|Manny Malhotra mystery might finally end, Dan Hamhuis game-time decision||06.04.11 at 4:22 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — The will-he-or-won’t-he guessing game surrounding the status of Canucks center Manny Malhotra could come to an end Saturday night at Rogers Arena. Malhotra, who has been out since March after taking a puck to the eye in a game against the Avalanche, skated Saturday morning with teammates and said afterwards that his status as it relates to his chances of playing in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals has improved.
“It’s gone from day to day to game-time decision right now,” Malhotra said. “I’m honestly not trying to send you guys on a wild goose chase. That’s just the nature of the situation right now.”
Malhotra, who had 11 goals and 19 assists for 30 points in the regular season, was cleared for contact a week ago but has been in and out of practices. He missed Tuesday’s skate, reportedly due to an eye appointment, but has taken the ice in recent days and said Saturday that he feels comfortable.
“I feel really good,” the center said. “I felt good yesterday skating and felt good this morning. So, again, hopefully I’ll continue throughout the day.”
Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault has given the standard, three-word response of “day-to-day” over the course of the week when asked about Malhotra, and Saturday he had three new words.
Said the coach: “Game-time decision.”
Vigneault said the same of defenseman Dan Hamhuis, who left Game 1 in the second period after hip-checking Milan Lucic and getting cross-checked by David Krejci in succession. If Hamhuis can’t go, former Boston College and Bruins defenseman Andrew Alberts could be in the lineup, with Keith Ballard also an option.
|Claude Julien: Bruins can overcome another defecit||06.04.11 at 3:45 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — The Bruins did not hold a morning skate in anticipation of Saturday’s Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals vs. the Canucks, instead holding media availability at the the team hotel. With the B’s having lost Game 1 for the third time in four playoff series this postseason, coach Claude Julien acknowledged that being in familiar territory makes it easier on the general mindset of the team.
“That’s why we’re going into this game tonight with positive thoughts and positive feelings,” Julien said. “This isn’t unknown territory for us. We’ve been through that, and it doesn’t mean [the wins] happen automatically. We know we have to work through it, but having done it certainly gives you the confidence to go out there and play the type of game that you need to play in order to win. We need to do that tonight.”
The Bruins lost the first two games of the quarterfinals vs. the Canadiens before winning the next three and eventually closing out the Habs in seven games. The B’s dropped the opener of the Eastern Conference finals to the Lightning before winning the next two and taking the series in seven once again.
“We certainly don’t want to go to Boston down two games, and this is a game we feel is an important one for our hockey club,” Julien said. “[We’ve had] two days to talk about it and prepare for it. Now it’s time to show it.”
|Bruins-Canucks Game 2 preview||06.04.11 at 5:12 am ET|
VANCOUVER — They’ve been there before, but the Bruins would really like to avoid a two-game hole.
The B’s will not hold a morning skate Saturday in anticipation of Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals vs. the Canucks, while the Canucks are scheduled to go at Rogers Arena. The Bruins will hold availability at their hotel at about 2:30 EST. Here are two objectives, two stats and two players to keep an eye on in Game 2.
TWO THINGS THE BRUINS NEED TO DO
– Continue to make the special teams a wash. The Bruins may not have been as good on the power play Wednesday as they’ve said they were, but having both teams go 0-for-6 on the man advantage is a tradeoff the Bruins should be more than happy to take. Leaving Zdeno Chara in front of the net is the right move for the Bruins, even if it isn’t paying off just yet.
– Get better chances against Roberto Luongo. The shutout for Luongo in Game 1 was much like Tim Thomas‘ shutout in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals, only Luongo faced more shots. Though the Bruins got 36 shots on Luongo, the opportunities came far less often than the shots. As Milan Lucic noted Friday, the Bruins have to get in closer and be persistent in front.
– Luongo also had Game 1 shutouts in the first and third rounds, as he blanked the Blackhawks and Predators to kick off those series. In the games that followed, Luongo allowed multiple goals. He let in three in Game 2 vs. the Blackhawks and two against the Predators, though the latter came in double overtime.
– This one has made the rounds the last couple of days, but the fact that Johnny Boychuk has been on the ice for the Bruins’ last seven goals against makes for a streak No. 55 would probably like to see end.
TWO PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON
– Henrik Sedin. It was Daniel Sedin who turned in the standout performance Wednesday among the twin brothers, with Henrik doing little of note. Henrik didn’t have a shot on goal (Daniel had eight), and he didn’t even fire a shot all night. The Canucks’ frist-line center also went 8-for-25 in the face-off circle and had a giveaway.
– Tim Thomas. It’s been up to the Vezina favorite to keep the Bruins in the last two games, and though he’s only allowed one goal over that stretch, he only has one win for it. The B’s need Thomas to remain as sharp as he’s been, but it would be nice if the Bruins’ goal-scoring department gave him some support.
|More memorable moments from Tyler Seguin would be big for Bruins||06.03.11 at 9:16 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — Bruins rookie forward Tyler Seguin has obviously had an up-and-down rookie year. Though it’s easy to get hypnotized by his skill given his age, the learning process has not always been easy for Seguin. He was a healthy scratch for seven games in the regular season, as well as in the team’s first 11 games of the postseason. In most instances, it was warranted.
When Patrice Bergeron‘s concussion opened up a spot in the lineup, Seguin showed at points of the first three games of the Eastern Conference Finals just why having him on the ice can pay off. Seguin was flashy, smart and even more mature at the same time.
On Friday, the 19-year-old was asked at the University of British Columbia if he recalled a “welcome to the NHL” moment in his rookie campaign.
“Umm,” Seguin said as he thought about it. “I’ve heard before that people have had their one thing that [got their attention]. I had a ‘welcome to the playoffs’ moment.”
No, that moment was not on his first-period goal against the Lightning in Game 1 in which he embarrassed Michael Lundin at the blue line. The moment came before that.
“My second shift, where Tampa scored two goals on my line, that was kind of my ‘welcome to the playoffs,'” Seguin said. “It wasn’t a good welcome, but luckily on my third shift, I scored one.”
Seguin did score one, and he scored two more in the second period of Game 2. In Game 3, he executed a smart play by holding onto the puck and drawing two defenders over to him before sending the puck deep on a play that resulted in an Andrew Ference goal.
Yet since then, it’s been quiet for Seguin. Considering he didn’t get an assist on the aforementioned Ference goal, the rookie has gone six straight games without a point, and he hardly did anything Wednesday to provide a ‘welcome to the Stanley Cup finals’ moment.
Seguin, skating on his normal line with Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder, logged 6:21 in ice time, his lowest total this postseason and second-lowest total since coming to the NHL. He played 6:16 on February 26th, which coincidentally (or not) was also against the Canucks. Seguin did not register a shot on goal in Game 1 Wednesday.
“There’s a lot of guys that have gone scoreless in those six games as well,” coach Claude Julien said Friday when asked about Seguin. “As I mentioned earlier, he’s 19 years old. We don’t expect him to carry our team on his back.
“After the first two games in Tampa, they certainly were respectful of him a lot more than they were in the first two, they realized the damage he could make. Good players have to find ways to fight through that. This is the opportunity that Tyler has to gain even more experience in regards to that.”
The potential reward for the Bruins of having Seguin in the lineup is tremendous, and other teams are realizing it as they try to limit the rookie’s chances. It’s been a memorable and, at times, chaotic season for Seguin, and with the team trying to win the Stanley Cup, a few more good memories would be a good thing for everybody.
|Dennis Seidenberg doesn’t feel disrespected by Dirk Nowitzki, hopes to be second German to win Cup||06.03.11 at 8:35 pm ET|
VANCOUVER ‘ The Bruins and Canucks were scoreless during Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals when an interesting video was played on the video board at Rogers Arena. It was Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki, who had two messages, the first of which was ‘Go Canucks.’ From there, he gave a shout-out to defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, whom he called ‘my boy ‘Hoff.’
The connection was easy to make right off the bat. Both Nowitzki and Ehrhoff hail from Germany, and with both playing in the finals of their respective sports, it is an exciting time. Yet in endorsing one side of this matchup, Nowitzki may have slighted another German player in Bruins’ defenseman Dennis Seidenberg.
‘I talked to a German reporter, I talked to Dirk,’ Seidenberg said Friday at the University of Vancouver. ‘The Dallas Mavericks’ trainer is either a Vancouver fan or from Vancouver, I’m not sure. He always keeps him up to date, tells him stories. I guess that’s the reason he’s cheering for them.’
If Nowitzki is a fan of German hockey players, he’s in a win-win scenario. Because both Ehrhoff and Seidenberg are in the series, one will become the second German player in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup. Prior to this series, only defenseman Uwe Krupp has won the Cup, which he did in 1996 as a member of the Avalanche. In that series, Krupp scored the Cup-clinching goal in triple overtime of Game 4 against the Panthers.
‘There’s going to be a second German Stanley Cup champion after Uwe Krupp,’ Ehrhoff said with a smile earlier this week. ‘That’s definitely very special for German hockey. Hopefully it’s going to be me.’
Ehrhoff and Seidenberg know both each other and Krupp very well. The two have played together on national teams since they were 17, and they were defensive partners in the Olympics last year under Krupp, the head coach of the national team.
Seidenberg said Krupp had wished him and Ehrhoff luck prior to the series. No. 44 has been perhaps the Bruins’ best defenseman throughout the playoffs, though it would take a lot for him to be able to top Krupp’s game-winner against John Vanbiesbrouck. Seidenberg remembers when Krupp became the first German player to win the Cup, even if he didn’t catch it live.
‘I was sleeping, but I watched it the next day, and I remember histshot from the point,’ Seidenberg said with a laugh. ‘I remember the goal. It was pretty big back then, so it was exciting.’
Though Ehrhoff and Seidenberg haven’t been in much contact with one another as they battle for the Stanley Cup, they are close with one another and have tried to see one another for dinner or coffee when their teams have met in past regular seasons.
‘We’ve known each other since the Under-18 national team,’ Ehrhoff said. ‘We like each other, we understand each other well off the ice, but right now we’re not really talking. It has to wait until after.’
Both players noted that there is a heightened interest in North American sports in Germany at the moment given that Nowitzki, Seidenberg and Ehrhoff all have a shot at a title. Ehrhoff said he’s spent plenty of time in interviews with radio stations back in Germany, and relatives of both defenseman have travelled or will travel to see it in person.
Either way, Germany will get its second Stanley Cup champion, but don’t expect either player to be happy with seeing the other guy do it.
|Only one game? Bruins’ first-liners feel slighted||06.03.11 at 7:22 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — The Bruins are three days into the Stanley Cup finals, and they’re already sick of the way it’s being perceived.
After losing Game 1 in a contest that was scoreless for all but 18.5 seconds, a couple of members of the Bruins’ first line made it clear Friday at the University of British Columbia that the press might not be giving them a fair enough shake.
“You know, it’s clear that you guys aren’t giving us much of a chance,” Milan Lucic said. “We’ve just got to do whatever we can to prove people wrong.”
The B’s top line has played against the Canucks’ second line of Ryan Kesler between Mason Raymond and Christopher Higgins. How the Bruins will deal with Kesler, a 41-goal-scorer in the regular season, has been a popular topic in the series. The series may be young, but Krejci is already sick of hearing about Kesler.
“He’s the best player in the world, right? That’s what it looks like,” Krejci said when asked about playing against Kesler. “That’s why everybody’s asking me about him. It’s not about him. Obviously, he’s a great player. He’s a really good player, but my game is to focus on my game and what I have to do, and not about other guys.”
Kesler poked a puck past Johnny Boychuk at the blue line Wednesday and hit Jannik Hansen with a pass, who then set up an easy Raffi Torres goal with Tim Thomas respecting Hansen’s shot. Krejci noted that for all the attention the second line receives, Kesler was playing with third-liners (the team was in the midst of a line change) on the game-winning goal, and that it was a closer game than he feels people are remembering.
“It was a zero-zero game all the way,” Krejci said. “You guys are making such a big deal that we lost. I mean, it could have gone either way. His line, I know he got an apple, but he was with the two other guys from another line.”
Krejci and Nathan Horton each had five shots on goal in Game 1, which tied for tops on the Bruins. Many of those shots came on the power play, but the play of the line in general was a strong point for the B’s on a night in which nobody could beat Roberto Luongo.
“It’s still good,” Krejci said. “We’d like to have over 10 shots every game, but I feel like we can maybe bring a little more to our game, especially create some chances. I don’t think we had that many great scoring chances the last game.”
Due to concerts at Rogers Arena, the home of the Canucks, the teams have had to deal with a two-day gap between Games 1 and 2. Lucic noted that he’s blocked out any chatter in that time and is focused on giving the media something positive to talk about after Saturday’s Game 2.
“Obviously we can’t control what you guys say,” Lucic said. “That’s why we try not to watch or read too much of what you guys say. For us, it’s definitely a big opportunity going into Game 2. We know we have to play better. We need to play better. We need to play the way we did prior coming into this series to give ourselves a chance to win.
“They finished first in the league, in the standings, for a reason,” he said of the Canucks. “They beat the three teams before us to get here for a reason. They’re a really good team. They beat us in Game 1 because they played better than us.”
Whether or not the media has actually been hard on the B’s, it looks like the two days off have the Bruins itching to get back on the ice in Game 2 and show that they can hang with the Canucks. For 49 minutes and just over 17 seconds, they did on Wednesday.
|All present for Bruins practice in Vancouver||06.03.11 at 4:49 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — The Bruins took the ice Friday at the University of British Columbia after not holding a regular practice on Thursday. All players were accounted for, with the exception of third goaltender Anton Khudobin. The lines looked the same as they have in previous practices, with Rich Peverley the fourth man in a gold, second-line sweater.
For now, it doesn’t look like there will be any lineup changes for Game 2, so expect Peverley to play on the fourth line and float in and out of the second line with Thornton the healthy scratch.