|Dan Bylsma on his Penguins: ‘This team has won a lot of hockey games’||06.04.13 at 8:09 am ET|
The Penguins were the class of the Eastern Conference for most of the season. They won 15 games in a row at one point. They scored more goals than anyone in hockey. They finished with 72 points, only five behind Chicago, which finished with the best record in hockey.
They raced through the first two rounds, scoring 47 goals in 11 games. How could they possibly be stopped?
Well, after getting outscored 9-1 in the first two games against Boston, the Penguins are the ones asking all the questions now.
“We’ve won — this team has won a lot of hockey games,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. “It’s a good team. We’ve won 15 in a row. And we won seven in a row and five in a row, and we’ve got to — we certainly didn’t play anywhere near where we’re capable of. And that’s got to be our focus, to get our first win in Game 3 in Boston.”
Bylsma was asked if he was surprised his team is in the hole it’s in.
“Yes, how we played for the last five periods, yes,” Bylsma admitted. “We’ve gotten away from our game. We’ve gotten off our game plan. We’ve deviated. We get down early today again and not too far after the second goal we get off kilter and deviate again from how we can play and what we need to do. And that group of guys, that team in there, they’ll reset and refocus, and we’ll come back with how we need to play in Game 3.”
|Bruins, Penguins think it’s too early to talk Pittsburgh goalie change||06.03.13 at 1:16 pm ET|
PITTSBURGH — Most lineup or goalie controversies are usually media-generated. In the case of recent talk that the Penguins should consider a goalie change, the media looks dumb.
Tomas Vokoun said after the Penguins’ morning skate Monday that Dan Bylsma had told him he’ll be between the pipes in Game 2, a point that really shouldn’t have needed clarification.
The Penguins were shut out in Game 1 and they lost by three goals, all of which is very unusual. Yet Vokoun has nothing to do with Tuukka Rask‘s shutout, while he was responsible for, at worst, one of the Bruins’ three goals. He probably still should have stopped the David Krejci slapshot that went off Paul Martin‘s skate, but that was redirected. The other two goals came because a defenseman didn’t take Krejci out of the play in front as a rebound was coming down and because all five Penguins players were on the same side of the ice, leaving Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton alone in front.
So really, Vokoun wasn’t even close to the reason the Penguins lost Game 1. Is he a great goalie? He’s a very good goalie, but not great. More importantly, he isn’t an issue that needs to be addressed yet. He’s certainly more stable than Marc-Andre Fleury‘s been, so any talk that a change in Pittsburgh’s net needs to be made is premature.
“It’s not just a W or an L that dictates how a guy played in the game or what you may go with,” Bylsma said Monday morning when asked about managing goaltending.
Bylsma was then asked if he’s thought about changing his starter, prompting a tongue-in-cheek response from the Penguins coach.
“I’ve watched the NHL Network and I hear it talked about, so yes,” he said.
“Coaches think about a lot of things — lineups, players, schemes,” he added. “Like I said, I heard people talk about it on the NHL Network, so it did cross my mind.”
The Bruins certainly don’t think they “got” to Vokoun. All of the goals came from the same line (Krejci’s, though Krejci wasn’t on the ice for Horton’s; Gregory Campbell was). From Boston’s point of view, the Penguins won’t be making a goalie change and have no reason to.
“I thought he played well,” Chris Kelly said. “He’s a good goalie. I think a lot of the controversy comes from [the media]. I don’t think there is a goalie controversy. I think he played well and we’ll see him tonight.”
|Preparing for Torey Krug an unusual challenge for Penguins||05.30.13 at 2:44 pm ET|
PITTSBURGH — Torey Krug: X-factor?
That could indeed be the case. Think about it: The Bruins’ biggest source of scoring the last round is a guy the Penguins have only seen once when he was right out of college last season. Furthermore, they don’t have extensive video to go off of because prior to the Rangers’ series, he’d only played three career NHL games.
Yet in that Rangers series, he became a difference-maker. Playing only because the Bruins had three injuries on their blue line, Krug became an offensive weapon with four goals in five games (becoming the first defenseman in NHL history to score four goals in his first five playoff contests), three of which came on the power play.
The Penguins aren’t used to Krug, and they aren’t used to the Bruins having a weapon like that on the power play. So what do they do?
“Don’t take penalties, I guess,” Penguins defenseman and penalty-killer Brooks Orpik said after Thursday’s practice.
The Penguins have one of the best offensive defensemen in the game in Kris Letang, but they haven’t seen anyone bring that type of skill set to Boston’s blue line in quite a while. That makes preparing for the B’s that much harder, because they’ve seen plenty of this Bruins team over the years and know what it is: Well-rounded, tough, defensively sound with strong goaltending. But at the same time, it’s a team that’s been generally wretched on the power play since Marc Savard went down. Now they have Krug, and they can’t use their experience to prepare for him.
“In preparation and looking at their team, I’ve looked back at things from not only this year, but last year — how they play, tendencies, face-offs — so you think you have a good feeling about the Boston Bruins and their team and how they play and players on the team, but that’s the one element you don’t have much of an idea of at all,” Dan Bylsma said. “We’ve watched him play, we’ve watched the tape, but he adds an element to the team that really hasn’t been an element for the Boston Bruins over the last couple of years, even going back to their Stanley Cup year.
“They’ve won a lot of hockey games and that hasn’t really been an element, so you can watch him, you can do video tape on him, but the element for him skating for his team in the neutral zone that he’s added the last series, him at the blue line, his mobility across the blue line, his shot, that’s something we haven’t quite seen. [He's] really kind of a variable we have to insert with our video and compare him to other players and what other players do for teams, but it’s going to be the first time we see him really on the ice when we get to Game 1.”
The Bruins’ power play finished 26th in the league with a 14.8 percent success rate in the regular season, though they were more successful against Pittsburgh with a 2-for-8 showing in their three meetings this season. None of those games featured Krug, as he only played in one regular season game this year, which was against the Canadiens.
Pittsburgh’s penalty kill has the third-best success rate this postseason (second among remaining teams, with Chicago leading the way), as the Penguins have kept their opponent from scoring on 89.7 percent of their opponents’ advantages. They hope to keep that up against the Bruins’ power play, no matter who’s out there.
“Obviously with [Zdeno] Chara and Krug and [Johnny] Boychuk, they’ve got some big shooters,” Orpik said. “You look at the talent level they have, they can go in spurts. They can be down for a while and they can be really hot for a while, so just like any other series, I think discipline is the biggest thing. If you give power plays enough opportunities, eventually they’re going to burn you.”
|Claude Julien: Emotional week for Boston will ‘always leave a scar’||04.20.13 at 11:50 am ET|
Prior to Saturday’s game against the Penguins, Bruins coach Claude Julien expressed what his emotions were Friday as the city was in lockdown leading up to the arrest of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Julien, who said he was “glued to the TV all day” on Friday, said he’s relieved that the suspects have been caught (Tsarnaev’s older brother was killed Thursday night) and that the B’s now have the responsibility of helping Boston get back to where it was before Monday’s attack.
“When those things happen in your city, it’s a normal thing to be a little bit concerned, and like everybody else, extremely happy when they finally got the second suspect,” Julien said. “At least we can all breathe a little easier and sleep a little easier. Now it’s hopefully time to work ourselves into trying to get things back to normal again. It will always leave a scar somewhere. There’s some damage done, but now we have to do a job to do today. That, unfortunately, is what our responsibility is.”
Bruins and Penguins players, as well as Penguins coach Dan Bylsma (as spotted by ESPN’s Joe McDonald) wore “Boston Strong” Bruins shirts prior to Saturday’s game. The shirts can be purchased here for $26, with 100 percent of proceeds going to the One Fund Boston to benefit the families of the victims.
It was a gesture like that on the Penguins’ part, much like Sabres forward Thomas Vanek‘s idea to salute the Boston following Wednesday’s game, that shows that the emotions of this week are felt beyond Boston. Julien said he expects the Penguins to be just as emotional as the Bruins Saturday, so both teams will need to bear down in a matchup of two of the Eastern Conference’s top teams.
“There’s no way of going out there and using excuses,” Julien said. “If it bothers us, it’s going to bother the other team. It happened in our city, but it’s affected everybody around the world. We’re glad they caught the suspects and now it’s time to let them do their work and time for us to do ours.”
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.