|Bruins try to stay positive after blowing series lead vs. Maple Leafs||05.13.13 at 12:33 am ET|
TORONTO — Here comes Game 7.
With all the things that can be said about this Bruins team after blowing a 3-1 lead — that this is typical of a team that lost nine games that it led in the third period in the regular season, that the B’s are pulling a 2010, etc. — the Bruins are trying to think about none of them. If they’re going to be embarrassed that they let the Leafs come back in this series, they can do it later. First they have a game to win.
“Being frustrated right now is not going to help,” Patrice Bergeron said after the Maple Leafs’ 2-1 win in Game 6. “It’s about being determined, finding ways to put it in. It’s all about [Game 7] now.”
The Maple Leafs have momentum, and while both teams have goalies who have played exceptional, the Bruins have made more mistakes and the Maple Leafs have made them pay. Claude Julien summed it up pretty well in his five-question postgame press conference Sunday.
“We are the team that should have prevailed in this series in everybody’s eyes, but they’ve played well and we haven’t played well enough,” he said. “It’s as simple as that, and that’s why it’s a 3-3 series right now.”
The Bruins put on their best “We’re not frustrated” faces after Game 6, but they should be frustrated. This should have been a five-game series, but the B’s came out flat and lost Game 5 and then had to play without Andrew Ference in a Game 6 that they shouldn’t have had to play. Now, they have one game to save their season.
“We’ve always said they were a good team. We never said it was going to be an easy series, so here we are now,” Bergeron said. “It’s all about one game, and whatever happened in the first six games doesn’t really matter. It’s about us showing up.”
|Leafs force Game 7 with dramatic win over Bruins||05.12.13 at 10:37 pm ET|
TORONTO — It isn’t about eliminating the Leafs any more than it is staying alive now for the Bruins, as Toronto handed them a 2-1 loss in Game 6 Sunday to force a winner-take-all Game 7.
The Bruins, who had a 3-1 series lead, could not get to James Reimer again, as the Toronto goalie allowed just one goal for the second straight game, with the one Boston goal not coming until the final 30 seconds of the game on a Milan Lucic tally.
After the teams skated to a scoreless first two periods, Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf tipped a Nazem Kadri shot past Tuukka Rask at 1:48 of the third period to give the Leafs the lead. Phil Kessel later beat Tyler Seguin to a rebound to extend the lead to two goals, which was too much for the Bruins to overcome given the performance of Reimer.
Game 7 will be played Monday at TD Garden, with the winner facing the victor of the Capitals-Rangers series, which also is tied at three games apiece.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
• Any hockey fan had to smirk at the sound of the “Thank You, Seguin” chants that rang throughout Air Canada Centre following the Kessel goal. With another night without a point, Seguin has now put up a goose egg through the first six games of the playoffs while Kessel has three goals and one assist for four points. Seguin needs to rise to the occasion.
• David Krejci had a rough go of it on the shift on which Phaneuf scored. A botched drop-pass in the Toronto zone left the B’s behind as the Leafs took the puck the other way. Furthermore, Krejci was gliding back into the zone and let Kadri get the shot off. Had he been hustling, Krejci likely could have broken up the play by knocking the puck away.
• The Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Tyler Seguin line had no shots on goal in the first period, with Seguin missing the net on a 3-on-2. Bergeron had a shot on goal late in the first, but it came on the power play and not with his line. Marchand played just 3:49 in the first and registered his first shot on goal in two games late in the second period.
The line came to life early in the second period and had a number of scoring chances, including on one shift in which Bergeron followed a Seguin bid by trying for a wraparound and being stopped by Reimer. On that same shift, a Bergeron slap shot yielded a rebound with lots of open net, but Marchand was battling in front and didn’t see it.
• With Andrew Ference out, Claude Julien inserted Dougie Hamilton into the lineup and broke up the Zdeno Chara-Dennis Seidenberg pairing in order to have a lefty and righty on each pairing. There was a lot of mixing and matching done on the blue line for the B’s, but Hamilton was used less as the game went on. After playing 4:49 on six shifts in the first period, Hamilton was given only three shifts for 1:31 in the second.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
• For the third straight game, Rask showed up big. Rask made a glove save on a Phaneuf slap shot in the final seconds of the second period to keep it scoreless after shining late in Game 4 and through Game 5. Yes, the Bruins gave up a big series lead against the Leafs, but don’t think this is 2010 all over again for Rask. He’s been one of the B’s most consistent players. The same can’t be said for a lot of guys on this team right now.
|Bruins don’t believe in momentum||05.12.13 at 2:02 pm ET|
TORONTO — Momentum is mass times velocity. The Bruins believe that’s all it is.
With the Maple Leafs having forced Game 6 but the Bruins playing a strong third period in their Game 5 loss, one question that came up a bit from the Toronto media Sunday was which team has the momentum in the series, and how big a factor it is.
“I don’t know if there is such a thing, honestly,” Claude Julien said after Sunday’s morning skate. “When you’re in the playoffs, whether you win or lose, you turn the page and [focus on] the next game. As a losing team, you have to bounce back. As a winning team, you’re trying to keep that momentum but you know that there’s going to be some desperation from the losing team.”
Julien made the point that if momentum was as big a factor as people like to believe, you’d see sweeps after one team won a game, but that there was only one sweep in the first round (San Jose over Vancouver) in the first round.
While momentum can definitely be played up a bit too much, it’s still a factor and something the Bruins could give the Leafs if they don’t end the series Sunday. A Game 6 win would give the Leafs two straight wins and a whole lot of confidence that was built with their backs against the wall.
Yet the B’s don’t want to acknowledge it as such. While they can’t explain why they came out flat in Game 5 against the Leafs, they don’t think either team wouldn’t have reason to come out as hard as they can in Game 6. They view a win as a win and a loss as a loss, and every playoff game as one worth showing up for.
“To me, the next game is the next game,” Chris Kelly said. “Momentum, a lot of times, is just a word. It depends on who’s playing their game that given night.”
|Left out: Aaron Johnson making best of tough situation||05.12.13 at 1:36 pm ET|
TORONTO — Hey, remember Aaron Johnson?
With the Bruins definitely without one lefty defenseman in Andrew Ference in Game 6 and potentially without another in Wade Redden, the left-shooting Johnson — on paper — would appear to be a logical option for Claude Julien. Johnson’s been skating with the team regularly as he waits for his opportunity, though it’s one that won’t likely come.
Said Johnson Sunday: “I have been skating every day and playing every day and doing whatever possible, other than playing in game situations.”
And that’s the conundrum. It’s been a whole lot of “other than playing in game situations” for Johnson, as the last time he played in a game was on March 30. The Bruins wanted to send him to Providence late in the season in order to get him into some games, but they weren’t able to send him down for a conditioning assignment without having to put him through the waiver process.
Now that they could use him, that lack of game action makes him borderline untouchable (unless as a last resort) in the playoffs, as the Bruins simply can’t trust someone who’s played so little in such a key spot.
“It’s been tough for Aaron,” Julien said. “For me, it’s about what players are allowed and not allowed to do. We would have loved to give him an opportunity to play and play in Providence, but the CBA doesn’t allow it, and it’s kind of played against him and right now we have a player that hasn’t played in a long time. It’s tough for him.”
With Matt Bartkowski figuring to play in place of the injured Ference, the Bruins would be left with Johnson and Dougie Hamilton as potential replacements for Redden if the veteran blueliner (termed a game-time decision by Julien) can’t go.
In that case, the right-shooting Hamilton would get the call over Johnson based on the fact that he’s sharper. Hamilton played more regular-season games and has gotten into one playoff game already, though Game 2 created issues that would likely arise again if the rookie plays Sunday.
Because Hamilton would be replacing a left-shot, the Bruins would need to take Dennis Seidenberg off the top pairing to give them another left-side defenseman. That didn’t work out in Game 2, when the B’s played their defensive game of the series and Seidenberg was on the ice for three goals against. Playing Johnson would avoid having to break up that shutdown pairing, but it would also bring too much uncertainty to such an important game.
Johnson, who understands his situation but hasn’t moaned about it, stayed out longer for the morning skate with the rest of the healthy scratches Sunday. He knows that Sunday would have been a potential opportunity for him to play, but that his lack of games (12 in the regular season between Boston and Providence and none in over a month) makes his chances remote. If he does get the call, he’s certain that rust won’t be a factor.
“I think it’s just a matter for myself, staying ready, if that call does come to just play my game,” Johnson said. “I mean, I’ve played this game for a long time now, 10 years professionally. There’s no secret recipe. You just kind of go out and play your game. Obviously it will be a little faster in [the postseason], but I think when that happens, you just try to keep it simple.”
|Andrew Ference out for Game 6||05.12.13 at 1:04 pm ET|
TORONTO – Andrew Ference did not travel to Toronto is out for Game 6 against the Maple Leafs with an undisclosed injury, Claude Julien said following the team’s morning skate Sunday at Air Canada Centre.
Wade Redden, who missed Game 5 due to injury but practiced Saturday, was on the ice for Sunday’s morning skate and is a game-time decision for Game 6.
The injury statuses of Ference and Redden leave the Bruins in a tight spot, as both players are left-handed shots. Matt Bartkowski should be expected to play in place of Ference, but if Redden is out the Bruins will have to choose between Dougie Hamilton (a righty) and Aaron Johnson (a lefty who hasn’t played since March 30). Putting Hamilton into the lineup in place of a lefty in Ference proved troublesome in Game 2, as the B’s had to break up the Zdeno Chara-Dennis Seidenberg (both lefties) pairing in order to avoid playing Hamilton in an unfamiliar spot.
If Redden is able to play, it’s likely he would skate with Johnny Boychuk on Boston’s second pairing, while Bartkowski would man the left side of the third pairing with Adam McQuaid. If Hamilton has to play, the B’s will not only have to break up the top pairing but also have two inexperienced youngsters on their back end.
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|How Bruins can finally finish their series against Maple Leafs||05.12.13 at 12:05 am ET|
TORONTO — The Bruins weren’t supposed to let it get this far, but they did.
With the series back in Toronto, the Maple Leafs can force a winner-take-all Game 7 with a win Sunday night at Air Canada Centre. Here are six things the Bruins can do in Game 6 to prevent that from happening:
Match Toronto’s intensity with a fast start
The Bruins knew the Leafs were going to be desperate in Game 5, but they chose not to match their energy early on.
Though the Leafs are the only team that actually face elimination, the Bruins should have every reason to be desperate. The chunk of extra days rest they would have gotten went out the window Friday night, but now it’s about not getting to a Game 7.
Are the Bruins the better team? Yes. Have both of their losses this series come because of things they did? Yes. However, anything can happen in a Game 7, so they should be as frantic at puck drop Sunday night as they were in the last 15 minutes Friday.
Get the Bergeron line going
Paging Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin.
Marchand and Seguin were the Bruins’ top two goal-scorers with 18 and 16 goals, respectively, in the regular season. Through five games, they have combined for zero goals this postseason.
Seguin has gotten the most flak for not showing up in the playoffs, but don’t let Marchand off the hook. Bergeron (one power play goal) should almost always be exempt from criticism because of his defensive contributions, but even he needs to step up his game.
Through five games, the line has been on the ice for just one Bruins goal (Johnny Boychuk’s goal in Game 2). That needs to change fast.
Get the same Tuukka Rask they got in Game 5
The good thing about Game 5 was that Tuukka Rask showed he can handle having everything thrown at him.
Rask stopped all 19 shots he saw in the first period Friday, and that followed two games in Toronto in which he saw a total of 95 shots. Rask has always said he’s felt more comfortable when he’s seen a lot of shots, and he can expect a lot more Sunday.
Go Krejci one more time
So much for all of those questions about David Krejci’s first-round struggles.
After totaling four points (one goal and three assists) in the first round of the last two postseasons (14 games), Krejci has led the Bruins with 5 goals and 11 points. He has at least a point in every game this postseason, a streak the Bruins would like to see kept alive.
A few things have been established in this round, and one of them is that when the Krejci line is going at full capacity, there’s nothing the Leafs can do about it. As Rask said after Game 4, Krejci can do whatever he wants when he’s playing like he did in Game 4.
Avoid the defensive mistakes
What do both of the Bruins’ losses this round have in common (besides the fact that they came at home)? Both of them came as a result of defensive issues. In Game 2, the B’s allowed too many odd-man rushes and Dennis Seidenberg found himself on the ice for three Toronto goals when separated from Zdeno Chara due to the Andrew Ference suspension.
Game 5 saw Ference mishandle a puck that led to a shorthanded goal for the Leafs, with Toronto getting its other goal when a missed connection between Johnny Boychuk and Nathan Horton gave Clarke MacArthur a partial breakaway.
When the B’s have been defensively sound, they’ve won. The Chara-Seidenberg pairing is stable as a table, and it will need to shut down Phil Kessel once more.
Get to James Reimer
If the rebounds are there on Sunday, the Bruins need to get to them. Even on nights when Reimer has shined, he hasn’t held on to too many pucks, and too often the B’s haven’t gotten to them.
Reimer should undoubtedly be feeling more confident after Game 5, as he stole the show in the second period with 17 saves, including a Tim Thomas-esque stop on Bergeron. The Maple Leafs aren’t a particularly strong defensive team, however, and they’re playing without Mark Fraser, who was hit in the face by a Milan Lucic slapshot in Game 4.
If the B’s have their top three lines going Sunday, they could make it a tough night for Reimer. Krejci’s line has been there and Chris Kelly’s line played better in Game 5, but they still need a more balanced effort. Offensive depth wore down opposing defenses and goalies two years ago. They have the talent to do it again, but they just need the production.
|Maple Leafs stay alive, force Game 6 vs. Bruins||05.10.13 at 9:43 pm ET|
The Maple Leafs gave it all they had for the second straight game, and it was enough to keep them alive Friday at TD Garden with a 2-1 win over the Bruins that forced a Game 6 Sunday in Toronto.
After a scoreless first period that was heavily Toronto-dominated, the Maple Leafs got a shorthanded goal from Tyler Bozak in the second period and an even strength tally from Clark MacArthur 1:58 into the seconds. Both Toronto goals came off Bruins turnovers, the first of which came from Andrew Ference on the power play and the other of which came when Nathan Horton didn’t hustle to a pass from Johnny Boychuk in the neutral zone. Zdeno Chara scored on a wrist shot with 8:48 to play, but it wasn’t enough as James Reimer held the fort.
The Bruins caught a break late in the one-goal game when Bozak took a delay of game penalty for flipping the puck over the glass in the defensive zone with 3:48 left, but they were unable to score on the power play.
With the series now 3-2 in Boston’s favor, the teams will head to Toronto and play Game 6 of the series at Air Canada Centre.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- After Rask had to shine in the first to keep it a one-goal game, Reimer came up huge multiple times for the Leafs, with his biggest save occurring shortly before van Riemsdyk’s penalty, when Patrice Bergeron had half the net to shoot at and Reimer getting his right leg on it to keep the game tied. That save went a long way, as the Leafs took the lead shortly after.
- The absence of Wade Redden was felt more than expect. Andrew Ference was on the point on the power play in place of the injured Redden and committed the turnover that led to Bozak’s breakaway goal. That just goes to show you that any loss — even a third-pairing defenseman — can be a big one.
- The Bruins won 12 of 15 faceoffs in the first period, yet the Leafs completely carried the play. The reason the Bruins pride themselves on having good faceoff guys — and the reason the Leafs made such a big stink when they were losing them — is because starting with the puck is an important facet. Despite the Bruins’ big faceoff advantage in the first, they were outshot, 19-8.
- Five games into the series and the Patrice Bergeron line has yet to score a goal. The line’s been active in some games and was on the ice for Johnny Boychuk’s Game 2 goal, but the second line needs to be a source of more offense for Boston. THe trio had their chances Friday, with Seguin and Bergeron finishing with five shots on goal. Brad Marchand, however, had none.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- David Krejci continued his impressive pace by picking up the primary assist on Chara’s goal. Krejci now has five goals and six assists for 11 points and leads the playoffs in both goals and points.
- Tuukka Rask stood on his head for the B’s and he had to in the first period. Much of the first period was spent in Boston’s zone, with Rask needing to come up with save after save, the biggest of which came Mikhail Grabovski with the B’s shorthanded. Rask stopped 31 of the 33 shots he faced, and Bozak’s goal came on the breakaway.
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