|Tuukka while, but patient Rask ready to step into spotlight||06.10.13 at 9:38 pm ET|
Jaromir Jagr didn’t know where he was shooting the puck. He just wanted to put it on net.
‘Good goalies, they always hate to be scored on, even if practice,’ said Jagr. ‘They remember every shot, they remember every goal somebody score. And they tell you after the practice, ‘You lucky.’ They all remember your shot.’
Tuukka Rask stands four wins away from making a permanent mark on the Bruins franchise. By winning a Stanley Cup, the soon-to-be restricted free agent can secure a golden contract, erase any doubts over his play, and forever remove the shadow of Tim Thomas. But the soft-spoken, most ‘normal’ goalie Bruins coach Claude Julien has ever had the pleasure of coaching is no different than any other goalie when it comes down to one simple fact: He hates when you score on him.
‘Tuukka hate it,’ Jagr confirmed. ‘Sometimes you just shoot it in the air because you don’t want him to be mad. I scored on Tuuka, I score one goal, and he come to me and say, ‘[Expletive], you never shoot there! You always shoot over there!’ He know where you shoot in practice. How am I supposed to know? I don’t even know where I am shooting.’
Rask’s play is persuading people to forget about the quirky yet extremely talented Thomas. While Thomas refuses to speak to anyone associated with the Fourth Estate, Rask has played outstanding in goal. Through the first three rounds, the 26-year-old Rask’s 2013 playoff numbers are even slightly better than Thomas’ from the Stanley Cup run in 2011. While Thomas had a .932 save percentage and 2.28 goals-against average, Rask’s numbers are even more spectacular. He has a .943 save percentage and an outstanding 1.75 GAA, and stopped 134 of the 136 shots the Pittsburgh put on net in the 4-0 sweep of the vaunted Penguins.
‘I feel good,’ said Rask. ‘I don’t feel any better than I’ve felt all throughout the playoffs. The team is helping me out a lot. You let in two goals in [four] games, you’re making some good saves, but we’re blocking shots and taking care of the rebounds pretty well.’
RASK DEFLECTS PUCKS AND PRAISE
Rask is adept at stopping pucks as well as deflecting praise. It simply isn’t in his nature to bask in the glory of his play or take all of the credit for shutting down a team like the Penguins.
‘I was feeling good, seeing the puck a lot, being patient, and made some good saves,’ said Rask. ‘But nobody wins these games by themselves. Our defense did a really good job, and a lot of credit goes to them, too.’
|Claude Julien: ‘There’s no doubt we’re hungry’||at 5:02 pm ET|
The Bruins have reached the Stanley Cup finals for the second time in three years. And being back so soon hasn’t diminished the thirst to drink from the Cup, some Claude Julien pointed out Monday after another practice at TD Garden.
“I would think so,” Julien responded when asked if the desire to win it all still burns. “There’s no reason why it wouldn’t. Anybody that makes it this far know how hard it is. There’s no doubt we’re hungry.”
That doesn’t mean Julien won’t press a few buttons, something he did mid-practice Monday when he brought all of his troops together for a high-spirited discussion.
Beyond that, Julien and his staff are busy right now trying to impart the right information on the Blackhawks to his troops without bordering on information overload.
“That part of it hasn’t changed for us. Even if we haven’t played them we’ve taken the same approach as far as giving information,” Julien said. “Same thing, even if you’ve played them you don’t want to give them information overload. Like I said, we do all the research as coaches and we have all that stuff for ourselves, so if we need it we can share it with the players. We give them the basics and you give them the things that you really have to be careful with.
“That way you don’t kind of handcuff your players not to play their games because they’re overthinking. It really is all about your team and how well you want to play, and whatever they do extremely well you try to adjust to that. Not anymore than that, even though we haven’t played them it’s really about us having confidence in our game and trying to minimize their strengths like we’ve done with every other team so far.”
Most importantly, Julien made it clear that despite the speed the Hawks possess through the neutral zone in players like Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp, the Bruins have to stick to their game plan and have a strong forecheck in the offensive zone.
“Our forecheck has to be our forecheck,” Julien said. “It’s got to be efficient in order to minimize that. And that means putting pucks in the right places. If you don’t, they’ll have some easy breakouts. They excel at that area. They have a lot of D’s back there that can carry the puck and skate well, so there’s no doubt that that’s going to be a key. Some of our success will be how good we are in those areas.”
|Shawn Thornton on D&C: ‘You never really expect to sweep a [Penguins] team with that much firepower’||at 10:13 am ET|
The Bruins open the Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday in Chicago against the Blackhawks, who led the league with 77 points in the abbreviated regular season.
Thornton spent five years in the Chicago organization and made his NHL debut with the Blackhawks in the 2002-03 season, so he has some familiarity with a few of the current Blackhawks.
“I think their back end is as mobile as anybody’s in the NHL,” Thornton said. “I think that they’re a puck-possession team. If you give them their opportunities, if you turn that puck over they get going the other way in a hurry. They have some really, really crafty forwards up front also with [Patrick] Kane and [Jonathan] Toews and [Marian] Hossa. You definitely have to be careful.
“They’re similar in that way with the Penguins. But it’s kind of tough to compare them; we haven’t played against them this year. I only know from playing with those guys years back. I don’t really watch a whole lot of hockey.”
The Bruins are coming off a surprising four-game sweep of the top-seeded Penguins in the Eastern Conference finals. The B’s shut down Pittsburgh’s heralded offensive stars and limited the Penguins to two goals in four games.
“I honestly did not think we’d be able to shut those guys down for a whole series. Sweep was a little surprising, too,” Thornton said. “I liked the feeling in our room after we were up 2-0. I liked the feeling in our room after we were up 3-0 and going into Game 4. But you never really expect to sweep a team with that much firepower.”
Added Thornton: “Our D did an unbelievable job. The forwards helped out, but you’ve got to give the D and Tuukka [Rask] a lot of credit. And our penalty-killers. A lot of blocked shots. A lot of being in the right position. A lot of layers. A lot of hard work defensively. Definitely not easy. They had their chances, too. They hit a few posts and stuff like that. But I think for the most part we did as good a job as can be done against those guys.”
|Andy Brickley on M&M: Kaspars Daugavins the right call to replace Gregory Campbell||06.07.13 at 1:46 pm ET|
Andy Brickley, the color commentator for the Bruins on NESN, called into Mut & Merloni on Friday afternoon, and he wholeheartedly agreed with Claude Julien‘s apparent decision to play Kaspars Daugavins Friday night after Gregory Campbell broke his leg in Wednesday’s double-overtime win.
“You have to look at it this way: What players are available in the absence of Gregory Campbell? And what are we losing in Gregory Campell?” Brickley said. “You’re losing an energy guy, a real good faceoff guy, a penalty-killer, reliable, accountable ‘ all those things that you want in your role-playing centerman.”
Brickley said once Julien split up Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly to center the bottom two lines, Daugavins makes the most sense of the options, including Jay Pandolfo, Carl Soderberg and Jordan Caron.
“Which player has the most trust of the coaching staff, and which player gives your team the greater flexibility and versatility if you have to shorten the bench or you get into a special teams game?” Brickley asked. “Daugavins is probably your best bet.”
Brickley, like many, many others the last two days, lauded Campbell for sticking it out for the rest of his shift after breaking his leg while blocking a shot during Wednesday’s marathon Game 3. He said the effort exemplified “the [hockey] culture, how these guys grew up,” and Campbell finishing his shift was a high-risk, high-reward situation.
“I know there was some discussion whether he should’ve just lied down and writhed in pain in order to get the whistle — but I don’t think it would have come — so he did what he had to do,” Brickley said. “The impact that that can have if you survive that penalty-killing situation, but then get yourself to the bench, the message received by the players [about] how committed you are.”
|Don Cherry on D&C: Brad Marchand ‘no pest’||at 12:15 pm ET|
Hockey Night in Canada analyst Don Cherry checked in with Mut & Merloni on Friday to discuss the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Cherry already is looking forward to a Bruins-Blackhawks Stanley Cup finals.
“Every guy on that team has an edge, and they play with an edge, the Bruins,” Cherry said. “I don’t know when they get on against Chicago and that. But I know one thing, boy, they’re playing smoking now. And when Chicago wins — and they’re going to win, too — that’s going to be a bang-up series. Chicago doesn’t hit — I know I’m jumping ahead a little here — but they’d better be ready because it’s going to be a tough series for them. There’s a few guys on Chicago that I think you’re going to hear footsteps.”
Cherry credited Claude Julien with using a more cautious strategy in overtime of Game 3.
“One thing I’ve never seen before in the playoffs or any time: Everybody, when you get in the OT, you always say attack, get it over with quick, attack, attack, get it in the first five minutes. The Bruins, if you watch, they had five guys back. I’ve never seen it before. They had five guys back, waiting for them to come, sitting and waiting for a break. I’ve never seen that before. And they got the break when [Jaromir] Jagr took the puck off [Evgeni] Malkin, and they went in. ‘¦ You watch, just before the goal, they were back at the red line, waiting for a break. Boy, it really paid off, I’ll tell you.”
“He’s not a pest,” Cherry said. “A pest is a guy that will get you about three or four goals, or five or six goals, that will go around jabbing guys and stuff like that. This guy is above all that because he can score goals. He’s what you call a good player that goes around looking for trouble, causes disturbances and that. ‘¦ You just can’t call him a pest or dirty or anything like that, he’s too good a player for that. He’s above that stuff. He’s just a good, honest, hard player that can score goals. That’s the why I look at it. He’s no pest.”
Gregory Campbell has become a cult hero for playing with a broken leg after blocking a shot on the penalty kill in the second period of Game 3.
“There’s no other sport in the world [in which] a guy will play with a broken leg. ‘¦ That’s the spirit of the Bruins,” Cherry said.
NESN Bruins analyst Barry Pederson joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday morning to preview Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals. The Bruins can wrap up the series Friday night after taking a 3-0 series lead with Wednesday’s 2-1 victory in double overtime.
“It’s going to be tough for Pittsburgh, I think, to kind of bounce back after that type of loss,” Pederson said. “It wasn’t only a loss, it was the way you lose it, in double overtime. I think they had poured their emotion — they had obviously played a lot better than they had in the previous two games. I don’t think the Bruins played as well as they did in the two previous. But I do think the second period was kind of the opportunity for Pittsburgh to climb back in that series. They had three straight power plays and were unsuccessful. For the Bruins to come out of there in that situation, I think it kind of carried over into the overtimes.”
Pederson said the Penguins should have more urgency in this game, but they need a different strategy if they’re going to succeed.
Said Pederson: “I think the biggest surprise to me is not how well the Bruins are playing, because I’ve been around this enough and Claude Julien and his system to know how many good players they have, but it’s how poorly the Pittsburgh Penguins are playing and how out of sync they are with their game, and how they continue to sit in this game plan of — for some reason they must have watched the Vancouver series and thought that the Bruins had out-physicalitied the Vancouver Canucks, and we’re not going to let that happen to us, we’re not going to be intimidated. And they’re just running around like chickens with their heads cut off physically, and they’re not making any plays.”
With Gregory Campbell out after breaking his leg blocking a shot in the second period of Game 3, Pederson looked at the Bruins’ options going forward.
“What I would expect them to probably try and do is maybe move [Daniel] Paille up to that third line with [Chris] Kelly and [Tyler] Seguin, probably bring in [Kaspars] Daugavins or [Jordan] Caron, but I think Daugavins because I think the coach has more trust in him defensively, and he plays more of a fourth-line type of role. That means you move [Rich] Peverly to center, I think the coach trusts him there defensively and on faceoffs, he takes enough big faceoffs that you know that you can trust him in his own end. And of course with Shawn Thornton.
“So, I think they’ll try and play it that way. It will probably be more of a three-line rotation, but you will probably see this fourth line obviously a lot more than you did in the last game after Soupy was unfortunately out of the game.”
Pederson said the loss of Campbell cannot be overlooked.
“It’s big,” Pederson said. “It’s big because, we talked about going into the playoffs, if you had a strength, would you rather have a power play or penalty-killing. By far and away, when you look at the last two winners of the Stanley Cup, the Bruins and LA, we remember how dreadful both power plays were. But their penalty-killing and goaltending were exceptional. That just doesn’t give an offensive team any life whatsoever. So, they’re really going to miss him there.
“They’re going to miss him as a character player. He’s one of those guys that, like Shawn Thornton, in the dressing room the teammates just admire and respect what they do on a regular basis. It’s one thing for people just to remember him as a great role player in the sense that he goes out, he kills penalties, he does the little things that the coach really needs, and you can trust him to go out there and not be scored against. But it’s those games throughout the regular season when it’s 3-1, the Bruins are down, you need some type of momentum change. Well, he and Shawn Thornton go out there and do what they have to do to try and engage somebody. A lot of times, we all know with Soupy, he’s going to grab someone bigger than him, and he takes one for the team. And the guys really appreciate that.”
|Bobby Orr on D&C: Bruins ‘a better team than they were in ’11’||06.06.13 at 9:11 am ET|
“This team, you go back to the Toronto series, is this the same team? What did they do? Absolutely amazing,” Orr said. “They didn’t play great against Toronto. The 10 minutes of the last game, an unbelievable comeback. They played a little better against the Rangers. But in this series, they’re playing as well now as they did in ’11. They’ve completely dominated Pittsburgh. ‘¦ They’re playing their big guys against their big guys, and the Bruin guys that are supposed to score are scoring, Tuukka [Rask] has been unbelievable. I don’t know what happened. But Claude [Julien] and the coaching staff got them playing great. Very impressive. Very impressive.”
Added Orr: “This is team is playing unbelievable hockey. And people are going to say, ‘Well, Pittsburgh’s not playing very well.’ Well, the Bruins aren’t letting them play. They’re all over them, they’re not giving them any room. And when they get those chances, Tuukka’s coming up huge for that team. It’s a team effort.”
“I don’t agree with that at all, about him being overrated and this guy not doing da-da-da-da,” Orr said. “Let’s look at what the Bruins are doing. they’re not giving them one inch. You want to play tough? The Bruins are there. Finesse? Every player that’s supposed to — whatever the players’ strength is, that player is playing to his full strength. It’s wonderful to watch. And they’re defense, wow. Defensively they’re very, very strong.”
Gregory Campbell took a slap shot off his leg late in the second period but showed toughness by getting back to his feet and struggling to help the B’s penalty kill for almost a minute until the puck was cleared and he had a chance to get to the bench.
“What that kid did last night — I mean, they’re reporting he may have a broken leg. He obviously he was in pain, and he hung in there,” Orr said. “That’s the team. That’s the team right there. That’s what they are right now. We saw what they’re made of. This team has a ton of character. A ton of character.”
Added Orr: “What he did was incredible. Certainly it gave the team a great lift. Certainly the fans appreciated what Gregory did.”