|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.
|Now that he’s actually in Boston, Matt Bartkowski ready to contribute||05.10.13 at 1:40 pm ET|
Matt Bartkowski knew there was a possibility he’d be able to join the Bruins during the playoffs at some point, but he was a little confused when he was first rumored to get the call.
When Andrew Ference was suspended for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Maple Leafs, Claude Julien told reporters the day of that game that Bartkowski was a possibility to replace him in Boston’s lineup.
There was just one issue, though. Bartkowski wasn’t on the team. He hadn’t been called up and he was in Hershey with the Providence Bruins for their playoff series, yet reporters unaware of the situation went with it and wrote that Bartkowski might be in Saturday’s game.
“A couple of guys on the team told me that, and I was just kind of wondering, like ‘Well, I’m sitting here in Hershey. Can I just jump on a horse and ride over?’” Bartkowski recalled Friday with a laugh. “It was kind of funny.”
Indeed, no arrangements were made to zip Bartkowski to Boston, and he stayed with Providence through their first-round series win over Hershey. He was preparing for the second round against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton when the Bruins recalled him Thursday night. With Wade Redden ruled out for Game 5 of the Bruins’ series against the Leafs, Bartkowski is likely to step into the lineup.
While fans may clamor for Dougie Hamilton‘s services rather than Bartkowski’s, Bartkowski is the better fit because the B’s need to replace a left-side defenseman in Redden, and Bartkowski is a lefty. When the Bruins put Hamilton, a righty, in place of the left-shooting Ference in Game 2, they had to break up their top pairing of Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg in order to move Seidenberg to the left side. Not only was that a lot of work, but they lost the game due to shaky defensive play. With Bartkowski, the B’s can just slide him onto the third pairing in place of Redden, just as they did in Friday’s morning skate by pairing the 24-year-old with Adam McQuaid.
Bartkowski was sent down late in the season because the Bruins had extra defensemen but couldn’t send Aaron Johnson down to Providence without him having to clear waivers. Given that, they sent Bartkowski down to get more game experience, and he picked up five points (all assists) in the five-game series against Hershey.
His play at both the AHL and NHL levels has Bartkowski feeling more confident this season than in past campaigns. He admitted earlier in the season that he was too afraid of making mistakes in his Boston stints the last two seasons (nine total games), but that this season and his first professional playoff experience has prepared him for this challenge.
“Now I know how to play and I know I can play my game at this level,” Bartkowsi said. “Then playing playoff hockey down there — because all in all, it’s the same, playoff hockey, anywhere. It’s just different speed, size and pace.”
|James van Riemsdyk hopes to be part of another big comeback vs. Bruins||05.10.13 at 1:07 pm ET|
Though the Maple Leafs are in their first postseason in eight seasons, they are at least a little prepared for the daunting task they face entering Game 5 of their series against the Bruins thanks to one player who is proof that series aren’t over until a team wins four games.
James van Riemsdyk has been in a 3-1 hole against the Bruins before. He’s also been in a 3-0 hole against them, and, two games later, a 3-2 hole. He’s been in a series that was tied, 3-3, against the Bruins, and he’s helped put them away in Game 7.
With the Leafs facing elimination on Friday night at TD Garden, van Riemsdyk is using his 2010 postseason experience with the Flyers as he and his team try to come back in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the B’s.
“You’ve just got to not look at the whole task as getting back to that point,” van Riemsdyk said Friday. “You’ve just got to take it one game at a time and just kind of start chipping away. We know, obviously, it’s not an ideal position we’re in, but you’ve got to take it one game at a time. You win one game and you never know what can happen.”
Folks around these parts know what happened back in the 2010 Eastern Conference semifinals. As a rookie, van Riemsdyk scored the Flyers’ first goal of Game 7 after Boston jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period. The Flyers came back in that game, just as they had in the series, and eliminated the B’s in shocking fashion.
Now, three years, a Bruins Stanley Cup run in which the B’s swept the Flyers, and one trade later, the now-24-year-old Maple Leafs winger recalls being the rookie on a team that believed it could come back in a series that looked all but over. He remembered the players buying into the concept of only looking at what was directly in front of them, and not farther ahead of them. They broke their task into shifts rather than games or pages of history books.
“You can kind of psyche yourself out a bit if you worry too much about being down 3-1 vs. just focusing on, ‘We need to win a hockey game,’ ” van Riemsdyk said.
The Bruins have had a hard time finishing teams off when the pressure hasn’t been at its greatest. Under Claude Julien, the B’s are 3-6 when they can eliminate a team in a non-Game 7 situation. Going back to that 2010 season, the B’s had three chances against the Flyers and lost all three. The next year, they had 3-2 leads against both the Canadiens and Lightning and lost Game 6, though they swept the Flyers and came back to force Game 7 against the Canucks. They hope this series doesn’t last any longer than it has to for them.
“We’ve learned both sides of the coin,” Andrew Ference said. “When you don’t close out a series and give a team life, it can be a pretty dangerous fire to play with.
“It gets tossed around a lot that the fourth win’s the hardest, but I don’t think it’s any harder than the first, second or third. Every win is tough. In the playoffs, the victories are earned. There’s no freebies.”
Despite the score of the series and the fact that three of the first four games were determined by two or more goals, the games have been played tighter than many expected. There’s a reason that Game 4 went down to the wire when both teams were playing strong, fast-paced hockey. The Leafs, who many wrote off entering the postseason, believe they can hang with the Bruins.
“We’ve responded to adversity pretty well throughout the whole season, so that’s what we’re going to continue to do,” van Riemsdyk said. “We’ll find out a lot about our team by our effort tonight.”
|Wade Redden out for Game 5||05.10.13 at 10:54 am ET|
Wade Redden will not Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Maple Leafs, Claude Julien said after Redden missed Friday’s morning skate. Julien said that Redden is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury.
With Redden missing, Matt Bartkowski skated with Adam McQuaid on the Bruins’ third pairing. Julien said that the team will decide between Bartkowski and Dougie Hamilton when determining who will jump into the lineup in place of Redden, but reading between the lines, the team’s defensive issues when putting a right-shot D (Hamilton) in for a left-shot D (the suspended Andrew Ference) and the trickle-down effect of having to reshuffle the defensive pairings should make Bartkowski, a lefty, the front-runner.
With Ference suspended in the second game of the series, putting Hamilton in meant breaking up the Zdeno Chara-Dennis Seidenberg pairing so Seidenberg could replace Ference on the left side. The results were very shaky, with Seidenberg on the ice for three of the Maple Leafs’ four goals. Inserting Bartkowski in on the third pairing means that just the third pairing is changed rather than all three.
Redden did not appear to suffer an injury in Game 4, taking regular shifts until the end of the game. His last shift ended 10:17 into overtime.
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
|David Krejci’s hat trick puts Leafs on brink of elimination||05.08.13 at 10:25 pm ET|
TORONTO — David Krejci scored the third goal of a hat trick at 13:06 of overtime to give the Bruins a 4-3 win and put the Bruins, who now hold a 3-1 series lead, a win away from closing out the Leafs as the teams head to Boston for Game 5.
The Maple Leafs took a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals from Joffrey Lupul and Cody Franson. The Bruins came back to take the lead in the second period thanks to a power-play goal from Patrice Bergeron and a pair of goals from Krejci, the second of which also came on the man advantage. The Maple Leafs answered Krejci’s go-ahead goal quickly, with Clarke MacArthur tying the game just 44 seconds later. The teams skated to a scoreless third period in which Toronto outshot Boston, 14-7. The Leafs held a 37-36 shots on goal advantage in regulation.
Tuukka Rask made 45 saves, while James Reimer stopped 41 pucks.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
• Milan Lucic kept up his impressive pace this postseason by picking up his eighth assist of the postseason. With eight points this postseason, Lucic now has as many points as he did in the first round the last three seasons combined, a span of 20 games.
Lucic had an injury scare late it the first period, as a puck from Zdeno Chara was redirected and hit him somewhere in the face, causing him to bleed. The 24-year-old was back on the ice for the start of the second period, however, and was able to battle in front on his first shift, which allowed Bergeron to get to the rebound of Chara’s shot and fire it past Reimer.
• Speaking of Bergeron’s goal, the reigning Selke winner finally got his first point of the postseason with that tally. Brad Marchand had an assist on Krejci’s first goal of the game, which gives the member of Bergeron’s line three points this postseason. Johnny Boychuk‘s Game 2 tally remains the only one of those goals the line has been out there for.
• For the first time this series, the Bruins held the Maple Leafs without a power-play goal. That included rising to the challenge when Toronto got a 53-second 5-on-3 late in the second heading into the third as well as a third-period high-sticking penalty to Chara. The Leafs finished 0-for-4 on the power play after going 4-for-12 in the series’ first three games.
• The Bruins failed to capitalize on what was a nearly four-minute power play when Nazem Kadri cut Chris Kelly on a high stick 58 seconds into the third period, toward the end of Gregory Campbell‘s slashing penalty. However, the team still went 2-for-5 on the power play Wednesday after going 1-for-9 over the series’ first three games.
• Boychuk is a tough cookie. He looked hurt on two consecutive shifts after taking a puck off the knee and was limping very slowly down the tunnel in the second period. Despite the apparent pain he seemed to be in, he returned to the ice in short order. Still, that might be something to watch going forward.
|Happy Milan Lucic Appreciation Day||05.08.13 at 1:47 pm ET|
TORONTO — Wednesday morning was Milan Lucic Appreciation Day at Air Canada Centre, with the power forward’s resurgence a big topic among the media (for those keeping track, Tuesday was Jaromir Jagr is Still Getting It Done At His Age Day). Here’s a gem from Shawn Thornton when asked what Lucic has that he wish he did:
“Everything. He skates better than me, he’s got a better shot than me, hits better than me, he’s a lot younger than me,” Thornton said. “He’s definitely a combination you don’t see too often, but that’s why he’s getting six sheets next year. It’s not like you can find those guys everywhere. He gets paid accordingly.”
The “six sheets” line refers to the $6 million Lucic will average over the next three seasons, when the $18 million extension he inked prior to the lockout will begin. Lucic had just seven goals and 20 assists during the regular season, but he’s stepped it up in the playoffs. His six points (all assists) through three games are more points than he had over his final 12 games of the regular season.
As a former 30-goal-scorer, Lucic is there to put pucks in the net. Though he still hasn’t scored this postseason, the fact that he’s been able to contribute as much as he has (Claude Julien said Wednesday that Lucic has been arguably Boston’s best forward this postseason) speaks to what David Krejci says is an under-appreciated ability to make plays.
“Definitely I would say his passing ability is underrated,” David Krejci said. “I’ve been playing with him for a long time, a few years now, so I know what he can bring to the table. He’s not only about hitting the guys and putting the puck in the net and fighting. He can do more things and he’s shown it in the playoffs so far, with three games and six assists that he can help the team in the other part of the game, too.”
|Shawn Thornton ‘can’t believe’ Tuukka Rask not a Vezina finalist||05.08.13 at 1:15 pm ET|
TORONTO — The three finalists for the Vezina Trophy were revealed Wednesday and the Bruins were surprised to hear that Tuukka Rask was not one of them.
Rask, who finished third in the league with a .929 save percentage and was tied for first with five shutouts in 36 games this season, was beat out by favorite Sergei Bobrovsky of the Blue Jackets as well as San Jose’s Antti Niemi and Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist. Rask’s 2.00 goals-against average ranked sixth in the NHL this season, while he played seven games less than both Niemi and Lundqvist.
While the Bruins say they’re focused more on the postseason than any individual awards, some admitted to being confused as to why Rask wasn’t a finalist for the award, which is voted on by the league’s general managers.
“I can’t believe he’s not nominated,” Shawn Thornton said. “I don’t know what the reason is. It’s the same as three years ago, when he started with us. If I’m not mistaken, he had the best save percentage, the best goals against in the league and he wasn’t even a question mark for the Calder or the Vezina.”
Rask’s numbers during the regular season are very similar to his stats from the aforementioned 2009-10 season, when, as Thornton pointed out, his 1.97 GAA and .931 save percentage were tops in the league. Thornton thought he deserved more recognition then just like he thinks he deserves it now, and though he said that Rask “definitely” flies under the radar because Boston is known for being such a strong defensive team, he still thinks Rask’s numbers tell a lot of the story of Boston’s success. He isn’t alone in that line of thinking, either.
“From the first game this year, Tuukka has been the guy to go. He’s won some games for us in the season,” David Krejci said. “He’s been great for us in the playoffs. He had 47 shots against the last game and he kept us in the game last game and the first two games as well. It’s great to have somebody back there that you can rely on. He’s been so good for us the whole year. I just hope that he’s going to keep playing the way he is.”
Rask’s backup, Anton Khudobin, said he was surprised that Rask wasn’t a finalist either, saying the 26-year-old “put up good numbers and had a lot of shutouts.” While he understands that people may associate the Bruins as being a great defensive team because of players like Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, he doesn’t think that’s a reason for people to discount numbers like Rask’s.
“I don’t think any goalie has an easy job in this league,” Khudobin said. “I don’t think so. Of course we have great defensemen, there’s no doubt. Plus it’s a team sport, to win something, every piece has to be good.”
Thornton and Claude Julien both said that they don’t think Rask will lose too much sleep over being excluded, a quality they like about their netminder.
“I don’t know what the reason is,” he said. “I’m just glad we have him on our team. I know that the type of person he is, he doesn’t need the recognition. He’s going to continue to play no matter what, but it’s unfortunate because both years he’s been our starter he’s been unbelievable.”
On a less surprising note, Chara was not one of the top three vote-getters from writers for the Norris Trophy. The three finalists for the award are P.K. Subban, Ryan Suter and Kris Letang.
- Providence Bruins Join Boston Bruins as Black Aces
- 3 Questions With... Mike Murphy "Dig Deep" of Blueshirt Banter
- Fresh Links: Sally Fourth Edition
- Torts to Brad Richards: Sit On It
- Thursday Morning Skate: Memorial Cup Field Set
- AHL Calder Cup Playoffs: Providence Bruins complete collapse, shut out by...
- Relax, We Got This.