|Bruins-Flyers: Three points heading into Game 3||05.04.11 at 6:58 am ET|
Everyone knows what happened after Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals last year: a Flyers Game 4 victory followed by three more in what ended up being one of the most devastating ends to a season in Bruins history.
This time around, the Bruins have set about righting that wrong, if it’s possible, and they’re off to the best start they could have through two games: a 2-0 series lead. Even if they take Game 3, it won’t be anything new for a team that was in the same position a year ago, but they’ll be sitting pretty.
It looks like they’ll have to play Game 3 without Adam McQuaid, as the rookie defenseman sprained his neck trying to hit Mike Richards in Game 2. Expect Shane Hnidy to be in his place for the veterans second game this postseason. Hnidy played just 4:13 in Game 2 of the quarterfinals vs. the Canadiens when he filled in for an ill Zdeno Chara.
Injuries and substitutions aside, Wednesday’s game is a pivotal one. As the B’s saw last week, winning Game 3 when you’re down 2-1 can change plenty, and that’s what the Flyers will aim to do. On the other hand, if the B’s can grab a 3-0 series lead, they’ll be in good position to do what 99% of teams do with 3-0 leads. Here are a few quick points on where things stand entering a big game at the Garden:
KREJCI REMAINS KEY
Sure, the L’s didn’t start coming until game four, but the Bruins suffered a major loss in Game 3 last season when David Krejci broke his wrist. Without Krejci, the B’s weren’t the same team, and it had a lot to do with why Philadelphia was able to crawl back to make it a series.
This year, and after a pedestrian first round vs. the Canadiens, Krejci has been as a big a force as anyone else (except for perhaps Tim Thomas) through two games. After having difficulty finishing plays vs. the Habs, Krejci has lit up the Flyers to the tune of five points in two games, including the game-winner in overtime in Monday’s Game 2.
With Marc Savard making only a 25-game cameo, Krejci was the de facto top center on the team most of the year, yet he didn’t always play like it. Krejci’s a guy who runs hot and cold, but he’s showing that he’s using the right faucet when it counts.
The Bruins aren’t going to sit back and play the “what if” game with what they could have done with a healthy Krejci last year, but so far they’re finding out what they can do with him this year.
THE WINNING WAY: CIRCUMVENTING REGULATION, POWER PLAY?
Four overtime games, zero power play goals, and only one win in which they’ve outshot their opponent. Those are some of the interesting details of the Bruins’ postseason thus far, but they’ll take the results.
The B’s are in no way welcoming more OT games, but given that they’ve won all four they’ve played so far, they’ve got to like the reputation they’ve developed. Contests like Game 2 are ones they most certainly won’t win every time, as Thomas faced 32 shots in the third period and overtime, while the B’s mustered just 12 shots. As they say, a win’s a win. You’d think the B’s would just rather win the way they did in the 7-3 fashion in which they took Game 1.
As for the power play, the mystery of when “the streak” will finally end (they’re at 0-for-29 thus far in the playoffs), is growing in legend. Will it get to 30? 35? It looked better late in the second period Tuesday, and perhaps with the confidence of winning will come the confidence to get this ugly streak out of their heads. The B’s just need to make sure their power play looks more like it did in Game 2 than it did in Game 1, when the Flyers were easily gaining possession and sending it the length of the ice.
THOMAS HAS BEEN IN OCTOBER FORM IN THE PLAYOFFS
Blaming the goaltender would be absurd, but it would be fair to say after the first two games of the quarterfinals that Thomas wasn’t quite where he was earlier in the regular season. The rebounds were big, and the Habs were game-planning around them. Since then, the B’s netminder has played to the lights-out standard he set way back in October. The line of thinking back then was that if the Bruins could get that kind of performance in the postseason, they’d be tough to beat. Well, they’ve gotten that performance, and they sure are tough to beat.
As Brad Marchand pointed out after Game 2, the Bruins had no business winning that game. The Flyers came out harder, played a fantastic game and got 54 shots on Thomas. Yet Thomas was the exception to the rule that if a team can come out flying at home, they should win.
Consider that James van Riemsdyk, who had two goals in the first 9:31 of Game 2 but was stopped on his following bids, should have had even more than the hat trick he didn’t get (we make too many Ovechtrick jokes in this space, explaining the absence of an obvious reference here), but Thomas shut him down on a night nobody else could. Regardless of what an opposing team can throw out there, it seems Thomas, when at his best, trumps all. He may not have the numbers from the first month of the season, but he is playing like it and giving the B’s a great chance to win each night.
Wednesday, it will be interesting to see how each team comes out. The Flyers should be desperate to avoid a 3-0 deficit, but it would be hard to top the effort they gave in Game 2. The Bruins should come out stronger if they don’t want to leave it up to their goaltender again. Even if it does fall in Thomas’ hands, he proved in Game 2 that he can handle it.
|David Krejci wins it for Bruins in OT||05.02.11 at 10:42 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — It took some extra time and some extra nail-biting, but the Bruins grabbed a 2-0 series lead over the Flyers in the Eastern Conference semifinals Monday thanks to a 3-2 overtime victory. David Krejci scored the game-winner at 14:00 of the first overtime period. It was Krejci’s third goal the last two games, and the Bruins’ fourth overtime victory this postseason.
The Flyers jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the game’s first 10 minutes thanks to a pair of goals from James van Riemsdyk. The 21-year old beat Tim Thomas 29 seconds into the contest to give the Flyers the lead, and he followed it at 9:31 with a power play goal.
The B’s would come roaring back, as Chris Kelly put a puck past Brian Boucher with traffic in front of the net at 12:50, with Brad Marchand scoring 1:25 later. The teams played to a scoreless second period, though Boucher would leave with an apparent hand injury after from a Johnny Boychuk slap shot. Boucher was replaced by Sergei Bobrovsky for the remainder of the period, but would return in the third and play the rest of the game.
Thomas made 42 saves in regulation, while Boucher stopped 28. Bobrovsky saved all six shots he saw.
The teams will now head to Boston, where they will play Games 3 and 4 at TD Garden on Wednesday and Friday, respectively.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- The Bruins have trailed by multiple goals on the road twice this postseason, and have come back to tie it in both instances. The B’s trailed by a pair in the second period of Game 4 of the quarterfinals vs. the Canadiens and went on to win the game in overtime, and once they got going, they needed less than three minutes to come back from the Flyers’ 2-0 lead in the first period.
- This is some start to the series for Marchand. After totaling an impressive five points in the Montreal series, the rookie has four points, including three goals, in the first two contests of the quarterfinals. His goal on Monday was a big one, as his snipe on a wrist shot in the first period tied the game at two. He did have one of the occasional moments that comes with his play when he took a cross-checking penalty 3:21 into the third period.
- Chris Kelly can say he hates his cage all he wants, but the fact of the matter is that he’s had six points in six games since first donning in in Game 4 of the quarterfinals vs. the Canadiens. It’s either a good-luck charm or perhaps there’s far more to Kelly than was initially seen when the B’s traded for him in February.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- Adam McQuaid left the game in the first period and did not return. The rookie defenseman went to hit Mike Richards in the Boston zone, but it seem his stick hit Richards’ skate, causing him to trip over it and go head-first into the boards. He was taken to Jefferson Hospital for evaluation. If he is unable to play in Game 3, you can expect Shane Hnidy — unless Steve Kampfer is ready to return.
- The Flyers really applied the pressure in the third period, with 22 shots begin fired on Tim Thomas. Luckily for the Bruins, their netminder was up for the challenge and shut down many serious bids from Philadelphia. The B’s had seven shots in the third period.
- JVR has been a thorn in Boston’s side, and there’s no question about it. The 21-year-old New Jersey native has scored three goals in the first two games of the series, even after Thomas stoned him on a 2-on-1 with Nikolay Zherdev in Game 1. The UNH product has now scored in four straight games, and three straight playoff games against the Bruins. He had the goal late in the first period of Game 7 against the B’s that started the Flyers’ comeback.
The flashy play from van Riemsdyk wasn’t limited to just his scoring. He had a boat-load of opportunities for the Flyers Monday on a night in which he was clearly the best player on the ice. Among his chances was a breakaway in which he missed the net with Dennis Seidenberg giving chase.
- Speaking of defensemen, Zdeno Chara most definitely gave Danny Briere a little extra something in front of the Bruins’ bench with 2:39 remaining in the game, going off for roughing and giving the Flyers a big power play at the wrong time.
|Andrew Ference on D&C: ‘The glove got stuck. I paid my fine’||04.25.11 at 10:06 am ET|
Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference joined the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to talk about the playoff series vs. the Canadiens. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Ference was fined $2,500 for giving the middle finger to the Canadiens crowd after scoring in Game 4. He still insists his glove got stuck and it was not intentional. “I’m standing by it,” he said. “It would be a lot more interesting if I didn’t. But I paid the fine for it. I’m glad it wasn’t on purpose or else I could get suspended. … The glove got stuck. I paid my fine.”
Discussing the fact that there is so much violence on the ice and he got fined for something that did not hurt anyone physically, Ference said: “We’re a sport of contradictions. It kind of fits our little world that we live in. We have some crazy violence in our sport, but we’re also pretty easy guys to get along with, to go out for a beer with.”
Ference said he’s prepared for the Montreal crowd to boo him Tuesday night. “I’d much rather hear that than their cheering and their little song that they’ve got there,” he said, adding: “It’s fun. Honestly, it’s awesome. We go up there and it is a crazy place to play because they’re nuts about hockey and about their team. … Honestly, that’s pretty cool to play in front of. It’s great to play at home where everybody’s cheering you on, but to have that many people who really hate your team, it’s pretty cool. It’s fun.”
Injured Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty tweeted a joke about Bruins rookie Brad Marchand‘s big nose during Saturday night’s game (he later removed the tweet and apologized). Ference responded with sarcasm. “That’s way worse than the bird. That’s going after somebody’s physical appearance. We never bug Marchand about his nose. I didn’t even notice it was big. Is it big?” he said to laughs from the hosts.
Added Ference: “God forbid the time when we get that politically correct.”
Asked if it’s difficult to bounce back from an overtime loss — or win — and be ready to play right from the start in the next game, Ference said the veterans shouldn’t have any problem. “I think guys are pretty good about walking away from games and kind of hitting reset,” he said. “I don’t know — everybody’s different. When you’re real young it’s harder to control your emotions. But when you get older or have been to the playoffs a couple of times, like most of our guys on our team have, it’s a lot easier to move past either one of [a win or a loss].”
Ference said the margin between winning or losing these tight games often is “dumb luck” and that he enjoys the extra sessions. “I actually like overtime better than the regular game because there’s no TV timeouts. You just go, and it really goes by fast,” he said. “If you can roll your lines and your defense pairs, you can get into a very good rhythm.
“I love overtime. Everybody in the stands is going crazy. Every shot, you’re kind of holding your breath, for and against. It’s great. It’s enjoyable. It’s fun to play in.”
|What history can teach the Bruins in the the next week||04.24.11 at 12:26 pm ET|
History can be a funny thing in sports.
It can be a teacher. It can be a guide. It can provide motivation.
If you’re the Boston Bruins, the next two days, it’s going to be all of the above.
The Bruins want to close out the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night in Game 6 because if they don’t they are going to hear about 2010 again. No, it’s not like they were up 3-0 against the Habs like they were against the Flyers in the Eastern semis last year but they are going to be asked about how hard it is for them to close a team out.
Just ask their coach.
“I think we’ve experienced that last year, right?” Claude Julien asked rhetorically in the afterglow of Game 5 Saturday night. “We don’t want to bring that up, but unfortunately it is what it is. That last win is a tough one, we recognize that. We need to go to Montreal with the intentions of winning that game and playing to win that game. We need to understand it’s probably going to be the toughest game of the series. When teams are playing for their lives they come out with their best effort. And we have to be ready for that.”
Then again, experience is what you make it – like Brad Marchand and Nathan Horton who are playing in their first playoffs. Marchand scored the first goal Saturday and Horton put in the game-winner in double-overtime.
“It was a huge goal for him,” Julien said of Horton. “I wasn’t worried about the fact he hasn’t played in the playoffs because he is a guy that competes all the time. That is one reason why he wanted to come to Boston was to be on an Original Six playoff team. I’m sure he is pretty happy. That has got to be his biggest goal but I think he has been great for us.”
Before the meltdown against Philly last year, there was the stunning Game 7 overtime loss to the Hurricanes in the Eastern semis in 2009 that kept a 53-win team on the sidelines as the NHL held its own final four party.
But having faced those pressure situations in past playoffs may finally be paying dividends. In Games 4 and 5, the Bruins have shown tremendous poise, to go along with great goaltending from Tim Thomas, Michael Ryder and Zdeno Chara.
“We’ve been through a lot the last few years and this was something different,” said Milan Lucic, the player who scored twice in Game 7 last year against Philly before the lights went out on the B’s offense. “Obviously this year going down the first two games at home and having to go to a building where we haven’t won all year and try to even up the series.
“But I think our focus so far is after those first two games wasn’t on the big picture like it was on the first two games. After we were down, the focus was just on, okay, forget about what’s going to happen. Let’s just worry about what we need to do next and what we’re going to do that next shift and that’s what is getting us in a bit of a groove here.”
The Bruins need to make sure the music doesn’t suddenly stop in Montreal Tuesday night.
|Video: Inside the Bruins Locker Room, Game 5||at 1:00 am ET|
Bruins forward Brad Marchand would have been a popular guy either way on Saturday night, as he scored the Bruins’ lone goal of regulation in a game the B’s went on to win in double overtime. Yet before he even put his first career playoff goal past Carey Price more than four minutes into the third period, there was a buzz surrounding the 22-year-old thanks to injured Habs forward Max Pacioretty.
Out since taking a hit into the stanchion on March 8 from Zdeno Chara, Pacioretty tweeted after the second period that “this game is longer than marchands [sic] nose.”
At times a very interesting quote during the regular season, Marchand did not take the bait Saturday, downplaying the significance of the tweet, which Pacioretty later deleted and apologized for.
“I don’t know what kind of reaction I should [have],” Marchand said. “It happens.”
Minutes after the tweet surfaced, Marchand scored to give the B’s a 1-0 lead.
“I didn’t know [about the tweet at the time].” he said. “I scored quickly after, but it’s always nice to just kind of rub it in a little.”
The rookie winger did note that he will not get on twitter, saying “twitter is not for me” and adding that he would probably get himself in trouble if he began using it.
Asked whether he feels he’s a bit more creative with his trash talk, Marchand laughed and said “yeah, on the ice, but that’s going to stay on the ice.”
Marchand’s fellow rookies, Tyler Seguin and Steven Kampfer, are the only Bruins using twitter.
|Nathan Horton sinks Habs in double overtime||04.23.11 at 11:07 pm ET|
By DJ Bean and Scott McLaughlin
Nathan Horton beat Carey Price on a rebound with 10:57 remaining in the second overtime Saturday, giving the Bruins a 2-1 win in Game 5 and a 3-2 series lead.
Brad Marchand got the Bruins on the board at 4:33 of the third period, beating Price for his first career playoff goal. The lead would later be relinquished as Jeff Halpern tied it at 13:56, breaking up Tim Thomas‘s shutout bid.
In skating to more than two scoreless periods, the teams made the 44 minutes of shutout hockey the longest a game in the series had gone without a goal. Prior to Saturday, a goal had been scored no later than 8:13 into the first period.
The teams will next play on Tuesday in Montreal for Game 6 at the Bell Centre; a win will permit the Bruins to advance to the conference semi-finals. If necessary, Game 7 will be played the following day at TD Garden.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- Milan Lucic finally got involved on offense. After leading the team in goals during the regular season and tying for the team lead in points, he had just five shots and no points through the first four games of the series. He got the primary assist on the game-winner, and he did a much better job of making his presence known in Game 5. He led all skaters with seven shots on goal, consistently went in hard on the forecheck and found himself with a few quality scoring chances around the net.
- Lucic wasn’t the only one shooting for the Bruins in the first period, as their 12 shots on Price marked just the second time this series that the Bruins have hit double-digits in first-period shots on goal. It didn’t pay off Saturday for either team, but the B’s have the right idea.
- Michael Ryder was a temporary fan-favorite before the game thanks to his Game 4 heroics, but the crowd really took it to a new level in the first period when Ryder made what at the time was the save of the game, stopping Tomas Plekanec with Thomas way out of the net.
In addition to his work as a part-time netminder (he actually played the position in ball hockey back in his Canadiens days), Ryder continued to get chances Saturday as well, though none made their way past Price.
- Marchand came up with a clutch goal on a night in which he’d been made popular for the wrong reasons. First, he nearly went face-first into the ice in the second period while attempting to throw down with Plekanec on a play that earned each player a roughing minor.
At the second period’s conclusion, Max Pacioretty — possessing villain status around these parts for shoving Zdeno Chara and jumping Steven Kampfer at different points this season, but more widely recognized as the victim of Chara/a Montreal stanchion from March 8 — tweeted that the game was “longer than marchands [sic] nose.” Pacioretty deleted the tweet shortly after and apologized.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- The Bruins probably would have preferred it if Benoit Pouliot remained in the lineup for the Habs, as Halpern was able to score the equalizer in his second game back in the lineup. Halpern got back in for the Canadiens on Thursday after missing Games 1 and 2 with a lower-body injury.
- Boston struggled in the faceoff circle, as Montreal won 33 of 57 draws through the end of regulation. The subpar performance on draws didn’t have a huge effect on the game until they lost a defensive zone faceoff that directly led to Halpern’s game-tying goal late in the third. The Canadiens were also able to kill some time when the Bruins were on the power play by winning faceoffs in their own end and sending the puck down the river. The B’s actually did a much better job in the first overtime, winning 14 of the 20 draws in the frame.
- The Bruins went 0-for-3 on the power play — including missing out on a chance to end it with a man advantage in the first overtime — and are now 0-for-15 in the series. They got some nice setups and some decent looks at the net, but they need to find a way to score on the man advantage, plain and simple. They still seem too lackadaisical when it comes to getting traffic in front and digging for rebounds. Shots from the point can be the best power-play strategy when you’re getting screens, deflections and rebounds, but the Bruins aren’t getting much of any of that right now. They’re starting to get some dirty goals at even strength; now they just have to carry that over to the power play.
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