|Claude Julien: Tuukka Rask ‘just as good’ as Tim Thomas in 2011 Cup run||06.16.13 at 3:18 pm ET|
The comparison has been obvious since the second round of this Bruins playoff run.
Is Tuukka Rask as good as Tim Thomas in 2011 when the Bruins won the Stanley Cup on the strength of one of the best goaltending performances in Stanley Cup history?
In the eyes of Bruins coach Claude Julien, there’s no doubt.
“I think it’s just as good, no doubt,” Julien said of Rask, who is now 13-5 in the playoffs, a 1.73 goals against and a .944 save percentage. All of those numbers better the performance of Thomas when he won the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP. “Tim has been a great goaltender for us. When you lose a guy like that, there’s always that fear that you’re not going to be able to replace him.
“Tuukka’s done an outstanding job. To me, he’s been as much of a contributor to our team as Tim was two years ago.”
Rask gave his take on Sunday morning.
“For myself, that was the best I’ve ever seen, obviously,” Rask said of Thomas’ 16-9 record, with a 1.98 GAA and a .940 save percentage in the 2011 playoffs. “I’d never been that deep in the playoffs before and for me, as a spectator, that was the best stretch of goaltending I’d ever seen.”
The only area where Thomas has Rask beat right now is in shutouts (4-2), that and a Conn Smythe trophy, for now.
Rask did admit one thing Sunday – this is the best goaltending he’s played in his career.
“Probably, yeah,” Rask said.
|Claude Julien: Tuukka Rask ‘kept us in there’||06.16.13 at 12:34 am ET|
While the Blackhawks were threatening to blow open Game 2 and send the Stanley Cup final back to Boston with a 2-0 lead, it was Tuukka Rask who was the difference. The Hawks out-shot the Bruins 19-4 but had only a Patrick Sharp goal to show for it.
Claude Julien was quick to thank his goaltender after a 2-1 overtime win that has the Bruins flying back to Boston with the series tied, 1-1. Rask made 59 saves in a losing effort on Wednesday night before turning aside 33 shots on Saturday, including all four under the ultimate pressure of sudden death overtime.
“If you look at our game, I thought the first period, we just weren’t there,” Julien said. “We were on our heels. They had total control of that period. Tuukka kept us in there. I thought the second, we started turning it around. Third, same thing. We got better as the game went on. Overtime, that was the best, had a lot of scoring chances there. Like I told our guys, we got to show up on time for these kind of games. It could have cost us tonight.
Was Julien concerned that eventually the Blackhawks pressure would wear down Rask?
“I think obviously our players responded to that,” Julien said. “I think we gave them four shots in the second, four shots in the third, maybe two or three in the overtime. I haven’t checked that out yet. We at least gave him a little bit of an opportunity to catch his breath again. That first period, like I said, was extremely hard for him. But thankfully our guys rewarded him with that effort by being a lot better in front of him for the rest of the game.
“Again, we got rewarded because I thought from the second period on, we were a good team, a better team, and by the end I thought we had more chances.”
Julien said the simple difference in the second period was his team moving their legs.
“We started playing,” Julien said. of the game’s turnaround. “I mean that in the right way. We were on our heels. We were second to the puck. We were just throwing pucks out of our own end. We weren’t making plays. We were standing still in our own end. A couple of point-blank shots. We were just not ready to play. After the first period, a bit of a chat, we got ourselves going. We got our feet moving at the start, then the rest followed, and eventually it just got better.”
It was Julien who mixed up the lines looking for added energy. It worked as Paille, Chris Kelly and Tyler Seguin brought the energy the Bruins needed to overcome the early sluggishness.
“We didn’t have much going,” Julien said. “At one point I thought that line would give us something. They responded well. Got both goals tonight. It’s a hunch from a coach. I know that Dan is a great skater, can make a lot of things happen. Seguin after the first period was one of the guys that picked up his game. Kelly was one of the guys that was good right from the start. I put those three guys together and they answered.”
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|Game 2 postgame notes: Bruins 2, Blackhawks 1 (OT)||06.16.13 at 12:09 am ET|
The Bruins tied the Stanley Cup finals as Daniel Paille scored the game-winner at 13:48 of overtime, giving the Bruins a 2-1 win over the Blackhawks Saturday night at United Center in Chicago. The series now shifts to Boston for Games 3 and 4 Monday and Wednesday before returning to Chicago next Saturday night.
Here are some postgame notes, courtesy the Bruins media relations department:
• The Bruins now have an 18-28 lifetime record in Game 2 of best-of-seven series in which they lost the first game.
• They are 22-12 lifetime when tied in a best-of-seven series 1-1 and they are 18-16 lifetime in Game 3s when tied in a best-of-seven series 1-1.
• The Blackhawks now have a 17-13 lifetime record in Game 2 of best-of-seven series in which they won the first game.
• They are 15-11 lifetime when tied in a best-of-seven series 1-1 and they are 15-11 lifetime in Game 3 when tied in a best-of-seven series 1-1.
• The Bruins are 1-3 lifetime when tied in a Stanley Cup finals series 1-1 and they are 1-3 lifetime in Game 3 when tied in a Stanley Cup finals series 1-1.
• The Blackhawks are 2-0 lifetime when tied in a Stanley Cup finals series 1-1 and they are 2-0 lifetime in Game 3 when tied in a Stanley Cup finals series 1-1.
• The Bruins played their 124th lifetime playoff overtime game and they now have a 54-67-3 record in playoff overtime. They are 5-2 in overtime in this postseason. It was their 65th on the road and that record is now 24-40-2.
• This is the first time they have played back-to-back overtime games in the playoffs since games six (4-3 Boston win) and seven (2-1 Washington win) in their 2012 quarterfinal series. It was their first consecutive overtime games in a Stanley Cup finals since Games 1 (4-3 Montreal win) and 2 (3-2 Montreal win) of the 1946 finals.
• The Blackhawks played their 85th lifetime playoff overtime game and they now have a 45-40 record in playoff overtime. They are 4-2 in overtime in this postseason. It was their 44th on home ice and that record is now 27-17.
• This is the first time they have played back-to-back overtime games in the playoffs since they played the each of first five games of their 2012 quarterfinal series vs. Phoenix into extra sessions, going 2-3 in those games. They had not played consecutive overtime games in a Stanley Cup finals since Games 2 (2-1 win) and 3 (3-2 win) of the 1931 finals vs. Montreal.
|Claude Julien: Game 1 loss ‘certainly won’t’ keep Bruins from coming back||06.13.13 at 1:48 am ET|
Claude Julien doesn’t believe Thursday morning’s heartbreaking end to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals will have a lingering effect on his team. Julien pointed to the 2011 Cup finals when the Bruins lost the first two games in Vancouver before coming back to win the Cup.
Julien was asked if the veteran make-up of his roster will help in preventing hangover from the 4-3 loss to Chicago in triple overtime.
“Not really,” Julien said. “Last time we won the Cup, we lost the first two games to Vancouver. It never stopped us from coming back. This
“When you look at the game, it could have gone either way. I thought we had some real great looks in overtime. With a little bit of luck, we could have ended it before they did. But that’s the name of the game. They got a good break on their tying goal going off one of our skates. That’s the way the game goes. Some nights you get the break going your way, some nights you don’t. As far as I’m concerned, two good teams tonight that played extremely hard. Unfortunately there’s a loser and a winner.
“It’s never easy to lose a game when you’re in the third overtime period. I liked our first period. Second period was OK until those three penalties. Kind of gave them momentum and took it away from us. But, you know, I thought that in overtime we got better. We got a little stronger. We had some great looks, some great opportunities, we just didn’t bury them. Eventually somebody is going to score a goal as fatigue sets in. [I'm] not disappointed in our effort. There’s certain things you’re going to want to fix for next game. But as far as the game is concerned, it was a hard-fought game.”
Julien also had a good-natured jab at Andrew Shaw, who scored off a double deflection for the game-winner. Julien was asked how Shaw fits in on a Chicago team full of stars.
“Where does he fit in?” Julien asked the reporter. “I don’t think we do our game-planning around Mr. Shaw. Our game plan is against the Chicago Blackhawks. We know he’s an agitator. We know he’s good at embellishing, too, at times. We know all that stuff. We’ve done our research.”
|Stanley Cup finals Game 1 postgame notes: Blackhawks 4, Bruins 3 (3OT)||06.13.13 at 1:25 am ET|
Andrew Shaw scored off a double deflection at 12:08 of triple overtime to give the Blackhawks a 4-3 win over the Bruins in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals Wednesday night at the United Center in Chicago. It was the longest overtime game in Stanley Cup finals play since Petr Klima beat the Bruins in triple overtime in Game 1 of the 1990 finals at Boston Garden.
With 52 minutes, eight seconds of overtime play, it was the fifth-longest finals game in history and the longest since Detroit beat Carolina on June 8, 2002, a game that took 54 minutes, 47 seconds. The longest game in finals history came on May 15, 1990, at Boston Garden when Petr Klima scored at 55:13 of overtime.
Tuukka Rask made 59 saves while Corey Crawford stopped 51 shots for the Blackhawks.
Milan Lucic scored Boston’s first two goals of the Stanley Cup finals, staking Boston to a 2-0 lead midway through the second period. Lucic scored on a pretty assist from Nathan Horton just over 13 minutes into the game.
Lucic scored on a shot from between the circles just 51 second into the second period.
• The game was the longest of this postseason at 52:08 of overtime and stands as the fifth-longest game in Stanley Cup final history.
• The Bruins played their 123rd lifetime playoff overtime game, and they now have a 53-67-3 record in playoff overtime. They are 4-2 in overtime in this postseason. It was their 64th on the road and that record now stands at 23-40-2.
• It was Boston’s 21st multiple-overtime playoff game in their history and second of this postseason. It was the sixth game in their history to go into three or more overtimes and they now have a 3-2 mark in triple-overtime games and an 0-1 record in a six-overtime game. It was the fourth-longest game in Bruins history.
• The Blackhawks played their 84th lifetime playoff overtime game, and they now have a 45-39 record in playoff overtime. They are 4-1 in overtime in this postseason. It was their 43rd on home ice, and that record now stands at 27-16.
• It was Chicago’s 20th multiple-overtime playoff game in their history and second of this postseason. It was the seventh game in their history to go into three or more overtimes and they now have a 4-3 mark in triple-overtime games. It was the third-longest game in Blackhawks history.
|Claude Julien: ‘There’s no doubt we’re hungry’||06.10.13 at 5:02 pm ET|
The Bruins have reached the Stanley Cup finals for the second time in three years. And being back so soon hasn’t diminished the thirst to drink from the Cup, some Claude Julien pointed out Monday after another practice at TD Garden.
“I would think so,” Julien responded when asked if the desire to win it all still burns. “There’s no reason why it wouldn’t. Anybody that makes it this far know how hard it is. There’s no doubt we’re hungry.”
That doesn’t mean Julien won’t press a few buttons, something he did mid-practice Monday when he brought all of his troops together for a high-spirited discussion.
Beyond that, Julien and his staff are busy right now trying to impart the right information on the Blackhawks to his troops without bordering on information overload.
“That part of it hasn’t changed for us. Even if we haven’t played them we’ve taken the same approach as far as giving information,” Julien said. “Same thing, even if you’ve played them you don’t want to give them information overload. Like I said, we do all the research as coaches and we have all that stuff for ourselves, so if we need it we can share it with the players. We give them the basics and you give them the things that you really have to be careful with.
“That way you don’t kind of handcuff your players not to play their games because they’re overthinking. It really is all about your team and how well you want to play, and whatever they do extremely well you try to adjust to that. Not anymore than that, even though we haven’t played them it’s really about us having confidence in our game and trying to minimize their strengths like we’ve done with every other team so far.”
Most importantly, Julien made it clear that despite the speed the Hawks possess through the neutral zone in players like Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp, the Bruins have to stick to their game plan and have a strong forecheck in the offensive zone.
“Our forecheck has to be our forecheck,” Julien said. “It’s got to be efficient in order to minimize that. And that means putting pucks in the right places. If you don’t, they’ll have some easy breakouts. They excel at that area. They have a lot of D’s back there that can carry the puck and skate well, so there’s no doubt that that’s going to be a key. Some of our success will be how good we are in those areas.”
|Adam McQuaid has moved beyond joy of Game 4 against Pittsburgh||06.10.13 at 2:46 pm ET|
Friday was quite the night for Adam McQuaid.
He fulfilled Milan Lucic‘s prophecy of scoring a goal, a tally that sent the Bruins onto their second Stanley Cup finals appearance in three seasons. He savored the moment, talked to friends who texted him congratulations and got his rest.
Now, all of that is in the distant past.
“That night was pretty fun but turn the page and [get] focused for the next round here,” McQuaid said Monday as the Bruins began to prep for the Blackhawks on the ice. “I had a few more messages than normal. It was nice. Just turn the page now and get re-focused.”
The Bruins skated on Sunday but Monday had more a regular feel as the Bruins staff had a day to break down film and get their team ready.
“Yeah, we need to make sure that we’re ready to go,” McQuaid said. “We’re facing a real tough challenge. We have to make sure we’re focused and at our best here.”
McQuaid and the Bruins defensive corps will have their hands full with the likes of Patrick Kane, Bryan Bickell, Jonthan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa and Michal Handzus. McQuaid was watching all of them Saturday night when the Hawks won Game 5 in double-overtime on a Kane hat trick.
“They’re a well-balanced team,” McQuaid said. “They come hard with a lot of talent. And again, they’re another team that can generate offense and is strong on the puck. It’s going to be a good challenge.”
Both the Bruins and Blackhawks came perilously close to not making this date in the finals. The Bruins had their epic comeback from 4-1 down in the last 11 minutes of Game 7 against Toronto in the opening round. The Hawks were down 3-1 to the Red Wings before winning three straight in the second round.
“To get that point and to be able to come through it, maybe we were able to relax a little bit and go out and play the way we’re capable of playing, where at times before, maybe we weren’t,” McQuaid said of being down in Game 7. “Maybe we were a little too worried about the result instead of going out and playing our game and giving ourselves the best chance.
“I think you see for our teams to get this point usually they go through something like that. Chicago came back from that 3-1 [deficit] against Detroit. I guess we’ve learned nothing is over until it’s over. So, something to learn from, I guess.”
This is not the first trip to the finals for McQuaid, who of course was part of the 2011 Bruins team. He said that might help at first but then, it will come down to execution on the ice.
“Having been there before, everything won’t be totally new,” he said. “But at the same time, it’s a new year. We have to be sure we’re approaching it the right way, that we’re not thinking that just because we’ve been there before that we’re going to have the same result if we just go out and play. We have to make sure we’re approaching this as a new situation, a new year and being ready to go.”