|National reaction to Cup finale: Toronto Sun teases Bruins||06.25.13 at 1:21 pm ET|
Tuesday’s copy of the Toronto Sun was a thank you card to the Blackhawks. Maple Leafs fans got a chance to watch the Bruins collapse in the final minutes of a crucial playoff game just like their team did in the first round to Boston, and it was celebrated with a bolded “Thanks!” on the cover of the Sun. It was even signed “Love, Toronto” at the bottom.
“This time, the final 76 seconds ended the Boston Bruins season,” wrote Sun columnist Steve Simmons. “This time, the miracle ending went against them.”
National Post columnist Bruce Arthur — a Toronto resident — drew a similar comparison to the end of the Maple Leafs-Bruins series in his column. However, his was not so much of a celebration of the reversal of the situation like the Sun cover, but more of a sense of awe that that type of miraculous finish could happen twice in the same building.
“It was familiar, though, if you had been here before,” Arthur wrote. “Boston got here with two goals in the final 1:22, 31 seconds apart with their goalie pulled, to escape Game 7 against Toronto in the first round. They came within a bouncing puck of ending that game in regulation, too. This time, the other guys pulled the goalie, scored the goals, won the game on a puck that managed — on a hot and humid night where the ice was dripping and melting and becoming the pockmarked surface of a moon — not to bounce. How it happened again, in the same building, a sideways mirror image, is impossible to say, except to say it’s hockey.”
The comparison to the Bruins victory over Toronto was not limited to Canadian publications. Larry Brooks, a columnist for the New York Post, drew the same comparison.
“It was Emile Francis, the old Cat, who once observed that hockey is a slippery game for after all, it is played on ice,” Brooks wrote. “Never was the sport more slippery than it was last night for the Bruins, who six weeks earlier had pulled off the most remarkable escape trick in NHL playoff history by scoring twice within 31 seconds in the final 1:22 of regulation to tie the Maple Leafs in Game 7 of the opening round before winning in OT.”
Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote his column on the joy of the Blackhawks final two goal-scorers, Brian Bickell and Dave Bolland. His piece described the scene on the ice after the game was done and the Blackhawks were celebrating.
“I see everyone in a Hawks uniform hugging each other in a big ball of wild celebration, and I see the vanquished Boston Bruins absolutely shocked out of their minds, heads down, shoulders sagged in defeat,” Morrissey wrote. “What had been a 2-1 lead fled the premises in the span of 17 seconds and gave way to a 3-2 Blackhawks victory. I can still hear the strange silence of a large stadium in shock and the faint whoops of Hawks players.”
|Pierre McGuire on D&C: Bruins ‘unbelievably resilient’||06.24.13 at 12:29 pm ET|
NBC sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Monday morning to give his thoughts on the Patrice Bergeron injury, Zdeno Chara’s play and the first impression of Carl Soderberg.
Bergeron, who left Game 5 with a “body injury,” did not participate in the morning skate prior to Game 6 Monday night. However, if Bergeron is unable to play, McGuire said he thinks that the Bruins can have success without their assistant captain.
“They can come back from it,” McGuire said. “It’s a big loss, but they can come back from it. This is one of the most resilient teams I have seen in the last seven years in the NHL. They are unbelievably resilient. So they can overcome it. It won’t be easy. I think everybody knows that. But I could see them overcoming it. This is where your core leadership steps in. This is where Dennis Seidenberg and Zdeno Chara, Milan Lucic take it to another level and everybody else follows.”
While Bergeron did not participate in the morning skate, McGuire said that it is a good sign for the Bruins that the 28-year-old center took the flight back from Chicago to Boston between games, because that may eliminate the idea that he suffered an internal injury.
“If you have a punctured lung, if you have a lacerated spleen, if you have any kind of internal — and this is from talking to doctors; I’m not a doctor but I’ve talked to doctors about it — if you have any type of internal injury like that or the potential for a punctured lung, they can’t put you on an aircraft,” McGuire said. “It’s just too dangerous. The fact that he was able to get on an aircraft and fly back home, I think that is positive more than negative.”
Without Bergeron and his defensive skill in the lineup, it puts more work on the shoulders of Chara, who has struggled in recent games. Chara is minus-5 in the last two games despite recording a goal and two assists in the process. McGuire said that Chara’s struggles are a result of good strategy from Chicago.
“You want to make the bigger person go back and get the puck,” McGuire said. “You want to put some physical pressure on him. You want to get him out of his comfort zone. If Zdeno Chara is allowed to get into a comfort zone, he can dominate a game. So Chicago has done the right thing by attacking him.
“The guy that has made probably the biggest difference on that has been Brian Bickell. Again, in-series adjustments by Chicago and Joel Quenneville by putting [Patrick] Kane and [Jonathan] Toews together, but also putting Bickell on that line and creating a snow plow effect so that that big body can go around and start bouncing some Bruins players.”
|Shawn Thornton on D&C: Bruins have to ‘win one game twice’||at 10:15 am ET|
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning to talk about the Bruins’ mindset entering a Game 6 elimination game.
With potentially one game left in the season, Thornton said the Bruins are going to need a sense of urgency in order to keep the Blackhawks from raising the Stanley Cup in Boston.
“It is human nature,” Thornton said. “The survival instinct kind of kicks in. Whether you notice it or not while you are out there, I think you give a little bit more. That’s why they always say the last game is the toughest game to get. Let’s hope that is the case again tonight for us.”
The Bruins were in this situation in 2011, as they topped the Canucks, 5-2, in Boston before winning Game 7 on the road, 4-0. While Thornton said the B’s have confidence that they can stave off elimination thanks to that prior experience, that doesn’t help them win unless the sense of urgency shows itself.
“We know that we have done it before, so the experience helps give you that knowledge that it can be done,” Thornton said. “But at the end of the day, what we did before doesn’t really matter if we don’t bring it on the ice. We’ve got to go play a hockey game, like you said.
“We kind of approach it as you’ve got to win one game twice. So, tonight, just focus on winning tonight and once you get to a Game 7, if you get to a Game 7, it is a whole different ballgame. So we are focused on just winning tonight. Win one game.”
With the series on the line, Thornton said he expects Claude Julien’s pregame speech to be more of a motivational one. At the same time, Thornton said that extra motivation already will be there for the Bruins.
“I’m sure tonight it will be a little bit more than just the X’s and O’s,” Thornton said. “I don’t know yet. I don’t know if it will be a [Vince Lombardi] speech, but I think there will be a little bit of chatter. You shouldn’t have to do that at this stage of the playoffs, either, though. If you can’t motivate yourself to get up for a Game 6 elimination game in the Stanley Cup finals, I think you’re in the wrong business.”
|Barry Pederson on D&C: Bruins ‘forwards last night were awful with puck management’||06.20.13 at 11:19 am ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Barry Pederson joined the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning to talk about the Bruins’ loss in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals.
The Blackhawks offense broke out with a six-goal performance in the game, which was more than the Bruins had allowed in their last four games combined. Pederson said that the Bruins defense struggled because the team’s forwards consistently turned the puck over in the neutral zone.
“Your defense creates your offense and it’s your forwards that create your team defense,” Pederson said. “Well the forwards last night were awful with puck management. Turnovers, of course that first goal with [Tyler] Seguin turning it over, but throughout the game Brad Marchand, [Milan] Lucic, they all struggled in areas where they had been very responsible at throughout the playoffs, not allowing outnumbered opportunities. You could also see that as that happened, the turnovers, the transition, Chicago’s speed started to jump in, they got some confidence, you saw [Duncan] Keith jumping in, [Brent] Seabrook, [Michal] Rozsival from the backside.”
Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg were a combined minus-5 on the night, in part due to their inability to keep Chicago forwards away from the front of the net. However, Pederson noted that the B’s forwards did not give them much help in the defensive zone like they had throughout the rest of the playoffs.
“If you can allow Chara and Seidenberg that even-up opportunity with two-on-two, there is no way [Tuukka Rask is not able to see shots through screens],” Pederson said. “They were coming at them with three-on-twos and four-on-twos. When you’re Chara and Seidenberg, when you see that, normally you are taking away their space by attacking defensively at them. Now you see you have an outnumbered opportunity you’ve got to back in. As soon as you back in you give up the blue line, and when you give up the blue line now Chicago can go east-west and not just north-south, which causes problems. As you back off and you have speed, now that allows Chicago to get in front of Tuukka with that front-net presence. You can’t get inside position, you can’t box out because they’re coming at you in waves.
“But again, that all started with poor puck management in the neutral zone, getting caught defensively, you saw a couple of times when you saw the Bruins defense do what they were supposed to do which was pinch, but there were no forwards behind them backing them up like there was earlier on in the playoffs.”
However, Pederson pointed out that the silver lining for the Bruins in Game 4 was that they seemed to have figured out Corey Crawford. All five goals went to the glove side, which reminded Pederson of the goalie the Bruins beat last time they were in the Stanley Cup finals.
“To me, as that game wore on last night, he looked exactly like Roberto Luongo having trouble with that glove,” Pederson said. “You watch him when he goes into that stance and he is anticipating a shot, instead of having his glove to his side where it should be, he has it up by his head. When he goes down, his glove has to go from by his ear all the way down to by his pads, and right in that area is where they were scoring.
“He didn’t look comfortable. It was almost like he was sitting there — and I can remember my baseball days playing second base saying, ‘Don’t hit the ball to me.’ He didn’t want that puck on him. It must have been overtime when he was sitting — that one dump in by [David] Krejci on a snap shot from the blue line gave him all kinds of trouble.”
|Doc Emrick on M&M: Tuukka Rask gives Bruins ‘check mark’ over Blackhawks||06.12.13 at 12:34 pm ET|
NBC Sports play-by-play caller Mike “Doc” Emrick joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday morning to break down the Stanley Cup finals between the Bruins and Blackhawks.
Emrick said he expects the series to be almost dead even, and he did not offer a prediction for who would raise the Stanley Cup in the end. However, he drew a comparison between this series and the 1995 finals between the Devils and Red Wings.
“The edge is very difficult to call,” Emrick said. “I know there have been various surveys done and I think one very extensive one in Canada came out 50 percent to 49.2 percent, and at that point I didn’t even ask who had the 50 percent because it becomes — it is pretty much the way that everyone here is thinking. It is just too tough to call.
“I remember a similar thing that happened when we had a 48-game season in 1995 and we went into the final with a favorite team and a non-favorite one because the New Jersey Devils were not a good scoring team. They had a good goaltender and they played good defense. And the Red Wings were lights out. I mean, they were the biggest offensive juggernaut going and they banged their way through Chicago to get to the final and then New Jersey shut them down in four straight games with a defensive scheme.”
Emrick continued that comparison between the current series and the 1995 finals while discussing Zdeno Chara’s impact on Tuukka Rask’s play. Emrick compared Chara’s dominance to that of hall-of-fame defenseman Scott Stevens.
“I think if you were to ask that question to Marty Brodeur, he would say that Scott Stevens’ years were some of his best, because when you have somebody out there that is a presence that takes care of business as well as Scott did and as well as Zdeno Chara does and covers even more distance than Scott would ever hope to just because of his raw size.” Emrick said. “I think you’re making a very good comparison there and I think you’re also giving appropriate credit to the defense in front of [Rask].”
While he praised Chara for his defense, Emrick was sure to give credit to Rask, saying that he gave the Bruins an advantage between the pipes over Corey Crawford.
“If you want to put a check mark in one particular category that I think solidly goes to Boston, it is goaltending,” Emrick said. “And again, we have the leading goals-against average is one guy and the other is second. And the leading save percentage is the other guy and the one guy is second. So you can waffle back and forth. It seems to me the way that Rask has been playing, that is a check mark to the Bruins.
“As [NBC Sports color commentator] Eddie Olczyk always says, ‘Without goaltending you have got no shot.’ And they’ve sure got goaltending.”
|David Krejci: ‘We might have the best team in the world’||06.07.13 at 11:58 pm ET|
Following the Bruins’ sweep against the Penguins, B’s forward David Krejci once again emphasized the importance of his team’s togetherness.
“We don’t have the superstars on this team. We don’t have the best player in the world. But we might have the best team in the world,” said Krejci. “We play as a team.”
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard Krejci talk about the “best players in the world.” After a 3-0 Game 1 victory, Krejci compared the Penguins to the Bruins.
“Those guys, I think they’re the best players in the world at this moment. There’s no one like those guys. On the other hand, we don’t have guys like that. We have a team. We all play as a team,” Krejci said at the time.
The Bruins forward is the team leader in points, goals, and assists this postseason, but has stressed a team-first mentality throughout.
“In the playoffs you need everyone to step up at one point,” answered Krejci. “Tuukka [Rask] has been doing it, defensemen have been doing it, and forwards have been doing it. If you want to go far in the playoffs you need more than just one or two lines to score goals.”
Fifteen different Bruins players have scored goals so far this playoffs.
|What to make of these Bruins as they head into homestretch||04.08.13 at 1:26 am ET|
How good are the Bruins? Depends on your mentality.
The optimist loves their chances. He remembers that the team is one of just four with fewer than 10 regulation losses. The pessimist, on the other hand, is worried. He notices that five of those losses have come in their last 11 games. The realist, meanwhile, is trying to figure out just who these Bruins really are.
Good luck, realist.
Regardless of your level of hope, there is no doubt that Bruins are scuffling right now. The team that looked dead in Philadelphia, asleep for 50 minutes in Buffalo, gave up 87 shots in two home games and then embarrassed itself when it couldn’t even muster a shot in their six-on-four power play late in Montreal is clearly not the same group that cruised to a 19-4-3 record to start the year.
There are some obvious differences. These Bruins have had serious personnel changes since the start of the year. Not only have they lost the contributions from two key centermen (Chris Kelly and now Patrice Bergeron), but their loss has tested their depth at the position. It has forced Claude Julien to juggle his lines and shift both Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley from the wing, weakening two of his four lines. They’ve also been forced to test their depth on the blue line as Matt Bartkowski and Aaron Johnson have spelled the injured Adam McQuaid and Johnny Boychuck.
Fortunately for the B’s, I think the optimists win this one. Boychuck is already back. Kelly is close to returning. McQuaid has now skated with the team. Only Bergeron remains as a great mystery for the playoffs, and without him I think we all become horribly pessimistic. He is that important to their postseason chances. Without his presence, as Paul Pierce said about Kevin Garnett‘s effect on the Celtics, “They aren’t going anywhere.”
During this downturn, however, we’ve seen a run of third-period losses. A team once built upon late-game surges has seen its power turned off in key spots. I see two possible explanations: Either the Bruins are getting tired in the third periods, or their goalie keeps losing concentration.
I think the B’s are just tired, and so on this question I’ll remain optimistic as well. Much has been made of the condensed schedule and the toll it is taking on especially physical teams. Julien’s blueprint has always been to beat you up for 40 minutes then take advantage of your exhaustion late. If the schedule has prevented them from playing as physically as they’d like, I’ll assume that they are smartly keeping something in reserve for the playoffs.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t causes for major concern.
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