|Bruins and Canucks: The little things lead to the big prize||06.13.11 at 1:50 pm ET|
It was a little thing – a little thing that Claude Julien works on often during practice. But on this Monday morning, the small detail of winning faceoffs could have a huge impact on who wins Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals.
Last Friday, in Game 5 in Vancouver, the Canucks found a way to win 34 of 65 draws while the Bruins only won 29 of those 65 one-on-one battles.
While none of them led directly to a goal, it did skew puck possession in Vancouver’s favor as the game progressed.
It’s actually been an area the Canucks have won in nearly every game of this series, including in both blowout wins by the Bruins in Games 3 and 4. But add the faceoffs in with losing puck battles and not getting enough bodies in front of Roberto Luongo and the small things become huge problems – problems the Bruins cannot afford tonight with no margin of error left.
In a close game, losing those battles can be deadly, especially when you’re the Bruins trying to kill one of best power play units in the game. So far, the Bruins have killed 24 of 25 Vancouver power plays.
“I don’t think we would be putting them there if it was just a faceoff thing,” Julien said. “But between Bergeron and Krejci are right-handed shots, and whether one of them is on the half fall, doesn’t really matter. The other one can be on the goal line. Krejci can make some plays from down low and Bergeron can take pucks at the net. We just feel that right now that’s a good scenario for that power play.
“We’ve got [Rich] Peverley who does move the puck well and [Dennis] Seidenberg who can shoot the puck well, we’ve got a good combination there. It’s shown some flashes of being very good, and when it hasn’t, it’s been not because of who you got out there, but what they’ve done. We’ve lost some battles in the last game. Certainly didn’t make some strong passes that were cut off. Vancouver does a great job. They’ve got good sticks on the penalty kill. If we don’t make crisp passes, you end up turning it over.”
The same goes for Vancouver.
“We have to bring our ‘A’ game and play the right way,” said Daniel Sedin. “When we win faceoffs and we have a lot of puck possession, we’re a good team. They’re obviously a good faceoff team so that’s going to be a big thing tonight. If we play the right way, and we play tight the way we did at home, it’s hard to get good scoring chances against us. When we play like we did in Games 3 and 4, we’re going to get some scoring chances but they are too, and that’s not the way we want to play.”
|Bruins hopeful Nathan Horton will attend Game 6||at 1:28 pm ET|
The Canucks have the Stanley Cup at the Garden for motivation Monday night, and it seems the Bruins will have some less famous inspiration in the house.
Bruins coach Claude Julien said he expects Nathan Horton, who is out for the series due to a severe concussion suffered in Game 3, to be in attendance as the B’s look to prevent elimination in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals. Horton came into the Boston dressing room after the team’s 4-0 victory in Game 4, and has seen teammates here and there since.
“He’s been around,” Claude Julien said, also noting that under no circumstances would Horton be able to make a return to the ice this week. “‘¦If people are looking for miracles, if he’s [in attendance Monday], it will be pretty special. But right now, he’s still dealing with those concussion issues as we speak.
“He popped in quickly this morning just to say ‘hi.’ I have the impression that he’s going to be coming to the game tonight as long as he feels good, and that can vary as the day goes on. I think right now his plan is to hopefully be here tonight.”
Horton had eight goals and nine assists for 17 points in 21 games this postseason, his first playoffs experience. He scored series-clinching goals in Game 7 of both the Eastern Conference quarterfinals and finals.
|Claude Julien: ‘We’ve got to bring our game with us’||06.09.11 at 12:16 pm ET|
Now comes the hard part.
The Bruins have turned the 2011 Stanley Cup finals upside down. They have overcome two remarkably heartbreaking losses in Vancouver by not just beating the Canucks on their Garden home ice but running the Sedin twins and the rest of the Western Conference champs right out of the building.
The Bruins dominated in every way possible, outscoring the Canucks, 12-1, in the two wins to even the series and turn it into a best-of-3.
Now, the Bruins have to carry that momentum with them on their cross-continent flight and translate it enough on the Rogers Arena ice on Friday night to give them a chance to win the Cup on that same Garden ice on Monday night.
How do they do it?
“I think we’ve got to bring our game with us, simple as that,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “We have to bring our game. That has to continue in Vancouver. It doesn’t matter where you are, you got to play the same way whether you’re at home or on the road.”
And that mean laying out the hits, doing everything possible to keep the aggressive Tim Thomas in his comfort zone between the pipes, and continuing an amazing run on the penalty kill.
In the two wins, the Bruins outhit the Canucks 67-58 and Thomas stopped a remarkable 78 of 79 shots on goal, primarily because he saw nearly every single one of them. That’s where it gets tricky. The Canucks will no doubt run more bodies at Thomas in front and the Bruins defenseman must continue to clear bodies away. Read the rest of this entry »
After all, Nathan Horton has done it all this postseason for the Bruins – especially in the clutch. There was the overtime winner in Game 5 against Montreal. There was the overtime winner in Game 7 against Montreal.
And there was game-winner against Tampa Bay in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.
But Horton won’t be playing anymore this season. Peverley was moved up to the top line of David Krejci and Milan Lucic and responded with first and last goals of a 4-0 thumping of the Canucks to even the series at 2-2 going back to Vancouver.
Peverley wasn’t informed he was on the top line until just before the game.
“Just before warm-ups,” Peverley said when asked when he found out he was playing on the top line. “I had no idea who was going to go in there, if it was going to be me or [Michael Ryder]. Rydes took a lot of shifts with them too. [Tyler Seguin] was in there, too. Nothing is set in stone.
“I haven’t contributed as well as I think I could, offensively. Anytime you can help out, especially in this environment, you want to do so.”
Julien has experimented with different looks for his top line and came to the conclusion before Game 4 that Peverley was his choice.
“We had different looks,” Julien said. “We saw [Michael] Ryder go up there a few times as well when Rich was killing penalties. I said I’d use different players at that position. Pev’s got good speed. Their line had forechecks pretty well with Lucic on one side. We thought we’d keep that going. He still has pretty decent hands. We thought we would start with that. Michael is another guy who can fit on that line as well. Certainly Tyler [Seguin] was a consideration. His skill and speed level on that line at times also.”
|Don Cherry on D&C: Bruins pushed ‘smug’ Sedins ‘a little too far’||06.08.11 at 9:27 am ET|
Hockey Night in Canada analyst Don Cherry joined the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning to offer his thoughts on the Stanley Cup finals that continues with Game 4 Wednesday night. To hear the interview, go the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
The Bruins put together an inspiring performance in Game 3, and Cherry said he thinks the Bruins can build off the 8-1 victory. He credits Shawn Thornton as the key to Boston’s resurgence.
“The big thing was Thornton,” he said. “At the start of the second game, I said, ‘Why isn’t Thornton in the game? [The Canucks are] running the Bruins, they own the Bruins right now. They don’t get Thornton in the game. Get some banging going in there and play like Bruins, and it’s going to be four straight.’ Why Thornton wasn’t in there from the start, I don’t know. It was Thornton that set the tone.”
Cherry also questioned B’s coach Claude Julien‘s decision to remove Tyler Seguin from the lineup. “Seguin will be in there [for Game 4], and he should have been in there. I just don’t understand two moves. And this is what I said ‘ and I’m not telling Julien, he’s a good coach, he’s in the final, he’s got to be good. Why Seguin wasn’t in there, and Thornton from the start, it was beyond me.”
Asked which of the Bruins he would have sat, Cherry said he didn’t know, but he noted that some players did not show up for the first two games. “In Vancouver they had a few passengers up there,” he said, later adding: “They were a bunch of pussies up there.”
|Mike Murphy hopes to do away with post-Alexandre Burrows finger ‘crap’||06.07.11 at 2:00 pm ET|
NHL vice president of hockey operations Mike Murphy met with the media Tuesday at Walter Brown Arena to discuss the league’s disciplinary actions in the Stanley Cup finals. Murphy suspended Canucks defenseman Aaron Rome for four games due to a late hit that ended Nathan Horton‘s series, something he viewed as a bad situation for the game given that the finals lost two players.
While Murphy’s decision on Rome has been well-received by people throughout the game, the league has been under heat since electing to not suspend Canucks forward Alexandre Burrows for biting Patrice Bergeron in Game 1. Since then, Burrows factored into all three Canucks’ goals in a Vancouver win in Game 2, while players from both teams have waved their fingers at one another and stuck their fingers in one another’s mouths, mocking the play on which Bergeron cut his finger and had to receive a tetanus shot.
“We made the right decision on Alex Burrows,” Murphy said. “We spoke with Alex, but I’m not here to speak about that. I dealt with that. We’ve moved on past that.
“We will deal with the issues of the series, the choppiness that’s gone on. [Senior vice president of hockey operations] Kris King is in charge of the series. We’ve addressed it. We’ve addressed it with the teams as early as this morning. I will be speaking with both general managers and coaches before the day is over about the crap that we’re seeing and the garbage that’s going on and some of the issues.”
NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley called in to the Dennis & Callahan show Tuesday morning to talk about the Bruins big 8-1 win over the Canucks in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals the night before. The former Boston forward said he enjoyed what he saw Monday night.
“Thoroughly,” he said. “Absolutely loved just about everything about it except for the [Nathan Horton] hit and the result and maybe a little bit of stooping to the Canucks’ level when they started getting into the taunting with the fingers. Other than those two issues, I really enjoyed the game.”
The biggest reason why Brickley thought that the Bruins were able to take Game 3 was that that they were able to control their emotions and turn that energy into putting pucks in the back of the net, especially following the late losses earlier in the series as well as the early loss of Horton on a hit by Aaron Rome in Game 3.
“I liked the Bruins emotional level coming into the game because that was actually my biggest concern coming off the two dramatic losses in the fashion that they lost in Vancouver. Not a lot of turn-around time to recover emotionally from that overtime loss in Game 2. When you couple that with the late loss in regulation of Game 1, I had some concerns in that area. I think the coaching staff did a real good job, the players themselves, the leadership in the room, got themselves ready to play. Not a great first period but they were ready to play. They were going to bring their skating game and then when one of their top players and a guy that really lean on to make big plays and score big goals goes down early enough in the game, it just took the emotional zeale to another level. But they were able to keep enough disicipline until that game got out of hand.” Read the rest of this entry »