|Lightning’s penalty kill shuts down Bruins in Game 1||05.15.11 at 2:04 am ET|
The Bruins' power play deserves all the criticism it gets for its performance in the playoffs, but the Lightning's penalty kill also deserves quite a bit of credit for its performance in Game 1.
The Lightning made it difficult for the Bruins' man advantage, which went 0-for-4 in the game, to enter the zone and get set up all night long. They pressured the Bruins out high and forced them to gain entry by dumping the puck instead of sitting back and letting the B's skate over the blue line. They also did a good job winning races to pucks and clearing the zone quickly, and they consistently got in passing and shooting lanes.
That's not really all that surprising given the fact that the Lightning ranked eighth in the regular season on the PK at 83.8 percent. They've taken their game to an even higher level in the playoffs, killing off penalties at a 94.8-percent clip (55 for 58).
'I think we've had a good penalty kill all year long, top five for most of the year,' coach Guy Boucher said. 'I think we're following that up in the playoffs. We had a really good penalty kill in the first series and the second series. We've got to adjust to the other team and at the same time stay confident in what we are doing. Obviously our guys pay the price a lot and I think that's the key to our penalty kill.'
Goalie Dwayne Roloson said there's no one thing that has been the key to the Lightning's successful PK, but that it's more about attention to detail.
'Our guys have done a great job focusing and doing the little things to allow us to kill those penalties off,' Roloson said. 'You know, whether it's battles at the blue line or getting pucks down deep when we get that opportunity. So there's no one thing. I think it's just, for us as a team, just playing within our structure and doing the little things that we have to do to win hockey games.'
Although there might not be one specific key, the Lightning's shot blocking is one thing that really stands out. They blocked 17 shots total in the game, with at least a handful of those coming while they were shorthanded.
'You have to block shots,' said forward Martin St. Louis. 'It is a desperate time of the year. I think it is the mentality we have, blocking a lot of shots all year long and in the playoffs. '¦ You want to get that shot and block that shot and make an attempt to block every shot so Rollie gets less work.'
As good as Tampa Bay’s penalty kill was, though, there was still a lot the Bruins’ power play could’ve done better.
“I thought our execution could certainly have been better, especially on those entries there,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “If we do our job properly, I think we are going to have success, but you need the execution. … You need the execution to be there and you need the killer instinct. When you have the chance, you need to bury those things. And same thing with the loose pucks, you have to be first on those and make sure you get them and not the other team. So execution, killer instinct is something that needs to be better on our power play moving forward here.”
|Lightning not getting worked up over Bruins’ punches in final minute||05.15.11 at 1:16 am ET|
It would be understandable if the Lightning were angered by the punches Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic landed on Dominic Moore and Victor Hedman, respectively, in the final minute of Saturday's Game 1. It would even be understandable if they retaliated, either at the time or in the future.
Instead, the Lightning seem completely unperturbed by Lucic and Horton's actions. They didn't respond on the ice, and they didn't have much of a response after the game, either.
'Well, there is not too much to say,' Hedman said of the incident. 'That is part of the game, too. I have to expect that and there is nothing I can do about it. That's what he did, and I wasn't expecting it, so that is why it took me a little aback.'
Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher avoided commenting on Horton and Lucic and said he was just happy his team kept its composure.
'We only focus on our emotions, not the other team's emotions,' Boucher said. 'We were really calm and we stayed calm.'
Hedman said he doesn't expect a carryover or anyone going out of their way to get revenge in Game 2 Tuesday night.
'No, I don't think so,' he said. 'It happens in games and it is something you have to expect. I don't think there is going to be anything else going on.'
|Andrew Ference on D&C: Claude Julien has fiery side||05.13.11 at 9:57 am ET|
Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference appeared on the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning to talk about the upcoming series with the Lightning. To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Ference said the Bruins are itching to get back to game action after having an eight-day layoff but that they haven't gotten too restless in practice this week. 'This week's been handled well. We've had a couple of good practices,' Ference said. 'It actually doesn't feel overloaded. I think it's been just the right amount.'
Ference said there were still some good battles in practice, though. 'We had some stitches yesterday,' he said. 'You get battles because you have to stay sharp. … If one guy's going at 95 percent game speed and the other's at 80 percent, it doesn't always work out. That guy at 80 percent gets brought up to speed fast.'
Ference also talked about matching up against the Lightning and which players he's been focusing on the most.
'I know Johnny [Boychuk] and I are probably going to be up against their second line a lot, so [Vincent] Lecavalier is obviously a guy we're going to have to key on,' Ference said. 'He's been a good player for a long time. But honestly, I’m not big on studying the guys I’m playing against. I just concentrate on myself and what I have to do.'
As many others have already noted, Ference said the Lightning play more like the Canadiens than the Flyers, especially when it comes to neutral-zone play. 'We'll have to line up kind of like we did with Montreal,' he said. 'We’ll have to have patience in our game. They can be aggressive, but more often than not, they'll fall back and frustrate teams with their defense and clogging up the neutral zone.' Read the rest of this entry »
|Bruins not worried about adjusting to new line combinations||05.11.11 at 1:12 pm ET|
At this point in the season, you would expect any team still playing to have its line combinations set, and the Bruins did through the end of the regular season and the first two rounds of the playoffs. But with Patrice Bergeron out with a concussion, Claude Julien has had to shuffle his second and third lines.
Chris Kelly has moved up to take Bergeron’s spot as the second-line center between Brad Marchand and Mark Recchi. Meanwhile, Michael Ryder has switched from right wing to left wing to make room for Tyler Seguin to be the third-line right wing. All that movement and potential unfamiliarity could be reason for concern, but Julien doesn’t see it that way.
“Those guys have gone through those kinds of things throughout the whole year,” Julien said. “I think our guys have been used to playing with each other. Even in practice, we mix and match and you see different pairings at times. I thought our guys adjusted well, and if we did decide to make some other changes, I’m sure it wouldn’t be a big issue.”
One interesting thing to note about the new lines is that the second line now consists of three left-handed shots, while the third line comprises three righties. Kelly said that shouldn’t be an issue, either.
“These guys can pick up passes on their backhand just as easy as they can pick up passes on their forehand,” Kelly said. “So I don't think it's anything that you need to think about or worry about.”
Of course, Recchi has played the off-wing for most of the season, so there’s no adjustment there. Ryder, on the other hand, has been on the right side for the majority of the season. Julien said Ryder is just as much at home on the left side, though.
“Mike is just as comfortable playing on the left as he is on the right, that much I know,” Julien said. “So making that change isn’t a big deal.”
|Claude Julien: Tomas Kaberle will ‘have to be even bigger’||05.11.11 at 12:30 pm ET|
Tomas Kaberle has been one of the most scrutinized Bruins since he arrived in Boston in mid-February, and for good reason. He wasn’t contributing as much on offense and the power play as he was expected to, and he was making some costly mistakes in his own zone.
Claude Julien said he thought Kaberle played better in the Bruins’ most recent series against the Flyers, though. In fact, the 12-year veteran finished the series with a plus-4 rating.
“I know at one point we had expected a little more out of him, and we were clear with that,” Julien said. “I think since that time, he's certainly been a pretty good player for us these last few games against Philly. We've seen him move the puck extremely well and I think he's been a better player. … We've liked the way he's handled the puck and handled the pressure of the forecheck and getting the attack going.”
Julien said Kaberle will have to step up even more in the Eastern Conference finals against the Lightning because of their 1-3-1 scheme that clogs up the neutral zone (explained here).
“I think in this series coming up, he's going to have to be even bigger for us because of the way they play the game,” Julien said. “We're going to need some really good puck movement from the back end, so he's going to be a key element to our success.”
|Milan Lucic breaks out of slump with two goals in Game 4 win||05.07.11 at 2:09 am ET|
Friday night's series-clinching win over the Flyers was special for everyone involved with the Bruins, but it was a little extra special for Milan Lucic. The team's leading goal scorer during the regular season entered the game without a goal in the playoffs. In fact, he hadn't scored in 20 games going back to the end of the regular season.
That drought finally came to an end when Lucic one-timed home a centering pass from Nathan Horton for a power-play goal 12:02 into the game.
'It was great,' Lucic said when asked how he felt after the goal. 'It was a great feeling once I scored that goal just to get that monkey off my back and get that lead.'
Lucic wasn't done, either. He gave the Bruins a 3-1 lead with 4:57 remaining in the game when he beat Sergei Brobovsky five-hole on a breakaway for his second goal of the night. That was the backbreaker for the Flyers, who had turned up the pressure after the Bruins made it 2-1 earlier in the third.
'That's what it was all about here. We had to weather that storm,' coach Claude Julien said. 'When you are desperate and you need to score to stay in the series, you know they are going to give it their best shot. '¦ We did a great job until we got that third goal, which was a big goal. Certainly it relieved a lot of pressure.'
Lucic admitted that he got frustrated at times during the slump, but he credited his teammates for supporting him and helping him get through it.
'My teammates, especially my linemates with [David] Krejci and Horton, we've been able to create so much chemistry here,' Lucic said. 'They had my back and they just told me, 'It's going to come. Just keep sticking with it.' I tried my hardest not to get frustrated. There was a time there when I was really frustrated. But right now, obviously it feels good to step up and help the team win a big game.'
Assistant captain Mark Recchi said that sort of team unity is one of the biggest reasons the Bruins are where they are right now.
'That's what good teams do,' Recchi said. 'When you haven't scored for a while, you tend to get tight. He's a young kid and hopefully now he's found a really good time to start getting hot. He's been a great teammate to everybody else this year. When guys are struggling or they're fighting to score goals, what good teams do is find ways to help him and take that pressure off of him.'
|Sustained pressure at both ends of the ice prevents Flyers from getting back in the game||05.04.11 at 11:43 pm ET|
Last year, the Bruins failed to keep their foot on the gas pedal and let the Flyers back into a 3-0 series and back into a 3-0 Game 7. Whether the Bruins can finish off the Flyers in this series remains to be seen, but they showed on Wednesday night that they're not about to ease off the gas again. After jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the game's opening 63 seconds, the Bruins refused to let up and continued to pressure the Flyers at both ends of the ice.
'I think we knew there was still lots of hockey left to play, and it was important for us to keep playing our game and not all of a sudden go into a shell or sit back,' Claude Julien said. 'They're a team that is very good offensively and if you give them some space or if you sit back, they're going to make you pay for it.'
The Bruins made it clear they weren't going to sit back with a pair of huge hits on the forecheck. First it was Brad Marchand, who knocked Ville Leino clean off his skates with a hard shoulder to the chest. Later in the first period, Daniel Paille unloaded on Kris Versteeg and sent the forward sprawling into the boards.
'There were a couple big hits, and we need that,' said defenseman Johnny Boychuk, who had a nice hip check of his own on Leino in the defensive zone. 'It's a physical game in the playoffs. We just need guys to play like that and not run out of position to get that hit and give up an odd-man rush or something like that. They picked their spots and there were a couple great hits.'
Even when they weren't landing bone-jarring hits, the Bruins were consistently disrupting Philadelphia's breakouts. They got sticks on passes, forced them to circle back toward their own end and pressured them into turnovers.
'I think our forecheck was really good,' defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said. 'Our forwards were really getting on their D. Even when they were coming out of their zone, our guys were stepping up and having good gaps and just keeping them from coming with speed into the middle.' Read the rest of this entry »
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