|A closer look at Bruins’ recent Game 7 history||04.24.12 at 9:14 pm ET|
Since the 2007-08 season, the Bruins have played six Game 7s, and until last season, they had lost all of them. In the 2011 playoffs, however, the Bruins won three Game 7s en route to winning the Stanley Cup. Two of those wins were by one goal, one of which was an overtime winner.
Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand lead the Bruins in scoring in those Game 7s with four points each. Lucic has scored three goals and recorded an assist in six Game 7s since 2008 while Marchand, in just three career Game 7s, has two goals and two assists. Both goals and one assist came in Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals against Vancouver, which the Bruins won, 4-0. Nathan Horton has two Game 7 goals, both of which were game-winners. He leads the Bruins in game-winning Game 7 goals since 2008, but is not playing in the playoffs this year because of a concussion.
Tim Thomas played in five of the six Game 7s, and he owns a 3-2 record with a .935 save percentage in Game 7. Thomas engineered the Bruins to two of their three Game 7 wins last season, pitching a shutout in the Eastern Conference finals and the Stanley Cup finals.
Here’s a further breakdown of how the Bruins have fared in Game 7 since 2008:
|Last chance: Bruins must expose Braden Holtby in Game 7||at 6:37 pm ET|
The Bruins have one more chance to get to Braden Holtby. If they do it, they should be able to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals against either Ottawa, Florida or Philadelphia. If they don’t, they’ll be bounced in the first round for the first time in four years.
For the B’s, two of their three losses to Washington have been products of the team not being able to get clean looks against the Washington rookie. They’ve struggled to get legitimate shots by the shot-blocking Capitals and through to the net, so their bids either haven’t made it to Holtby, or he’s been able to see them perfectly.
In recent games, the Bruins have fared better. Though they dropped Game 5 at home, they got a goal on a rush (Dennis Seidenberg from Milan Lucic), a hard drive to the net (Brad Marchand) and missile from the point (Johnny Boychuk). In Game 6, the B’s put four pucks past Holtby, the last of which came on a rush in the form of Tyler Seguin’s game-winner.
“It definitely took us a while, but you’ve got to give it to him,” Marchand said of Holtby. “He’s been playing great hockey and making a lot of big saves, but we’re doing a pretty good job of getting bodies in front now and finding different ways to score on him. We’re going to have to try and do the same thing tomorrow.”
Holtby has had an impressive .935 save percentage in the series, but his numbers have been helped by the fact that he’s had performances such as Game 2 (43 saves) and Game 4 (44 saves) in which he faced a large total of shots but faced few legitimate scoring chances. Many of the shots Holtby stopped in those games came from outside the perimeter due to Washington’s excellent shot-blocking and overall defensive play.
Now, having seen enough of Holtby, the B’s hope they break through and have a high-scoring affair for once (no team has scored more than four goals in a game this series, and each game has been decided by one goal). One thing to watch is whether the B’s, if given the opportunity, take advantage of Holtby’s agressive style. In two overtime plays Sunday — Zdeno Chara‘s early bid and Seguin’s game-winner — the Bruins were careful to hold onto the puck until the last possible second in an attempt to get the goaltender to challenge them. It didn’t work for Chara, but Seguin kept Boston’s playoff chances alive by doing it.
David Krejci, who scored on the power play in Sunday’s Game 6 victory, agrees that the B’s have gotten progressively better looks against Holtby. Krejci was notably frustrated after Game 4 at his inability to produce, but he feels that he and the offense as a whole have worked harder to make the 22-year-old goalie’s job difficult.
“I think we had a tougher start, but the last couple of games, it was getting along,” Krejci said. “We’ve just got to keep it going. It’s a Game 7. We’ve all been there before, so we’ve just got to go out there, do our best and try to get a win.”
|Brad Marchand responds to accusations of diving||at 1:54 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Brad Marchand is a man of many names.
There’s his given name, Bradley. There’s Marshy. There’s “The Little Ball of Hate,” as he was called by President Obama. There’s The Brat, The Rat, The Baseball Bat (not really) and probably a dozen other things Marchand’s been called.
Marchand doesn’t care what you call him, just so long as you don’t call him a diver.
The 23-year-old pest has been critical of diving in the past, such as last year when he called out the Canadiens, but recently, it’s been Marchand who’s been accused of diving.
Marchand has been accused of trying to sell calls at points during the Bruins’ series with the Capitals’ series, such as in Game 3 after an elbow from Karl Alzner and in Game 6, when minimal contact was made between he and Jason Chimera in the Washington zone. Marchand fell to the ice, grabbing his face and Chimera went down the other end and scored. Replays showed that Marchand got himself in the face with his stick as he was going down, but the play drew heavy criticism of the second-year player.
“You don’t see the guy coming and you get clipped,” Marchand said Tuesday. “For them to judge what knocks you down, they don’t know your balance or whatnot on the play. They’re sitting at home watching on TV. I don’t really care what they say. They have no impact on my game, my life. They mean nothing.”
Marchand explained the play, which led the to Caps tying the game in the second period.
“I just got caught off guard, and I wasn’t really ready,” he said of why he stayed down. “I got hit in the mouth, and by the time I got up and I was getting back, they scored.”
The lesson may have been learned on Marchand’s part. Though there’s been inconsistency on the referees’ end when players have remained down during the series, Marchand says everyone needs to be prepared to finish the play if at all possible.
“In a situation like that, blowing down a play can result in a team scoring or not scoring,” he said. “At this point in the playoffs, the refs seem to let a lot go. The further you go, they let more and more go. You have to realize that and jet try to continue with the play.”
Marchand expressed no frustration with the fact that he didn’t get a whistle before Chimera scored. Though the Capitals got whistles earlier in the series when their players went down, the Bruins had seen enough proof — such as Zdeno Chara staying down late in the first period of Game 5 — that team’s can’t bank on those calls.
“There are different refs every night, depending on the game,” Marchand said. “You can’t really blame the inconsistency on the refs. They’re all different. Maybe if you had the same one every night, but that’s not the case. We just have to try to find out how the refs are calling it and play within the rules.”
In Wednesday night’s Game 7, it goes without saying that there will be little-to-no margin for error. If a guy stays down on the ice, not only may he cost his team a goal, but the chances may be slimmer that he even gets a call. If the two defensive-minded teams are playing as tight and carefully as they’d like, the refs may be less inclined to influence the game with penalties.
“You see it every year,” Marchand said. “Last year against Tampa, I don’t think there was one penalty all game. You never really know how it’s going to get called. There could be a bunch and there could be none. We just have to play between the whistles hard and leave your best effort on the ice.”
|Thoughts on the Bruins’ new lines||04.20.12 at 11:03 pm ET|
Claude Julien has changed his lines an uncharacteristic number of times this postseason, but his latest work is more drastic than perhaps any of the tinkering he’s done this season.
Out of the top six are Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand. Seguin skated with the third line in Friday’s practice, while Brad Marchand was back to the Merlot Line with Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton.
Marchand began last season on the fourth line before moving up to Patrice Bergeron‘s line mid-season and never looking back. After finishing second on the Bruins with 28 goals in the regular season, he’s been among the many B’s who have opened the postseason with rather uninspired play.
Here are what the lines were in Friday’s practice, according to reports:
“Making line changes, that’s a part of trying to find solutions and it’s as simple as that,” Julien told reporters after Friday’s practice. “You’ve got to mix up guys who are not getting the results that we’d like to, so you’re trying to make changes that will maybe spark that part of our game.”
Here are some thoughts on the new lines for the Bruins:
– Not one line is the same as it was when the postseason began. The most radically changed trio is Bergeron’s, as Rich Peverley played only parts of the last two games with Bergeron, while Daniel Paille makes the jump from the fourth line.
– Julien obviously did this hoping that he can wake up some of his snoozing superstars. The top two lines in each game have gone scoreless thus far this series, as the team has had to rely on bottom-six forwards primarily for their scoring.
– While Seguin has been one of the Bruins’ worst players this postseason, taking him away from Bergeron is a risk. Seguin has underachieved in the past when playing on lower lines, but perhaps Chris Kelly and Benoit Pouliot — two of Boston’s better forwards this series — can get him going.
– The Bruins are deep enough that they can be tied in a series through four games despite the fact that their best forwards have been kept off the score sheet, but the Bruins really need to get something out of David Krejci. If Krejci repeats his first-round performance from last postseason (one assist), the B’s could be in trouble. Remember, he was having difficulty generating points against Carey Price in the first round a year ago. This is Braden Holtby, and the Bruins still haven’t consistently tested him for three periods.
– The Bruins should try to get Jordan Caron into the lineup, but for whom? As bad as Seguin was in the first three games before looking a little better on Thursday, scratching your regular-season leader in points should be out of the question. Caron brings a strong two-way game and had a stretch of eight points (four goals, four assists) in six games in March.
|David Krejci: Nathan Horton concussion news ‘kind of sucks’||04.11.12 at 1:24 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — No one on the Bruins feels worse than David Krejci about Wednesday’s news that Nathan Horton will be out for the entire playoffs with the lingering effects of his second concussion in 12 months.
It was Krejci who was just beginning to get into a groove on the second line with Horton again when he had a setback in February, a setback that ended Wednesday with the news that Horton needed more time to fully heal.
“I was hoping he was going to be back for first or second round, but now we know he won’t,” Krejci said. “It kind of sucks but that’s how it goes sometimes. This is still his life and he’s got to take care of his own body. He shouldn’t be pushing it. If he doesn’t feel well, there’s nothing he can do.”
Krejci not only played on the same line with Horton, he can relate fully with what Horton is going through.
“I had a concussion two times so I know how it is,” Krejci said. “This is not an easy situation. Hopefully, he’s going to do well over the next couple months and he’s going to be ready for next season.”
Now, with Rich Peverley replacing Horton on the second line, Krejci and Milan Lucic have had to adjust. It’s an adjustment the Bruins made masterfully last year in the Stanley Cup finals as Peverley added a speed element that wasn’t there with Horton.
“One thing is you can’t replace Horty,” Krejci said. He’s just a great player and I love playing with him but the other side is we played without him for  games so we know how to win games without him. We still have a good team. We have lots of depth. Hopefully we can do it.
“I think we started putting the puck in the net more often, especially the last few games of the season. So, I feel pretty good. This is kind of new season. Everybody starts from the beginning. We’re just going to have to go out there and do it again.”
Brad Marchand is one of those players who picked up the scoring slack for Horton in the finals, scoring twice in Game 7 in Vancouver.
“We’re going to try,” Marchand said. “We want to play for him like we did last year in the finals. It’s obviously tough with him not being here so we want to definitely want to use that to an advantage and play for him.
“It’s big for him and the team. We’re not going to always be wondering and hoping if he’s going to come back and save us. The fact that we know now that we have to do it within the room and we can’t rely on him to come back and help us out. Different guys are going to have to realize they’re going to have to step up. For him, it relieves the pressure that he has to rush back and continue to progress every single day to try and rush back to playoffs. Now, he can take his time and worry about getting better mentally and hopefully come back for next year.”
|Brad Marchand on M&M: ‘We definitely built a lot of momentum’ with West Coast trip||03.28.12 at 2:41 pm ET|
Marchand and the Bruins are riding a three-game win streak and are winners of five of their last six games. Two of those wins came on a three-game West Coast road trip in which the team beat the Kings and Ducks and lost to the Sharks. Marchand said that the swing of games in California helped to galvanize the Bruins.
“Anytime you go on a road trip and play the way we did, it’s good for your team,” Marchand said. “We definitely built a lot of momentum when you can go into other teams’ buildings and win a couple of games on a long road trip like that. It’s great for us and we can definitely build a lot of momentum off of that.”
With the team having rebounded and returned to playing some of its best hockey, Marchand said that the Bruins are now focused on maintaining that form heading into the playoffs.
“We know that this is the time where you want to play your best hockey,” Marchand said. “We just talked about how we, if we even want to make the playoffs, have to buckle down and start playing well. If you don’t play good hockey come playoff time, you usually get out pretty quickly.
“We don’t want to be in that situation. We just have to make sure to put our best effort on the ice every night.”
With Peverley now back from injury, Marchand said that the team’s newest addition has been an immediate help for the Bruins.
“It balances the lines a little more, it fills holes in different parts of the lineup,” Marchand said. “When you get a guy like Peverley back, he’s a very, very strong player and played very well for our team last year. We missed him and we’re very happy to have him back.”
When asked about Thomas and if his improved play has been a factor in the Bruins’ recent success, Marchand said that while Thomas was never actually playing poorly, his play the last several games has been instrumental to the team’s hot streak.
“During the season, you go through ups and downs, every player does,” Marchand said. “Even if you want to call it down, by no means was it his fault. As a team, as a whole, we weren’t playing very well.
“We’ve played great now for the last few games and he’s been on the ball. It definitely makes it a lot easier for us out there when he’s playing the way he is right now.”
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara is notoriously humble and soft spoken about his own accomplishments.
That’s why it’s often a good idea to listen to his teammates and coach when trying to gauge what impact he’s had on the Bruins, even a teammate like Brian Rolston who hasn’t shared a dressing room with him for that long.
Asked what he’s learned about Chara since coming back to Boston in a deadline trade with the Islanders, Rolston was honest enough.
“Probably nothing,” Rolston said. “He’s so hard to play against; he’s a tremendous leader. Obviously he does that by example, but he’s the toughest guy to play against in the league ‘ bar none. If you were to pull the forwards on every team they would say the same thing and coming in on a nightly basis knowing that you have to face him ‘ it’s a tough task.”
Rolston set up the game-winner of Tuesday’s 5-2 triumph over Tampa Bay when he tried a wraparound midway through the third, only to have the puck flutter its way out to a wide open Benoit Pouliot. But the heroics of Rolston and Pouliot don’t happen without Chara, who has he did all night, brought the puck in deep into the offensive zone to apply more pressure on a team known for its stingy defense.
The secondary assist was Chara’s third of the night, a night on which Chara matched a career-high with three helpers and was honored before the game for becoming the latest and greatest member of the NHL’s 1000-game club.
“Yeah, those were big,” Rolston added. “Z had a great game, another great game for us. It’s huge, it’s huge ‘ if you can get the defensemen helping out, and especially against on team like that that collapses down all the time. It’s difficult to get anything going down low so it’s great to have defensemen contributing offensively.”
That’s exactly what Chara did when he took the puck midway through the first at the Tampa Bay blue line and charged around the zone like Wayne Gretzky, eventually running at the net, creating a scoring chance for Shawn Thornton when Dwayne Roloson left a juicy rebound.
“Basically, I get a puck on the blueline, I was trying to ride the blueline and then just kind of opened up and I really decided to challenge that seam and once I got a little bit more room, I was kind of deciding between a shot and pass,” Chara explained. “But again, everything was happened and I decided to take it to the net and we’ve always been taught when you do those things, good things happen and they did. We scored on the rebound, and it ended up being a good play.” Read the rest of this entry »