|Looking back at Bruins’ Game 7 history over last decade||05.26.11 at 4:38 pm ET|
The Bruins will be fighting for their playoff lives when they take the ice for yet another decisive Game 7.
How many times have B’s fans heard that phrase in the last 10 years? Well, Friday night’s Game 7 against the Lightning in the Eastern Conference finals will be the sixth time in the last decade that the men in black and gold have played in the most-pressure packed game in professional hockey. In fact, Boston has played in a Game 7 in five of the seven seasons that it qualified for the playoffs over that span.
But that Game 7 history hasn’t been necessarily a good one. The Bruins are a horrid 1-4 in Game 7’s since 2001, with the lone win finally coming this season in the opening round against the rival Canadiens.
Here’s a look back at how the B’s fared in each of their Game 7’s of the past decade.
2004 Eastern Conference quarterfinals, 2-0 L vs. Canadiens
As the second seed in the Eastern Conference, this series against the seventh-seeded Habs should’ve been an easy one on paper. After the first four games of the series, it looked like that would certainly be the case as Boston jumped out to a 3-1 lead. But this was still the NHL playoffs, arguably the least predictable of all the professional North American postseason tournaments, and the Habs stormed back to score five goals in both Game 5 and Game 6 to tie the series.
In Game 7, it was Montreal goalie Jose Theodore‘s time to take over. The netminder stoned all 32 shots from the Bruins while Richard Zednik potted both goals in the third period, one on an empty net in the waning seconds, to give the Habs the series win. The Game 7 win marked the first time Montreal had ever come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a playoff series. If there’s any silver lining for the Boston fans looking back on this loss, it’s that current Bruins bench boss Claude Julien was actually calling the shots for the Canadiens at the time. (Julien is 2-3 in Game 7’s for his career.) Read the rest of this entry »
|Bruins can’t close out Lightning despite David Krejci hat trick||05.25.11 at 10:46 pm ET|
TAMPA — The Bruins and Lightning are heading back to Boston to decide the Eastern Conference finals, as a hat trick from David Krejci was not enough to propel the B’s into the Stanley Cup Finals — instead, it was a 5-4 loss in Game 6 Wednesday night.
After the Bruins erased an early 1-0 Bolts lead with goals from Milan Lucic and Krejci. Tampa would come back with three unanswered goals before a back-and-forth third period left the B’s down by one following Krejci’s third goal.
Teddy Purcell did most of the Lightning’s damage to Tim Thomas, opening the scoring just 36 into the contest and giving Tampa a 3-2 lead 13:35 into the second period. Purcell now has six goals this postseason, three of which have come this round.
Thomas made 21 saves for the Bruins, while Dwayne Roloson stopped 15 of the Bruins’ 19 shots.
Game 7 will be played at TD Garden on Friday.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR BRUINS
– Another goal allowed very early for the Bruins. Krejci was set to take the face-off against Vincent Lecavalier and was tossed from the dot, allowing Lecavalier to go against Chris Kelly. The Tampa center won it cleanly, allowing for Purcell to blast one past Thomas. It was the Lightning’s second goal in the first minute of a game this series, and third goal in the first 1:09. Amazingly, it was the only game in the aforementioned three that the Lightning won.
– Yes, Eric Furlatt was officiating and the Lightning were penalized more than the B’s, but it was Tampa that won out when it came to actually capitalizing. The Bruins’ power play looked improved with Zdeno Chara in front, and Krejci scored his second of the game with the B’s on the man advantage in the third, but the Lightning went 3-for-4 as opposed to Boston’s 1-for-5.
– Once again, the Bruins simply couldn’t build momentum at St. Pete Times Forum. After blowing a 3-0 lead in Game 4, the B’s blew a 2-1 lead in the second and got no boost from Krejci’s goal that brought them within one in the third. Martin St. Louis scored 29 seconds after Krejci’s tally.
– Taking an interference penalty with 13:02 remaining in a game in which your team is trying to make a two-goal comeback probably isn’t what you want to do if you’re Tomas Kaberle. The polarizing defenseman did just that in the corner on a play that left Ryan Malone bloodied. Kaberle actually had a good night defensively, but the penalty won’t help his reputation around Boston as a bust of an acquisition.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Krejci’s hat trick gives him five goals in six Eastern Conference finals games. The dominance from the second round hasn’t been there, but the numbers have been.
– Say what you want about Lucic disappearing this postseason, but he always smells blood when his team has a chance of ending a series. Lucic had a pair of tallies in Game 4 against the Flyers in the second round last year, and had three goals in Games 6 and 7 combined against Philly last year. Taking Games 6 and 7 against the Habs this year into consideration, Lucic now has 6 goals in the last six games in which the Bruins could eliminate an opponent.
– Dennis Seidenberg had a big play for the Bruins on a play in which the Lightning could have made it 4-2 late in the second. A Marc-Andre Bergeron shot yielded a rebound that Steven Stamkos tapped toward the net with Thomas out of position. Seidenberg literally put his foot down, stepping in front of the puck before it could hurt the B’s and starting a circus that landed Andrew Ference in the box for cross-checking Stamkos. The Lightning would score on the power play early in the second period on a goal from Stamkos, thus making the transaction a wash.
|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.”