|Kevan Miller returns with a vengeance and sets tone for Bruins Game 2 win||04.21.14 at 9:10 am ET|
It took exactly 72 seconds for Kevan Miller to make his presence felt in Sunday’s series-evening win over the Red Wings at TD Garden.
The hit set the tempo and immediately got the Garden crowd into a game the Bruins desperately needed on Easter Sunday.
“Happy to be able to be out there so I was excited,” Miller said. “I think as a team we kind of wanted to do that, come out early, come out on our toes. It’s always good to try and get a hit to get going early.”
Of course, Miller was just happy to be on his skates himself after the last week when a virulent stomach bug made its way through the Bruins room, also hitting fellow D-man Matt Bartkowski.
“It was tough, started earlier in the week and kind of persisted,” Miller said. “I know it was the same for a number of guys. Me and Bart seemed to have it pretty bad. Just getting fluid back in me, trying to do my best there.
“It was tough. After practice is when things really went south. Just kind of unfortunate.”
The Bruins clearly missed Miller’s physical presence in a 1-0 Game 1 loss. But after the hit on Drew Miller, Miller and the Bruins were most definitely into the flow of the game. Miller didn’t let up there.
In his next shift four minutes later, Miller took out Daniel Alfredsson. Miller had two loud, energizing hits before the Bruins even had a shot on goal.
A minute and a half later, Wings goalie Jimmy Howard decided to play a gamble and throw a puck off the side boards. It backfired when Justin Florek collected the puck, spun and fired a shot under the pads of the scrambling goalie for a 1-0 Bruins lead.
“He stepped up for us huge this year with the absence of some key D-men that we lost throughout the year, and to see him step up like he did here, and how he’s been playing throughout the year, has been great to see,” Milan Lucic said. “He’s a physical guy, he’s a real competitor, and you saw that here tonight, like you said, especially in the first five minutes.”
“Millsy, right from the start, I thought he helped set the tone with a couple of big hits, and I think they were within the first five minutes. I mean, he looks like he’s about to get hit and he still hits the other way, so he reverses and he brings a lot of energy, but he still moves the puck well and he’s a tough guy to beat but he’s just ‘ he’s a very strong competitor and it was great to have him back on the lineup and set that tone early,” added Jarome Iginla.
But perhaps no one appreciated having Miller back than captain Zdeno Chara, who was busy keeping Reilly Smith’s brother out of his face. With Miller back, Chara doesn’t have to carry the whole burden of enforcing the physical style that the Bruins needed so badly in Game 2.
“It’s nice to have him back,” Chara said. “It probably wasn’t fun for him the last few days, but I thought he handled it really well and he played a strong game.”
|Justin Florek celebrates his ‘good present’ with his mom||04.20.14 at 8:29 pm ET|
A couple of odd things happened Sunday for Justin Florek.
His mom was in attendance for just the second time to watch him play in an NHL game and he scored a goal that was essentially an gift wrapped in an Easter basket from Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard.
With just five minutes gone in the game and the Bruins controlling the play but unable to get a shot on goal, Howard came out to play the puck about 30 feet from his goal, as he did often on Friday night in Game 1. But this time, Howard tried to play the puck to his defenseman Brendan Smith but Smith couldn’t control it and it hit off the near boards too close to the Bruins left winger.
Florek spun and fired it past a scrambling Howard, who couldn’t get back in net in time for a 1-0 Bruins lead, their first of the series.
“Yeah, it was a good present there,” Florek said. “It was good to get the team going, I think that was the biggest thing, get some momentum in the building. So that was a big start for us.”
Could Florek believe his good luck?
“No I couldn’t, but it was nice so I don’t regret it at all. It was awesome,” Florek beamed. “I thought [Howard] kind of was and I just tried to read him. So it was a lucky bounce, I think it hit the defenseman and right to my stick, so just the right spot at the right time I guess.”
“It felt great, you know, just great to get the fans into it and get everyone going, especially the team,” Florek said. “So I think it was a good start for us, and hopefully, you know carry that out through the rest of the series.
“It’s great to get confidence and everything, and to get that goal was pretty cool. But it was just great to get the team going, you know, to put up a couple of goals like that is a good win for our team.”
Florek, moments after a big hit from Kevan Miller on Daniel Alfredsson, finally made all the hard work from the Bruins in the opening minutes pay off.
“I think we came out with the kind of attitude we wanted to play with, and I think it carried throughout the whole game,” Florek said. “I mean that’s part of the game, you’ve got to always be ready. So you’re sitting on the bench you’ve just got to keep your legs loose and everything, and when you get the chance you’ve just got to be ready, so that was a big part of it.
“It was back and forth a couple of penalties to start the game there, trying to get the flow back into the game so it was good to get that goal and get everyone going.”
After giving up four goals on 29 shots Sunday, including a bizarre momentum-generating tally on Boston’s first goal, Jimmy Howard still feels confident going against the Bruins — that is, if the Red Wings can do one thing.
“I think we’ve got to stay out of the BS out there and just play whistle to whistle, and not worry about getting into the scrums or anything like that, and proving your manhood out there,” Howard said after the Bruins captured Game 2 Sunday, 4-1, at TD Garden.
The last part might be a word of friendly advice to teammate Brendan Smith, who got into it with Zdeno Chara at the end of the first period.
“We just have to skate, play our hockey, don’t get into their motive and get into their scrap, playing real physical,” said Howard. “We just have to get back to playing our game. We knew this was going to be a long series and they played a real solid game today.”
As for Bruins forward Reilly Smith, the brother of Brendan, he perhaps had the best perspective.
“He wouldn’t be the first guy I’d choose in the NHL to go against,” Reilly said of his brother wanting to drop the gloves with Boston’s beast. “He should probably think twice next time.”
Reilly Smith was asked if he could see the laugh and smile on Chara’s face as he prepared to square off.
“Yeah, and I don’t think Chara is too worried,” Smith said. “It’s a moot point in the entire series and the whole outcome of the game.”
Was Reilly worried about his brother’s safety?
“No, not too much,” he said. “That’s the least of my worries right now.”
|Jimmy Howard admits Red Wings were ‘pretty lucky’ to beat Bruins||04.18.14 at 11:20 pm ET|
It was the key moment of Game 1.
Jarome Iginla fired a centering pass from the right side boards to Milan Lucic with just over three minutes left in regulation. Lucic got a clean piece of the puck for a redirect on Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard. It appeared to be the perfect pass and perfect chance in a game that had precious few of each.
But instead of the puck finding it’s way past Howard, the Detroit goalie got just enough to flick the puck wide of the goal mouth and out of harm’s way.
“It was a fortunate save,” Howard said. “It was pretty lucky. [Lucic] stuck his stick out and got a lot on it and it sort of just spun off my glove and I was able to get just enough on it. I was pretty lucky.”
The momentum swing didn’t end there. The pendulum, as it often does in a game like Friday night, swung completely the other way leading to a Red Wings rush up the ice. Wings veteran forward Pavel Datsyuk came across the Bruins blue line and, using the collision of Justin Abdelkader and Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton as a screen, fired a shot that beat Tuukka Rask on the far side for the game’s only goal and a 1-0 Detroit win.
“He was by himself there so I’m just thinking a shot there and then he drags it across and releases from our D’s legs so you just try to get the puck in your eyes and I couldn’t,” Rask said of Datsyuk’s shot. “It squeaked by me. Usually he tries to make a pass but I thought he was by himself there. I just couldn’t see it.
“It still went through me so I thought I should have it. But I didn’t see it.”
Pressure is what you make it.
As the Stanley Cup playoffs begin, the Bruins are making it nothing more than chance to fulfill their own expectations.
According to the Vegas line provided by Bodog.com, the Bruins are 7-2 favorites to win their second Stanley Cup in four years by the time late June rolls around, and for good reason. They are relatively healthy heading into the playoffs, though nursing injuries to Daniel Paille and Chris Kelly while battling a flu bug.
“Well, we never get comfortable,” Claude Julien said before Friday’s Game 1 with the Red Wings. “We’ve always talked about that. No matter what we’ve accomplished, we always know that the good things happen from hard work, so the minute we stop working hard and focusing on the areas we need to focus on, things can change. So that’s always been our approach.”
But it’s not the flu or injuries to Paille or Kelly that are of primary concern – it’s the parity in the Stanley Cup playoffs that present the biggest obstacle. Julien reminded everyone Friday that there’s nothing to be taken for granted when a team like the Bruins take on a club like the Red Wings, a difference of 24 points in the season standings.
“Not with parity,” Julien said. “I don’t think that exists anymore. I’ve been mentioning that for the last couple of days, about the percentage of upsets in the first round over the last couple of years. So it just goes to prove to you that anything can happen in the playoffs. We’ve seen it many times before and I don’t expect that to change this year also.”
Bruins defenseman Torey Krug says he learned a lot from his first experience in the playoffs last year. That experience, he says, will help as he and the Bruins open the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs against the Detroit Red Wings at TD Garden.
“Pressure is whatever you put on yourself,” Krug said. “This team has high expectations of itself. I wouldn’t call it pressure. We’re going to respond well to whatever it is. We’re excited to get things going.”
Krug broke onto the scene in the 2014 playoffs as a power play weapon and an offensive force.
“You have to play like that,” Krug contined. “If you’re scared to make mistakes, the puck is going to end up in the back of your own net. You have to make sure you play with confidence. That’s the same message the coaching staff was preaching today. It’s the same thing as last summer. Just eager to get going. It’s an exciting time.”
Every Stanley Cup playoff series got a head start on the Bruins and Red Wings. Now, on Friday night, Patrice Bergeron and the Bruins get their chance to show how ready they are after a league-best 117 points in the regular season.
“It was great to have those games and get in the mode of playoff hockey and watching it all helps to get a focus,” Bergeron said Friday morning after participating in a light optional skate before Friday’s Game 1 at TD Garden. “I was getting antsy just watching, for sure. You want to get out there, you want to get going. It’s nice that it’s finally tonight.
“I’m not rooting for anyone except us right now, so I’m just watching games and, like I said, it helps me getting focused just by watching it and being ready for tonight.”
The biggest break for the Bruins and the Red Wings is that they’ve had a full four days off since the regular season ended on Sunday.
“I think it’s good for everyone, just with the schedule we’ve had after the [Olympic] break,” Bergeron said. “It was pretty crazy so it was good everyone to get ready and now we’re looking forward to it.”
|Andy Brickley on M&M: ‘I just totally don’t expect’ Dennis Seidenberg to return||04.16.14 at 1:11 pm ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley made his weekly appearance with Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to talk about Dennis Seidenberg and the upcoming playoff series against the Red Wings. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
When Seidenberg tore his ACL last December, most assumed he was done for the season. But with Seidenberg back on the practice rink, some have speculated that he could be back at some point, including Peter Chiarelli. Brickley said if Seidenberg is going to come back, he has to come back at full strength.
“He’s just such an incredibly strong athlete that if he can look like he’s able to play and actually get up to speed and be a productive player then that would be a tough decision, but a good decision to have to make,” Brickley said. “That being said, I’m still in the camp that I just totally don’t expect it.”
Added Brickley: “I think if he’s back he’s going to play regular minutes. And I don’t think they want him in a 10-15-minute range. … If he’s in the lineup and he’s playing, he needs to be able to handle similar minutes.”
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock was the coach of the Canadian team for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, with Claude Julien his assistant. While the two shared coaching ideas and strategies during that time, Brickley doesn’t see it as an advantage for either coach.
“I don’t think we’re at any point of the season now where there are any secrets, with all the video pre-scouting that you do, with all the actual scouts that represent Detroit that have been following the Bruins over the last month or two,” Brickley said. “Everybody is well aware of how the Bruins play and everybody is well aware of how Detroit defends as well. Usually Claude Julien gets the checkmark when it comes to who’s got the better coaching when you’re comparing two teams, but this one is a pretty even matchup when it comes down to that.”
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