|Will it be a special night for the Bruins?||05.25.11 at 5:54 pm ET|
TAMPA — Perhaps fittingly, the reason the Bruins are on the brink of their first Stanley Cup finals appearance in 21 years is due to their special teams.
Obviously, we’re not talking about a power play that’s produced just four goals in 16 games.
Much was made of the red-hot Tampa Bay Lightning and their power play unit coming into the Eastern Conference finals with a playoff-best 12 goals in 54 chances. How would the Bruins respond?
The B’s have allowed just two power play goals in 18 chances. The penalty kill unit’s success was never more evident than when it killed off consecutive Nathan Horton penalties to end the first and open the second on Monday night in Game 5 with the Bruins already down, 1-0.
“I think it kind of actually did the same thing in our favor that it did in their favor last game,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “You know, we had those two early power plays in the second period and we didn’t do much and they built momentum off that. I know that when Horts [Nathan Horton] came out of that second one there, he scored a big goal for us and got us back in the game.
“So it did build some momentum. I think our penalty kill did a great job tonight for us. Right now, before the series started, special teams were the big concern, and right now I think in both areas, we’re pretty even.”
And the leader of that unit has been Daniel Paille. Not only has he helped killed off the penalties, he nearly scored twice on back to back chances in Game 5.
“Looking back on that game, we want to try to keep the same system going,” Paille said. “What was working for us is we just did the little things, stayed patient and did everything right. Obvously, we want to continue that throughout this game.”
The Lightning haven’t scored on the power play since Game 2 and the Bruins desperately would like to see that continue. If it does, they may be booking a trip for Vancouver this weekend.
TAMPA — On Tuesday, Lightning coach Guy Boucher justified his benching of Dwayne Roloson for Mike Smith in Game 5 as a chance to give the 41-year-old goalie a rest in the middle of the playoffs, adding that he’ll be the ‘most-rested’ player on the ice for tonight’s Game 6.
After some research, the real reason becomes fairly apparent, Roloson is 6-0 in his career in playoff elimination games, including 3-0 this season when his team erased a 3-1 deficit against Pittsburgh in the first round.
On Wednesday, Roloson said everybody gets rest on the day off but he’ll take it nonetheless and be ready when the puck drops for Game 6 at St. Pete Times Forum.
“I don’t think any goalie has played 82 games in a row now that they’ve changed the amount of the games we played,” Roloson said. “So, you do it during it during the regular season and there’s no difference in the playoffs. I think everyone gets rest when you get a day off so you take it when you can get it.”
The Bruins might be expecting the Lightning to play with desperation but don’t use that word around Roloson.
“For me personally, I don’t like using the word ‘desperate’. It’s one of the those words I don’t really use much in my vocabulary,” he said. “As a team, we have to just go play our system and our structure for 60, 65 or 120 or however many minutes it takes to win a hockey game.
“To me, it’s just another game. You can’t really put more emphasis on a game. You have to focus on your job, your individual job that allows your team to win. It doesn’t matter if it’s a goalie, a forward or a defenseman. Focus on the things you have to do, things you can control that gives your team a better chance to win.”
A local TV reporter followed up that answer by asking if that’s what has helped him post a 6-0 in playoff elimination games.
“I can’t answer that question,” Roloson said with a smirk. “There’s no response to that.”
OK, then. Guess we’ll have to wait until 8 p.m. to get a better one.
|Brad Marchand: We better show up in the first period||at 1:05 pm ET|
TAMPA — Bruins rookie standout Brad Marchand admitted Wednesday morning, just hours before Game 6, that the pressure is on the Bruins to close out the Lightning tonight and avoid sending the Eastern Conference finals back to Boston for a Game 7 Friday night at TD Garden.
“Yeah, we want to,” Marchand said. “There’s definitely a lot of pressure. If it goes to a Game 7, anything can happen and it’s a situation we don’t really want to be in. We have to make sure we put our best game forward tonight and give ourselves the best opportunity.
“We do have to keep our emotions in check. The Stanley Cup finals, that’s obviously the end goal but there’s still a long ways to go to get there. They’re going to have to play an amazing game tonight, there’s no question about that. We have to make sure we’re really ready to counter these guys and put on a good game here.”
The veteran he is, Daniel Paille had a slightly different take. He was more concerned with the end result than how they got there.
“I don’t think we feel any more pressure tonight than we did the last game,” Paille said. “Even though we started out slow, we responded well and came out with a big win. It shouldn’t be any more or less than the last game.”
Paille and Marchand would probably agree on one thing for sure – don’t expect the Bruins to get outshot 14-4 in the opening 20 minutes like they were on Monday, only to recover and score twice in the second and stabilize the game.
“We want to carry the momentum from the last game into our first period and make sure we have a big start,” Marchand said. “They’re going to come out flying tonight and try to build off that. We have to make sure we have a lot better first period than we did last game. We were nowhere to be seen in that first period [Game 5] and we have to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”
If the Bruins beat the Lightning tonight, they will face the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup finals after Vancouver advanced with a 3-2 win over San Jose in double overtime Tuesday night. Face-off tonight at St. Pete Times Forum is 8 p.m. ET.
|Mark Recchi: ‘We got away with one’ thanks to Tim Thomas||05.24.11 at 6:10 pm ET|
TAMPA — Claude Julien meant nothing personal at all by his comments but the Bruins coach was clear Tuesday that he doesn’t want his team putting everything on the shoulders of Tim Thomas as they try to advance to the Stanley Cup finals with a win Wednesday night in Game 6 at St. Pete Times Forum.
Clearly, that would be easy to do when Thomas was the single-biggest reason the Bruins stole Game 5 on home ice Monday night. But that’s also a good way to get pounded and wind up with a Game 7 Friday in Boston, something every Bruins fan, player and coach wants to avoid.
“You don’t want to rely on your goaltender,” Julien said. “He’s an important part of our team, and it’s nice to be able to rely on him, but you don’t want to go into the game relying on him.
“You want to do your job. And there’s going to be some games, like we said yesterday, that what’s important is a win is about finding a way. And you fall down 1-0 in the first two minutes of the game, and, you know, it’s a team that usually shuts other teams out pretty good. We stayed the course. We weren’t our best, but we stayed the course, and we found a way to get back into the game.”
Then there was the take of veteran Mark Recchi, who realizes the Bruins were extremely fortunate to ride their hot goalie to a win.
“Right off the bat, we have to be a lot better. The first period was not our hockey club. Give them credit, they came out to win and Timmy gave us that opportunity and he shut the door. We had a little tension last night and it showed in our play.
“We know we got away with one [Monday] night but at the same time, we found a way to win and the guys’ attitudes are great like that way. We’re going to have to be a lot better in Game 6 if we expect to finish this series.” Read the rest of this entry »
TAMPA — Bruins coach Claude Julien made it very clear Tuesday. Coaches are completely preoccupied with their teams in the playoffs, not really leaving time for socializing.
But even Julien had to notice the video board during Game 1 and Game 5 Monday night when Patriots coach Bill Belichick was spotted and featured throughout.
Monday night, as “Bruins fan of the game” Belichick, sporting a suit and tie, smiled and waved the black and gold hanky each time he was shown on the video board.
“I think what he’s done is reached out to us by doing what he’s done,” Julien said on the off day before Game 6 Wednesday night at St. Pete Times Forum. “I think coaches understand — and I would be the same way — I would never dare call him or any of those guys when they’re in the playoffs. But I’d certainly be there to show my support, which I did the Patriots when it was time and I’ve done it for the Red Sox.
“I’ve been there a few times. And I’m a big fan of those Boston teams, the Celtics included. And I think it’s about showing support. You don’t need to necessarily talk unless somebody really needs to talk to you. And I think if I reached out to him myself, he’d be more than happy to talk to me.”
In Game 1, Belichick was dressed down considerably from Monday, wearing a more casual outfit that included a cutoff Bass fishing shirt. During each game, girlfriend Linda Holliday was in attendance by his side.
|Guy Boucher goes back to Dwayne Roloson for Game 6||at 3:36 pm ET|
TAMPA — Maybe it’s because he didn’t like what he saw in Game 5. Or maybe it’s because he thinks Mike Smith is best coming off the bench. Or, maybe Guy Boucher wants the grizzled veteran in net for a do-or-die game with the team’s season on the line.
Whatever the real reason, Boucher announced Tuesday that he is going back to Dwayne Roloson as his starting goalie for the team’s do-or-die Game 6 against the Bruins Wednesday night at St. Pete Times Forum.
Boucher thought – with the series tied – it was time to give Roloson a blow and let him have the night off.
“He was the guy that took us here, and that’s how I felt before last game,” Boucher said Tuesday. “But like I said, I felt like it was time to give him a little breather. And at the same time I felt that Smitty played really well. So it’s a perfect situation to put Smitty in. If something were to go wrong in the previous game, put a new goaltender in for a do-or-die, I don’t think it would have been a good moment for anybody.
So this is a perfect situation. He’s going to be the only rested guy on the two teams.”
Boucher is convinced that Roloson – at the age of 41 – will come back refreshed on Wednesday night.
“He’s had tremendous stretches with us,’ Boucher said. “And I remember there was one time where it wasn’t going so well. We gave him two days off and he came back and he was outstanding after.
So he’s like everybody else. He puts — he’s one of the hardest working guys on our team. He puts in a lot of hours and a lot of time. And he’s like everybody else, at some point or another just needs to breathe a little bit.
“He needed a little break like everybody else. Whether you’re a goaltender, defenseman or forward, I know players on both sides are getting more tired as the series are evolving. And it’s normal. Everybody’s expecting that. And your most important player is your goaltender. So he’ll be rested.”
After relieving Roloson in goal in Games 2 and 4, Mike Smith made his first career playoff start and stopped 17 of 19 shots before Rich Peverley‘s empty-net goal with 12.1 seconds left sealed Monday’s Game 5 win for the Bruins.
Roloson entered the Eastern Conference finals against Boston with a playoff-leading 2.01 goals against average. That has skyrocketed to 2.52 as the Bruins beat him six times in Game 2 to tie the series and then chased him in Game 4 last Saturday. In Game 4, Roloson stopped just six of nine shots before being pulled with two minutes left in the first period when Patrice Bergeron scored shorthanded.
Smith entered the game and stopped all 21 shots he faced, allowing the Lightning to rally to a 5-3 win and even the series before Monday night’s 3-1 Bruins win.
Claude Julien is on the verge of taking his Bruins to a place no one has in 21 years. It’s a place he won’t mention by name by it starts with “Stanley” and ends with “Cup finals”.
And after Monday’s 3-1 win in Game 5 of the Eastern finals, he’s more than prepared for all the questions he’ll be hearing about it over the next two days.
“Well it’s going to take, and you’ve heard it before, it’s almost a clichÃ©, it’s going to take our best game. When a team’s got its back against a wall, it comes out with the best of efforts and this is where we have to make sure that next game, as I mentioned here earlier, we can’t be tight,” Julien said. “We’ve got to out there and play with a purpose and be ready to go out there and play hard.
“Maybe put them on their heels and maybe get them to play tight. But this is the position you want to be in obviously, up in the series. We’ve got two games here to win one. Our goal right now is not to play Game 7. And I know their goal is to create a Game 7. So, there’s a difference between the two teams.”
Julien doesn’t want to see his team feel the pressure in Game 6 the way they did in the first period Monday night.
“I just think we need to understand we’ve got the lead in this series. And we’ve got to go out there and play without playing on our heels. When you’ve got the lead like that you should go out and play on your toes, not your heels, and if you play well enough, maybe you put the other team on their heels. I didn’t say we are groining to put them on their heels, I said the goal is to play well and try to play as well as you can. And they’ve got their backs against the wall, so this is our opportunity here to come up with our best effort of the series.” Read the rest of this entry »