|Bruins-Capitals Game 7 preview: Seven stats, players to watch and keys to victory||04.25.12 at 12:08 am ET|
It’s all about seven as the Bruins host the Capitals in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. Here’s everything you need to know and more, with seven the central theme.
• According to some impressive research done by Brian McNally of the Washington Examiner, Jay Beagle has an incredible 61.6 success rate in the faceoff circle (53-for-86). Even more impressive is that he’s won 13-of-21 faceoffs against Patrice Bergeron, who led the league in faceoff wins during the regular season.
• Tim Thomas‘ 14 goals allowed through the first six games of the series equals the total he allowed in the first six games of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals last season against the Canadiens. He faced only 12 more shots against the Habs through six than he has entering Wednesday’s Game 7.
• Alexander Ovechkin has two goals and two assists for four points and a minus-1 rating in four career Game 7s. He and the Capitals have gone 1-3 in those games.
This series, Ovechkin is tied with Rich Peverley with five points.
• Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic each have four career points in Game 7s to lead the Bruins. Lucic has three goals and an assist in six Game 7s while Marchand had two goals and two assists in three Game 7s last postseason.
• This series is the only one in NHL history to have the first six games decided by one goal. Both teams have scored 14 goals apiece with no empty-netters.
• Dennis Seidenberg has played in four Game 7s and won them all. He has four assists and plus-4 rating in those games, and has never had a negative rating in a Game 7.
• The Bruins have scored on the power play in just one of their six Game 7s since 2008. That game was Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Flyers, a contest in which they scored two on the man advantage. Since 2008, the B’s are 2-for-13 on the power play in Game 7s.
|Alexander Ovechkin: ‘It’s going to be a long series’||04.14.12 at 7:35 pm ET|
Washington figured to be a tougher matchup for the Bruins than Ottawa, but the series between the B’s and Capitals has been more evenly matched than most probably expected.
Both teams have two goals through two games, both of which were decided in overtime. At the end of regulation Saturday, the teams were separated by one shot on goal. And, thanks to Nicklas Backstrom‘s game-winner early in the second overtime period Saturday, the series is knotted at one game apiece heading to the nation’s capital.
“I would say it’s going to be a long series,” Alexander Ovechkin said after the game. “For us it was very important to win this game and get the series tied, and go back home and have home advantage to play against the Bruins. The power play is going to be involved and again we are pretty happy, but it was a long game and everybody is tired and needs some rest.”
|Mike Milbury on D&H: ‘Tuukka Rask is the future of this franchise’||01.05.11 at 12:52 pm ET|
NESN and NBC Sports hockey analyst Mike Milbury checked in for his weekly visit with the Dale & Holley show Wednesday to talk about the Bruins and the NHL. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
Milbury said the calls for Claude Julien to be fired during the Bruins’ recent slump were uncalled for. “I didn’t think it was fair,” Milbury said. “I mean, here’s a guy a year just removed a year from the Coach of the Year award and a team that was second overall in the National Hockey League, and I know the story of the collapse as well as anybody, but one game from the conference championship. Then he comes into this season and because of bumps in the road, all of a sudden it’s all his fault.”
Added Milbury: “I don’t think at any time did Peter Chiarelli have in mind that this was Claude Julien’s fault.”
Describing Julien’s coaching attributes, Milbury said: “I think he’s an honest, diligent coach who’s fair to his players. I think he’s a very even-keeled coach. He’s not a ranter or a screamer. I don’t think there’s as much room for that in today’s game with today’s player as there was in previous years. … I think he’s a good coach.”
Milbury has consistently preached that the Bruins need to give more playing time to Tuukka Rask because he is the obvious goalie of the future in Boston while Tim Thomas is toward the end of his career. In the past week, Rask was pulled after one period of a loss to the Sabres but inserted the following game and delivered in a 2-1 win over the Maple Leafs.
“I think they’ve been a little unfair to Tuukka Rask,” Milbury said. “I think they yanked the chance to be the No. 1 goaltender. And again, we’ve kind of gone through this before, but Thomas has been incredible. But Tuukka Rask is the future of this franchise in terms of goaltending. I don’t think he deserves to be given second-tier status or backup status. I would have thought they would have gone to two No. 1 goaltenders for a while. And I was happy he got back in net. I’ve been wanting to see more of Tuukka Rask, because I think down the line, they’re going to need him. It was a great sign that he bounced back. It was a great sign that they gave him an opportunity and a great sign that he bounced back.”
|Capitals at Bruins preview||12.18.10 at 10:26 am ET|
A couple of teams in dire need of a win will hit the Garden ice on Saturday night as the Bruins (16-10-4), winless in their last three, take on the Capitals (18-11-4). Despite dropping their last seven games, Washington still leads the Southeast division with 40 points.
WHERE IT’S AT
- The Bruins are 7-5-3 in home games this season, a mark that was brought over .500 with a 2-0-1 showing in their most recent home-stand. Saturday marks the first of three home games in a row before they play seven of the following eight on the road.
- The Capitals are one of only three teams with 12 home wins (despite dropping their last five at the Verizon Center), but the road has been a different story. They’re 6-7-1 outside of the nation’s capital, and are looking for their first win as the away team since Dec. 1, when they picked up a 4-1 win in St. Louis. It remains the team’s only win this month.
- Milan Lucic is a goal away from tying his career-high of 17. The 22-year-old power forward hasn’t just led the Bruins in goals this season, he’s been cold-streak-proof. The longest stretch without a point this season for Lucic is two games, something he’s only done once (11/20 vs. LA, 11/22 at TB). Lucic scored his 16th goal of the season Thursday.
- In their seven-game winless streak, the Capitals have scored two goals just three times. They have been shutout twice in that span.
- I promise this is the last time that we’ll mention that Steven Kampfer has had 20-plus minutes of icetime twice despite being only four games into his NHL career, and that Matt Hunwick had two 20-minute nights in his 22 games for the B’s this season.
Playing with Zdeno Chara and seeing the time he’s seen of late on the power play helps, and Kampfer should continue to get big minutes as a result. It’s rather clear the B’s made the right choice in making Kampfer the guy when it came time to call someone up from Providence following the Mark Stuart injury.
STORYLINES GOING IN
- This will be the fourth and final meeting between the two teams. The Bruins won the first two before dropping a 5-3 decision on Nov. 5. In that game, the B’s climbed back from a 3-0 deficit to tie the game at three. This came after a goaltending switch and Tuukka Rask‘s entrance into the game in the third period. The loss, in which Rask allowed just one goal, remains perhaps the best single representation of the luck the Finnish goaltender has fallen on this season.
- It’s a good thing the Bruins are getting all of their games with Washington out of the way so early, because Alexander Ovechkin is bound to bust out of his season-long goal-scoring slump (by his standards, anyway) eventually. Ovechkin has just 12 goals this season, which puts him on pace for a career-low 30 goals. His lowest total in a season is the 46 he scored in 2006-07, his sophomore campaign. It is the only season of his five in which he did not register at least 50 goals.
Over his last 15 games, the 25-year-old has scored just twice. Ovechkin has one goal against the Bruins in three games thus far, an empty netter in the Nov. 5 contest.
Although he hasn’t scored nearly as much as one would expect from the 6-foot-2 winger, Ovechkin is on pace for a career-high 60 assists. He had 59 a season ago.
- The Capitals’ leading goal-scorer this season, Alexander Semin, will not play vs. the B’s after not traveling with the team to Boston, according to the Washington Post. Semin is out with a lower-body injury.
Semin has 18 goals this season despite not notching one in his last seven games.
|Bruins set to square off with Capitals||11.05.10 at 4:01 pm ET|
Claude Julien probably meant it when he said on Friday that he and the Bruins were “anticipating as hard a game as we’ve had all year,” as the B’s final regular season trip to the nation’s capital likely won’t be an easy one.
Bruce Boudreau‘s club enters Friday night’s tilt with the Bruins second in the Eastern Conference with 16 points. Since the Bruins took two straight from the Capitals last month, Alexander Ovechkin‘s squad has gotten back into a groove, winning four of its last five games. In fact, half of the Capitals’ losses this season have come against the Bruins.
With Tim Thomas expected to get the start on Thursday, he will put an impressive 12-4-2 career record against the Capitals on the line. He’s allowed two goals to the Capitals this season, though one was the result of a blatant giveaway on his part that led to a Jason Chimera freebie.
Milan Lucic has a team-high three points against the Capitals this season, picking up a goal and two assists over the B’s two games against Washington. Matt Hunwick, David Krejci, Jordan Caron, Nathan Horton, Michael Ryder, and Zdeno Chara also have goals against the Capitals this season.
Here is the projected lineup:
Lucic – Krejci – Horton
Caron – Bergeron- Recchi
Wheeler -Seguin- Ryder
Marchand – Campbell- Thornton
Chara – Ference
Hunwick – Seidenberg
Stuart – McQuaid
Want the quote of the day? Here’s one from Boudreau on his first impression of Thomas, as told to Brian McNally of the Washington Examiner:
“Yeah – I’m wondering who is this chubby little goalie that’s not allowing any goals in when he was in Providence. And he’d take his mask off and his face would be really red and I’m going ‘Wow, he can’t keep this up.’ But he always did. He played so great against our teams. I’d sit there and wonder why no NHL team has jumped all over this guy and then Mike O’Connell was smart enough to see that he was good enough and brought him up to Boston.”
Speaking of Thomas, click here to read the story behind the story of his offseason hip surgery.
|Brad Marchand (foot) expects to play on Saturday vs. Rangers||10.23.10 at 1:19 pm ET|
Taking an Alexander Ovechkin shot off the foot isn’t one of the NHL feats a player hopes to accomplish in their career, but as of Thursday, Bruins fourth-line winger Brad Marchand, like it or not, finds himself among the group of players to do so. Marchand was limited to two shifts after the occurrence and sat out Friday’s practice. He was on the ice for Thursday’s morning skate, however, and said afterwards that he feels he’s good to go.
“I feel a lot better today. It was nice to have that day off yesterday to rest my foot up, and it felt good when I was out there today,” Marchand said, later adding that “it’s a little tender, but I’ll be able to go tonight.”
Asked where the shot hit him, Marchand seemed apologetic in answering, “somewhere in the foot.” Though he didn’t seem overly concerned with the foot on Saturday, he admitted that the same couldn’t be said for how he felt Thursday.
“I couldn’t put any pressure on it when I was on the ice, and it just went numb. Guys have told me before that when you break your feet and your hands, it just goes numb, so I was kind of panicking at that point in time,” Marchand said. “I got back to the room, started to get some more feeling back as time went on, but I was just more scared when it was broken.”
Reporters have been hard-pressed to find certainty regarding who they can expect to play in net each night, but Claude Julien was more than accommodating in commenting on Marchand’s status. The coach seemed optimistic as the team prepares to take on the Rangers in their second game at the Garden.
“He seems good,” Julien said. “This morning I talked to him again and he felt good, and obviously we’ll make that final decision after warm-ups if there is an issue. If not, he’ll be in the lineup.”
The verdict: He should play unless the pain comes back.
“I can’t afford to miss any games and sit out,” Marchand said. “It’s not that bad.”
|Butterflies a thing of the past for Tyler Seguin||10.21.10 at 12:22 pm ET|
Tyler Seguin knows that he’s a rookie. He knows that on any given night, chances are he’s the youngest guy on the ice. As such, he’s not going to act like he owns the place when it comes to adjusting to the NHL. Case in point: he answered one question on Thursday morning about the team’s recent play by saying, “I haven’t been around the league long enough” to comment on how good the B’s or other teams are. He’s a high-profile player, but he doesn’t want to take any liberties.
Unlike your average rookie, Seguin doesn’t get flustered or nervous when the attention’s on him. Thursday night he’ll get his first taste of the regular season in Boston. He’s got four games under his belt, but the preseason and his imagination are the only things that could prepare him for playing to a packed Garden.
Is he nervous? Predictably with Seguin, he isn’t. He’s been able to take everything the NHL has thrown at him in stride, and as he knocks off the firsts — game, goal, assist, etc. — he just keeps looking ahead.
“I think the main ones are kind of out of the way now,” Seguin said. “Now I’m just staying focused on improving the little things I need to improve on.”
Seguin admitted that he was nervous prior to his first preseason game against the Canadiens given that it was his first time going up against NHL competition. He had two words to sum up whether the butterflies have lingered and if he still gets nervous: “Not anymore.”
“Everybody is different when it comes to that, and I’ve seen a lot of players that have butterflies before games that are very good players and that’s the way they prepare the best,” Claude Julien said. “Other guys are just not nervous by nature, and hopefully it works to his advantage. [Seguin] has been through a lot, I think, with the draft, and then where he was ranked and all the attention he got, so at the end of the day, this is just another thing going through his program.”
The second overall pick in June’s draft, Seguin has two points — a goal and an assist — and a minus-one rating through four games.
Seguin had a comment last week about not “over-respecting” the competition when a reporter asked him about facing a legend in Martin Brodeur. Maybe it’s because Alexander Ovechkin was a top pick and is a scoring machine like him that Seguin had no problem saying the Russian is in a class he’d one day like to join.
“I mean Ovechkin’s Ovechkin, right? He’s a pretty phenomenal player,” Seguin said. “You want to be the best, and he’s definitely up there, so [having an impact like him] is definitely something you’d want to do in the future.”
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