|Milan Lucic and the postseason expectations of a 30-goal scorer||04.19.11 at 6:17 pm ET|
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — The playoffs are a time when the top talent can take over a series. Teams know which guys to account for, and the big-time goal-scorers are at or near the top of the list of guys who can change a series.
When Milan Lucic scored 30 goals in the regular season, perhaps he entered that class of players expected to do big things in the postseason. Given that he also had nine points in each of the last two postseasons, Lucic also had high expectations for himself as the Eastern Conference quarterfinals began.
So far, Lucic is the only member of the Bruins’ top line without a goal in the playoffs, as David Krejci and Nathan Horton scored the B’s first two goals in Monday’s 4-2 victory in Game 3 at the Bell Centre.
Once a player reaches the 30-goal mark in the regular mark, does he suddenly feel a responsibility to be a reliable producer? Lucic said that everyone puts pressure on themselves come the postseason, but admitted Tuesday that this time around he does expect more of himself.
“For myself, I think the first two games, I put almost too much pressure on myself to go out there and score,” Lucic said Tuesday at Whiteface Lake Placid Olympic Center. “For myself, my game, if I just simplify it and just go out there and play and just focus on just straight lines and getting pucks in deep, everything tends to take care of itself.”
Lucic was a minus-1 in each of the series’ first two games. Things seemed to be getting worse Monday when he stole the puck from P.K. Subban in the neutral zone, but got barely anything on his shot on the breakaway that ensued. The Habs brought it down the ice after the play and got on the board thanks to Andrei Kostitsyn maneuvering around Zdeno Chara and beating Tim Thomas. Instead of potentially being 4-0, it was 3-1 and the crowd made its presence felt once again. Lucic’s play improved over the rest of the game, though, and given the way things seem to be trending with his linemates, coach Claude Julien hopes Lucic will begin seeing some statistical output.
“He was better last night. If his linemates are starting to roll, usually he follows up or vice versa,” Julien said. “When those guys start playing, usually the other guys catch up to them. I’m expecting him to get even better, and we’re going to need him to be better if he expect to win this series.”
|Claude Julien not a believer in momentum||at 3:55 pm ET|
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — If you think that momentum can change a series, there is at least one thing that you and Claude Julien do not have in common.
Speaking Tuesday at Whiteface Lake Placid Olympic Center, the Bruins coach said he wasn’t concerned about the Habs grabbing momentum in the first two games at TD Garden more than he was about getting the team’s first win of the postseason. The victory finally came Monday in 4-2 fashion.
“The thing is, we felt that we needed to win yesterday,” Julien said. “We never talked about them having momentum, we just needed to play better. That’s the way I see it as well. Everybody might see it differently. I’m not a big guy about momentum more than it’s game per game. You’ve got to come back next game and realize that you’re still down 2-1 in the series. You have to be ready, because they will.”
The Bruins will return to the Bell Centre Thursday for Game 4.
|Claude Julien sees Scott Gomez/Chris Kelly play as being similar to Zdeno Chara/Max Pacioretty incident||at 3:44 pm ET|
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — In the first period of Monday night’s 4-2 win over the Canadiens at the Bell Centre, Rich Peverley missed with a shot on a 3-on-1 opportunity. While Peverley wasn’t able to hit the net, his linemate in Chris Kelly was thanks to a shove from Scott Gomez that sent him into Carey Price‘s goal.
Gomez was given a minor for interference on the play, and while it may have looked worse than it was, Claude Julien had an interesting comparison in addressing the perception of it.
“Well, he got a penalty for interference. I would say, to be honest with you, it’s a little bit of the Zdeno Chara hit on [Max] Pacioretty,” Julien said. “It’s a hit that turned out badly. I think in Kelly’s case, it was interference [on Gomez], but I don’t think he meant to push him in the net or [have him] go head-first into the post.”
Chara was tossed from the March 8 meeting between the Bruins and Habs when he hit Pacioretty into a stanchion. There was no punishment from the league, and Chara stressed that it was not his intention to hurt the Habs forward on what ended up being an interference call. Asked whether the Gomez play should warrant a second look from the league, Julien took the same stance Chara did last month.
“You’ve got to understand that there are parts of the game that the result of what happens is not necessarily the intention. Was it a penalty? Absolutely, but I don’t think there was any intent to injure there,” Julien said. “Thankfully, our player came out of it OK. It’s not something you like to see, and thank God he had a visor which certainly helped take the blow away a title bit. Still, it was a very dangerous play.”
|Whether or not the big man plays, Bruins will have to block out big-time crowd noise||04.18.11 at 1:34 pm ET|
MONTREAL — The Bell Centre is going to be roaring for Monday night’s Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. Given that the Habs have taken the first two games of the series against the rival Bruins, the crowd noise should be plenty loud, and that’s without factoring in the possibility of Montreal villain Zdeno Chara playing.
If things get as loud as they’re expected to, it could actually impact the game in how players communicate with one another. Unable to hear over all the hoopla, calling to teammates suddenly becomes a much more of an intended yell.
“That happens a lot during a game,” Habs forward Michael Cammalleri said after the Canadiens’ morning skate. “I guess it will happen more often if they’re cheering or boring more often when someone’s on the ice. Even if you get a rush chance, everyone gets excited and on their feet. Sometimes you can’t hear a guy and things of that nature because the fans get loud. Players are pretty used to that kind of thing.”
The Bruins are at enough of a disadvantage playing in the Bell Centre down two games to none, so the crowd noise seems to be the least of their concerns. Either way, they know it’s there.
“If you’re close enough — and you may have to talk a little louder than normal — but normally it’s not too bad, but it definitely is a loud atmosphere,” B’s defenseman Adam McQuaid said Monday. “When you’re down on the ice, you just kind of have to speak over it.”
McQuaid has never played in Montreal in the postseason, but did admit that he “can only imagine what it will be like tonight.”
If Chara plays, he can expect perhaps the heftiest booing of his career, as long as Habs fans can top some of their personal bests. Should he be in the lineup Monday, the crowd will get its first crack at the Boston captain since he was ejected for shoving forward Max Pacioretty into a stanchion on March 8. Much like the rest of the crowd noise, the B’s will have to block out any pointed jeers as well.
“That doesn’t matter,” Claude Julien said of the reception Chara would get if he plays. “I think what matters to us right now is what is at stake in this game. No matter what happens, you have to play through those things. We’re all aware of that and guys are professional enough.
“I don’t know if there is a rink Zdeno doesn’t get booed in, certainly not because of what happened, but because of the realization of the impact he has on the game and the difference he can make in game situations. He’s a big man, he’s a strong guy that we rely on a lot and he’s a big part of our team. I think other buildings realize that.”
MONTREAL — Defenseman Zdeno Chara was on the ice as the Bruins held their morning skate in anticipation of Monday night’s Game 3 vs. the Canadiens. Chara did not play in Game 2 due to an illness that included dehydration. He was not available to the media after the skate and his status for Game 3 remains unknown, though coach Claude Julien said he has “absolutely” seen improvements from the captain.
“As we speak right now, it’s looking good, but I can’t stand here right now and say he’s a definite in,” Julien said.
Chara played a team-high 25:06 in Thursday night’s 2-0 loss in Game 1. He played in the first 81 games of the regular season before sitting out the finale vs. the Devils for the sake of rest.
|Bruins must find Bell Centre success that eluded them in regular season||04.17.11 at 2:51 pm ET|
The Bruins know they were a good road team in the regular season. They strung together that perfect 6-0-0 road trip beginning back on Feb. 17, and their 53 road points were good for fifth in the NHL over the 82-game campaign.
After dropping the first two games of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals to the Canadiens at TD Garden, they had better hope that they can play Monday night’s Game 3 and Thursday’s Game 4 like they did in many of the regular-season’s road games. The only problem is that while they have been fantastic in many buildings, the Bell Centre is most certainly not one of them.
The B’s took a 4-3 loss to the Habs on Dec. 16, and in their second meeting in Montreal, they blew a 2-0 lead in the final 2:22 en route to taking an embarrassing 3-2 loss in overtime on Jan. 8. While the March 8 game in Bell Centre was ugly enough as a result of the Max Pacioretty/Zdeno Chara mess, the B’s play in a 4-1 loss wasn’t much prettier. With the Habs winning all three games of their meetings at the Bell Centre, they could conceivably be licking their chops at the prospect of sweeping the B’s in front of their home crowd. They’re not thinking about it, but the Bruins are thinking about finding a way to turn into the team that grabbed 24 road wins.
“That’s hopefully something that can help us get back in the series, and that’s going to be up to us to have that same approach as we’ve had most of the year on the road,” Claude Julien said Sunday. “We’ve been a good road team, we’ve done the things better, and for some reason on the road you seem to want to keep your game a little simpler than you do at home. That’s something that’s going to have to happen. Keep it simple, but keep it efficient and maybe if we do that we’ll make less mistakes.”
|Claude Julien: ‘There was absolutely no way in the world’ Zdeno Chara (dehydration) could have played||04.16.11 at 11:07 pm ET|
After the Bruins’ 3-1 loss to the Canadiens in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals Saturday, coach Claude Julien defended B’s captain Zdeno Chara, who did not play due to dehydration. The 6-foot-9 blueliner, who played in 81 regular-season games, went out for warmups but was not able to overcome the issues that had hospitalized him Friday.
“He came off the ice and he was sweaty, he was dizzy. There was no way in the world we could have used him tonight and played him. Absolutely no way,” Julien said. “The doctors said the same thing. I spoke to him, and even attempting to come was courageous on his part, but there was absolutely no way that he could have played tonight. It’s unfortunate. We missed him, but certainly he did the best he could to even try. To be honest with you, it wasn’t even close.”
As for Chara’s status for Monday’s Game 3, Julien said the team will “see how these next two days go,” though he did say that dehydration was not the only issue with Chara. The coach also proceeded to call out any members of the media questioning the captain.
“[Dehydration] is one of the situations, and we’re not going to comment any further than that,” Julien said. “I know that he’s been jumped on a little bit by some of the media that think they know better than anybody else, but there was no way he could play.
“You’re going to say, ‘Oh, well we don’t know the whole thing’ — I think if he could have played, he would have played tonight. He tried his best and he couldn’t play. I was disappointed that people would even question this guy for what he is and what he’s done.”