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Tim Thomas sent the right message to Bruins between periods 05.07.11 at 4:18 am ET
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The Bruins were able to break a 1-1 tie in the third period in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals thanks to a snapshot from Johnny Boychuk, Milan Lucic‘s second goal of the game, and a couple of empty net goals courtesy of Brad Marchand and Daniel Paille en rout to sweeping the Flyers Friday night.

The win was just the latest example of what has been a season-wide trend for the Bruins. The Bruins’ 94 third-period goals in the regular season ranked second in the NHL, while they had a league-best 57 goals against in the final 20 minutes. The biggest case in the regular season was their five-goal showing to come from behind in the third against the Penguins back in November, but the most recent, and now most important, one came Friday. Tim Thomas knew the B’s had it in them, so between the second and third period, he spoke up and said so.

“It was an actual comment that I made to the team, was ‘third periods are ours,'” Thomas recalled after the game. “I just said that to reinforce and to remind guys that that’s the way it had been all year and hopefully help their confidence.”

It sure looked like it helped their confidence. After the Flyers got momentum in the second period on Kris Versteeg‘s goal, the Bruins were able to come out and make it a 2-1 game 2:42 into the third on Boychuk’s blast.

“Well, the result was great,” Thomas said. “We played a really good third period, but you did see a little bit of the fatigue set in because we weren’t getting pucks deep there a few times at the far blue line. It was just a couple of mistakes that we don’t normally make and stuff, but I think guys battled through it and just made sure to be even safer.”

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Brad Marchand, Daniel Paille, Milan Lucic
Lightning doesn’t strike twice, but it awaits: Bruins sweep Flyers 05.06.11 at 10:42 pm ET
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By DJ Bean and Scott McLaughlin

The Bruins finished off the Flyers with a 5-1 win, sweeping the Eastern Conference semifinals in four games and advancing to the conference finals for the first time since 1992. The Bruins will next face the Lightning, who also swept their semifinals series vs. the Capitals.

Johnny Boychuk sent a blast from the point over the glove of Sergei Bobrovsky at 2:42 of the third period to break a 1-1 tie. It was Boychuk’s second goal of the playoffs, both of which have come in series-clinching games this postseason.

Milan Lucic had two goals for Boston in the win. With Daniel Carcillo in the box for cross-checking, Lucic put the Bruins on the board at 12:02, scoring his first goal of the playoffs and giving Boston its first 5-on-4 goal this postseason. The Flyers would apply minimal pressure throughout the rest of the first period, but got on the board thanks to a goal from deadline acquisition Kris Versteeg. Lucic added his second of the night on a breakaway in the third period. Brad Marchand and Daniel Paille added empty netters.

Tim Thomas made 22 saves in the winning effort. It was the second straight game in which he allowed just one goal.

The Bruins will host the Lightning in Games 1 of 2 of the conference finals. The schedule of the series is currently unknown, though it may depend on when the Western Conference finals are set. San Jose and Vancouver hold 3-1 series leads over the Red Wings and Predators, respectively.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

– Lucic finally broke out of what was statistically a postseason-long scoring slump by picking up his first goal since March 22. He had played much better in this series than in a pedestrian first-round vs. the Canadiens, so it was fitting that he be rewarded with a big goal on the score sheet before the second round was over. Going forward, the B’s will need more like that from their 30-goal-scorer.

– The Bruins could let out the smallest of sighs of relief after their 5-on-3 goal in Game 3, but getting their first 5-on-4 goal didn’t come until Lucic killed two birds with one stone. Nathan Horton hit Lucic with a pass on the doorstep to end the 5-on-4 drought and give Boston its second power play goal in the last two games (and of the playoffs).

– The Flyers turned up the pressure once the Bruins took a 2-1 lead, but the B’s responded to the challenge by getting in shooting lanes and preventing Philly from getting pucks to the front of the net. The Flyers tried to get shots from the point with traffic in front, but the Boston forwards did an excellent job of getting right on top of the Philly defensemen and not giving them anything to shoot at. Chris Kelly led the effort with with three blocks.

– Another game vs. Philadelphia, another point for David Krejci. Boston’s first-line center has 18 points (five goals, 13 assists) over his last 13 games vs. Philadelphia. Krejci picked up a helper on Lucic’s first-period goal.

– The Bruins drew three penalties in the first by just moving their feet and attacking on offense. James van Riemsdyk went off for a hook when he couldn’t catch up to Lucic, who was driving hard to the net in search of a centering pass. Then Gregory Campbell forced his way to the front of the net from below the goal line and drew a cross check on Daniel Carcillo. A few minutes later, Claude Giroux went to the box for a trip after Tomas Kaberle cut inside him on an aggressive entry into the offensive zone. The power play resulting from Carcillo’s infraction ended with the Bruins’ second power-play goal in as many games.

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WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

– The B’s had an injury scare for just one of th least guys they could stand to lose. A hit from Claude Giroux in the third period sent Patrice Bergeron downb the tunnel for the B’s, and he would not return to the game. Bergeron leads the Bruins with 12 points this postseason.

– Bad turnover by Brad Marchand in the Flyers’ zone to create a 2-on-0 for the Flyers, and it cost the B’s. Kris Versteeg beat Tim Thomas for his first goal of the playoffs. Versteeg was once property of the B’s, but was traded for Brandon Bochenski in 2007.

-The Bruins obviously want and need Zdeno Chara to be physical, but with eight seconds left in the first, he took it a little too far. When Scott Hartnell took exception to Chara trying to clear out the front of the Boston net, Chara responded by dropping his gloves and then dropping Hartnell with one punch. Unfortunately for Chara, Hartnell never dropped his gloves and Chara got a double minor to put the Flyers on the power play. Two minutes without Hartnell in exchange for four minutes without Chara is a deal the Flyers will take 11 times out of 10.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Brad Marchand, Daniel Paille, Johnny Boychuk
Brian Leetch on M&M: ‘Back to the drawing board’ for B’s power play at 2:17 pm ET
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NHL Hall of Fame defenseman Brian Leetch joined the Mut & Merloni show Friday afternoon to talk about the Bruins, who will attempt to close out the Flyers in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Friday night. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

“I would say there’ll be no comeback this year, but I don’t know what’s going to happen tonight,” Leetch said.

Tim Thomas is the clear-cut MVP of this series, and Leetch said his ability to be far superior to whomever is in the Flyers net makes a comeback highly unlikely. “He’s the biggest difference-maker in this series,” Leetch said of Thomas. “I think the teams are pretty well-matched, pretty even others. If he continue to play this way, I can’t see Philly getting back and winning this in seven.

“Whether they win or not, I don’t know. All the games have a tendency to be close when both goaltenders are playing well. But the chance that Philly’s goaltenders are able to win in four straight, I don’t see it happening.”

The Bruins scored a 5-on-3 power-play goal in Wednesday’s 5-1 victory and now are 1-for-32 in the postseason, but Leetch said it’s still an obvious concern. “Now they’re 1-for-whatever, after being 0-for-whatever,” he said. “Because the goal wasn’t a game-winner and wasn’t 5-on-4, I think it’s just back to the drawing board for the next game.

“But just them winning and playing better 5-on-5, the feeling going through the team, the power play has taken a back seat to how well the other aspects of the game are going. It would be nice, certainly, for that to be a plus for the Bruins, because they’re doing so many other things well that if they can get that power play going it’s a plus.

“It starts over from the beginning of good breakout, good entering the zone, getting those opportunities to get that shot, and then the biggest deal is getting that puck in the net. They’ll go back to the drawing board tonight.

Brad Marchand has given the Bruins a spark with his aggressive play. “It’s been enormous for the Bruins,” Leetch said of the rookie winger. “In the playoffs, he’s a guy that just seems to be energized by being in these pressure situations and having the spotlight on them and everybody watching these playoff games. His feet just don’t stop moving. You watch from shift to shift, he’s not gliding once out there.He’s going to the net, and when the whistle blows, he’s right in the middle of the action. You notice him every shift on that ice.”

Read More: Brad Marchand, Brian Leetch, Tim Thomas,
Bruins/Flyers: Everything you need to know for Game 4 at 2:38 am ET
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The Bruins can bust out the brooms and prepare for the Eastern Conference finals by eliminating the Flyers Friday night at TD Garden. Of course, given that the B’s could get only the first three wins of the series last year, four is the only number on anyone’s mind. With that being said, here’s a preview based around the number.

Four things the Bruins have to do:

Don’t even think about letting up. If the B’s have any doubt as to whether the Flyers can bring it, all they have to do is think back to Game 2. The Flyers dominated them in that contest, and the B’s were bailed out by Tim Thomas. In Game 3, it looked like the Bruins feared a 2-1 series even more than the Flyers feared 3-0, and the result was a contest in which Philadelphia was clearly outmatched.

Keep on hitting. The Flyers won’t be able to come out and make an early statement if the B’s are as physical as they were in Game 3. Brad Marchand racked up seven hits through the first two periods, including a big hit on Ville Leino with the Flyers on the power play in the first.

Continue to play like it’s scoreless at all times. One thing that hasn’t gotten much attention with these Bruins this postseason is that the scoreboard hasn’t impacted them much. They fell behind by a pair of goals on the road in both Game 4 of the quarterfinals vs. the Canadiens and in Game 2 this series and came back to win both games. Also, the Bruins didn’t seem to slow down at all throughout Wednesday’s Game 3 despite leading in semi-blowout fashion.

Stay healthy. One way or another, the Bruins are going to win this series, so when they face Tampa Bay in the conference finals, they’ll need to do so with all of their stars. Losing David Krejci last year was disastrous.

Four numbers:

– If you’re happy with how Thomas has played against the Flyers thus far, consider that he fared better vs. the Lightning (1.67 goals against average, .950 save percentage) than he did against Philadelphia (1.96 GAA, .942 save percentage) in the regular season. His .935 save percentage this postseason is second only to Dwayne Roloson, who has a .941 mark for the Lightning.

Nathan Horton‘s Gordie Howe hat trick (goal, assist, fight) Wednesday was the first of his career. His five playoff goals puts him in a tie with Krejci for the team lead.

– The Bruins won 43 of 55 face-offs in Game 3, including a perfect 8-for-8 from Krejci and and a 17-for-19 showing from Patrice Bergeron.

– While Wednesday marked the first game this postseason that the B’s scored a power play goal, it also marked the first contest this series in which the Flyers didn’t score on the man advantage. Philadelphia went 0-for-2 on the power play.

Four key players:

Whichever Flyers goaltender gets the start: Rhode Island native Brian Boucher has lost all three games this series and has been yanked in two of them (not including briefly leaving Game 2 with an injury). Sergei Bobrovsky has allowed three goals to the B’s in 55:15 this series.

David Krejci: The dominance continues. Including the playoffs, Krejci has had at least one point in his last 12 games against the Flyers, totaling five goals and 12 assists for 17 points. The B’s are 11-0-1 in those games.

Tim Thomas: The Vezina nominee allowed three goals in Game 1, two in Game 2, and one in Game 3. The numbers are trending in the right direction, and he’s really stepped it up since his human start to the Montreal series.

James van Riemsdyk: The former No. 2 overall pick has come a long way since his college days at New Hampshire, and he’s a guy the Bruins rightfully focused on Wednesday due to his two-goal, eight shot performance in Game 2. Van Riemsdyk has been the Flyers’ best player in a series in which they’ve had few candidates, leading them in shots on goal in each of the first three games (his eight tied Mike Richards in Game 1).

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Brad Marchand, Brian Boucher, David Krejci
An angry Brad Marchand admits he was ‘just running around trying to kill guys’ 05.05.11 at 1:06 pm ET
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With all the talk about being up 3-0 for the second straight year against the Flyers in the playoffs, “killer instinct” is one cliche that will be brought up over the next 24 hours.

And no one has had more of it than Brad Marchand this series against Philadelphia – even if it’s resulted in the occasional undisciplined penalty.

But Claude Julien and the Bruins will gladly take that if it means finally getting that fourth win against the Flyers Friday night and putting their nightmare of 2010 to rest.

“It was one of those games where I was angry the whole time, and my emotions kind of get the best of me, just trying to run around and kill guys,” Marchand admitted after Wednesday’s 5-1 butt-whipping of the Flyers. “So, it was just one of those games. It’€™s not like that every night but tonight was one of those nights.”

But the funny part is that Marchand didn’t take any penalties Wednesday night. He just crushed Flyer after Flyer, like everyone on the James van Riemsdyk line that nearly beat the Bruins in Game 2 Monday night. The Bruins didn’t want any player or line doing to them what JVR did in Game 2. They wanted someone to get under the Flyers collective skins and Marchand was just the guy.
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Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Boston Bruins, Brad Marchand, NHL
Bruins-Flyers: Three points heading into Game 3 05.04.11 at 6:58 am ET
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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.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Brad Marchand, David Krejci, James Van Riemsdyk
David Krejci wins it for Bruins in OT 05.02.11 at 10:42 pm ET
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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.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Brad Marchand, Brian Boucher, Chris Kelly
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