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Zdeno Chara heading into Game 6: ‘You can’t be sitting on your wins or your losses’ 05.12.13 at 11:22 am ET
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Zdeno Chara, here after his goal Friday, looks to celebrate a series victory after Game 6. (AP)

This much the Bruins know for sure – they need a more complete effort from everyone if they are to close out the Maple Leafs in Game 6 tonight at Air Canada Centre.

“I thought our first period, if we would play the same way we played from the midpoint of the game, we would be in much better shape I think, so we’ve got to make sure we play the same way like we did towards the end,” captain Zdeno Chara said after Friday’s 2-1 loss in Game 5.

In the third period, the Bruins finally showed the urgency they had been lacking the whole game. It was in the third period that Chara provided the only offense of the night with a shot from the mid-slot that beat James Reimer.

“The aggressiveness, we had a lot of jump,” Chara said. “We needed that one goal, which we got, and we were obviously working for the second one, but we’ve got to put it behind us and get ready for the next game.

“It’s the playoffs. You can’t be sitting on your wins or your losses. You’ve got to move on.”

Does Chara think the pressure will still be on Toronto in Game 6 tonight?

“I don’t know. I don’t know how to answer that question,” Chara said.

He and the Bruins will find out soon enough.

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Patrice Bergeron on Game 5 loss: ‘We’re not looking into the past’ 05.11.13 at 12:20 am ET
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Patrice Bergeron

The Bruins spoke nearly consistently over the 48 hours before Game 5 about coming out with energy because they knew they would have to match the urgency of the Leafs.

Yet, they couldn’t do it.

They were outworked and outmuscled for most of the first 40 minutes before a last period push fell short in a 2-1 loss to the Maple Leafs Friday night at TD Garden.

“Yeah, we’re expecting them to come out hard,” Patrice Bergeron said. “They did and we didn’t match it. Yeah, it is disappointing, but at the same time it’s a series so we got to think about the next game now and make sure we’re ready.

“We didn’t come out the way that we should have come out in order to win the game, in order to get some momentum and we knew they were going to come out hard and we didn’t match it and we were kind of scrambling after that. But, I thought we got to play like we did in the third and now look forward to Game 6, but it’s going to be a tough one so we need to make sure we’re ready for a big game.”

The next game will be Sunday night and somehow the Bruins will have to find a way to win all three games in Toronto if they are to avoid a Game 7 winner-take-all Monday night back at TD Garden.

The Bruins did show signs of life in the third, and the hope is that will carry over to Sunday night. But right now, it’s only hope.

“That’s the way we had to play in order to get the result,” Bergeron said of the Bruins’ third period, in which they scored the only goal and outshot Toronto, 19-4.

“They’re a good team, and we thought that the third period was much better and the chances were there to show for them,” Bergeron said. “I thought we didn’t get the start we wanted obviously, and they have some good forwards, so you got to make sure you do the job with the puck, in the critical situation of the bluelines, and some breakdowns in our zone that we got to be better also. So, like you said, it is a game of mistakes, but we got to make sure we avoid them as much as possible.”

As far as thinking about the what-if of losing Game 6, Bergeron said the Bruins can’t afford to think about past failures in close-out situations. They are now 4-7 in their last 10 such games.

“Well, obviously we’re not looking in the past,” Bergeron said. “We’re thinking about this year and tonight it wasn’t the start that we needed in order to do close that game and that series. So, now we have to look ahead at Game 6.”


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Andrew Ference on his turnover: ‘It sucks to mishandle the puck’ 05.10.13 at 11:02 pm ET
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Andrew Ference can only watch as Tyler Bozak makes him pay for a turnover in Game 5. (AP)

In a game when your offense isn’t finishing, every mistake is magnified. And in a playoff game, that magnification can become enormous.

Andrew Ference knows this only too well.

The Bruins defenseman mishandled a puck at the right point in the Bruins offensive end while on the power player and it led to Tyler Bozak scoring just the second shorthanded goal of the season for Toronto. Tyler Bozak won a footrace with Ference, who tried desperately to get back but couldn’t as Bozak broke a scoreless tie and the Maple Leafs held on for a 2-1 win in Game 5 Friday night at TD Garden.

“Well, it sucks,” Ference said. “It sucks to mishandle a puck, but it’s not a bad decision or anything like that. It just happens, so it’s fine. It’s happened to all of us and you deal with it.”

Now the Bruins must hit the road for Game 6 in Toronto Sunday night at Air Canada Centre.

“I can’t really recall anything ever being easy for any team,” Ference said. “Like I said, wins are difficult to get this time of year and they have to be earned. Like I said, if you don’t match a team at the beginning of a game like that, you spot them a couple of goals, it’s a tough win this time of year.”

Ference was playing with Johnny Boychuk on defense the entire game while Matt Bartkowski replaced the injured Wade Redden on defense.

“It’s tough to miss anybody, but there’s always people to come in and play well and fill a role that they need to fill,” Ference said. “Every team has to deal with that. There’s guys that go down for every single team, so there’s no feeling sorry for yourself or wishing you had a guy. You just deal with it.”

Did the Bruins miss Redden’s offense on D?

“Well, of course, but he wasn’t able to play so you don’t get into the ‘we wish this.’ It’s not the way it is,” Ference said.

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Chris Kelly, Milan Lucic ready to tough it out in Game 5 for Bruins at 2:37 pm ET
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Chris Kelly, with a gash under his right eye, is ready for Game 5. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

A few little scrapes aren’t about to get in the way of a hockey player’s appointed Stanley Cup rounds.

Just ask Milan Lucic (right eye) and Chris Kelly (right cheek), both of whom took nasty shots in Game 4 and both of whom have the bruises and stitches to show for it. Both will be ready to go in Game 5 against Toronto.

“I’ve been icing it the last few days, but I probably have the worst eyesight on the team and I’m squinting all the time [normally], so it shouldn’t be a problem,” Lucic joked. “I feel good. I’m looking forward to tonight. Obviously I’ve got a little bit of a shiner on my right eye, but looking forward to tonight and there’s a lot on the line for both teams. After last game, we expect them to come out hard and bring their best because we know what they’re playing for and we need to come out with the same approach as the Leafs are.”

As for Kelly, he was injured when he took a high stick to the face from Toronto’s Nazem Kadri in the opening minute of the third period Wednesday. He received what he called “nine or 10 stitches” and returned.

“Just a little swollen, just a cut, it’s fine,” Kelly said Friday morning. “It was bleeding and the refs knew it was bleeding, so there’s no need for me to lay on the ice; skate off and get it done quickly.”

At least Lucic and Kelly are playing. The same can’t be said for Toronto defenseman Mark Fraser. He had surgery Thursday to repair a broken bone in the forehead after being hit with a puck shot by Lucic in the third period.

“He’s back home resting comfortably,” Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said Friday. “It is tough when you lose players, and lose players to that type of injury.”

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Inside the playoff mind of Tuukka Rask: ‘You try to stay cool and not let the nerves get you’ 05.09.13 at 7:18 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask has been steady in net for the Bruins in the first four games. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

When Tuukka Rask stuck out his glove and saved Game 4 by robbing Joffrey Lupul midway through overtime Wednesday night, he showed almost no reaction.

As he told everyone Thursday, that’s just who he is – a focused goalie making save after save with little or no emotion when it’s playoff time.

“I don’t know, nothing,” Rask said when asked what his emotions were in overtime. “You just try to stay focused on that that next shot I think. That’s about it. I’ve told you before, I don’t know how to talk about my feelings here.”

Is it enjoyable for him?

“I don’t think it’s fun,” he said. “Really, you try to stay cool and not let the nerves get you. You just try to stay cool and relaxed and do the things you normally do in practice and games and not get shaky.

“I think it’s human that you get a little nervous and try to battle through it and tell yourself to stay calm and stop the puck. But I think it’s both.”

Rask says he’s not motivated by getting snubbed for the Vezina Trophy by NHL general managers.

“I don’t know,” Rask said when asked if he felt snubbed. “People might say that. It doesn’t really matter to me. We made the playoffs, we’re battling for the Stanley Cup now. I think that’s our goal. These individual trophies come if they come and you can’t really do anything about it.

“I think we just have to play our game as we have in the past few games here and not be thinking about closing the series more than playing our game as good as we can, and I think the results will come.”

Does Rask work at being cool under pressure, or does it come naturally?

“I think it’s both,” Rask said. “You know the other team is going to throw everything at you because it’s do-or-die for them. So, you kind of have to take the same mentality. If you slip even a little bit, you give the other team life then they’re going to take advantage of that. I think that’s the challenge we’re facing, too. We have to approach the game like it’s a do-or-die game for us.”

Battling the Maple Leafs has been a lot of work for Rask so far. He’s faced 157 shots in four games, allowing 10 goals. He has a .932 save percentage, right at his regular season average. Read the rest of this entry »

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Bruins Thursday notes: Nathan Horton OK, David Krejci loves being ‘unpredictable’ and Tuukka Rask ‘in the zone’ at 3:46 pm ET
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Bruins coach Claude Julien was calm and cool Thursday explaining his team's approach up 3-1. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

The Bruins held an optional skate on Thursday at TD Garden, with optional being the key word. David Krejci and Dougie Hamilton were among several Bruins in the tunnel outside their dressing room playing soccer but other than that there was no on-ice activity as the Bruins rest after their Game 4 victory over the Leafs that leaves them one win from the second round.

Coach Claude Julien confirmed that Nathan Horton is OK after taking a vicious body blow on a forecheck from Dion Phaneuf that led to Krejci’s game-winner in overtime Wednesday night. Horton is expected to be ready and play Game 5 Friday night at TD Garden.

Julien covered a number of topics on Thursday, including the play of Krejci, the nerves of steel of Tuukka Rask and what makes the Bruins so much fun to coach at this time of year.

Here were his answers in Thursday’s Q & A with reporters at TD Garden.

On if after the game he realized how good of a game last night was: “Yes, I do. I said it [Wednesday] night, I said it this morning to the guys. It shouldn’t be looked at who’s an experience team, who’s a young team, who’s this, who’s that; it should be viewed as two teams playing really good hockey right now. There’s a lot of teams that Leafs squad would have beat playing the way they did and we’re, when I say fortunate, that we played well enough and found a way to score that overtime goal to get that win, because it was a real good game that could have gone either way.”

On the mentality heading into a possible clinching game: “You’ve got to play your best game because we know how hard it to close. That’s the thing you hope your players realize extremely well after all the experiences we’ve had throughout the years. We now know how hard it is to close and no reason for us to come out tomorrow and not play as hard, if not harder, than we did last night.

On how important it is to come out hard and set a tone Friday night: “No matter what, we came out, I thought we came out well last night and we were down 2-0. It wasn’t because we didn’t have a good period, it was circumstances that one was a bit of a missed assignment, but a nice good goal on their part. The other one was just an unfortunate break on our part because Tuukka [Rask] was screened until the last second. I really felt we played well enough and came out in the second and regained ourselves and got ourselves back in the game.

“It’s just a matter of making sure you’re ready, you know how hard to start. Everybody says, ‘Well, you’ve got to come out hard,’ both teams have to come out hard. The most important thing is you’ve got to be ready to play, not just a period, or have a good start, but play the whole
game, not just in a physical way, but a mental way.”

On if the other lines are way behind the David Krejci line right now: “I think it’s pretty obvious that that the line is leading the way right now. Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] scores a goal last night, it as on the power play. I think Bergy’s played well, I thought Tyler [Seguin] played extremely well here in Boston and that line was actually good, but I don’t think Tyler played his best, and neither did Brad [Marchand], in Toronto. They’ve got a chance to redeem themselves here, but the other lines have, at some point, produced, as well. But Krejci’s line is, no doubt, the dominant line, I think that’s the biggest thing. We saw that – I feel like I’m repeating myself – a few years back when I thought [Chris] Kelly, [Rich] Peverley, and [Michael] Ryder were a dominant in the Montreal series, and then other lines picked it up afterwards. At the end of the day, it’s a matter of always having somebody doing something to help us win hockey games and, so far, that’s what’s been happening.”

On what changes occur in Krejci’s game when the postseason comes around: “Well, some people like playing in these situations and we’ve seen those in the past from other players on other teams. He’s a playoff performer, he loves the intensity, the excitement of it. He comes up big in those kinds of situations. It’s always nice to have those kinds of players on your team and, so far, David’s always been a good playoff performer for us. It’s a good thing he’s on our team.”

On what it is about Tuukka Rask’s temperament that allows him to shine in situations like overtime: “Well, I think right now that Tuukka is calm, he’s in the zone, he’s not getting too high, not getting too low. All he wants to do is stop the puck. He’s been pretty good and he is temperamental at times, we’ve seen that side of it, too, when he’s not happy with either a situation or himself. But at the same time, right now, he understands how important it is to stay focused and he’s done a great job of that.”

On how much more dangerous Krejci is when he is shooting the puck: “It makes him unpredictable. When he’s not shooting and he’s not, maybe, at the top of his game, often you’ll see him looking to pass, now he’s taking whatever is given to him; sometimes it’s a pass, sometimes it’s a shot. He’s confident. Right now, everything about David is good; he’s been good on draws, he’s been good at scoring goals, he’s making great plays, he’s involved in the gritty areas, he’s been physical, he’s been all around such a great player. That’s what makes him good. Maybe, everybody would like to see him do that for 82 games, unfortunately, that’s not the case.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Claude Julien: ‘You need breaks in the playoffs. … We scored on the opportunity given to us’ 05.08.13 at 11:21 pm ET
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David Krejci gave Claude Julien plenty to smile about with a hat trick and the game-winning goal in OT in Game 4 Wednesday. (AP)

To Claude Julien, Game 4 came down to the Bruins getting a break and making one of their own. Tuukka Rask made a glove save on Joffrey Lupul midway through overtime through a partial screen.

Minutes later, David Krejci took advantage of Dion Phaneuf taking out Nathan Horton in the Bruins’ end and went off on a break that ended in the game-winning goal in overtime as Boston beat Toronto, 4-3, at Air Canada Centre. Krejci’s hat trick produced a dramatic win that puts Boston up, 3-1, in the best-of-seven series, meaning the Bruins can clinch their first postseason series win since winning the Cup in 2011 with a win Friday night in Boston.

“I think they definitely wanted to win this game for the sake of going back to Boston tied,” Julien said. “At the same time, we wanted to win this game as well to put ourselves in the position to just have to win one more game.

“In overtime it was about making sure we made plays and not pass up on shots. Rask made a great save there on Lupul. He was screened and stuck the glove out and made the save, and that was huge for us. There was a post there by Kessel. You need breaks in the playoffs and we got some in overtime and you make your own. We scored on the opportunity that was given to us.”

As for Krejci and his line in this playoff series, Julien couldn’t be happier.

“Obviously, his line has been good through the whole series but tonight, David certainly was the guy shining and was on top of his game. He’s been a real good playoff performer for years for us and he continues to do that. There are just certain players that thrive on playoff hockey and he’s one of those guys.

“There’s a couple of things. We know he’s a great playmaker. He’s a great skill player but the other part is he doesn’t shy away from traffic, he doesn’t shy away from a physical game. He’s very gritty when he needs to be gritty. If he’s got one weakness, it’s that he’s very hard on himself at times when things aren’t going well. But when you see him play like that, not sure you want to call it a weakness because when he does find his game, he’s a pretty dominant player.” Read the rest of this entry »

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