|Brad Marchand: ‘Toronto Stronger’ sign ‘very disrespectful’||05.07.13 at 6:19 pm ET|
TORONTO — On Tuesday, Maple Leafs players stayed away from questions about the “Toronto Stronger” sign that was held up — complete with blue and white ribbon — by a fan prior to and during the Bruins’ Game 3 victory in Toronto. The players said they hadn’t seen the sign, though James van Riemsdyk (a New Jersey native who played college hockey at UNH) said that it isn’t “the best idea” to make a joke about such an issue as sensitive as the Boston Marathon bombings.
Brad Marchand has made a career of saying things that get under players’ skin, but he felt that the sign crossed the line, as it didn’t hurt the Bruins, but a city that has been through a lot.
“I think sometimes fans overreact with things and sometimes go places maybe they don’t need to go. Obviously it’s a very tragic thing that happened. I don’t think anyone should ever take it lightly or make a joke out of it,” Marchand said. “Obviously, people can be very disrespectful, but Boston went though a lot and you saw the respect that every team that we played against after that gave to our city. It’s not about going about going after our guys, our team and putting the team down. It’s more about the city and the people. Everyone reacted the right way about it and gave their respect. If fans want to go the other way then that’s up to them, but it’s not really necessary.”
Claude Julien also found the sign insensitive but pointed out that fans can be that way during the playoffs, noting that a fan in a Leafs jersey was knocked out at TD Garden after Toronto’s Game 2 win.
“Playoffs bring a lot of passion to the fans and rightfully so, and those things are things that happen,” Julien said. “There was an incident in Boston that unfortunately happened to a Leaf fan, and last night’s sign, to me, had nothing to do with hockey. ‘Boston Strong’ is about something that struck our city, not our team and maybe it’s a little sensitive for the Boston people. Those kind of things happen in the playoffs and the best and sometimes the worst comes out of the passion of our game. That’s all I can say about that situation. It’s maybe a little sensitive for the city of Boston more than it is for our hockey club.”
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Randy Carlyle, Claude Julien squabbling over faceoffs||05.07.13 at 4:04 pm ET|
TORONTO — It came a little earlier than it did two years ago, but the coaches have officially begun a war of words through the media. In 2011, it was then-Lightning coach Guy Boucher and Claude Julien going back and forth regarding penalties being called. This year, it’s Leafs coach Randy Carlyle and Julien over who’s doing what on faceoffs.
The Maple Leafs and center Tyler Bozak (who went 7-for-23 on Monday) vented their frustrations with the how often Leafs players were getting tossed from the faceoff circle, also claiming that Bruins centers didn’t put their stick down first, as the road team should. Carlyle said the team has watched video of the faceoffs and feel the B’s have an unfair advantage.
“Faceoffs are always a big part of any hockey game,” Carlyle said. “When you’re at home, you think you would be afforded some of the staples of the opposition having to be down first and stop. In our review, there were things going on out there that we don’t agree with.
“It’s supposed to be visitor down, home team down, puck down. That clearly was not happening as per video.”
The Bruins held a 45-30 edge on faceoffs Monday, thanks largely to having one of the better faceoff men in the league in Patrice Bergeron (who won 12 of 20) and having third-liners Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly combine to go 22-of-26. Julien responded to Carlyle’s comments by saying the Leafs are looking for calls from the officials in Game 4, a cry he hopes isn’t heard.
“I’ve heard a lot about the faceoff issue,” Julien said. “I’ve looked at the video too and it is what it is — guys getting kicked out, not getting kicked out. When you lobby for something it’s because you’re looking for a bit of a break next game and that’s what Randy’s doing right now. He’s lobbying for some breaks on the faceoffs.
“It’s going to be interesting to see whether the referees and the linesmen just do their job next game and not worry about who’s crying wolf.”
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
|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.”
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
|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.
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