|Mark Recchi opts out of morning skate; Habs mum on potential changes||04.23.11 at 12:26 pm ET|
All the Bruins were on the ice for Saturday’s morning skate except Mark Recchi, who opted not to take the ice. Recchi also opted out of Thursday’s morning skate before Game 4 in Montreal. The forward lines and defense pairings are expected to be the same as they were in Game 4.
The Canadiens had all hands on deck for their morning skate, but coach Jacques Martin hinted that there could be some changes to the lineup come 7 p.m. Saturday night. “We’ll decide on our lineup game time,” he said, adding that Montreal needs “more from certain people.”
|Bruins aren’t putting any stock in the home team not winning||04.22.11 at 2:14 pm ET|
So much for home ice advantage. The road team has won all four games in the Bruins’ first-round series against the Canadiens, but the B’s aren’t putting much stock in that as they return home for Game 5 on Saturday night.
“Because the away team scored more goals than the home team in all of those games,” Tim Thomas said, giving the most obvious explanation of why things have played out the way they have. “I don’t put too much thought into that.”
Thomas said that perhaps the home team just needs to play more of a “road game,” which he explained as a smarter, less flashy style of play.
“Play the type of game that you need to play to win,” he said. “Sometimes you’ve got to be safe, sometimes you take the chances. There is a tendency when you’re at home to try to put on a show for the home crowd, and sometimes that works against you over the course of a full 60-minute game.”
Andrew Ference said he doesn’t really believe in home-ice advantage anyway because everyone is just as comfortable on the road as they are at home.
“I don’t put a lot of stock into home-ice advantage, just because I think guys are very professional with the way we travel in the league,” Ference said. “We stay in good hotels and eat well. … We don’t feel like we’re behind the eight ball when we are on the road or anything like that. It’s just another hockey game.”
Claude Julien echoed his defenseman’s sentiments.
“I’m not worried about a team not winning at home,” Julien said. “I think what I’m more concerned about is making sure our team is ready to play tomorrow and hopefully build on that great win yesterday. We just have to keep getting better and not worry about where we’re playing, but how we’re playing.”
|Tim Thomas named Vezina Trophy finalist||04.22.11 at 1:40 pm ET|
In what was pretty much a foregone conclusion, Tim Thomas was named one of three finalists for the Vezina Trophy on Friday. Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo and Nashville’s Pekka Rinne are the other two finalists.
“Very happy to hear that, obviously,” Thomas said. “After last year, I wasn’t quite sure if I’d ever hear that again.”
Thomas, of course, is referring to his up-and-down 2009-10 campaign, in which he finished the season with a 17-18-8 record to go along with a 2.56 goals-against average and .915 save percentage. He ultimately ceded the starting job to Tuukka Rask by the playoffs.
Thomas bounced back in a big way this year, though. He went 35-11-9 and led the NHL in both goals-against average (2.00) and save percentage (.938). That .938 mark was good enough to break Dominik Hasek‘s single-season save percentage record.
“I definitely have more appreciation just for the fact that I have the opportunity to play,” Thomas said. “I waited a long time in my career just for the opportunity to play in any NHL games. I wanted to have the opportunity and wanted to be able to show what I could do. And so after last year, I think it’s made every game a little bit sweeter this year.”
Claude Julien said Thomas not only deserves the nomination, but that he also deserves to win the award.
“I think it’s pretty obvious to me that Tim is very deserving of that nomination,” Julien said. “Obviously I’m a big fan of what he’s done this year, and if you ask me, he certainly deserves it. I’m sure that I would get some arguments from other places, but I’m certainly going to support Tim for the season he’s had. Especially with what he went through last year, to bounce back this year and have that kind of season, he’s certainly very deserving. I wish him all the luck and I hope he wins what he deserves.”
Thomas said that although the nomination is great and he’s certainly happy about it, he’s focused on more pressing matters right now.
“Only if you make it,” Thomas said when asked if the nomination could be a distraction. “It’s weird timing that we happen to be in the middle of a very tough first-round series. … I could talk about it right now, but my focus will immediately go back to the playoff series. I won’t be thinking about the Vezina later today.”
|Andrew Ference OK with fine, maintains gesture was unintentional||04.22.11 at 1:18 pm ET|
“I talked with Mike Murphy of the NHL this morning and explained the same thing I told you guys last night,” Ference said. “He said the same thing, that it looks awful. Obviously with this series, the whole year, how it is between the Habs and the Bruins, a fine is acceptable. I had a good talk with him this morning.”
Ference stood by his claim that the gesture was unintentional. After the game, he said his glove might have gotten caught with the finger up, but that he wasn’t trying to do that.
“I was pumping my fist,” he said on Friday. “I'm not giving anybody the bird or anything like that. Like I told [the NHL], it was an unintentional bird. I obviously apologize for it. It wasn't meant to insult anybody, especially a whole row of cameras in the Bell Centre and the fans sitting there.”
Claude Julien stood by his defenseman.
“With Andrew, I think he’s been pretty open with what he thinks of the situation,” Julien said. “His comments were pretty clear, and I’m going to support my player. That’s my job, is to support and believe your player, and that’s what I’m going to do. He’s a big boy, he’s capable of handling himself.”
|Canadiens continue to clog shooting lanes in Game 2||04.17.11 at 1:28 am ET|
The Bruins have gotten a lot of shots on goal in their series against the Canadiens — 66 through two games — but they've also had a lot blocked. Montreal has registered a staggering 47 blocks in its pair of wins, including 27 in Saturday night's 3-1 triumph. By comparison, the Bruins have blocked just 21 shots in the series.
'We have some guys who are actually really good at it,' forward Michael Cammalleri said. '[Brent] Sopel and [Hal] Gill right away come to mind. Those guys are two premier shot-blockers in the NHL. They're leading the way and other guys are feeding off that.'
Gill led all players with five blocks in Game 2, while Sopel's seven in the two games combined are a series high. It's not just those two, though. Fourteen of the 19 Canadiens who have dressed in the series have blocked at least one shot. At the other end of the ice, only seven Bruins have registered a block.
'That's what it takes to win in the playoffs,' forward Mathieu Darche said. 'It wasn't only our third and fourth line guys or our D. It was everybody.'
Defenseman James Wisniewski said the Canadiens have to make sure they're getting in shooting lanes because the Bruins are a hard team to clear away from the front of the net. If they don't block shots, he said, there's a chance the Bruins could tip them or prevent goalie Carey Price from seeing them.
'That's the type of thing that's huge for our team,' Wisniewski said. 'We can't outmuscle them in front of the net, so we have to make sure forwards get in the shooting lanes. And if it gets by our forwards, we can come out and front the puck and get the puck out of our zone.'
The Canadiens play a layered defense that has become more and more common at all levels of hockey, and that makes it even more difficult for their opponents to get shots through.
'It's kind of a skill,' Wisniewski said. 'You have to see what the forward is taking away, if he's taking blocker or glove-side away. If he's taking blocker, then you step out and take glove-side. So it's kind of like a double block that we're doing.'
Price said it requires almost constant communication between him and his defensemen and between the defensemen and the forwards to make sure guys are blocking shots and not just deflecting them or screening him.
'There's a lot of talk on the ice,' Price said. 'It's not always easy with the noise in the building, but communication is really important.'
|Canadiens could be thinking sweep, but they aren’t||04.16.11 at 11:50 pm ET|
After winning Games 1 and 2 in Boston, the Canadiens have a chance to close out the series in front of their own fans if they can defend home ice and win the next two games at the Bell Centre, where they went 3-0 against the Bruins in the regular season. Just don't expect them to be looking ahead to Game 4 and the possibility of a sweep.
'We're not concerned about the second game or coming back here,' said Canadiens goalie Carey Price. 'All we're worried about is the next game. It's a clichÃ©, but that's really all we're looking forward to, is the next day and the next game.'
Don't expect them to spend any time celebrating their two straight road victories over their rivals, either.
'I've got no time for that,' Michael Cammalleri said. 'Seriously. If we're sitting here happy about that and celebrating, then we're making a crucial mistake. The fans can be happy and our parents and our families can be happy, and good for them, but I'm dead serious. We have no time to be happy right now.'
The Canadiens know the Bruins are capable of playing better than they have in the first two games and they're not taking anything for granted or expecting anything to come easy.
'We're happy with those two games, but we really can't be satisfied,' Mathieu Darche said. 'It's just going to get tougher. They'll come to Montreal with a vengeance. We know they're going to be better, and we'll have to be better also.'
Price said the Canadiens also can't get caught up in the excitement of the crowd or get down if something goes wrong.
'We're going to have to really maintain our composure,' Price said. 'I think that's going to be the biggest thing. The crowd's behind us and obviously there's going to a lot of adrenaline, so we have to make sure everybody stays composed.'
The Bruins, meanwhile, aren't getting down on themselves. They know they've been a good road team all season — their 24-12-5 record on the road was fifth-best in the NHL — and even though they're down 0-2 and haven't won in Montreal this season, they remain confident.
'It might be a good thing for us to get there and really simplify things and get more composed than we are right now,' Mark Recchi said. 'We'll be fine as long as we regroup here and as long as we embrace it and get ready for a big situation on Monday. The pressure is on us now. I believe in this group of guys and we're going to have to go show them on Monday.'
|P.J. Stock on D&C: Bruins need to pick up the physical play||04.15.11 at 11:01 am ET|
Former Bruin and current CBC NHL analyst P.J. Stock appeared on the Dennis & Callahan Show Friday morning to talk about the Bruins' Game 1 loss to the Canadiens and the rest of the series. To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Stock said he thought the Bruins played well for the most part, but that they needed to be more physical and not play the finesse style that Montreal likes.
'I'm a big fan of Milan Lucic and this is a series where he has to dominate, be like Dustin Byfuglien in last year's playoffs,' Stock said. 'The Canadiens are not a physical team, so it's very easy to get out of a physical game. 'They're not going to hit me, so I'm not going to hit them. I'm going to start playing their game.'
'I think the Bruins tried to play their game last night instead of getting the puck deep and hitting bodies. [Lucic's] play isn't trying to deke around at the blue line. It's shoot the puck past them, run them over and get it deep. He didn't do it last night and it cost them a couple goals. But it's one night and I'm looking for him to rebound tremendously on Saturday.'
Asked about balancing that physical play with staying out of the box, Stock said avoiding penalties isn't entirely necessary as long as you avoid weak penalties.
'No, you can take penalties, but take good penalties,' he said. 'If you're going to take two minutes, I don't expect a one-handed hooking penalty. If you're going to take two minutes, take it because you just ran Tomas Plekanec. He was great last night. You want to take an elbowing penalty on Tomas Plekanec. You want to run him over. You want to punch him in the back of the head. You want to get him off his game. That's a penalty that will help you out in the long run. The Bruins took a couple hooking penalties last night, which are not good penalties.'
Echoing the sentiments of many of the Bruins after the game, Stock said Boston has to do a better job creating traffic and chaos in front of Canadiens goalie Carey Price.
'And they have to bump into him,' Stock said. 'Don't by shy about it. I was watching the Philadelphia Flyers play Buffalo last night and they were bumping the goalie. Carey's their best player, hands down. You take Carey away and they're not the same team.
'Every time the Bruins had momentum, he was able to see the puck and stop the puck. The thing I thought really helped the Canadiens and hurt the Bruins was he didn't give up any rebounds. It was a momentum killer. '¦ One of the things you're going to have to do better is get in the face of Carey Price.'
Stock said he still expects the Bruins to win the series. 'For sure. It's Game 1,' he said. 'The Canadiens have to beat the Bruins three more times. It's a tall task. But now all the pressure shifts to Boston. They have to win the next game.'
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