|Second period summary: Bruins vs. Flyers – Game 4||05.07.10 at 8:39 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — It looks like the Flyers want to continue to play hockey in the spring of 2010. They scored two goals to take a 3-2 lead into the third, the first time in the series where they have had a lead entering the deciding period.
The Bruins got a power play opportunity early when Danny Briere pinched Dennis Wideman on the half wall and got his stick up just a bit too high and whacked Wideman in the face for Boston’s first man-advantage of the game. Boston was able to get a couple shots off but did not break through Brian Boucher and the chance slipped by.
Chris Pronger then gave the Flyers a rare thing for them in the series — a lead. He had a slap shot from the high slot that deflected off of defenseman Mark Stuart’s skate on its way through Tuukka Rask to make it 2-1 at 4:28.
It looked like Boston would be able to grab the momentum right back when Daniel Carcillo went to the box for cross-checking at 5:26 but the Philadelphia penalty kill was again on top of its game as Boston got off another couple shots before it was killed.
Philadelphia then had a series first for it when it took a two-goal lead at 8:35. Forward Scott Hartnell was in a scrum at the very corner of the net and kicked the puck through the crease where a crashing Claude Giroux made it 3-1 as he slammed it home passed Rask.
Boston got a goal back at 10:56. Michael Ryder had a shot from the slot go wide of Boucher but bounced off the end wall back to the side of the crease. Boucher went to cover the puck but Vladimir Sobotka crashed the net and hit Boucher’s glove, dislodging the puck and sending it through the pads into the net to make it 3-2.
|Recchi standing tall||05.02.10 at 2:06 pm ET|
It is always fun to see the diminutive players take on the those of elevated physical stature. Smaller players, by definition, have to be scratchy, buckle-up-your-bootstraps type of guys if they want to survive in professional sports. It is not a matter of talent; often the smaller players are more talented than their larger peers and thus pack more talent per square inch into the smaller package. It is akin to pundits saying that Shaquille O’Neal was never a very talented center but was just so physically dominant that he became unguardable.
One of the smallest guys in the Bruins locker room (and also the oldest) is forward and future Hall of Fame member Mark Recchi. In Game 1 against the Flyers on Saturday he had lost his helmet in front of the crease and found himself face-to-chest with towering Philadelphia defenseman Chris Pronger. The defenseman is listed at 6-foot-6 while Recchi is quite generously on the roster at 5-10 (probably more like 5-7 or so, maybe a tad taller). Recchi did not like the extra juice with which Pronger hit him at the end of the play and gave the blueliner a big push to let to show his displeasure.
“It is just the way Mark Recchi has played for us all year,” B’s coach Claude Julien said. “I think we talk about him being a good example, and that is another one besides his work ethic and commitment. He has just gone in there and it is all about business. We know that Chris Pronger takes liberties with players at times, and at one point you have got guys pushing back and that is what [Recchi] decided to do.”
For his part, Recchi did not really think much of the fracas. He was served with roughing and cross-checking penalties, and Pronger took two for a cross check.
“It is part of it,” Recchi said. “It is the playoffs. That is the way goes. You know, he is a competitive guy, we all are. Whether it is him or whatever. You try to create space and try what it takes to win games, and he is going to do that, and there is a reason that he has won championships because he does what it takes. It is just us going out there and playing and it is really no big deal.”
This is an interesting series for Recchi, who served two separate stints with the Flyers, the first from the 1991-92 season until 1994-95, when he was traded to the Canadiens in midseason. Montreal then traded him back to Philadelphia in the middle of the 1998-99 season and he stayed there until 2003-04. He won a championship with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006.
“Yeah, I played the longest there and Philly is a great town and very similar to Boston, a great sports town,” he said. “Great place to live and I really enjoyed my time there. I ended up winning a Cup a couple of years later so it worked out. Everything happens for a reason.”
The 42-year-old Recchi may be one of the oldest players in the NHL, but even he would be hard-pressed to give specific details on the last time the Bruins and Flyers met in the playoffs in 1978, when he was 10 years old and living in British Columbia. That does not mean he is not unwilling to help write a new chapter in the rivalry.
|Savard triumphs in overtime to take Game 1||05.01.10 at 3:46 pm ET|
Summary — The Bruins and Flyers are off to the races in their Eastern Conference quarterfinals and it was Boston that came out a leg ahead in Game 1, taking it 5-4 in overtime on Saturday afternoon at TD Garden. Philadelphia came back from two down in the last ten minutes of the third period to send the game to extra time. Marc Savard scored the game-winner to clinch the series opener when he beat Brian Boucher in overtime. Tuukka Rask took the win with 32 saves while Boucher was the loser by allowing five goals on 46 shots.
There was bad news for the Boston right off the bat as forward Marco Sturm tried to check Matt Carle into the boards but Carle sidestepped and Sturm only registered a partial hit. As Sturm skated away he crumpled and fell in the slot and could not make it off the ice on his own and had to be assisted by trainers off the ice and down the tunnel.
Irony would then strike and so would the Bruins. Steve Begin, who took Sturm’s spot on line with with Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi, scored his first career playoff (in 30 appearances) goal at 2:39 when he caught a loose puck off attempts from Recchi and Bergeron on the right side of Boucher’s crease and snapped it top shelf for the early lead. It was only the second time in the playoffs (though second straight game) where the Bruins have scored the first goal of the game.
The Bruins would make it 2-0 at 12:54 on a quick snap-bang-slam play between Bergeron and Dennis Wideman. Bergeron won a face off to the stick of Wideman at the point and the center went straight to the net as Wideman wound up and put a slap shot on Boucher’s pads. The puck bounced up and Bergeron put it behind the goaltender for his second point of the game and third goal of the playoffs.
The Flyers cut into the lead at when Ryan Parent found the puck idling up the high slot after Mike Richards and Arron Asham put pressure on Rask at 7:38 of the second period. Parent skated in with a full head of steam and got every piece of it to send it screaming through traffic in front and rattle around the back of the net to make it 2-1.
But Boston insisted on keeping its two-goal advantage and used the power play to its advantage (Mike Richards, Daniel Carcillo and Marc Savard all for roughing at 9:58) when Johnny Boychuk hit a liner from the point that deflected off of defenseman Braydon Coburn’s skate straight onto the stick of Miroslav Satan on the right dot for the put back and a 3-1 lead at 11:43 in the second period.
Philadelphia gradually shook off the rust from its long layoff between series as the game went along and kept itself in the game and the Flyers finally broke down the Bruins penalty kill late in the second. Chris Pronger was the culprit as the puck was cycled to him in the high slot and he skated over to the right point and took a seeing-eye slap shot that went through Rask’s pads to make it 3-2 at 15:58. It was the first power play goal the Bruins had allowed all postseason through 21 opportunities.
David Krejci put Boston back up by two goals at 7:25 in the third when a shot by Satan got through traffic in front of the net and slipped through to crease level where the center could wait for Boucher to commit, which he did on Krejci’s second fake, and put it in the corner passed the goaltenders skate to make it 4-2.
Philadelphia stormed back with two goals four minutes apart in the back half of the third period. The first was a rebound put back by Richards at 12:37 to cut the Bruins momentum and keep the Flyers hanging around long enough to make it a contest. The strike would prove pivotal as Danny Briere tied the game at 16:38 when he took the puck straight down the middle of the ice, through the neutral zone and high slot and split Wideman and Matt Hunwick in half to shoot, rebound and score on Rask to knot it at four goals apiece.
Marc Savard– Had the game-winner in overtime.
Patrice Bergeron — Boston’s biggest engine propelled the team to a hot start with a goal and an assist in the first period and another in overtime giving him seven points (three goals, four assists) through seven playoff games.
Mike Richards — The Flyers’ captain had two assists and a goal as Philadelphia kept up with the Boston attack.
Turning Point — Briere torched Matt Hunwick and Wideman by skating straight down the ice, through the slot and put a shot on Rask, picked up the rebound and put in in the net without ever really slowing down to tie the game at four at 16:42 in the third to bring the Flyers back from what seemed a certain defeat in the opening game of the series and eventually send the game to overtime.
Key Play — Savard scored the game-winner in overtime when he found the puck on the right circle and whipped it with vigor at Boucher who had little chance at the screamer that sent TD Garden into a riot.
|Neely: A Pronger/Kessel deal “was not on the table”||03.05.09 at 2:55 am ET|
Bruins Vice-President Cam Neely said that a much-rumored trade with the Anaheim Ducks — that would have sent a package including 21-year-old sniper Phil Kessel, defenseman Mark Stuart, first round pick Joe Colborne and a draft pick to the Ducks in exchange for defenseman Chris Pronger — was “not on the the table” prior to Wednesday’s trade deadline.
“We couldn’t gut our lineup to add a player that we thought was going to help us, and then take away in another area it was going to hurt us,” said Neely during a Wednesday interview with the Big Show. “It didn’t make sense. We have a very young group of players. Even though we feel like we have a good opportunity this year, we feel like we have good opportunities next year and the year after with our core group of guys. We were very cautious about the players that we weren’t going to give up.
“We understand other teams. We’d ask and it makes sense for other teams to ask for our best players in return,” added Neely.
|Chiarelli: “There is no done deal”||02.28.09 at 4:45 pm ET|
Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli was loathe to respond to an online report that the Ducks and Bruins have “agreed in principle” on a deal that would send Chris Pronger and forward Travis Moen to Boston. According to the report, an unnamed roster player, defenseman Mark Stuart, prospect Joe Colborne and a 2010 first round pick back would be shipped to Anaheim for the bruising blueliner.
The trade rumors picked up steam when Pronger and the sinking Ducks visited on Thursday night and were blown off the ice by the Bruins, but nothing has been finalized. The report is awfully close to a rumor first published on SI.comyesterday that had a theoretical package of Chuck Kobasew, Stuart, Colborne and a 2009 pick headed to the Ducks for Pronger and Travis Moen.
All Chiarelli would say is that there haven’t been any agreements made in principle with anyone at this point with the NHL trade deadline still looming on Wednesday afternoon, and that the result from the overtime loss to the Capitals didn’t tip the trade scales one way or the other.
“There are a million different reports out there and I’m not going to deny or confirm each one,” said Chiarelli. “There is no done deal.
“This was a game between two of the top teams in the conference,” added Chiarelli. “Does it change my plans going into the trade deadline? No. We take a look at the whole year, and the team as a whole.”
|Tkachuk decision won’t come until deadline day||02.26.09 at 5:01 pm ET|
With all of the Pronger-mania taking place at the Boston Garden now that the Ducks have dealt for Pittsburgh defenseman Ryan Whitney — and presumably will flip monster-sized defenseman Chris Pronger prior to the Wednesday trade deadline for salary cap purposes — St. Louis Blues forward Keith Tkachuk has been lost in the shuffle a bit.
While Pronger would easily cost the Bruins an integral part of this year’s team (think Phil Kessel or any of the other young and talented B’s), Tkachuk would likely cost a young player in the organization system and a draft pick. In other words, nothing from this year’s Cup-seeking squad.
Don’t expect any deals for the 36-year-old Medford homeboy over the weekend, as Blues President John Davidson said that he will take the three games leading up to the March 4 deadline to decide whether or not to deal “Walt” — a nickname that Tkachuk goes by in old St. Looeeey.
The Blues will face the Dallas Stars, Phoenix Coyotes and the Detroit Red Wings prior to next Wednesday, and Davidson feels like he’ll have a better grasp depending on how many points the Blues take from their trio of games. The Blues are at 60 points and currently sit five points behind a quartet of teams including the Wild, Stars, Oilers and Ducks.
“Our concept here was let’s take these four games and see where it goes. If we win four, we feel strong about it. If we lose four, that tells us something,” said Davidson. “The big question mark is if we get four games played and get four points, in other words, .500 through there, we have to take a real serious look at everything. We know the job ahead of us to get in, knowing there’s teams ahead of us, that some of them are playing very well.
It’s going to be very difficult. But we want to at least now make sure we send a message to our players and fans that we want to make the playoffs,” added Davidson. “Now, regarding Keith, we’ve had discussions with his representative Bob Murray. We’re all on the same page. Let’s just talk about making the playoffs right now.”
If the Blues drop any further back in the standings, however, that could mean that the 6-foot-3, 230-pound left-handed shot with 11 power play strikes could be available for regular duty on Boston’s PP team and on their third line. It’s a scenario that Davidson, Tkachuk and his agent, Bob Murray, have already discussed in detail as it would require the former BU star to waive his “no movement” clause.
“When it gets down to crunch time, which is on the trade deadline day, that’s when we’ll probably make a final decision. Right now we haven’t,” said Davidson. “We’ve had some calls, but nothing serious has been talked about because we still have this concept as an organization that’s wanting to make the playoffs.
Keith wants to be on a club that makes the playoffs this season. Keith doesn’t even want to talk about (not making the playoffs). His rep came in (Tuesday) and we chatted,” added Davidson. “Both sides have a pretty good understanding of where we’re going, what we’re thinking of doing, even though a lot of it is still in the air regarding our club, how they play the next three games.”
There seems to be a pair of consistent knocks against Tkachuk, and the Bruins pursuit of the 36-year-old: A) he’s always been viewed as something of a “Me” guy that’s struggled in his past trips to the playoffs and B) his offensive play has tailed off in the second half of the season after a red-hot start. Davidson threw cold water on the statistical downturn by painting a picture of a player that willingly took on a third line role that’s affected his offensive numbers — and a player that clearly now “gets it” after early years where perhaps he didn’t.
“The thing about Keith is, he’s been through it. We respect what he’s done this year. He’s been a really good player for us on the ice,” said Davidson. “He’s been terrific with our young players off the ice. He started the season scoring like crazy, but then with all our injuries we asked him to become a checking center for us.
“He’s done a great job with that, which takes away from some of his scoring. He hasn’t complained. He’s been a real pure player for us this season. He’s also to the point in his career where he’s mature.”
|My morning links||02.21.09 at 11:59 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Another chilly morning in the Florida sun for me and another round of morning hockey links for you. Should be a pretty spirited game between the Boston Bruins and Florida Panthers tonight as the Panthers continue to mull whether they are playoff-contending buyers or pretending sellers in the current trade market.
Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester is a huge piece at the deadline that could put quite a few teams over the top as he enters unrestricted free agency at the end of the hockey season, and he voiced a desire to go to a hockey organization committed to winning this season during a recent conversation with him.
“You think a little bit (about the future),” said Bouwmeester. “I know the situation and there’s a lot of things I have to consider. It’s a process. For me it’s about going about my business, and it’s about playing hockey and you don’t have to make that too complicated.
“You don’t rule anything out, and we’ve actually been playing some pretty good hockey (in Florida). So that’s exciting,” added Bouwmeester. “There’s been a lot of ups and downs during my career there, but we’re playing well this season. So that’s something to think about.”
On to the links:
—Colorado Avalanche forward Ryan Smyth, known for his scoring touch and gritty game, told the Denver Post that he won’t be waiving his “no movement clause” and Avalanche management hasn’t approached him about a deal. His long term, big money contract made him a bad fit for the Bruins anyway, but you can officially cross him off the list now.
–Big blueliner Chris Pronger, who might become available to the B’s as the Ducks are free-falling out into nothin’ out in the Western Conference, was roundly booed last night by Detroit Red Wings fans after a Pronger milestone was announced at Joe Louis Arena during the Ducks/Wings game. The gritty, borderline-dirty play that intimidates many and makes him Public Enemy No. 1 is exactly what would make Pronger such a snug fit in Boston. Pronger and Zdeno Chara patrolling the same line blue line is downright unfair. A doff of the helmet to Yahoo! blogger Puck Daddy for this one.
—Mark Recchi is another guy that could be a cheaper fit for the Bruins in the lefty shot/UFA mold when it comes to trade deadline deals, and he’ll likely be even cheaper after hitting the bench for the sinking Tampa Bay Lightning recently. For the record, Recchi has a solid 37 points this season and is averaging 16:52 in ice time for Tampa.