|All eyes on the ice (conditions) for Game 6||06.24.13 at 2:39 pm ET|
High humidity and temperatures in the 90s outside for a second straight day are hardly the ideal conditions for good ice for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals.
But that’s what both the Bruins and Blackhawks will be dealing with Monday night in front of a loud and fired-up Garden crowd, whose energy will only add to the heat.
“Well, obviously with some fans in the building tonight, it’ll get obviously warmer,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “I thought the ice this morning was in pretty good shape, and they’ve done a good job. Walking in here yesterday with 90-plus degrees it was nice and cool in the arena.
“But those doors are going to open I would imagine and some of the heat will come in. But those are conditions that you have to play with at this time of year. Everybody has been through it, and two teams are going through the same conditions. Both teams are going to tell you the same truth; keep the game simple and try and avoid those mistakes from overhandling pucks in those kind of ice conditions.”
Chris Kelly, who was outspoken about the patchy ice conditions after the Bruins won Game 3, provided the best perspective.
“It’s June, late June,” he said. “You expect it. I think even up in Canada it’d still be warm. If the ice is going to be bad, it’s going to be bad for both sides. You expect that. I think the pretty plays might not always be there because of the ice conditions.”
What’s the most important thing the Bruins can do tonight to handle the ice and the Blackhawks?
“I think managing the puck, putting it in a better situation so we can get it,” Kelly said. “Just making better plays. I think our puck management can still be a bit better.”
|Pierre McGuire on M&M: Bruins ‘a very, very difficult team to play against’||06.18.13 at 1:14 pm ET|
NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire checked in with Mut & Merloni on Tuesday to dissect the Bruins’ 2-0 victory in Monday’s Game 3.
The B’s frustrated the Blackhawks by limiting Chicago’s scoring opportunities.
“First of all, [the Bruins] were really doing a good job controlling the puck and controlling the neutral zone and dictating the terms of the game, that’s No. 1 and 2,” McGuire said. “I think the third thing they did, obviously, is they were able to get last change, so they had the matchups they wanted. Not having Marian Hossa in the lineup for Chicago really hurt them in terms of manufacturing offense. ‘¦ That’s a big loss for Chicago; that’s not Boston’s fault.
“And then for both teams, the ice conditions. Tuukka Rask alluded to it when I interviewed him, and Dennis Seidenberg and I talked about it after the game. The ice conditions were not good. I could tell in the morning they weren’t going to be good because of the humidity in the city of Boston yesterday. There’s not a building in the league that would have had good ice yesterday, just because of the humidity. You’ve got to hope it cools off.
“But Boston’s doing exactly what they did to Pittsburgh: They’re killing the stars. Look at the hits on Jonathan Toews. They’re just crushing him. Hey, that’s all fair game in hockey. That’s part of the sport.”
McGuire also praised the Bruins defense and noted: “You add in the Patrice Bergeron factor and the faceoff-winning factor for the Bruins, and they’re a very, very difficult team to play against.”
McGuire noted that the Blackhawks’ comeback in Game 1 might have come at a cost.
“The one thing I’ll you that I don’t think is getting talked about enough: The wear and tear of Game 1, the three overtimes, I think it took a lot more out of Chicago, even though they won, compared to what it took out of Boston. I really do,” he said.
|Shawn Thornton on D&C: No excuse for Bruins’ slow start in Game 2, ‘can’t let it happen again’||06.17.13 at 9:50 am ET|
The Bruins were outshot 19-4 in the first period of Saturday night’s Game 2, but some inspiring words in the locker room got the B’s motivated and they responded with a 2-1 overtime win. Thornton wouldn’t reveal which players led the talk, but he said the feeling in the room was mutual.
“We knew we were not good enough,” he said. “But we also brought up the fact that even though we were terrible, that was probably as good as they were going to be be, and maybe as bad as we were going to be, that Tuukka [Rask] gave us a chance to only be down 1-0. If we could regroup, then we could get things going.”
Thornton said while the Bruins started slow, the Blackhawks deserve some credit for dominating the opening 20 minutes.
“I don’t have a reasoning for [the slow start]. All I can say is it wasn’t good enough, and we can’t let it happen again,” Thornton said. “Give them credit, though. They came out flying. They were ready from the drop of the puck. They really pushed the pace. We’re fortunate to have [Rask] in there backstopping. If it wasn’t for him, it would have been a lot different.”
Pressed as to why the Bruins came out so flat, Thornton said: “I have no idea. My only thought is maybe it took 20 minutes for guys to get their legs underneath them after the long game [Wednesday]. But I don’t want to sound like excuses, because there isn’t. I have no idea why everyone wasn’t ready to go right from the drop of the puck. There’s no excuse for it.”
Thornton said he expects a stronger start in Game 3.
“It better be,” he said. “We’re at home, we should be able to feed off our crowd and be ready to go for the drop of the puck. The good news is it’s an 8 o’clock game [the first two games started at 7 p.m. Chicago time]. Last time we didn’t show up ’til 8.”
|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.
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