|Bruins have one last chance to get traffic in Vancouver||06.15.11 at 3:40 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — The Bruins had no problem addressing the elephant in the province Wednesday.
The Bruins don’t play well in British Columbia (specifically Vancouver) — at least they haven’t thus far in the Stanley Cup finals. They’ve been sound defensively for the most part, and Tim Thomas has turned in the same type of dominance he’s turned in (three goals against in three losses) anywhere else. Yet the team hasn’t been able to create traffic and set up shop in front of Roberto Luongo, limiting their close-range chances and handing the Vancouver goaltender a pair of easy shutouts.
“It seems like we haven’t brought our physical game here to Vancouver,” native Milan Lucic said. “If we can just focus on that and moving our feet, kind of just playing more of a relaxed game ‘¦ It feels like we’ve been tense the last three times that we’ve played here, so if we can do that I like our chances.”
It was interesting that Lucic admitted to playing tense, as it’s seemed clear that the Bruins’ offense has seemed to be just that on the Rogers Arena ice. If there’s any time for them to break out of it, it’s now.
“I don’t think that we’ve had our best games out here,” Chris Kelly said Wednesday, “so hopefully tonight we can correct that and come out and play our best game.”
It’s been a breeze for the Bruins when it comes to getting in close when playing at home. So why, in Vancouver, have the Canucks been able to box them out as well as they have? And why, in turn, have the Bruins seemingly bought into the mirage that is a stronger Vancouver defense at home?
“I think [it’s been] a bit of both,” Kelly said of whether it’s been the Canucks’ defense or the Bruins’ offense that is to blame for Boston’s lack of traffic in British Columbia. “Give them credit. They’ve done a good job boxing us out, preventing us from getting to the front of the net, but I think we need to battle a little harder and find ways to get there.”
If the Bruins can’t find ways to battle harder, their season will end in so-close-yet-so-far fashion. Coach Claude Julien has sent a message to the B’s since they closed out Game 6. The message?
“Crash ‘n bang,” Tyler Seguin said. “We made our adjustments, and obviously we want to get up in their face a little bit more. I think last time in their building they took it to us more than [we did to them], and we definitely want to respond with just as much if not more physicality.”
Yes, the Bruins have been a different, weaker animal in Vancouver than they have been in Boston. But when it comes to Wednesday night, they have to be aware that with the Stanley Cup just 60 minutes (or more) of hockey away from being theirs, they have to look at it as one game to shine, rather than the fourth game of a rough Vancouver experience.
“That’s kind of why we think it’s a different mindset tonight,” Seguin said, “because it’s just one game.
|Just like in Montreal series, Bruins aren’t panicking down 0-2||06.06.11 at 1:48 pm ET|
If Bruins fans are looking for a reason to remain optimistic, they don’t have to look any further than the first round, when the Bruins overcame an 0-2 series deficit to knock off the Canadiens. Sure, it was against a six-seed rather than the Presidents’ Trophy winner, but the Bruins say they can still draw from the experience.
“Obviously you want to look back at lessons that you’ve learned throughout the season, throughout the playoffs, and look back on experiences that you’ve had,” Chris Kelly said. “I think it’s good that we have experienced this situation before. We’re used to it. It’s nothing new. Obviously it’s not a situation we want to be in, but we are. We know we have to come out and play well.”
That said, Kelly warned against relying on that first-round comeback too much. He said the team recognizes how tough the road ahead is.
“We can’t rely on, ‘Well, we’ve been here before and we managed to pull it off,’ ” he said. “This is a new team, new challenge, and we need to come out with our best effort.”
Claude Julien‘s message to his team now is the same as it’s been all season — stay even-keeled. Julien and the Bruins were praised during the first round for remaining calm and poised after dropping the first two games, and Julien said that needs to happen again.
“You ask your team not to get too high when things are going extremely well and not too low when there’s challenges,” Julien said. “That’s something we’ve been doing throughout the playoffs. It’s helped us through some tough times.”
Julien said that from everything he’s seen, his team is doing just that.
“If you had a chance to go in the dressing room, you noticed that those guys are in pretty good spirits,” Julien said. “We’ve been through it. You always have to find the bright side of things. The bright side of things is we’re down to two teams and we’re one of the two. We’re fortunate and happy to be here. For us to look at it any differently and then come today hanging our heads is ridiculous.
“There’s a lot of time to get back in this series,” he added. “We believe in it. The only thing left is to go out there and show it. That’s what we’re getting ready for, is a big tilt tonight that we think is an important game for us and will hopefully turn this series around.”
There may not have been any biting in Game 2, but there was still plenty going on after the whistle. While Claude Julien and the Bruins players downplayed the significance of the league’s decision to not suspend Alexandre Burrows, Canucks forward Maxim Lapierre chose to mock the whole incident by sticking his fingers in Patrice Bergeron‘s face after a whistle and appearing to offer him a bite.
When asked about the incident on Monday, Julien initially said he wasn’t going to say much about it, but then he went on to say quite a bit.
“If it’s acceptable for them [to do that], then so be it,” Julien said. “It certainly wouldn’t be acceptable on our end of it. I think you know me enough to know that. … The NHL rules on something. If they decide to make a mockery of it, that’s totally up to them. If that’s their way of handling things, so be it.”
When asked to respond to Julien’s comments, Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault denied having any knowledge of the incident.
“If that happened in between whistles, I didn’t see it,” Vigneault said. “I focus on the play that’s going on between whistles, so I can’t really comment on that.”
Lapierre also took the easy way out by giving a “no comment” when asked about the incident.
In the Bruins’ room, Chris Kelly said everyone has pretty much come to expect that kind of behavior from Lapierre.
“That’s nothing new with him,” Kelly said. “We know what type of player he is. It is what it is.”
Taunting opponents might be unacceptable to Julien, but getting caught up in it or worrying about getting revenge would be just as bad, according to Julien.
“We can’t waste our time on that kind of stuff,” Julien said. “We really have to focus on what we have to do. The last time I looked, we’re down two games to none. All our energy has to go towards that.”
The Bruins have a tall task ahead of them as they look to overcome an 0-2 hole and turn the Stanley Cup finals into an actual series. Both games have been determined by just one goal thus far, and though the Bruins have played poorly from the most part, the first two games have shown the B’s can hang with the Canucks, even if they haven’t totally shown up yet. With the number three in mind, here’s a preview of Monday’s Game 3.
THREE THINGS THE BRUINS NEED TO DO
– Get better looks vs. Roberto Luongo and establish a net-front presence. We’ll say it until it changes, and it didn’t change enough in Game 2. The Canucks have been able to box the Bruins out so far in the series, but look at how the B’s scored their goals in Game 2. Milan Lucic buried a rebound from in front, and Mark Recchi redirected a shot in front of Luongo. When the Bruins were able to set up shop and do things from close range, the puck went in. It seems trying it any other way is an exercise in futility.
– Keep moving Zdeno Chara around on the power play. Recchi’s goal came as a result of Claude Julien moving Chara back to the point, but Julien should keep mixing it up when it comes to the Bruins’ mammoth captain. He still appeared to be a nuisance in front of Luongo in Game 1, so Julien should have enough confidence in Chara’s abilities in both areas to play him in different spots from power play to power play.
– Use the home crowd to their advantage. Whether or not they want to admit it, Rogers Arena was absolutely electric and had to have been a tough place to play. If the Garden can turn down the music and let the fans create an authentic atmosphere, maybe the Canucks can truly feel like they’re at an opponent’s home and not a wrestling match.
– Both the Bruins and Canucks have seen four of their last five games be determined by one goal. The Bruins are 2-3 in that span, while the Canucks are 4-1.
– The four goals Tim Thomas has allowed over the last three games ties this stretch with his best of the postseason. Thomas let in four goals over Games 2 through 4 of the conference semifinals vs. the Flyers, though the difference is that the Bruins won all three of those games and have lost two of the three games in this stretch.
– Brad Marchand has gone four games without scoring. In the other two instances this postseason in which he went four straight without a goal, he scored the following game.
THREE PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON
– Tim Thomas: He plays aggressive ‘ the sky is falling! As bad as the game-wining goal he allowed in overtime Saturday looked, the reaction by some suggest nobody has actually watched Thomas before. He’s all over the place, and he plays farther out of his net than most. It will be interesting to see how be performs in Game 3 given all the heat he’s been under for his style this series.
– Alexandre Burrows: The Bruins have every reason to be furious that Burrows wasn’t suspended for Game 2, though they’re not showing it. At any rate, their No. 1 concern should be finding away to stop the guy who showed Saturday that his offensive ability (2 G, A in Game 2) is just as sharp as his teeth.
– Rich Peverley: Where to play the speedy winger? Peverley has seen time on the second line, third line and fourth line (and the first if you want to count him taking one of Nathan Horton‘s shifts in Game 7 of the conference finals when Horton was banged up) in recent games. Peverley could continue to take some of Mark Recchi‘s shifts on the second line, or he could skate with Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder, as he did from late in the second period Saturday to the end of the contest. If and when Julien makes a move to get Shawn Thornton in the lineup at the expense of Tyler Seguin this series, the line of Kelly centering Peverley and Ryder would make sense.
Also, don’t rule out Peverley having a target on his back in Game 3. His two-handed slash to the back of Kevin Bieksa‘s knee didn’t go over well with Bieksa, his teammates or his coaches. Given the nature of the play, it shouldn’t have. Peverley really got away with one, and had he scored on his shot that followed the non-penalized slash, it would have looked even worse.
|Bruins looking for more physical, less penalized play in Game 2||06.04.11 at 5:48 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — The Bruins found themselves shorthanded six times in the first two periods of Wednesday’s Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals against Vancouver, and despite shutting down the Canucks’ power play, they don’t want to push their luck.
“We don’t want to take too many penalties,” Nathan Horton said Saturday in anticipation of Game 2. “We know they’ve got a great power play, and we want to stay out of the box as much as possible, but we want to play as hard as we can and not cross that line. When we’re playing the way we can, we’re not taking penalties. We’re moving our feet, and that’s what we want to do.”
The Bruins’ primary focus for Game 2 will be to get better looks against Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo, who had a relatively easy 36-save shutout on Wednesday. One area in which the B’s know they need to be more physical — but cautiously so in an effort to stay out of the box — is in front to set up more close-range opportunities.
“There can always be more [net-front presence], regardless of if you feel you did a good job, or if you did a poor job,” center Chris Kelly said. “Obviously, when you get traffic in front of any goalie, especially a guy of his caliber, it makes things easier on yourself and harder on him.”
As for the 28 penalty minutes between the two teams in the game’s first 40 minutes, Kelly said the officials may have been more inclined to call the game tighter based on the fact that it was the first of such a big series.
“I think obviously the refs wanted to establish that they weren’t going to let anything go. You tend to see that in the first game of the series, lots of calls made,” Kelly said. “We need to know that we need to stay out of the box, because they’ve got a good power play. If we can stay out, the less chances they get. That’s better for us.”
Added Horton: “We don’t know what to expect from [the refs], but we’re just going to get back to the way we can play and leave everything on the ice. It’s an important game for us, and we don’t want to go down, 0-2.”
|Bruins can’t have one bad period in Game 7||05.26.11 at 11:35 pm ET|
BEDFORD — When it comes to cliches, a Game 7 brings no shortage. From “do or die,” to “most important game of the year,” to “this is why you play hockey,” they’re all hit on.
Another one you’ll hear is players talking of giving a “60 minute effort.” With the way the Eastern Conference finals has gone, maybe the Bruins should consider breaking it down even further. After winning Game 2 and losing Games 4 and 6 in the second period, perhaps they should view it more as bringing three 20-minute efforts. One period has made the difference too often in the series, and the Bruins know it.
“That’s been our biggest challenge all year, is to put three solid periods together each and every game,” Gregory Campbell said Thursday. “Tomorrow night is going to be no different. We have to take the first period and play well in that. Whether we’re up or down, the game is not won in one period. We have to make sure that we’re playing well in all three periods.
“If it goes extra time, that’s fine. We have the confidence that we can win those games, and we’ll just have to make sure that we’re executing and competing and working as hard as we can.”
The Bruins held a 3-0 lead in Game 4 and a 2-1 lead in Game 6, both of which were held after one and were erased after two. If you take away the second period of Game 2 in which Tyler Seguin had four points in a five-goal Bruins’ second period, the B’s would have just two second-period goals this series. That isn’t to say that the B’s have been dominated in second periods, as it speaks more to a point that applies to both teams. Leads aren’t safe, despite the fact that this was billed as being such a big goaltender’s duel. Any team can steal a game with one strong period, and the B’s see playing three good periods as a starting point for success.
“I think you want to play a consistent 60 minutes,” Chris Kelly said, “and maybe that will be our focus for tomorrow night — coming out and playing all three periods.”
The Bruins have experience winning a Game 7 at home, having done so against the Canadiens in the first round. But how much can they actually draw from that come Friday night? Players say at least a little.
“We got some confidence,” David Krejci said Thursday. “We know we’ve been there before, so it’s nothing new to us. Hopefully we can use our experience to our advantage tomorrow.”
Perhaps that will be the case, but there a few flaws in the theory that the Game 7 against Montreal will give Boston any sort of an advantage Friday. First, the Bruins didn’t look nervous at all to start that game. They jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first 5:33, which is an anomaly for a team that has surrendered seven goals in the opening three minutes of games this postseason. So you can’t really make the argument that they’ll be less nervous.
Second, and more importantly, the Lightning aren’t new to this whole Game 7 thing either. They beat the Penguins on the road in Game 7 in the first round, so no one should expect them to be overwhelmed by the atmosphere and magnitude of the game.
“Obviously we have played in a Game 7, but so have they,” Chris Kelly said. “You can kind of look back and realize how you approached it, but at the end of the day, it’s two new teams, a new situation and a new experience.”
Kelly hit the nail on the head with that last line. A Game 7 in the first round is one thing. A Game 7 in the conference finals with a berth in the Stanley Cup finals on the line is another.
Claude Julien said his team realizes that and that he hopes his players are excited about it.
“Why shouldn’t we be excited? This is what playoffs is all about,” Julien said. “If you had told us at the beginning of the year that we had to win one game to go to the Stanley Cup finals, we would be excited about it. And that’s where we’re at right now.”