|Bruins-Canucks preview: Three keys, stats, and players to watch||06.06.11 at 1:54 am ET|
The Bruins have a tall task ahead of them as they look to overcome an 0-2 hole and turn the Stanley Cup finals into an actual series. Both games have been determined by just one goal thus far, and though the Bruins have played poorly from the most part, the first two games have shown the B’s can hang with the Canucks, even if they haven’t totally shown up yet. With the number three in mind, here’s a preview of Monday’s Game 3.
THREE THINGS THE BRUINS NEED TO DO
– Get better looks vs. Roberto Luongo and establish a net-front presence. We’ll say it until it changes, and it didn’t change enough in Game 2. The Canucks have been able to box the Bruins out so far in the series, but look at how the B’s scored their goals in Game 2. Milan Lucic buried a rebound from in front, and Mark Recchi redirected a shot in front of Luongo. When the Bruins were able to set up shop and do things from close range, the puck went in. It seems trying it any other way is an exercise in futility.
– Keep moving Zdeno Chara around on the power play. Recchi’s goal came as a result of Claude Julien moving Chara back to the point, but Julien should keep mixing it up when it comes to the Bruins’ mammoth captain. He still appeared to be a nuisance in front of Luongo in Game 1, so Julien should have enough confidence in Chara’s abilities in both areas to play him in different spots from power play to power play.
– Use the home crowd to their advantage. Whether or not they want to admit it, Rogers Arena was absolutely electric and had to have been a tough place to play. If the Garden can turn down the music and let the fans create an authentic atmosphere, maybe the Canucks can truly feel like they’re at an opponent’s home and not a wrestling match.
– Both the Bruins and Canucks have seen four of their last five games be determined by one goal. The Bruins are 2-3 in that span, while the Canucks are 4-1.
– The four goals Tim Thomas has allowed over the last three games ties this stretch with his best of the postseason. Thomas let in four goals over Games 2 through 4 of the conference semifinals vs. the Flyers, though the difference is that the Bruins won all three of those games and have lost two of the three games in this stretch.
– Brad Marchand has gone four games without scoring. In the other two instances this postseason in which he went four straight without a goal, he scored the following game.
THREE PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON
– Tim Thomas: He plays aggressive ‘ the sky is falling! As bad as the game-wining goal he allowed in overtime Saturday looked, the reaction by some suggest nobody has actually watched Thomas before. He’s all over the place, and he plays farther out of his net than most. It will be interesting to see how be performs in Game 3 given all the heat he’s been under for his style this series.
– Alexandre Burrows: The Bruins have every reason to be furious that Burrows wasn’t suspended for Game 2, though they’re not showing it. At any rate, their No. 1 concern should be finding away to stop the guy who showed Saturday that his offensive ability (2 G, A in Game 2) is just as sharp as his teeth.
– Rich Peverley: Where to play the speedy winger? Peverley has seen time on the second line, third line and fourth line (and the first if you want to count him taking one of Nathan Horton‘s shifts in Game 7 of the conference finals when Horton was banged up) in recent games. Peverley could continue to take some of Mark Recchi‘s shifts on the second line, or he could skate with Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder, as he did from late in the second period Saturday to the end of the contest. If and when Julien makes a move to get Shawn Thornton in the lineup at the expense of Tyler Seguin this series, the line of Kelly centering Peverley and Ryder would make sense.
Also, don’t rule out Peverley having a target on his back in Game 3. His two-handed slash to the back of Kevin Bieksa‘s knee didn’t go over well with Bieksa, his teammates or his coaches. Given the nature of the play, it shouldn’t have. Peverley really got away with one, and had he scored on his shot that followed the non-penalized slash, it would have looked even worse.
|Travel and fatigue are challenges, not excuses, for the down but not out Bruins||06.05.11 at 10:34 pm ET|
One thing is for certain, that five-hour plane ride that began early Sunday morning in Vancouver would’ve been a lot shorter if the Bruins had found a way to hold onto their 2-1 third-period lead in Game 2 Saturday night.
But the Bruins had no choice but to get on the 7 a.m. bus and catch their 8 a.m. (PT) flight back for Boston. At least it was a charter and at least it was a big plane so most everyone could catch up on sleep and relaxation.
“We’re not going to hide the fact that we don’t travel as much as they do,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said, referring to the fact that the Canucks basically head out on a lengthy road trip every time they don’t play at Rogers Arena. “They’re probably used to this more than we are. So I think it was important for us to really look at it in a way where we had to make it the best possible way for us.”
When they beat Tampa Bay, 1-0, in Game 7 of the Eastern finals, Julien and the Bruins knew managing their travel would be nearly as important as solving Roberto Luongo. Julien wanted his team to leave Sunday morning so they could get back Sunday afternoon and get back on Eastern time ASAP, with Game 3 Monday night at 8 p.m. Read the rest of this entry »
|Alain Vigneault calls Rich Peverley’s slash on Kevin Bieksa a ‘cheap shot’||06.05.11 at 10:32 pm ET|
Upon his arrival in Boston late Sunday afternoon, Canucks coach Alain Vigneault called Rich Peverley‘s slash on Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa in the second period of Saturday’s Game 2 a dirty play.
‘Kevin didn’t get hit,’ Vigneault said when asked about the Canucks matching the physical play of the Bruins. ‘He got a cheap shot in the back of the knee, so that’s totally different. He went down by something you don’t want to see in the game. But at the end of the day, we know they’re a big, physical team and we can play a speed game but we can play a physical game, which I think we’ve shown throughout the playoffs.’
Bieksa returned after limping to the bench and no penalty was called on the play. The Canucks outhit the Bruins, 40-31, Game 2 Saturday after the Bruins held a 31-30 advantage in Game 1.
|Tim Thomas is perfectly happy with the way he’s playing, so is Claude Julien||06.05.11 at 6:13 pm ET|
Tim Thomas made one thing pretty clear Sunday.
He’s not about to change his aggressive approach in goal now.
The 2009 Vezina Trophy winner was outstanding in Game 1 and for most of Game 2 before allowing the game-tying goal with over 10 minutes left in regulation and a bizarre goal 11 seconds into overtime when he fell down chasing Alex Burrows.
Upon his arrival back in Boston Sunday afternoon at the Garden, Thomas was asked about whether he regrets his aggressive approach or plans on adjusting his tact in goal.
“I have a pretty good idea how to play goalie,” Thomas said at the beginning of the press conference. “I’m not going to take advice or suggestions at this time. I’m just going to keep playing the way I have.”
Following a five-hour flight back from Vancouver, Thomas and the rest of the Bruins came to the Garden briefly to check into their dressing room and fulfill a media obligation on the offday between Games 2 and 3 of the Stanley Cup finals.
“I think we’ve played in front of Timmy Thomas,” coach Claude Julien said. “To me, he’s a Vezina Trophy winner. We are here right now because his contribution has been really good. For us to be sitting here having to answer those questions is ridiculous to me. He’s won a Vezina Trophy already, he’s probably going to win one this year, in my mind anyway, for what he’s done. Read the rest of this entry »
|Barry Pederson on Sports Sunday: Bruins must ‘get physical’ to win Game 3||06.05.11 at 12:13 pm ET|
While Pederson said that inserting Shawn Thornton into the starting lineup was important to the Bruins turning the Stanley Cup finals around, playing 60 minutes of physical hockey was essential.
‘The Bruins have got to do what they have not done in the third periods of both games,’ Pederson said. ‘When you listen to the coach, what he’s most frustrated about is both of those games they had an opportunity to win, and they lost non-Bruin-like, which was to sit back and allow the opponent to take the game to you.’
Pederson said that the defense had to tighten up in support of Tim Thomas and stop allowing outnumbered situations. Part of that means the forwards making smarter decisions in the neutral zone, and part of that means resting Zdeno Chara on the power play.
‘[Chara] is the single best shut-down defenseman in the National Hockey League,’ Pederson said. ‘So I want that matchup against the [Daniel and Henrik] Sedin twins. I know that [Vancouver coach] Alain Vigneault is going to be coming after every power play that Vancouver kills off, the first guys that are going to be thrown out there are the Sedin twins. I want to make sure that my top pair is fresh.’
|Mark Recchi tells critics he’s no bum||06.05.11 at 12:28 am ET|
VANCOUVER — Bruins second-line right wing Mark Recchi scored his first goal in 12 games Saturday, giving the Bruins the lead in the second period of their 3-2 overtime loss in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals.
Recchi had struggled at times as the B’s furthered their postseason run, and a popular topic among the fans and media alike was whether Rich Peverley should see more time on the second line in Recchi’s place, and whether the 43-year-old still belonged on the second power-play unit. After the loss in which he tipped a Zdeno Chara wrist shot past Roberto Luongo, he was asked about whether he felt he silenced critics.
“I’m not worried about critics. I’m worried about my teammates here. Critics, they’re not in the dressing room with us every day,” Recchi said. “They don’t know what I bring to the table every day, so really they can kiss my [rear].
“I’m not too worried about it,” Recchi continued. “My teammates are all I care about, my coaching staff. I’ve got a job to do, and that’s to focus on making sure that I’m helping in the dressing room , helping in other areas. Playing physical, trying to create things and that’s what I’ll do.”
Because Recchi’s goal came on the power play and he was on the ice for Alexandre Burrows‘ game-winner in overtime, he finished the night with a minus-1 rating.
|Bruins downplay Alexandre Burrows feasting on them||06.05.11 at 12:03 am ET|
VANCOUVER — There was plenty of buzz over whether Canucks first-line winger Alexandre Burrows would play in Game 2 in the hours that followed his bite on Patrice Bergeron at the end of the first period of Game 1. The league’s decision not to suspend Burrows hurt the Bruins big-time Saturday, as he had a hand in all three Canucks goals and scored the game-winner 11 seconds into overtime in a 3-2 Vancouver win.
The Bruins and coach Claude Julien were quick to dismiss the connection between Burrows’ act the impact Wednesday he had Saturday.
“No comments. That’s got nothing to do with that,” Julien said when asked whether Burrows’ performance made him reconsider whether he felt the league made the right call. “I never thought about that that way. They made a decision and we moved on. If we start using that as an excuse, we’re a lame team. To me, it’s not even a consideration.”
Bergeron had cuts on his right pointer finger and had to get a tetanus shot following the bite. Given all the attention surrounding his finger, Canucks forward and longtime Bruins nemesis Maxim Lapierre waved his finger at Bergeron and even put his finger in his face in an effort to taunt the B’s center.
“I’ve got nothing to day about it,” Bergeron said of Lapierre’s gesture. “That’s just him I guess.”
Throughout the Bruins’ room, players tried to downplay any irony or added frustration from Burrows being the man who did them in.
“You don’t want to get too much into it with each little guy,” David Krejci said. “You’ve just got to take it the way it is. He scored. He’s just another player from their team.”
Added Bergeron: “I don’t see the relation there, but obviously just for us to lose like that, we’ve got to make sure we bounce back.”