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Tim Thomas shuts out Canucks, Bruins even series 06.08.11 at 10:57 pm ET
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By DJ Bean and Scott McLaughlin

The Bruins evened the Stanley Cup finals up at two games apiece Wednesday night at TD Garden, chasing Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo on the way to a 4-0 win. Tim Thomas picked up his third shutout of the playoffs.

Rich Peverley, seeing time on the first line with Nathan Horton out for the remainder of the playoffs, had a two-goal night for the Bruins. His second of the night chased Luongo in the third period, making way for Marblehead native and former Boston College goalie Cory Schnieder. Peverley had entered the game with two goals the entire postseason.

Michael Ryder and Brad Marchand also scored for the B’s. Both players have scored in consecutive games.

As for Thomas, he has now allowed only five goals over his last five games, and one goal over the last two. He took a vicious hack at Alexandre Burrows after the Vancouver winger cross-checked him in the third period. Thomas took a slashing minor for the play.

The pre-game ceremonies were topped off by Bruins legend Bobby Orr waving a No. 18 flag in honor of Horton. With the B’s leading in the third period, chants of “Nathan Horton” filled the arena.

The B’s and Canucks will head to Vancouver for Friday’s Game 5. The teams will return to the Garden for Game 6 on Monday, the last Bruins’ home game of the season.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

Claude Julien‘s decision to give both Peverley and Ryder time on the first line in place of Horton paid off. David Krejci gave a nice pass to Peverley in the neutral zone in the first period, and Peverley flew past Raffi Torres en route to beating Luongo on a breakaway. Even following the goal, Ryder continued to see time with Krejci and Milan Lucic. Lucic and Krejci picked up assists on Peverley’s third-period goal, which chased Luongo from the game.

– Marchand was clearly a man on a mission, and for the second straight game, he was able to cash in. No, his second-period goal wasn’t anywhere near as pretty as his shorthanded goal in Game 3, but he certainly displayed a high level of skill and fanciness in putting together sound rushes. He also displayed his signature feistiness, though he needed to be calmed down a couple of times after dives from Henrik Sedin.

– We wrote here after Game 3 that the Bruins did a good job exposing Luongo’s weak glove — three of Monday’s goals beat the netminder high to the glove side. Ryder continued that trend in Game 4 when he snapped off a fluttering shot that Luongo just waved at with the leather. Luongo might’ve been screened a bit by his own defenseman, but it was still a shot he should’ve had. It wasn’t a rocket and it wasn’t a snipe — it was actually only about two feet off the ice. Not every shot high-glove is going to go in, but the Bruins would be well-advised to keep shooting there until Luongo proves he can stop it.

– When it came to his normal role as a third-liner, Ryder got some help from an old friend in Tyler Seguin. The rookie turned in a characteristically timid play in the Canucks’ zone, stopping short of going in the corner and allowing the Canucks to break it out as a result, but made up for it later in the shift by feeding Ryder.

Seguin’s assist was his first point since Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals. The Bruins are going to need both Ryder and Seguin to turn in big performances going forward, and on Wednesday Seguin showed that the good can outweigh the growing pains.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

– When Peverley scored with 8:01 left in the first, shots were 7-5 Vancouver. Whether the Bruins eased up a little after the goal or the Canucks just picked up their play, shots for the rest of the period were 5-1 in favor of Vancouver. The Canucks didn’t generate a ton of sustained pressure or long offensive-zone possessions, but they were able to get shots on rushes and force Thomas to make some quality saves. The shot deficit carried over into the second, as Vancouver registered eight of the period’s first nine shots. The Bruins pressured Vancouver’s defense plenty during the first eight minutes of the second — even controlled play at times — but they couldn’t translate it into shots.

-At 16:10 of the first period, Marchand was called for cross-checking Kevin Bieksa. At full speed, it was easy to see why the ref thought it was a penalty, but replay showed that it was a pretty soft call. Bieksa had lost an edge and was already falling to the ice when Marchand barely got his stick on Bieksa’s back. Luckily, it didn’t cost the Bruins thanks to another great penalty kill.

Bieksa later rewrote the book on embellishment when he grabbed his face following a check from Mark Recchi in the third period. He apparently sold it well enough, as Recchi was sent to the box for high-sticking despite not making contact with his face in any way. Yes, Recchi should have controlled his stick better, but that’s a tough break when you don’t commit the infraction.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Stanley Cup Finals,
Rich Peverley starts out on first line 06.08.11 at 7:49 pm ET
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The question that has been on everyone mind since Nathan Horton’s season was announced as over was answered Wednesday in warmups. Rich Peverley skated on the first line, meaning is the team’s first option at filling in for Horton on the team’s top line. Tyler Seguin is skating on the third line with Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Stanley Cup Finals,
Bruins-Canucks Live Blog: B’s chase Roberto Luongo, lead 4-0 06.08.11 at 7:45 pm ET
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Join DJ Bean, Mike Petraglia and many others from TD Garden for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals. The Bruins trail the Canucks, 2-1, in the series.

Bruins-Canucks Game 4 Live Blog

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Stanley Cup Finals,
Barry Melrose on M&M: ‘Boston has to win this game to have a chance of winning this series’ 06.08.11 at 2:45 pm ET
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ESPN hockey analyst Barry Melrose joined the Mut & Merloni show Wednesday afternoon to talk about the Stanley Cup finals and Wednesday night’s Game 4. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

When asked if he would be sitting with the Green Men at the game, Melrose joked: “I stay away from the Green Men. I can’€™t even believe they got into the country. I’€™m a little embarrassed about letting those guys in.”

He added: “We keep al-Qaida out, but we let these two guys in? What’€™s that all about?”

Melrose said that the finger-taunting in Game 3 has helped made this series an exciting one. However, it may come back to bite Boston in Game 4.

“I think [Alexandre] Burrows should’€™ve been suspended,” Melrose said. “I said that from Day 1. I think that if he would’€™ve been suspended that would’€™ve put away the finger crap. But I like the finger stuff. I thought it was funny. I had some fun with it. It’€™s interesting. Five years from now when we’€™re talking about this series, what are we going to talk about? We’€™re going to be talking about that stuff with the fingers and [Milan] Lucic and Burrows and stuff like that. I have no problem with that. It’€™s interesting. But, the NHL doesn’€™t want it.

“Obviously, the referees are going to crack down tonight. They’€™re going to be reffing very close to their vest. I think that favors Vancouver. Boston’€™s got to be aggressive. They’€™ve got to be physical. And the referees are going to be told to call everything, so we might see a lot of penalties tonight.”

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Read More: Alex Burrows, Barry Melrose, Boston Bruins, Mark Recchi
Ice conditions could be a factor in Game 4 06.08.11 at 2:09 pm ET
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Combine temperatures in the 90s with Tuesday night’s Glee concert and there will naturally be questions about the ice conditions heading into Wednesday night’s Game 4. Players on both sides said the playing surface was a little soft during morning skate, leading to pucks ending up on their edge or taking bad bounces.

Canucks forward Alexandre Burrows didn’t hold back at all when asked about the ice.

“It was terrible this morning,” Burrows said. “And it was sloppy last game. I’€™m not sure if the concert had anything to do with it.”

Bruins players said it wasn’t quite that bad and that they didn’t expect it to be a huge factor in the game. Rich Peverley said everyone just needs make sure their passes are hard enough to reach their destination, while Johnny Boychuk noted that players will definitely need to take extra care of the puck.

“It’€™s not too bad,” Boychuk said. “We did it in Tampa Bay, where it’€™s hot. It’€™s about the same conditions as that. You just have to play it safe, I think. You can’€™t really take too many chances, because when you do, it’€™s probably going to end up in the back of the net.”

Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault also downplayed the impact the ice could have on the game, pointing out that both teams will have to deal with it.

“The ice is the same for both teams,” Vigneault said. “Throughout the season, teams play sometimes on real good ice and sometimes on ice that is not as good. I think it will get better, though, as the day goes on.”

Claude Julien said he didn’t think there were any issues with the ice, and even cracked a joke when asked about it.

“I know I was flying. I don’t know if you guys noticed,” Julien said. “It was very good. They made some adjustments to this building. I think it’s been some great adjustments. To me, the ice looked really good. I think the guys were pretty pleased with it last game as well.”

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Alexandre Burrows, Johnny Boychuk,
Tyler Seguin ready to step back in, Jordan Caron moves up a peg 06.08.11 at 1:33 pm ET
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Bruins fans and media should know the drill by now. A forward goes down, and it’s Seguin mania. As a result, it should come as no surprise that Tyler Seguin was a popular guy as he prepared for his return to the team’s lineup Wednesday.

With Nathan Horton out for the remainder of the playoffs due to a severe concussion suffered on a headshot from Aaron Rome in Game 3, Seguin will step in after being a healthy scratch for Monday’s 8-1 win over the Canucks. While plenty of attention will be placed on how his presence in the lineup makes up for the loss of Horton, he knows as well as everyone else should that asking him to fill the shoes of the team’s second-leading regular season scorer may be a bit of a stretch.

“Obviously, you can’t replace a guy like Horts, but everybody has to step up just like when [Patrice Bergeron] was out,” Seguin said Wednesday. “Guys had to step up even more, and that’s what guys have to ask of each other for tonight’s game.”

After scoring three goals and totaling six points against the Lightning in his first two playoff games, Seguin’s play declined. He turned in a solid performance in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals, but by the time the Vancouver series began, he was getting less opportunities and played a more timid game. He was a ghost for nine minutes in Game 2, and coach Claude Julien sat him in Game 3 in favor of Shawn Thornton as a result.

“I think you have to be understanding. I wasn’t happy with how I played the last game in Vancouver. I don’t think I played my best. I can’t say I saw it coming, and I can’t say I was shocked,” Seguin said. “It was what it was. I gave Thorny a pat on the back and said, ‘go get ’em,’ and that’s all you can really do.”

While Games 1 and 2 featured flashier play, Game 3 against the Lightning was the most indicative of an NHL player. He was sound in all zones in his 13 minutes of ice time and showed more hockey smarts than he had previously. Though he wasn’t credited with an assist given that the puck changed hands too many times afterward, he set up Andrew Ference‘s third-period goal. On Wednesday, he was asked what was bigger: his fear of screwing up in his own zone (a common tendency for younger players) or the pressure he’s put on himself to make a difference offensively.

“I think it’s neither,” Seguin said. “I think it starts with being good in your defensive zone, and I think that will lead to offensive opportunities. I feel like if I go out there worried of making mistakes, that’s what I’m going to make. If I go out there confident and focused, I shouldn’t make any. That’s my mindset going into tonight.”

Then there’s the idea of the rookie finding motivation in the healthy scratches. After all, Seguin wore a suit for the first two rounds of the playoffs and it took Bergeron’s concussion to get him into the lineup. While the idea of proving himself has been a season-long motivating factor, Seguin intimated that a certain trophy trumps all personal goals when it comes to getting up for the finals.

“Everyone in here is motivated for this,” he said. “There’s a million reasons right there in front of you. Obviously that’s another one in there. You’ve got to bring it tonight and use it as good energy.”

——–

With Horton out and Seguin in, suddenly there’s a spot for the 23rd guy in warmups. That man will be fellow rookie Jordan Caron, who began the year with the team in Prague and totaled seven points in 23 games with the B’s in a season that saw him spend the majority of his time with the Providence Bruins. He won’t be playing, but he’ll be able to go out there with the Stanley Cup patch on his uniform and take in the finals experience.

It also means that should another Bruins’ forward go down, Caron would be on the biggest stage after not seeing game action for nearly two months.

“It’€™s the Stanley Cup Final, so just to be around the team and playing practice with them and stuff [is cool],” Caron said. “If I get the call I’€™ve got to be ready. It should be fun.”

Said Julien: “Jordan has an opportunity to live that same experience that we’ve been giving [Seguin], and [Steven] Kampfer, a young player that we feel is a big part of our organization. Besides the game, you look at ways to help your young players grow. I think that’s one of the ways, as well.”

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Stanley Cup Finals,
Bruins know they can’t get carried away with going for shorthanded goals 06.08.11 at 1:17 pm ET
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The Bruins have done a great job shutting down Vancouver’s power play this series, as they’ve held the league’s best man advantage to a 1-for-16 showing. Not only did they keep the Canucks scoreless on their eight power plays in Game 3, but the Bruins netted a pair of shorthanded goals — one from Brad Marchand and one from Daniel Paille.

On Wednesday, Paille said it’s important for the Bruins penalty killers to not get caught up in trying to score while shorthanded. He said they can’t force plays that could result in them being caught out of position.

“I don’€™t think that was the plan,” Paille said of being aggressive and getting shorthanded goals. “I think it obviously turned out that way, and we just kind of went with it. Fortunately it helped us in the end. It has cost us in the past, so we don’€™t want to do that too much.”

Marchand, who tied for third in the NHL with five shorthanded goals during the regular season, agreed with Paille and said the key for him is to just take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves.

“I just think a lot of it’€™s luck, a lot of lucky bounces,” Marchand said. “You get opportunities if the pucks hops over sticks and you get breakaways and stuff like that. If you saw a lot of the goals I scored shorthanded, they’€™re very fluky, pucks popping up behind the net in open cages. So a lot of it’€™s just lucky bounces.”

As far as Paille goes, Claude Julien said he’d be happy if him and linemate Gregory Campbell just keep doing what they’ve been doing. The duo has made a formidable penalty-kill unit all season for the Bruins.

“We’ve liked them there since the start of they year. They’ve been great penalty killers,” Julien said. “When Dan is skating, he does a really good job pressuring the D and makes it hard for them to break out cleanly. Certainly his speed is great. Turnovers and scoring opportunities as well.

“Gregory has been a great penalty killer because he’s willing to block shots. You get a second and third effort from him all the time. Those guys have been really good for us. Whenever they didn’t get an opportunity to play much as a fourth line, you could certainly rely on them heavily to help you out through the penalty kill.”

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Brad Marchand, Daniel Paille,
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