|Milan Lucic remains positive in face of playoff struggles||04.23.11 at 1:09 pm ET|
To say Milan Lucic has struggled this series would be an understatement. After leading the Bruins in goals and tying for the team lead in points during the regular season, Lucic has no points and just five shots on goal through four playoff games. Lucic said he isn’t about to get down on himself, though.
“This is not the time to get frustrated and be negative and bring yourself down,” Lucic said. “Because when you’re bringing yourself down, you might bring someone else down with you. You don’t want to be doing that.
“At this time of year, the only thing that matters is wins and losses,” he added. “It’s tough to be negative and feel sorry about myself when we’ve won the last two games. Other guys have stepped up and obviously played well. Hopefully they can keep their play up, and I just want to do whatever I can to start playing like they are. For myself, all my focus is to elevate my game and play the way I know I can.”
With the series now even at two games apiece, Lucic said he’s not only looking at Saturday night’s Game 5 as a fresh start for both teams, but also as a fresh start for himself.
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s a fresh start,” Lucic sad. “It’s almost like 0-0 again. For myself, it’s obviously hopefully a chance to get myself back and get myself going and start doing the things I know I can do.”
Starting slow in the playoffs is nothing new for Lucic. He was held off the scoresheet for the first five games of last year’s opening round series against Buffalo before breaking through with two assists in Game 6. He went on to register five goals and two assists against Philadelphia in the next round. Lucic said the key then and the key now is to find a way to get that one bounce that gets things going.
“I think it was just getting a good bounce,” Lucic said when asked how he broke out of last year’s slump. “When you start thinking positive again, it’s almost like a weight gets lifted off your shoulders once you get that bounce. It seems like the bounces haven’t really been there [this year], but you have to find a way to battle through things and get those bounces again.”
|Mark Recchi opts out of morning skate; Habs mum on potential changes||04.23.11 at 12:26 pm ET|
All the Bruins were on the ice for Saturday’s morning skate except Mark Recchi, who opted not to take the ice. Recchi also opted out of Thursday’s morning skate before Game 4 in Montreal. The forward lines and defense pairings are expected to be the same as they were in Game 4.
The Canadiens had all hands on deck for their morning skate, but coach Jacques Martin hinted that there could be some changes to the lineup come 7 p.m. Saturday night. “We’ll decide on our lineup game time,” he said, adding that Montreal needs “more from certain people.”
|Five things the Bruins must do to win Game 5 vs. Canadiens||04.22.11 at 10:55 pm ET|
The Bruins are coming off one of the more exciting victories they have had in recent memory, as they came back three times to beat the Habs in overtime on a Michael Ryder goal less than two minutes into overtime in Game 4. With the B’s having tied the series at two games apiece, they can prove that there is such thing as a home ice advantage by beating the Habs in Game 5 Saturday night. Here’s what they’ll need to do in order to grab the series lead Saturday at TD Garden.
1. Believe in momentum
Claude Julien thinks that momentum is overrated, but if the B’s can keep Game 4 fresh in their minds, they should be able to go with a full head of steam. Coming from behind the way the Bruins did at the Bell Centre is no easy task, and it was a rather embarrassing game for the Habs to lose given that they blew three leads in their own building. The B’s confidence combined with whatever the slipping Canadiens are feeling is probably a good thing for Boston.
2. Find Milan Lucic
The Bruins are still waiting for their leading goal-scorer from the regular season to pick up his first postseason point. So far, he’s been kept off the scoring sheet and has compiled a minus-2 rating. An indication that he probably isn’t working his way out of it is that he has had one or zero shots on goal in three of the four games thus far in the series. He is definitely off for some reason, but if he can get more involved in the play and show signs of life, the Boston’s top line may actually resemble a top line.
3. Pepper Carey Price early
The Bruins have had nine shots on goal or less in the first period of three of the series’ first four games. That’s no way of finding out whether they can get to Price, and it has shown. Aside from the two pucks they were able to get past Price on nine shots in the first period of Game 3, the Bruins haven’t scored on Price until the second period. Here’s a breakdown of the B’s shots on goal and goals per period in this series:
Patrice Bergeron leads the Bruins with 16 shots on goal this series.
4. Remember March 24
This series has been all about the road team thus far. The got the two goals in both Games 1 and 2 and sat back with the lead en route to big road victories. The Bruins scored a pair of first-period goals Monday and mounted a terrific comeback victory on Thursday. For whatever reason, the home team just can’t seem to win.
If the Bruins can think back to their March 24 win, they can change that trend. Johnny Boychuk scored 1:01 into the game, and the Canadiens seemed to give up at TD Garden from there, with the B’s grabbing a lopsided 7-0 win. The game was also Tim Thomas‘ lone shutout vs. the Habs, and though he’s looked fantastic at stretches during games this postseason, he has yet to dominate for 60 minutes.
5. Limit the turnovers
When the Canadiens have scored this series, it has often been because of uncharacteristic turnovers by the Bruins. It started when Tomas Kaberle put too much zip on a reverse in Game 1, and it has continued throughout the series. The B’s still have yet to play the type of game they need to, though the last half of Thursday night’s contest displayed guts like no other.
|Brad Marchand recalls how Mark Recchi helped him early on as a rookie||04.22.11 at 9:04 pm ET|
MONTREAL — The fact that Mark Recchi is highly respected in the Bruins locker room should come as no surprise to anyone. The 42-year-old has seen everything in his time in the NHL, so when he talks, people listen.
The future Hall-of-Famer did just that after the team’s loss in Game 2 to the Canadiens, telling ESPN recently that he told teammates that they could come back from the 2-0 lead the Habs held after two games. After all, Recchi and the Hurricanes won four in a row to sink the Habs back in 2006 after dropping the first two games of the quarterfinals. The rest, as they say, is history, as the Hurricanes went on to win the Stanley Cup.
Recchi’s words were heard loud and clear by teammates, and they are now halfway to their goal of taking the series after winning Games 3 and 4.
“He said something the other day in the room and everyone kind of perked up a little like, ‘Wow. If Recchi said it, than it’s true,'” linemate Brad Marchand recalled Thursday morning. “It’s great having him here. He’s such a leader. Every time he steps up, he always says the right thing at the right time. It’s great.”
For Marchand, the inspiration from Recchi hasn’t been limited to speeches given to the team. Recchi told the rookie earlier in the season to expect criticism from him.
“One day he was like, ‘I’ll get upset with you. It’s not going to be about you missing a pass, or that you should have given it to me at this [point], but playing your position, little things like that.’ He’s just so good at critiquing you and helping you grow into your game and being in certain positions, stuff like that,” Marchand said. “He was always helping me, telling me to be a certain way or in a certain place. He was really good with that with me throughout the year.”
Marchand’s rookie season was a successful one, as he totaled 21 goals and 20 assists for 41 points. Many of those points came playing on the same line as Recchi and Patrice Bergeron after beginning the season with Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton. Though Marchand didn’t always play with Recchi, the help he got from the 42-year-old seemed to come all year after No. 28 expressed an interest in tutoring the youngster.
“He was just like, ‘Listen. I want to help you, and help you out in areas where I think you could maybe do things differently,’ but he never once got upset with me about a pass or anything like that,” Marchand said. “He never got upset with me in general. He would help me out, and any little teaching point that he could help me out with, he really helped me a ton.
“Little things, how he carries himself in the room and off the ice, when to talk to the guys, when to not chirp guys, stuff like that. It’s unbelievable the amount of stuff he knows and he sees throughout the game. He’s like another coach on the ice.”
So, what is a young player thinking when one of the best to play the game begins listing how he could do better? A sensitive player might be disappointed in some, way, shape or form or take feel like they’re doing something wrong. When it comes to Recchi helping Marchand, that isn’t the case.
“You’re very grateful right away, because some guys — a lot of guys — will just sit there and let you make your mistakes,” Marchand said. “He’s that guy that will step up. He likes bringing young guys along, you can tell. The way he talks to everybody, and all the young guys, he helps them out. I was very grateful to have a guy like him teach me things that maybe other guys wouldn’t have. I learned a lot from him this year.”
Recchi’s tutelage of Marchand isn’t the first case in which he’s helped a younger player. Among the youngsters Recchi has helped along the way is Jordan Staal, whom he let live in his guest house back when Staal was a rookie in the 2006-07 season.
|Bruins aren’t putting any stock in the home team not winning||04.22.11 at 2:14 pm ET|
So much for home ice advantage. The road team has won all four games in the Bruins’ first-round series against the Canadiens, but the B’s aren’t putting much stock in that as they return home for Game 5 on Saturday night.
“Because the away team scored more goals than the home team in all of those games,” Tim Thomas said, giving the most obvious explanation of why things have played out the way they have. “I don’t put too much thought into that.”
Thomas said that perhaps the home team just needs to play more of a “road game,” which he explained as a smarter, less flashy style of play.
“Play the type of game that you need to play to win,” he said. “Sometimes you’ve got to be safe, sometimes you take the chances. There is a tendency when you’re at home to try to put on a show for the home crowd, and sometimes that works against you over the course of a full 60-minute game.”
Andrew Ference said he doesn’t really believe in home-ice advantage anyway because everyone is just as comfortable on the road as they are at home.
“I don’t put a lot of stock into home-ice advantage, just because I think guys are very professional with the way we travel in the league,” Ference said. “We stay in good hotels and eat well. … We don’t feel like we’re behind the eight ball when we are on the road or anything like that. It’s just another hockey game.”
Claude Julien echoed his defenseman’s sentiments.
“I’m not worried about a team not winning at home,” Julien said. “I think what I’m more concerned about is making sure our team is ready to play tomorrow and hopefully build on that great win yesterday. We just have to keep getting better and not worry about where we’re playing, but how we’re playing.”
|Tim Thomas named Vezina Trophy finalist||04.22.11 at 1:40 pm ET|
In what was pretty much a foregone conclusion, Tim Thomas was named one of three finalists for the Vezina Trophy on Friday. Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo and Nashville’s Pekka Rinne are the other two finalists.
“Very happy to hear that, obviously,” Thomas said. “After last year, I wasn’t quite sure if I’d ever hear that again.”
Thomas, of course, is referring to his up-and-down 2009-10 campaign, in which he finished the season with a 17-18-8 record to go along with a 2.56 goals-against average and .915 save percentage. He ultimately ceded the starting job to Tuukka Rask by the playoffs.
Thomas bounced back in a big way this year, though. He went 35-11-9 and led the NHL in both goals-against average (2.00) and save percentage (.938). That .938 mark was good enough to break Dominik Hasek‘s single-season save percentage record.
“I definitely have more appreciation just for the fact that I have the opportunity to play,” Thomas said. “I waited a long time in my career just for the opportunity to play in any NHL games. I wanted to have the opportunity and wanted to be able to show what I could do. And so after last year, I think it’s made every game a little bit sweeter this year.”
Claude Julien said Thomas not only deserves the nomination, but that he also deserves to win the award.
“I think it’s pretty obvious to me that Tim is very deserving of that nomination,” Julien said. “Obviously I’m a big fan of what he’s done this year, and if you ask me, he certainly deserves it. I’m sure that I would get some arguments from other places, but I’m certainly going to support Tim for the season he’s had. Especially with what he went through last year, to bounce back this year and have that kind of season, he’s certainly very deserving. I wish him all the luck and I hope he wins what he deserves.”
Thomas said that although the nomination is great and he’s certainly happy about it, he’s focused on more pressing matters right now.
“Only if you make it,” Thomas said when asked if the nomination could be a distraction. “It’s weird timing that we happen to be in the middle of a very tough first-round series. … I could talk about it right now, but my focus will immediately go back to the playoff series. I won’t be thinking about the Vezina later today.”
|Andrew Ference OK with fine, maintains gesture was unintentional||04.22.11 at 1:18 pm ET|
“I talked with Mike Murphy of the NHL this morning and explained the same thing I told you guys last night,” Ference said. “He said the same thing, that it looks awful. Obviously with this series, the whole year, how it is between the Habs and the Bruins, a fine is acceptable. I had a good talk with him this morning.”
Ference stood by his claim that the gesture was unintentional. After the game, he said his glove might have gotten caught with the finger up, but that he wasn’t trying to do that.
“I was pumping my fist,” he said on Friday. “I’m not giving anybody the bird or anything like that. Like I told [the NHL], it was an unintentional bird. I obviously apologize for it. It wasn’t meant to insult anybody, especially a whole row of cameras in the Bell Centre and the fans sitting there.”
Claude Julien stood by his defenseman.
“With Andrew, I think he’s been pretty open with what he thinks of the situation,” Julien said. “His comments were pretty clear, and I’m going to support my player. That’s my job, is to support and believe your player, and that’s what I’m going to do. He’s a big boy, he’s capable of handling himself.”