|Is this series headed for seven?||06.22.13 at 3:15 pm ET|
CHICAGO — As the teams approach Game 5, it’s hard not to think about Game 7.
The most lopsided game in the series was Game 3, when the Bruins picked up a 2-0 win. Every other game has been decided in overtime, and with how close this series has been, Bryan Bickell admits the mindset has to be that the Stanley Cup finals will go the distance.
“Yeah,” the Blackhawks left wing said. “With three games [going to] OT and both of the games that we won [coming] in overtime, I can’t say it’s not going to be OT tonight. You never know. This is a tough, grueling series. Both teams are battling for the same goal and there’s a lot of passion out there. There’s a lot of grueling battles in front or goalies doing whatever it takes. It’s fun and it’s a great time to be part of this.”
Rich Peverley and Dennis Seidenberg say they aren’t taking that mindset, as neither claim to be in the business of either predicting the future or looking past each individual game. They just want to take Game 5 and go from there.
It will be interesting to see what the fifth game as the series holds, as Game 4 was certainly a departure from the tight-checking play that was seen in the first three games. Neither team want to see a game like Game 4, as both teams swapped chances up and down the ice. One would think that the Blackhawks would prefer that type of game given that their speed would be a bigger advantage, but with how much the Bruins exposed Corey Crawford in Game 4, they actually should be worried about getting themselves into a track meet.
There’s no telling whether the series will revert back to its old self or remain high-scoring, but Claude Julien expects one thing to stay the same: the close score.
“I expect a real good game,” Julien said. “[The series is] obviously 2-2. Do we know how it’s going to go? I don’t think either coach could have told you before last game it was going to be a high scoring game. I think we were surprised.
“Will that continue? I really don’t know. Again, it’s how well the teams play, how good the goaltenders are, and everything else. It depends on a lot of things. Is it going to be penalty filled, it is going to be five-on-five? I think it’s really hard to predict this time of year. The only thing I’m capable of saying here is based on the first four games, they’re all tight and they’re all close and they’re all exciting.”
CHICAGO — Maybe it was as innocent as Claude Julien showing his game face but when he was asked why he would bench Kaspars Daugavins and consider inserting Carl Soderberg into the lineup for his first playoff game in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals, he defended his turf in no uncertain terms.
“Why? Because I’m the coach and because I can,” Julien began. “You guys ask me why I make those changes. I didn’t spend three days thinking about that. It’s a situation that I can do. If I do that tonight, we’ll see where it goes. I may just go back to Daugavins, because again I’m tinkering between those two like I have from the beginning of the series.”
Julien admitted that he has only seen him play in six games toward the end of the season with the Bruins, which might factor into whether he plays in Game 5.
“Well, I haven’t seen him that much,” Julien said. “He’s only played a few games, and that’s probably the main reason he hasn’t played in the Playoffs is we went with some experienced players. Injuries have forced us to kind of look elsewhere, and that’s the injury to Gregory Campbell. So Daugavins, we’ve looked at Carl Soderberg, Jordan Caron, and there’s Jay Pandolfo. So there’s situations there that we can look at. We’re trying to find the best fit possible.
“I have to look at whether I feel comfortable staying with Daugavins, or as you know right now, it’s been between Soderberg and Daugavins. But they’re two different players. Size-wise they’re different. One is obviously real gritty along the walls, and the other one is probably more of a play maker. So, there’s a difference there, and that’s where I have to make my decision what I feel I may need for tonight.”
CHICAGO — Bruins coach Claude Julien was very aware of the comments by Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews after Game 4. In the hours before Game 5 here Saturday, Julien said if Chicago thinks they can attack and expose Zdeno Chara, then go for it.
“I mean, they’re allowed their comments,” Julien said. “If that’s what they think, then they should try it again. A lot of people have tried to figure out Zdeno, and he’s the type of player he is. People talk about five goals against, but were they all his fault? None of them were his fault, actually.
Chara was a minus-3 on Wednesday night in Game 4 and was on the ice for five of the six Chicago goals, leading several Blackhawks – including Toews – to say they had success by not being intimidated by the 6-foot-9 36-year-old Bruins captain.
Julien said stats don’t mean nearly as much in the eyes of his coaching staff as the presence Chara provides on the ice.
“Just one of those situations where we feel he’s one of our best players on our team,” Julien said. “He’s one of the best defensemen in the league, so I don’t think there’s too many flaws in his game. But if they want to think that way, they’re entitled to it. I have no response to that except to know that my player is going to be good and ready tonight, and they can try it again if that’s what they think.”
|Bruins, maybe lying, say the whole glove-side thing is a coincidence||06.21.13 at 8:56 pm ET|
CHICAGO — By now, the Bruins’ tendency to shoot (and score) on Corey Crawford‘s glove side is well known. Everyone knows it, and nobody can downplay it.
Crawford joked to the media Friday that his stick side was questioned against the Kings, so “both side are bad,” but there should be no joking about this. The Bruins have scored 12 goals this series and all but two have been shot glove side. One of the two that were stick-side was a rebound that was just jammed at the net with no spot picked, so basically when the Bruins are aiming, it’s for that glove. At least some of them.
“You’re asking the wrong guy,” Shawn Thornton said. “I’m just shooting the puck to shoot the puck most times. Maybe goal-scorers look up and see something different. I’m sure they do, actually. That’s why they get 50 a year and I get four.”
The Bruins are clearly trying to downplay the tendency, but they have to know that Crawford knows by now. Just like they have access to video, so too does anyone with YouTube. Then again, it’s not like you’d expect the Bruins to confirm that they know the opposing goaltender’s weakness.
“I think it might be a bit of a coincidence,” Thornton said. “‘¦ I know we’re not skating down the ice thinking, ‘Oh my God, if we don’t go glove-side we’re not going to score.’ It’s nothing like that. It’s just a bit of a coincidence. We’re trying to get pucks on net and create traffic and wherever that rebound pops out, for sure you’re trying to put it in. If it pops out stick side, I’m sure you’re not trying to do a spin-o-rama just to get it on his glove side. I’m sure it’s going to be whatever’s available.”
That’s true and it isn’t. Patrice Bergeron‘s power-play goal in Game 4 came from the puck bouncing off the glass and back in front of the net. Rather than just trying to jam it in, Bergeron fired a shot high glove side. It’s simply where they’re aiming.
“I don’t think it was done purposely on our end of it,” Claude Julien said of the Bruins’ five goals on Crawford’s glove side in Game 4. “We happened to shoot there because that’s where the opening was at that time. But I think you can score on other areas, hopefully, on Corey Crawford than just the glove. It’s one of those games where a lot of them went on that side.
“At the end of the day, you’re looking for ways to score goals, and whether it’s cross toss or tips or screens or whatever, it doesn’t really matter.”
For a closer look at the Bruins’ goals and the tendencies of their scoring this series, click here.
|Claude Julien: ‘Average isn’t good enough at this stage’||06.20.13 at 4:54 am ET|
Claude Julien has always had the pulse of his team.
Right or wrong, no one gets more credit when things go right, or more of the blame when they don’t. Such was the case Monday when he gave his credit to being fully committed after a 2-0 win. But on Wednesday, the Bruins allowed 47 shots and six goals in nearly 70 minutes of hockey, Not the kind of defensive-minded, puck-controlling play he wants to see out of his five-man skating group.
“Not really, not really,” Julien said. “I mean, we tied it up. I thought our guys battled hard enough to get us back in the game and create an overtime. I don’t think we played our best game tonight. A lot of different reasons. I think our decision making wasn’t very good at times. Didn’t think we were moving the puck as well as we had been in the past.
“It was certainly a tough outing for us tonight, They came out hard, played extremely well. Somehow, again, they had the better of us for the first half of the game until we got ourselves going here a little bit. Again, those are things that happen in the Final where you don’t feel like you played well enough to win. That’s what happened tonight.”
In the second period alone, the Hawks outscored the Bruins, 3-2, as they seized control.
“I just think we weren’t very sharp in our decision making,” Julien said. “Where we talked about we have layers, our D’s were pinching, our forwards were not really covering up, weren’t totally committed to that part of the game. That’s when you saw two’on’ones. Sometimes caught a little bit low. We were through the neutral zone, weren’t very aggressive. There was a lot of our game tonight that was just average, and average isn’t good enough at this stage of the season.”
“It wasn’t a Bruins’ type of game, but at the same time you have to get yourself back into it, Our guys worked hard to score goals. Probably got ourselves out of what our normal game plan is. So we opened up and we scored goals, but we also gave them some goals, like the game’winning goal. Too many times where they had an opportunity to tee it up. We’d come back in our own end and make the big circle. When you make the big circles, you open up the middle of the ice. Just things that don’t characterize our team.
“Like I said, it was an average game. But give the guys credit. We battled back and gave ourselves a chance to win, even though it wasn’t our best game. Sometimes you got to do that. We tried to do that tonight. But at the end, you know, it didn’t happen.”
The Bruins will practice at midday on Thursday while the Blackhawks are headed back to Chicago.
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|Claude Julien puts Stanley Cup and Boston Strong in perspective: ‘I think we can help in probably a large way’||06.18.13 at 5:16 pm ET|
Ever since April 15, sports in Boston has taken on deeper meaning as the city and its people look to heal from the Boston Marathon attacks.
“I think we can help in probably a large way,” Julien said. “Everybody is looking right now for something to cheer about, smile about. I guess it doesn’t fix the things or the people that have been lost. That will never be fixed. At the same time you have to try to heal.”
Julien then gave perspective inside the Bruins dressing room and reminded everyone just how much the events of April 15 affected them.
“As much as the city itself has been touched by that, so have we as a team,” I’ve known for a long time, that’s all we talked about in the dressing room. It really hit us hard. Right now, we got to focus on doing our job and trying to stay focused on that so that in the end you hope that you can make that happen.”
Julien said his team is riding a fine line between wanting to be motivated for the people of Boston and going about their job. Julien said the focus now is the latter.
“But right now it’s got to be about us before we can even think about that,” he said. “If we think about ourselves, the job we need to do, hopefully the rest takes care of itself.”
No more Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from these Bruins, at least not in the eyes of their coach.
After the Bruins dominated Game 3 in nearly every aspect, including a 40-16 edge on faceoffs, Claude Julien heaped praise on the effort level of his team after the 2-0 win that leaves them two victories shy of their second Stanley Cup in three years and seventh in franchise history.
“I think it’s the energy in the game, the effort,” Julien said. “You see our guys, like I said, they’re backchecking, having layers, so when somebody makes a mistake, you have somebody covering up.”
Even several stitches above the eye of Zdeno Chara wasn’t going to keep the commitment level down for the Bruins. Chara said he “lost an edge” during pregame skate Monday night.
“All he did is he slipped, had a little gash over his eye,” Julien said. “I haven’t even seen it. Just by slipping, he got hit just above the eye. Nothing serious.”
The Bruins blocked another 17 shots Monday — to seven for Chicago. Dennis Seidenberg had six by himself.
“We’re blocking a lot of shots,” Julien continued. “The commitment is totally there. Throughout a whole season, it’s not easy to have that full commitment. But I think when you get to this stage, players start feeling it. They go above and beyond. That’s what you’re seeing from our team right now.”
Julien famously lashed out at his team in the first-round series with Toronto, calling the B’s a “Jekyll and Hyde” team when they blew a 3-1 series lead only to grab a dramatic Game 7 win to extend their playoff season.
But that certainly hasn’t been the case since. After the Game 6 loss to the Leafs, the Bruins are 11-2 in these playoffs. And the penalty kill — another area of effort and execution — is a big reason why. With five more kills on Monday, the Bruins have killed off 27 straight penalties.
“It’s our backcheck,” Julien explained. “Our guys are understanding one thing: This is a team, when it attacks, it attacks with four, never three. They’ve got such great skaters back there on the fence that if we don’t do what we’re doing right now, we don’t stand a chance. Our guys, like I’ve said, they’ve committed to that. They realize how important it is to come back. We’re trying to support each other that way and trying to keep it as tight as possible.”