|Bruins drop Game 2 to Canadiens||04.16.11 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.”
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.
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