|Bruins not worried about adjusting to new line combinations||05.11.11 at 1:12 pm ET|
At this point in the season, you would expect any team still playing to have its line combinations set, and the Bruins did through the end of the regular season and the first two rounds of the playoffs. But with Patrice Bergeron out with a concussion, Claude Julien has had to shuffle his second and third lines.
Chris Kelly has moved up to take Bergeron’s spot as the second-line center between Brad Marchand and Mark Recchi. Meanwhile, Michael Ryder has switched from right wing to left wing to make room for Tyler Seguin to be the third-line right wing. All that movement and potential unfamiliarity could be reason for concern, but Julien doesn’t see it that way.
“Those guys have gone through those kinds of things throughout the whole year,” Julien said. “I think our guys have been used to playing with each other. Even in practice, we mix and match and you see different pairings at times. I thought our guys adjusted well, and if we did decide to make some other changes, I’m sure it wouldn’t be a big issue.”
One interesting thing to note about the new lines is that the second line now consists of three left-handed shots, while the third line comprises three righties. Kelly said that shouldn’t be an issue, either.
“These guys can pick up passes on their backhand just as easy as they can pick up passes on their forehand,” Kelly said. “So I don’t think it’s anything that you need to think about or worry about.”
Of course, Recchi has played the off-wing for most of the season, so there’s no adjustment there. Ryder, on the other hand, has been on the right side for the majority of the season. Julien said Ryder is just as much at home on the left side, though.
“Mike is just as comfortable playing on the left as he is on the right, that much I know,” Julien said. “So making that change isn’t a big deal.”
|Claude Julien: Tomas Kaberle will ‘have to be even bigger’||at 12:30 pm ET|
Tomas Kaberle has been one of the most scrutinized Bruins since he arrived in Boston in mid-February, and for good reason. He wasn’t contributing as much on offense and the power play as he was expected to, and he was making some costly mistakes in his own zone.
Claude Julien said he thought Kaberle played better in the Bruins’ most recent series against the Flyers, though. In fact, the 12-year veteran finished the series with a plus-4 rating.
“I know at one point we had expected a little more out of him, and we were clear with that,” Julien said. “I think since that time, he’s certainly been a pretty good player for us these last few games against Philly. We’ve seen him move the puck extremely well and I think he’s been a better player. … We’ve liked the way he’s handled the puck and handled the pressure of the forecheck and getting the attack going.”
Julien said Kaberle will have to step up even more in the Eastern Conference finals against the Lightning because of their 1-3-1 scheme that clogs up the neutral zone (explained here).
“I think in this series coming up, he’s going to have to be even bigger for us because of the way they play the game,” Julien said. “We’re going to need some really good puck movement from the back end, so he’s going to be a key element to our success.”
|Patrice Bergeron at the Garden, Claude Julien says concussed center is ‘doing better’||05.10.11 at 1:44 pm ET|
Bruins center Patrice Bergeron was at TD Garden Tuesday, and while he did not practice with his teammates, his mere presence is something the team is taking as a positive sign for the concussed the25-year-old.
“He’s doing better,” coach Claude Julien said. “He’s here and he’s doing better, so again, he’s dealing with the concussion symptoms and everything else, the protocol of it. He’s here today because he’s feeling better. I think we’re getting some positive feedback from him.”
Bergeron suffered a mild concussion in the third period of the Bruins’ 5-1 win in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals over the Flyers. He leads the B’s with 12 points this postseason and is expected to miss the beginning of the conference finals vs. the Lightning.
|Fun with 1-3-1: How the Lightning beat teams in the neutral zone||05.09.11 at 3:56 pm ET|
WILMINGTON ‘ It’s spoken about as though it’s legend: the vaunted Tampa Bay 1-3- 1. It’s the key to Guy Boucher‘s success, and the reason why the Lightning are in the Eastern Conference finals. It can make opposing teams crumble ‘ just ask the Capitals. It sure is something.
But, um, what is it?
Since it seems it will be a matter of days before the Lightning and Bruins actually meet in the conference finals, there’s plenty of time to explain.
The 1-3-1 is a neutral zone scheme employed by the Lightning, and it seems to be a variation of the popular ‘trap’ system. Teams that play a trap style put one man on the puck, backed by essentially two guys behind him, and two defensemen back. Think of it as a 1-2-2 for the sake of understanding the differences.
In the 1-3-1, there is only one man hanging back, with three guys between the guy playing the puck and the last defenseman. For a fantastically in-depth look at Tampa’s 1-3-1, check out this lesson from the Japer’s Rink blog in DC.
The purpose of the 1-3-1 is to push the play toward the boards. If the first guy can do that, the three skaters in front of the man back (or ‘free safety’ as the blog likens it to), can make it very difficult for the team bringing it through the neutral zone to find seams. If turnovers can be created as a result, suddenly the team bringing the puck through the neutral zone is in big trouble.
‘If you get caught flat-footed I think you are playing into their strength,’ Claude Julien said after Monday’s practice. ‘If you create turnovers you are obviously going to pay for it so those are two of the main things you have to be careful about when they play that system.
‘When I say we saw Montreal sit back, but I think they sit back even more. And they are even deeper so the one thing they do is once they turn that puck over they counter quickly. It’s going to be really important that we minimize those and obviously you have to create some speed through the neutral zone because standing still you’re a dead duck.’
We’ll have more on the 1-3-1 and which Bruin could be instrumental in the 1-3-1.
|Claude Julien: Adam McQuaid ‘should be back’ for Game 1 vs. Lightning||05.08.11 at 12:42 pm ET|
Though the Bruins are going to be without center Patrice Bergeron (concussion) for at least the beginning of their Eastern Conference finals matchup with the Lightning, they will likely see one player return from injury. On Sunday, coach Claude Julien echoed general manager Peter Chiarelli‘s comments from a day earlier, telling reporters that the team expects to have Adam McQuaid back in the lineup.
“McQuaid should be back for the start of the series,” Julien told reporters. “Things are looking really good for him.”
McQuaid has been out for the Bruins since leaving Game 2 of the conference semifinals in the first period. The rookie defenseman went head-first into the boards after tripping over his stick on an attempted hit on Flyers forward Mike Richards.
|How Zdeno Chara shut down Flyers and why it matters against Lightning||05.07.11 at 3:08 pm ET|
Before their Eastern Conference semifinal series, there was lots written and said about how much trouble the Bruins would have stopping the high-powered Philadelphia offense.
After all, the Flyers led the East in the regular season with 259 goals, behind only Vancouver and Detroit in the entire NHL. Against Buffalo in the first round, Philly scored five goals in three of its four wins and four in the other, all against Ryan Miller, one of the elite goalies in the sport.
But the Bruins didn’t blink, after allowing three goals ‘ two in garbage time ‘ in Game 1, the Flyers scored just four the rest of the way in getting outscored 20-7 in the Bruins sweep.
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said every Bruins player understood what was expected in “the system.”
“It was big,” Chara said. “I thought eventually in Games 3 and 4 they started to find a way of creating speed through the neutral zone. But I thought the first two games, we completely took that away from them.”
Danny Briere, Mike Richards and James van Riemsdyk scored in Game 1. Van Riemsdyk accounted for both Philly tallies in Game 2. Andrej Meszaros scored a harmless goal in Game 3 and Kris Versteeg scored in Game 4.
As much as Bruins fans will soak in the feeling of avenging last year’s playoff collapse to the Flyers, Bruins coach Claude Julien made it clear that he won’t let his team do the same for very long as the Tampa Bay Lightning await in the Eastern Conference finals beginning at TD Garden next week.
“Well, it’s something that has been hanging over our heads for over a year,” Julien said of last year’s 4-3 Game 7 loss to Philadelphia after a 3-0 series lead. “Even though we tried to turn the page, we were reminded everyday in this series. And it’s something that is there and will be there, what happened last year. But to come back and win that series, to me is a pretty convincing team in this series.
“I thought we played extremely well. It’s nice to be able to bounce back and you need to take time to appreciate what you have done and at the same time you really have to stay focused because the toughest games and still to come. And we have to be prepared that we are a group that believes we can go far in these playoffs here and farther than we have so far. And it’s up to us to keep that focus and keep moving forward.”
The Bruins have won eight-of-nine since falling behind the Canadiens, 2-0, in the opening round.