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Five things the Bruins must do to win Game 5 vs. Canadiens 04.22.11 at 10:55 pm ET
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One team will be one win away from advancing to the second round after Saturday night. (AP)

The Bruins are coming off one of the more exciting victories they have had in recent memory, as they came back three times to beat the Habs in overtime on a Michael Ryder goal less than two minutes into overtime in Game 4. With the B’s having tied the series at two games apiece, they can prove that there is such thing as a home ice advantage by beating the Habs in Game 5 Saturday night. Here’s what they’ll need to do in order to grab the series lead Saturday at TD Garden.

1. Believe in momentum

Claude Julien thinks that momentum is overrated, but if the B’s can keep Game 4 fresh in their minds, they should be able to go with a full head of steam. Coming from behind the way the Bruins did at the Bell Centre is no easy task, and it was a rather embarrassing game for the Habs to lose given that they blew three leads in their own building. The B’s confidence combined with whatever the slipping Canadiens are feeling is probably a good thing for Boston.

2. Find Milan Lucic

The Bruins are still waiting for their leading goal-scorer from the regular season to pick up his first postseason point. So far, he’s been kept off the scoring sheet and has compiled a minus-2 rating. An indication that he probably isn’t working his way out of it is that he has had one or zero shots on goal in three of the four games thus far in the series. He is definitely off for some reason, but if he can get more involved in the play and show signs of life, the Boston’s top line may actually resemble a top line.

3. Pepper Carey Price early

The Bruins have had nine shots on goal or less in the first period of three of the series’ first four games. That’s no way of finding out whether they can get to Price, and it has shown. Aside from the two pucks they were able to get past Price on nine shots in the first period of Game 3, the Bruins haven’t scored on Price until the second period. Here’s a breakdown of the B’s shots on goal and goals per period in this series:

Patrice Bergeron leads the Bruins with 16 shots on goal this series.

4. Remember March 24

This series has been all about the road team thus far. The got the two goals in both Games 1 and 2 and sat back with the lead en route to big road victories. The Bruins scored a pair of first-period goals Monday and mounted a terrific comeback victory on Thursday. For whatever reason, the home team just can’t seem to win.

If the Bruins can think back to their March 24 win, they can change that trend. Johnny Boychuk scored 1:01 into the game, and the Canadiens seemed to give up at TD Garden from there, with the B’s grabbing a lopsided 7-0 win. The game was also Tim Thomas‘ lone shutout vs. the Habs, and though he’s looked fantastic at stretches during games this postseason, he has yet to dominate for 60 minutes.

5. Limit the turnovers

When the Canadiens have scored this series, it has often been because of uncharacteristic turnovers by the Bruins. It started when Tomas Kaberle put too much zip on a reverse in Game 1, and it has continued throughout the series. The B’s still have yet to play the type of game they need to, though the last half of Thursday night’s contest displayed guts like no other.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Carey Price, Michael Ryder, Milan Lucic Print  |  Email   | Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
Michael Ryder proves Claude Julien right, plays hero in pivotal win over Canadiens at 12:09 am ET
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MONTREAL — To say that Michael Ryder has been the whipping boy of Bruins fans is an understatement. The $4 million man was far from that for too long after the Bruins’ Feb. 9 win over the Canadiens. The free-agent-to-be totaled just two goals over his final 25 games, and was even a healthy scratch three times. 

Since the playoffs began, fans and some media members have lobbied for Ryder to watch them from the press box in order to make room for Tyler Seguin in the lineup. 

On Thursday, Ryder showed that Claude Julien’s decision to stick with him was the right one, ending his lengthy disappearing act with a pair of goals in Game 5 against the Canadiens, including the game-winner in overtime. Julien has coached Ryder everywhere from juniors to the AHL to Montreal to Boston, so it was only fitting that Ryder prove Julien right at Bell Centre.

“I’ve been with him for a while,” Ryder said of Julien. “Just for him to give me the ice time and give me the confidence, for me, it just gives me that extra boost to show people that I can still play and still got it.”

Ryder’s big night began when he tied the game at one in the second period, beating Habs netminder Carey Price with a wrist shot after taking a pass from Tomas Kaberle. From there, the weight was finally off the struggling winger’s shoulders. 

“You always get a little frustrated when you don’t score and you don’t get that many opportunities, but it was definitely a confidence boost,” Ryder said. “Hopefully now our line keeps generating stuff, helping to do whatever we can to help this team.”

He would go on to assist Chris Kelly’s game-tying goal at 13:42 of the third period, which marked the third time in the game that the B’s came back to tie it up. They actually never led in the game until Ryder beat Price for the game-winner just 119 seconds into overtime. 

“I’m happy for Rydes,” Shawn Thornton said of the winger. “A couple of guys talked about it before, he usually plays pretty well in this building,” Shawn Thornton said of the former Canadien. “I’m happy his hard work paid off. Maybe some people in Boston will lay off him now. He’s a good guy.” 

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Bruins win Game 3 in Zdeno Chara’s return 04.18.11 at 10:09 pm ET
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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.

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Canadiens continue to clog shooting lanes in Game 2 04.17.11 at 1:28 am ET
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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.”

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Canadiens could be thinking sweep, but they aren’t 04.16.11 at 11:50 pm ET
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The Canadiens took a 2-0 series lead Saturday. (AP)

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.”

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Bruins drop Game 2 to Canadiens at 9:47 pm ET
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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 KrejciNathan 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.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Carey Price, David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron Print  |  Email   | Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
Claude Julien: Net-front presence is a ‘mind-set’ 04.15.11 at 1:25 pm ET
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Claude Julien wants his forwards playing and thinking the right way. (AP)

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.

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