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Patrice Bergeron, Joe Corvo hurt in Game 5 loss 04.22.12 at 12:38 am ET
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The Bruins head into a do-or-die Game 6 in Washington Sunday and they do not know if they will have their top-line center with them and available.

Patrice Bergeron took a hit from Alexander Ovechkin and played just three shifts in the third period as the Bruins fell to the Capitals, 4-3.

“I’m not sure,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said of Bergeron’s status. “To be honest, I get into a game then I’m told that a guy is a little injured at that point and that’s all I know. I’m not quite sure whether it was that hit or whether it’s a hit that he had earlier that he kind of hit the glass, and that’s where I think it started, in my mind. So, I’m not 100 percent sure on that.”

Injury stoppage has infuriated Bruins coach Julien in the series. That continued in Saturday when Joe Corvo went down in the second period after blocking a shot from Marcus Johansson in the right leg. He stayed down momentarily before trying to get up. The officials didn’t blow the whistle and Alexander Semin scored the game’s first goal.

“Well that was probably the frustrating part for me,” Julien said. “We were in Washington last game and twice their players go down in their own end and we had full control of the puck and the whistle was blown right away with no hesitation and tonight we’re deciding we’re not. So, I guess I was a little perturbed – is there two sets of rules or one? And I know they’re different referees but it’s still the same series so that was frustrating because they ended up scoring a goal on that. Again, that was my frustration on that goal and it’s unfortunate that’s how it ended up. Those other two guys are being looked at as we speak right now so there’s no update on them.”

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Claude Julien has a message for his team: Stop being ‘cute’ with the puck 04.15.12 at 9:04 am ET
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There’s a four-letter word in hockey – especially during the playoffs.

C-U-T-E

It’s what players hate to be called and it’s what coaches hate to see from their players.

Saturday, Claude Julien saw a bit too much of it from his Bruins in a 2-1 double-overtime loss to the Capitals in Game 2 of their Eastern quarterfinal series.

“They play a patient game,” Julien said. “They sit back, and they get into their 1-4, and if you want to get cute in the neutral zone, then you’re not getting pucks in, but it took us two periods to get ourselves going and get some more opportunities, and instead of using our outside speed and everything else, we just kind of made it easy on them. And, you know, at this stage of the year, you would like to see more net-front traffic, and you would like to see that puck going to the net a little bit more with guys heading in that direction, and we don’t have a good enough commitment in that area right now to win hockey games.”

Julien has seen the commitment from the Chris Kelly line, with Benoit Pouliot and Brian Rolston again combining for the only Bruins goal – as was the case in Thursday’s 1-0 OT win. Now, Julien wants to see Patrice Bergeron‘s line of Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin do the same. Same goes for David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Rich Peverley. Read the rest of this entry »

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What Tim Thomas did – and didn’t – see on the Capitals’ game-winner 04.14.12 at 9:29 pm ET
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There’s an old hockey adage that was proven very true Saturday as the Capitals tied the Bruins at a game apiece in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series – you can’t stop what you can’t see.

When Marcus Johansson outworked Johnny Boychuk for the loose puck in the defensive cornerboards, the Swede fed his native countryman Nicklas Backstrom to nearly the exact same spot Chris Kelly won Game 1.

Only difference this time was that there was a lot more traffic in front of the goalie. And in this case, Tim Thomas practically had no chance, unless he was lucky enough to have the puck hit him. No such luck.

“I just had time to yell ‘screen’ and then I think I picked it up about halfway to me, but it was one of those knuckle [shots],” Thomas said. “You can’t get a read on exactly where it’s going. It is what it was.”

Asked if the shot dipped on him or just fluttered, Thomas again couldn’t describe what he couldn’t see.

“I didn’t see it enough to tell you,” Thomas added.

It was a bizarre kind of game for Thomas, who thought he was going to smother a puck that fluttered in on him in the second period. But out of nowhere Greg Zanon collided with him as he was trying to cover and Troy Brouwer was on the spot to find it, and flip a backhander between his legs while he was on the ground trying to get on it. Read the rest of this entry »

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When it mattered most, Tim Thomas turned back the clock to 2011 04.13.12 at 8:25 am ET
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For two periods, rookie goalie Braden Holtby stole the show.

Then Tim Thomas reminded him, the Capitals and everyone else that he is still one of the best clutch goalies in the game.

For two periods, Tim Thomas saw a grand total of seven shots. The second period was especially dull. He didn’t face a shot on net for the first 10 minutes of the period as the Bruins outshot the Caps, 17-2, for the stanza.

But then the Capitals came out for the third. They were a different group, intent on showing they can actually get a shot on net.

“More often than not, when your team outshoots the other team heavily for a couple of periods, whether you score or not, there’s usually a time period in the game where the tables turn, and I knew they were going to get their bursts sooner or later. So I was mentally prepared for that going into the third period.”

Just four minutes in, Thomas had to be ready as the Capitals were on a power play and Alex Ovechkin was in the low left circle when he skated in and fired a wrister on Thomas.

“It was a toe save,” Thomas said of his left foot save. “I know he likes that spot, generally, over there, but he’s been changing it up and going to different spots. I didn’t even think about Ovechkin until the pass happened. I was focusing on who made the pass, the left-handed guy who made the pass. I was trying to get to my angle to make sure that he couldn’t score. But when I did see the pass released in that direction, I very quickly realized where it was going and who it was going to, so I’d better get over there very fast, and fortunately it hit my toe.”

“When a goaltender doesn’t get a ton of shots, it becomes a challenge for him to mentally stay in the game, and even physically,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “You know, you don’t want to stiffen up; you want to stay warmed up, and sometimes goaltenders thrive on the more shots they get, the more they’re into the game. So I thought Tim did a great job of staying focused and staying sharp, and when he had to make those big saves, he made them, and that was nice to see, and that’s Tim. With the experience he’s had over the course of his career now, those things are starting to really show, and I thought he did a great job. It wasn’t an easy task for him tonight, and the shutout, although he had 17 shots, was well deserved because he stayed focused through the whole game.”

Then came his biggest save. Naturally, it came in overtime where any little mistake means game over. Just about a minute in, Marcus Johansson came down the left wing with only defenseman Greg Zanon in position to defend. Zanon did his job, giving Thomas a chance to see Johansson and make the game-saving stop. Read the rest of this entry »

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Claude Julien and the Bruins can joke about the power play – for now 04.13.12 at 12:58 am ET
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Maybe Claude Julien thought he was going to get out of the 10-minute post-game session with reporters in the press area without being asked the question that hounded the Bruins like a hungry bear last spring.

But then it happened.

How concerned is the Bruins coach about going 0-for-4 on the power play?

“You’re right, it was asked a lot,” Julien joked, responding to the reporter who prefaced the situation in the 2011 playoffs. “So, uh, probably a little bit too much.”

Julien, of course, is referring to the fact the Bruins actually found a way to win the Stanley Cup with an anemic power play for three rounds before actually producing against the Canucks in the finals.

But Thursday, it was back to old – and bad – habits.

The Bruins had six consecutive minutes of power play at the end of the first and beginning of the second. Yes, they got eight shots on Braden Holtby but really no sustained pressure in terms of scoring chances. Jay Beagle took a double-minor for high sticking and Troy Brouwer was called for delay of game.

Fortunately, the Bruins scored the only goal of the game or the second-guessers would be out in force.

“We talked about that,” Julien said. “Our guys weren’t seeing much tonight. There was some openings we could have used, and we were dusting the puck a little bit too much versus shooting it, and, you know, when we made some of those passes, some of those guys should have ripped a shot right way, and instead, we stopped and we started looking for another play.

“You know, it’s unfortunate, because at practice this week, I thought our guys were moving the puck well, and they were finding the openings that we didn’t find tonight. So, we’ll keep working on that and hopefully make it a better situation because there’s no doubt, if we don’t win the game tonight, we’d be talking a lot about that being the reason that we lost. We found a way to win it. We turn the page and work on the things you need to work on.”

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Bruins need to do the dirty work to score in these playoffs 04.12.12 at 12:23 pm ET
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As much as Tim Thomas was amazing under pressure, justifiably winning the Conn Smythe trophy as the MVP of the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs, the Bruins offense was as explosive as any team in the playoffs last season.

The Bruins scored 81 goals in 25 playoff games, including games of eight, seven and six tallies as they scored when they needed to when Thomas wasn’t – well – Thomas. By comparison, the high-flying Canucks in their 25 playoff games scored just 58.

David Krejci scored 12 goals. Brad Marchand set a Bruins rookie playoff record with 11. Nathan Horton and Michael Ryder had eight apiece. Chris Kelly, Milan Lucic and Mark Recchi each had five. Count them up and that’s 21 of the 81 goals the Bruins scored that are missing to start these playoffs.

“I think it’s just playing the system properly,” Kelly said. “The minute you start thinking about scoring goals and lots of goals, that doesn’t happen. We capitalized on our opportunities last year, and hopefully we do the same this year. But by no means are we heading into these playoffs we’re going to be a big-scoring team. We take care of our own end first and work our way out.”

Funny thing, it didn’t start that well for the Bruins as they scored just once in losing their first two games at home to Montreal. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why the Bruins still fear Dennis Wideman 04.12.12 at 12:15 pm ET
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Dennis Wideman returns to Boston with the Capitals in the playoffs, and a point to prove. (AP)

Every Bruins fan remembers how ugly it ended for Dennis Wideman in Boston. Certainly, the talented defenseman does.

He was one of the scapegoats of the collapse against the Flyers in 2010 Eastern Conference semifinals.

He was the player fans came to the Garden to boo, expecting turnover after turnover, leading to scoring chance after scoring chance for the opposition. It wasn’t all bad as Wideman had back-to-back 13-goal seasons for the Bruins in 2008 and ’09, registering an impressive plus-32 on-ice rating in ’09. But the wheels fell off the next season. He had only six goals in 76 games and a minus-14. Things got even worse after a trade to Florida. He was minus-26 with nine goals in 61 games.

But look further and you see that Wideman can still do one thing – score on the power play. Eight of his nine goals with the Panthers came on the power play. In his two biggest productive years in Boston, he was instrumental on the power play with Zdeno Chara, scoring 15 goals.

But he’s been rejuvenated in Washington. He played in all 82 games this season for the Caps, with 11 goals and 35 assists and is on the No. 1 power play unit with Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Mike Green. This year, he scored four of Washington’s 41 goals on the power play, accounting for 10 percent of the production.

So now, the offensive defenseman is in a fascinating position for revenge on all those who unleashed their venom on him. Wideman returns as one of the key cogs of the Capitals’ power play as Washington takes on Boston in the 2012 Eastern Conference quarterfinals.

“You would hope that when the player was here, we worked on making him a better player,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “He is a good player. I think he’s been a good player for years now. I know he had a tough outing here near the end but we still felt that when Dennis still here, we felt he was our best puck-moving defenseman at the time.”

As for his nightmarish 2010 end in Boston?

“He had a bit of tough year and all of sudden fans turned on him a little bit and it got a little bit out of control but he’s still a good player,” Julien said. “You just have to look at his stats this year and look what he does on their power play. He’s a still puck-mover, still a great offensive defenseman that has a lot of qualities to his game.”

Washington comes in after finishing 18th out of 30 teams on the power play this season, converting at a 16.7 percent clip.

“There’s got to be an element of respect there when you look at the players that they have on their power play. Now, Backstrom being back, who’s actually a pretty good playmaker, will certainly help their power play get better,” Julien said. “But they have the shooters, you know, Green and Wideman can shoot the puck well. Ovechkin as we know, Semin – they’ve got a lot of guys that can shoot the puck on that power play. We just need to respect that and continue to take our penalty kill as serious as we have in the past playoffs and continue to do a good job.”

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