|Dan Bylsma: Team USA has ‘made note’ of Torey Krug||11.25.13 at 1:07 pm ET|
Penguins head coach and Team USA coach Dan Bylsma was asked Monday morning whether Torey Krug‘s name has come up in discussions as a possible candidate for the Olympics, with Bylsma saying the Bruins’ rookie’s name has been mentioned.
Krug has six goals and eight assists for 14 points through 23 games, but his status as a third-pairing blueliner (he is sixth in time on ice per game among Bruins’ regular defensemen) who does not play against opposing teams’ stars hurts his candidacy.
“I can without hesitation say that he has been mentioned and talked about a little bit based on how he’s played and the start he’s had and what he’s done so far through 23 games,” Bylsma said. “We’ve got a lot of people out watching hockey games live and on tape. We certainly have made note of how he’s been playing and what he’s done on the back end there.”
Krug was not one of the 18 blueliners invited to this summer’s Olympic orientation camp. Despite his offensive production and strong candidacy for the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie, the case for him to make Team USA is tough given that it boasts the likes of Ryan Suter, Ryan McDonagh, Paul Martin, Jack Johnson, Kevin Shattenkirk, Keith Yandle and Dustin Byfuglien, among others, as candidates.
|Shawn Thornton on D&C: ‘You never really expect to sweep a [Penguins] team with that much firepower’||06.10.13 at 10:13 am ET|
The Bruins open the Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday in Chicago against the Blackhawks, who led the league with 77 points in the abbreviated regular season.
Thornton spent five years in the Chicago organization and made his NHL debut with the Blackhawks in the 2002-03 season, so he has some familiarity with a few of the current Blackhawks.
“I think their back end is as mobile as anybody’s in the NHL,” Thornton said. “I think that they’re a puck-possession team. If you give them their opportunities, if you turn that puck over they get going the other way in a hurry. They have some really, really crafty forwards up front also with [Patrick] Kane and [Jonathan] Toews and [Marian] Hossa. You definitely have to be careful.
“They’re similar in that way with the Penguins. But it’s kind of tough to compare them; we haven’t played against them this year. I only know from playing with those guys years back. I don’t really watch a whole lot of hockey.”
The Bruins are coming off a surprising four-game sweep of the top-seeded Penguins in the Eastern Conference finals. The B’s shut down Pittsburgh’s heralded offensive stars and limited the Penguins to two goals in four games.
“I honestly did not think we’d be able to shut those guys down for a whole series. Sweep was a little surprising, too,” Thornton said. “I liked the feeling in our room after we were up 2-0. I liked the feeling in our room after we were up 3-0 and going into Game 4. But you never really expect to sweep a team with that much firepower.”
Added Thornton: “Our D did an unbelievable job. The forwards helped out, but you’ve got to give the D and Tuukka [Rask] a lot of credit. And our penalty-killers. A lot of blocked shots. A lot of being in the right position. A lot of layers. A lot of hard work defensively. Definitely not easy. They had their chances, too. They hit a few posts and stuff like that. But I think for the most part we did as good a job as can be done against those guys.”
|Pittsburgh radio host Mark Madden on D&C: Penguins tired of Matt Cooke’s act||06.07.13 at 11:14 am ET|
Pittsburgh radio host Mark Madden, who earned the enmity of Bruins fans earlier in the week when he insisted that Tuukka Rask is a mediocre goalie, joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday morning and was asked if his opinion has changed now that the Bruins have a 3-0 series lead.
“God knows, he’s had trouble winning the fourth game in the past, so I’d rather reserve judgment,” Madden said of Rask. “He’s played very well, the goalposts have done very well, too.
“But to me, the story of this series has been [David] Krejci and the job Claude Julien has done outcoaching Dan Bylsma,” Madden continued. “Bylsma did a better job in the third game, but he waited 120 minutes to make adjustments he should have been making after 40. Whereas Claude Julien has been one step ahead all the time. He’s coached an excellent series. Gutsy lineup change yanking [Matt] Bartkowski and putting [Andrew] Ference back in, but Ference has played very well. Those are the guys I give primary credit to.
“The Penguins just have not had an answer for David Krejci. He plays such a quiet game, but I mean that in a good way. Before you know it he’s open, a split-second after that it’s in the net. He’s just been amazing.”
“I think Crosby’s played a bigger role in Crosby’s disappearance,” Madden said. “I’ve got to be honest, the Penguins as a team have not handled adversity well, which is a disturbing pattern in the last four playoff years. I thought that the stars played a bit better for the Penguins in Game 3. But still, a loss is a loss, there’s no moral victories. And Crosby, [Evgeni] Malkin and [Kris] Letang have no points between them and are a combined minus-12. Like Mario Lemieux always used to say, ‘When you make the most money, you’ve got to do the most.’ And those guys make the most money.”
Matt Cooke, already reviled in Boston, has not earned any new friends with his chippy play in this series. Madden said he expects Cooke to be playing elsewhere next season.
Said Madden: “Matt Cooke is perceived by a lot of people — and I bought into it at first — into having a good playoffs because he’s [doing] a good job on the penalty kill and he’s been a good forechecker. But he has zero goals in the playoffs. How can any forward on the top three lines be perceived to be having a good playoffs if he has zero goals? Plus, he’s taken a ton of penalties. The Penguins will be well rid of Matt Cooke. That’s not to say he won’t help another team. But they’re just tired of his act. That’s in the locker room, too. ‘¦ Guys are just tired of having to clean up his messes.”
Penguins radio analyst Phil Bourque, a Chelmsford native, joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday morning, and while much of the talk was about why the Penguins have played so poorly in the series, he made no jokes about what he expects to happen next in the Eastern Conference finals.
“I believe we’re going back to Pittsburgh for Game 5,” Bourque said, echoing the thoughts of coach Dan Bylsma. “I believe you’re going to see the best out of the Pittsburgh Penguins. I think it’ll be another low-scoring, tight game, one-goal game, and it’s all about the breaks right now. It’s about who’s going to get the bounces, who’s going to get the breaks, who’s best players are going to step up and help the rest.”
“I fully believe we’re going back to Pittsburgh for five ‘ and then it’s game on. Then anything can happen. The seeds are planted.”
Bourque referenced two other series that could give the Penguins some encouragement: the Bruins-Flyers conference semifinals in 2010, during which Boston took a 3-0 lead before completely collapsing, as well as the AHL Eastern Conference semifinal series between the Providence Bruins and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
Like in the NHL version, the P-Bruins jumped out to a 3-0 lead. But then, without Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski, who were called up to Boston, Providence lost the next four games.
“In our eyes, the seeds are planted [if Pittsburgh wins Game 4]. You have a lot of players still here from 2010 for what happened with the Flyers, and we’re going to beat the drum of what happened with the Providence Bruins and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Baby Penguins,” Bourque said. “When games are very tight, we’ve hit some posts. And I know the Bruins have hit some posts, too, but one or two of those go in in a tight playoff series, tight playoff game, that can change a lot.”
The Penguins will need to fix what has plagued them the first three games ‘ namely, their defensive lapses and not trying to rush or force things in their offensive zone ‘ and their big-name players will need to play the way they are capable of.
“I’m not sure what it is, but we have not played even close to Penguin hockey yet this series,” Bourque said. “The Penguins stars have not shown up in this series yet. I think they’ve gotten pretty good goaltending for the most part, given them a chance. But defensively, that’s my biggest concern, our defensive lapses.”
Bourque credited the Bruins for playing “perfect road hockey” in the first two games in Pittsburgh and doing what they had to to squeak out a Game 3 win. Pittsburgh’s deficit is a combination of the Pens’ poor play and Bruins’ strong play, and Pittsburgh has yet to truly test goalie Tuukka Rask.
Bourque, who played eight seasons for the Penguins in the 1980s and early 90s, acknowledged that heads may roll in Pittsburgh, particularly if the Pens get swept, but he isn’t so sure coach Bylsma’s job is in danger either way.
Still, he expects the Penguins to make some noise before it’s all said and done. Jarome Iginla, who has nearly been invisible all series, could play a role in that.
“I’m at a loss of words,” Bourque said of the midseason acquisition. “I can’t believe that he hasn’t been a major factor in this series. Maybe we’ll see it [Friday] night. But he’s been uncharacteristically quiet. He had a couple of big hits in Game 3 when you thought he was going to really be the Jarome Iginla that everybody feared when they played against him. He’s been really, really quiet.
“On the Boston side I’m thinking, ‘Well, maybe this guy’s going to wake up tonight.’ ”
|Peter Taglianetti on M&M: Brad Marchand could near Matt Cooke territory||06.06.13 at 2:00 pm ET|
Framingham native and former Penguin Peter Taglianetti checked in with Mut & Merloni on Thursday afternoon to chime as a voice from the other side of the ongoing Eastern Conference finals, and said Brad Marchand might want to watch out. Sooner or later, the scrappy Bruins forward could be viewed similarly to how Matt Cooke is now.
Cooke has drawn the ire of hockey fans everywhere and Bruins fans in particular for a series of dirty hits throughout his career, most recently after a five-minute major and game misconduct for hitting defenseman Adam McQuaid from behind in Game 1.
While Marchand is not on that level, Taglianetti compared the two.
‘If you guys had Matt Cooke, you guys would love him. If the Penguins had Marchand, they would love him. He plays on the edge,’ Taglianetti said. ‘I don’t think [Marchand is] dirty-dirty, but he plays with that little edge that you sit there and go, ‘Wow, you better watch yourself.’ The one thing that I’d give him as a piece of advice, at some point ‘¦ this guy is going to get a reputation and he’s going to be put in that same [group] Matt Cooke is soon.’
Taglianetti, disappointed in the Peguins play thus far that has led to the Bruins’ 3-0 series lead, pinned it in the lacked of fundamentals. He cited Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang getting tied up in front of the net in Wednesday’s Game 3 as an example.
‘Little things like that irk the hell out of me,’ Taglianetti said. ‘Not knowing who is on the ice, or trying to make a stretch pass when the team’s bottling up the neutral zone ‘ there’s a lot of little things that the mentality of the game just doesn’t seem to be there.’
As for the atmosphere in Pittsburgh, well, it’s about how you’d expect. People are worried, frustrated.
‘I probably couldn’t use the words people are saying,’ he said. ‘You don’t have to be a superstar to be a leader. A lot of people around here are wondering who is supposed to be leading this team.’
It was not the result the Penguins desperately needed, but after losing their third straight to the Bruins to fall into an 0-3 hole, coach Dan Bylsma sees hope.
“It was a hard-fought game on both sides,” Bylsma said. “It was a very good response from our team. We did a lot of things to get opportunities to win the hockey game. We have to bounce back from a goal very early on in the game, and I thought we did that very well and stuck with it, got the goal to tie the game and really was a hard-fought game all over the ice. Again, we did everything but get the game-winning goal there.”
Asked if he and the team sensed frustration that Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have yet to register a single point in the series, Bylsma went a step further than predicting they would come out of it. Bylsma made a prediction about Game 4 Friday night at TD Garden.
“I don’t give goal-scoring tips to too many guys, but again, that’s the way we need to play. That’s the way we can play, and we pushed it and we pushed it hard, and we had opportunities. Those guys had great opportunities, five on five, Evgeni had a mini breakaway there, we had good chances on the power play, they all had good looks and we just have to keep playing that way, and that’s what we’re going to do. We know the situation being down 0-3 but we’re going to come back for Game 5 and we’re going to play exactly that same way and get a win in Game 4.”
Bylsma was reminded that his team led the East with 72 points in the regular season and is one game away from getting swept out by a No. 4 seeded team.
“We’re competing in the conference final for a chance to win and go to the Stanley Cup, and that’s where we’re going to be,” he said. “We’re down 3-0, we have lost the first three games, and we’re going to battle and lay it out there, and we threw it at them tonight and didn’t get the win, but we are going to — it’s a race to four, and they’re not there yet, and we’re going to come back in here, regroup and go after Game 4.”
|Penguins know they need to play better from behind||06.05.13 at 2:23 pm ET|
Two years ago, scoring the goal didn’t necessarily mean anything huge early in the Eastern Conference. The team that scored the first goal between the Bruins and Lightning went 2-3 in the first five games of the season, proving that getting on the board early is important, but it isn’t everything.
That hasn’t been the case this year. In two games, the Bruins have scored the first goal and eventually seen the Penguins go through lifeless stretches as they struggle to play from behind. Pittsburgh had just 13 shots on goal through the first two periods in Game 2, and the chances they got were limited.
So the Penguins enter Game 3 knowing that if they fall behind Wednesday, they can’t pack it in. Remember, this is the same team that came back from a 2-0 deficit against the Bruins with three goals to win in regulation on March 12. They have it within to be a team that plays well from behind, but they just haven’t done it thus far.
“I think the latter half of the games was us deviating from the plan,” Dan Bylsma said of the first two games of the series. “Boston was up at that point in both those hockey games, playing very well and getting to the scoreboard early in contests and then playing well the rest of the way and us, the latter half of both games, looking for offense, pressing the issue and getting away from our game plan.”
Pascal Dupuis said Wednesday that playing from behind against the Bruins is especially difficult because of how much the B’s clog the middle once they’re ahead. That makes the Penguins’ job tougher offensively and forces them to make more chances, which then leads to turnovers. That, partially, can explain just how lopsided the scoring has been (9-1).
Obviously, the Penguins need goals any way they can get them. They’d like the first goal, but if they can’t get it they still need to generate more offense than they have. Sidney Crosby, like Bylsma, feels that the key is to not try anything drastically different once they fall behind.
“We don’t have to chase it,” Crosby said. “I don’t think we need to try to get that one back with one big play, if that’s the case. I think we believe in our game, trust in our game. The regular season would be a good example of that. We’re down 2-0 and it takes a while to finally get that first one, but we just stuck with things. It’s more about the process of the game and playing the right way than maybe the results right away.”
From the Bruins’ perspective, scoring first has meant good things, so they obviously view getting on the board early as a key to potentially taking a 3-0 series lead Wednesday.
“In any game, the first goal is always a good one to get,” Milan Lucic said. “It kinds of builds momentum, builds confidence, but the series is still early. Fortunately we were able to get the first goals in both games, and it’s going to be a big one, whoever gets it tonight.”