|Bruins looking for positives as results continue to escape power play||05.01.11 at 6:09 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — The Bruins’ power play struggles have gone from concerning, to laughable, to just being a sensitive subject. An 0-for-26 showing in the playoffs will do that, but right now the B’s are simply looking for signs of progress.
“We’re just trying,” Zdeno Chara said after Sunday’s practice at Wells Fargo Center. “We’re always trying to get better. We’re still working on it, and I thought we created some better scoring opportunities yesterday. Hopefully it happens sooner rather than later.
“We controlled the puck pretty well, made some plays, had some quality shots. We had some power plays where we got in really easily, and we had some of them where we couldn’t really get past the blue line. It’s just a little inconsistent on that part.”
The Flyers, who killed off all five of the Bruins’ power plays in Boston’s 7-3 Game 1 victory Saturday, boasted a middle-of-the-pack penalty kill unit in the regular season. Their 82.7 penalty kill percentage was 15th in the NHL, though in the first round against the Sabres, they gave up seven goals on 31 Buffalo power plays, meaning they were successful only 77 percent of the time. Against a team that’s struggled as much on the man advantage, it doesn’t seem to matter how the Flyers’ PK operates.
“No results,” Claude Julien said Sunday of the team’s power play. “That’s one thing, but I thought there was a few things better. Hopefully it continues to get that way, but we just need it going.”
The Bruins will make their latest attempt at breaking the unflattering streak Monday night in Game 2.
|Marc Savard texting Claude Julien pointers from afar||at 3:11 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — There’s been no sign of Marc Savard since he sat at a podium, choked up, as general manager Peter Chiarelli announced the center’s season was finished on Feb. 7 at TD Garden. The 33-year-old returned to his home in Peterborough, Ontario, and since then, neither Bruins fans nor the media have heard a peep from the center. They’ve heard about him, as he reportedly has dealt with memory issues, but have gotten nothing from the horse’s mouth.
On Sunday, Claude Julien touched on the contact that he’s had with Savard since he was shut down due to post-concussion syndrome. Text-messaging has kept the two in touch, with Savard even trying to help his boss call the shots at times.
“I’ve been texting back and forth with Marc, no doubt. For me personally, there’s the player and then there’s the individual. I care for him as an individual and I really hope that he gets better for the ask of his personal life,” Julien said after Sunday’s practice. “I’ve been texting to see how he’s doing, and every once in a while I’ve said, ‘I thought you were going to text me to give me some tips on certain parts of our game.’ As soon as I opened that door, he took advantage of it. I’ve gotten a few tips from him.”
One area in which Savard should be instructing Julien is the power play. The B’s are 0-for-26 thus far in the postseason, and Julien admitted Sunday that the unit’s performance might not be so bleak if they still had a healthy Savard.
“He was a guy that did such a good job on the power play,” Julien said. “We definitely miss him there, and that’s not a big secret. The way he was just poised and playing those areas, where to move the puck, it certainly created some awareness for the other team. They knew how dangerous he was. That’s a part where, yeah, we lost that part when we lost Marc Savard. It’s not a part that’s easily replaceable.
“Somehow we’ve got to find a way to improve our power play without Marc Savard. It’s been a challenge, but even Marc this year was not as good a player as he was before that major injury of his, and I still remember the first few years I had him. You couldn’t have asked for a better power play guy. When you lose a guy like that, you’re losing a real good player and a real good piece of your power play.”
PHILADELPHIA — Nathan Horton wasn’t on the ice as the Bruins held their Sunday practice at Wells Fargo Center, but his never-ending grin could still be seen in the team’s dressing room following the skate. Horton did only off-ice work Sunday, with he and the team explaining that it was an equipment issue that led to his absence. Horton, who famously went to a local sporting goods store to buy a stick during a prolonged scoring slump in the regular season, apparently realized he had a broken skate as he was getting ready for the practice. By the time it was realized, Horton said, coach Claude Julien told him not to bother worrying about the practice.
“His rivets popped just before going out there, so the trainer came to see me, and I said we were only going out there for 20 minutes, so by the time you get it fixed [it wouldn’t be worth it],” Julien said after practice. “He did a little off-ice workout, and it’s not a big deal. He’ll skate tomorrow morning.”
Horton led the Bruins with five shots on goal in Boston’s 7-3 win over the Flyers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. The 25-year-old had a goal and an assist for two points and was a plus-3 on the day. Through eight playoff games, Horton has five points and a plus-2 rating.
|Claude Julien: We don’t need to change ‘a ton’ for the Flyers||04.29.11 at 2:06 pm ET|
Before the team left Boston for Philadelphia Friday, Bruins head coach Claude Julien said the Flyers are a better match up for his team than the Canadiens were in the first round. The Bruins captured three of the four meetings in the regular season and were even able to score on the power play four times, something they failed to do in 21 tries in the opening round.
“We match up well against them and they’re always close in tight games and we got to go in there with some confidence and obviously some determination,” Julien said. “Playoffs is a different situation than the regular season, but again as I mentioned it’s just one of those things that we feel that we don’t have to change a ton of things. And if there’s adjustments to make along the way, we just have to be prepared to make them.”
The Flyers, however, did not have big defenseman Chris Pronger at their disposal in the last meeting on March 27 in Philadelphia as he was still healing from the effects of a broken hand.
“He’s an experienced guy, a guy who has got good size as well and has got a good shot,” Julien said. “I know he certainly hadn’t used it much when he’s come back now. Whether he’s 100 percent, we don’t know, and it really shouldn’t matter to us.
“But he’s been a big part of their power play and when you get a guy like that back, it’s no doubt that it’s a boost for their hockey club and certainly helps. So we’ve just got to continue I guess playing the way we have been against them for most of the year this year. I thought we played them well and we came out with three wins, and I think we had the overtime loss.”
The Bruins’ only loss to the Flyers came with three seconds left in overtime on Dec. 11 at TD Garden when Mike Richards beat Tim Thomas with a wrist shot. The Bruins also showed they can win all sorts of games against Philly, 3-0, in Philly on Dec. 1, 7-5 in a Garden shootout on Jan. 13 and 2-1 on Brad Marchand’s goal late on March 27. The Bruins also appear to have the clear advantage in goal with Thomas starting all seven games of their series against Montreal while Brian Boucher was one of three different Philadelphia netminders to see action against Buffalo. Read the rest of this entry »
|Bruins aren’t worried about quick turnaround||04.27.11 at 5:24 pm ET|
A lot has been made of the fact that the Bruins and Canadiens will be playing Game 7 less than 22 hours after the conclusion of Game 6, raising questions about whether fatigue could be a factor Wednesday night. But the Bruins themselves aren’t too concerned about the turnaround.
“We’re at the stage here that we got trainers, we got good people around,” Claude Julien said. “That’s all been taken care of, and I’m sure it’s the same for the other side. I don’t think there’s much that gets left behind nowadays. Everybody has a job to do and everybody knows how to do it. You rely on your people around you. And our players are pretty well trained athletes as well that know how to hydrate themselves. Certainly we don’t plan on having that as an obstacle tonight.”
Shawn Thornton said Wednesday hasn’t been any different than any other game day.
“I can’t speak for everybody in the dressing room, but nothing,” Thornton said when asked what, if anything, changed in his game-day routine. “We got in early enough last night that I got the same amount of sleep as I normally would. I drank the same amount of coffee. ‘¦ Back-to-backs aren’t a big deal. We do them all the time.”
Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference has seen the Bruins come up short in Game 7 multiple times. The team has seen their last three seasons end in such games, and on Wednesday they will go for their first Game 7 victory since 1994. The 32-year-old said prior to Wednesday night’s game vs. the Canadiens that he isn’t worried about the past.
“I’m not big on the history,” Ference said. “I always kind of laugh when they say ‘all-time records’ or ‘in past years, the Bruins have done this or that.’
“It really is in the moment. You play for today. What happened last year, the year before or the last 80 years of these teams playing each other, doesn’t have an effect on tonight. What happens out there is determined by the players on these teams.”
Claude Julien can certainly agree with his defenseman. All of Julien’s seasons in Boston to this point have ended with a Game 7 loss, but it’s the last thing the coach wants to think about.
“I think what’s in the past is in the past and you got to play for the present,” Julien said. “This is a pretty simple message, but that’s the message that you have to have playing those types of games. You’ve got to put everything behind you and look at what you need to do here to win.”
After getting what many observers clearly felt was the raw end of the deal from the men in striped shirts Tuesday night, the Bruins still were not about to take a page out of the book of Mike Gillis.
He is the Vancouver Canucks general manager who lambasted the NHL and its officiating crew on Monday, just about 24 hours before its Game 7 Tuesday against the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks Tuesday night.
Yes, the Bruins were put on not one but TWO 5-on-3 disadvantages and the Canadiens scored both times in a 2-1 win to force Game 7 less than 24 hours later in Boston. Yes, the major penalty to Milan Lucic for boarding seemed harsh, even if Jaroslav Spacek was bleeding from the head. And yes, the Bruins can’t really complain about the power play since they yet to convert a single one of 19 chances in the series.
But these Bruins know they still have Game 7 ahead. They figure that eventually the breaks have to even out – with the whistles and on the scoresheet, right?
But still it was a crushing blow to lose your top scorer with more than half the game remaining in a 1-1 contest in Game 6. But that’s what happened when Lucic was shown the gate when Spacek showed the officials blood from the hit just under five minutes into the second period – and just moments after the Bruins had tied it.
“Well, I’m not going to comment on it, and simply not for not getting any information, but I haven’t had any chance to really look at it closely,” Julien said cleverly. “And you see quick replays here and there but it’s something that I need to see here before I’m able to comment on that.”
“I can’t comment because I heard it but haven’t seen a replay at all,” added Mark Recchi. “Strange game and a lot of strange things happened out there but it’s part of it. I think 5-on-5 we were a very good hockey team tonight and we have to take that positive and go home and have our home crowd. We’ve been in this before. We have to stay focused, stay relaxed, stay positive and go from there.
“I’m not going to focus too much on what happened. It’s over now. We have to worry about [Wednesday] and can’t dwell on it and have to embrace what’s coming up [in Game 7].”
Added Patrice Bergeron, “I didn’t get a good look at it so I can’t comment on it but obviously, losing Looch, he means a lot.”
Then there was this from Tim Thomas that summed up the Bruins’ frustration.
“It was no harder than any other game,” Thomas said with a wry smile. “Obviously, when it’s 5-on-3, it’s harder to keep the puck out of the net. I’m not a forward. I don’t make or take those type of hits. I’ve already heard from some of the guys on their take on it but I don’t have one. I’m just a goalie.”