|Bruins look for rare Game 1 victory||04.12.12 at 1:38 pm ET|
Not to rain on 2011′s parade, but one detail that may go forgotten as the story of that Bruins team is told is that the Bruins lost Game 1 of every series except the one they swept against the Flyers.
In hindsight, it’s just a minor detail that showed the makeup of the team. They came back from 1-0 deficits in three times, and from 2-0 deficits twice. They were resilient, and they didn’t give in whenever they fell behind.
That’s all fine and dandy, but the B’s would probably rather change that aspect of this postseason by picking up some Game 1 victories.
Two of those Game 1 losses were shutouts, as the B’s were blanked by Carey Price in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals and Roberto Luongo in the Stanley Cup finals. The Bruins obviously recovered nicely in both series as well as the Eastern Conference finals (they lost Game 1, 5-2, to Tampa Bay), but they’d rather start their series with the Capitals differently.
“This team has a lot of confidence and knows how to play under pressure and just knows how to come back from deficits in a series or in a game, but it doesn’t mean we can just rely on that,” B’s defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said after Thursday’s morning skate. “We have to be focused and bring our A game tonight.”
The numbers are skewed a bit by their 7-3 win over the Flyers in Game 1 of the conference semifinals last year, but the B’s were outscored, 11-9 in Game 1s last postseason (8-2 in their Game 1 losses). In the rest of the postseason, they outscored their opponents by a 72-42 margin.
A series is not won and lost in the first game, and truthfully, losing three of four Game 1s is a good thing because it means a team played in four Game 1s. Still, taking a series lead on home ice couldn’t hurt, could it?
Bruins coach Claude Julien would only say he “hopes” defenseman Johnny Boychuk will be in the lineup Thursday night in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Capitals.
Based on this week, it would appear that Boychuk should be ready to return after missing the last two games of the regular season with a sprained knee. He participated in Thursday’s morning skate, marking the fourth straight day he’s been on the ice with the team. In practices and line drills, Boychuk has played on the second pairing with Andrew Ference.
Julien would not reveal the healthy scratch among forwards, but it should be either Jordan Caron or Daniel Paille, as the two have shared the left wing on the fourth line this week in practice.
Adam McQuaid (upper-body) and Tuukka Rask (abdomen/groin) will not dress. Anton Khudobin will serve as the team’s backup to Tim Thomas.
Here are the Bruins’ lines:
Milan Lucic – David Krejci – Rich Peverley
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Tyler Seguin
Benoit Pouliot – Chris Kelly – Brian Rolston
Daniel Paille/Jordan Caron – Gregory Campbell – Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara – Dennis Seidenberg
Andrew Ference – Johnny Boychuk
Greg Zanon – Joe Corvo
|Bruins need to do the dirty work to score in these playoffs||at 12:23 pm ET|
As much as Tim Thomas was amazing under pressure, justifiably winning the Conn Smythe trophy as the MVP of the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs, the Bruins offense was as explosive as any team in the playoffs last season.
The Bruins scored 81 goals in 25 playoff games, including games of eight, seven and six tallies as they scored when they needed to when Thomas wasn’t – well – Thomas. By comparison, the high-flying Canucks in their 25 playoff games scored just 58.
David Krejci scored 12 goals. Brad Marchand set a Bruins rookie playoff record with 11. Nathan Horton and Michael Ryder had eight apiece. Chris Kelly, Milan Lucic and Mark Recchi each had five. Count them up and that’s 21 of the 81 goals the Bruins scored that are missing to start these playoffs.
“I think it’s just playing the system properly,” Kelly said. “The minute you start thinking about scoring goals and lots of goals, that doesn’t happen. We capitalized on our opportunities last year, and hopefully we do the same this year. But by no means are we heading into these playoffs we’re going to be a big-scoring team. We take care of our own end first and work our way out.”
Funny thing, it didn’t start that well for the Bruins as they scored just once in losing their first two games at home to Montreal. Read the rest of this entry »
|Why the Bruins still fear Dennis Wideman||at 12:15 pm ET|
Every Bruins fan remembers how ugly it ended for Dennis Wideman in Boston. Certainly, the talented defenseman does.
He was one of the scapegoats of the collapse against the Flyers in 2010 Eastern Conference semifinals.
He was the player fans came to the Garden to boo, expecting turnover after turnover, leading to scoring chance after scoring chance for the opposition. It wasn’t all bad as Wideman had back-to-back 13-goal seasons for the Bruins in 2008 and ’09, registering an impressive plus-32 on-ice rating in ’09. But the wheels fell off the next season. He had only six goals in 76 games and a minus-14. Things got even worse after a trade to Florida. He was minus-26 with nine goals in 61 games.
But look further and you see that Wideman can still do one thing – score on the power play. Eight of his nine goals with the Panthers came on the power play. In his two biggest productive years in Boston, he was instrumental on the power play with Zdeno Chara, scoring 15 goals.
But he’s been rejuvenated in Washington. He played in all 82 games this season for the Caps, with 11 goals and 35 assists and is on the No. 1 power play unit with Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Mike Green. This year, he scored four of Washington’s 41 goals on the power play, accounting for 10 percent of the production.
So now, the offensive defenseman is in a fascinating position for revenge on all those who unleashed their venom on him. Wideman returns as one of the key cogs of the Capitals’ power play as Washington takes on Boston in the 2012 Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
“You would hope that when the player was here, we worked on making him a better player,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “He is a good player. I think he’s been a good player for years now. I know he had a tough outing here near the end but we still felt that when Dennis still here, we felt he was our best puck-moving defenseman at the time.”
As for his nightmarish 2010 end in Boston?
“He had a bit of tough year and all of sudden fans turned on him a little bit and it got a little bit out of control but he’s still a good player,” Julien said. “You just have to look at his stats this year and look what he does on their power play. He’s a still puck-mover, still a great offensive defenseman that has a lot of qualities to his game.”
Washington comes in after finishing 18th out of 30 teams on the power play this season, converting at a 16.7 percent clip.
“There’s got to be an element of respect there when you look at the players that they have on their power play. Now, Backstrom being back, who’s actually a pretty good playmaker, will certainly help their power play get better,” Julien said. “But they have the shooters, you know, Green and Wideman can shoot the puck well. Ovechkin as we know, Semin – they’ve got a lot of guys that can shoot the puck on that power play. We just need to respect that and continue to take our penalty kill as serious as we have in the past playoffs and continue to do a good job.”
|Now healthy, Milan Lucic has to step up this postseason with Nathan Horton out||04.11.12 at 2:13 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — It became official Wednesday that David Krejci and Milan Lucic will not play with Nathan Horton this postseason, but could the Bruins’ first (depending on who you ask) line be even better than it was a season ago?
It’s a tough act to follow, to be certain. Krejci led all postseason players with 12 goals and 23 points, while Horton’s eight goals tied for third on the team.
The line will obviously be different in that Rich Peverley will be skating in Horton’s place as he did in Games 3-7 of the Cup finals, but the biggest difference should be Lucic.
After leading the team with 30 goals in the regular season last year, Lucic struggled through a sinus infection and, later, a broken toe. He finished the playoffs with 12 points (five goals, seven assists), which tied for eighth on the team. The Bruins won the Cup, and he assisted two of Horton’s overtime goals against the Canadiens (including the series-clinching Game 7 tally), but Lucic didn’t look right. People wondered whether he was playing through pain.
As it turned out, he was. He’d had the sinus infection throughout the postseason, and he had his big toe shattered by a Tyler Seguin slap shot in practice between Games 1 and 2 of the Eastern Conference finals against Tampa Bay.
Now, Lucic is healthy, and he’s ready to not only produce more offensively, but help in the other areas where Horton will be missed. When Horton is on that line, it’s a trio that features two big power forwards, making it a very physical and tough group to deal with. Peverley adds speed, but the extra bruising play will have to be provided by Lucic.
“I think I definitely have to play physical no matter what, but [Horton] definitely makes it easier, I’m not going to lie, because he is a big body and he’s got such great speed and we all know about his scoring touch,” Lucic said. “For myself, I feel like I’ve been playing pretty well the last 10 games, and using my body well all season long and I’ve been skating well. Being physical is a big part of my game, and I have to bring that in the playoffs.”
There’s no positive way of spinning of the loss of Horton, but Lucic can recognize that the situation heading into the postseason will be easier than it was the last time the B’s last Horton. Krejci had centered Lucic and Horton for the vast majority of the season, and the trio had built up a pretty strong rapport.
One Aaron Rome hit later, Krejci and Lucic found themselves with a new linemate while still four victories away from the Stanley Cup. There was no time for adjustment then, but they now have experience with Peverley based on the Cup finals and recent weeks.
“Yeah it does, definitely,” Lucic said when asked whether the familiarity with Peverley makes it easier this time around. “You go from playing a whole year with the exact same two guys, and then the last four games, Peverley jumps in the mix. This time, we’ve definitely played a lot more games together, and in these last couple of days of practice have gotten the feel of each other a lot more having practiced with each other. We’re excited for this series to get going, and we’re excited to get back into playoff mode. We want to be a big part of our team moving forward and having success.”
Peverley returned from a knee injury on March 25 and had four points (two goals, two assists), over the final eight games of the regular season. He brings a different skill set with a speedier game, but he showed he was capable of performing in the playoffs last season by matching Lucic’s 12 points despite playing most of the playoffs on the third line.
Ultimately, the Bruins are better with Nathan Horton without him, but the Krejci line should still be poised for success without him. Peverley had four points in five games in place of Horton last June, and Krejci has been known to elevate his game in the playoffs. At the end of the day, though, don’t be surprised if Lucic ends up being the real difference on that line this year. He wasn’t healthy enough to be a consistent force in the playoffs like Horton was a season ago, but there are plenty of reasons to believe he could be this time around.
WILMINGTON — No one on the Bruins feels worse than David Krejci about Wednesday’s news that Nathan Horton will be out for the entire playoffs with the lingering effects of his second concussion in 12 months.
It was Krejci who was just beginning to get into a groove on the second line with Horton again when he had a setback in February, a setback that ended Wednesday with the news that Horton needed more time to fully heal.
“I was hoping he was going to be back for first or second round, but now we know he won’t,” Krejci said. “It kind of sucks but that’s how it goes sometimes. This is still his life and he’s got to take care of his own body. He shouldn’t be pushing it. If he doesn’t feel well, there’s nothing he can do.”
Krejci not only played on the same line with Horton, he can relate fully with what Horton is going through.
“I had a concussion two times so I know how it is,” Krejci said. “This is not an easy situation. Hopefully, he’s going to do well over the next couple months and he’s going to be ready for next season.”
Now, with Rich Peverley replacing Horton on the second line, Krejci and Milan Lucic have had to adjust. It’s an adjustment the Bruins made masterfully last year in the Stanley Cup finals as Peverley added a speed element that wasn’t there with Horton.
“One thing is you can’t replace Horty,” Krejci said. He’s just a great player and I love playing with him but the other side is we played without him for  games so we know how to win games without him. We still have a good team. We have lots of depth. Hopefully we can do it.
“I think we started putting the puck in the net more often, especially the last few games of the season. So, I feel pretty good. This is kind of new season. Everybody starts from the beginning. We’re just going to have to go out there and do it again.”
Brad Marchand is one of those players who picked up the scoring slack for Horton in the finals, scoring twice in Game 7 in Vancouver.
“We’re going to try,” Marchand said. “We want to play for him like we did last year in the finals. It’s obviously tough with him not being here so we want to definitely want to use that to an advantage and play for him.
“It’s big for him and the team. We’re not going to always be wondering and hoping if he’s going to come back and save us. The fact that we know now that we have to do it within the room and we can’t rely on him to come back and help us out. Different guys are going to have to realize they’re going to have to step up. For him, it relieves the pressure that he has to rush back and continue to progress every single day to try and rush back to playoffs. Now, he can take his time and worry about getting better mentally and hopefully come back for next year.”
|Marc Savard: ‘I feel so bad’ for Nathan Horton||at 1:16 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — When the Bruins traded for Nathan Horton in the 2010 offseason, the hope was that he could thrive in the Boston offense thanks to the skills of Marc Savard. Scorers such as Phil Kessel had excelled when skating on Savard’s line, so fans and media alike wondered if Savard could make Horton a 40-goal scorer.
Unfortunately for the Bruins, Savard and Horton haven’t shared many goals, or even games together. What they do have in common is that they’ve seen the bad side of playing in the NHL: concussions and post-concussion syndrome.
On the day that the Bruins announced Horton would miss the postseason with a concussion, Savard took to twitter to express his thoughts on the news, which hit close to him given his history. Savard wrote the following:
“I feel so bad for my boy Horty. Although I believe both parties are making the right decision. He’s too young.”
Savard, who is in the second year of a seven-year deal with the Bruins, missed the entire season with post-concussion syndrome and it is still unknown whether he will ever play again. Horton’s concussion is his second in less than seven months.