|A fired-up and not-so ‘normal’ Tuukka Rask leads Bruins into Game 3||06.05.13 at 1:49 pm ET|
Tuukka Rask was on a razor’s edge Wednesday morning before Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals.
The mild-mannered “normal” goalie who can turn on a dime if he doesn’t play well or someone ticks him off on the ice, reached that boiling point Wednesday.
First came an innocent enough flick of a rebound into the net when Rask wasn’t ready from a teammate near the corner boards. Rask was focusing on 2-on-1 drills and had the puck stopped but the teammate just figured he’d fire it into the empty net.
As the video below shows, Rask angrily turned around reached into the net and faked firing it back but thought better of it.
But that was nothing compared to what happened about 15 minutes later. Shawn Thornton came in and snapped a shot that appeared to catch Rask in the right collarbone area. He fell to the ice in obvious pain and then yelled. He skated past Thornton who appeared to want to see if he was OK.
Rask stormed to the bench area and slammed his stick against the boards in front of the Bruins bench. He rested and recovered for less than a minute before returning to drills.
Coach Claude Julien‘s reaction?
“He’s fine,” Julien said. “Just didn’t want him falling in front of that door when he went out of his crease. I told him, ‘You’re making me look bad.’ I said, ‘I told everybody you were normal.’ But I said, ‘I did tell them you had a temper.’ So I said, ‘You’re okay.’ No issues.”
Whatever has motivated Rask so far in the series has certainly worked. He has stopped 55-of-56 shots and has allowed only a Brandon Sutter perfectly placed wrist shot to beat him in the first period of Game 2. Rask is 10-4 in these playoffs so far with a 1.99 goals against and a .935 save percentage.
|Claude Julien: Bruins ‘built’ for defensive success in playoffs||06.05.13 at 1:24 pm ET|
Defense wins championships. It’s a cliche nearly as old as the Stanley Cup. But it’s true. Keep your opponent from scoring and your chances of winning in the playoffs increases dramatically. And, according to Claude Julien, it’s been the secret to success for the Bruins in the first two games against the Penguins as the Boston forwards have shown a commitment to coming back and playing defense while the Penguins, not so much.
“It’s been good for us,” Julien said Wednesday morning before Game 3. “I think, when you look at our team, it’s built that way. We take pride in that part of our game, and that part of our game’s also given us the opportunity to be better offensively; turn that puck over quick and then everybody comes back, then we go back up the ice as a unit. That’s been a big part of our game and when it’s good, it provides us with some good offense.”
Julien was told that some in the Bruins dressing room Wednesday – like Daniel Paille – said that’s it’s not as simple as it looks to play a defensive system like the Bruins employ. Julien begged to differ.
“It’s not complicated, so I’m going to have to have a talk with Dan,” Julien said half-jokingly. “It really isn’t. What we try and do is eliminate the gray areas, make it black and white. It really is easy. He probably said complicated because he doesn’t want to tell you what it is. But it isn’t. This game shouldn’t be a complicated one.
“Guys have skills, you try to put some structure together, but the one thing you don’t take away is their ability to use their imagination and their skill and their hockey sense to make plays. Defensively, is where you’re extremely structured, and you want to make sure that you have layers and guys come back to where they should be positionally. When it comes to offense, a couple of rules, but the rest is about letting them do their job and letting them use their creativity.”
Julien again reminded everyone that his team is taking a level-headed approach in the hours before Game 3, knowing the Penguins figure to be hungry after losing Games 1 and 2 on home ice.
“It doesn’t matter what situation it is, I think our guys our mature enough to understand that whatever we went through, whatever the situation is right now, we have to be a good team in order to win at this stage of the season,” Julien said. “We can’t afford to let our guard down, whether it’s the respect for a team you’re playing, and the ability of that team to take advantage of you if you’re not ready, or whether it’s just from within our group to want to be a good team every night. That’s what’s important right now, thats we stay focused on the present and don’t live in the past, don’t look in the future. I’ve said that before, we’ve been good when we’ve kept our eye on what’s going on right now. That’s what we’ve got to do.”
|David Krejci: ‘We’ve got to stay in the moment’||06.04.13 at 8:06 pm ET|
He has eight goals and 12 assists for 20 points. He did it again on Monday night in Game 2 with the third goal of the contest. He knows full well that a 2-0 series lead means nothing. He also led the playoffs in scoring two years ago with 23 points.
Speaking of 2011, he knows that the Bruins were down 0-2 in the first round after losing the first two games at home. He knows the Bruins came back and won a pair of games in Montreal to tie the series.
“The past few years I think we’ve been up 2-0 in a series,” Krejci said. “We’ve been down 2-0, and it went either way, so I think we’ve learned from that and we’ve got to stay in the moment and just take it game by game.
“We’re going to have to play even better than we did because they’re going to be desperate. It’s a really important game. It’s a big difference if it’s 3-0 for us or 2-1 for us, so it’s going to be a big game. The game is going to start from 0-0 so we’ve got to be ready to get off [with] a good start.”
So far, the best forward in this series is Krejci, not Sidney Crosby, and it’s not close. Krejci has three goals with a plus-3 rating. Crosby has no points and is a minus-3.
“We’re just going on the faceoff and trying to win,” Krejci said. “It doesn’t matter who you go against [in faceoffs]. Obviously you know who you’re going against, but your mindset is to win and do whatever it takes to win the faceoff.”
|Shawn Thornton on Games 1 and 2: ‘I’m a little surprised at the outcome’||06.04.13 at 7:26 pm ET|
BEDFORD — Truth be told, no one, not even Bruins players and coaches could have imagined a 9-1 margin of victory in the first two games against the Penguins.
“I’m a little surprised at the outcome,” Shawn Thornton admitted on Tuesday morning at Hanscom Air Field as the Bruins returned home from Pittsburgh. “I thought the scores would be a little bit closer the last couple of games, but we’ll take it. It’s behind us now though. Now we start focusing on [Wednesday’s] game.”
Thornton made it clear – just like he does on the ice – that the Bruins aren’t about to assume that Games 3 and 4 will be just as easy because Boston is on home ice.
“Definitely not,” Thornton said. “These next games will be a lot tougher, I’m sure. I think these guys are a very dangerous team. We’ve seen them score a lot of goals, so we’re a long ways from where we need to be.”
The Bruins have outworked, outmuscled and badly outplayed the Penguins in the first two games because of their work ethic.
“Work ethic obviously helps,” Thornton said. “We can’t take any nights off, that’s for sure. Not this time of year. So that will definitely contribute to success. But they’re going to be a lot better, so we’re going to have to look at some things. We’re going have to do better in some areas, too.”
|Claude Julien: Bruins playing best hockey, ‘without a doubt’||06.04.13 at 1:11 pm ET|
BEDFORD — As the Bruins returned Tuesday morning from Pittsburgh, they were peppered with the obvious question: Can it really be this easy over a high-powered team?
“Anytime you can come back from a road trip like that, and having won both games, it’s encouraging,” coach Claude Julien said of his team’s 2-0 series lead over the Penguins in the Eastern finals. “But our team is really playing good hockey right now, without a doubt the best we’ve had this year, and that has to continue to beat these guys. We were in that same position as Pittsburgh a few years ago and we worked our way back into it.
“I think we understand the situation here. We’re not going to get ahead of ourselves here and understand that these next games are crucial for us just as much as it is for them.”
The Bruins now get the chance to close out the series without having to return to Pittsburgh if they can hold serve on home ice, starting with Wednesday’s Game 3 at TD Garden.
Julien said one of the keys to the Bruins’ success has been the commitment of the entire team to come back and help defensively on the high-powered Penguins‘ forwards, such as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jarome Iginla.
“There’s been a great commitment on the part of our team to really play well defensively, and have layers and take away space from those guys and some room to pick up speed,” Julien said. “Guys have really bought into that. It’s helped us a lot and that’s why I’ve said we’ve got to continue doing that.”
Julien was asked if he thought there were any chance his team might take a 2-0 series lead for granted coming home.
“I would think not, not after everything we’ve been though, the ups and downs of playoff hockey,” he said. “We’ve had our share of downs so we have to make sure we stay up.
“I really think after Game 7 against Toronto, it was such a big comeback for us, it always seems to take something to get the team to gel and believe. That was a real big turning point for us. From there on in, I think against the Rangers, we played some really good hockey as well. They were a team that was gritty and was going to give us a lot of hard work to compete against. They did that. There was no quit in that team. And that just helped us get better.”
The biggest message from Julien: The Bruins are fully aware of what the Penguins are capable of and the series is far from over.
“And we know what Pittsburgh represents,” Julien said. “We haven’t lost faith in what we can do but we haven’t lost track of what they can do as well. They’re a potent scoring team. We have to make sure we stay on top of our game. It’s as simple as that.”
|Dan Bylsma on his Penguins: ‘This team has won a lot of hockey games’||06.04.13 at 8:09 am ET|
The Penguins were the class of the Eastern Conference for most of the season. They won 15 games in a row at one point. They scored more goals than anyone in hockey. They finished with 72 points, only five behind Chicago, which finished with the best record in hockey.
They raced through the first two rounds, scoring 47 goals in 11 games. How could they possibly be stopped?
Well, after getting outscored 9-1 in the first two games against Boston, the Penguins are the ones asking all the questions now.
“We’ve won — this team has won a lot of hockey games,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. “It’s a good team. We’ve won 15 in a row. And we won seven in a row and five in a row, and we’ve got to — we certainly didn’t play anywhere near where we’re capable of. And that’s got to be our focus, to get our first win in Game 3 in Boston.”
Bylsma was asked if he was surprised his team is in the hole it’s in.
“Yes, how we played for the last five periods, yes,” Bylsma admitted. “We’ve gotten away from our game. We’ve gotten off our game plan. We’ve deviated. We get down early today again and not too far after the second goal we get off kilter and deviate again from how we can play and what we need to do. And that group of guys, that team in there, they’ll reset and refocus, and we’ll come back with how we need to play in Game 3.”
|Claude Julien on Game 2 blowout: ‘The confidence certainly builds quickly’||06.03.13 at 11:42 pm ET|
It took the Bruins just 28 seconds to show their head coach they were intent on showing him that they heard his message about picking up their play from Game 1.
“Well, that was what we had talked about before the game,” Claude Julien said. “We knew they were going to be a better team, and we had to be better than we were the last game in here. So, we didn’t have a better start anyways. And we got some good bounces go our way and because of that we were able to establish a lead and then we just kind of took it from there. But sometimes those forecheck bounces go your way, and they did tonight.”
And it certainly did early on when Brad Marchand scored on a Sidney Crosby turnover. Marchand scored twice in the first period, with his second goal coming just 25 seconds after Pittsburgh’s only goal and suffocated any Penguins momentum with just over eight seconds left in the opening period.
“Well, you know, the confidence certainly builds pretty quickly,” Julien said. “When you start off with an early lead in the visiting building, you’re certainly happy with that start.”
Jaromir Jagr had been quiet in the series until assisting on Marchand’s second goal. He finished with two assists.
“So I thought our guys did a good job of, again, playing a solid game, solid two’way game, and some great plays,” Julien said. “I mean, Marchand, two goals; Jags, the passes he made and even so that hit in front of our bench, that turned the puck over and allowed Marchand to score a goal. He’s come in to play for us and he’s played well.”
Tuukka Rask was once again sensational in goal, stopping 26 of 27 shots. He has faced 56 shots in this series, allowing just one goal.
“Like I said, he’s been in zone for a while,” Julien said, repeating his sentiments of Saturday night. “He’s obviously confident right now. Puck seems big to him. And you’ve got to ride that goaltender when he’s like that.”
Julien isn’t worried about overconfidence from his team, which will not practice on Tuesday.
“It’s pretty simple; we were in that situation before, and we were able to come back in the series and win it,” Julien said. “So I don’t think’’ we’ve been through enough positive/negatives, not to get ahead of ourselves and we know this is a good team, and I’m not saying we know it. Penguins are a good team, they’re deep, and we’re going to have to continue to play extremely well if we plan on winning the series.”
Here’s the remainder of Julien’s postgame presser from Monday.
Q. I certainly don’t expect you to second’guess the decision of another coach, but were you surprised to see Vokoun check out of the game right there? “You’re right. I’m not second’guessing. It’s a tough enough job that you don’t second’guess. And I’ve got too much respect for Dan to even go there.”
Q. The forecheck, what were you able to do there in the defense zone, causing them trouble in that regard?: That’s our forecheck. Our forecheck has been there all year. And when guys are doing it well, they’re putting pucks in the right areas and we’ve got speed coming through the neutral zone, we were able to establish that. But I think it’s a big part of our game, and it’s gotta be there night in, night out.
Q. Might seem a silly question the position you’re in, but anything you’re concerned about in terms of being up 2’0, going home, seems like a really good situation for you, any danger of being comfortable with it, I guess?: You’re not concerned with being comfortable. If anything building up 2’0 you’ve got to be happy. But the concerns are going to be in our game and after every game, we critique it with the players. And it’s not so much about what we’re doing well, we’ve gotta compete to do that, but there’s areas you want to improve after every game, and we’re a team that’s responded well to that.
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