|Andrew Ference keeping Bruins’ Game 7 history in the past||04.27.11 at 5:14 pm ET|
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.”
|Mark Recchi with the cold, hard truth: Bruins’ power play ‘needs to be a lot better than that’||04.26.11 at 11:02 pm ET|
MONTREAL — Moments after losing Game 6 to the Canadiens, 2-1, on a pair of 5-on-3 goals, Bruins veteran Mark Recchi admitted he and his teammates need to do a better job of cashing in on their power play chances. While the Canadiens scored a pair of two-man advantage goals, the Bruins were 0-for-4 on the power play, making them scoreless in 19 chances during the series.
“We had opportunities but it wasn’t good enough for power play on our end,” Recchi said. “Five-on-five, we were terrific. They got a couple of 5-on-3 goals. We have to be a lot better, obviously. We’re not getting any sustained pressure to top it off. We’re getting one shot and it’s getting blocked half the time. We’re not getting pucks on net and so it’s one-and-out kind of thing. You have to find your way back in [the offensive zone] and then one-and-out again. We have to sustain pressure. Our power play hasn’t been that bad all year and then for right now, it hasn’t been good in this series. We get the opportunity [Wednesday], we have to step up.”
Recchi was on the Bruins last year when the team lost its last Game 7 on home ice to the Flyers, 4-3. He and the Bruins have a chance at redemption with a win on Wednesday. If they beat the Canadiens, they will again draw the Flyers in the Eastern semis starting this weekend in Philadelphia.
“It’s a big one [Wednesday],” Recchi said. “We’ll go get some rest and be ready. If we play like that 5-on-5 and if we get opportunities on the power play [in Game 7], we have to be a lot better than that.”
Recchi actually has the chance to do something about it on the ice. Claude Julien can only watch from behind the bench as the team continues to look totally out of kilter.
“Well, let’s put it this way, our power play is struggling,” Julien said. “I think we’ve talked about that every day so far. They scored two goals five-on-three. Five-on-four they weren’t a threat and neither were we. Five-on-five I thought we were obviously a team that held most of the control if the game and that’s what we have to do. We have to stay disciplined, stay away from the penalty box like we talked about at the beginning of the series.
“But I would have liked to have a five-on-three, maybe our power play would have scored as well. But it wasn’t the case and again, it’s one of those games where we tried, we worked hard, we had our chances and we weren’t able to bury them. But certainly not down or disappointed in our game except for the fact those five-on-threes ended up costing us the game.”
Now, it’s Game 7 – the ultimate test in hockey that the Bruins haven’t won since beating Montreal’s Patrick Roy and his case of appendicitis in 1994 at the old Boston Garden. They have lost their last four attempts, including home games in 2010 vs. the Flyers and 2009 vs. the Hurricanes.
“Just focus on getting ready,” Recchi said. “You’ve gotta relax and you’ve got to get ready to play a one-game series now. We worked all year to get home ice and we’re going home and we’ll go get a lot of rest, and focus on what we have to do, make little adjustments but for the most part we’ll just save our energy and get ready.”
|Claude Julien: ‘It’s about winning the last game’||at 1:48 pm ET|
MONTREAL — Although the Bruins hold a 3-2 series lead over the Canadiens in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, much emphasis has been placed on the difficulty of closing out the Habs in Tuesday in Game 6 to prevent a possible Game 7. B’s coach Claude Julien acknowledged the challenge, but noted his team isn’t the only one needing an important win.
“Well, if it’s a challenge for us, it must be a pretty big challenge for them,” Julien said after Tuesday’s morning skate. “I mean, this is playoff hockey. Right now it’s about winning the last game. It’s as simple as that. There isn’t a different approach to this game from either team. They need to win to survive and we need to win to end it. So I think the approach is the same.”
Should the Bruins win, they would face Philadelphia (should the Flyers win their Game 7 against the Sabres Tuesday) or the winner of Wednesday’s Game 7 between the Penguins and Lightning. If they lose to the Habs Tuesday, the two teams would play Game 7 Wednesday at TD Garden.
MONTREAL — The Bruins couldn’t have expected to play a potential series-clinching game without hearing about last year, and it was a popular topic at the Bell Centre Tuesday morning.
While some, such as coach Claude Julien, noted that the team has “turned the page” and are thinking about the present, forward Milan Lucic had no problem addressing the team’s inability to close out their Eastern Conference semifinals series with the Flyers despite winning the first three games.
“We learned last year that the fourth one is always the hardest one,” Lucic said. “It’s not going to be any different tonight. We know they’re going to bring their best game, and we have to do the same.”
Right now, the Canucks are dealing with the same thing the B’s faced last year. After jumping out to a 3-0 series lead, the top-seeded Canucks have dropped the last three to the Blackhawks, with the series-deciding Game 7 to take place Tuesday night. A native of Vancouver, Lucic can see big similarities between Boston’s collapse last year and Vancouver’s situation.
“You don’t want to relax just because you’re in the position that you’re in,” Lucic said. “It almost felt like that a bit too. After they won Game 4 and they won Game 5, all of a sudden you start panicking. You don’t start executing like you did the first three games. You’re seeing a little bit of it right now with Vancouver and Chicago. You give the their team a little bit of life, and they start gaining momentum. They start coming at you.
“You go back to [Chicago’s] Game 4, where they won 7-3,” he added. “Obviously, you can switch our Game 4 vs. Philly with their Game 6 that they just had with the big overtime win. They had Simon Gagne come back, and now [Chicago] has David Bolland coming back. It’s just an emotional lift for the team, and all that type of stuff. I remember Game 5 at home. Philly came into our building and won 5-0. It was almost the same thing when [Chicago] went into Vancouver and won 5-0. The wheels start turning and all that type of stuff. For us, we want to not make the same mistake, that’s for sure.”
Lucic seemed very comfortable going into detail when discussing one of the more devastating moments in team history. Despite how painful a lesson it was at the team, the 22-year-old feels the lesson was learned in the B’s dressing room.
“You learn from it,” Lucic said. “You definitely do learn from it. It’s a lot easier to talk about it now than before, for sure.”
The B’s will find out how well they learned when they face the Habs in Game 6 Tuesday night.
|Claude Julien says the Canadiens aren’t about to mess with these big, bad Bruins||04.25.11 at 5:43 pm ET|
Before taking his team north for a Game 6 showdown with the Canadiens Tuesday night at Bell Centre, Bruins coach Claude Julien said he is fairly condifident that the Canadiens won’t engage the Bruins in a physical battle because they would likely lose that kind of game.
“I think both teams realize that discipline is a big factor in this series,” Julien said. “And when you look at last game, I think again, both teams had 30-plus hits. And it’s not like it’s not a hitting series, but it’s not a dirty one. And I think there is a lot of hate probably between the two teams but there is also a lot of respect. And we know that we respect their offense and their power play and we certainly don’t want to give them that advantage. And I think that they respect that if they get into a physical situation with us, they are probably not going to win that one.”
The Bruins lead the best-of-7 Eastern quarterfinal series, 3-2, needing just one more win to advance to the second round for the third straight year. Julien said the key Tuesday night is for the Bruins to match the Canadiens’ desperation with determination.
“I think that’s been something we’ve had to really adjust to in this series, is making sure we don’t give them an early lead,” Julien said. “But when they are in that situation I think they are playing out of desperation, they are playing for their lives, you have to play that game with determination and that’s the difference. For us it’s about determination, for them it’s about desperation and you have to hope that the determination is better than their desperation. It’s as simple as that.”
If the Bruins lose Tuesday, they will have one final chance on Wednesday in Game 7 at TD Garden to close out the Canadiens.
On Monday, Chara was named one of three finalists for the Norris Trophy, given annually to the top defenseman in the NHL – the third time in four seasons that the Bruins captain has been so recognized.
Chara, who won the award in 2009, led the league with a plus-33 rating and recorded 44 points, including 14 goals and 30 assists.
“I think, obviously, he’s a well-deserving player,” Julien said. “There are a lot of reasons. I think everyone who knows him here knows he plays a lot of minutes. He also always plays against other team’s top lines. He’s utilized as a shutdown D against the top players on other teams. The stats at the end of the year, I think he’s a plus-30 something, plus-33, and I think that speaks for itself. And double digits in goals, and certainly, offensively, he’s contributed well.
“So, if you’re talking about the Norris and talking about a defenseman that brings a lot, he’s certainly. And I don’t think there are many players in this league who will raise their hand and say they really enjoy playing against him.”
Chara has bigger concerns on his plate right now, like closing out the Canadiens in Game 6 Tuesday night, but he did show sincere appreciation after Monday’s practice at TD Garden for being recognized.
“It’s obviously a big honor and I’m very humbled and very thankful, especially after you consider how many guys had such a great season – breakout seasons.” Chara said. “I’m just very thankful that people who did vote recognize the definition of the Norris Trophy award. And obviously, a big thank you goes to all the people who helped me get there, especially my teammates, all those in the organization, and obviously, my family and fans.
Chara consistently faces the opposing team’s top offensive line, something that makes him one of the most reliable players in black and gold.
“That’s something I take a lot of pride in,” Chara said. “I’m very competitive when it comes to defending the top lines and playing top lines. I know that it’s not an easy job, but I get up to it every night. You can’t think that it’s just you. Yeah, it’s a big motivation for me every night to face such skill and great players.”
Chara – who has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro for fun – takes as much pride as anyone in his off-season training that year-in, year-out puts him among the finest conditioned athletes in not only hockey but the world. Monday, in the wake of another Norris nomination, he pointed to that training regiment as a big reason for his continued success.
“To me, the first priority is hard work,” Chara said. “I always like to work extremely hard on and off the ice. I’m very competitive, I’m very motivated to play against top lines and the best players every night. I take a lot of pride in that, and I just want to help the team as much as I can to win. That was always my first thing. I always want to put the team in front of egos or individual goals.
“To me, that’s the most important thing, and everything else will fall into place. I know I’m not the extremely skilled defenseman who’s going to put probably 70 points on the board every year. But I know that if I play my game, I give my team a good chance to win hockey games. That’s all I can do.”
Joining Chara as finalists are Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom and Nashville’s Shea Weber. The three were voted as finalists by the Professional Hockey Writers Association, and the names were released Monday by the league.
The winner will be announced June 22 during the 2011 NHL awards ceremony in Las Vegas.