|Bruins and Canucks: The little things lead to the big prize||06.13.11 at 1:50 pm ET|
It was a little thing – a little thing that Claude Julien works on often during practice. But on this Monday morning, the small detail of winning faceoffs could have a huge impact on who wins Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals.
Last Friday, in Game 5 in Vancouver, the Canucks found a way to win 34 of 65 draws while the Bruins only won 29 of those 65 one-on-one battles.
While none of them led directly to a goal, it did skew puck possession in Vancouver’s favor as the game progressed.
It’s actually been an area the Canucks have won in nearly every game of this series, including in both blowout wins by the Bruins in Games 3 and 4. But add the faceoffs in with losing puck battles and not getting enough bodies in front of Roberto Luongo and the small things become huge problems – problems the Bruins cannot afford tonight with no margin of error left.
In a close game, losing those battles can be deadly, especially when you’re the Bruins trying to kill one of best power play units in the game. So far, the Bruins have killed 24 of 25 Vancouver power plays.
“I don’t think we would be putting them there if it was just a faceoff thing,” Julien said. “But between Bergeron and Krejci are right-handed shots, and whether one of them is on the half fall, doesn’t really matter. The other one can be on the goal line. Krejci can make some plays from down low and Bergeron can take pucks at the net. We just feel that right now that’s a good scenario for that power play.
“We’ve got [Rich] Peverley who does move the puck well and [Dennis] Seidenberg who can shoot the puck well, we’ve got a good combination there. It’s shown some flashes of being very good, and when it hasn’t, it’s been not because of who you got out there, but what they’ve done. We’ve lost some battles in the last game. Certainly didn’t make some strong passes that were cut off. Vancouver does a great job. They’ve got good sticks on the penalty kill. If we don’t make crisp passes, you end up turning it over.”
The same goes for Vancouver.
“We have to bring our ‘A’ game and play the right way,” said Daniel Sedin. “When we win faceoffs and we have a lot of puck possession, we’re a good team. They’re obviously a good faceoff team so that’s going to be a big thing tonight. If we play the right way, and we play tight the way we did at home, it’s hard to get good scoring chances against us. When we play like we did in Games 3 and 4, we’re going to get some scoring chances but they are too, and that’s not the way we want to play.”
|Andrew Ference says B’s won’t be scared by the magnitude of the moment||06.13.11 at 12:26 pm ET|
“We’ve had our back up against a wall a few times and I think that we’ve performed well under those circumstances. I think a lot of guys feel like this is another opportunity to go out there and prove ourselves and seize the moment,” Ference said.
Ference and the Bruins have faced elimination twice in the playoffs so far, winning both games on home ice by one goal, including Game 7 against Montreal in overtime in the first round.
“It doesn’t sound right but we’ve been here as a team,” Ference said. “Obviously, the Cup is on the line tonight but I think we felt like that against Montreal when we were down. Against Philly, there was such focus on getting back and Tampa went to Game 7. We’ve had our back up against the wall a few times and I think we’ve performed well under those circumstances.”
For Ference, this is his second time in a Game 6 of the Cup finals. Back in 2004 – with Calgary – the Flames were just one win away and could’ve clinched with a win on home ice. But instead, the Lightning survived and forced a Game 7, one which Tampa Bay prevailed, 2-1.
“Second time around is easier,” Ference said. “I remember the first time with Calgary mostly your mind gets pretty busy. But also, I was in a different situation. I was up 3-2 with Calgary so the mind works in different ways. But this time is a little easier.”
Ference – like every Bruin – will look to feed off the sizable energy in the Garden, a place the Bruins have outscored the Canucks, 12-1, in two blowout wins in Games 3 and 4.
“The city’s excited,” Ference said. “It’s been a long run and lots of ups and downs and crazy stuff but obviously, everybody can smell a finish coming up soon and wants us obviously, to continue the story fro another game.”
|Maxim Lapierre admits he got a ‘little lucky’||06.10.11 at 11:25 pm ET|
The game-winning goal off the stick of Maxim Lapierre was a “lucky” break by the admission of the man who scored it. Lapierre was positioned to the right of Tim Thomas when he took a pass off the end boards and flipped it off the backside of Thomas. The puck trickled off of Thomas’ pads and dropped over the goal line, providing the margin of victory in Vancouver’s 1-0 win in Game 5.
“I was actually going backdoor for a tip,” Lapierre told Versus in a postgame interview, referring to a pass he was expecting from Kevin Bieksa in front of Thomas. “That was a good play. We got a little lucky but we’ll take it.”
“The puck got across the line by a couple of inches and that was the difference,” added Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault in his postgame press conference.
“I don’t think that was necessarily the play they were going for, from where the guy shot it to where it came out, he was pretty wide,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said of Bieksa’s pass from the right . “Normally, those pucks from where he shot it don’t come out there. Nonetheless, you make your own breaks. I think tonight – as a whole – they were the better team. I think we have to acknowledge that because if we don’t, we’re not going to be a better team the next game.”
Roberto Luongo – who stopped all 31 shots in the shutout – had his own take when asked if making saves like the one that got by Thomas are difficult.
“It’s not hard if you’re playing in the paint,” Luongo said, referring to Thomas’ aggressive approach. “It’s an easy save for me but if you’re wandering out and aggressive like he does, that’s going to happen.”
As for coming out stronger and outhitting the Bruins, 47-27, Lapierre said the Canucks were more in control.
“We played with a little more confidence and were more patient,” Lapierre said on his postgame TV interview. “It was good for us.”
Game 6 is now a must-win for the Bruins back in Boston Monday night. If the Bruins win, Game 7 is back in Vancouver Wednesday night.
|Claude Julien: ‘We’ve got to bring our game with us’||06.09.11 at 12:16 pm ET|
Now comes the hard part.
The Bruins have turned the 2011 Stanley Cup finals upside down. They have overcome two remarkably heartbreaking losses in Vancouver by not just beating the Canucks on their Garden home ice but running the Sedin twins and the rest of the Western Conference champs right out of the building.
The Bruins dominated in every way possible, outscoring the Canucks, 12-1, in the two wins to even the series and turn it into a best-of-3.
Now, the Bruins have to carry that momentum with them on their cross-continent flight and translate it enough on the Rogers Arena ice on Friday night to give them a chance to win the Cup on that same Garden ice on Monday night.
How do they do it?
“I think we’ve got to bring our game with us, simple as that,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “We have to bring our game. That has to continue in Vancouver. It doesn’t matter where you are, you got to play the same way whether you’re at home or on the road.”
And that mean laying out the hits, doing everything possible to keep the aggressive Tim Thomas in his comfort zone between the pipes, and continuing an amazing run on the penalty kill.
In the two wins, the Bruins outhit the Canucks 67-58 and Thomas stopped a remarkable 78 of 79 shots on goal, primarily because he saw nearly every single one of them. That’s where it gets tricky. The Canucks will no doubt run more bodies at Thomas in front and the Bruins defenseman must continue to clear bodies away. Read the rest of this entry »
|Rich Peverley does his best Nathan Horton and the Bruins are grateful||06.09.11 at 1:09 am ET|
After all, Nathan Horton has done it all this postseason for the Bruins – especially in the clutch. There was the overtime winner in Game 5 against Montreal. There was the overtime winner in Game 7 against Montreal.
And there was game-winner against Tampa Bay in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.
But Horton won’t be playing anymore this season. Peverley was moved up to the top line of David Krejci and Milan Lucic and responded with first and last goals of a 4-0 thumping of the Canucks to even the series at 2-2 going back to Vancouver.
Peverley wasn’t informed he was on the top line until just before the game.
“Just before warm-ups,” Peverley said when asked when he found out he was playing on the top line. “I had no idea who was going to go in there, if it was going to be me or [Michael Ryder]. Rydes took a lot of shifts with them too. [Tyler Seguin] was in there, too. Nothing is set in stone.
“I haven’t contributed as well as I think I could, offensively. Anytime you can help out, especially in this environment, you want to do so.”
Julien has experimented with different looks for his top line and came to the conclusion before Game 4 that Peverley was his choice.
“We had different looks,” Julien said. “We saw [Michael] Ryder go up there a few times as well when Rich was killing penalties. I said I’d use different players at that position. Pev’s got good speed. Their line had forechecks pretty well with Lucic on one side. We thought we’d keep that going. He still has pretty decent hands. We thought we would start with that. Michael is another guy who can fit on that line as well. Certainly Tyler [Seguin] was a consideration. His skill and speed level on that line at times also.”
|Brad Marchand said the Bruins were ‘really looking to send a message’||06.07.11 at 12:50 am ET|
In one of the more physical, tense and nasty Stanley Cup final games in recent memory, the Bruins hammered the Canucks, 8-1, Monday night in Game 3 and now trail Vancouver, 2 games-to-1.
The physical play began with a shot to the head of Nathan Horton by Aaron Rome just over five minutes into the contest. Horton left on a stretcher after his neck was immobilized. He reported having feeling in all extremities and was taken to Massachusetts General for observation. The nastiness reached a new level in the third when Shawn Thornton was ejected via a 10-minute misconduct while three more Bruins followed. Rome was ejected along with three other Canucks in the third, as the Bruins poured it on with four goals in the second and four in the third.
“We had a good game but we were really looking to send a message and we wanted to get back in the series,” Brad Marchand said. “They had a pretty commanding lead there. We knew it was going to be a big game tonight and we were just hoping to get back in the series.
“Any playoff series it’s a battle out there. We’re fighting for something we wanted our whole lives. It’s going to be a battle every game. It’s going to look like that. I think it’s just going to get chippier as series goes on.”
|Travel and fatigue are challenges, not excuses, for the down but not out Bruins||06.05.11 at 10:34 pm ET|
One thing is for certain, that five-hour plane ride that began early Sunday morning in Vancouver would’ve been a lot shorter if the Bruins had found a way to hold onto their 2-1 third-period lead in Game 2 Saturday night.
But the Bruins had no choice but to get on the 7 a.m. bus and catch their 8 a.m. (PT) flight back for Boston. At least it was a charter and at least it was a big plane so most everyone could catch up on sleep and relaxation.
“We’re not going to hide the fact that we don’t travel as much as they do,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said, referring to the fact that the Canucks basically head out on a lengthy road trip every time they don’t play at Rogers Arena. “They’re probably used to this more than we are. So I think it was important for us to really look at it in a way where we had to make it the best possible way for us.”
When they beat Tampa Bay, 1-0, in Game 7 of the Eastern finals, Julien and the Bruins knew managing their travel would be nearly as important as solving Roberto Luongo. Julien wanted his team to leave Sunday morning so they could get back Sunday afternoon and get back on Eastern time ASAP, with Game 3 Monday night at 8 p.m. Read the rest of this entry »