstrom, of course, missed 40 games this season due to a concussion, so the suggestion that the B’s are going after his head is pretty heavy.

‘€œEvery scrum, Nicky comes out with no helmet on, he gets blockered to the head by [Tim] Thomas the game before. He’s protecting his head,’€ Hunter told reporters Tuesday. ‘€œHe just came out for 40 games. You have to protect your head. With his stick being in his face like that, it was a dangerous play on his part.’€’

Backstrom has a hearing with the league on Wednesday for his cross-check to the face of Rich Peverley at the end of Game 3. Hunter said he doesn’t think Backstrom will be suspended because Peverley’s stick was “up in his face first.”

“He’s got to protect himself,” Hunter said of Backstrom. “If you get a second concussion, you’re out a long time. If it wasn’t there, if a stick wasn’t in his face, Nicky Backstrom’s not that kind of player. He doesn’t just cross-check somebody in the face. He’s not like that. Because of the stick was there, he protected himself.’€

Read More: 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, Dale Hunter, Nicklas Backstrom, Rich Peverley
Update: Nicklas Backstrom reportedly has hearing scheduled for Tuesday 04.17.12 at 12:56 pm ET
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WASHINGTON — According to a tweet from TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the Capitals have been informed that center Nicklas Backstrom will have a hearing with the NHL Tuesday at 3:30 over his cross-check to the face of Rich Peverley in Monday’s game.

After the final seconds ticked off the clock in Boston’s 4-3 victory over the Capitals in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, Backstrom cross-checked Peverley in the face and was given a match penalty, which carries with it an automatic suspension pending review of the league.

Read More: 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, Nicklas Backstrom,
Are expectations high enough for Tyler Seguin? 04.17.12 at 12:10 pm ET
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WASHINGTON — Last year, the first round was a time for Tyler Seguin apologists to bash Claude Julien for not putting him in the lineup.

This year, the game sheet says that Seguin is in the lineup, but little else has.

Seguin, who is still just 20 years of age, has struggled to produce thus far in the postseason after leading the B’s with 29 goals and 67 points. He hasn’t been the only Bruins star forward to start the playoffs quietly, but after a dominant regular season, expectations to continue that means more pressure when the points aren’t coming.

While Seguin was very good in the beginning of the Eastern Conference finals (his Game 3 performance, though it featured no points, was perhaps the most complete game as a rookie), it isn’t a complete shock that he’s failed to match his regular-season success early on in the playoffs. He’s getting the minutes as a top-six forward, but two of the areas in which he isn’t particularly strong — battling for pucks and play in his own end — are ones that are often exploited in the postseason.

Julien was asked at Tuesday’s media availability what the team needs to do to get their young scorer going.

“I think we’€™ve got to, kind of, in a way leave him alone,” Julien said. “When I say leave him alone, we’€™re helping him through it, but to put too much pressure on a young player like that, I don’€™t think is the right approach, for me anyway.

“You’€™ve got to guide him along and you know he’€™s going to find his game. He’€™s not playing badly. But again, there’€™s a lot of expectations on some of these young players and sometimes it is maybe not always fair. And that’€™s why you’€™ve got guys like [Brian] Rolston and [Chris] Kelly and those kind of guys producing for us, because they’€™re veterans and they’€™ve been through these situations before.”

To be fair to Seguin, he isn’t the only big name forward that needs to get going offensively for the B’s. Milan Lucic still doesn’t have a point, though he had a much better game on Monday. David Krejci, who led the NHL with 12 goals and 23 points last postseason, also does not have a point through the first three games.

The top two lines still have not scored a goal this postseason. Though Rich Peverley scored in the second period Monday, it came on 4-on-4 while he was on the ice with Kelly. The Bruins’ bottom-six forwards have scored four of the team’s six goals this postseason, a sign that the B’s need more from their top two lines. That means that the pressure is on their leading scorer from the regular season. Julien doesn’t think that pressure’s fair.

“Tyler last year was in and out of the lineup during the playoffs so for us to expect that he’€™s just going to take over because he led our team in scoring, to me it’€™s not reality,” Julien said. “He’€™s going to find his way because he’€™s a smart player, he’€™s a good player, and we’€™re going to allow him the time to do that without putting undue pressure on him.”

That doesn’t exactly sound like the biggest vote of confidence from Julien. The team should expect Seguin to take over games. He’s one of the most talented players in the league, even if he doesn’t play as physical a game as is required in the postseason. Seguin can dominate games, as the Bruins have seen before. They don’t need to make excuses for him, they just need him to start producing.

Read More: 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, Claude Julien, Tyler Seguin,
Milan Lucic questions Karl Alzner’s toughness after crybaby gesture 04.16.12 at 11:21 pm ET
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WASHINGTON — Milan Lucic has been called a lot of things before, but Monday brought an accusation with which he feels unfamiliar.

With the Bruins on the power play late in the third period of Game 3 against the Capitals, Lucic was cross-checked by Washington defenseman Dennis Wideman. That led to Lucic scrapping with forward Matt Hendricks before defenseman Karl Alzner jumped in to take on Lucic. After the scrum was broken up by officials, Alzner made a crying gesture at Lucic.

“Well, there’s a lot of [proof] on my side to show that I’m not a crybaby,” Lucic said after the game. “That’s a lot coming from a guy I think who’s got two roughing penalties in three years, so there you go.

Asked whether he felt Alzner was the third man in, an offense that is punishable by a game misconduct, Lucic grinned and chose his words carefully before answering.

“Yup.”

Read More: 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, Karl Alzner, Milan Lucic,
Zdeno Chara give Bruins Game 3 winner 04.16.12 at 10:23 pm ET
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WASHINGTON — In a higher-scoring and more emotional game than the Bruins and Capitals have been used to this series, Zdeno Chara was the hero Monday night as the B’s took Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals with a 4-3 victory. The Bruins now hold a 2-1 series lead.

With the game knotted at three, Chara fired a shot from the point that went off of Washington defenseman Roman Hamrlik’s stick and past Braden Holtby with 1:53 remaining. It was Chara’s first goal of the playoffs. The Bruins’ four goals on Monday doubled their total from the series’ first two games.

The Capitals took a 1-0 lead when Alexander Semin scored with Chara in the box. The penalty, a roughing call on the captain, was Chara’s third minor penalty in three games this series.

Rich Peverley tied it early in the second period when he beat Holtby from the left circle, but Alexander Ovechkin made it 2-1 just 13 seconds later. Daniel Paille tied it 9:38 into the second, and the B’s took their first lead of the series when Brian Rolston scored 1:02 into the third. A Brooks Laich breakaway goal pulled the Capitals even with six minutes remaining in regulation, sending the Verizon Center crowd into a frenzy.

The series will resume Thursday at Verizon Center.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

– Holtby showed that he’ll allow the goals if you can get the opportunities. Paille’s goal came because he was he was parked out in front of the net and willing to puck up a rebound, while Rolston’s goal came when the third-liner picked up a loose puck in front. Peverley’s goal was probably the softest of the three that Holtby allowed, and Bruins players began shooting at Holtby’s glove side more following the tally.

One thing to watch: Four of the Bruins’ six goals this series have come from their bottom-six forwards. That’s good production for the third and fourth lines, but a bad sign for the offense as a whole.

– The Bruins got their first lead of the series on Rolston’s goal.

– This series might be getting some teeth to it after all. Milan Lucic and Laich were tangled up prior to a second-period face-off, and Lucic eventually threw Laich down before the puck could be dropped. There were was also some rough stuff at the end of the first period and early in the third, and things got out of hand with 2:26 left in the third. Lucic took a cross-check from Dennis Wideman after a Holtby save, and after Lucic got tangled up with Matt Hendricks, Karl Alzner jumped in.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

– The Chara-Seidenberg pairing got caught napping on the Capitals’ third goal. Laich took a long pass from Nicklas Backstrom to give the winger a breakaway and tie the game.

Johnny Boychuk was on the ice for the first four goals against this series. He was in no-man’s land on Semin’s goal, the third of four goals against he’s been on the ice for. He almost allowed a fifth goal when he lost his man in front late in the second period. Jay Beagle took a feed from behind the net with just over 2:20 remaining in the period, but Thomas stopped him on what was probably No. 30’s biggest save of the night.

In order for the Bruins to go with the Chara-Seidenberg pairing in the playoffs, they need a strong second pairing in Boychuk and Andrew Ference. Boychuk made up for his iffy play late, as he blocked a Mike Green shot with the Capitals on the power play with under nine minutes to play. The play saved what would have been an easy game-tying goal.

Claude Julien mixed the lines up a bit by switching Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. That meant that Bergeron centered Lucic and Peverley, while Krejci centered Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand. The move didn’t look like it necessarily paid off and it’s tough to make sense of it. Bergeron and Lucic haven’t had chemistry when they’ve played together in the past, while Bergeron’s defense has often made up for what Seguin lacks in his own zone.

The Bruins’ top two lines still have yet to score a goal this series. Peverley’s goal came during 4-on-4 play while he was out with Chris Kelly.

– Marchand got hit where it hurt (literally) when Jason Chimera speared him in the crotch during a scrum early in the third period. Chimera was given a hooking minor, while Marchand stayed in the game.

Read More: 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs,
Bruins-Capitals Game 3 live blog: Tied in the third 04.16.12 at 7:11 pm ET
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Bruins-Capitals Game 3 Live Blog

Read More: 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs,
Tuukka Rask doesn’t swear, but he explains why the Tim Thomas White House snub won’t be an issue 04.16.12 at 2:16 pm ET
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WASHINGTON — Everyone in the world wants to forget about the Tim Thomas/White House fiasco, and maybe they finally can after Monday night.

Game 3 will be Thomas’ second game at Verizon Center since the reigning Conn Smythe winner skipped the team’s White House visit in January. Fans in D.C. are being encouraged to wear Barack Obama masks as a way of taunting Thomas.

The Bruins are sick of answering questions about Thomas and the White House. Thomas has promised the media that he will end his sessions with reporters if the White House or his politics are mentioned. Both times it has happened since, Thomas has made good on his word and walked out.

Yet Tuukka Rask was happy to explain why he doesn’t think Thomas will be impacted by a Verizon Center full of fans who are angry with the two-time Vezina winner.

“I think everybody’s angry at him because he’s so good,” Rask said. “You guys know him almost as well as I do. He doesn’t give a’€¦ shoot about that stuff. It doesn’t bother him at all.”

Read More: 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, Barack Obama, Tim Thomas, Tuukka Rask

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