|Capitals’ Joel Ward won’t let racist tweets ruin his moment in spotlight||04.26.12 at 12:50 pm ET|
Capitals forward Joel Ward had a career highlight Wednesday night when he scored in overtime to give the Capitals a 2-1 victory over the Bruins in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
However, much of the talk Thursday morning centered around a series of racist tweets from fans that went public shortly after Ward, one of the few black players in the NHL, scored his memorable goal. The tweets were vulgar and shockingly offensive, and the authors have been widely criticized around the web.
Ward, for his part, doesn’t seem interested in letting some poorly thought-out tweets ruin his moment.
“He’s put it in his back pocket so to speak,” Ward’s Boston-based agent, Peter Cooney, told Toronto’s Globe and Mail. “He knows he’s going to have interviews and people talking about it. He’s heard about it, but he said ‘Peter, don’t worry — that stuff never bothered me.’ ”
Ward, 31, signed a four-year contract with the Capitals last offseason after shining in the postseason with the Predators. It capped his rise from going undrafted to playing college hockey at the University of Prince Edward Island to making it to the NHL at the age of 26.
Now, the son of Barbados emigrants who settled in Ontario — Ward’s father died of a stroke watching a 14-year-old Joel play hockey — Ward is a hero in Washington and in the middle of a controversy he did nothing to create.
“It’s appalling,” Cooney said. “Where we are in North America now, it’s hard to believe we still have that prejudice. It’s disturbing. It’s really disgraceful.”
Cooney said he doesn’t think the tweets are representative of Bruins fans.
“I think it’s a very small amount of people,” he said. “I’d like to think that, anyway. With [social media] these people get to have a platform that they can put this out there, and it’s too bad. I think if they knew Joel, they would not have this attitude.
“It’s very disappointing, but it doesn’t take any of the success that Joel’s had away.”
|Barry Pederson on M&M: Capitals play into Bruins’ hands by focusing on physicality||04.13.12 at 1:29 pm ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Barry Pederson joined Mut & Merloni Friday to discuss Thursday night’s 1-0 overtime victory over the Capitals in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
“If we had any doubt that Seidenberg was going to take his game to the same level it was at last year in the playoffs, man, did he ever show that,” Pederson said. “He and [Zdeno] Chara I thought did a tremendous job on the Ovechkin line. Of course, they had the advantage of having [Patrice] Bergeron‘s line out there as well. And then [David] Krejci‘s line did a great job against [Nicklas] Backstrom and [Alexander] Semin.
“The Bruins were very solid physically. Defensively I thought they were tremendous. The game I didn’t think should have been as close as it was. I thought in the second period in particular, the Bruins on the power play, they had 4 1/2 minutes to start the second period, the power play, and then they had that 4-on-3 a full two minutes. To me, that’s where the game should have been put out of reach for Washington. They only had seven shots against after two periods. The Bruins let them hang around, then they needed Tim Thomas to kind of hold the fort for them in that third period.”
Added Pederson: “The Bruins’ strength, as we all know, is their defensive game led by Thomas and Chara and Seidenberg and the physicality that they bring. If Washington wants to play that way, that to me is playing right into the Bruins’ hands. When you see a player like Ovechkin trying to take a run at Seidenberg and Chara, you could just see that pairing just licking their chops, saying, ‘Come on, bring it on. If we can get you off that offensive game and get you thinking about playing physical, that’s an advantage to us.’ ”
The Bruins struggled Thursday on the power play, a reminder of the team’s problems in last year’s playoffs.
“They were just way too stationary,” Pederson said. “When you watch the replays of it, you can just see they’re all standing — if you envision a box, they’re at each corner of the box, with the three Washington defenders allowed to collapse, and nobody was in a scoring position. So, Washington is just saying, ‘Hey, keep the puck on the outside, that’s fine, our goaltender can see it, there’s no traffic in front, there’s nobody who’s a direct threat to us.’ I just thought they got way too stationary.
“When the Bruins power play looked a little bit better that latter part of the season into the final month, they were moving around. I especially remember [Rich] Peverly on the point on the power play was very active. They were dropping down. Seidenberg would be dropping down and getting involved and not just staying stationary, moving the puck to the point. Because one of the things I was very impressed with with Washington, especially in the first two periods, they were blocking a lot of shots. So, for the Bruins to be successful, they’re going to have to get those shots through. They’re going to have to get their defense involved a little bit more by pinching and by being active in the offensive zone.”
|Andrew Ference on D&C: Alex Ovechkin ‘a superstar that’s willing to get his nose dirty’||04.13.12 at 10:37 am ET|
Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning, following Thursday night’s 1-0 overtime victory over the Capitals in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
“I was happy the way we came out at the start of the game,” Ference said. “The demeanor in the room was really good. The last few days of practices kind of led into that. ‘¦ Overall it was a good first game. It was a lot better than last year’s first game.”
Alex Ovechkin was kept in check Thursday night, but Ference knows how explosive the Caps forward can be if left unchecked.
“With him, it’s always just about how dangerous he can be,” Ference said. “In a heartbeat he can lay you out with one of the harder hits in the league, or he can [beat] you for a pretty goal. He’s got a great shot. It’s not like he doesn’t have all the tools to be an extremely dangerous player. He just gets so much more attention from everybody’s best defensive forward, best D-man. Nobody really gives him an inch out there.”
Ovechkin took a huge hit from Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg but bounced right up after the collision.
“He’s not one to shy away from anything physical,” Ference said. “But a hit’s a hit. Those hard hits add up. But he’s not going to be one to shy away, that’s for sure. I think he enjoys playing real hockey. Having that physical side of the game is great. That’s what makes the sport really nice.
“Guys respect that. He’s a superstar that’s willing to get his nose dirty. And I think that’s why guys appreciate his game so much.”
Capitals goalie Braden Holtby shined in his playoff debut, making 29 saves before surrendering the game-winner to Chris Kelly in OT.
“He looked solid,” Ference said. “For a first playoff game, good for him.”
|B’s legend Phil Esposito ‘in shock’ about daughter’s sudden death||02.01.12 at 2:07 pm ET|
Bruins legend Phil Esposito said Tuesday he is in shock after learning of the death of his 43-year-old daughter.
Esposito, who founded the Lightning franchise, said his daughter Carrie died Monday, apparently from a sudden illness. She was married to former Lightning star Alex Selivanov and living in Germany, where Selivanov played from 2003-08.
“I’m having major difficulties with this,” Esposito told the Tampa Bay Times. “I’m just in shock. I cannot believe it even as I sit and talk to you. I expect her to call me and start saying, ‘April fool.’ ”
Esposito said he plans to fly to Germany later in the week to get more details about his daughter’s death. He said she coughed up some blood 10 days ago, “but she refused to go to the doctor. She refused to go to the hospital. ‘I’m fine. I’m taking the kids to practice.’ That’s all I know.”
|Andy Brickley on D&C: Coach Claude Julien correct to question Bruins’ effort||01.18.12 at 10:04 am ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning to dissect the team’s recent struggles. The Bruins lost to the Lightning Tuesday night, their second loss in three games.
Coach Claude Julien questioned the team’s work ethic, and Brickley backed him up.
“Everybody knows it’s a fine line between winning and losing if you don’t bring the kind of effort, and then you add to that you’re missing a couple of key skill guys and how it changes your lineup,” Brickley said. “But it does, it boils down to battles, one-on-ones, who wants it more.”
With Brad Marchand serving the final game of his five-game suspension and fellow forward Rich Peverly dealing with a personal matter, the Bruins appeared to be missing a spark Tuesday in Tampa.
“They’re tremendously talented kids, they’re hockey players, they’re smart, they play the game the right way. But it’s their speed that changes the dynamic of the Bruins,” Brickley said. “When you’re watching last night’s game, the Bruins on the breakout, you see them caught by a lot of the backcheckers of Tampa. You don’t see that explosive forecheck. You don’t see them getting 3-on-2s and 2-on-1s because they have speed through center ice. ‘¦ The whole dynamic of your offense changes, but it’s the speed element that you miss the most.”
After visiting the Devils Thursday night, the Bruins host the Eastern Conference-leading Rangers Saturday afternoon.
“I’m pretty curious to see how these two teams match up,” Brickley said of Saturday’s game. “I like the way both teams are built, I like the way they’re both coached. Meaning, what’s it going to look like in April and May, because I like the way their built as far as playoff hockey. Yeah, they’ll be real good regular-season teams, too. But because of the way they play — the physical style, the physical nature, the toughness the one-on-one battles, all that kind of stuff — that’s the way both those teams are built, with a lot of talent sprinkled in. I think they’re two of the best teams in the East and I’m very curious to see where they both match up against each other and the styles that they play.”
|Obsess much? Canucks reportedly rip covers off NHL media guides with images of Zdeno Chara holding Cup||01.11.12 at 11:54 am ET|
Miami Herald reporter George Richards noticed something odd in the press box at Monday’s Canucks-Panthers game. Someone had ripped the cover off the NHL Official Guide & Record Books that were there for the media.
The cover features a photo of Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara holding the Stanley Cup. Putting two and two together, Richards surmised that someone with the Canucks organization ripped the books in anger at the B’s following Saturday’s heated battle.
Richards put his photos of the damaged books on his Twitter site, and it’s been gaining steam on the web since.
|Chris Kelly on M&M: ‘I’d love to stay here’||01.06.12 at 1:35 pm ET|
With Brad Marchand sick and unable to make his weekly appearance on the Mut & Merloni show, fellow forward Chris Kelly filled in to talk about Thursday’s rout of the Flames and Saturday’s highly anticipated Stanley Cup finals rematch with the Canucks.
The Bruins continued their red-hot ways — nine wins in 10 games — with Thursday’s 9-0 rout of the Flames, and the balanced scoring throughout the lineup has been impressive.
“Every line goes out and plays hard,” Kelly said. “I’ve been on other teams that have been pretty deep and have had success, but not to this extent. Our first line all the way down to our fourth line, all lines play the exact same way and work hard and do their job defensively. Obviously, certain guys have more offensive abilities, but I think for the most part we go out and play the system and work hard.”
Looking back on the team’s first-month struggles and subsequent resurgence, Kelly acknowledged some of it had to do with the team being overconfident following last season’s championship.
“We heard it from everybody about this Stanley Cup hangover,” he said. “I think maybe certain games we came in just feeling a sense of entitlement. Winning a Stanley Cup, we figured we could just show up and we’d get the two points. But every team came at us even harder because of what he accomplished the year before.
“I think it took us a month to realize that. When November came around, I think collectively as a group we realized we had to play better, and we did.”
Next up for the Bruins is a Saturday matinee against the Canucks. Kelly downplayed the importance of the matchup.
“The media has hyped this up more than the players have,” he said. “We just want to go out and have a good game. They’re playing extremely well — I think they’re first in the West — and we’re playing well right now. We don’t have anything to prove other than going out there and playing hard and trying to get the two points.”
Kelly wouldn’t admit to the Bruins having revenge on their minds despite the likes of Canucks pest Alex Burrows returning to Boston.
“It was a good, physical series, battled hard by both sides and went the distance to seven,” he said. “We just want to go out there and play hard and play our style. We’re a big, strong, physical team when we’re playing at our best, and that doesn’t change regardless of who we’re playing.”
Kelly’s contract expires after this season. While he said that no negotiations have been going on, he left no doubt that he hopes to return.
“Obviously, I’d love to stay here,” he said. “Boston’s a great city, a great team. My wife and I have enjoyed this city so much since we’ve been here. It couldn’t have been a more perfect thing for me to come here last year and end up coming to a great team that wins the Stanley Cup. Hopefully, it’s something we can get worked out.”