|Shawn Thornton on D&C: Penguins front lines ‘a force to be reckoned with’||05.28.13 at 10:21 am ET|
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton joined Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday morning and previewed the B’s Eastern Conference finals series against the Penguins, talked up “underhyped” goalie Tuukka Rask and revealed that he received a congratulatory text message from former teammate Tim Thomas after Game 3 vs. the Rangers.
The Bruins return to practice Tuesday following two days off since dispatching the Rangers in Game 5 on Saturday night, preparing for what is expected to be a much tougher test from the top-seeded Penguins.
“They’re a pretty deep group up front, that’s for sure,” Thornton said. “They’ve got guys like Brenden Morrow on their fourth line. That’s some pretty good players back there. So, yeah, they’re a force to be reckoned with up front.”
Added Thornton: “I know there’s a lot of hype with the guys we’re playing against, and rightfully so, they’re great players. It’s always kind of the Sidney Crosby show wherever he goes. He’s the face of the league and he’s probably the best player in the game. You can’t get caught looking at that. We have to worry about what’s going on in our locker room, like we did last series with the Rangers and the series before with Toronto. You can’t really worry about what’s going on outside. We’ve got to play our game if we want to be successful. … You get caught just trying to react to what they’re doing, you’ll get caught with your pants down. They’re a dangerous team.”
Asked if Crosby is the best player he’s played against, Thornton said: “Yeah, I’d say, all-around. There’s not much he doesn’t do well. He competes hard. Not only how skilled he is, his compete level is right up there. He never seems to take a night off. I think that’s part of the reason why he’s so good. ”
Thornton said there are no hard feelings toward Jarome Iginla after the veteran forward chose Pittsburgh over Boston at the trade deadline.
“No, I don’t care,” Thornton said. “He made a decision based on his personal opinion. He has a no-trade, he’s entitled to that. He earned it. He played a lot of great years in Calgary for that right. As a player, you can’t really fault him for it.”
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|Claude Julien gives Tuukka Rask green light to ‘start laughing’ about Game 4 miscue||05.26.13 at 1:30 am ET|
For all the great saves Henrik Lundqvist made on the Bruins throughout Game 5 Saturday at TD Garden, the one save that will be remembered the longest is the one made by Tuukka Rask on Rangers captain Ryan Callahan on a breakaway with just over 11 minutes left in the third period.
The Bruins were clinging to a 2-1 lead as Callahan was fed on a break through the neutral zone and had a clear path toward Rask. The Bruins goalie made the save, and Boston’s lead stood up in a 3-1 win over the Rangers in the clinching Game 5.
“Well, our goalie coach [Bob Essensa] told me after, I think it was Game 1 when he scored on that breakaway, that he never goes backhand,” Rask said. “So I was banking on him shooting and keeping it on the forehand. But he went backhand, and I just extended my leg and blocker there and made the save.”
Rask had faced just 17 shots through two periods before facing 12 in the third, including Callahan’s.
“That’s just staying mentally sharp,” Rask said. “But you have to know something is going to happen, and they’re going to throw everything they could at you and going to try to get that change to tie the game. You know, today it happened to be a breakaway and I just wanted to make one or two big saves in the third and hopefully keep that lead. And today we succeeded.”
Now the road gets a lot tougher.
The Bruins enter the Eastern Conference finals against the Penguins as decided underdogs. The Bruins might have the better goalie in Tuukka Rask and may have won the Cup more recently (2011) than the Penguins (2009). But the Penguins have their version of the Big Three in Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jarome Iginla, reminding one player on the Bruins of a powerhouse in the NBA.
“Well, no doubt they’re a great hockey club,” Milan Lucic said after Saturday’s series-clinching 3-1 win over the Rangers at TD Garden. “In my mind, they’re almost like the Miami Heat of the NHL with all the star power they’ve got. Probably the two best players in the world and a 40-goal scorer and the former 50-goal scorer, a future Hall of Famer and a Norris Trophy candidate on their team.
“So, they definitely have a lot of weapons, and in saying all that, I think what makes them successful is they play real well as a team and I think that’s what you’re going to probably see going into this next series, is two well-rounded teams going at it, and for us we’ve got to be ready and excited for the challenge.”
Lucic and the Bruins proved they can beat at least one NHL superstar in the playoffs by dispatching of Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers in five games.
“It was big for us,” Lucic said. “I think the mindset in this room was that we didn’t want to be denied and we knew that he was going to be the best player on their team, and he was in this series for them and he kept a couple of games closer. He stopped me four good times here tonight, but he’s a great goaltender for a reason and he played well and like I said we did whatever we could to try to get to him and we were able to do that.”
What will be the key to beating the Penguins?
“We just got to play a strong team game and play to our strengths,” Lucic said. “We’re a team that plays in-your-face-type of hockey and I think what worked for us this series was we were able to establish our forecheck, and we’ve got to keep doing that, and they’re a team that you don’t want to turn the puck over against because they have more than enough weapons to make you pay for it. So, puck management is going to be huge for us, and in saying all that, I think tonight and tomorrow we need to enjoy what we accomplished so far in the playoffs.”
Claude Julien wanted no part of talking about Pittsburgh, preferring to bask in the glow of eliminating the Rangers, reflecting the mood of most inside the Bruins dressing room not named Milan Lucic.
“I’m not going to talk about the Penguins tonight, we just finished against the Rangers. I’ll stick to that, if you don’t mind,” Julien said.
John Tortorella has no such problems giving his opinion about Boston’s chances.
“I think Boston has a really good chance,” Tortorella said. “I think Claude and that staff has done a heck of a job with their club. I can’t believe some of the people, how they second-guess him, just being in the city for a few days, and the type of job he’s done here. That’s a good team. They’re very well-coached, and they’re seasoned. They’ve been through it before, and I give them a lot of credit, as far as what they’ve done with their club. They’re a good hockey team.”
|Claude Julien happy with his power play: ‘Especially [considering] the lack of them’||05.24.13 at 4:29 pm ET|
Claude Julien has been happy with his power play unit in this series, that is when the Bruins actually get a power play.
He made that much perfectly clear on Friday after practice as his team prepares for another chance to wrap up the series against the Rangers in Game 5 at TD Garden Saturday evening.
The Bruins were 2-for-4 on the power play Thursday in the Game 4 loss to the Rangers, with one of the two misses actually resulting in a goal as Tyler Seguin scored his first goal this postseason as a penalty was expiring in the third period. The Bruins didn’t get a single power play in Game 3 and had only one in Game 2. Boston is 3-for-9 in this playoff series while the Rangers are now 1-for-14 on the man-advantage.
With Nathan Horton and Torey Krug scoring on the power play Thursday night, is Julien pleased that his power play is making the most of its chances?
“Well, yeah especially the lack of them that we’ve had in this series,” Julien said. “It was nice to see us score a couple of goals. It’s been tough. It’s a good thing we’re a good five on five team and that we’ve managed to win hockey games, but last night two for four, and certainly it could have been three for four I guess two seconds after the power play ended, so our power play did a good job of producing and whenever you can count on that it’s always a bonus.
Other notes from Friday’s practice:
The Bruins skated hard for 30 minutes in an up-tempo, early afternoon practice on the TD Garden ice. All players were present and accounted for except for Andrew Ference, who is still nursing a lower body injury that has kept him out since Game 5 in the first round. Dennis Seidenberg and Wade Redden were the fourth defensive pairs to skate in drills Friday. Julien kept his defensive pairings the same, with Zdeno Chara and Dougie Hamilton leading the way, followed by Johnny Boychuk and Matt Bartkowski and then Adam McQuaid and Torey Krug. There were no changes on the lines either as Tyler Seguin remains on the third line with Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley.
“I think it was one of those practices today where you wanted to get a good sweat, knowing it’s an early game tomorrow, or afternoon game,” Julien said of the odd 5:30 p.m. start time on Saturday afternoon. “And we just want to make sure we’re ready for tomorrow.”
|Claude Julien on Game 4 OT loss: ‘There’s no panic here’||at 12:34 am ET|
NEW YORK — There were no Jekyll and Hyde comments from Claude Julien after his team blew a 2-0 lead in the second period and lost a potential series-clinching Game 4 to the Rangers in overtime, 4-3.
To the Bruins coach, Thursday’s loss wasn’t a matter of being outworked, just sloppiness, puck-watching and a lack of execution.
“There’s no panic here,” Julien assured everyone afterward. “Had we been outworked and not been there at all, I’d be talking differently here. But we didn’t get outworked. All it was, our team didn’t execute as well as we have been lately. We have to go home and play a better game. But our work ethic was there. The things we did extremely well weren’t that easy tonight.”
Julien was asked about the bizarre two goals scored by New York on mistakes by Tuukka Rask (falling down) and Zdeno Chara (getting picked behind the net) and how those goals erased the 2-0 lead and allowed the Broadway Blues back in the game.
“I don’t know if it was the momentum that shifted more than … I felt we didn’t get outworked but we didn’t play as well as we could’ve throughout the whole game, even after the first period we talked about it,” Julien said.
“But the other thing is when you give them two gift goals, eventually it’s going to hurt. So, that’s what happened. We have a 2-0 lead there and it’s looks good. But then [get] unlucky and it’s a goal and it’s gives them life again. But at the end of the day, it’s pretty simple, didn’t play well enough, not outworked. We competed as hard as they did but we didn’t execute as well as we can.”
Rask falling down, Chara getting stripped and too many men on the ice all were mistakes that added up to disaster for the Bruins on Thursday.
“I think Tuukka did the job he had to do and just Z got stripped,” Julien said. “Again, it’s a mistake, but as we often say, how many does he repair versus how many does he cost. At the end of the day, those two goals certainly hurt us.”
On the Rangers’ power-play goal, their first of the series and just third in 41 tries in the playoffs, the Bruins allowed Brian Boyle to get deep into the slot with no one covering him and score with 10 minutes left to force overtime.
“We’re 3-2 and the power-play goal [happens] and it’s a mistake on our part. We’re puck-watching. We felt we were puck-watching, allowing Boyle to get into the slot for an easy shot. We were a little sloppy. We weren’t as crisp as we have been in past games. Eventually, they came back and found a way to win this hockey game.”
|Claude Julien in closeout state of mind: ‘We’re going to do whatever it takes’ to win Game 4||05.23.13 at 1:22 pm ET|
NEW YORK — Short and sweet.
That’s the way both coaches kept their press conferences on Thursday before Game 4 and that’s the way the Bruins would like to wrap up their Eastern Conference semifinal series tonight at Madison Square Garden.
“We’re here to win a hockey game tonight,” Claude Julien said at the beginning of his 98-second press briefing. “We’re going to do whatever it takes.”
Julien’s press conference was about a minute longer than John Tortorella‘s press briefing with reporters, that was limited to two questions.
Speaking of Julien, the Bruins coach was asked about the importance of the home crowd at MSG, and keeping the New York fans on their hands.
“As important as it has been in every game,” Julien said. “Whether at home or away, you get the crowd in or crowd out. That’s not going to change.
“I think we want to play a 60-minute game. That just shows the character of our guys playing hard right ot the end. It’s a great thing to have and you hope you can keep it.”
Brad Richards has been informed that he’s been benched for tonight as a healthy scratch and Aaron Asham is likely to sit out as well.
“It doesn’t matter to me,” Julien said.
“I think it’s going to be more difficult just because they’re going to have two players who are going to step in there and want to change the game and they’ll probably be their two best players tonight,” Daniel Paille said. “It’ll most likely going to be a low-scoring game and make sure we’re not panicking out there and stay focused on our system and things will go well for us.”
As for Dennis Seidenberg and Wade Redden, both of whom skated with the team Thursday, Julien said he won’t reveal anything until game time.
“Our lineups will be on the ice tonight for warmups and that’s all I’m going to say about that,” Julien said.
As for the players, they’re taking the typical one-game-at-a-time approach.
“I don’t think we focus too much on sweeping,” Paille said. “We focus more on today. Obviously, it’s great to look at on paper but there’s a lot that goes into that. Everyone is in a confident, positive attitude and we want to continue that trend today.”
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NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley joined Mut & Merloni on Thursday to preview Game 4 of the Bruins-Rangers playoff series.
The Bruins are looking to close out the series with a sweep, but Brickley said he does not expect the Rangers to lay down.
“They’re not going to want to lose on home ice,” Brickley said. “They’re not going to want to go down four straight to this Bruins team. They want to force a Game 5. They absolutely have a lot of pride. They’re professional athletes. They’re a team that was expected to do something this year, and the opportunities are sliding away quickly. So, I expect them to bring their ‘A’ game, and I expected their goaltender to play as well as he did in Game 3.”
The Bruins are coming off an impressive win in Game 3, as they delivered a solid effort for 60 minutes and scored two third-period goals to pull out the win.
“The thing I loved about the Bruins in Game 3 was no Jekyll and Hyde persona that Claude [Julien] likes to talk about; far more consistent,” Brickley said. “The best measure is quality scoring chances given up, and you can count them on one hand against [Tuukka] Rask in Game 3. Even though they needed two goals in the third period, the Bruins were never in any real trouble despite the one goal that beat Rask through a whole bunch of bodies from a screen on that shot by [Ryan] McDonagh from the point.
“The only thing that concerned you a little bit was the scoring chances that they had in the first period and were unable to beat [Henrik] Lundqvist. But their mentality coming into the series was that’s what they expected from Lundqvist all along, even though they didn’t get it in Games 1 and 2. So, I think the Bruins mentally and emotionally were prepared for that kind of performance. And they just try to stay on the attack and play to their identity, which was to roll those four lines.
“What they’ve shown us in this series is incredible depth that they have. No [Dennis] Seidenberg, no [Andrew] Ference, no [Wade] Redden. You get [Matt] Bartkowski, [Torey] Krug and [Dougie] Hamilton, and that gives you a different dynamic to your team — that speed, quickness and mobility on the back end. But I think you also saw their depth in Game , with your fourth line and the matchups you get with that fourth line and how good they played, with experience and with familiarity and their forechecking game — simple, fundamental and effective. And they end up being difference-makers on the scoresheet.”
The Bruins’ lack of success in non-Game 7 closeout games over the past three years has been well-documented. Brickley said the B’s appear to be better equipped to provide a finishing touch Thursday.
“I still have memories of Game 5 on home ice against Toronto, up 3-1,” Brickley said. “The way [the Bruins] responded in Game 3 [vs. the Rangers] makes me think that they’re far more prepared — mentally, physically, emotionally — for a closeout game situation. They needed three closeout games to beat the Leafs. You hope it’s a lesson learned. I expect the Bruins, since they’ve found some consistency now in their game, that they’ll be far better tonight.”