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Forechecking is part of Zdeno Chara’s new power-play duties 05.26.11 at 5:07 pm ET
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BEDFORD — Much has been made of the fact that the Bruins’ power play has looked better with Zdeno Chara set up in front. It has appeared to frustrate whoever the Lightning have had in net, it resulted in Chara drawing a penalty in Game 5, and it finally paid off with a goal in Game 6 when Matthias Ohlund stuck to Chara, freeing up David Krejci to tip home a pass from Nathan Horton.

Something that has gotten lost in the shuffle, though, is the job Chara has done forechecking on entries into the zone while playing forward. He has consistently either been the first to the puck or been right on the Lightning player who retrieves it.

As a defenseman — and one who doesn’t jump into the rush all that much — Chara doesn’t get too many chances to be one of the first guys in on the forecheck. He said he understands exactly what he has to do, though.

“Obviously when you’€™re up front, you have to get to the pucks and win the battles and races and get the puck to our guys,” Chara said Thursday. “It’€™s not really that big of an adjustment. You just have to time the speed going into the zone and kind of predict where the puck’€™s going to be.”

Once he helps the Bruins get possession, Chara knows his assignment is to park his 6-foot-9 frame right at the top of the crease.

“I try to just create some more traffic in front, some room for other guys, and do whatever I can to help the power play,” Chara said.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Zdeno Chara,
Looking back at Bruins’ Game 7 history over last decade 05.26.11 at 4:38 pm ET
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The Bruins will be fighting for their playoff lives when they take the ice for yet another decisive Game 7.

How many times have B’€™s fans heard that phrase in the last 10 years? Well, Friday night’€™s Game 7 against the Lightning in the Eastern Conference finals will be the sixth time in the last decade that the men in black and gold have played in the most-pressure packed game in professional hockey. In fact, Boston has played in a Game 7 in five of the seven seasons that it qualified for the playoffs over that span.

But that Game 7 history hasn’€™t been necessarily a good one. The Bruins are a horrid 1-4 in Game 7’€™s since 2001, with the lone win finally coming this season in the opening round against the rival Canadiens.

Here’€™s a look back at how the B’€™s fared in each of their Game 7’€™s of the past decade.

2004 Eastern Conference quarterfinals, 2-0 L vs. Canadiens
As the second seed in the Eastern Conference, this series against the seventh-seeded Habs should’€™ve been an easy one on paper. After the first four games of the series, it looked like that would certainly be the case as Boston jumped out to a 3-1 lead. But this was still the NHL playoffs, arguably the least predictable of all the professional North American postseason tournaments, and the Habs stormed back to score five goals in both Game 5 and Game 6 to tie the series.

In Game 7, it was Montreal goalie Jose Theodore‘€™s time to take over. The netminder stoned all 32 shots from the Bruins while Richard Zednik potted both goals in the third period, one on an empty net in the waning seconds, to give the Habs the series win. The Game 7 win marked the first time Montreal had ever come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a playoff series. If there’€™s any silver lining for the Boston fans looking back on this loss, it’€™s that current Bruins bench boss Claude Julien was actually calling the shots for the Canadiens at the time. (Julien is 2-3 in Game 7’€™s for his career.) Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Chris Kelly, Claude Julien, Michael Ryder, Milan Lucic
NHL reveals Stanley Cup Finals schedule 05.26.11 at 4:19 pm ET
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The NHL made the Stanley Cup finals schedule official Thursday, and it will open in Vancouver on Wednesday, with two days off between Games 1 and 2. The series will follow the 2-2-1-1-1 format rather than the 2-3-2 (none of this is to be confused with the 1-3-1, of course). Here it is, per the league.

2011 Stanley Cup Final Schedule

Game 1 Wed., June 1 8:00 p.m. Eastern Conference Champ. at Vancouver CBC, NBC, RDS

Game 2 Sat., June 4 8:00 p.m. Eastern Conference Champ. at Vancouver CBC, NBC, RDS

Game 3 Mon., June 6 8:00 p.m. Vancouver at Eastern Conference Champ. VERSUS, CBC, RDS

Game 4 Wed., June 8 8:00 p.m. Vancouver at Eastern Conference Champ. VERSUS, CBC, RDS

*Game 5 Fri., June 10 8:00 p.m. Eastern Conference Champ. at Vancouver CBC, NBC, RDS

*Game 6 Mon., June 13 8:00 p.m. Vancouver at Eastern Conference Champ. NBC, CBC, RDS

*Game 7 Wed., June 15 8:00 p.m. Eastern Conference Champ. at Vancouver CBC, NBC, RDS

Sorry folks, this means Milan Lucic could not win the Stanley Cup in his hometown on his birthday.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Milan Lucic,
Claude Julien says he isn’t concerned with what Guy Boucher is saying 05.26.11 at 4:06 pm ET
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BEDFORD — One day after a complaint about officiating may have suggested Guy Boucher could be getting to him, Bruins coach Claude Julien said Thursday at Hanscom Field that he is not concerned with what the Lightning head coach is saying.

Boucher called referee Eric Furlatt “lopsided” against the Lightning prior to Game 6 in Tampa Bay, and after a game in which the Bruins weren’t satisfied with the four penalties called against them, Julien said that “hopefully what was said [by Boucher] didn’t have any impact” on the officiating. Boucher fired back in his press conference by pulling out the box score and counting that the Bruins were penalized less than the Lightning.

After the team landed in Bedford, Julien declined to take the semi-war of words any further.

“I’ll tell you what,” the coach said. “I’ve been around this game too long to worry about what’s going on on the other side. Right now I’m focused on our team. It’s as simple as that.”

Game 7 will be played Friday at TD Garden.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Claude Julien, Guy Boucher,
Horton squirts fan, throws water bottle 05.26.11 at 4:02 pm ET
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The internet is going crazy over this video, which features Nathan Horton squirting and then throwing a water battle at a fan, who threw what appeared to be one of the clapping devices given away at St. Pete Times Forum at David Krejci after Game 6.

As has been documented many a time, Horton is one of the friendliest people you’ll meet, but when people go after Krejci or Milan Lucic, he loses his mind.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Nathan Horton,
Bruins land in anticipation of Game 7 05.26.11 at 3:50 pm ET
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BEDFORD — The Bruins landed at Hanscom Field Thursday afternoon as they return to Boston for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals vs. the Lightning. Here are some photos of them landing, taken by an extraordinarily untalented photographer who should probably stick to writing. Either way, here they are. Taken just before interviews took place/were devastated by loud engine noise.




Mike Emrick on M&M: ‘Weird things can happen in a seventh game’ 05.26.11 at 1:15 pm ET
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NBC and Versus play-by-play man Mike “Doc” Emrick joined the Mut & Merloni show on Thursday to discuss the Lightning-Bruins series  and preview Friday night’s Game 7 at TD Garden.

“The whole series has been [unusual], nothing [predictable] about what we’€™ll get tomorrow based on what we’€™ve seen so far,” Emrick said. “We know they are both good defensive teams, but try proving it.”

Emrick noted that Games 7’s are entirely unpredictable.

“Weird things that can happen in a seventh game we remember more because they were seventh games and not Games 4, 5 or 6’€™s,” he said. “Anybody can beat anybody in a Game 7. You get the right penalty call at the right time, you get a fluky bounce. ‘€¦. If you care who wins you go, ‘€˜Shoot, this is torture.'”

To hear the entire interview, visit the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Here are more highlights from the interview:

On the Bruins’ struggles on the power play: “It’€™s a very unusual squad because its only happened a couple of times in history. It’s never happened before that a team didn’€™t get one power play goal and won a series, which they did in seven games against Montreal.

“The power play did strike late [in Game 6] and that certainly helped, but overall it was as flawed on the night as Tampa Bay’€™s was strong. Special teams made a big difference in this game, and they tend to make a big difference in games, but when you have a Bruins team that has got this far without much of a power play you have to say, ‘Well the ultimate seventh game might it not mean anything.'”

On the Bruins adjustments, including Zdeno Chara to the front of the net on the power play: “I think that confused [Dwayne Roloson], [Chara] had a deflection once, he got tangled with him once. Some of the things they were doing didn’€™t work but [Claude Julien] is more of a status quo coach than [Guy] Boucher is, but the thing is they have both had success they way that they do.”

On the Tampa Bay power play: We talked earlier in the series about how  [David] Krejci, [Milan] Lucic and [Nathan] Horton had a lot of pressure because they weren’€™t producing well it was that same thing with the star power for Tampa Bay because [Vinny] Lecavalier and  [Steve] Stamkos haven’€™t aligned in recent games. They came to the floor last night.

“It may have been not so much the Bruins penalty kill, but the fact there was heat on these guys, the ultimate heat on these guys, that if they don’€™t perform last night they aren’€™t performing anymore till October. They rose to the occasion.”

On Tyler Seguin’s ice time: “I am not sure what kind of difference he would have made. You have to remember that  the game he had the four points in and tied a record, it wound up being a wacky wide open game that set up perfect for him.

“People say Seguin should get more time, and I understand that, but who will you take it away from? Maybe people would have people hand-picked to take time away from, but I can’t think of anyone. I know you mentioned [Mark] Recchi and thought he was out there too much, but there’s savvy and skill for a seventh game in particular that Mark Recchi has.”

On his Game 7 prediction: “This is going to be low scoring, and something bizarre will happen later on, but if I wake up two mornings from now and pick up the paper and realize the score was 7-6 I won’t be shocked.”

Read More: Claude Julien, David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton

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