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Though Habs may soon await, Bruins focused on Red Wings 04.21.14 at 9:07 pm ET
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Claude Julien is thinking about his current team, not his former team. (AP)

Claude Julien is thinking about his current team, not his former team. (AP)

One major difference brought about with the change to the NHL‘s playoff format is the fact that in each series, teams have a 50-50 chance of knowing who they’ll face next.

Usually, it isn’t until the conference finals that teams know that they will play one of two teams should they advance, but with the divisional, non-reseeding format the league changed to for this season, that scenario is provided throughout the playoffs.

The Bruins and Red Wings both know that, should they win, they will face the winner of the series currently being played between the Canadiens and Lightning. Well, that series could be over awfully soon, as the Habs hold a commanding 3-0 series lead over the Bolts.

The Boston-Detroit series, on the other hand, has just begun. Tied 1-1 heading into Tuesday’s Game 3, the series has at least three games to go, and with the way it has looked thus far, could go four or five more. The Montreal series could be over as soon as Tuesday night, in which case the Canadiens would both have a lot of time to wait for their next opponent and face a potential matchup against the Bruins.

“That’€™s their series. We’€™re worried about ours right now,” Claude Julien said Monday. “Our players shouldn’€™t worry about that. As coaches, you worry about your team but you also are allowed to watch and prepare in a certain way by watching the other series as well, so I don’€™t think it’€™s a big issue.

“I know that there were times in the past where we were done and we had to watch a couple of different series because we didn’€™t know, depending on who would win, who we’€™d play, so there’€™s no doubt it’€™s a lot clearer now. We don’€™t have to look too far to find out who our next opponents could be, but at the same time, it’€™s about getting out of this one here, and right now it’€™s a 1-1 tied series that, to me, has the potential to go a long ways.”

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Read More: Claude Julien, Patrice Bergeron,
Shawn Thornton on D&C: Bruins had ‘a little extra giddy-up’ in Game 2 04.21.14 at 12:51 pm ET
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Bruins forward Shawn Thornton joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday to talk about the 2014 Boston Marathon and the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Nine runners are participating in the Boston Marathon for the Shawn Thornton Foundation.

“They were very fired up to be running,” Thornton said. “There’€™s a reason they gave 10,000 more numbers this year. A lot of people want to be involved in this for the right reasons. I talked to them and it was just, ‘Good luck, have fun and enjoy it. And thank you. Thank you for everything you’ve done.’ I think they’ve raised $70,000 for my foundation.”

Thornton added: “[Running the marathon is] one of my goals when I’€™m done. I don’€™t know if my body would let me, to be completely honest, but I’€™d like to try a year or two after I’€™m retired.”

Thornton is on his way to Detroit for Games 3 and 4 of the first round of the playoffs. The Bruins are now 1-1 in the series after defeating the Red Wings 4-1 on Sunday.

“I think the first game, for whatever reason, we didn’t have that extra little hop in our step,” Thornton said. “I don’€™t know if that was from having a weekend between games. I’€™m not making excuses whatsoever. I’€™m just saying that last night we seemed to have a little extra giddy-up, I suppose.

“We got to the puck a little bit quicker. We were able to be a little more physical as a whole. We definitely played more our style of game in Game 2, and we’ve got to continue to try to play that way.”

Following are more highlights from the interview. For more team news, visit weei.com/bruins.

On Zdeno Chara: “He’€™s fought all the big boys coming up. He’€™s definitely not afraid to do it. He’€™s way more valuable to us on the ice. Arguably him, [Patrice Bergeron], Tuukka [Rask], and maybe [Milan Lucic] are arguably the most important players on our team. Him sitting in the box for five minutes isn’t helping us. We really would miss him out there.”

On Kevan Miller: “He’€™s a big, tough guy. He was, I think, he was fairly amped to play in the first playoff game and he definitely set the physical tone early, which was nice. That’€™s what he does. I think he’€™s underrated as a puck handler, but he’€™s definitely not underrated with how physical he can be.”

Read More: Kevan Miller, Shawn Thornton, Zdeno Chara,
Matt Bartkowski, Daniel Paille, Dennis Seidenberg, Adam McQuaid take part in optional Bruins practice 04.21.14 at 12:47 pm ET
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The Bruins held an optional non-contact practice Monday at TD Garden before departing for Detroit to play Games 3 and 4 of their first-round series against the Red Wings.

Matt Bartkowski, who has not played in either of the first two games due to a stomach flu, did take part in the skate. After skating together earlier in the day, Dennis Seidenberg and Adam McQuaid also participated in the practice. Daniel Paille, Chad Johnson and Corey Potter were the other participants.

Paille, who hasn’t played in since April 12, has been skating since Friday. Chris Kelly has not skated since April 8.

Regarding Paille and Kelly, Julien said that both players have been out of game action long enough that they would need to take contact in practice before playing.

As for Seidenberg, who has been ahead of his recovery from ACL/MCL surgery from early January, Julien said that he is isn’t overly surprised that Seidenberg has been skating for nearly two weeks. Seidenberg was expected to miss the rest of the season and be out for 6-8 months.

“I guess according to our trainers and our doctors, they thought he’d be going through that process and at one point he’d be skating before next season,” Julien said. “So he’s on track right now, probably even a little ahead of the curve because of his conditioning and how strong he was, even before that injury. I guess he’s a well-trained individual, and those guys have a tendency — athletes have a tendency — to recover a little quicker than the normal person. He’s on that track right now.”

The Bruins won’t rule out a potential return for Seidenberg this season, though they say they’re not expecting it to happen. The fact that Seidenberg is skating more and more and taking sharper turns would suggest the possibility that he could play if the team makes a deep run. Julien said he’s not getting overly excited.

“Because nobody’s told me anything that would get me excited, that’s why,” Julien said. “I went to our trainers and asked if it was OK for him and McQuaid to skate with the rest of our team because there’s no contact, no drills. It’s the same drills they did when they went on the ice earlier. A lot of it is for encouragement reason. Just those two on the ice together for a while gets tough, but being out there with more players and do a little more, it’s exciting for them. I thought mentally, it would be a good opportunity to meet with the rest of the guys because of the type of practice we were having.”

Read More: Daniel Paille, Dennis Seidenberg, Matt Bartkowski,
Mike Petraglia, DJ Bean recap Bruins’ Game 2 win 04.21.14 at 9:16 am ET
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WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and DJ Bean assess what went right in the Bruins’ 4-1 win over the Red Wings Sunday in Game 2 of their series at TD Garden. The series now shifts to Detroit for Games 3 and 4.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, DJ Bean, Mike Petraglia
Kevan Miller returns with a vengeance and sets tone for Bruins Game 2 win 04.21.14 at 9:10 am ET
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Kevan Miller returned to the lineup Sunday and imposed his will early and often. (AP)

Kevan Miller returned to the lineup Sunday and imposed his will early and often. (AP)

It took exactly 72 seconds for Kevan Miller to make his presence felt in Sunday’s series-evening win over the Red Wings at TD Garden.

Just 29 seconds into his first defensive shift, Miller crushed Detroit left wing Drew Miller along the defensive boards to the right of Tuukka Rask on a dump in by the Wings.

The hit set the tempo and immediately got the Garden crowd into a game the Bruins desperately needed on Easter Sunday.

“Happy to be able to be out there so I was excited,” Miller said. “I think as a team we kind of wanted to do that, come out early, come out on our toes. It’s always good to try and get a hit to get going early.”

Of course, Miller was just happy to be on his skates himself after the last week when a virulent stomach bug made its way through the Bruins room, also hitting fellow D-man Matt Bartkowski.

“It was tough, started earlier in the week and kind of persisted,” Miller said. “I know it was the same for a number of guys. Me and Bart seemed to have it pretty bad. Just getting fluid back in me, trying to do my best there.

“It was tough. After practice is when things really went south. Just kind of unfortunate.”

The Bruins clearly missed Miller’s physical presence in a 1-0 Game 1 loss. But after the hit on Drew Miller, Miller and the Bruins were most definitely into the flow of the game. Miller didn’t let up there.
In his next shift four minutes later, Miller took out Daniel Alfredsson. Miller had two loud, energizing hits before the Bruins even had a shot on goal.

A minute and a half later, Wings goalie Jimmy Howard decided to play a gamble and throw a puck off the side boards. It backfired when Justin Florek collected the puck, spun and fired a shot under the pads of the scrambling goalie for a 1-0 Bruins lead.

“He stepped up for us huge this year with the absence of some key D-men that we lost throughout the year, and to see him step up like he did here, and how he’€™s been playing throughout the year, has been great to see,” Milan Lucic said. “He’€™s a physical guy, he’€™s a real competitor, and you saw that here tonight, like you said, especially in the first five minutes.”

“Millsy, right from the start, I thought he helped set the tone with a couple of big hits, and I think they were within the first five minutes. I mean, he looks like he’€™s about to get hit and he still hits the other way, so he reverses and he brings a lot of energy, but he still moves the puck well and he’€™s a tough guy to beat but he’€™s just ‘€“ he’€™s a very strong competitor and it was great to have him back on the lineup and set that tone early,” added Jarome Iginla.

But perhaps no one appreciated having Miller back than captain Zdeno Chara, who was busy keeping Reilly Smith’s brother out of his face. With Miller back, Chara doesn’t have to carry the whole burden of enforcing the physical style that the Bruins needed so badly in Game 2.

“It’€™s nice to have him back,” Chara said. “It probably wasn’€™t fun for him the last few days, but I thought he handled it really well and he played a strong game.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Kevan Miller, NHL
Justin Florek celebrates his ‘good present’ with his mom 04.20.14 at 8:29 pm ET
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A couple of odd things happened Sunday for Justin Florek.

His mom was in attendance for just the second time to watch him play in an NHL game and he scored a goal that was essentially an gift wrapped in an Easter basket from Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard.

With just five minutes gone in the game and the Bruins controlling the play but unable to get a shot on goal, Howard came out to play the puck about 30 feet from his goal, as he did often on Friday night in Game 1. But this time, Howard tried to play the puck to his defenseman Brendan Smith but Smith couldn’t control it and it hit off the near boards too close to the Bruins left winger.

Florek spun and fired it past a scrambling Howard, who couldn’t get back in net in time for a 1-0 Bruins lead, their first of the series.

“Yeah, it was a good present there,” Florek said. “It was good to get the team going, I think that was the biggest thing, get some momentum in the building. So that was a big start for us.”

Could Florek believe his good luck?

“No I couldn’€™t, but it was nice so I don’€™t regret it at all. It was awesome,” Florek beamed. “I thought [Howard] kind of was and I just tried to read him. So it was a lucky bounce, I think it hit the defenseman and right to my stick, so just the right spot at the right time I guess.”

After a 1-0 loss in Game 1, Florek, filling in for Daniel Paille on the fourth line, was the unlikely candidate to notch Boston’s first goal of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

“It felt great, you know, just great to get the fans into it and get everyone going, especially the team,” Florek said. “So I think it was a good start for us, and hopefully, you know carry that out through the rest of the series.

“It’€™s great to get confidence and everything, and to get that goal was pretty cool. But it was just great to get the team going, you know, to put up a couple of goals like that is a good win for our team.”

Florek, moments after a big hit from Kevan Miller on Daniel Alfredsson, finally made all the hard work from the Bruins in the opening minutes pay off.

“I think we came out with the kind of attitude we wanted to play with, and I think it carried throughout the whole game,” Florek said. “I mean that’€™s part of the game, you’€™ve got to always be ready. So you’€™re sitting on the bench you’€™ve just got to keep your legs loose and everything, and when you get the chance you’€™ve just got to be ready, so that was a big part of it.

“It was back and forth a couple of penalties to start the game there, trying to get the flow back into the game so it was good to get that goal and get everyone going.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Justin Florek,
Bruins penalty kill continues to dominate in Game 2 win over Red Wings 04.20.14 at 8:03 pm ET
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Zdeno Chara and the Bruins penalty kill have been perfect against Detroit so far. (AP)

Led by Zdeno Chara, the Bruins penalty kill has been perfect against Detroit through the first two games of the series. (AP)

Six power plays against. Two shots on goal. Zero goals.

That’€™s the line for the Bruins’ penalty kill through the first two games of the team’€™s first-round series against the Red Wings. After allowing one shot on two kills in Friday’€™s Game 1, the Bruins frustrated Detroit’€™s power play even more in Game 2, surrendering just one shot on four opportunities.

Boston’€™s penalty killers didn’t allow easy entries into the zone. They got their sticks and bodies in passing and shooting lanes. They cleared out the front of the net. They won battles along the boards. They pounced on loose pucks. And they made sure their clears went the length of the ice.

“We’re clearing it 200 feet,” Johnny Boychuk said. “It’s just determination, battling, talking, and getting the puck and clearing it.”

Perhaps the most impressive part of this PK dominance is that the Bruins are doing it without several of their regular killers. They played Game 1 without Chris Kelly, Daniel Paille, Matt Bartkowski and Kevan Miller, all of whom have been regulars in the penalty kill rotation this season. Miller returned for Game 2, but the other three remained sidelined.

David Krejci, Justin Florek, Andrej Meszaros and — in Game 1 — Corey Potter have stepped up in their stead, while Boychuk, Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Loui Eriksson and Gregory Campbell have remained penalty-killing rocks. (As an aside, Chara played a staggering 6:31 on the PK Saturday, and Boychuk wasn’t too far behind at 5:28.) Read the rest of this entry »

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