|Pierre McGuire on M&M: Penguins ‘were stunned more than quit’||06.04.13 at 12:07 pm ET|
NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire checked in with Mut & Merloni on Tuesday morning to break down the Bruins’ 6-1 victory over the Penguins in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.
The Penguins have been the harder-hitting team in the first two games, but the Bruins have dominated on the scoreboard. McGuire said the Pens are making the same mistake they did a year ago, altering their style to try to match a more physical opponent.
“They didn’t learn their lesson from last year against Philadelphia. They tried to do the same thing with Philadelphia last year and they got banged out,” McGuire said. “You saw the frustration with [Sidney] Crosby, you saw the frustration with [Evgeni] Malkin, you saw the frustration with [Kris] Letang. You’re seeing a lot of the same stuff right now.
“[Penguins general manager] Ray Shero tried to address it. That’s why he brought in Brenden Morrow, that’s why he brought in Jarome Iginla, that’s why he brought in Jussi Jokinen, that’s why he brought in Douglas Murray — older players that can maybe stabilize situations if there were negative times in a playoff run. It hasn’t worked so far in this round. We’ll see.
“This is my one caveat to everybody: I did the last series between Detroit and Chicago, and there was so much frustration on the Chicago side of things [when the Blackhawks were down 3-1] it was unbelievable. They were melting down before everybody’s eyes. And then they just role-reversed it and eventually won the series. Anything can happen. But the Bruins have really earned to be in this position. They really merit where they are right now.”
While the Penguins have shown a lack of focus and discipline, the Bruins appear to be playing with more intensity.
Said McGuire: “There’s a heart there, there’s a soul there. There’s a Bruin passion. ‘¦ There’s a lot to be said about the character of the city of Boston, about the players that represent the city of Boston and about the fans that go to the games there and watch the games. There’s a lot to be said. I think emotion matters a lot in our sport, and there’s a lot to be said about ‘Boston Strong.’ ”
|Bruins light up Penguins in Game 2||06.03.13 at 10:36 pm ET|
PITTSBURGH — The Bruins offense has been the only one to show up offensively, and it led them to a 6-1 victory over the Penguins in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals Monday. The B’s now hold a 2-0 series lead after taking both games in Pittsburgh.
Brad Marchand, who had just two goals in the Bruins’ first 13 playoff games, turned in a big night with two goals, which came in the first and final minutes of the first period.
Sidney Crosby gave the puck away at the blue line on the first shift of the game, with Marchand racing his way to a breakaway and beating Tomas Vokoun with a wrist shot glove side. Goals from Nathan Horton and David Krejci in a two-minute span later in the period prompted Dan Bylsma to replace Vokoun with Marc-Andre Fleury.
Less than three minutes after the change, Brandon Sutter scored the Penguins’ first goal of the series with 34 seconds left in the first, but Patrice Bergeron‘s line negated any optimism the Penguins could have brought into the intermission by turning some good neutral zone work into a rush that resuled in Marchand’s second of the night with nine seconds left in the period.
The teams skated to a scoreless second period before Bergeron took a feed from Jaromir Jagr in the offensive zone with plenty of open net and made it 5-1. Johnny Boychuk poured salt on the wound with a slap shot goal from the point with just over a minute to play.
Interestingly enough, the last team to come back from an 0-2 deficit in the conference finals and win was the 1991 Penguins, who came back against the Bruins en route to winning the Stanley Cup. The series will head to Boston, with Game 3 being played Wednesday and Game 4 Friday.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
— The Penguins’ offensive stars have been duds through two games. Crosby had two bad turnovers, one of which led to a goal in the first minute of the game, and none of the Penguins’ top six forwards have managed a point through 120 minutes this series. Jarome Iginla got behind Zdeno Chara to set himself up for a good opportunity on a rebound from an Evgeni Malkin shot in the first period off a rush, but he fanned on it. Bylsma switched James Neal and Pascal Dupuis late in the second period.
|Penguins not buying Bruins’ underdog talk||05.30.13 at 2:11 pm ET|
PITTSBURGH — The “B” on the Bruins’ jerseys should stand for “Boucher,” because the Bruins are taking a Guy Boucher-like approach to the Eastern Conference finals against the Penguins.
Two years ago, the then-Lightning coach played the underdog card strongly against the Bruins, saying that the Lightning would be hard-pressed to “solve” the “enigma” that was Tim Thomas. Now, it’s the Bruins who are volunteering just what an uphill climb they face, with Brad Marchand telling reporters Wednesday that the Bruins are “in over our heads” vs. the offensively loaded Penguins.
The Penguins aren’t buying it.
“I wouldn’t read into that too much at this point,” Sidney Crosby said after Thursday’s practice. “It doesn’t really matter who’s favored or who’s not. Two pretty good hockey teams who have gotten to this point and want the same thing, so all the other stuff doesn’t really matter.”
While the Penguins don’t have a problem with being labeled as favorites, they can appreciate that a team labeling itself the underdog is simply a means of trying to gain an us-against-the-world mentality.
“I think we’re pretty focused on just preparing ourselves,” Brooks Orpik said. “If that motivates them, then great for them. I think we have plenty of ways to motivate ourselves in here. Each team can motivate themselves however they want. That’s out of our control.”
|Matt Cooke: ‘I can’t control people’s opinions’||at 1:42 pm ET|
PITTSBURGH — Matt Cooke hasn’t been suspended in over two years, but the controversial Penguins forward knows that his past is on plenty of people’s minds as he prepares to face the Bruins in Eastern Conference finals.
Cooke, a veteran of 13 seasons, is best known for having a career of dirty hits, none more infamous than his elbow to the head of Bruins center Marc Savard back in 2010. The hit effectively ended Savard’s career, as lingering concussion symptoms have kept him off the ice the last two seasons. Savard last played in 2011, but was shut down for the season after suffering another concussion on a routine check from Avalanche defenseman Matt Hunwick.
“I can’t control people’s opinions,” Cooke said Thursday. “Fans have emotions towards certain things and they’re going to be attached to them. I need to go out and prepare to play against the Bruins to the best of my ability, and if I’m worried about that, it’s going to affect me in a negative way.”
Asked if he thought about the Savard hit (for which he was not suspended at the time), when he saw that the Penguins would play the Bruins in the conference finals, Cooke shook his head and said, “Nope.”
The Bruins have said this week that they aren’t focused on Cooke now, but they certainly aren’t fans of his. After Cooke’s last suspension, which came in March of 2011 when he was banned for the rest of the season and playoffs for targeting the head of Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh, Brad Marchand called for an end to Cooke’s dirty play.
‘I think that it’s about time he gets ‘ he’s got to be taught a lesson,’ Marchand said at the time. ‘He’s doing that stuff left, right, and center. I expect that he’ll probably get a bunch of games, but he’s got to be taught a lesson. You can’t be running around doing that stuff all the time. He’s going to seriously hurt someone again. Look at Savvy, and now McDonagh. He could have easily hurt him.
‘It just seems to be part of his game. He likes to throw cheap shots around. I don’t know if he’ll learn. Hopefully he does. Hopefully he doesn’t hurt someone to the point where their career is over. You want to get that stuff out of the game, and hopefully he does learn his lesson.’
Cooke, his teammates and coach Dan Bylsma have said Cooke’s been a different player since the forward vowed to change entering last season. He hasn’t been suspended since, though he received heat after it was his skate that accidentally sliced Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson‘s Achilles’ tendon back in February.
“His game and his approach to the game and how he plays has changed significantly since then,” Bylsma said. “I’m not sure Matt’s ever going to get away from some of that reputation throughout the league, but he’s put a significant amount of hockey in between his last suspension and how he’s played the last couple years for us.”
Bylsma added that Cooke has been “one of our best performers in the first two rounds, playing his game, playing well, playing physically.” He noted that if Cooke remains a storyline throughout the series, it’s “probably going to mean Matt’s playing well and we’re playing well vs. the other way around.”
|Brad Marchand on Matt Cooke: ‘It’s not even in our minds right now’||05.29.13 at 5:02 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins are not consumed with exacting revenge on Matt Cooke.
As Brad Marchand reminded everyone on Wednesday after practice, the stakes now are way too high to get into revenge games for a hit that happened three seasons ago.
Of course, the hit that is etched in the mind of every Bruins fan when you mention the name Matt Cooke is the blindside hit he laid on the head of Marc Savard on March 7, 2010. That hit resulted in a Grade 2 concussion. After sitting out the first round of the playoffs, Savard scored the game-winner against the Flyers in overtime in Game 1.
Savard, however, was never the same player. After suffering another concussion 10 months later, he was shut down for the season and could not participate in the run to the Cup title.
How do the Bruins deal with their emotions on Cooke?
“Well, it depends what you mean by that,” Claude Julien said. “Are you talking about the Savard thing? Or are you talking about the way Matt Cooke plays. There’s different ways of answering that. At one point, you’ve got to move on from certain things. Just like the next question will be like [Jarome] Iginla. Stuff like that. We all know about that. The thing we have to focus on is finding a way to win the series. If you just want revenge on this guy or that guy. Is it really the right focus to have? The best way to get that satisfaction is by winning a series. So I think that’s where your focus has to be.”
Asked on Wednesday what he thought of Cooke, Marchand, a rookie in 2010, agreed with his coach, adding the Bruins can’t worry about exacting some measure of personal revenge.
“He’s playing well right now,” Marchand began, before offering a bit of backhanded compliment. “If you watched the Ottawa series, he’s running around a bit but he’s doing some things offensively, too. He’s doing good things for the team. We’re not going to focus on any single guy over there. They’ve got four lines that can do damage so he’s just another guy who’s on their team.
“It’s a completely different season. We’re not worried about that at all anymore. It’s a long time ago. There’s much bigger things at stake than that hit. It’s not even in our minds right now.”
“He’s doing a lot of good things right now, making a lot of plays,” Marchand said of Jagr. “He’s in the right spot a lot of the time. He’s getting a ton of opportunities. You really only have to start worrying when you don’t get any opportunities and that’s not the case for him. So hopefully, they’ll start going in for Jags.”
The other priority will be to keep a close eye on the Penguins‘ highly potent second line of Evgeni Malkin, Jarome Iginla and James Neal. Marchand said keeping the puck in the offensive zone will be a big part of Boston’s defensive attack when those three are on the ice.
“That’s definitely a big part of playing like a line against that,” Marchand said. “They want to play in the offensive zone, and if we can find a way to keep them down in the defensive end and work it down there, it limits their opportunity to score. We want to play in their end as much as possible, but it’s not an easy thing to do with the skill and talent they have over there.”
|Shawn Thornton on D&C explains confrontation with Rangers forward Derek Dorsett||05.22.13 at 10:40 am ET|
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning to offer his take on Tuesday’s 2-1 victory over the Rangers that gave the Bruins a 3-0 series lead.
“I’m lucky to play with those two guys,” Thornton said. “They’re not fourth-liners on a lot of other teams. I’m fortunate to have them with me.”
Thornton noted that all three fourth-liners could have signed elsewhere last offseason, but the Bruins kept the trio together.
“You’ve got to give Peter [Chiarelli] credit for having faith in us, bringing all three of us back,” he said. “We were all free agents at the end of the last season. I think I was the only one that got re-upped during the season. They paid a little money to keep all three of us around.
“I haven’t looked at the other fourth lines in the league, but we’re compensated pretty well as far as fourth-liners go. We’re getting some notoriety right now in the playoffs, but the team believed in us before this.”
A key moment in Tuesday’s game came when Thornton replaced Brad Marchand on the ice and confronted Derek Dorsett after Dorsett had been harassing Marchand.
“He’s doing his job,” Thornton said of Dorsett. “He got Marchy off the ice in the first period [on a penalty]. They’re both agitators. If they’re matching him against Marchy, he’s going to try and get under his skin and keep him off the ice as much as possible. Marchy’s probably been our best player in this series so far. He’s doing his job. I had to go out there and politely say that I wasn’t a fan of him being all over our star left winger.”
Thornton said he was ready to fight, but either way he wanted to send a message.
“I didn’t know [if Dorsett would fight],” Thornton said. “If he had wanted to, then I definitely would have obliged. I joked about being polite; I wasn’t going out there to ask him what dinner was later.”
Added Thornton: “It’s a job. I’ve been doing it for a long time. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. I was happy we got to play after that, too, that it wasn’t our last shift.”
|Barry Pederson on D&C: ‘The Bruins just took over’ after Shawn Thornton’s challenge to Derek Dorsett went unanswered||at 9:51 am ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Barry Pederson joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning to break down the B’s 2-1 victory over the Rangers in Tuesday night’s Game 3.
Pederson said he was surprised that there wasn’t more of a sense of urgency from the Rangers, who now are in a 3-0 series hole.
“We didn’t see the desperation from New York,” Pederson said. “I thought the Bruins, right from the opening faceoff, kind of took the crowd right out of the game. They had two or three really good shifts in that first period, didn’t allow the Rangers to get any momentum. [The Rangers] only had 24 shots on net, they had two power plays; the Bruins didn’t have any, outshot them 34-24.
“The Bruins for the most part did a really good job of not allowing New York any sustained pressure on them. It looked to me like the Bruins were much more under control and forceful out there than the New York Rangers were.”
Added Pederson: “[The Rangers] look tired to me. They look physically drained, mentally drained. ‘¦ A lot of these guys look like they’ve hit the wall. But again, I think by doing that, you’re taking away some of the credit that the Bruins deserve. They really went out there with four lines — especially that fourth line last night — and they just wear you down.”
“One of the more important shifts may have been the one where [Thornton] comes on, when Dorsett’s trying to suck Marchand into a penalty, physically kind of manhandle him a little bit and try to get him off the ice because Marchand’s been such a good player for them in this series,” Pederson said. “And the faceoff right by the bench, you can see Marchand gets kind of yelled at, I’m sure it’s Claude [Julien] just said: Hey, come over here. Shawn Thornton hops on the ice and goes right over to Dorsett and says: Hey, listen, you’re not going to do that.
“Once Shawn proved his point, he went off and Marchand came right back on. And I thought from that moment on, you could see the physicality also with [Milan] Lucic‘s hit on [Anton] Stralman, who never returned after that big forecheck hit. You could kind of see the momentum shift, and the Bruins just took over.”
Added Pederson: “I played on a lot of big, physical teams over the years. I remember Wayne Cashman would always say with guys that felt bad after maybe they came off and didn’t get the upper hand in a fight or something, he’d say: Hey, listen, I don’t care how many you win. What we care about is how many you show up for. That shows everybody else on the bench. And that’s why it was so important for Shawn Thornton to go out there and say: Hey, listen, you’re not pushing around our little guys. That’s not going to happen. He is a valuable part of our team. If you want to go, let’s you and I go right now.
“As soon as he doesn’t do that, the Bruins on the bench go: Aha, OK, we can see what you’re made of. And from that moment on you can see the emotion shift drastically in either direction. ‘¦ I really thought from that moment on you could kind of see the Bruins say: Exactly, we know that we have you now. We know that you won’t take on our physically tough guys.”