|Bruins-Lightning Game 3 preview||05.19.11 at 2:10 am ET|
TAMPA ' The Bruins can pick up their third straight road win and first series lead of the Eastern Conference finals with a Game 3 win Thursday at St. Pete Times Forum. The B’s might have momentum on their side, as they took a high-scoring contest Tuesday in defeating Tampa, 6-5. With the number three in mind, here's a preview of Thursday’s game:
Three things the Bruins need to do:
- Keep Ryding the hot duo: Whether or not Patrice Bergeron returns to the lineup, any shakeup should not include a separation of Tyler Seguin and Michael Ryder. The two have totaled five goals thus far in the series, and their chemistry is evident. The Lightning will try to be more physical to knock the rookie off his game, but Seguin simply needs to show that these games have given him more confidence. Expect him to stay with Ryder and Chris Kelly in Game 3.
- Extend the power play success: Who said this team stunk on the man advantage? Two goals in Game 2 (one of which came with one second remaining after the team failed to score on a 5-on-3) matched their postseason production on the power play entering the night, and there are certainly encouraging nights. Tomas Kaberle played better on the man advantage Tuesday, while Seguin was finally given the opportunity to contribute on special teams and did.
- Tighten it up: As much as Bruins fans can get on board with watching Tim Thomas come up big on multiple breakaway bids, the B's would just rather they not happen at all. The Bruins could have had a much better defensive effort on Tuesday, and correcting it will lower the number of quality opportunities for the Lightning.
Three crazy stats:
- By scoring three goals on Dwayne Roloson Tuesday, the Bruins bumped the Lightning netminder out of the top spot in postseason goals against average and save percentage. The leader in both those categories now? Carey Price, who posted a 2.11 GAA and .934 in the first round against the B's.
- The Bruins are 0-2 in games this postseason in which Nathan Horton fails to register a shot on goal. They're 9-2 when he has at least one. Horton leads the B's with 13 points, and his 34 shots on goal are second to Bergeron among forwards.
Three key players:
- Patrice Bergeron: As fun as the Seguin Show was to watch on Tuesday, the Bruins aren't kidding themselves here. They need Bergeron back, and after taking contact he could return to the lineup for one of the games in Tampa. Whether that happens remains to be seen.
- Dwayne Roloson: The Tampa goaltender was not as bad as the numbers were on Tuesday, but it will be interesting to see how he responds to being chased for the first time this postseason.
- Johnny Boychuk: The 27-year-old has goals in two of his last three games, but he was positively wretched in Game 2. Boychuk's sloppiness resulted in a minus-3 rating that would have been worse had the puck he accidentally banked off the skate of Kaberle in front of the net gone in. He ended up playing only 16:06, his lowest time on ice total this postseason.
|Claude Julien not sure what Bruins’ second line will look like Tuesday||05.16.11 at 1:32 pm ET|
Bruins coach Claude Julien made the decision to mix up the second and third lines in Monday’s practice, but speaking after the skate, he hardly sounded like a man who had his Game 2 lineup set in stone.
Rich Peverley made the jump to the second line in the practice after playing Game 1 between Tyler Seguin and Michael Ryder. Peverley skated Monday with Brad Marchand and Mark Recchi, while Chris Kelly took his spot on the third line with. Center Patrice Bergeron rotated in with the second line during line drills, centering Marchand and Recchi (his usual trio), as well as Marchand and Peverley.
Julien said he doesn’t know whether he will have Bergeron for Game 2, and that Monday’s lines were put in place to give him more options should he feel a change is in order.
“Just moving guys around a little bit,” Julien said following the practice. “I think it’s important that if we’re going to [mix up lines], that they get used to playing with each other. Kelly has an opportunity to play with that line and has gotten used to them a little bit. Now Peverley [has skated with Recchi and Marchand] and I’ve got some options. Just giving some thought to maybe different combinations if need be, and tomorrow we’ll decide which one we want to go with.”
Mixing up the second and third lines would be nothing new for Julien this series. He moved Seguin up to the second line with Kelly and Marchand in the third period of the team’s Game 1 loss, with Recchi moving down to the third line with Peverley and Ryder.
'I think me and Kells [Chris Kelly] might do some switching off,” Peverley said. “I think it's just to give an option down the middle there. I'm just going to try and play my game. I'm not going to try and be Bergy. He's a tremendous player. I'll just try and use my speed.
'Usually, you try and prepare to play with anybody. And you want to be able to play with anybody. I don't think it's going to be any different at all.'
As for what needs to change, Peverley broke out a time-tested but very appropriate hockey cliche.
'We played well but we didn't play a full 60 minutes,” Peverley said. “Obviously, you make mistakes at this time of year, they end up in the back of your net. Some costly mistakes, a little bit of a lull there and within a minute-25 seconds, we're down 3-0. We can't let that happen and we have to be fully prepared.'
The Bruins scored just once in the first 58 minutes of Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Lightning in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Meanwhile, Milan Lucic had to take a momentary seat on the bench after taking a slap shot from Seguin on the right foot during pre-practice warmups.
|With playoff layoff, Bruins making the most of their time||05.12.11 at 2:06 pm ET|
In just two days, fans will be able to see something they haven’t seen in a while: a Bruins hockey game.
Sure, this time of year, the wait is generally longer for the next Bruins game (something in the neighborhood of five months), but it still been quite a while for these B’s. When the puck is dropped Saturday in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, it will be Boston’s first game in eight days, as they have had penalty of time on their hands since sweeping away the Flyers in the semifinals last Friday.
After the Philadelphia series, the team took the weekend off from skating, returning to practice for Monday and Tuesday before staying off the ice on Wednesday. Thursday, they held their third practice of the extra-long layoff period, and it certainly belonged in the “high intensity” category. Claude Julien reached into his bag of tricks for an interesting drill which featured two goals in the corner, with a short area of space to play in between. It kept things physical, and for a team that’s gone so long without playing actual games, it kept the energy up.
“We have to find the best drills for similar-to-game situations and prepare ourselves for that same intensity like we’ve been playing,” captain Zdeno Chara, who took Tuesday off, said after Thursday’s skate. “We’re having good practices.”
One player who could certainly benefit from such a drill is Tyler Seguin. Physicality is an area in which the No. 2 overall pick’s game is lacking, and as he makes his playoff debut, being able to give and take more contact could come a long way. The rookie noted that it was only the second time the team had done the drill this season. The other came just before a very big win for the team.
“We actually did it once in Vancouver,” Seguin said. “Just going against big teams, you’ve got to be strong on the battles. We were just touching up on that in tight areas.”
By comparison, the B’s had two days off between their seven-game quarterfinal series with the Canadiens and their semifinal showdown vs. Philadelphia. Yet this time, they haven’t had to do a bit or traveling since their Game 4 win on home ice, and while they can appreciate the time off, they know they can’t let up.
“We’ve got to have tough practices,” Seguin said. “We’re going to get our rest and our breaks, but we’ve got to get back to work here. We had a tough practice today, and [we'll have] another one tomorrow to get ready for Saturday.”
Four wins away from a chance at the Stanley Cup, the B’s are having little trouble staying motivated between the series. It’s the farthest they’ve been since 1992, but it’s not as far as they want.
“It’s been nice to have the time off,” center Chris Kelly said. “It has not been difficult at all. We know that there’s still lots of work to be done.”
|Bruins not worried about adjusting to new line combinations||05.11.11 at 1:12 pm ET|
At this point in the season, you would expect any team still playing to have its line combinations set, and the Bruins did through the end of the regular season and the first two rounds of the playoffs. But with Patrice Bergeron out with a concussion, Claude Julien has had to shuffle his second and third lines.
Chris Kelly has moved up to take Bergeron’s spot as the second-line center between Brad Marchand and Mark Recchi. Meanwhile, Michael Ryder has switched from right wing to left wing to make room for Tyler Seguin to be the third-line right wing. All that movement and potential unfamiliarity could be reason for concern, but Julien doesn’t see it that way.
“Those guys have gone through those kinds of things throughout the whole year,” Julien said. “I think our guys have been used to playing with each other. Even in practice, we mix and match and you see different pairings at times. I thought our guys adjusted well, and if we did decide to make some other changes, I’m sure it wouldn’t be a big issue.”
One interesting thing to note about the new lines is that the second line now consists of three left-handed shots, while the third line comprises three righties. Kelly said that shouldn’t be an issue, either.
“These guys can pick up passes on their backhand just as easy as they can pick up passes on their forehand,” Kelly said. “So I don't think it's anything that you need to think about or worry about.”
Of course, Recchi has played the off-wing for most of the season, so there’s no adjustment there. Ryder, on the other hand, has been on the right side for the majority of the season. Julien said Ryder is just as much at home on the left side, though.
“Mike is just as comfortable playing on the left as he is on the right, that much I know,” Julien said. “So making that change isn’t a big deal.”
|Fun while it lasted: Chris Kelly’s caged days are over||05.10.11 at 3:51 pm ET|
Bruins center Chris Kelly couldn’t wait to get rid of his full cage, and he finally did just that on Tuesday.
Kelly, who had to wear the cage after hitting his face on the post in Game 3 of the quarterfinals vs. the Canadiens, was asked time and time again whether he feared losing the cage given the success it seemingly brought him. Kelly had just six points in his first 27 games with the Bruins, but since donning the cage in Game 4 of the quarterfinals, he has had six points in eight games. Now ready to take Patrice Bergeron‘s spot on the second line until the concussed center returns, Kelly will wear an extended visor, which he said “feels a lot better.”
Kelly said that as much as he grew tired of the cage’s popularity, he did not bury or burn it, but he is officially done with it.
“I didn’t bury it. I don’t know what they did with it,” he said with a relieved grin. “Obviously you guys love it, rightfully so, but it was time to move forward, and this was a great alternative.”
|Chris Kelly: Patrice Bergeron is ‘irreplaceable’||05.09.11 at 1:03 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Bruins center Chris Kelly skated in Patrice Bergeron‘s place on the second line Monday at Ristuccia Arena, centering a line with Brad Marchand and Mark Recchi. Kelly, who has seven points since Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, hopes to find success on the second line, but recognized after Monday’s practice that he can’t simply replace the concussed Bergeron.
“Everything,” Kelly said when asked what the team will miss with Bergeron out. “Obviously you can’t replace Bergy. He does every little thing that maybe goes unnoticed by a lot of people, but not by us. He does all the big things that [everybody] notices, as well. You can’t replace him. He’s irreplaceable, and hopefully he’s good to go.”
Bergeron is expected to miss the beginning of the team’s upcoming series with the Lightning due to a concussion suffered in the third period of Friday’s Game 4 win over the Flyers. As a result, Kelly will be given an increased role with the assistant captain out, but his biggest hope is that Bergeron can return quickly.
“I would love not to play with them,” Kelly said of his new line. “We’ll see what happens and go forward from there.”