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Travel and fatigue are challenges, not excuses, for the down but not out Bruins 06.05.11 at 10:34 pm ET
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One thing is for certain, that five-hour plane ride that began early Sunday morning in Vancouver would’ve been a lot shorter if the Bruins had found a way to hold onto their 2-1 third-period lead in Game 2 Saturday night.

But the Bruins had no choice but to get on the 7 a.m. bus and catch their 8 a.m. (PT) flight back for Boston. At least it was a charter and at least it was a big plane so most everyone could catch up on sleep and relaxation.

“We’re not going to hide the fact that we don’t travel as much as they do,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said, referring to the fact that the Canucks basically head out on a lengthy road trip every time they don’t play at Rogers Arena. “They’re probably used to this more than we are. So I think it was important for us to really look at it in a way where we had to make it the best possible way for us.”

When they beat Tampa Bay, 1-0, in Game 7 of the Eastern finals, Julien and the Bruins knew managing their travel would be nearly as important as solving Roberto Luongo. Julien wanted his team to leave Sunday morning so they could get back Sunday afternoon and get back on Eastern time ASAP, with Game 3 Monday night at 8 p.m. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup, 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Boston Bruins, Claude Julien
Tim Thomas is perfectly happy with the way he’s playing, so is Claude Julien at 6:13 pm ET
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Tim Thomas made one thing pretty clear Sunday.

He’s not about to change his aggressive approach in goal now.

The 2009 Vezina Trophy winner was outstanding in Game 1 and for most of Game 2 before allowing the game-tying goal with over 10 minutes left in regulation and a bizarre goal 11 seconds into overtime when he fell down chasing Alex Burrows.

Upon his arrival back in Boston Sunday afternoon at the Garden, Thomas was asked about whether he regrets his aggressive approach or plans on adjusting his tact in goal.

“I have a pretty good idea how to play goalie,” Thomas said at the beginning of the press conference. “I’m not going to take advice or suggestions at this time. I’m just going to keep playing the way I have.”

Following a five-hour flight back from Vancouver, Thomas and the rest of the Bruins came to the Garden briefly to check into their dressing room and fulfill a media obligation on the offday between Games 2 and 3 of the Stanley Cup finals.

“I think we’ve played in front of Timmy Thomas,” coach Claude Julien said. “To me, he’s a Vezina Trophy winner. We are here right now because his contribution has been really good. For us to be sitting here having to answer those questions is ridiculous to me. He’s won a Vezina Trophy already, he’s probably going to win one this year, in my mind anyway, for what he’s done. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup, 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Alex Burrows, Andrew Ference
Barry Pederson on Sports Sunday: Bruins must ‘get physical’ to win Game 3 at 12:13 pm ET
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NESN hockey analyst Barry Pederson called in to WEEI’s “Sports Sunday” to discus the Stanley Cup finals. To hear the full interview, go the weekend shows audio on demand page.

While Pederson said that inserting Shawn Thornton into the starting lineup was important to the Bruins turning the Stanley Cup finals around, playing 60 minutes of physical hockey was essential.

‘€œThe Bruins have got to do what they have not done in the third periods of both games,’€ Pederson said. ‘€œWhen you listen to the coach, what he’€™s most frustrated about is both of those games they had an opportunity to win, and they lost non-Bruin-like, which was to sit back and allow the opponent to take the game to you.’€

Pederson said that the defense had to tighten up in support of Tim Thomas and stop allowing outnumbered situations. Part of that means the forwards making smarter decisions in the neutral zone, and part of that means resting Zdeno Chara on the power play.

‘€œ[Chara] is the single best shut-down defenseman in the National Hockey League,’€ Pederson said. ‘€œSo I want that matchup against the [Daniel and Henrik] Sedin twins. I know that [Vancouver coach] Alain Vigneault is going to be coming after every power play that Vancouver kills off, the first guys that are going to be thrown out there are the Sedin twins. I want to make sure that my top pair is fresh.’€

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Read More: Alex Burrows, Barry Pederson, Boston Bruins, Stanley Cup Finals
Stanley Cup finals Game 1 gets highest rating in 12 years 06.02.11 at 4:06 pm ET
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Wednesday’s night’s Bruins-Canucks Stanley Cup finals Game 1 received the highest preliminary rating of any Cup finals opener since 1999. The game, which aired on NBC, earned a 3.2 overnight rating and 6 percent share. Ratings are calculated based on the percentage of all households with televisions that have the program on. Shares are calculated based on the percentage of all households with TVs on at the time of the program.

This year’s ratings were 14 percent higher than last year’s Flyers-Blackhawks matchup and the highest since the Sabres-Stars matchup earned a 3.7 rating a dozen years ago. Sports Media Watch also reported that the Bruins had a 25.5 rating in Boston beating last year’s Game 1 of the NBA finals between the Celtics and Lakers that drew a 19.1 rating.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Television Ratings, Vancouver Canucks,
Stanley Cup finals predictions 06.01.11 at 5:03 pm ET
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It’s no secret that the Bruins enter the Stanley Cup finals as slight underdogs. Predictions from members of both local and national media back that up. WEEI’s John Dennis and Gerry Callahan, three of five ESPN Boston staff members, and three of six Boston Globe staff members are picking Vancouver to take home the cup. Staff at ESPN, Sports Illustrated, USA Today, Yahoo also selected the Canucks to go the distance. To the surprise of no one, only one of 13 Vancouver Sun employees has Boston winning. And now even machines are picking Boston to come up short.

Here is a full list of Stanley Cup finals predictions:

Boston media:

WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan Show: Callahan (5) and Dennis (6) went with the Canucks.

Boston Globe staff: Kevin Paul Dupont (6), Chris Gasper (6)  and Fluto Shinzawa (7) picked the Bruins, while Jim Hoban (5), Dan Shaughnessy (5) and Bob Ryan (7) went with the Canucks.

What they’re saying: Spike in babies named Zdeno [Chara] in Children’s hospital next March.” — Fluto Shinzawa

ESPN Boston staff: James Murphy (6) and Joe McDonald (7) picked the Bruins, while Andrew Brooks (5), Brendan Hall (6) and Adam Jones (5) went with the Canucks.

What they’re saying: “This is probably one of the best possible matchups hockey fans could have asked for in the Stanley Cup finals. Both the Bruins and Canucks bring a little bit of everything: grit, physicality, speed, size, skill, defense and of course goaltending. That’s why I see this series going at least six games, but I believe the Bruins will prevent the series from going back to Vancouver and hoist their first Stanley Cup since 1972 on TD Garden ice.” — James Murphy

Vancouver media:

Vancouver Sun staff (1/12): Yvonne Zacharias (7) picked the Bruins, while Mike Beamish (4), Matthew Black (5), Scott Brown (5), Cam Cole (6), Bruce Constantineau (6), Iain MacIntyre (5), Harrison Mooney (6), Elliott Pap (7), Daniel Wagner (6), Bev Wake (6), Ian Walker (5) and Brad Ziemer (5).

What they’re saying:The Canucks needed seven games to de-claw Blackhawks, put the treads to Preds in six, harpooned the Sharks in five. We see a trend developing. Boston might a have chance if the B’€™s were still playing on the small ice pad of Boston Garden. Unfortunately, they blew up the Gah-den real good some time ago. [Roberto] Luongo, [Ryan] Kesler, [Henrik and Daniel] Sedin, Conn Smythe Trophy winner [Kevin] Bieksa and the potential emotional return of [Manny] Malhotra will turn the Beantowners into bean paste. Broom time, Boston. Canucks in four.” –Mike Beamish

Canadian National media:

The Canadian Press: Chris Johnston (7) picked the Bruins, while Bill Beacon (6) went with the Canucks.

What they’re saying:Goaltending is a saw-off between two veterans who can be either airtight or leaky from one game to the next. Both have good, gritty third and fourth lines. But the Canucks also have home ice advantage. Boston is better than some give them credit for, but not enough to stop Vancouver from becoming the first Canadian team to win since 1993.” — Bill Beacon

American National media:

ESPN staff: Scott Burnside (6) and Steve Levy (6) picked the Bruins, while John Buccigross (7), Linda Cohn (6), Pierre LeBrun (7), and Barry Melrose (6) went with the Canucks.

The Hockey News: THN went with the Canucks in six games.

What they’re saying: “When we were forecasting our Cup winner while doing our annual THN Yearbook last summer, we chose the Canucks, then changed our minds to the Bruins the next day, then went back to the Canucks the day after that. Indecisive? Yes. Geniuses? Yes again. Vancouver in six.” — THN staff

Sports Illustrated: Darren Eliot went with the Canucks in six games.

What they’re saying: “Outside of Kesler, Bieksa has been the next most vital player for Vancouver. He is a physical blueline presence who has come up with his best when his team has needed it most. Bieksa is a gamer and I say that with the utmost admiration. His big goals, big hits and leadership air that have stood out thus far all have to be in place against the Bruins. If Bieksa continues with his fine postseason, the Canucks have a better than even chance of winning the first Stanley Cup in franchise history.” — Darren Eliot

USA Today: Kevin Allen went with the Canucks in seven games.

What they’re saying: Unless the Bruins can magically transform their power play into a scoring machine, it will be the Canucks in six games.” — Kevin Allen

Yahoo sports: Ross McKeon (6) picked the Bruins, while Nicholas J. Cotsonika (6), Puck Daddy (6), Sam McCaig (5), Matt Romig (6) and  Greg Wyshynski (6) went with the Canucks.

What they’re saying: The Bruins will play them tight, but the Canucks’ depth, special teams and, let’s face it, hockey voodoo will prevail – sending the Bruins to their sixth loss in the Finals since the 1972 Cup; winning the first Cup in Vancouver’s franchise history; and the first for Canada since 1993.” — Greg Wyshynski

Other:

Marc Crawford (Via The Province): The former Vancouver coach picked the Canucks.

Brian Leetch (via SI): The longtime Rangers captain picked the Canucks in six games.

Anonymous Scouts (Via The Province): One scout picked the Bruins in seven games while the other two picked the Canucks, both in seven games.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Stanley Cup Finals, Vancouver Canucks,
Video game simulator picks Canucks at 2:21 pm ET
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Later Wednesday afternoon, a list of Stanley Cup finals predictions from members of the media in Boston, Vancouver and the rest of the United States and Canada will be posted. However, the most telling pick may come from a machine.

The EA Sports NHL ’11 simulation engine has correctly predicted 13 of the 14 series this postseason. However, those picks were not the engine’s first. It did not pick just a Vancouver-Boston Stanley Cup finals matchup in April. In fact, it picked it before either of these teams even touched the ice for the 2010-11 campaign. This matchup was predicted all the way back in October.

In that simulation, the Canucks took the cup in seven games. Now, EA Sports has predicted results for each game in the series. The Bruins will win Game 3, Game 4 and Game 6 in overtime to send the series back to Vancouver for the decisive finale. Unfortunately for B’s fans, the Canucks are predicted to take Game 7 in 3-1 fashion.

Here is the full Stanley Cup finals prediction:

Game 1: Canucks 2, Bruins 1 (OT)
Game 2: Canucks 4, Bruins 2
Game 3: Bruins 1, Canucks 0
Game 4: Bruins 3, Canucks 2
Game 5: Canucks 4, Bruins 2
Game 6: Bruins 3, Canucks 2 (OT)
Game 7: Canucks 3, Bruins 1

If the simulator continues to see such dramatic success, maybe EA Sports will decide to switch from the video game industry to the gambling industry.

Read More: Boston Bruins, EA Sports, Stanley Cup Finals, Vancouver Canucks
Bruins notes Monday: Claude Julien pumps up the volume and Rich Peverley gets the gold 05.30.11 at 4:55 pm ET
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The Bruins held their final practice before departing for Vancouver in preparation for Wednesday’s opening game of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals at Rogers Arena.

Every player was on the ice – with the exception of defenseman Shane Hnidy – for the 45-minute skate that began at 11:35 and ended with several laps of hard skating around the rink, which was covered in a thin haze of fog by the end of the session. It was the first day back on the ice for several players since winning Game 7 Friday night against Tampa Bay.

“Conditioning doesn’t go bad,” coach Claude Julien said. “We came back on the ice, and then as a whole team, it was obviously a little warm out there today. So, the ice was probably not at its best and it was a tough grind to push through this practice today, which I think is not a bad thing because we might as well get used to it.

“That’s what the buildings are like on game nights. I thought we pushed ourselves pretty good today and did a little bit of sprints at the end to make sure we raise the volume, if you want, and [Tuesday] hopefully, we’ll be really good and flying out there in Vancouver and getting ready for Wednesday.”

Shawn Thornton took shifts on the fourth line with Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell, otherwise known as the “Merlot” line.

“They don’t get the same amount of ice time those others do,” Julien said. “And with Thorty not having played, I think it was important for them to get a regular turn at practice. And those other guys play a lot. Whether it’s Mark who we like to give a rest at times, or Bergy, who plays a lot, we kind of rotate through that. I wouldn’t read more into it than it was.”

Wearing a gold sweater, Rich Peverley skated with the regular second-line unit of Patrice Bergeron, Mark Recchi and Brad Marchand.

Julien moved Peverley up to the second shift during Friday’s Game 7 against Tampa Bay, replacing Recchi at times to give the line added speed with Bergeron.

Peverley told WEEI.com’s Scott McLaughlin he’s totally fine with moving from line to line, especially at this time of year.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup, 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Boston Bruins, Claude Julien
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