|Bruins fail to make things difficult for Carey Price in Game 1 loss||04.14.11 at 11:26 pm ET|
On paper, it would appear the Bruins dominated Thursday night's Game 1 but just happened to run into a hot goaltending performance from Carey Price. After all, they outshot the Canadiens, 31-20, on the night, including 18-6 in the second period.
What the stat sheet doesn't show, though, is how many of the Bruins' shots came with no traffic in front, allowing Price to easily get in position and make the save.
'I don't think we did a very good job of taking away his vision,' said Bruins coach Claude Julien. 'He saw a lot of shots tonight and he saw a lot of pucks. We definitely have to get better in that area if we plan on scoring some goals.'
Of course, screening Price and getting traffic to the net is all about being willing to battle in the dirty areas. You have to be able to take a beating and win the fight for position. The Bruins didn't appear willing to do that Thursday night, even when they had the chance to.
'I think for the most part, we were there and had those opportunities to be in front of the net,' Brad Marchand said. 'We were just standing off to the side a bit, looking for tips. The opportunity is there to get in front of his eyes. We just have to do that.'
Julien agreed with his forward that his team simply didn't work hard enough to get to those areas.
'It's pretty obvious, I think. There's no secret here,' Julien said. 'If you're going to score goals on that goaltender, you need to take away his vision, and we didn't do a good enough job of that. We were all around the net, but we weren't in front.'
Those problems carried over to the power play, too. The Bruins struggled to get set up on the man advantage early in the game, but they did a better job of possessing the puck and creating some chances as the game went on.
But as was the case at even strength, Price was able to track pretty much every shot. In several instances, the Bruins delayed shooting the puck in the hopes that someone would get to the net for a screen, deflection or rebound, but it rarely came. When they did pull the trigger, Price was able to easily cover or his defensemen were able to easily clear away the rebound.
'Again, same old, same old,' Julien said. 'We had some great shots, but we didn't do a very good job in front of the net with the screens, with the loose pucks, and weren't able to capitalize.'
The Bruins were happy with a lot of other aspects of their game Thursday night — Marchand even said they 'have to play the exact same way' in Saturday's Game 2 — but they know they'll need to make things tougher for Price and not rely on him making mistakes if they're going to win the series.
'He's a good goalie, yes, but we've got to make sure we have traffic in front of him,' Patrice Bergeron said. 'He's going to make those stops if he sees it, and that's all.'
|Bruins vs. Canadiens: keys to the first round||at 1:35 am ET|
Finally, after plenty of hype, the Bruins and Canadiens are a matter of hours away from beginning their best-of-seven first-round series.
While one group of fans (and both will be present at TD Garden) chants 'Ole' and the other chants 'USA' (Bruins fans must really like Tim Thomas, as chanting 'USA' applies to only one player on the team), there will be hockey to be played. The Bruins-Canadiens rivalry is the circus of all circuses, but if either team gets caught up in it, they could slip. Here are the things that will actually matter in this series:
DICTATING THE TEMPO EARLY
The first game of a playoff series is a big one, but the first 20 minutes of this series might be even more important. The Bruins are capable of overpowering the Canadiens with their style of play, but there were multiple instances in which the B’s sat back early and waited until the Canadiens had already established their presence. The two teams were split, 3-3, in the first-goal department, and in the four instances that a team got on the board in the game’s first 10 minutes, that team won.
The Habs certainly gave their netminder plenty of work this season, as price finished second to only Cam Ward in games played among goaltenders with 72. That’s a heavy workload, but Price handled it well, and it will be interesting to see whether the 23-year-old wears down in the postseason.
While Price was very good for the Canadiens this season, TD Garden was far from good to him. After allowing one goal in a 3-1 Canadiens win back on Nov. 11, his other two trips to Boston this season provided Habs fans with reason to worry. He gave up 13 goals over two losses at TD Garden in 2011 and was yanked from the the March 24 game less than five minutes into the third period.
The mystery of how Price can handle this series is very intriguing. His eight shutouts this season suggests he should be considered capable of taking over a playoff series, and if he does, it could be a classic goaltending matchup. If not, the Habs could be in trouble.
MILAN LUCIC AND NATHAN HORTON
The Bruins are the better team in this series, so they need their best players to be relentless. It’s no secret that Horton can disappear in games and struggled with consistency at points of the regular season, but it’s unknown whether he’s susceptible to drop-offs in the playoffs. Horton had a pair of forgettable games in his first two contests against the Canadiens (zero points and just one shot on goal over a pair of losses), but came up big in the other three (three goals, four assists).
Lucic, meanwhile, enjoys being known as a playoff player, and his 18 points over the last two postseasons speak for that. Lucic stepped up his game big-time this season but after scoring his 30th goal failed to strike again in the final 10 games. Will he also take his postseason play to a new level, or will his goal-less streak spill over into the playoffs?
The Bruins couldn't buy a power play goal down the stretch, and with special teams always playing an important role in the postseason, they'll have to find a way to convert against a very good Montreal penalty kill. The Bruins were just 3-for-24 against the Canadiens on the power play this season, while the Habs were 9-for-28.
THE BELL CENTRE
The reason this series might not be a short one is because the Bruins could struggle playing at the Bell Centre, as they did during the regular season (0-2-1). The difficulty they've encountered winning games in Montreal will make the B's home games even more important. The Habs are capable of stealing one or two on the road, and the B's need to prove they're capable of doing the same.
|Price is wrong (again): Bruins crush Habs behind Tim Thomas shutout||03.24.11 at 9:36 pm ET|
The Bruins got on the board early, with Johnny Boychuk scoring his second goal of the season at 1:01 of the first period. The Bruins also got first-period tallies from Gregory Campbell and Nathan Horton, with Horton’s tally coming on the power play off a feed from Lucic. Horton would add his second goal of the game at 15:57 of the third period, with Adam McQuaid making it a clean five for the Bruins moments later and sending Price to the Montreal bench in favor of backup Alex Auld. Tomas Kaberle welcomed Auld by scoring his first goal since being acquired by the Bruins on Feb. 18.
Campbell scored a shorthanded goal with the Habs on the two-man advantage in the third period. It made for his first two-goal game as a member of the Bruins.
David Krejci and Chara tied a career-high with three assists, while Lucic’s three assists set a career-high.
Tim Thomas improved to 31-10-8 with the victory, and picked up his career-high eighth shutout of the season. His last shutout came on Jan. 17. His 18 games without a blanking served as teh longest stretch of the season without a shutout.
The game featured only one fight, as Campbell dropped the gloves with Belmont native Paul Mara late in the second period.
With the victory, the Bruins finished the season series with a 2-3-1 record against their rivals. At third and six place in the Eastern Conference, respectively, the teams would meet in the first round of the playoffs if the season were to end Thursday night. The Bruins have nine games remaining in the season and lead the Habs by five points. The Canadiens have seven games remaining in the season.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- As much attention as he’s gotten for the wrong reasons since the March 8 Max Pacioretty hit, Chara hasn’t seen his play take a hit in the slightest. With his three assists, Chara has 10 points (2 G, 8 A) in seven games since the Bruins last faced the Habs.
- Chris Kelly hasn’t exactly been a fan favorite since coming to the B’s prior to the trade deadline, but he had one shift on the penalty kill that probably won a few fans over. Kelly had no problem laying out on the ice to disrupt a P.K. Subban slap shot, and moments later had a shorthanded opportunity that drew a Roman Hamrlik holding call. It wasn’t all roses, as Kelly took a tripping call at 1:35 of the third period, but he might be more valuable to this team than he gets credit for.
- Good to see Tyler Seguin sticking his nose into the more physical areas. The rookie has shied away from contact throughout the season, but he’s clearly more willing to take it on as of late. Seguin even came to the aid of Mark Recchi after the veteran’s tussle with Mara. The rookie exchanged a few shoves with Habs defenseman Brett Sopel after he felt Mike Cammalleri gave him something extra behind the Canadiens net.
- Recchi is now tied for 12th place all-time in points. His assist on Kaberle’s goal put him in a tie with Paul Coffey with 1,531.
- Brad Marchand broke up a seven-game pointless streak in setting up the play that led to Kaberle’s goal and getting an asssist. The rookie had just one point, an assist, in his previous to games. He has still been stuck at 19 goals on the season for over a month. Marchand last scored on Feb. 22 in Calgary.
WHAT BARELY WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- If the Habs weren’t so dead the entire night, they would have had an opportinity to produce the makings of a comeback in the second period while trailing 3-0. After the B’s outshot the Canadiens, 19-8, in the first period, the Habs had some space to work with early in the second. They came out with five shots to the Bruins’ two early in the second, but a Bruins timeout and Montreal penalties doomed their chances of getting anything going.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR CAREY PRICE
- The Bruins don’t match up well with the Habs, but if they meet in the playoffs they have to like their chances against Price at the Garden. The Montreal netminder has allowed 13 goals in his last two Garden appearances, both of which were losses.
|Shawn Thornton on D&H: Tomas Kaberle ‘one of the best defensemen in the league’||02.21.11 at 12:55 pm ET|
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton, while on his way to the airport for the Bruins’ road trip that starts with a game Tuesday in Calgary, checked in with the Dale & Holley show Monday and talked about the team’s recent roster changes. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
Asked if there was any tension around the team last week, Thornton acknowledged that there was. “There always is this time of year,” he said. “The media obviously reports it. I think it gets worse these days, with 'I’m not bad-mouthing anybody, but ' countless blogs and stuff that nobody really has to [be accountable]. You can just throw stuff against the wall and hope it sticks. There’s a lot of names being thrown around nowadays. I think everybody’s hoping that they get one right. So, yeah, there’s a little bit of tension. I think the best thing to do is not try to pay too much attention to it.”
Thornton had high praise for new Bruins Tomas Kaberle, Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley. “I’ve known Tomas for a long time,” he said. “We were in the minors together for a little bit, actually. The way he moves the puck and the way he sees the ice when he has the puck ' even without it ' he’s such a smart player. He’s one of the best defensemen in the league, and I think we’re very, very fortunate to have him.”
Of Kelly, Thornton said: “He can skate, he can shoot, he competes really hard. I think he’s a good pickup for us.”
Thornton said the adjustment period for the new Bruins shouldn’t be long, especially considering their age and the fact that Peverley comes from Atlanta, where first-year Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay is using a style similar to the one used when Ramsay was an assistant in Boston the past three seasons. “I think it should be pretty seamless, being that they’re older guys,” Thornton said. “Kelly, Peverly, Kaberle ' they’ve all been around the league a bunch. '¦ The fact that Kelly’s been in the league for six, seven years makes it a little easier than being maybe 20 or 21.”
Bruins goalie Tim Thomas challenged Canadiens netminder Carey Price to a fight when the teams met in Boston earlier this month. While it didn’t go so well for Thomas, Thornton was impressed with the effort and strategy. “His game plan was pretty good for a guy fighting somebody a lot bigger,” Thornton said. “I’ve actually used his game plan before. But when you miss your grab on the way in, sometimes it goes all out the window. And it did for him. But you know what? He did a good job. He protected himself well.
“He’ll be the first to tell you it wasn’t much of a fight. But that was the loudest I’ve heard the Garden I think in a long time, when those two squared off. It was pretty fun.”
|Price tagged: Bruins crush Habs||02.09.11 at 9:58 pm ET|
The Bruins lit up Montreal goaltender Carey Price for eight goals as they picked up their first victory against the Canadiens this season, a 8-6 win at the TD Garden.
The game featured 192 penalty minutes between the two teams. The more notable of the fights was a goalie brawl between Tim Thomas and Price at 12:36 of the second period. The netminders squared off in the Canadiens’ zone, with Price getting the better of Thomas.
Despite losing the fight, Thomas improved to 26-6-6 on the season, and the victory puts the B’s four points ahead of the Habs in the Northeast Division. The Bruins will return to action Friday when they host the Red Wings Friday night.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- Patrice Bergeron‘s line continues to impress. Before the floodgates opened on both sides and the game turned into a high-scoring affair, it was Marchand that got the B’s on the board after a beautiful display of passing from the rookie, Mark Recchi, and Bergeron.
- It was good to see Ryder’s two-goal performance given his struggles earlier in the game. Ryder entered the game having not scored in eight straight games, and he lost the puck in front of the net early in the second. Ryder’s first goal was set up by a beautiful backhanded pass from Zach Hamill. Both players had to be encouraged by their nights. Ryder had what he thought was his second goal of the night waved off in the third period, as Brad Marchand was pushed into Price. He would make up for it with a power play goal at 10:01.
- Nathan Horton had five points (1 G, 4 A) on the night, the most he’s had in a game as a member of the Bruins. He had three helpers on Nov. 18 against the Panthers at the Garden.
Horton has definitely sprinkled in some very good games in the midst of his goal-scoring slump. See below regarding his penalties, but offensively, Wednesday was one of them those games.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- P.K. Subban is a pain in the Bruins’ you-know-what. He scored on the power play in the second period and added an assist in addition to once again getting under the skin of the Boston players. In four games against the B’s this season, Subban has four points (2 G, 2 A) and on Dec. 16 drew the penalty that led to a Habs power play goal. Whether it’s on the stat sheet or by getting in players’ heads, the rookie blueliner has been able to be pest to the Bruins. The B’s got the last laugh, of course, as the rookie ended up with a minus-3 rating for the night.
- As encouraging as Horton’s assists were, his penalties cost the B’s in both the second and third periods. Horton went off twice for tripping, and the Habs scored on each of the power plays, getting Subban’s second-period strike and a Max Pacioretty goal 7:06 of the third.
- Statistically, Wednesday night’s was Thomas’ worst game of the season. The six goals he allowed was the most he’s given up in a game this season. Thomas allowed five goals to the Flyers on Jan. 13 in a 7-5 win. He faced 35 shots in that game, making 30 saves, whereas he only saw 33 shots Wednesday night.
|Bruins at Canadiens preview||12.16.10 at 4:57 pm ET|
The Bruins are in Montreal Thursday to take on the Canadiens for the second time this season. They were handed a 3-1 loss on Nov. 11 at the Garden in a game started by Tuukka Rask, but it appears Thursday will feature a dream matchup between two of the league’s best goalies.
Tim Thomas, who will man the pipes for the Bruins, is first in nearly every statistical category. He’s tops in save percentage (.954), goals against average (1.51) and is tied with Henrik Lundqvist with five shutouts. Carey Price, meanwhile, is tied with Jimmy Howard with 17 wins, the most in the NHL.
WHERE IT’S AT
- The Habs are 11-5-2 at home, most recently dropping a 5-3 decision to the to Flyers at the Bell Centre on Wednesday night.
- After the Bruins’ 3-2 loss to the Sabres in Buffalo on Wednesday, the team is now 9-4-1 on the road. The Bruins are 2-2-1 in their last five road contests.
- Zdeno Chara had the Bruins’ lone goal the last time the B’s played the Habs. He hasn’t scored in the 16 games since, though he came close when he rang a shot off the post Wednesday in Buffalo.
With his four goals, Chara is on pace to pick up 11 this season. He scored seven goals last season after picking up a career-high 19 in 2008-09.
- After a slow start to the season, Habs captain and former Boston College standout Brian Gionta is tied for the team lead with 10 goals this season. He had eight shots on goal and scored one the Canadiens’ three goals in their loss to the Flyers on Wednesday.
- The Bruins lead the NHL is goals against (1.9 per game) while the Canadiens (2.1) are second in the league. If you’re a fan of goaltending duels, this is about as good as it gets.
STORYLINES GOING IN
- The Habs have struggled of late, as they’ve lost three in a row. Only the Islanders’ at six games have a longer current losing streak.
- This is a matchup of the top two teams in the Northeast division, as the Canadiens have 38 points to the Bruins’ 36. With a victory, the B’s can tie the Habs for the division lead despite having played two less games.
- Tyler Seguin could be handed his second consecutive healthy scratch and third straight game missed if he spends Thursday night in the press box with Doug Jarvis. It’s worth noting that Steven Stamkos was also a healthy scratch as a rookie and responded pretty well.
Habs defenseman P.K. Subban also missed three games as a healthy scratch this season. Bruins fans might remember him for scoring the first goal of the Nov. 3 game (and his career) by notching a power play tally against Tuukka Rask.
|Bruins/Canadiens Preview, 11/11||11.11.10 at 11:33 am ET|
The Bruins likely have a ton of positive energy following a five-goal third period that propelled them to a 7-4 come-from-behind victory over the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Wednesday night. They return home to face the Canadiens for the first time this season on Thursday.
Here’s everything you need to know going in.
WHERE IT’S AT
- The Bruins are a modest 2-2-1 as the home team this season (they were the home team in the season-opening 5-2 loss against the Coyotes in Prague).
The Habs are 5-2-0 on the road, with their most recent road loss coming last Tuesday, a 3-0 defeat at the hands of the Blue Jackets in Columbus.
- After scoring in the third period of the Bruins’ victory in Pittsburgh on Wednesday night, Nathan Horton now has 149 career goals. He can go for No. 150 against the Habs on Thursday night in front of the home crowd.
- The Bruins have averaged 2.2 goals this season in the third period when entering the period trailing.
- The Canadiens have the worst power play in the league, scoring on just 7.8 percent of their power plays.
- The Bruins have had back-to-back games just twice this season. They are 1-0-1, beating the Coyotes on Oct. 10 in Prague and losing in a shootout to the Blues on Saturday.
- After playing a career-high 17:22 giants the Sabres last Wednesday, Tyler Seguin has played 12:21, 9:49, and 12:32 in three games since. He is averaging 13:06 of ice time each night, and after assisting Mark Recchi’s goal, he has six points on the season (3 G, 3A). Seguin is on pace for a 21-goal, 21-assist campaign.
- While we’re extrapolating stats, seven Bruins are on pace to score at least 20 goals this season: Horton, Milan Lucic, Michael Ryder, Zdeno Chara, Shawn Thornton (!), Jordan Caron, and Seguin. Remember, Marco Sturm was the only Bruin to score 20 last year, as he led the B’s with 22.
STORYLINES GOING IN
- Former Boston College star and current Canadiens captain Brian Gionta has had a rough start to the season, but things are starting to look up. After having just three points through the team’s first 12 games, Gionta has a goal and an assist over the last two games.
- Carey Price has been a rock in net for the Habs, softening the blow of just how good Jaroslav Halak has been (1.79 GAA, .932 save percentage). In 14 starts, Price has gone 8-5-1 with a 2.28 GAA and a .918 save percentage.
Price is coming off a shutout against the Canucks on Tuesday, but has allowed three goals in three of his last five starts, all three of which the Habs lost.
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