|Shutting down secondary scoring remains priority for new bottom six||06.07.13 at 1:58 pm ET|
The Penguins are going to give their biggest push Friday, and after outplaying the Bruins in Game 3, that should make the fourth win — as it usually is anyway — the toughest one to get.
Yet also facing the Bruins is the fact that they’ll be sporting a revamped bottom six. Regardless of whether the bottom six that Claude Julien put out in morning skate (Daugavins – Peverley – Seguin, Paille – Kelly – Thornton) sticks, the Bruins will be dealing with two different lines than usual.
That could be an advantage for the Penguins, as they are already a deeper team offensively than the Bruins (though this series wouldn’t tell you that), so their bottom two lines could take advantage of those of the Bruins as they try to get their footing.
“I don’t think it’s unfamiliar roles,” Chris Kelly said after Friday’s morning skate. “I think everyone’s played with one another in certain aspects not only this year, but in years past. It’s just one of those things that you plug in guys and they go out there and do a job. There’s chemistry between all six of us that play, so I don’t see it being a problem.”
The Penguins still have just two goals in the Eastern Conference finals — one from Chris Kunitz and one from Brandon Sutter. THat means that Pittsburgh has gotten one goal out of its top two lines and one from it’s bottom two.
So for as much attention is being paid to the Bruins shutting down Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and friends, consider that the B’s — while not getting much secondary scoring themselves — have also kept the Penguins’ bottom two lines quiet.
“I think everyone wants to play their role and get their required job done,” Tyler Seguin, who has gone from a top-six guy to the bottom-six in this postseason, said. “I think it’s good D zone first with us, and it always has been. Whether it’s shutting down secondary scoring or whatnot, that’s what comes first. We’d obviously like to pop in a couple for ourselves if we can.”
Assuming the lines seen in morning skate are used Friday night, it will be interesting to see which one is used as a third line and which one is used as a fourth line. Kelly has no points the last 19 games, but his presence on the Merlot Line might mean more minutes than usual for what was once the Merlot Line.
|Bruins expect changes from Rangers in Game 4||05.23.13 at 1:13 pm ET|
NEW YORK — So Brad Richards won’t be in the lineup in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. That’s pretty big news purely from a standpoint of how far he’s fallen. As it pertains to this series, it isn’t really that big a deal unless the guy who plays in his place (Kris Newbury and Michael Haley are the candidates; fellow fourth-liner Arron Asham is a potential scratch as well) has a big performance.
John Tortorella was playing Richards on the fourth line. Richards played only 8:10 in Game 3, so although he’s a big name with a big contract (his nine-year, $60 million deal of which he’s in the second year screams amnesty buyout), it isn’t like the Rangers are taking one of their top-six forwards out of the lineup.
So when the Bruins, who were on the ice for their morning skate when Richards said he wasn’t playing in Game 4, found out about the development, they didn’t begin to think about all the questions that will accompany it (Has Richards played his last game as a Ranger? Will Tortorella get fired?).
“Obviously they’re going to make changes, but that’s their job,” Chris Kelly said. “Our job is to focus on our team and be ready to play right from the drop of the puck and be ready to play a good road game.”
Daniel Paille sees the move as something that will give the Rangers a greater focus in Game 4 as the team tries to stave off elimination.
“I think whoever’s going to take his spot is going to want to be a difference-maker, and it’s just going to make it that much harder,” he said. “I think that will wake up their team and [help them] realize that they have to play hard.”
The Bruins are clearly focused more on their lineup than New York’s. The B’s are expected to go with the same group they’ve used in the first three games of the series, as Dennis Seidenberg and Wade Redden still aren’t expected to jump back in.
As for Richards’ take, he was a man of few words Thursday morning. He admitted that it was difficult to be productive on the fourth line, but that the development is all the motivation he needs for him to never let it happen again.
Richards won’t be the only new absence to the Rangers’ lineup. While Asham did not confirm that he is out, defensemen Anton Stralman was hurt in Game 3 and is expected to be replaced by Roman Hamrlik.
|Bruins can’t ease up with series lead like they did in first round||05.21.13 at 1:40 pm ET|
NEW YORK — Did the Bruins learn their lesson in the first round?
The lesson that they, as a Cup-winning team that had been embarrassed by a blown 3-0 series in the past, probably didn’t need taught to them? The lesson that nearly led to them being eliminated by Toronto and having their roster and coaching staff shaken up?
The lesson, of course, is that you never take a lead in a series for granted. You don’t go up in a series and assume that it’s won, and you don’t give your opponent any chance to get back in the series. The Bruins broke all those rules in the first round against the Maple Leafs, when they took a 3-1 lead and let Toronto force a seventh game with consecutive wins.
It took a monumental collapse from the Maple Leafs late in Game 7 for the Bruins to survive that and get through to the second round. Now that they’ve taken a 2-0 series lead on the Rangers, that killer instinct that wasn’t there before needs to start kicking in.
“I think we need to be aware with them being down, 2-0, and realize that they’re going to be a lot better,” Daniel Paille said Tuesday. “We felt that we had two strong games, but we can always improve. We don’t want to do too much, just add a little bit more effort and add a little bit more grit.”
Keep in mind that the Rangers dropped the first two games of their first-round series against the Capitals before storming back and winning it in seven. They’ve been in this position before and they’ve survived it, so the B’s had better expect a big push from John Tortorella‘s squad.
“We don’t want to lose two games here,” the Rangers coach said after New York dropped Game 2 on Sunday. “No one does. But there’s no give in the team. There will be no give in this team. Again, we need to go win a game. Not look anywhere else, just try to win our first home game this series.”
The good news for the Bruins is that they have swept two of the last three series in which they’ve held a 2-0 lead. They swept the Canadiens in 2009 and swept the Flyers in 2011, but sandwiched in there was their embarrassing seven-game elimination against the Flyers after holding a 3-0 series lead. While they haven’t won the first two games of a series since sweeping the Flyers, the only time they’ve held a two-game lead in a series since was this month against the Maple Leafs.
That means two of the last four series in which the B’s have held a two-game lead have resulted in sweeps, but the other two series have gone to seven games. They lost one of those series and they should have lost the other, so the B’s shouldn’t feel too satisfied just because they’ve got some breathing room.
“Obviously this is a huge game for both teams,” Chris Kelly said. “Killer instinct? I think we just want to go out and play well, play a solid 60 minutes and worry about our game and see what happens.”
|Chris Kelly: ‘All we did was give ourselves a chance to play in the second round’||05.16.13 at 12:42 pm ET|
You can call what happened in the third period and overtime of Game 7 against the Maple Leafs a lot of things. To some, it was one of the greatest comebacks in the history of the game. To others (including yours truly), it was a monumental collapse from a team that, after storming back from a 3-1 deficit, somehow forgot that desperation works both ways.
For Chris Kelly, it was a case of a team making the best of a bad situation. While he is proud of what the B’s were able to do in the final 20 minutes of the series against the Maple Leafs, he looks at the overall product in Game 7 and sees a lot the Bruins need to fix.
As such, he hopes that the B’s don’t feel too good after advancing past the Leafs. Asked about a potential letdown in Game 1 against the Rangers after Monday’s emotional win, Kelly put things in perspective.
“There had better not be,” Kelly said. “All we did was give ourselves a chance to play in the second round. We put ourselves in that situation being down 4-1. Yeah, it was a great comeback, but — and it’s a big ‘but’ — we put ourselves in that situation in order to comeback and win.”
The Rangers are coming off a seven-game series of their own after coming back from a 3-2 series deficit to eliminate the Rangers in the first round.
|Shawn Thornton on Game 7: ‘Obviously, we didn’t want to be here’||05.13.13 at 5:42 pm ET|
Leave it to Shawn Thornton to lighten the mood heading into a winner-take-all Game 7 against the Leafs at TD Garden. Asked what was the biggest advantage to flying back to Boston on the morning of Game 7 instead of flying back right after the Game 6 loss, Thornton had an immediate response.
“I didn’t have my dogs kicking me in the back in the middle of the night,” Thornton said. “I probably got more sleep last night staying over than I would have coming in. I think we got some more rest. We didn’t fly out at an atrocious time this morning. Everyone got their sleep, got in, had a good meal. I don’t know. I feel pretty good.”
The Bruins flew back to Boston mid-morning, after being grounded in Toronto Sunday night due to a “malfunction” with their charter plane. Thornton said the key for the Bruins in Game 7 will be attitude.
“Try not to get too high before the game and try to keep it fairly even keel,” he said. “If you get too ramped up, everyone can start looking like they have my hands, bobbling pucks. We have a lot of experience but they’re going to be pretty fired up over there, too. You have to try and keep it even keel but we have to be ready for them.”
Thornton also said the mood in the dressing room is not one of nervousness.
“Not uneasiness,” Thornton said. “Obviously, we didn’t want to be here but we are so you turn the page and get ready for tonight and embrace it. Game 7s are pretty fun for everyone so just have fun with it.”
“This is a great opportunity,” added Chris Kelly. “Play in Game 7 at home. We’ve worked hard all year to put ourselves in this situation. Obviously, it’s not the ideal situation but I don’t think it is for them, too. I’m sure they wouldn’t have wanted to play a Game 7 at the start of the series. But we are where we are and I’m excited.”
Kelly has been centering the third line with Jaromir Jagr and Rich Peverley. Kelly is confident that face-off wins can finally result in goals in Game 7.
“I think we’ve done a good job in the face-off circle, not ony the center men but a five-man unit getting in there and helping out,” Kelly said. “It’d be nice to manage the puck a little bit better than we have, putting it in better situations than where we can retrieve it after those face-off wins.”
|Bruins don’t believe in momentum||05.12.13 at 2:02 pm ET|
TORONTO — Momentum is mass times velocity. The Bruins believe that’s all it is.
With the Maple Leafs having forced Game 6 but the Bruins playing a strong third period in their Game 5 loss, one question that came up a bit from the Toronto media Sunday was which team has the momentum in the series, and how big a factor it is.
“I don’t know if there is such a thing, honestly,” Claude Julien said after Sunday’s morning skate. “When you’re in the playoffs, whether you win or lose, you turn the page and [focus on] the next game. As a losing team, you have to bounce back. As a winning team, you’re trying to keep that momentum but you know that there’s going to be some desperation from the losing team.”
Julien made the point that if momentum was as big a factor as people like to believe, you’d see sweeps after one team won a game, but that there was only one sweep in the first round (San Jose over Vancouver) in the first round.
While momentum can definitely be played up a bit too much, it’s still a factor and something the Bruins could give the Leafs if they don’t end the series Sunday. A Game 6 win would give the Leafs two straight wins and a whole lot of confidence that was built with their backs against the wall.
Yet the B’s don’t want to acknowledge it as such. While they can’t explain why they came out flat in Game 5 against the Leafs, they don’t think either team wouldn’t have reason to come out as hard as they can in Game 6. They view a win as a win and a loss as a loss, and every playoff game as one worth showing up for.
“To me, the next game is the next game,” Chris Kelly said. “Momentum, a lot of times, is just a word. It depends on who’s playing their game that given night.”
|Chris Kelly, Milan Lucic ready to tough it out in Game 5 for Bruins||05.10.13 at 2:37 pm ET|
A few little scrapes aren’t about to get in the way of a hockey player’s appointed Stanley Cup rounds.
Just ask Milan Lucic (right eye) and Chris Kelly (right cheek), both of whom took nasty shots in Game 4 and both of whom have the bruises and stitches to show for it. Both will be ready to go in Game 5 against Toronto.
“I’ve been icing it the last few days, but I probably have the worst eyesight on the team and I’m squinting all the time [normally], so it shouldn’t be a problem,” Lucic joked. “I feel good. I’m looking forward to tonight. Obviously I’ve got a little bit of a shiner on my right eye, but looking forward to tonight and there’s a lot on the line for both teams. After last game, we expect them to come out hard and bring their best because we know what they’re playing for and we need to come out with the same approach as the Leafs are.”
As for Kelly, he was injured when he took a high stick to the face from Toronto’s Nazem Kadri in the opening minute of the third period Wednesday. He received what he called “nine or 10 stitches” and returned.
“Just a little swollen, just a cut, it’s fine,” Kelly said Friday morning. “It was bleeding and the refs knew it was bleeding, so there’s no need for me to lay on the ice; skate off and get it done quickly.”
At least Lucic and Kelly are playing. The same can’t be said for Toronto defenseman Mark Fraser. He had surgery Thursday to repair a broken bone in the forehead after being hit with a puck shot by Lucic in the third period.
“He’s back home resting comfortably,” Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said Friday. “It is tough when you lose players, and lose players to that type of injury.”
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