|Inept Chicago power play better for Bruins than Blackhawks in Game 3||06.18.13 at 2:18 am ET|
Twice in the third period of Game 3 on Monday, the Blackhawks got to send some of the game’s most talented scorers out on the power play in a game the Bruins led by just two goals. And twice in that period – just like the three previous times in the first two periods – they came up empty-handed.
In five power-play opportunities on Monday, the Hawks managed just four shots and gave up at least that many shorthanded chances to the Bruins. They’ve been woeful on the power play this postseason, converting just 11.3 percent of the time, and running into a strong Bruins penalty kill certainly hasn’t helped them settle in with the man advantage.
“They box you out,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said of the Bruins. “They’ve got big bodies. They blocked shots. I think we had some chances to get some pucks through the net. We didn’t. Our entries weren’t great. That’s something you want to look at.”
Entering the zone was indeed a problem for Chicago, although they also struggled at times to hold the puck in at the blue line once they had gained the zone. Several times on their first two power plays of the game, a defenseman lost the puck at the point (granted, the subpar condition of the ice might have had something to do with that) and had to waste valuable seconds chasing it down.
Slumping on the power play is one thing, but giving up three prime shorthanded chances within two minutes is another problem entirely. With Shawn Thornton in the box late in the first period, the Bruins took advantage of the Hawks’ sloppy puck control, requiring Corey Crawford to bail his teammates out again and again.
First, Rich Peverley chased down a puck in Chicago’s defensive zone and came within inches of stuffing it past Crawford on a second-chance attempt. Then Daniel Paille forced Crawford to come out near the right face-off dot to knock a loose puck away from him, in the absence of any Chicago defenders.
Finally, Brad Marchand broke free of the Chicago defense, bolted through center ice and was only foiled at the last second when the puck slid off his stick too early in front of the net (possibly another product of the bad ice).
|Rough patch: Bruins overcome ‘pretty bad’ ice to beat Blackhawks in Game 3||06.18.13 at 1:34 am ET|
As hard as the crew inside TD Garden tried Monday, the ice was hardly suitable for two of the best hockey teams in the world to do battle. But battle they did.
There were bouncing pucks all night. There were players like Brad Marchand losing control on what appeared to be a certain shorthanded breakaway. There were pucks jumping over defensemen’s sticks as they tried to keep the puck in the offensive zone.
In short, this is what happens when you play on a humid 80-degree day in mid-June in Boston. The Garden is typically an ice-box in the winter because there is no in-house dehumidifier in the building. As they did in 2011, TD Garden tried to fix the humidity issue by bringing in high-tech dehumidifiers beginning with the Penguins series. On Monday, they didn’t do much good as far as the ice was concerned.
Asked if he thought the conditions were “crappy,” Dennis Seidenberg tried to be as kind as possible but couldn’t help but state the obvious.
“It is pretty bad,” Seidenberg said. “When you try to shoot, try to swing your blade on the ice, it feels like it’s sandpaper. It’s really rough. When you try to pass, the puck bounces. That’s why you have to keep the game simple, like I said. If there’s a play to be made, you have to make sure it’s an easy one. If not, you rather choose to go over the wall and out.
“Again, there was breakdowns today, but we seemed to cover them up a little bit better than the other side.”
It’s similar to when infielders complain about the dirt at Fenway Park, a common occurrence in the 1960s and 70s and, to a lesser degree, today.
Then there’s the perspective of the goalie. Tuukka Rask has already had one episode on the sketchy ice of Madison Square Garden – leading to the “butt stumble” in Game 4 of the Eastern semis that the Rangers won in overtime. Monday, Rask avoided an embarrassing repeat, no thanks to the ice conditions.
“The ice was pretty good in the start of the periods,” Rask said. “Then pretty quickly it got really chippy. It’s tough to get the read off of shots when it’s really a mess out there with the ice. You just got to be extra careful with the crazy bounces and stuff. You don’t want to make any stupid mistakes playing the puck either. You just got to be extra careful.”
|Marian Hossa’s late scratch shakes up Blackhawks’ offense||06.18.13 at 12:52 am ET|
In Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals, Marian Hossa was one of the most visible Blackhawks on the ice as they dominated the Bruins early on. Before Game 3, he disappeared from the lineup at the last minute with what was later classified as an upper-body injury.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said he knew earlier in the day that Hossa was likely to miss the game, even though he wasn’t announced as a scratch until after pregame warmups. However, Quennevile emphasized that the problem didn’t arise in warmups, despite some initial reports to the contrary. He didn’t expand on when the injury might have occurred.
“We’ll say day-to-day,” Quenneville said of Hossa’s status. “We’re hopeful he’ll be ready for the next game. It was a game-time decision after the warm-up there. That’s when we made the call, after warm-up.”
Hossa’s absence, and Ben Smith‘s insertion in his place, led to some shakeups in Chicago’s lines. Jonathan Toews started out skating between Marcus Kruger and Michael Frolik, and while he led the team with five shots, he didn’t get the kind of offensive support from his linemates that he’s used to getting with Hossa.
Meanwhile, Smith, who had played just one regular-season game and no playoff games for the Blackhawks this year, jumped into a bottom-six role. Quenneville continued shuffling the lines throughout the night, but no combination seemed to click.
As Tuukka Rask continued to stymie the Hawks’ celebrated offense, it could certainly be argued that they missed Hossa, who is tied for the team lead in points in the playoffs and ranks third on the team with 65 shots.
Bruins coach Claude Julien said he didn’t know Hossa would be out any earlier than anyone else outside the Hawks’ organization, but that it didn’t affect his outlook on the game.
“Just found out when I received the game sheet,” Julien said. “I was as surprised as anybody else. But to be honest with you, there wasn’t any changes in our game. As I mentioned the other day when I was asked about another player, we don’t make our game plan based on an individual. I can definitely tell you they lost a pretty important player on their roster, but that doesn’t mean we change our game. I think it’s important we stick with what we believe in.”
|Tuukka Rask shuts out Blackhawks as Bruins take Game 3||06.17.13 at 10:49 pm ET|
For once, overtime was not necessary between the Bruins and Blackhawks as the B’s took a 2-1 series lead in the Stanley Cup finals with a 2-0 victory in Game 3 at TD Garden.
Tuukka Rask picked up his third shutout of the playoffs (and the last seven games), as the B’s outplayed the Blackhawks in the most decidedly won game of the series thus far. Rask faced 27 shots, stopping them all .
The new third line of Chris Kelly between Daniel Paille and Tyler Seguin was once again strong for the Bruins, scoring and drawing penalties. Paille opened the game’s scoring in the second period, and after drawn penalties from Kelly and then Paille, Patrice Bergeron made it 2-0 with his second power play goal of the series.
Tempers boiled over late in the game, with Zdeno Chara and Bryan Bickell going at it in in front of the net. As the two fought, Brad Marchand and Andrew Shaw got tangled up in what was the hockey equivalent of Ross and Russ fighting in Friends.
Game 4 will be played Wednesday in Boston before the series heads back to Chicago for Game 5.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- Yes, it’s more impressive that the Bruins went four games without allowing a point to the likes of Sidney Crosby and some of the Penguins’ other offensive stars, but let’s realize that they’re doing it to the Blackhawks too. Patrick Sharp’s goal in Game 2, which was assisted by Patrick Kane and Michael Handzus, is the only goal the Blackhawks have gotten out of their top-six this series. As a result, the top two lines have been in flux for the Blackhawks. That wasn’t helped by Marian Hossa’s absence due to what is believed to be an injury suffered in warmups.
- Patrice Bergeron is a man. In addition to his six shots on goal in the first 40 minutes alone, he went 19-3 on draws in the first two periods, including a perfect 8-0 against Michael Handzus.
- It would have been logical to think the Bruins would have a hard time winning the Stanley Cup without Jaromir Jagr scoring, but his pass to Bergeron on Boston’s second goal was enough to quiet that talk. With Milan Lucic set up in front of the net on the power play and Jagr at the bottom of the right circle, Jargr sent a saucer pass through Lucic to Bergeron at the bottom of the left circle. Crawford, like everybody else, thought he pass was headed for Lucic in front, so he wasn’t in position to stop Bergeron, who took his time before firing a wrist shot into the plenty of open net he had to work with.
It wasn’t all good for Jagr, has he had a comically bad drop-pass to nobody in the final five minutes of the game that made for an easy turnover as Kane and the Blackhawks took it the other way.
- The Blackhawks are just wretched on the power play. They had just one shot on goal in their two first-period power plays combined, and it was the Bruins who had more scoring opportunities during Thornton’s power play. Rich Peverley had a scoring chance, Daniel Paille nearly beat Crawford to the puck when the Chicago goalie came way out of his net and Brad Marchand had a shorthanded breakaway in the final seconds of the penalty. He lost the puck while dekeing, which prompted him to break his stick on the bench afterwards.
- That third line is money, and I honestly don’t think there has been a stretch all season in which the Bruins’ third line has had two notable good games in a row. Paille had a heck of a game, getting to a loose puck from Bolland at the right circle and wheeling around to fire it past Crawford. He was rewarded for his season of strong offensive play by getting some power play time in the second period, and it was in the final 15 or so seconds on that power play that he drew a tripping penalty to set up the power play on which Bergeron scored.
Paille wasn’t the only third-liner to draw a penalty. Chris Kelly beat Bolland to a puck and got cross-checked by Bolland in the offensive zone in the second period to set up the power play on which Paille drew his penalty.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- The Bruins aren’t playing their fourth line much this round, so they don’t need them taking penalties when they do get ice time. Both Kaspars Daugavins and Shawn Thornton took roughing penalties in the first period and were bailed out by the fact that Chicago can’t score a power play goal. It was a forgettable night in general for Daugavins, who was called for offsides twice — including what would have been a breakaway when he got out of the box, but he put himself offsides. You don’t see that every day.
|Marian Hossa out for Game 3 vs. Bruins||06.17.13 at 8:14 pm ET|
The Bruins caught a major break heading into Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals, as the Blackhawks have scratched Marian Hossa for the game. Ben Smith is in the lineup in his place.
Hossa was listed with the scratches when the game’s rosters were released prior to the game. According to Elliotte Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada, Hossa was hurt during warmups.
Hossa appeared to hurt himself taking a shot in warmup.
' Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) June 18, 2013
Hossa is tied for fourth among all skaters with seven goals this postseason. He is tied with Jonathan Toews for the Blackhawks team lead with 15 points.
|Roberto Luongo has hilarious sense of humor over Bruins ruining him||06.17.13 at 7:44 pm ET|
Roberto Luongo melted down during the 2011 Stanley Cup finals, but what went unnoticed was that he was actually a pretty nice guy with a good sense of humor. He was great with the media prior to the series, and, as he later pointed out, was highly complimentary of Tim Thomas leading up to his criticism of Thomas following Game 5.
Luongo allowed 12 goals in Games 3 and 4 combined at TD Garden, and gave up 15 of the 17 goals Boston scored at home in that series. The goalie, who finds himself in an awkward situation in Vancouver given that the team has struggled to trade him due to his mammoth contract, has a Twitter account that he uses for self-parody, and his retweet of a tweet from the league regarding Boston’s success at home in the Stanley Cup finals is classic.
' Strombone (@strombone1) June 17, 2013
The Bruins chased Luongo in Games 4 and 6 of that series, and the team went to more of a split between he and Cory Schneider last season. Schneider played in 30 games to Luongo’s 20 this season, and when the team was unable to move him at the trade deadline, Luongo said it was because his “contract sucks.”
Luongo has nine years left on his contract with an annual cap hit of $5.33 million. Things haven’t worked out the way he’s hoped, but you can’t say the guy doesn’t have a sense of humor.
|Claude Julien on Gregory Campbell: ‘He’s part of our family’||06.17.13 at 2:22 pm ET|
On Monday, part of the drama of the Bruins returning home to play Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final at TD Garden will be Campbell in attendance to watch his team play in person. He was unable to make it to Chicago for Games 1 and 2 because of surgery to repair the leg.
“It’s nice to see him,” coach Claude Julien said Monday. “There’s no doubt. Obviously he can’t play. We miss him. He’s a good player for us. But just to be around our team, it’s nice to have him back. He’s part of our family. That’s how we look at things in that dressing room. If he could have, he would have been in Chicago. It was too early after surgery. From here on in, he’s good to go, going to be with us the whole way.”
Campbell, who drew huge cheers during an appearance on the video board in Game 4 against the Penguins, was with the team Monday morning as they prepared for Game 3 Monday night.
Julien has juggled the lines often since the injury to Campbell in Game 3 of the Eastern finals against Pittsburgh. Shawn Thornton has watched his playing time decrease somewhat but in Julien’s eyes he still remains an integral part of the fourth line.
“Let’s not confuse something here,” Julien said. “He’s not in the lineup because of what he brings in the dressing room. We got a lot of guys that do that. He’s in our lineup even though his minutes go down because he deserves to be there. He’s great on the forecheck. He’s actually a lot smarter of a player than a lot of people give him credit for. He reads plays well, doesn’t get himself in trouble much, gets the puck out of our end.
“Certainly his presence makes our team better. We’ve seen that at times when we’ve had to pull him out. There’s no doubt our team is more comfortable with him in our lineup for all the right reasons.”
WIth Daniel Paille jumping up to join Tyler Seguin and Chris Kelly on the third line, the fourth line has been a work-in-progress. With the home team having the last change, Julien figures to have a distinct advantage in getting more time for Thornton and the fourth line.
“There’s no doubt it makes it a little bit easier,” Julien said. “Doesn’t mean it’s going to happen all the time, but it certainly is a lot easier. Joel’s a pretty good coach, smart coach. When he senses something, he’ll take advantage of it. I had to be extra careful in Chicago with that. But, again, tonight hopefully it’s a little easier. Nonetheless, we’re in the Final here, you got to do what you got to do. Sometimes you may play guys a little bit more, but they’re capable of handling the ice time. You’re right, that last change will hopefully give me a little bit of an easier change.”
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