|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 »
|Tyler Seguin is finally ready for his moment in the playoff spotlight||05.12.11 at 7:15 pm ET|
He was drafted by the Bruins No. 2 overall in last summer NHL entry draft. He was picked by the Bruins as the face of the franchise moving forward into the next decade.
With the latest concussion to Patrice Bergeron, that moment has arrived faster than anyone could have imagined – or hoped.
But we’re about to find out – ready or not – just what kind of special player 19-year-old Tyler Seguin can be for the Bruins.
“I’m trying to keep as sharp as I can both on and off the ice even though I’m not playing,” Seguin said. “You have to work out pretty hard when you’re not in the lineup and do a lot of hard skates and hard workouts so I feel great.
“It’s been a huge learning curve. My defensive zone has gotten a lot better I think. I also believe on a compete level, my battling skills have gotten better and still improving.”
Veteran Mark Recchi, 24 years older than Seguin, doesn’t think the rookie will be overwhelmed in his first playoff action on the Bruins’ third line with Rich Peverley and Michael Ryder, partly because he’s seen the fire of intense playoff hockey in his recent past.
“His competitive level was huge,” Recchi said. “In juniors, I think he was just so darn good that he could kind of get away with skill. He learned how to compete every night and he learned to be a pro. It was great to see he was willing to learn, he was willing to talk to guys, get better, want to get better and when you have that, you’re going to get better. If you think you’re too good, you’re not going to get better, but he improved tremendously over the course of the season in terms of how hard he competed and it was great to see. This is another level, and he’s ready for it. It will be fun.” Read the rest of this entry »
In just two days, fans will be able to see something they haven’t seen in a while: a Bruins hockey game.
Sure, this time of year, the wait is generally longer for the next Bruins game (something in the neighborhood of five months), but it still been quite a while for these B’s. When the puck is dropped Saturday in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, it will be Boston’s first game in eight days, as they have had penalty of time on their hands since sweeping away the Flyers in the semifinals last Friday.
After the Philadelphia series, the team took the weekend off from skating, returning to practice for Monday and Tuesday before staying off the ice on Wednesday. Thursday, they held their third practice of the extra-long layoff period, and it certainly belonged in the “high intensity” category. Claude Julien reached into his bag of tricks for an interesting drill which featured two goals in the corner, with a short area of space to play in between. It kept things physical, and for a team that’s gone so long without playing actual games, it kept the energy up.
“We have to find the best drills for similar-to-game situations and prepare ourselves for that same intensity like we’ve been playing,” captain Zdeno Chara, who took Tuesday off, said after Thursday’s skate. “We’re having good practices.”
One player who could certainly benefit from such a drill is Tyler Seguin. Physicality is an area in which the No. 2 overall pick’s game is lacking, and as he makes his playoff debut, being able to give and take more contact could come a long way. The rookie noted that it was only the second time the team had done the drill this season. The other came just before a very big win for the team.
“We actually did it once in Vancouver,” Seguin said. “Just going against big teams, you’ve got to be strong on the battles. We were just touching up on that in tight areas.”
By comparison, the B’s had two days off between their seven-game quarterfinal series with the Canadiens and their semifinal showdown vs. Philadelphia. Yet this time, they haven’t had to do a bit or traveling since their Game 4 win on home ice, and while they can appreciate the time off, they know they can’t let up.
“We’ve got to have tough practices,” Seguin said. “We’re going to get our rest and our breaks, but we’ve got to get back to work here. We had a tough practice today, and [we’ll have] another one tomorrow to get ready for Saturday.”
Four wins away from a chance at the Stanley Cup, the B’s are having little trouble staying motivated between the series. It’s the farthest they’ve been since 1992, but it’s not as far as they want.
“It’s been nice to have the time off,” center Chris Kelly said. “It has not been difficult at all. We know that there’s still lots of work to be done.”
|Brad Marchand and the B’s are hungry men||at 2:01 pm ET|
Brad Marchand has shown all season that he is not shy, nor does he lack in confidence.
Both were on display on Thursday at TD Garden as the Bruins had their most intense practice yet as they prepare to shake off the cobwebs from a week off and get ready for Game 1 with the Lightning Saturday night at 8 p.m.
“I think the biggest thing is we’re just keeping the mindset on the game and I think having the excitement of the game coming up and having these days off, guys are going to be hungry to play again. I think that’s big for us right now,” Marchand said.
“Everyone is hungry to go. I don’t think think we’ve been away long enough to get out of the rhythm. We’ve still been practicing very hard. Guys are staying focused and staying ready. I think it’s all mental. We’re staying in good shape. We’re working hard, practicing hard but the biggest thing is when you’re off this long is you have to stay mentally ready, mentally focused and don’t get off track.”
The man most responsible for that approach – according to Marchand – is coach Claude Julien.
“Claude’s been unbelievable,” Marchand said. “He’s such a good mentor. He really knows how to bring players along and teach them the little aspects of the game that make you a good player. He’s great at knowing players and how to read them and how to teach them. He’s been such a great mentor for me this year. I don’t think I’d be the player I am right now if I didn’t have him as a coach.”
That’s why Marchand isn’t losing sleep over how a player like Tyler Seguin will approach Saturday night when he gets his first-ever taste of playoff action. Julien brought Marchand along perfectly, in a 20-20 season. He feels Seguin will have the same result from the same treatment.
“He’s rounded out my game,” Marchand said of Julien. “He brought me in slowly, gave me more minutes as the season went on and let me grow as a player. He guided me in the right direction with agitating and using my offensive skills at the right time and when to be defensive, playing on that [fine] line but not going over it. He’s been great at just rounding out my game.”
Patrice Bergeron was again absent from Bruins practice on Thursday as he continues to recover from a mild concussion suffered in the Game 4 series-clinching win last Friday against the Flyers.
“All I can say is he keeps progressing on a daily basis,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said after Bruins practice Thursday. “He hasn’t been on the ice or done any of that stuff yet so we’re keeping our fingers crossed that thing will be clear and more optimistic as we move forward.”
Bergeron, who has yet to take part in any physical on-ice or off-ice activity, sustained a concussion when Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux finished a check in the Bruins defensive zone early in third period. Bergeron had a difficult time get up from the ice and making his way to the bench. It was the third concussion he’s had in his career in Boston, the second since his most severe concussion when he was checked into the board’s by then-Flyers defenseman Randy Jones in Oct. 2007.
The Bruins are preparing to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night at TD Garden in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals without Bergeron available, as Chris Kelly has taken Bergeron’s spot with Brad Marchand and Mark Recchi on the team’s second line.