|Bruins’ power play problems are with execution, not personnel||06.13.11 at 1:33 pm ET|
The Bruins’ power play appeared to finally be coming around earlier this series, as it went 3-for-13 (23.1 percent) in the first three games. It has taken a step back since then, however, going 0-for-8 in the last two contests.
Claude Julien tried something new in Game 5 when he put Gregory Campbell in front of the net on the Bruins’ first couple man advantages, hoping that the fourth-line grinder would create some traffic and get some deflections. While much of the talk has been about the decision to use Campbell on the power play, the struggles had more to do with execution than personnel. Julien said after Game 5 that the Campbell-in-front plan never materialized because the Bruins never got the looks at the net that they wanted.
On Monday, Michael Ryder — who has been on the second power-play unit most of the playoffs — agreed that the problem isn’t with who’s on the ice.
“I think it’s all about our breakouts and the way we enter the zone,” Ryder said. “It seemed like last game, we couldn’t really get set up. And when we did, [Roberto] Luongo made some big saves. It’s just a matter of us establishing traffic in front and getting our breakout all on the same page with that first pass.”
Better entries into the zone would obviously make it much easier for the Bruins to get some of those setups that Julien said were absent in Game 5. Ryder added that once they’re in the zone, the Bruins will need to work harder and not overthink plays.
“Sometimes we have a tendency in the zone to look for plays that aren’t there instead of taking what Vancouver gives us,” Ryder said. “I think tonight we have to make sure that if we get the chance to take that shot, we take it and get the traffic in front. And we have to outwork their penalty kill. I think that’s one of the biggest issues. If we outwork their PK, we’ll have success on the power play.”
Julien hasn’t said if he plans to use Campbell on the power play again — he wasn’t on the Bruins’ last two man advantages in Game 5. It won’t matter who’s out there, though, if the execution and work ethic aren’t out there with them.
|Bruins hopeful Nathan Horton will attend Game 6||at 1:28 pm ET|
The Canucks have the Stanley Cup at the Garden for motivation Monday night, and it seems the Bruins will have some less famous inspiration in the house.
Bruins coach Claude Julien said he expects Nathan Horton, who is out for the series due to a severe concussion suffered in Game 3, to be in attendance as the B’s look to prevent elimination in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals. Horton came into the Boston dressing room after the team’s 4-0 victory in Game 4, and has seen teammates here and there since.
“He’s been around,” Claude Julien said, also noting that under no circumstances would Horton be able to make a return to the ice this week. “‘¦If people are looking for miracles, if he’s [in attendance Monday], it will be pretty special. But right now, he’s still dealing with those concussion issues as we speak.
“He popped in quickly this morning just to say ‘hi.’ I have the impression that he’s going to be coming to the game tonight as long as he feels good, and that can vary as the day goes on. I think right now his plan is to hopefully be here tonight.”
Horton had eight goals and nine assists for 17 points in 21 games this postseason, his first playoffs experience. He scored series-clinching goals in Game 7 of both the Eastern Conference quarterfinals and finals.
Everyone knew the loss of Nathan Horton was going to be a big blow for the Bruins. But after Rich Peverley scored two goals while playing on the top line in Game 4, some of the questions about how the Bruins were going to replace Horton subsided. Then they rose right back to the surface after the top line — along with the rest of the offense — was shut down in Game 5.
Although Peverley is the one who has scored on the first line that includes mainstays David Krejci and Milan Lucic, he hasn’t been a permanent fixture there. Michael Ryder and Tyler Seguin have also seen time there in the two-plus games since Horton went down. Krejci admitted Monday that it has been tough playing with new right wings after having Horton on his flank pretty much all season.
“As a line, me and Looch have basically played every time with a different guy, so it’s hard to get the chemistry going,” Krejci said. “Obviously you like to have your linemates and stick with them so you can get chemistry going, but it’s kind of hard to do. With the power plays and PKs, it’s tough to get us there together.”
Krejci said he was hoping that being at home Monday night and having the last change would help stabilize the lines a little bit, but Claude Julien said that isn’t necessarily something he’s trying to do.
“It’s been by design,” Julien said when asked about the revolving door. “We talked about that when Horton went down. I had to use different players, so that’s exactly what I’ve done.”
Although Lucic agreed with Krejci about the adjustment not being easy, he said they’re not going to use it as an excuse for anything.
“It’s tough because we’re obviously used to Nathan being there on our right side, and the same game you have Peverley, Ryder and Seguin on the right side,” Lucic said. “But you don’t want to make excuses. Everybody has to do their part when we’re out there. We still have to play the same way we always do. Not much is going to change tonight, so we’re going to have to find a way.”
|Bruins want to play Game 7, not talk about it||at 12:59 pm ET|
Milan Lucic has faint memories of the 1994 Stanley Cup finals, when his hometown Canucks fell to the Rangers in seven games. Though it was just a week after his sixth birthday, he knows what a Game 7 in Vancouver looks like.
Yet when asked Monday about a Game 7 in Vancouver potentially being played Wednesday, the 23-year-old Bruins winger was in no mood to answer.
“To be honest, I don’t even want to talk about Game 7,” Lucic said, “because Game 6 hasn’t even been played yet.”
Such was the mindset throughout the Bruins’ room Monday. The ultimate goal, at least as it pertains to Monday, is to force a seventh game, but it’s the last thing they want to think about. They know there is danger in overlooking the fact that the Stanley Cup is in Boston waiting to be awarded to the Canucks tonight, so preventing that from happening is far more important than thinking about winning it themselves.
“No. Game 6. It’s Game 6,” Shawn Thornton said when asked about Game 7. “That’s it. Let’s see what happens tonight and then we’ll worry about that after.”
The Bruins have dominated the Canucks at TD Garden in what have been the only two lopsided games of the series. The Bruins’ margin of victory in Games 3 and 4 was 12-1, while all three Canucks’ wins at Rogers Arena have been decided by one goal.
While the Bruins are being motivated by elimination, the Canucks are being motivated by the most coveted trophy in all of sports. For either team to count the other out would be a mistake, and it’s one the Bruins don’t want to make.
“I think it’s clear to our players that all the focus should be about tonight,” Claude Julien said. “If you want to create a Game 7, you have to focus on tonight’s game, not on Game 7.”
“We’ve had our back up against a wall a few times and I think that we’ve performed well under those circumstances. I think a lot of guys feel like this is another opportunity to go out there and prove ourselves and seize the moment,” Ference said.
Ference and the Bruins have faced elimination twice in the playoffs so far, winning both games on home ice by one goal, including Game 7 against Montreal in overtime in the first round.
“It doesn’t sound right but we’ve been here as a team,” Ference said. “Obviously, the Cup is on the line tonight but I think we felt like that against Montreal when we were down. Against Philly, there was such focus on getting back and Tampa went to Game 7. We’ve had our back up against the wall a few times and I think we’ve performed well under those circumstances.”
For Ference, this is his second time in a Game 6 of the Cup finals. Back in 2004 – with Calgary – the Flames were just one win away and could’ve clinched with a win on home ice. But instead, the Lightning survived and forced a Game 7, one which Tampa Bay prevailed, 2-1.
“Second time around is easier,” Ference said. “I remember the first time with Calgary mostly your mind gets pretty busy. But also, I was in a different situation. I was up 3-2 with Calgary so the mind works in different ways. But this time is a little easier.”
Ference – like every Bruin – will look to feed off the sizable energy in the Garden, a place the Bruins have outscored the Canucks, 12-1, in two blowout wins in Games 3 and 4.
“The city’s excited,” Ference said. “It’s been a long run and lots of ups and downs and crazy stuff but obviously, everybody can smell a finish coming up soon and wants us obviously, to continue the story fro another game.”
|Micheal Ryder hopes Bruins ‘rain on that parade’||at 12:00 pm ET|
Word emerged Sunday that the Canucks had reportedly attempted to sell the television rights to their parade in celebration of a Stanley Cup victory. Given that Vancouver is still one win away from claiming the Cup, the premature attempt at selling the right (which they could not) would seem like perfect motivation for the Bruins as they look to take Game 6 at the Garden Monday night and force a seventh game.
“I don’t know what to say to that,” winger Michael Ryder said with a laugh after Monday’s morning skate when asked about the Canucks’ preparations. “That’s what they did, and that’s what they want to do, and we want to rain on that parade and make sure that it doesn’t happen, maybe use it to our advantage a little bit and make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Players throughout the B’s room agreed that the ultimate goal is to keep the Stanley Cup in its case Monday, as it will be at the Garden. They’d much rather it head to Vancouver without having been awarded to anyone.
“We know what he have to do tonight: just win this game tonight, and then you never know. We’d go to Vancouver and play there Wednesday.”
|Bruins-Canucks Game 6 preview: 6 keys, stats and players||at 4:03 am ET|
The Bruins are playing in either their last game or second to last game Monday. Either way, it will be the finale at the Garden as the B’s look to fend off elimination and force a Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals, which would be played back in British Columbia. Here’s the preview of Monday’s contest.
SIX THINGS THE BRUINS NEED TO DO
– Make it about quality, not quantity: Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo has faced 30 or more shots in each of his shutouts in the finals, and both of those blankings have been cakewalks. The Bruins need to establish a physical presence, create traffic and get in front to beat the Vezina finalist.
– Don’t let the Cup make an appearance: Everyone knows the Stanley Cup will be in the house Monday night, but the Bruins’ worst nightmare has to be watching Alexandre Burrows, Luongo and the rest of the perceived bad guys skate around with it on their ice.
– Remember their Game 6 experience: It’s as cliche as it gets to say that the last win is the hardest in a series, but the Bruins should know. Both the Canadiens and Lightning didn’t let the Bruins storm into their home and eliminate them, so the B’s will need the same desperation that beat them in those games.
– Remind everyone of Games 3 and 4: The Bruins were able to make things very difficult for the Vancouver defense and Luongo in the two games here, but Vancouver tightened back up defensively back at Rogers Arena, while the B’s stiffened up offensively.
– Give Tyler Seguin time on the power play: It’s the one place he won’t be afraid of getting hit and can focus just on using his talent. The B’s went 0-for-4 on the man advantage Friday in Vancouver, with Seguin getting only 12 seconds on the power play.
– Use Zdeno Chara in front on the power play: It may not have yielded results the last time around, but it’s worth using from time to time. If the Bruins can’t even get set up as it is, can it get much worse?
– The Bruins have won nine of their last 10 home games dating back to Game 5 of the quarterfinals.
– Dennis Seidenberg‘s only goal this postseason came in Game 6 of the quarterfinals, and it was Boston’s only goal in the 2-1 Canadiens win.
– Though David Krejci leads the NHL with 22 postseason points, he’s only registered points in a loss twice. His hat trick in Game 6 of the conference finals made for three of the four points in games the Bruins have dropped this postseason.
– Despite missing two games due to a concussion, Patrice Bergeron leads all Bruins with 62 shots on goal this postseason.
– Henrik Sedin has gone five straight games without a point for the first time since the 2007 postseason. He had two such stretches in 12 games in those playoffs. The last time he went six games without a point was from Nov. 29-Dec. 20, 2003.
– Daniel Sedin has gone three straight games without a point three times this season, including once in the playoffs. He has not going four games without a point since Feb. 4-11 of the 2009-10 season.
SIX PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON
Milan Lucic: After not showing up in Game 5, Lucic has to have the best game of his life Monday. If something is ailing him, then it’s commendable that he’s played through it, but the B’s need their best players to be the best players on the ice. Not having Nathan Horton is bad enough, and the B’s not be able to survive with another zero-shot performance like Friday’s.
Brad Marchand: The rookie needs to be the royal pain he’s been all season, and he also needs to come out flying the way he did when he dominated Game 4. It had seemed he was on a roll with goals in two straight games, but apparently Rogers Arena is where any positive Bruins trend goes to die. Marchand has three shots on goal over his last three games, though two have gone in.
Tim Thomas: It’s hard to ask any more of Thomas, who it seems will be getting the Conn Smythe Trophy. He’s allowed six goals in the finals and could conceivably lose the series having allowed just seven goals in seven games.
Alexandre Burrows: The refs shouldn’t look at any plays involving this guy based on his diving. It seems the refs looked the other way with Burrows got cross-checked by the net.
Raffi Torres: The third-liner has three shots on goal this series, but one of them went in to seal Game 1 for the Canucks. He has two assists in the last three games.
Roberto Luongo: The mechanic himself did not have success the last time he was at the Garden, and he might need to show up big after letting up 12 goals in Games 3 and 4. If Luongo were to clinch the Cup for the Canucks with a shutout Monday, that would be quite remarkable given that it would be his third this postseason.