|Bruins-Canucks preview: Three keys, stats, and players to watch||06.06.11 at 1:54 am ET|
The Bruins have a tall task ahead of them as they look to overcome an 0-2 hole and turn the Stanley Cup finals into an actual series. Both games have been determined by just one goal thus far, and though the Bruins have played poorly from the most part, the first two games have shown the B’s can hang with the Canucks, even if they haven’t totally shown up yet. With the number three in mind, here’s a preview of Monday’s Game 3.
THREE THINGS THE BRUINS NEED TO DO
– Get better looks vs. Roberto Luongo and establish a net-front presence. We’ll say it until it changes, and it didn’t change enough in Game 2. The Canucks have been able to box the Bruins out so far in the series, but look at how the B’s scored their goals in Game 2. Milan Lucic buried a rebound from in front, and Mark Recchi redirected a shot in front of Luongo. When the Bruins were able to set up shop and do things from close range, the puck went in. It seems trying it any other way is an exercise in futility.
– Keep moving Zdeno Chara around on the power play. Recchi’s goal came as a result of Claude Julien moving Chara back to the point, but Julien should keep mixing it up when it comes to the Bruins’ mammoth captain. He still appeared to be a nuisance in front of Luongo in Game 1, so Julien should have enough confidence in Chara’s abilities in both areas to play him in different spots from power play to power play.
– Use the home crowd to their advantage. Whether or not they want to admit it, Rogers Arena was absolutely electric and had to have been a tough place to play. If the Garden can turn down the music and let the fans create an authentic atmosphere, maybe the Canucks can truly feel like they’re at an opponent’s home and not a wrestling match.
– Both the Bruins and Canucks have seen four of their last five games be determined by one goal. The Bruins are 2-3 in that span, while the Canucks are 4-1.
– The four goals Tim Thomas has allowed over the last three games ties this stretch with his best of the postseason. Thomas let in four goals over Games 2 through 4 of the conference semifinals vs. the Flyers, though the difference is that the Bruins won all three of those games and have lost two of the three games in this stretch.
– Brad Marchand has gone four games without scoring. In the other two instances this postseason in which he went four straight without a goal, he scored the following game.
THREE PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON
– Tim Thomas: He plays aggressive ‘ the sky is falling! As bad as the game-wining goal he allowed in overtime Saturday looked, the reaction by some suggest nobody has actually watched Thomas before. He’s all over the place, and he plays farther out of his net than most. It will be interesting to see how be performs in Game 3 given all the heat he’s been under for his style this series.
– Alexandre Burrows: The Bruins have every reason to be furious that Burrows wasn’t suspended for Game 2, though they’re not showing it. At any rate, their No. 1 concern should be finding away to stop the guy who showed Saturday that his offensive ability (2 G, A in Game 2) is just as sharp as his teeth.
– Rich Peverley: Where to play the speedy winger? Peverley has seen time on the second line, third line and fourth line (and the first if you want to count him taking one of Nathan Horton‘s shifts in Game 7 of the conference finals when Horton was banged up) in recent games. Peverley could continue to take some of Mark Recchi‘s shifts on the second line, or he could skate with Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder, as he did from late in the second period Saturday to the end of the contest. If and when Julien makes a move to get Shawn Thornton in the lineup at the expense of Tyler Seguin this series, the line of Kelly centering Peverley and Ryder would make sense.
Also, don’t rule out Peverley having a target on his back in Game 3. His two-handed slash to the back of Kevin Bieksa‘s knee didn’t go over well with Bieksa, his teammates or his coaches. Given the nature of the play, it shouldn’t have. Peverley really got away with one, and had he scored on his shot that followed the non-penalized slash, it would have looked even worse.
|Travel and fatigue are challenges, not excuses, for the down but not out Bruins||06.05.11 at 10:34 pm ET|
One thing is for certain, that five-hour plane ride that began early Sunday morning in Vancouver would’ve been a lot shorter if the Bruins had found a way to hold onto their 2-1 third-period lead in Game 2 Saturday night.
But the Bruins had no choice but to get on the 7 a.m. bus and catch their 8 a.m. (PT) flight back for Boston. At least it was a charter and at least it was a big plane so most everyone could catch up on sleep and relaxation.
“We’re not going to hide the fact that we don’t travel as much as they do,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said, referring to the fact that the Canucks basically head out on a lengthy road trip every time they don’t play at Rogers Arena. “They’re probably used to this more than we are. So I think it was important for us to really look at it in a way where we had to make it the best possible way for us.”
When they beat Tampa Bay, 1-0, in Game 7 of the Eastern finals, Julien and the Bruins knew managing their travel would be nearly as important as solving Roberto Luongo. Julien wanted his team to leave Sunday morning so they could get back Sunday afternoon and get back on Eastern time ASAP, with Game 3 Monday night at 8 p.m. Read the rest of this entry »
Tim Thomas made one thing pretty clear Sunday.
He’s not about to change his aggressive approach in goal now.
The 2009 Vezina Trophy winner was outstanding in Game 1 and for most of Game 2 before allowing the game-tying goal with over 10 minutes left in regulation and a bizarre goal 11 seconds into overtime when he fell down chasing Alex Burrows.
Upon his arrival back in Boston Sunday afternoon at the Garden, Thomas was asked about whether he regrets his aggressive approach or plans on adjusting his tact in goal.
“I have a pretty good idea how to play goalie,” Thomas said at the beginning of the press conference. “I’m not going to take advice or suggestions at this time. I’m just going to keep playing the way I have.”
Following a five-hour flight back from Vancouver, Thomas and the rest of the Bruins came to the Garden briefly to check into their dressing room and fulfill a media obligation on the offday between Games 2 and 3 of the Stanley Cup finals.
“I think we’ve played in front of Timmy Thomas,” coach Claude Julien said. “To me, he’s a Vezina Trophy winner. We are here right now because his contribution has been really good. For us to be sitting here having to answer those questions is ridiculous to me. He’s won a Vezina Trophy already, he’s probably going to win one this year, in my mind anyway, for what he’s done. Read the rest of this entry »
|Claude Julien doesn’t appear ready to sit Tyler Seguin||06.04.11 at 4:48 pm ET|
Seguin played 6:21 in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals, and including that contest, his two lowest career time-on-ice totals have come against the Canucks. The rookie has also been held with out the point the last six games, but when asked about Shawn Thornton Saturday, Julien didn’t give off the impression that the fourth-line enforcer would be in the lineup.
“Every game is about making decisions here… We’re in a position where we have to make decisions based on our needs, what has to happen,” Julien said. “We’ve at points envisioned a guy like Tyler, the way he played [early in the Eastern Conference finals], we had to keep him in the lineup.
“As games go on, we make decisions. What I’m saying today might be different tomorrow, so on, so forth.”
Seguin exploded with six points in the first two games of the conference finals, which were his first two career playoff games. It took a Patrice Bergeron concussion suffered in Game 4 vs. the Flyers for Seguin to even get his chance to play, and he doesn’t want to go back to the press box.
“I’m taking advantage of all opportunities I’ve been given,” Seguin said. “I don’t want to go back to the feeling of almost waiting for an
injury for you to get a chance to play. That’s not the emotional state I want to be in. I’m trying to stay away from that.”
|Claude Julien: Bruins can overcome another defecit||at 3:45 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — The Bruins did not hold a morning skate in anticipation of Saturday’s Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals vs. the Canucks, instead holding media availability at the the team hotel. With the B’s having lost Game 1 for the third time in four playoff series this postseason, coach Claude Julien acknowledged that being in familiar territory makes it easier on the general mindset of the team.
“That’s why we’re going into this game tonight with positive thoughts and positive feelings,” Julien said. “This isn’t unknown territory for us. We’ve been through that, and it doesn’t mean [the wins] happen automatically. We know we have to work through it, but having done it certainly gives you the confidence to go out there and play the type of game that you need to play in order to win. We need to do that tonight.”
The Bruins lost the first two games of the quarterfinals vs. the Canadiens before winning the next three and eventually closing out the Habs in seven games. The B’s dropped the opener of the Eastern Conference finals to the Lightning before winning the next two and taking the series in seven once again.
“We certainly don’t want to go to Boston down two games, and this is a game we feel is an important one for our hockey club,” Julien said. “[We’ve had] two days to talk about it and prepare for it. Now it’s time to show it.”
|More memorable moments from Tyler Seguin would be big for Bruins||06.03.11 at 9:16 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — Bruins rookie forward Tyler Seguin has obviously had an up-and-down rookie year. Though it’s easy to get hypnotized by his skill given his age, the learning process has not always been easy for Seguin. He was a healthy scratch for seven games in the regular season, as well as in the team’s first 11 games of the postseason. In most instances, it was warranted.
When Patrice Bergeron‘s concussion opened up a spot in the lineup, Seguin showed at points of the first three games of the Eastern Conference Finals just why having him on the ice can pay off. Seguin was flashy, smart and even more mature at the same time.
On Friday, the 19-year-old was asked at the University of British Columbia if he recalled a “welcome to the NHL” moment in his rookie campaign.
“Umm,” Seguin said as he thought about it. “I’ve heard before that people have had their one thing that [got their attention]. I had a ‘welcome to the playoffs’ moment.”
No, that moment was not on his first-period goal against the Lightning in Game 1 in which he embarrassed Michael Lundin at the blue line. The moment came before that.
“My second shift, where Tampa scored two goals on my line, that was kind of my ‘welcome to the playoffs,'” Seguin said. “It wasn’t a good welcome, but luckily on my third shift, I scored one.”
Seguin did score one, and he scored two more in the second period of Game 2. In Game 3, he executed a smart play by holding onto the puck and drawing two defenders over to him before sending the puck deep on a play that resulted in an Andrew Ference goal.
Yet since then, it’s been quiet for Seguin. Considering he didn’t get an assist on the aforementioned Ference goal, the rookie has gone six straight games without a point, and he hardly did anything Wednesday to provide a ‘welcome to the Stanley Cup finals’ moment.
Seguin, skating on his normal line with Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder, logged 6:21 in ice time, his lowest total this postseason and second-lowest total since coming to the NHL. He played 6:16 on February 26th, which coincidentally (or not) was also against the Canucks. Seguin did not register a shot on goal in Game 1 Wednesday.
“There’s a lot of guys that have gone scoreless in those six games as well,” coach Claude Julien said Friday when asked about Seguin. “As I mentioned earlier, he’s 19 years old. We don’t expect him to carry our team on his back.
“After the first two games in Tampa, they certainly were respectful of him a lot more than they were in the first two, they realized the damage he could make. Good players have to find ways to fight through that. This is the opportunity that Tyler has to gain even more experience in regards to that.”
The potential reward for the Bruins of having Seguin in the lineup is tremendous, and other teams are realizing it as they try to limit the rookie’s chances. It’s been a memorable and, at times, chaotic season for Seguin, and with the team trying to win the Stanley Cup, a few more good memories would be a good thing for everybody.
|Canucks are blue over Tim Thomas’ positioning, but Bruins aren’t concerned||06.02.11 at 8:02 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — Biting aside, one hot-button issue to emerge from Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals was where Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas set up shop. The Vezina favorite drew a questionable tripping call on Alexandre Burrows in the second period of Wednesday’s game, which caused Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault to question Thomas’ positioning outside of the crease.
Following the game, Vigneault said one big difference between Thomas and Roberto Luongo, both of whom entered the series with nearly identical postseason numbers, is that his guy stays put.
“Our goaltender always plays in the blue, stays in his ice. Their goaltender is always out of the blue and comes into other people’s ice,” Vigneault said after Game 1. “We’re going to need a little bit of clarification there, especially when he’s initiating contact with our team. I’m sure we’ll be able to figure it out.”
If Vigneault needs clarification, he can simply go to Rule 69.4, which applies to contact outside the crease. Here is the part of that rule that would pertain to Wednesday’s play:
“A goalkeeper is not ‘fair game’ just because he is outside the goal crease. The appropriate penalty should be assessed in every case where an attacking player makes unnecessary contact with the goalkeeper. However, incidental contact will be permitted when the goalkeeper is in the act of playing the puck outside his goal crease provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such unnecessary contact.”
Thomas defended his ground Thursday when the subject was brought up during the Bruins’ media availability.
“Basically I have the right to go anywhere there’s open ice,” Thomas said. “If I’m set, I have a right to that ice. If I’m out of the paint and I’m set, I also have the right to get right-of-way to get back to the crease. That’s the way I understand it.”
That’s just what Thomas felt he was doing on the penalty taken by Burrows. As for the notion that the Canucks could need clarification on what he can and can’t do, Thomas pointed to how rare it is that he has drawn such a penalty. If the Canucks are worried about it happening often, they may be reading too far into things.
“I don’t think I’ve drawn that many penalties this playoffs,” Thomas said Thursday at the University of British Columbia. “Yesterday on the one on [Burrows], I went to make the first stop, then the puck was going off to the side. I was retreating back to the center of my net, felt resistance behind my leg, and I was actually just going with it. I was going to basically flip around, flip my body around, to be able to at least have a chance to stop that rebound that went to the side of the net.
“I didn’t know if it was my guy or their guy or who [tripped me]. I was backing up and there was something behind my leg. It sort of put me off balance.”
Bruins coach Claude Julien didn’t see reason for concern either and figured Luongo could do the same thing if he wanted.
“If he gets a chance to challenge, he challenges,” Julien said of Thomas. “The rule is pretty clear. You’re entitled to your ice. If he steps out and he’s got that ice, he’s entitled to it. That’s what he’s done through the whole process.
“Now, we all know that goaltenders are to be protected. If you’re going to say he’s out of his crease, he’s fair game, that should be the same thing behind the net. ‘¦ If he’s entitled to his ice, and he’s got it, then afterwards I don’t think people are entitled to run over those guys. If Luongo comes out of his net, he’s got his ice, it’s his, it belongs to him. The rule to me is pretty clear so I don’t see any issues there.”
Maybe Vigneault and the Bruins will have to agree to disagree, and though Thomas may have gone down a little easily on the play, the ruling seems clear enough.