|Bruins-Canucks preview: Three keys, stats, and players to watch||06.06.11 at 1:54 am ET|
The Bruins have a tall task ahead of them as they look to overcome an 0-2 hole and turn the Stanley Cup finals into an actual series. Both games have been determined by just one goal thus far, and though the Bruins have played poorly from the most part, the first two games have shown the B’s can hang with the Canucks, even if they haven’t totally shown up yet. With the number three in mind, here’s a preview of Monday’s Game 3.
THREE THINGS THE BRUINS NEED TO DO
– Get better looks vs. Roberto Luongo and establish a net-front presence. We’ll say it until it changes, and it didn’t change enough in Game 2. The Canucks have been able to box the Bruins out so far in the series, but look at how the B’s scored their goals in Game 2. Milan Lucic buried a rebound from in front, and Mark Recchi redirected a shot in front of Luongo. When the Bruins were able to set up shop and do things from close range, the puck went in. It seems trying it any other way is an exercise in futility.
– Keep moving Zdeno Chara around on the power play. Recchi’s goal came as a result of Claude Julien moving Chara back to the point, but Julien should keep mixing it up when it comes to the Bruins’ mammoth captain. He still appeared to be a nuisance in front of Luongo in Game 1, so Julien should have enough confidence in Chara’s abilities in both areas to play him in different spots from power play to power play.
– Use the home crowd to their advantage. Whether or not they want to admit it, Rogers Arena was absolutely electric and had to have been a tough place to play. If the Garden can turn down the music and let the fans create an authentic atmosphere, maybe the Canucks can truly feel like they’re at an opponent’s home and not a wrestling match.
– Both the Bruins and Canucks have seen four of their last five games be determined by one goal. The Bruins are 2-3 in that span, while the Canucks are 4-1.
– The four goals Tim Thomas has allowed over the last three games ties this stretch with his best of the postseason. Thomas let in four goals over Games 2 through 4 of the conference semifinals vs. the Flyers, though the difference is that the Bruins won all three of those games and have lost two of the three games in this stretch.
– Brad Marchand has gone four games without scoring. In the other two instances this postseason in which he went four straight without a goal, he scored the following game.
THREE PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON
– Tim Thomas: He plays aggressive ‘ the sky is falling! As bad as the game-wining goal he allowed in overtime Saturday looked, the reaction by some suggest nobody has actually watched Thomas before. He’s all over the place, and he plays farther out of his net than most. It will be interesting to see how be performs in Game 3 given all the heat he’s been under for his style this series.
– Alexandre Burrows: The Bruins have every reason to be furious that Burrows wasn’t suspended for Game 2, though they’re not showing it. At any rate, their No. 1 concern should be finding away to stop the guy who showed Saturday that his offensive ability (2 G, A in Game 2) is just as sharp as his teeth.
– Rich Peverley: Where to play the speedy winger? Peverley has seen time on the second line, third line and fourth line (and the first if you want to count him taking one of Nathan Horton‘s shifts in Game 7 of the conference finals when Horton was banged up) in recent games. Peverley could continue to take some of Mark Recchi‘s shifts on the second line, or he could skate with Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder, as he did from late in the second period Saturday to the end of the contest. If and when Julien makes a move to get Shawn Thornton in the lineup at the expense of Tyler Seguin this series, the line of Kelly centering Peverley and Ryder would make sense.
Also, don’t rule out Peverley having a target on his back in Game 3. His two-handed slash to the back of Kevin Bieksa‘s knee didn’t go over well with Bieksa, his teammates or his coaches. Given the nature of the play, it shouldn’t have. Peverley really got away with one, and had he scored on his shot that followed the non-penalized slash, it would have looked even worse.
|The Bruins have another foe to contend with in Vancouver: The Green Men||06.04.11 at 6:50 pm ET|
After a series-opening game of fights, bites and a last-second goal, it’s clear the Bruins will have their hands full in the Stanley Cup finals. As if dealing with one of the NHL’s most talented rosters wasn’t enough, players like Brad Marchand are finding that Vancouver’s advantage even extends into the stands.
We’re speaking, of course, about the Green Men.
If you haven’t heard about these goons already, here’s the short version: a pair of Canucks fans dress up in full neon green spandex body suits for every home game, transforming themselves into faceless green blobs in the crowd. Their purpose? Revving up the arena, dancing like madmen, and most of all, heckling opponents in the penalty box from their front row seats. Here’s just a small sample of their work.
The NHL has banned “Force” and “Sully” from banging on the penalty box glass and performing their signature handstands, but the masked marauders still managed to get under Marchand’s skin during Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals.
In an interview with The Big Show, Green Man Adam Forsythe accused the 23-year-old forward of foul play while serving a penalty Wednesday night.
“We were sprayed with some water by [Marchand],” Forsythe claimed. “We were giving it to him a little bit, and yeah, he just sprayed water right through the glass.” You can listen to the full interview on The Big Show audio on demand page.
|Brad Marchand on M&M: ‘There were a few cheap shots out there’||06.03.11 at 2:25 pm ET|
Bruins winger Brad Marchand joined the Mut & Merloni show Friday afternoon from Vancouver, as he and his teammates prepare for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals Saturday night. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
Marchand said the Bruins are working on fixing the mistakes they made in Wednesday’s 1-0 loss in Game 1.
“We just have to clean it up a little,” he said. “We were a little sloppy in areas. We still didn’t put our best game forward, so we just have to clean up a few areas around the blue line and in our own zone.”
The Canucks are known for their skill, but they also showed a propensity for stirring up trouble in the opening game.
“There were a few cheap shots out there,” Marchand said. “I got a little rattled about that when I got speared when I was going to the bench, and I ended up taking a penalty because of it. But we do, we hate this team, they hate us. There were a lot of guys running around out there, so I think it’s only going to get worse as the series goes on. There’s no love between us right now.”
Asked how the B’s can stay away from retaliating and receiving penalties, Marchand said: “It’s tough. They’ve got a few guys over there that like to play that style, try to suck guys in. Me being an emotional guy, I’m going to be one of the guys they go after. So, I have to make sure that I just kind of skate away from it, anytime someone’s talking to me, just kind of turn my head and skate away. It’s tough, though. You want to go back, but that’s exactly what they want. We just have to skate away from everything right now and play between the whistles. If we do that, maybe we’ll frustrate them. I think that’s the biggest thing we can do.”
Canucks forward Alex Burrows appeared to bite Bruins center Patrice Bergeron‘s finger Wednesday but escaped punishment from the league.
Said Marchand: “It’s a tough situation there. I think if we weren’t in the finals, maybe it might be a different situation. But it’s tough to give a guy a suspension in the finals. There’s so much riding on the line right now. That’s a tough situation. But I don’t think you much greasier than that.”
One of Vancouver’s Green Men, an individual who goes by the name “Force,” joined The Big Show Friday and said that he was on the receiving end of a water bottle spray from Marchand while taunting the player from just outside the penalty box.
Said Marchand: “I think those guys in those green masks, they’re too ugly to show their faces in public, so they’re just trying to cover up their faces while they go to the game. ‘¦ They’re just trying to get a taste of the life. They paid a couple of grand to watch us play, so they can enjoy it.”
|Bruins hold last regular practice before Stanley Cup finals||05.31.11 at 8:05 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — Only extra defenseman Shane Hnidy was missing from Tuesday’s Bruins practice at Rogers Arena. The practice, which lasted about an hour, was the team’s final regular practice before the Stanley Cup finals begin Wednesday vs. the Canucks.
Rich Peverley skated with the second line again, donning the gold sweater along with Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi. Peverley took shifts on the line in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, spelling Recchi from time to time.
|Bruins players: Canucks are only ones in Stanley Cup finals so far||05.25.11 at 1:43 pm ET|
TAMPA — In case you haven’t heard, one team is in the Stanley Cup finals. After tying it with 14 seconds left in regulation and getting the game-winner in overtime from Kevin Bieksa, the Canucks have moved past the Sharks and into the the finals.
“I watched the tying goal and I was like ‘I’m going to bed,'” Dennis Seidenberg said Wednesday. “I went to bed, and this morning I watched the goal and was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s a tough one to lose on.'”
Of course, now the Bruins know that they have a team waiting for them. All they need is one more win vs. the Lightning before it becomes all about Vancouver and the Cup. They can close it out in Game 6 Wednesday night and send Boston into a frenzy. They were quick to note on the morning of the game that while they know that one team is in, they don’t know who else is.
“Obviously, you know that whoever goes through this series is going to play Vancouver, but at the same time, we don’t know who’s going through,” rookie forward Brad Marchand said. “If we start thinking that it’s us, then Tampa’s going to come back and take over control of the series. We have to make sure we don’t worry about that and just worry about our game.”
Shawn Thornton has been in this situation before. In fact, for the man who won a Cup with the Ducks in 2007 after sinking the Red Wings in the west for a spot in the finals, it’s comically similar.
“I was actually in the exact same position. I was in the press box watching Games 5 and 6,” Thornton, a healthy scratch since Game 3 this round, said Wednesday morning. “I remember. It was against Detroit, and it was the same type of thing. ‘¦ Two good teams, and a tough series.”
Now that he’s once again one win from going back, the last thing he wants to talk about is the finals. In fact, he politely declined talking about the next round.
“I can’t speak for everybody, but my mentality is I never look past what’s going on here. If you start looking [ahead] and then you forget about what you’re [doing]. That’s not even in our heads. It shouldn’t be, anyways,” Thornton said. “We have to focus on Game 6 tonight, and that should be our only focus.”
One more win, and a very realistic possibility becomes even more real. The players aren’t trying to let the fact that a team and Cup awaits them, even if it’s a finals matchup some saw coming.
“I think the whole playoffs, we’ve kind of seen who could be possible opponents, and for me at the beginning, I thought it was Vancouver,” Seidenberg said. “They were one of the strongest teams, but at the end, it doesn’t really matter who it is. Right now, our main focus is on tonight and focusing on our game and making sure we’re gonna win tonight.”
|Brad Marchand: We better show up in the first period||at 1:05 pm ET|
TAMPA — Bruins rookie standout Brad Marchand admitted Wednesday morning, just hours before Game 6, that the pressure is on the Bruins to close out the Lightning tonight and avoid sending the Eastern Conference finals back to Boston for a Game 7 Friday night at TD Garden.
“Yeah, we want to,” Marchand said. “There’s definitely a lot of pressure. If it goes to a Game 7, anything can happen and it’s a situation we don’t really want to be in. We have to make sure we put our best game forward tonight and give ourselves the best opportunity.
“We do have to keep our emotions in check. The Stanley Cup finals, that’s obviously the end goal but there’s still a long ways to go to get there. They’re going to have to play an amazing game tonight, there’s no question about that. We have to make sure we’re really ready to counter these guys and put on a good game here.”
The veteran he is, Daniel Paille had a slightly different take. He was more concerned with the end result than how they got there.
“I don’t think we feel any more pressure tonight than we did the last game,” Paille said. “Even though we started out slow, we responded well and came out with a big win. It shouldn’t be any more or less than the last game.”
Paille and Marchand would probably agree on one thing for sure – don’t expect the Bruins to get outshot 14-4 in the opening 20 minutes like they were on Monday, only to recover and score twice in the second and stabilize the game.
“We want to carry the momentum from the last game into our first period and make sure we have a big start,” Marchand said. “They’re going to come out flying tonight and try to build off that. We have to make sure we have a lot better first period than we did last game. We were nowhere to be seen in that first period [Game 5] and we have to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”
If the Bruins beat the Lightning tonight, they will face the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup finals after Vancouver advanced with a 3-2 win over San Jose in double overtime Tuesday night. Face-off tonight at St. Pete Times Forum is 8 p.m. ET.
|Bruins overcome rough start, take Game 5||05.23.11 at 10:49 pm ET|
By DJ Bean and Scott McLaughlin
The Bruins pulled the opposite of the first-period-only effort that cost them Game 4, and on Monday night at the TD Garden, they overcame a terrifying first 20 minutes in Game 5 to beat the Lightning, 3-1, and come within a win of reaching the Stanley Cup Finals.
With Tampa Bay leading 1-0 after dominating the first period and seeing Simon Gagne score his latest against the B’s, the Bruins got second-period goals from Nathan Horton and Brad Marchand to give Boston a 2-1 lead that they would hold until Rich Peverley made the final 3-1 on an empty-netter.
The Bruins didn’t get many shots on Tampa goalie Mike Smith (only four in the first period), but the two they did get past him proved to be enough. Boston’s 20 shots on goal stands as their lowest total this postseason.
Tim Thomas made 33 saves on the night, turning in a sensational performance that undoubtedly stands among his best this postseason. On a rather fascinating note, the team that has scored the first goal this series has now gone 2-3.
A late hit in from Steve Downie in the third period forced Johnny Boychuk down the tunnel, and he did not play in the final 10 minutes of the game.
The Bruins will have the opportunity to close out the series Wednesday night in Game 6 at St. Pete Times Forum.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– On the night, Thomas was superb. Downie was the biggest victim of Thomas’ play, as the Bruins netminder robbed him on multiple occasions. Thomas stopped Downie point-blank on a bang-bang play in the second, but made one of the best saves of his historic season in laying out to get his stick on what looked like a sure-fire game-tying goal. The Garden absolutely erupted when Thomas was shown on the big screen at the next stoppage.
– Brad Marchand finally showed up on the sheet, and not just for his dive in the second period. The 23-year-old rookie didn’t let Martin St. Louis take him out of the play him as he raced to the net to put bang home a beautiful pass from Patrice Bergeron down low. It was Marchand’s first point of the series, as he followed a six-point second round with goose-eggs and only five shots on goal in the first four games against the Lightning. Marchand’s overall performance continues to leave more to be desired, but he had flashes — such as a hard-nosed shift about five minutes into the third period — that suggest the B’s could be closer to seeing the Marchand they got to know and love over the regular season and throughout the first two rounds.
– The Bruins were beyond lucky to somehow end up winning the game, and an individual instance in which they lucked out was when Thomas barely got a piece of the puck on a great opportunity by Blair Jones early in the third. The contact Thomas could make with the puck was enough to it off send it off the post on its way away from harm. Jones was just as sure as any that he would score on the play, as he was celebrating as the puck took its new direction.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– The Bruins came out looking like a team totally unaware it was in Game 5 of the conference finals. From physicality to decision-making, it was an awful first period and one that should have seen a larger Lightning lead than 1-0. The Bruins had only four shots on Smith in the first period, and aside from one strong shift late in the first by the David Krejci line, there was little to no engagement from Boston’s forwards.
– Horton ultimately redeemed himself by scoring the tying goal in the second, but his two penalties before that were, for lack of a better word, dumb. In the final minute of the first, he laid a hit on Nate Thompson in the neutral zone despite the fact that the puck was already a good 10 feet behind him. Less than a minute after leaving the box, Horton went right back in when he slashed Hedman’s stick out of his hands after missing a big hit. The Bruins want and need Horton to play with an edge, but his two penalties Monday night clearly crossed the line.
– Not a good night for Tyler Seguin. He looked lost in all zones in the first period and took an obvious tripping penalty with the B’s lifeless and trailing 6:45 into the first. The rookie was taken off the third line late in the period by Claude Julien and was replaced on the wing by Peverley. He would play more in the second period, but had a turnover on a blind pass in the offensive zone that led to a Lightning rush that was saved by Andrew Ference.
– The power play was possibly the worst it’s been all playoffs, as impossible as that might sound. The Bruins registered zero (yes, zero) shots on goal on their first three power plays. Bad entries and bad passes were once again the name of the game for Boston’s man advantage. They struggled to get the puck in deep and gain possession, and when they did, they struggled to put passes on the tape, resulting in a number of easy clears for the Lightning. It’s one thing to not score on the power play; it’s another to not even get a shot. The one good sign on the power play was that Julien finally used Zdeno Chara as a net-front presence on the team’s last power play. They even got a shot on the fourth power play.