|Captain Z: We can’t lose focus like last year||04.27.10 at 1:00 am ET|
What a difference a year makes for Zdeno Chara following an opening-round win.
Last year, the Bruins dispatched of the Montreal Canadiens in four games, and then waited nine days for their second-round series to begin when Carolina came from behind to beat New Jersey in the closing five minutes of Game 7.
While the Bruins were long on rest, they were short on sharpness and, in the end, it cost them dearly as they dropped Game 2 at home and fell behind 3 games to 1 before rallying to force Game 7. They fell in heart-breaking fashion when Scott Walker scored the OT game-winner to end the Bruins season.
“We can’t lose the focus like maybe we did last year a little bit during that week off,” Chara said in the wake of Monday’s series-clinching win over Buffalo. “We have to stay on top of things and really get ready for our next opponent, which we don’t know who that’s going to be.”
The reason the Bruins don’t know who’s next is because Montreal has decided to learn from 2009 as well. They have not rolled over for Washington. Instead, following a 4-1 win over the Capitals on Monday, there will be a seventh game in America’s capital on Wednesday night.
If the Capitals survive, the Bruins open the second round in Pittsburgh against the defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins. If the Canadiens pull off the shocker, the Bruins actually host Games 1 and 2 against Philadelphia beginning this weekend.
Chara said the team has earned one good day of rest but that’s all they need right now.
“Just maybe relax on [Tuesday], enjoy the day off, and then get back at it on Wednesday,” he said.
“Obviously it’s always a nice feeling, to be going to the second round. Buffalo was extremely playing well. They battled hard and it was a tough series.”
Another source of pride for Chara was the performance of the specialty teams. The Bruins killed off all 19 Buffalo power plays in the series while Boston scored five power play goals.
“I really thought that our specialty teams played extremely well,” Chara said. “We battled pretty much hard every game. We were almost into every game, besides Game 5.
“We take a lot of pride in our PK. We try to, you know, we’re obviously aggressive, but at the same time well-positioned and like I said, the people we have on the ice, those are the workers and we try to always outwork the opposite power play.”
|2nd period summary: Bruins vs. Sabres – Game 6||04.26.10 at 8:46 pm ET|
The Bruins are 20 minutes away from heading to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs for a second straight year as they lead Buffalo, 2-1, after two periods.
It seemed the Bruins would come out regretting the roughing penalty taken by captain Zdeno Chara at the 20-minute mark of the first period that wiped out a power play to open the second.
Then apparently Buffalo’s Tim Connolly felt bad for Chara and the Bruins as he took an equally puzzling and terribly-timed undisciplined penalty of his own.
Connolly’s cross-checking penalty penalty just 16 seconds in led to a pretty power play goal for the Bruins as David Krejci found Mark Recchi down low to the left of Ryan Miller. Recchi wasted no time with the one-timer that beat Miller for a 2-0 Boston lead just 61 seconds into the second.
With the gold towels going crazy the Bruins seemed to be on the verge of putting away the Sabres.
But after Boston killed its 18th straight penalty in the series, Dennis Wideman turned the puck over in the defensive zone and the Sabres found some new life when Patrick Kaleta scored with just over 13 minutes left in the period to make it 2-1.
The Bruins killed off yet another penalty near the end of the period for too many men on the ice and now are a perfect 19-for-19 in the series.
|1st period summary: Bruins vs. Sabres – Game 6||04.26.10 at 7:49 pm ET|
The Bruins, who struggled all season finding the back of the net on the man-advantage, scored for the 5th time in 18 power play chances this series.
The assist was Recchi’s 75th career in the playoffs, by far more than any active player in the playoffs.
With the Bruins looking for an early strike in Game 6, it was the Sabres who got the game’s first big break.
Steve Begin was whistled for a cross-checking penalty at 2:32 of the first period.
But as it has been all season and in this season, the Bruins penalty kill came up huge.
Not only did they remain perfect in 17 kill chances this series, the Bruins were the ones who created the best scoring chances.
Patrice Bergeron collected a loose puck in the neutral zone on sloppy play by Buffalo and skated in on Miller. He lost control near the top of the right circle but Marco Sturm was there to gather it and fired point blank. The shot deflected off the crossbar keeping the game scoreless.
Daniel Paille had another clean shot on net on Buffalo’s power play from the left point but Miller made a nice pad save.
Buffalo’s best chance came with just over eight minutes left in the period on a re-direct when Nathan Gerbe got his stick on a puck in front of Rask but the Bruins netminder made the clean save with no rebound.
And the Bruins appeared certain to start the second on the power play thanks to a Henrik Tallinder, who flipped the puck out of play with 5.6 seconds to go for a delay-of-game call. But Zdeno Chara was called for an undisciplined roughing call in a scrum at 20 minutes to nullify the advantage.
|Bruins save their best for last||04.10.10 at 5:29 pm ET|
Every fan inside TD Garden on Saturday was pretty safe thinking they had seen it all when the Bruins set a new NHL record by scoring three short-handed goals in one minor penalty. After all, it had never happened in the history of the league.
Then Blake Wheeler tried to find Michael Ryder in the offensive zone and missed. No problem, except for the fact the puck banked off the boards at center ice and carmoned down the ice toward Boston’s vacated net after Tuukka Rask headed off for an extra skater on a delayed power play.
“I was trying to find a second speed somehow and talk to that puck to slow down because it was going pretty fast.” Bergeron said.
He got his stick on it just before it crossed the line and emotional disaster was averted. Instead of the Bruins getting tied up, 3-3, on the flukiest of goals, they maintained their 3-2 advantage and held on a 4-2 playoff-clinching win.
“I had to keep going, the puck actually took some speed I think,” Bergeron said. “It was going pretty fast there and as soon as I turned around I realized it was probably going to go in. It was going right for the net so I started going as fast as I could.”
And now Bergeron and the Bruins can finally think about the playoffs.
“Yeah, it’s a big relief,” Bergeron said. “We always knew we could do it and you wait 81 games just to get there and it means a lot to us, obviously. We can look forward now. We know that anything can happen in the playoffs as long as you get in. After that, it’s up in the air and you just have to be ready and play your game.”
Blake Wheeler expressed his relief afterward and gratitude toward Bergeron.
|Julien: ‘We’re not there yet’||04.10.10 at 1:29 pm ET|
Bruins coach Claude Julien was cautioning against counting any playoff berths before they’re clinched prior to Saturday afternoon’s matinee with the Carolina Hurricanes at TD Garden. With a win, the Bruins clinch a playoff spot and no worse than a No. 7 seed in the East and avoid the Washington Capitals in the first round.
[Click here to listen to Julien’s pregame comments.]
“We’re not there yet,” Julien said. “This is an opportunity for us to control our own destiny. For me, we need to take care of business today. It’s as simple as that. We need to be ready to go. And hopefully we are.”
Meanwhile, Julien said defenseman Mark Stuart is still more than a few days away from returning to action after surgery to treat a finger infection. Tuukka Rask starts in net for the Bruins. Should the Bruins not clinch today, they finish up the season on Sunday afternoon in Washington against the Capitals.
|Wideman, Bruins can smell the playoffs||04.09.10 at 1:08 am ET|
So it has come down to this. Thanks to a win over the Northeast Division champion Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night at TD Garden, the Bruins could clinch a playoff berth on Friday while enjoying a meal.
“We’ve been right there,” Wideman said of the charge toward the playoffs. “You don’t want to be looking too far ahead. We still have two more games that we want to try and win and not make it come down to the last game so we have to make sure we’re ready to play Carolina on Saturday. Carolina always plays us tough so we have to make sure that we are up to the task.”
That is why the Bruins were rightfully feeling proud of their win on Thursday and none moreso than Dennis Wideman who has seen more ups and downs than anyone in Bruins black and gold this season.
It was Wideman’s turnover that led to Buffalo’s goal by Derek Roy in the first period. The Bruins were down 1-0 after 20 minutes and tied, 1-1, after 40.
But it was Wideman’s shot from the high slot in the third that proved to be the game-winner in Boston’s 3-1 victory.
“Yeah, that was a real big win for us,” Wideman said. “We struggled a bit early. We weren’t quite up to where we wanted to play, but I think we stuck with it and came through with the win.
“That’s one thing that you can’t do when you get into situations like that and you start panicking you start gripping your stick a bit too tight and then things just go downhill from there. It was good that we didn’t panic and we responded and we came back and back and ended up winning the game.”
Wideman fired a shot through Blake Wheeler‘s screen for the goal in the third period.
“Blake did a great job on that goal,” Wideman said. “I think he turned the puck over in the neutral zone, then he kicked it out to Vlad [Vladimir Sobotka] and then Vlad drove it down wide there and showed great patience by not just throwing it at the net into a crowd of people and he pulled back and he found me in the slot and all I had to do was make sure I hit a hole in the net because Blake had a great screen on him.”
The crowd booed Wideman every time he touched the puck after his turnover in the first. But they cheered him when he became the hero in the third.
“I didn’t hear the cheering, no,” he said, before offering, “I don’t know what to say about that actually. Obviously, it’s not easy. It’s a little harder when you’re trying to make a play or trying to be patient with the puck when that is going on, but that is part of the game.
“[Fans] can do whatever they want,” Wideman added. “They pay to come to the game. Obviously at the start of the year and most of the year, things didn’t go as well as I would like or as well as it has in the past. I just have to prove to them that I can still play and I still want to win.”
|Second period summary: Bruins vs. Sabres||04.08.10 at 8:44 pm ET|
Despite their continuing ineptitude on the power play, the Bruins managed to get themselves back on level ice with Sabres after 40 minutes.
Miroslav Satan collected a loose rebound in front of Buffalo goalie Patrick Lalime and slid a backhand five-hole to tie the game just 2 minutes, 15 seconds into the second period. For Satan, it was his ninth of the season and his third in his last three games. He has three of Boston’s last five goals, overall.
And the Bruins have killed off both Sabres power plays tonight. They have killed 13-of-last-14 opponents’ power plays.
That’s the good news.
The bad… they had another two power play chances and missed on both, making them 0-for-5 on the night and an incredible 0-for-17 in their last six games.
Tuukka Rask continues to look sharp in goal, as he turned away all 14 Buffalo shots in the second while the Bruins had 11 on Lalime.