|Carey Price on the money playing ‘rope-a-dope’ with the Bruins||04.14.11 at 11:59 pm ET|
Before Thursday night’s 2-0 win over the Bruins in Game 1 of the Eastern quarterfinals, the last time Carey Price skated off the Garden ice it was to chants of “Carey, Carey!” as he let five goals go past him in 44 minutes of a 7-0 Bruins blowout on March 24.
Those chants came up again Thursday in the second period but they were more like a desperate plea from frustrated Bruins fans who couldn’t believe their forwards couldn’t put more pressure on Price.
So as it turns out, that blowout loss of at TD Garden pretty much had zero effect on Thursday.
“It is different in the playoffs,” Price said. “Things that happen in the regular season don’t necessarily happen in the playoffs because it costs a lot more. Teams are playing differently. We expected that type of game out of them and they definitely played physical but our guys didn’t back down.”
Backing down is exactly what everyone thought the Canadiens did in that March 24 embarrassment in Boston. Everyone expected the Canadiens to come out fired up in the first game since Max Pacioretty was hit by Zdeno Chara on March 8 at the Bell Centre, winding up with a concussion after smashing into the mid-ice turnbuckle.
Thanks mainly to Price and the blocked shots by his defense – backing down is exactly what the Canadiens didn’t do Thursday night. Even when they were being out-shot, 18-6, in the second period, the Canadiens and Price wouldn’t give in. How did they survive? By taking a page out of Muhammad Ali‘s book from the 1970s.
“I thought that we were sitting back a little bit in the second period,” Price said. “I thought our guys did a really good job of rope-a-doping it a little bit. They [Bruins] are a good hockey team and when they grab the momentum like that they definitely ran with it. Our guys just rallied, blocked shots, and kept it simple. We were fortunate to keep the puck out of the net.
“Our guys played excellent tonight. That’s it, our guys played great defense and we played a pretty perfect road game. If we were to write down on paper how we wanted to start the series that would be it right there.”
Now Price and company have stolen home ice in the very first game of the series.
“We came in here with a plan,” Price said. ” To come out with a good start to this game and a good start to the series. We did that exactly.”
|Milan Lucic: Bruins fans want ‘us to beat the hell out of’ the Habs – and vice versa||04.12.11 at 3:23 pm ET|
“Our fans are going to want us to beat the hell out of them and their fans are going to want to see them to beat the hell out of us,” Lucic said. “We know the energy is going to be high in both buildings, and I think that’s what makes this rivalry so great, the fans are so pumped up about it. That’s what it makes it fun being a player, being a part of this rivalry.”
The Bruins are trying to advance past the Eastern Conference semifinals for the first time since 1992. They have lost in Game 7 in each of the last two seasons, including last year when they blew a 3-0 series lead and a 3-0 lead in Game 7 to the Flyers, dropping Game 7, 4-3, when the Bruins were called for too many men on the ice.
“It is the playoffs, and it can even come down to one little thing that makes a difference in winning or losing,” Lucic said. “For ourselves, we have to do a good job of managing our emotions and using it to our advantage and feeding off of it. We don’t have to change anything from how we played in the season.
“We still have to play with an edge and play that high-energy type game where we’re into the game emotionally but then again we have to manage it to the point where we’re not spending most of the time in the box.”
|Zdeno Chara talks to Max Pacioretty||at 2:10 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said after Tuesday’s practice that he reached out to injured Canadiens winger Max Pacioretty recently. Chara’s hit along the center boards late in the second period of a game on March 8 caused the rookie Canadiens forward to lose balance and crash face-first into the turnbuckle, landing Pacioretty on the ice with a severe concussion and cracked verterbrae.
“Yes, Yes I did. We talked,” is all Chara would say Tuesday as the Bruins prepare to battle their archrivals again in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs beginning Thursday at TD Garden.
Chara was not penalized by the NHL during the game or after review by the league but Montreal police indicated initially they would investigate the hit and subsequent injury as a criminal matter. But on Monday, Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli indicated that the police would not question or arrest Chara when the Bruins return to Montreal for Game 3 on Monday night, the first visit to the Bell Centre since the hit.
The Montreal Gazette reported Tuesday that while hopeful for a return during the playoffs, the Canadiens have ruled Pacioretty out for the first round series against the Bruins.
|Claude Julien on motivating his team for playoffs: ‘I’m only a coach’||04.07.11 at 11:58 am ET|
This is a very, very difficult time of the year for NHL coaches who know their teams are already in the Stanley Cup playoffs. They have to balance fighting for playoff position with fighting complacency.
Sometimes, the task can become quite frustrating, if not overwhelming, to manage.
Just ask Claude Julien. With his team already assured of home ice in the first round by virtue of their Northeast Division crown, Julien watched on Monday night as his team blew a 3-0 lead to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden in an ugly 5-3 loss.
Then on Wednesday, at home to the lowly Islanders, he watched his top two lines go through the motions, only to get great games from his “energy line” in a 3-2 escape at TD Garden. Shawn Thornton had a goal in his return and Gregory Campbell had a goal and an assist.
Afterward, a reporter at Julien’s press conference opened by asking if that’s the kind of effort he was looking for after the Monday meltdown in New York.
“Are you serious with that question?” Julien chirped. “No, certainly not the kind of game you want to see from your team and I think the execution wasn’t very good tonight. We weren’t very sharp. Our best players certainly didn’t make a difference and who made a difference was our fourth line and the Campbell line was very good for us tonight and the goaltender made some good saves for us.
“But, it’s one of those games where you try and motivate your team to play hard and play well and I think there’s a challenge there. You know, you can say what you want and you can preach what you want, but there’s a lot of players I think that are looking forward to the next season and so those are the challenges that we have at this time of year.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Shawn Thornton shows again why he’s not just the toughest Bruin, he’s their funniest, too||04.06.11 at 11:24 pm ET|
Forget the fact that he is regarded by many as their toughest player, if everyone on the Bruins had Shawn Thornton‘s energy, the team would never be accused of taking nights off. Thornton is trying to make sure that the Bruins are fired up for the playoffs that start next week.
His goal at the latest possible moment (19:59.9) of the first period got the Bruins going in his first game back and helped the Bruins to a 3-2 win over the Islanders at TD Garden. The Bruins have 101 points now but to Thornton, the more important mission in the final two games is to keep focus.
“Just keeping that rhythm I think,” Thornton said. “Keeping our confidence. Keeping the fun going into the playoffs. This is the best time of the year. The weather is getting nice. You have to want to come to the rink this time of year. For me that’s the biggest thing: to stay upbeat, confident and play our game.
As their coach Claude Julien pointed out afterward, the Bruins did not look sharp in the win as there were defensive breakdowns that allowed the Islanders back in the game, two days after blowing a 3-0 lead to the Rangers in New York.
“I mean there were some lapses,” Thornton said. “We just have to play our game and not worry who we’re playing against. When we’re playing our style of game we’re a really, really good team. When we get away from that, we’ve seen it through the years what happens there. As long as we continue to play our game plan we’ll be a pretty good team.”
As for who they’ll be playing in the first round, Thornton said it doesn’t matter to him since he’s not even paying attention to the standing right now.
“You’re talking to the wrong guy,” Thornton said. “I don’t ever pay attention to the standings. No I don’t know what is going on. Maybe the other guys are different, but I just kind of focus on what’s going on today and don’t worry about the rest.”
After scoring his 10th goal of the season in his first game back since a nasty injury to his forehead, Thornton was also quick to give credit to his assistant coaches and back-up goalie Tuukka Rask after Wednesday’s win. Read the rest of this entry »
|Brad Marchand having a ‘pretty insane time’ playing with Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi, winning awards||04.02.11 at 8:50 pm ET|
After scoring 21 goals and adding 19 assists in 72 games, the Bruins winger was honored before Saturday’s division-clinching 3-2 win over the Thrashers as the 2010-11 Bruins “Seventh Player Award” given to the Bruins player who goes above and beyond the call of duty and exceeded expectations, as voted on by Bruins fans.
“Well, it was a question mark whether I was going to be on the team this year, so it’s a honor to win that award,” Marchand said. “It’s special.
“I think I was expected to be defensively responsible and bring energy into the game. Now I think I still have to do the exact same thing, but maybe bring a little more offense.”
Marchand celebrated the honor by picking up his 20th assist on Boston’s first goal Saturday, a score by Mark Recchi.
Technically still a rookie after 20 games last season, Marchand has earned the trust of his coaching staff by playing the left wing on the team’s second line, playing with Patrice Bergeron and Recchi.
“It’s huge, they’re great offensive players,” Marchand said. “They’re both very smart. They make a lot of unbelievable plays that you don’t see coming a lot of times. So with guys like that, you’re expected to produce. It’s a pretty insane time playing with guys as good as them.”
“I think it’s very deserving and that’s certainly not to take away some of the other guys that have made tremendous steps as well,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “But, he’s one of those guys that obviously surpassed maybe a lot of our expectations, obviously not his because he had made that prediction. But nonetheless, I think he’s been a real good player for us from starting off on the fourth line and really making that line probably one of the best fourth lines we’ve had here for a long, long time and obviously was probably one of the best fourth lines in the League.
“He graduated obviously with Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] and Rex [Mark Recchi] and those guys have certainly, as much as he’s benefited from them, they’ve benefited from him as well. They know that. He’s such a good skater and he plays hard every night. He’s been a real good player for us and I think it’s going to be exciting to see him jump into the playoffs, just by the way he is. He’s going to be pumped for that and I think he’s going to be a really good asset for our hockey club.”
Marchand is expected to receive consideration for the NHL’s Calder Trophy, awarded to the league’s top rookie. The favorites are considered Carolina’s Jeff Skinner and San Jose’s Logan Couture.
But that obviously isn’t the trophy foremost on Marchand’s mind.
“We didn’t come into this season wanting to win this division,” Marchand said of the Northeast title Saturday. “We have a goal, and that’s to win the Stanley Cup. So it’s a stepping stone, and it’s a good accomplishment for a great team. But there’s a long way to go before we accomplish our goal. It’s special, but at the same time we’re a long ways away.”
By his own admission, the last three weeks haven’t exactly been a joyride for Michael Ryder.
He is a player talented enough to serve the same capacity as Miroslav Satan did in last year’s playoffs. He is a veteran sniper who has playoff experience finishing his chances.
But, in the second half of this season, it’s been a different story. His penalty shot score to win Saturday’s game against Atlanta and clinch the Northeast title for the Bruins was his 18th goal but first since Feb. 27, a span of 12 games.
“Yeah, I’ve struggled to find goals lately,” Ryder said. “Last game goal post, then [Saturday] crossbar. Just got to try and stay with it. If I keep just working hard and shooting the puck, it’ll go in for me.”
In that stretch, he has been benched twice by coach Claude Julien, once last Saturday against the Rangers and once on March 10 against the Islanders.
“You want to be in the lineup, nobody wants to be out,” Ryder said. “It’s frustrating and I’ve been there before, so I kind of know what it takes to get back in. It’s just working hard and finding your game, and not letting the little things get to you. Just make sure when you get back in that you take advantage of the chances that you get.”
Sometimes you get a break and Ryder made his own break with just under eight minutes left when he forced a neutral zone turnover by the Thrashers and broke in alone. He was hooked from behind by Johnny Oduya and was awarded a penalty shot.
I was just trying to skate and get away from the guy behind me. I don’t really know what happened. Just fell down and they called a penalty shot. I was just trying to catch my breath, that’s it.
Thursday night, during the shootout, Ryder went up top and missed the net during Boston’s loss. This time, he made sure to get it on net. And when he went up top on Ondrej Pavelec, above his right shoulder, the crowd exploded. Ryder had finally snapped his goalless streak at 12 games.
“I was just excited to get the goal,” Ryder said. “I was tired on the penalty shot, so I didn’t know what I was going to do. Like I said, that was a big win for us. I knew if we got the lead and I scored there, it would get the team going and hopefully we could pull out the win. Last game I missed the net, [Saturday] I hit it. It was a big goal for us, we wanted to make sure we got the win, and I think we’ve played better games but as long as we get the two points that doesn’t mean anything.”
By benching him twice and putting him on the third and fourth lines, Julien wanted to give him time to think about what it will take to rediscover that touch in time for a Stanley Cup run in two weeks.
“I think it’s just a matter of it was nice to see him score that goal,” Julien said. “Obviously it turned out to be a big goal for us, but these are steps in the right direction. I think, you know, when he starts feeling confident about doing those things and doing them without over-thinking, he’s going to be a good player again.”