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Tim Thomas: Bolts first goal actually made me ‘relax’ 05.24.11 at 12:43 am ET
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It was the most sensational save of a sensational season for Tim Thomas.

With 10:40 left in the third period and the Bruins holding a 2-1 lead, an Eric Brewer missed shot off the boards from the point meant Steve Downie had an open net for a game-tying tap-in. Then Thomas and his stick appeared at the very last possible moment. Thanks to that brilliant save and 32 others, the Bruins won, 3-1, and are on the doorstep of their first Stanley Cup finals appearance since 1990.

And to think Thomas actually credits the spectacular save and phenomenal game – in part – to the only goal he allowed on the night. The score 69 seconds into the first by Simon Gagne – of course – might have made the crowd and Bruins fans everywhere really nervous. It had the opposite effect on Thomas.

“Well, two things happen,” Thomas explained. “One, the thought crosses your mind that, oh, I got to bear down even if it’€™s another two-on-one I got to find a way to make the save because we can’€™t afford to get down 2-0. The teams are too tight and the games are too tight for that to happen, so that thought is in there.

“The second thing that happens is actually in a funny way to start to relax a little bit and I don’€™t know how it works but it kind of works that way for me. I don’€™t want to let in an early goal, obviously, but I’€™ve had experience with it in the past and for some reason, sometimes it can relax me and that’€™s kind of the effect it had tonight. It was just kind of like I’€™m going to have to work hard and do the best I can to not let them get any further way and to give us a chance to win.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Bruins, NHL 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, tampa bay, Tampa Bay Lightning
Bruins overcome rough start, take Game 5 05.23.11 at 10:49 pm ET
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By DJ Bean and Scott McLaughlin

The Bruins pulled the opposite of the first-period-only effort that cost them Game 4, and on Monday night at the TD Garden, they overcame a terrifying first 20 minutes in Game 5 to beat the Lightning, 3-1, and come within a win of reaching the Stanley Cup Finals.

With Tampa Bay leading 1-0 after dominating the first period and seeing Simon Gagne score his latest against the B’s, the Bruins got second-period goals from Nathan Horton and Brad Marchand to give Boston a 2-1 lead that they would hold until Rich Peverley made the final 3-1 on an empty-netter.

The Bruins didn’t get many shots on Tampa goalie Mike Smith (only four in the first period), but the two they did get past him proved to be enough. Boston’s 20 shots on goal stands as their lowest total this postseason.

Tim Thomas made 33 saves on the night, turning in a sensational performance that undoubtedly stands among his best this postseason. On a rather fascinating note, the team that has scored the first goal this series has now gone 2-3.

A late hit in from Steve Downie in the third period forced Johnny Boychuk down the tunnel, and he did not play in the final 10 minutes of the game.

The Bruins will have the opportunity to close out the series Wednesday night in Game 6 at St. Pete Times Forum.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

– On the night, Thomas was superb. Downie was the biggest victim of Thomas’ play, as the Bruins netminder robbed him on multiple occasions. Thomas stopped Downie point-blank on a bang-bang play in the second, but made one of the best saves of his historic season in laying out to get his stick on what looked like a sure-fire game-tying goal. The Garden absolutely erupted when Thomas was shown on the big screen at the next stoppage.

Brad Marchand finally showed up on the sheet, and not just for his dive in the second period. The 23-year-old rookie didn’t let Martin St. Louis take him out of the play him as he raced to the net to put bang home a beautiful pass from Patrice Bergeron down low. It was Marchand’s first point of the series, as he followed a six-point second round with goose-eggs and only five shots on goal in the first four games against the Lightning. Marchand’s overall performance continues to leave more to be desired, but he had flashes — such as a hard-nosed shift about five minutes into the third period — that suggest the B’s could be closer to seeing the Marchand they got to know and love over the regular season and throughout the first two rounds.

– The Bruins were beyond lucky to somehow end up winning the game, and an individual instance in which they lucked out was when Thomas barely got a piece of the puck on a great opportunity by Blair Jones early in the third. The contact Thomas could make with the puck was enough to it off send it off the post on its way away from harm. Jones was just as sure as any that he would score on the play, as he was celebrating as the puck took its new direction.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

– The Bruins came out looking like a team totally unaware it was in Game 5 of the conference finals. From physicality to decision-making, it was an awful first period and one that should have seen a larger Lightning lead than 1-0. The Bruins had only four shots on Smith in the first period, and aside from one strong shift late in the first by the David Krejci line, there was little to no engagement from Boston’s forwards.

– Horton ultimately redeemed himself by scoring the tying goal in the second, but his two penalties before that were, for lack of a better word, dumb. In the final minute of the first, he laid a hit on Nate Thompson in the neutral zone despite the fact that the puck was already a good 10 feet behind him. Less than a minute after leaving the box, Horton went right back in when he slashed Hedman’€™s stick out of his hands after missing a big hit. The Bruins want and need Horton to play with an edge, but his two penalties Monday night clearly crossed the line.

– Not a good night for Tyler Seguin. He looked lost in all zones in the first period and took an obvious tripping penalty with the B’s lifeless and trailing 6:45 into the first. The rookie was taken off the third line late in the period by Claude Julien and was replaced on the wing by Peverley. He would play more in the second period, but had a turnover on a blind pass in the offensive zone that led to a Lightning rush that was saved by Andrew Ference.

– The power play was possibly the worst it’€™s been all playoffs, as impossible as that might sound. The Bruins registered zero (yes, zero) shots on goal on their first three power plays. Bad entries and bad passes were once again the name of the game for Boston’€™s man advantage. They struggled to get the puck in deep and gain possession, and when they did, they struggled to put passes on the tape, resulting in a number of easy clears for the Lightning. It’€™s one thing to not score on the power play; it’€™s another to not even get a shot. The one good sign on the power play was that Julien finally used Zdeno Chara as a net-front presence on the team’s last power play. They even got a shot on the fourth power play.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Brad Marchand, Tim Thomas,
Bruins-Lightning Live Blog: B’s lead 2-1 in third 05.23.11 at 7:44 pm ET
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Join DJ Bean, Mike Petrgalia and others from TD Garden for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals. The teams enter the game tied in the series, 2-2.

Bruins-Lightning Game 5 Live Blog

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs,
Mike Smith leads Lightning out for Game 5 05.23.11 at 7:38 pm ET
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After the Lightning kept tight-lipped on who would start Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals, Mike Smith — not Dwayne Roloson — was first onto the ice Monday night as Tampa players went out for warmups.

Roloson entered the series leading all postseason goaltenders in goals against average and save percentage but was pulled in both Games 2 and 4 after the Bruins mounted large leads. Smith has stopped all 29 shots he has seen vs. the Bruins in relief. Smith went 1-2-0 against the B’s in the regular season, including allowing five goals in the Bruins’ 8-1 pounding of the Bolts on Dec. 2.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Dwayne Roloson, Guy Boucher, Mike Smith
Tony Amonte on M&M: ‘I love the way the Bruins have rebounded all playoffs long’ 05.23.11 at 12:50 pm ET
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CSNNE hockey analyst Tony Amonte joined the Mut & Merloni show Monday to talk about the Bruins-Lightning series, which is tied heading into Monday night’s Game 5 at TD Garden. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

“It’s just really been a series of mistakes and capitalizing on those mistakes,” Amonte said. “And I think both teams have done that.”

Amonte pointed to an uninspired power play at the start of the second period as the beginning of the downfall for the B’s in Game 4 Saturday. Said Amonte: “They come out for a two-minute power play on fresh ice. There should be no question there, getting the puck in, getting it set up. They actually hurt themselves on the power play. They didn’t get the puck in. The effort wasn’t there. And that set the tempo for that whole period. They come out of that 3-3 and now they’re in trouble. They’re scrambling after that.”

Added Amonte: “I just think that they went into the locker room, they relaxed for a minute, they forgot about what they needed to do to be successful. And it’s just hard work. That’s what the Bruins are all about ‘€” how hard they work, how much they can outwork their opponent. That’s when they’ve been successful this postseason.

“Secondly, they lost the physical game. They got bumped around pretty bad and they didn’t react, and they didn’t adjust to it and get on the physical play themselves. They just kind of sat back, took it, and Tampa was able to take that game over.”

Amonte, who is sticking with his pre-series prediction of Bruins in six games, said he expects a quick recovery for the B’s. “I love the way the Bruins have rebounded all playoffs long,” he said. “They’ve been able to shrug these things off and move on and get into the next game. You’ve got to look for [David] Krejci‘s line tonight. I think Claude [Julien] gave them a little bit of a back-hander in the media yesterday, saying they needed to be better. Every time he’s done that, that line has stepped up and played better that next game.”

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Read More: Claude Julien, David Krejci, Dwayne Roloson, Guy Boucher
Claude Julien sticking with Tomas Kaberle 05.23.11 at 12:44 pm ET
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This space has long been a meeting place for the “Play Steven Kampfer” movement, but Bruins coach Claude Julien emphatically stated Monday that Tomas Kaberle is staying in the lineup.

“If you know the game well enough, you would understand that there’s some experience back there,” Julien said when a reporter asked about benching Kaberle. “You’ve got to also think, is that guy coming in a better player than Kaberle?”

In my humble opinion, I would answer “yes” to Julien’s question. Between Kampfer’s skill set/previous success vs. Tampa making him a good fit for this series and Kaberle’s ugly turnovers on which he’s looked indifferent, Kampfer could probably do more with 11:35 of ice time than Kaberle did in Game 4.

Yet Julien is correct in reminding doubters that sticking with a struggling player has worked for the Bruins. Many wanted Michael Ryder out of the lineup in the first round, and now Ryder has been the team’s best winger for the last five games.

“Some people wanted certain people out of the lineup earlier on, and our patience has paid off,” Julien said. “I don’t know why we decide that we should be taking [Kaberle] out of the lineup when there’s other players too that have struggled. I don’t know why we haven’t talked about that. That’s because we had patience. We believed in those guys, and Kaberle last game, that second goal, maybe [lost] the puck, but our system calls for support on that. Our support wasn’t there. According to our system, he’s not the only one to blame.”

Kaberle was certainly to blame for Sean Bergenheim’s game-tying goal in the second period Saturday, as the Lightning forward took the puck from Kaberle behind the Bruins’ net without a fight from No. 12. Kaberle was not to blame for Simon Gagne’s game-winner in the third, but Julien only addressed the fourth goal.

“On the winning goal, he blocks a shot, makes a great play. He’s trying to get off the ice, and we turn the puck over, so we keep playing Kaberle? I think people are a little hard on this guy,” Julien said. “I’m one of those guys that’s going to support him, and one of those guys who’s going to keep him in the lineup, in case you want to know. He’s going to be a good part of our hockey team. We got him because we believe in him, and until last game he played two really good games, so that’s how we see Kaberle.”

There you have it. Kaberle is only worth 11:35 of ice time, but he’s worth believing in. The company line just sounds a bit off.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Steven Kampfer, Tomas Kaberle,
Guy Boucher still not revealing whether it’s Dwayne Roloson or Mike Smith for Game 5 05.23.11 at 12:29 pm ET
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Lightning coach Guy Boucher once again danced around the subject when asked who is starting goaltender would be in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals vs. the Bruins. The coach said starter Dwayne Roloson, who was pulled in Games 2 and 4, is “prepared,” but offered little else as to whether it would be Roloson or Mike Smith between the pipes for Monday night.

“We’re preparing like usual,” Boucher said. “[Roloson] is preparing like he’s prepared for other games. We’re prepared.”

Boucher did note that he knows his starter, but wouldn’t say who it was.

“We had a good talk,” Boucher said of Roloson. “He knows what’s coming.”

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