|Phil Kessel told Brad Marchand he’d fight him ‘any time’||05.07.13 at 3:22 pm ET|
TORONTO – Brad Marchand dropped one glove when he was tied up with Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel in the third period of Boston’s 5-2 Game 3 win, and he said Tuesday that he it was to gauge whether Kessel would stick to his word.
“We kind of came together there and I wasn’t really sure what was going on,” Marchand explained. “He was shoving and he told me before he’d go with me any time, so I wasn’t really sure what was going to happen, but I just wanted to be prepared.”
Kessel has one career fight in the NHL, which came against Columbus’ Kris Russell during the 2009-10 season. Marchand has four in his career, with his lone fight this season coming against Washington’s Mike Ribeiro.
Asked Tuesday about the scuffle, which landed both players in the box in an exchange the B’s would gladly take, Kessel said he doesn’t feel Marchand is getting him off his game or drawing him into anything that would put the Leafs in a tight spot.
“I don’t think it’s a big deal,” Kessel said, adding: “It’s just battling hard out there, and it gets heated.”
Added Kessel: “I mean, he’s a good hockey player and he battles hard out there.”
The good news for Kessel is that he’s finally finding some offensive success against the Bruins. After scoring just three goals in his first 22 career games against his former club, Kessel has two goals in three games this series. If he’s happy about that, he sure isn’t showing it.
“It doesn’t really matter when you’re not winning games,” Kessel said. “Obviously last night we didn’t win, and we’re going to have to come out harder Wednesday.”
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|Finishing touch: How Daniel Paille has become a more dangerous penalty-killer||05.06.13 at 11:25 pm ET|
TORONTO — There have been few better stories with this Bruins team than Daniel Paille, a former first-round pick (and one of the nicer guys in the game) who never became a big star, carving out an important role with Boston. It isn’t glamorous, but Paille has a job as a fourth line left winger and penalty-killer, and he does it exceptionally.
Paille had his best campaign with the Bruins in the regular season, scoring 10 goals — two of which were shorthanded — and adding seven assists for 17 points. That point total is two less than his previous Boston best set in 2009-10, but he did it in 28 less games.
The Bruins value their penalty-killers, but Paille, like Brad Marchand, is more than a penalty-killer. His ability to create shorthanded scoring opportunities semi-regularly can be a game-changer, and he proved it once again on Monday when he intercepted a Phil Kessel pass intended for Dion Phaneuf and raced to the net before beating James Reimer with a backhander to make it a 4-1 game.
It’s easy to see why Paille is capable of creating as many scoring opportunities on the penalty kill — he’s smart and he’s fast — but this season it seems that he’s done had more chances on the PK than ever before.
“I think I’m a lot more confident with the puck in knowing what I need to do on breakaways and trying to find out certain weaknesses,” Paille said. “I like when there’s pressure on me and then I’m not thinking about it. It makes it a lot easier for me to just react instead of think.”
As for the issue of finishing, which has plagued him throughout his career, Paille said that taking a calmer approach has allowed him to capitalize once he does have a scoring opportunities. He remembers trying to shoot as hard as he could in the past, but now he focus on placement above all else. That was apparent on his backhander to beat Reimer in the second.
Zdeno Chara praised Paille’s positioning and use of his speed in noting what makes the 29-year-old such a threat on the penalty kill. You can’t count out Paille’s smarts either.
“I just try to read plays at the same time,” Paille said. “Honestly, I try not to over-commit, but at the same time I want to have my stick there where they can’t pass it. In that situation I was able to get a piece of it and it stopped dead for me. That’s where I have to use my speed to get ahead of the other guy.”
|Big night from top line helps Bruins past Maple Leafs in Game 3||05.06.13 at 9:49 pm ET|
TORONTO — The Air Canada Centre crowd didn’t have as much energy as was expected Monday night — and neither did the Maple Leafs — as the B’s beat Toronto, 5-2, in Game 3 to take a 2-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
Adam McQuaid got the Bruins on the board at 13:42 of the first period with a slap shot from the point, giving the Bruins four goals from defensemen this series. The Bruins expanded their lead when Rich Peverley scored the third line’s first goal of the series in the second to make it 2-0 after a nice steal by Jaromir Jagr, but a Jake Gardiner power-play goal following a Tyler Seguin tripping penalty brought the Leafs to within one.
Nathan Horton scored his third goal in as many games, and Daniel Paille scored a shorthanded breakaway goal to make it 4-1. Phil Kessel scored his second goal of the postseason to make it a two-goal game, but Tuukka Rask kept the door closed from there, with David Krejci tallying an empty-netter to finish it off.
The B’s and Leafs will play Game 4 on Wednesday night, with the series returning to Boston on Friday for Game 5.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
• For a line that rightfully was surrounded by questions heading into the postseason, the Bruins’ top line has been very good for the B’s thus far. Krejci’s goal was the seventh goal this series the Krejci line has been on the ice for, and how about this for a stat: Milan Lucic has more points (six) in three postseason games this year than he had over his final 12 games of the regular season.
• Speaking of that line, Horton now has a goal in each game this postseason. In 24 career playoff games, Horton has 11 goals and nine assists for 20 points. It’s safe to say he’s a playoff performer, and safer to say that he’s helping his cause as he nears free agency.
• If the NHL kept track of shorthanded scoring opportunities, you’d probably see Paille’s name near the top of the list. Paille’s smarts and speed make him a huge asset on the penalty kill, and it showed again when he picked off Kessel’s pass and turned it into a breakaway. The issue with Paille has always been finishing, but he finished beautifully with a backhander to beat James Reimer.
|Bruins need more out of Jaromir Jagr, third line||05.06.13 at 1:34 pm ET|
TORONTO — Two years ago, the Bruins’ third line made a big difference in the Eastern Conference finals. After losing the first two games at home, the line of Chris Kelly between Michael Ryder and Rich Peverley made a big difference going forward and played a major role in the B’s getting out of the first round.
This season, the Bruins haven’t had the depth they had the past two years. Though most of the faces on offense have stayed the same, the lack of production from the third line has been glaring practically all season. The trio of Chris Kelly between Chris Bourque and Peverley didn’t work and then Kelly got hurt and missed 14 games in just the second game of the Jordan Caron-Kelly-Peverley experiment. Jaromir Jagr, Kaspars Daugavins, Carl Soderberg and Jay Pandolfo have all seen time on what has been a constantly changing line.
Now, the Peverley-Kelly-Jagr line is hoping to be the one that reverses the fortune of what’s been an unproductive area of Boston’s lineup. Peverley figures to stick on the left wing after being a healthy scratch in favor of Daugavins in Game 1. Through two games, the line has produced no points and eight shots on goal. Jagr is a minus-2, while Kelly is a minus-1 and Peverley has an even rating.
“Obviously it would be nice to have a little more in-zone time, but I think we have done a lot of good things in the first two games,” Kelly said after Monday’s morning skate. “Communication is extremely important, especially moving forward.”
Peverley’s addition was welcomed on Saturday, as he won 10 of 12 faceoffs after Kelly had gone 2-for-9 on draws in Game 1.
Jagr, meanwhile, could be an ace in the hole if he can get going for Boston. The veteran right wing missed the last two games of the season with the flu and said prior to the playoffs that he still wasn’t feeling well.
The 41-year-old was on the ice in Monday’s morning skate, though he spent a lot of time by the bench and was not made available to the media. Claude Julien said Sunday that Jagr still wasn’t at 100 percent, but Kelly still likes what he’s seen thus far from him.
“Jags has been good,” Kelly said. “He’s a big strong guy who makes things happen. I think we could support him a little bit better, especially in the offensive zone. Like I said, communication is key. Holding onto the puck and making the right plays out there will help us generate more offensive chances.”
The B’s can only hope that line generates more chances. The members of the third line scored five goals over Games 3 and 4 against Montreal two years ago, with Michael Ryder scoring the game-winner in overtime of Game 4 to tie the series.
The Bruins won the Stanley Cup because of their offensive depth (and a couple guys named Thomas and Chara), and they’ll need to have it again after going too long without it this season.
|Bruins, Maple Leafs prepare for Game 3||05.06.13 at 1:08 pm ET|
TORONTO — Tuukka Rask and Nathan Horton were the only Bruins not to take the ice in Monday’s morning skate as the B’s prepared for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Maple Leafs.
Boston didn’t do full line rushes and Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic left before most of their teammates, so there were no indications of what Monday’s lineup will be. It’s expected that the forward lines will be the same as they were in Game 2, while the defense should return to Zdeno Chara-Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ference-Johnny Boychuk and Wade Redden-Adam McQuaid with Ference back from a one-game suspension.
Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle declined to share whether he’ll tweak his lineup from Game 2, but based on his team’s offensive success Saturday, it would be surprising if Carlyle made any changes. One thing to keep an eye on is Carlyle uses last change to his advantage in Toronto’s never-ending quest to have Phil Kessel on the ice without Chara. Kessel’s breakaway goal on Saturday — his first even-strength goal against his former club in 24 games — came against the Seidenberg-Boychuk pairing.
|Bruins enter amped atmosphere as Toronto gets playoff hockey back||05.05.13 at 7:49 pm ET|
TORONTO — These Bruins have dealt with a wider variety of atmospheres than any other team. They’ve played playoff games in Montreal, where the Bell Centre has been pretty close to deafening. They’ve played in front of an overly passionate Vancouver crowd with the Stanley Cup on the line. Most notably, they’ve played at TD Garden two days after a terrorist attack on their own city.
Obviously, the first two don’t compare to the third for pretty much every reason you could think of, but the B’s have seen more than their fair share of buzzing barns. They’ll probably be able to add Monday’s scene to the list, as Toronto will host its first playoff game since 2004. With the series tied at a game apiece, the crowd on Monday night will have plenty to be excited about.
The Air Canada Centre opened its doors in 1999, and the Maple Leafs made the playoffs in each of the arena’s first six seasons. Dougie Hamilton was just a kid (or, to put it correctly, a younger kid than he is now).
“I think I remember going to playoff games as a kid and I know the fans are pretty good in Toronto,” Hamilton said. “I’m sure it’ll be a really good atmosphere.”
The Air Canada Centre hasn’t hosted a postseason game since that six-season run, and you can bet that a city that eats, sleeps and breathes hockey (and produces NHL stars aplenty — Hamilton, Tyler Seguin and Nathan Horton are among the big-name Bruins who hail from the area) will be more than up for the game.
More importantly, you can count on the Leafs being up for it. After looking like a team that didn’t know it was in the playoffs in Game 1, the Leafs boasted a more balanced attack (thanks to both altered lines and the Bruins playing a messy defensive game) and, with the exception of a ton of rebounds from James Reimer, looked far more confident in Game 2. Considering they won the game and got big production from its stars in Joffrey Lupul (two goals), Phil Kessel (his first even-strength goal against his former club) and James van Riemsdyk (his second goal in as many games as he continues to establish himself as a big-time playoff performer against the Bruins), they should be feeling good.
“We’ve got the best fans in the National Hockey League, so I’m sure they’ll be excited to cheer loud,” Dion Phaneuf said. “We’re happy with the way that we played [in Game 2], but we’ve got lots of work to do yet.”
So with a buzzing barn and a team coming off a big win to even the series, what can get in the way of Toronto taking a series lead or at least splitting the games at ACC? Two things: The obvious one is a better game from the Bruins, and the other is the play of Reimer. Read the rest of this entry »
|No hearing for Dion Phaneuf regarding hit on Daniel Paille||05.05.13 at 10:54 am ET|
According to multiple reports, there will be no hearing with the league for Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf regarding his high hit on Bruins forward Daniel Paille in the third period of Saturday’s Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
With less than eight minutes to play, Paille played the puck along the boards at center ice before getting hit high by Phaneuf, whose shoulder appeared to cut Paille’s nose. Though the play looked worse at full-speed, replays show that it was not an elbow. Phaneuf was not penalized for the play.
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