|Game 7 roundup: Luck, faith on Canadiens’ side entering finale?||05.14.14 at 11:11 am ET|
TSN’s renowned radio host Tony Marinaro believes he has found the magic touch to send the Canadiens to the Eastern Conference finals with a Game 7 win over the Bruins on Wednesday night. Prior to Monday’s Game 6 in Montreal, with the Habs facing elimination, Marinaro had the Rev. Joseph Fugolo say a prayer for the Canadiens, particularly struggling forward Max Pacioretty, who scored in Montreal’s 4-0 win.
On Wednesday, Marinaro — who is broadcasting from the WEEI studios and will appear with Mut & Merloni at 1 p.m. — had Fugolo back again to “bless a white Canadiens road jersey” in hopes of keeping luck on the Habs’ side.
Whether you believe in the power of prayer or not, Pacioretty had arguably his best game of the series on Monday with a goal and an assist, and said after the game that it “felt good” to get back on the scoreboard after missing some opportunities in previous games. Pacioretty is hoping that kind of effort continues for him in Wednesday’s deciding Game 7 at TD Garden.
Montreal’s Nathan Beaulieu is hoping to bring some pride to the organization’s contingent of “Black Aces.” The Black Aces are the minor league players the Habs call up from the Hamilton Bulldogs — the team’s AHL affiliate — in the last month of the season, and Beaulieu is the one who got the call before Game 6 on Monday. Beaulieu’s efforts on the big stage made an impression on Canadiens coach Michel Therrien.
Even on the road, there’s no avoiding a crowded Bell Centre for a Habs-Bruins game. The Canadiens will host a viewing party with Game 7 being shown on the big screens at the arena. Tickets were sold for $10 with proceeds going to the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation.
Some Canadiens fans are so excited for Wednesday’s Game 7 that they have swarmed into a pair of local barber shops to have the Habs logo shaved in their hair. The barbers told CBC that fans have been lining up by the hundreds, and designs have included the Stanley Cup and P.K. Subban‘s face.
As is to be expected, there is plenty of support for the Habs north of the border in this series. But one Canadian bar went so far to hang a Zdeno Chara doll from the ceiling by a noose.
No matter who wins on Wednesday night, the Montreal Gazette’s Jack Todd writes that hockey is the real winner in this series. However, he did save room to leave his prediction at the end: a Canadiens win and eventual return to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since 1993.
Adrian Dater of the Bleacher Report sees the Canadiens as not only the hungrier team, but also the better team, giving them the advantage over the Bruins in Game 7. Dater views the Bruins as worn down and offensively challenged, and he expects Carey Price to once again outplay Tuukka Rask.
Alternatively, Yahoo’s Nicholas J. Cotsonika refuses to count the Bruins out despite the celebrations on the streets of Montreal after the Habs’ win on Monday. Cotsonika cites Boston’s recent Game 7 experience — the Bruins have played nine deciding games in the last seven years — and home-ice advantage as enough reason to like their chances.
If the Bruins want to win Game 7, playing their physical game may be the best way to do it. Sports statistics website FiveThirtyEightSports compiled penalty numbers from recent postseasons and determined that teams take significantly fewer penalty minutes in Game 7s than any other game in a playoff series, a likely result of officials swallowing their whistles rather than more disciplined play.
|Bruins beat Canadiens in Game 5 to take 3-2 series lead||05.10.14 at 9:45 pm ET|
The Bruins’ third line struck again as the B’s took a 3-2 series lead over the Canadiens with a 4-2 Game 5 victory Saturday at TD Garden.
Carl Soderberg scored his first career playoff goal and had a pair of assists for the Bruins. He opened the game’s scoring, taking a pass from Loui Eriksson and a firing a shot stick-side high shot on Carey Price that went off the Montreal goaltender’s blocker and in at 12:30 of the first period. The first period saw eight penalties called between the two teams, with less than half of the period being played five-on-five.
The Bruins got a pair of power play goals in a span of 22 seconds in the second period, first with Reilly Smith redirecting a Dougie Hamilton shot and then with a wide open Jarome Iginla taking a feed from Torey Krug and beating Price to make it 3-0.
Tuukka Rask‘s shutout streak, which dated back to Dale Weise‘s breakaway goal in the second period of Game 3, ended when Tomas Plekanec fired a shot from the left circle during a Montreal penalty that went off Brendan Gallagher and in. Rask’s streak had lasted 1:22:06.
Loui Eriksson made it 4-1 at 14:12, getting to the puck in front after Matt Fraser fired a shot from the half wall that yielded a big rebound. P.K. Subban scored during six-on-four play with Matt Bartkowski in the box for his second holding penalty of the game at 2:29.
The Bruins will be able to close out the Habs as soon as Monday at the Bell Centre in Game 6. The B’s held a 3-2 lead in the teams’ 2011 postseason meeting but dropped Game 6 by a 2-1 score in Montreal before eventually winning the series in seven games.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– That’s now two straight games in which Soderberg’s line has cashed in with Montreal’s third pairing of Douglas Murray and Mike Weaver on the ice. Taking advantage with the ever slow Murray on the ice should be a key to victory as long as Michel Therrien keeps the veteran defenseman in his lineup.
– The Bruins finally scored on the power play, ending a drought that had seen them go 0-for-10 at the start of the series. The goal featured a beauty of a pass from Torey Krug that got past Brian Gionta to Iginla. There were obviously coverage issues for Montreal to have left Iginla that wide open, but Gionta should have been able to get a stick on the pass to break it up.
– The Canadiens have to be in how-do-we-solve-Rask mode at this point, which is a fine turn of events after much the first eight periods of the series suggested the Bruins would be hard-pressed to solve Price. Rask stopped Max Pacioretty on a partial breakaway in the first period and stopped David Desharnais after the Montreal center took a stretch pass off a line change.
Rask even had his very own Tim Thomas moment, as he punched Plekanec in the hard after the Montreal center went hard to the net for a centering feed from Brian Gionta. The Bruins goaltender was penalized earlier in the period for batting the puck over the glass.
– One of the first things you should know about Fraser is that he has one of the best shots in the entire organization. The B’s didn’t see much of Fraser putting the puck on net during his 14 NHL games this regular season, however. The 23-year-old only had one shot on goal in Game 5, but it did major damage in yielding the rebound that led to Eriksson’s goal. Fraser had an opportunity in the high slot earlier but fired it wide of the net.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– In a development that few could have seen coming entering the series, the Bruins are taking a bunch of penalties at home despite being penalized only once in each game played in Montreal. Boston gave Montreal four power plays through the first two periods, and it could have been worse had Marchand gotten something extra for taking a whack at Eller after his penalty was called.
Bartkowski took a pair of holding penalties in Game 5, which gives him four this series and five penalties this series.
In scoring during Marchand’s penalty and Bartkowski’s second, the Habs have now scored six power play goals at the Garden this series with no power play goals at the Bell Centre.
– There was a brief scare for Johnny Boychuk on Plekanec’s penalty, as the Montreal center’s stick appeared to hit Boychuk in the throat area as Boychuk went to hit him. Boychuk was holding his chin/throat area after the play, but he stayed in the game, with Iginla’s goal coming on Plekanec’s penalty.
– Smith hit another post for the Bruins in the first period, which, if you’ve been counting how many times the Bruins have done that this series, means you’ve counted to a high numbers. Posts and missed nets on non-redirected shots usually means you’re going up a good goalie and you have to pick your spots well to beat him.
|Pierre McGuire on M&M: ‘Pretty rough’ reception expected for Tyler Seguin in Boston||11.05.13 at 2:47 pm ET|
NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Tuesday afternoon to discuss Tyler Seguin‘s return to Boston on Tuesday night with the Stars and the the Bruins’ start to the season.
The Bruins’ tilt with Dallas will be the first time that Seguin will have the opportunity to play against his former team after being traded on July 4 in a deal that sent Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith, Matt Fraser and Joe Morrow to Boston and Seguin, Rich Peverley and Ryan Button to Texas.
After a three-season tenure with the Bruins in which Seguin, the second overall pick in the 2010 draft, excited fans with his potential but also disappointed with issues regarding his maturity, many are wondering what kind of reception the 21-year-old center will receive from the TD Garden crowd.
“[The fans will be] probably pretty rough on [Seguin],” McGuire said. “I don’t think as rough on Rich Peverley, obviously. But the Bruins fans need to know that was a pretty good acquisition for both teams. At the end of the day, I know Loui Eriksson is an injured player right now, but he’s going to be a very important part of the Bruins’ future, and Reilly Smith has been tremendous for the Bruins since coming over, so I think it will be a rough ride for Tyler tonight.
“But I hope Bruins fans remember that magical run in 2011, because it was something special and he was a big part of it.”
Seguin has adjusted well to his new team in Dallas, as he has recorded six goals and nine assists in just 14 games. The Ontario native is on pace to have an 88-point season, 21 points more than his career high (67 in 2011-12).
“[Seguin’s reception in Dallas has been] very strong, very good, very positive. I think sometimes young players … need to be scared straight, and one of the ways of scaring them straight is by trading them earlier in their careers,” McGuire said. “Chris Pronger is exhibit A. He went from being a decent player who should’ve been a superstar to being the MVP of the league after he got traded out of Hartford/Carolina to St. Louis, and he needed that. He needed to get his attention that it wasn’t going to be easy.
“I think the same thing is going to happen with Tyler Seguin. There’s a guy running the Boston Bruins right now, Cam Neely, he didn’t do much when he was a member of the Vancouver Canucks, but when he got traded to the Boston Bruins, he became a cult icon. So sometimes young players just need a little wakeup call, and I think maybe this was a wakeup call that Tyler Seguin needed.”
|Pierre McGuire on M&M: B’s-Stars trade ‘weighted a little bit towards Boston’||10.10.13 at 3:43 pm ET|
With the 2013-14 NHL season in its second week, NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Thursday afternoon to discuss the Bruins’ new additions, as well as other news from around the NHL.
McGuire praised the Bruins’ two biggest offseason additions, wingers Jarome Iginla and Loui Eriksson, and indicated he thought the Bruins won the July 4 trade with the Stars that sent shipped budding star Tyler Seguin to Dallas.
“[Jarome will fit] fantastically well,” McGuire said. “Jarome is awesome, he will fit in perfectly in Boston, I’m really happy for him. Didn’t work out for him the way he wanted to last year [in Pittsburgh], but I’m glad that Boston, especially Cam [Neely] and Peter [Chiarelli], were wise enough to give him a chance, because he definitely fills the void that Nathan Horton created by departing to go to Columbus.
“Courageous trade by Peter Chiarelli and the Boston Bruins, because Tyler will be a superstar in the league, especially if he can just clean up a little bit of his behavior. … That being said, the trade is excellent for Boston. … [Eriksson] is the legitimate deal. He’s a very solid two-way player, he’s capable of playing with big-time superstars, he can play deep in your lineup, he’ll never pout, he’ll never complain, and all he’ll do is produce. The other guy that came in that trade, Reilly Smith, way underrated player. … I really like the trade for both teams, but in particular, I think it’s weighted a little bit towards Boston, just because of the consistency the two players they got in Loui Eriksson and Reilly Smith.”
McGuire also touched on the new NHL rule that specifies players will be penalized for an additional two minutes, for a total of seven minutes total, if they take off their helmets before a fight.
“I hate to say this, because I’m all for player safety, I really am. I’ve seen too many horrific incidents going to even this year in the regular season with George Parros. … I’ve got to tell you, I don’t want to see anyone take their hat off, I don’t see the hats come off. I just don’t think that it’s appropriate,” he said. “There’s got to be a balance, there’s got to be a way. I don’t know what the way is, but I know one thing, there are a lot of people in the hockey community talking about it. I know it’s a big, big, point of emphasis for a lot of people that make big decisions in this league.”
McGuire gave a brief preview of the Bruins’ opponent Thursday night in the 3-0 Avalanche, who are mostly comprised of young and talented players.
“The fact of the matter is you’re going to see Nathan MacKinnon tonight, you’re going to see [Matt] Duchene tonight, you’re going to see what could be arguably one of the top third lines in the league right with Jamie McGinn, who’s played so well with Nathan MacKinnon and P.A. Parenteau. That line’s a ton of fun to watch.”
|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.
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|
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.’