|Lightning’s penalty kill shuts down Bruins in Game 1||05.15.11 at 2:04 am ET|
The Bruins’ power play deserves all the criticism it gets for its performance in the playoffs, but the Lightning’s penalty kill also deserves quite a bit of credit for its performance in Game 1.
The Lightning made it difficult for the Bruins’ man advantage, which went 0-for-4 in the game, to enter the zone and get set up all night long. They pressured the Bruins out high and forced them to gain entry by dumping the puck instead of sitting back and letting the B’s skate over the blue line. They also did a good job winning races to pucks and clearing the zone quickly, and they consistently got in passing and shooting lanes.
That’s not really all that surprising given the fact that the Lightning ranked eighth in the regular season on the PK at 83.8 percent. They’ve taken their game to an even higher level in the playoffs, killing off penalties at a 94.8-percent clip (55 for 58).
‘I think we’ve had a good penalty kill all year long, top five for most of the year,’ coach Guy Boucher said. ‘I think we’re following that up in the playoffs. We had a really good penalty kill in the first series and the second series. We’ve got to adjust to the other team and at the same time stay confident in what we are doing. Obviously our guys pay the price a lot and I think that’s the key to our penalty kill.’
Goalie Dwayne Roloson said there’s no one thing that has been the key to the Lightning’s successful PK, but that it’s more about attention to detail.
‘Our guys have done a great job focusing and doing the little things to allow us to kill those penalties off,’ Roloson said. ‘You know, whether it’s battles at the blue line or getting pucks down deep when we get that opportunity. So there’s no one thing. I think it’s just, for us as a team, just playing within our structure and doing the little things that we have to do to win hockey games.’
Although there might not be one specific key, the Lightning’s shot blocking is one thing that really stands out. They blocked 17 shots total in the game, with at least a handful of those coming while they were shorthanded.
‘You have to block shots,’ said forward Martin St. Louis. ‘It is a desperate time of the year. I think it is the mentality we have, blocking a lot of shots all year long and in the playoffs. ‘¦ You want to get that shot and block that shot and make an attempt to block every shot so Rollie gets less work.’
As good as Tampa Bay’s penalty kill was, though, there was still a lot the Bruins’ power play could’ve done better.
“I thought our execution could certainly have been better, especially on those entries there,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “If we do our job properly, I think we are going to have success, but you need the execution. … You need the execution to be there and you need the killer instinct. When you have the chance, you need to bury those things. And same thing with the loose pucks, you have to be first on those and make sure you get them and not the other team. So execution, killer instinct is something that needs to be better on our power play moving forward here.”
Bruins coach Claude Julien was not satisfied with the level of his club’s intensity following a 5-2 loss to the Lightning in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals Saturday night at TD Garden.
“I think we could’ve had a better effort,” Julien said. “I think overall, as a team, we’re definitely going to need to be better and get a better effort. The rust was even on both sides, as far as time off. You don’t want to use rust as an excuse.”
The Bruins actually came out strong, applying early pressure on Tampa Bay goalie Dwayne Roloson before the Bruins had a defensive breakdown over an 85-second span that gave Tampa Bay a comfortable three-goal cushion in the first period.
“The effort was something we’re going to need more of,” Julien added. “The other part was the fact that we gave them that 3-0 lead. It was like the Montreal series. I thought we gave them some easy goals and that was more of our doing than it was theirs. Until that point, I thought we had started the game really well and had good momentum but those three goals certainly set us back.”
The Bruins will not be on the ice Sunday but return to practice Monday at TD Garden, with Game 2 scheduled for Tuesday night in Boston before the series shifts to Tampa Bay for Games 3 and 4 Thursday and Saturday.
|Bruins hope Marc Savard makes it to Boston during Conference Finals||05.14.11 at 11:51 am ET|
The Bruins to not have expect to have Marc Savard in the house for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, though coach Claude Julien confirmed Saturday that the center, who is recovering from post-concussion syndrome, is expected to make the trip to Boston during the series.
“I think he’s supposed to be coming down at some point,” Julien said after Saturday’s morning skate. “I’m not quite sure exactly what day or which game, but he’s supposed to come down. He might be here on the weekend for all I know. I heard something about it a while back, and I can’t say I remember exactly the date.
“No doubt, he’s a part of our hockey club. He’s always welcomed here any time he wants to come down. I know he’s trying to get over a concussion that’s really set him back, and we’ve given him that space and that time. Being around the family is a good way to help yourself through that also. He’s always been welcomed here whenever he needs to see doctors or he wants co tome around the team, he’s welcome to do that.”
Since suffering his most recent concussion in late January and being shut down for the season, Savard has spent his time back home in Peterborough, Ontario.
Bruins center Patrice Bergeron skated prior to the team’s morning skate Saturday, marking the first time the team’s postseason points leader has taken the ice since suffering a concussion in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals vs. the Flyers.
“He went out and just had a light skate this morning,” coach Claude Julien said following the team’s morning skate in anticipation of Game 1 of the conference finals vs. the Lightning. “That’s where he’s at now, just a light skate on his own.
“This is something that’s just protocol, that he’s going through the normal stuff,” the coach added. “Today was a light skate on his own, and he just got off the ice when we went on. I don’t think there’s much more that we can give you except that it can go either way. We’re certainly not going to comment on that kind of stuff and just hope that he keeps getting better.”
While Bergeron will miss at least the beginning of the series, Julien said that defenseman Adam McQuaid, who sprained his neck in Game 2 of the conference semifinals in Philadelphia, will be in the lineup for Game 1. McQuaid has three points (all assists) and a plus-4 rating thus far in the playoffs.
|Claude Julien is really, really confident in Tim Thomas||05.13.11 at 1:30 pm ET|
Bruins coach Claude Julien has no doubt that his goaltender is capable of picking up where he left off when the Eastern Conference finals begin Saturday night at TD Garden. Thomas enters the series with a 2.03 goals against, just .02 behind Tampa Bay’s Dwayne Roloson for best among all goaltenders in these Stanley Cup playoffs.
“I think Timmy right now is in the zone, like he’s very, very focused,” Julien said following Friday’s practice at TD Garden. “He’s also calm. Watching him today in practice, he’s very confident and that’s what it’s all about when it comes to goaltending. When a guy is feeling good about his game and confident, he can do almost anything, and Tim is there right now.”
Thomas will face three of the eight top scorers in the playoffs in Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis and Steve Downie when the Lightning visit for Game 1 Saturday night. Tampa Bay arrived in Boston Friday for the start of the series, which continues next Tuesday with Game 2 at the Garden.
Bruins coach Claude Julien has been asked about the status of Patrice Bergeron ever since the 25-year-old went down with a concussion in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, and he has yet to offer any update aside from that Bergeron is feeling better. Friday was no different, though Julien did share a laugh with the media.
“Well I think, I don’t know if you guys share a conference before I get here and say who’s asking the question today, but I am getting that question asked everyday,” Julien said. “I think he’s improving — he really is improving. We’re optimistic about him. As Peter [Chiarelli] said, we knew he was going to miss the start of the series and how much he is going to miss, I can’t tell you right now. But he is on the right track and we’re staying positive.
“Again, I say that every day. I’m not going to say much more because when it comes to concussions you have good news and you have setbacks and you have all kinds of things that can happen. I’m not going to stand here and change my tune every day except to tell you that right now that’s going in the right direction.”
Through 11 games, Bergeron leads the B’s with 12 points this postseason. Julien offered on Thursday that the center had not been doing any sort of workouts.
|Andrew Ference on D&C: Claude Julien has fiery side||at 9:57 am ET|
Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference appeared on the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning to talk about the upcoming series with the Lightning. To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Ference said the Bruins are itching to get back to game action after having an eight-day layoff but that they haven’t gotten too restless in practice this week. ‘This week’s been handled well. We’ve had a couple of good practices,’ Ference said. ‘It actually doesn’t feel overloaded. I think it’s been just the right amount.’
Ference said there were still some good battles in practice, though. ‘We had some stitches yesterday,’ he said. ‘You get battles because you have to stay sharp. … If one guy’s going at 95 percent game speed and the other’s at 80 percent, it doesn’t always work out. That guy at 80 percent gets brought up to speed fast.’
Ference also talked about matching up against the Lightning and which players he’s been focusing on the most.
‘I know Johnny [Boychuk] and I are probably going to be up against their second line a lot, so [Vincent] Lecavalier is obviously a guy we’re going to have to key on,’ Ference said. ‘He’s been a good player for a long time. But honestly, I’m not big on studying the guys I’m playing against. I just concentrate on myself and what I have to do.’
As many others have already noted, Ference said the Lightning play more like the Canadiens than the Flyers, especially when it comes to neutral-zone play. ‘We’ll have to line up kind of like we did with Montreal,’ he said. ‘We’ll have to have patience in our game. They can be aggressive, but more often than not, they’ll fall back and frustrate teams with their defense and clogging up the neutral zone.’ Read the rest of this entry »