|Bruins win Game 3 in Zdeno Chara’s return||04.18.11 at 10:09 pm ET|
MONTREAL — It was far more of a nail-biter than the Bruins probably expected after jumping out to a 3-0 lead, but the B’s finally got their first win of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, beating the Canadiens, 4-2, at the Bell Centre Monday night. The Canadiens lead the series, 2-1.
The Bruins got first-period goals from David Krejci and Nathan Horton, the second of which came in flukey fashion when Horton put it off the back of Habs goaltender Carey Price. Rich Peverley made it 3-0 off another lucky bounce 2:02 into the second, but the Canadiens came roaring back, with goals from Andrei Kostitstyn and Tomas Plekanec in the second and third periods, respectively.
Zdeno Chara made his return to the lineup after missing Game 2 due to illness, leading the team in time on ice and posting an even rating.
The Bruins will travel to Lake Placid for practice Tuesday and Wednesday before returning to Montreal for Thursday’s Game 4.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- Not only did the Bruins score, but they scored four times. Not only did they score four times, but none of the goals came after they were already trailing by two goals. With the way the Habs came back in the third period period, the scoring the first two didn’t hold up, but the B’s can consider themselves on the right side of the fact that the team with the first goal has won all three games thus far.
- It wasn’t exactly the rope-a-dope game the Habs played in Games 1 and 2, but the Bruins did an excellent job of making sure pucks did not reach their intended destination through the first two periods. The B’s managed to get a stick on a ton of pucks in their own zone, breaking up plays and eliminating second and third chances.
- Peverley had a couple of big opportunities in the first period, so it seemed only a matter of time before he would be celebrating at Price’s expense. Peverley kept the puck on a 3-on-1 in the first but missed the net, and later in the period he intercepted an ill-advised clearing attempt by Price only to see a Habs stick whack it away on its way into the empty net. Peverley made good the third time around.
- Major kudos to the members of the Bruins’ fourth line. Gregory Campbell had two great chances in the first period, and he and Daniel Paille were instrumental in killing off two early penalties that the B’s took. Shawn Thornton nearly made it 4-2 in the third in one of the B’s rare scoring chances late in the game.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- The Canadiens absolutely dominated the final 20 minutes of play. Keeping the Bell Centre crowd out of it for an entire game is one thing, but the B’s will need more of a 60-minute effort in Game 4.
- The Bruins did want they wanted to do on the scoreboard early, but two penalties in the first 7:27 probably wasn’t what Claude Julien had drawn up in the game plan. The B’s were whistled for too many men on the ice (a playoff favorite) at 1:08, perhaps due to just how loud it was as the fans were booing Chara. After killing off the early penalty, the B’s were once again short-handed when Krejci hooked Kostitsyn at 7:27. If it weren’t for the B’s getting their first lead of the series in between the two penalties, things would have looked grim momentum-wise.
- Speaking of Kostitsyn, it was a happy return for the Habs winger, and he got his revenge on the very man who kept him out of Saturday’s Game 2. Kostitsyn couldn’t play Saturday due to a foot injury suffered blocking a slap shot from Chara in Game 1, so being able to go around Chara for his first playoff tally must have felt a heck of a lot better than blocking that shot.
- While Kostitsyn’s second-period goal made it a 3-1 game, it could have very easily been 4-0 seconds earlier. Milan Lucic looked indifferent on a breakaway, making for an easy save for Price, and the Habs marching it down the ice put them on the board.
|Canadiens continue to clog shooting lanes in Game 2||04.17.11 at 1:28 am ET|
The Bruins have gotten a lot of shots on goal in their series against the Canadiens — 66 through two games — but they’ve also had a lot blocked. Montreal has registered a staggering 47 blocks in its pair of wins, including 27 in Saturday night’s 3-1 triumph. By comparison, the Bruins have blocked just 21 shots in the series.
“We have some guys who are actually really good at it,” forward Michael Cammalleri said. “[Brent] Sopel and [Hal] Gill right away come to mind. Those guys are two premier shot-blockers in the NHL. They’re leading the way and other guys are feeding off that.”
Gill led all players with five blocks in Game 2, while Sopel’s seven in the two games combined are a series high. It’s not just those two, though. Fourteen of the 19 Canadiens who have dressed in the series have blocked at least one shot. At the other end of the ice, only seven Bruins have registered a block.
“That’s what it takes to win in the playoffs,” forward Mathieu Darche said. “It wasn’t only our third and fourth line guys or our D. It was everybody.”
Defenseman James Wisniewski said the Canadiens have to make sure they’re getting in shooting lanes because the Bruins are a hard team to clear away from the front of the net. If they don’t block shots, he said, there’s a chance the Bruins could tip them or prevent goalie Carey Price from seeing them.
“That’s the type of thing that’s huge for our team,” Wisniewski said. “We can’t outmuscle them in front of the net, so we have to make sure forwards get in the shooting lanes. And if it gets by our forwards, we can come out and front the puck and get the puck out of our zone.”
The Canadiens play a layered defense that has become more and more common at all levels of hockey, and that makes it even more difficult for their opponents to get shots through.
“It’s kind of a skill,” Wisniewski said. “You have to see what the forward is taking away, if he’s taking blocker or glove-side away. If he’s taking blocker, then you step out and take glove-side. So it’s kind of like a double block that we’re doing.”
Price said it requires almost constant communication between him and his defensemen and between the defensemen and the forwards to make sure guys are blocking shots and not just deflecting them or screening him.
“There’s a lot of talk on the ice,” Price said. “It’s not always easy with the noise in the building, but communication is really important.”
|Canadiens could be thinking sweep, but they aren’t||04.16.11 at 11:50 pm ET|
After winning Games 1 and 2 in Boston, the Canadiens have a chance to close out the series in front of their own fans if they can defend home ice and win the next two games at the Bell Centre, where they went 3-0 against the Bruins in the regular season. Just don’t expect them to be looking ahead to Game 4 and the possibility of a sweep.
“We’re not concerned about the second game or coming back here,” said Canadiens goalie Carey Price. “All we’re worried about is the next game. It’s a cliché, but that’s really all we’re looking forward to, is the next day and the next game.”
Don’t expect them to spend any time celebrating their two straight road victories over their rivals, either.
“I’ve got no time for that,” Michael Cammalleri said. “Seriously. If we’re sitting here happy about that and celebrating, then we’re making a crucial mistake. The fans can be happy and our parents and our families can be happy, and good for them, but I’m dead serious. We have no time to be happy right now.”
The Canadiens know the Bruins are capable of playing better than they have in the first two games and they’re not taking anything for granted or expecting anything to come easy.
“We’re happy with those two games, but we really can’t be satisfied,” Mathieu Darche said. “It’s just going to get tougher. They’ll come to Montreal with a vengeance. We know they’re going to be better, and we’ll have to be better also.”
Price said the Canadiens also can’t get caught up in the excitement of the crowd or get down if something goes wrong.
“We’re going to have to really maintain our composure,” Price said. “I think that’s going to be the biggest thing. The crowd’s behind us and obviously there’s going to a lot of adrenaline, so we have to make sure everybody stays composed.”
The Bruins, meanwhile, aren’t getting down on themselves. They know they’ve been a good road team all season — their 24-12-5 record on the road was fifth-best in the NHL — and even though they’re down 0-2 and haven’t won in Montreal this season, they remain confident.
“It might be a good thing for us to get there and really simplify things and get more composed than we are right now,” Mark Recchi said. “We’ll be fine as long as we regroup here and as long as we embrace it and get ready for a big situation on Monday. The pressure is on us now. I believe in this group of guys and we’re going to have to go show them on Monday.”
|Bruins drop Game 2 to Canadiens||at 9:47 pm ET|
By DJ Bean and Scott McLaughlin
If the Bruins weren’t feeling the pressure before Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, they should be now. A 3-1 loss to the Canadiens gives the Habs a 2-0 series lead and means the Bruins suddenly have to show they can win at the Bell Centre.
Playing without Zdeno Chara (dehydration), the B’s saw the Habs jump out to a 2-0 lead in the game’s first 2:20. Michael Cammallari put a rebound off a James Wisniewski shot past Tim Thomas 43 seconds into the game, while Mathieu Darche struck on the power play shortly after.
The Bruins did get on the board in the second period with a Patrice Bergeron tally that injected some life into the building, but after two games the B’s have been able to put just one puck past Carey Price through two games.
The Bruins played a more physical game than they did Thursday night, but were reckless at times. After a no-show from the top line in Game 1 and not enough of what Claude Julien wanted in the first two period, Claude Julien broke up the Milan Lucic - David Krejci – Nathan Horton trio by sending Horton to the third line in favor of Rich Peverley.
The B’s will play Game 3 in Montreal on Monday night. They need to get a win at the Bell Centre (where they went 0-2-1 in the regular season) either Monday or Thursday to bring the series back to Boston for a fifth game.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- For much of the game, the Bruins’ puck-movement appeared to be that of strangers in a pickup game. They repeatedly made passes that were either off the mark, intended for a player who wasn’t looking or easily intercepted by a Canadien. Boston looked particularly shaky in its own end, as the defensemen struggled to retrieve pucks in the corners and start clean breakouts. Montreal’s second goal came as the direct result of a bad Andrew Ference pass behind the net.
- Speaking of passes — and hindsight is 20/20 — but maybe the B’s should have passed on the Tomas Kaberle deal. Aside from a shot hitting the post on the power play in the second period, there was nothing encouraging about Kaberle’s night, and that’s been a pretty common occurrence. He had issues keeping the puck in the offensive zone on routine plays, but the icing on the cake came when Krejci and P.K. Subban were getting rough behind the net in the first period. With Price out of his net, Krejci sent the puck back to the point. Before any whistles were blown of Kaberle knew the play was dead, he actually passed the puck to Johnny Boychuk with a clean look (if he looked) at an empty net.
In Kaberle’s defense, he looked much better on the the power play when Subban went off for tripping Daniel Paille in the third period. Still, you really have to wonder whether the B’s will re-sign him for the money he commands after such a bad run.
- This was not Thomas’ most impressive showing. Though he came up with a big stop on a Tomas Plekanec on a second-period breakaway, the goals from Cammalleri and Weber came as the result of big rebounds. Further evidence that having the best goaltender in the playoffs doesn’t guarantee success. Thomas is human, as is Price, though the latter has two wins.
- Bad night for Dennis Seidenberg. The 29-year-old was a minus-2 on the night, while his interference penalty at 2:14 of the first gave the Habs the power play on which Darche scored.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- For at least the middle portion of the second period, the Bruins did a better job going to the net and making things difficult for Price. That culminated in their first goal of the series when Bergeron charged down the middle and tipped home a centering pass from Brad Marchand. For the next few minutes, the Bruins got traffic in front, battled for position and weren’t afraid to jam away at rebounds and harass the Montreal netminder. Had the Bruins played like that for the whole game, it might be a different story heading to Montreal for Game 3.
- Shane Hnidy fighting Wisniewski in the second period following the Habs defenseman’s charging call was brilliant. At that point in the game, Hnidy had played 2:58 to Wisniewski’s 10:00. The Bruins will send their reserve blueliner to the box any day of the week if it means a top-four defenseman on the other team is doing the same.
|Claude Julien: Net-front presence is a ‘mind-set’||04.15.11 at 1:25 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Bruins coach Claude Julien did not have trouble identifying one of the main reasons the Bruins lost Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. The team struggled to establish a presence in front of Carey Price throughout the 2-0 loss, as the Habs’ defense tightened up and power forwards such as Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton failed to make an impact.
“We spent most of the night with the puck, but at the end of the night, we didn’t get the results. That’s probably the thing that sticks out the most. We just have to make some adjustments and understand that if we’re going to score goals, we’ve got to pay the price a little bit better around the net.
“We’ve got to be a little better down low, and stronger on the puck,” Julien said after Friday’s practice. “Part of it was that, but part of it was that we know we have to be a little bit more involved. Some of the net-front presence is not necessarily something you have to practice more than it is a mind-set. If we commit ourselves to going there, we’ll get there. Sometimes you have to work through it because they’re doing a pretty good job of boxing us out.”
The B’s did not appear to be down on themselves on Friday despite the loss. Many players pointed to positives of Thursday’s game both after the contest and after Friday’s practice. Julien sees the reasons for optimism, but he expects more from all of his skaters.
“I think we all know that although we played a decent game, we can all be a little better. As a team, we feel that we can be a little better. That’s basically it, and that’s to a man.”
Price made 31 saves in the shutout victory, while the Habs blocked 20 shots.
|P.J. Stock on D&C: Bruins need to pick up the physical play||at 11:01 am ET|
Former Bruin and current CBC NHL analyst P.J. Stock appeared on the Dennis & Callahan Show Friday morning to talk about the Bruins’ Game 1 loss to the Canadiens and the rest of the series. To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Stock said he thought the Bruins played well for the most part, but that they needed to be more physical and not play the finesse style that Montreal likes.
“I’m a big fan of Milan Lucic and this is a series where he has to dominate, be like Dustin Byfuglien in last year’s playoffs,” Stock said. “The Canadiens are not a physical team, so it’s very easy to get out of a physical game. ‘They’re not going to hit me, so I’m not going to hit them. I’m going to start playing their game.’
“I think the Bruins tried to play their game last night instead of getting the puck deep and hitting bodies. [Lucic’s] play isn’t trying to deke around at the blue line. It’s shoot the puck past them, run them over and get it deep. He didn’t do it last night and it cost them a couple goals. But it’s one night and I’m looking for him to rebound tremendously on Saturday.”
Asked about balancing that physical play with staying out of the box, Stock said avoiding penalties isn’t entirely necessary as long as you avoid weak penalties.
“No, you can take penalties, but take good penalties,” he said. “If you’re going to take two minutes, I don’t expect a one-handed hooking penalty. If you’re going to take two minutes, take it because you just ran Tomas Plekanec. He was great last night. You want to take an elbowing penalty on Tomas Plekanec. You want to run him over. You want to punch him in the back of the head. You want to get him off his game. That’s a penalty that will help you out in the long run. The Bruins took a couple hooking penalties last night, which are not good penalties.”
Echoing the sentiments of many of the Bruins after the game, Stock said Boston has to do a better job creating traffic and chaos in front of Canadiens goalie Carey Price.
“And they have to bump into him,” Stock said. “Don’t by shy about it. I was watching the Philadelphia Flyers play Buffalo last night and they were bumping the goalie. Carey’s their best player, hands down. You take Carey away and they’re not the same team.
“Every time the Bruins had momentum, he was able to see the puck and stop the puck. The thing I thought really helped the Canadiens and hurt the Bruins was he didn’t give up any rebounds. It was a momentum killer. … One of the things you’re going to have to do better is get in the face of Carey Price.”
Stock said he still expects the Bruins to win the series. “For sure. It’s Game 1,” he said. “The Canadiens have to beat the Bruins three more times. It’s a tall task. But now all the pressure shifts to Boston. They have to win the next game.”
|Carey Price on the money playing ‘rope-a-dope’ with the Bruins||04.14.11 at 11:59 pm ET|
Before Thursday night’s 2-0 win over the Bruins in Game 1 of the Eastern quarterfinals, the last time Carey Price skated off the Garden ice it was to chants of “Carey, Carey!” as he let five goals go past him in 44 minutes of a 7-0 Bruins blowout on March 24.
Those chants came up again Thursday in the second period but they were more like a desperate plea from frustrated Bruins fans who couldn’t believe their forwards couldn’t put more pressure on Price.
So as it turns out, that blowout loss of at TD Garden pretty much had zero effect on Thursday.
“It is different in the playoffs,” Price said. “Things that happen in the regular season don’t necessarily happen in the playoffs because it costs a lot more. Teams are playing differently. We expected that type of game out of them and they definitely played physical but our guys didn’t back down.”
Backing down is exactly what everyone thought the Canadiens did in that March 24 embarrassment in Boston. Everyone expected the Canadiens to come out fired up in the first game since Max Pacioretty was hit by Zdeno Chara on March 8 at the Bell Centre, winding up with a concussion after smashing into the mid-ice turnbuckle.
Thanks mainly to Price and the blocked shots by his defense – backing down is exactly what the Canadiens didn’t do Thursday night. Even when they were being out-shot, 18-6, in the second period, the Canadiens and Price wouldn’t give in. How did they survive? By taking a page out of Muhammad Ali‘s book from the 1970s.
“I thought that we were sitting back a little bit in the second period,” Price said. “I thought our guys did a really good job of rope-a-doping it a little bit. They [Bruins] are a good hockey team and when they grab the momentum like that they definitely ran with it. Our guys just rallied, blocked shots, and kept it simple. We were fortunate to keep the puck out of the net.
“Our guys played excellent tonight. That’s it, our guys played great defense and we played a pretty perfect road game. If we were to write down on paper how we wanted to start the series that would be it right there.”
Now Price and company have stolen home ice in the very first game of the series.
“We came in here with a plan,” Price said. ” To come out with a good start to this game and a good start to the series. We did that exactly.”
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