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Lightning doesn’t strike twice, but it awaits: Bruins sweep Flyers 05.06.11 at 10:42 pm ET
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By DJ Bean and Scott McLaughlin

The Bruins finished off the Flyers with a 5-1 win, sweeping the Eastern Conference semifinals in four games and advancing to the conference finals for the first time since 1992. The Bruins will next face the Lightning, who also swept their semifinals series vs. the Capitals.

Johnny Boychuk sent a blast from the point over the glove of Sergei Bobrovsky at 2:42 of the third period to break a 1-1 tie. It was Boychuk’s second goal of the playoffs, both of which have come in series-clinching games this postseason.

Milan Lucic had two goals for Boston in the win. With Daniel Carcillo in the box for cross-checking, Lucic put the Bruins on the board at 12:02, scoring his first goal of the playoffs and giving Boston its first 5-on-4 goal this postseason. The Flyers would apply minimal pressure throughout the rest of the first period, but got on the board thanks to a goal from deadline acquisition Kris Versteeg. Lucic added his second of the night on a breakaway in the third period. Brad Marchand and Daniel Paille added empty netters.

Tim Thomas made 22 saves in the winning effort. It was the second straight game in which he allowed just one goal.

The Bruins will host the Lightning in Games 1 of 2 of the conference finals. The schedule of the series is currently unknown, though it may depend on when the Western Conference finals are set. San Jose and Vancouver hold 3-1 series leads over the Red Wings and Predators, respectively.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- Lucic finally broke out of what was statistically a postseason-long scoring slump by picking up his first goal since March 22. He had played much better in this series than in a pedestrian first-round vs. the Canadiens, so it was fitting that he be rewarded with a big goal on the score sheet before the second round was over. Going forward, the B’s will need more like that from their 30-goal-scorer.

- The Bruins could let out the smallest of sighs of relief after their 5-on-3 goal in Game 3, but getting their first 5-on-4 goal didn’t come until Lucic killed two birds with one stone. Nathan Horton hit Lucic with a pass on the doorstep to end the 5-on-4 drought and give Boston its second power play goal in the last two games (and of the playoffs).

- The Flyers turned up the pressure once the Bruins took a 2-1 lead, but the B’s responded to the challenge by getting in shooting lanes and preventing Philly from getting pucks to the front of the net. The Flyers tried to get shots from the point with traffic in front, but the Boston forwards did an excellent job of getting right on top of the Philly defensemen and not giving them anything to shoot at. Chris Kelly led the effort with with three blocks.

- Another game vs. Philadelphia, another point for David Krejci. Boston’s first-line center has 18 points (five goals, 13 assists) over his last 13 games vs. Philadelphia. Krejci picked up a helper on Lucic’s first-period goal.

- The Bruins drew three penalties in the first by just moving their feet and attacking on offense. James van Riemsdyk went off for a hook when he couldn’t catch up to Lucic, who was driving hard to the net in search of a centering pass. Then Gregory Campbell forced his way to the front of the net from below the goal line and drew a cross check on Daniel Carcillo. A few minutes later, Claude Giroux went to the box for a trip after Tomas Kaberle cut inside him on an aggressive entry into the offensive zone. The power play resulting from Carcillo’s infraction ended with the Bruins’ second power-play goal in as many games.

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WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- The B’s had an injury scare for just one of th least guys they could stand to lose. A hit from Claude Giroux in the third period sent Patrice Bergeron downb the tunnel for the B’s, and he would not return to the game. Bergeron leads the Bruins with 12 points this postseason.

- Bad turnover by Brad Marchand in the Flyers’ zone to create a 2-on-0 for the Flyers, and it cost the B’s. Kris Versteeg beat Tim Thomas for his first goal of the playoffs. Versteeg was once property of the B’s, but was traded for Brandon Bochenski in 2007.

-The Bruins obviously want and need Zdeno Chara to be physical, but with eight seconds left in the first, he took it a little too far. When Scott Hartnell took exception to Chara trying to clear out the front of the Boston net, Chara responded by dropping his gloves and then dropping Hartnell with one punch. Unfortunately for Chara, Hartnell never dropped his gloves and Chara got a double minor to put the Flyers on the power play. Two minutes without Hartnell in exchange for four minutes without Chara is a deal the Flyers will take 11 times out of 10.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Brad Marchand, Daniel Paille, Johnny Boychuk Print  |  Email   | Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
Sustained pressure at both ends of the ice prevents Flyers from getting back in the game 05.04.11 at 11:43 pm ET
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Last year, the Bruins failed to keep their foot on the gas pedal and let the Flyers back into a 3-0 series and back into a 3-0 Game 7. Whether the Bruins can finish off the Flyers in this series remains to be seen, but they showed on Wednesday night that they’re not about to ease off the gas again. After jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the game’s opening 63 seconds, the Bruins refused to let up and continued to pressure the Flyers at both ends of the ice.

“I think we knew there was still lots of hockey left to play, and it was important for us to keep playing our game and not all of a sudden go into a shell or sit back,” Claude Julien said. “They’re a team that is very good offensively and if you give them some space or if you sit back, they’re going to make you pay for it.”

The Bruins made it clear they weren’t going to sit back with a pair of huge hits on the forecheck. First it was Brad Marchand, who knocked Ville Leino clean off his skates with a hard shoulder to the chest. Later in the first period, Daniel Paille unloaded on Kris Versteeg and sent the forward sprawling into the boards.

“There were a couple big hits, and we need that,” said defenseman Johnny Boychuk, who had a nice hip check of his own on Leino in the defensive zone. “It’s a physical game in the playoffs. We just need guys to play like that and not run out of position to get that hit and give up an odd-man rush or something like that. They picked their spots and there were a couple great hits.”

Even when they weren’t landing bone-jarring hits, the Bruins were consistently disrupting Philadelphia’s breakouts. They got sticks on passes, forced them to circle back toward their own end and pressured them into turnovers.

“I think our forecheck was really good,” defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said. “Our forwards were really getting on their D. Even when they were coming out of their zone, our guys were stepping up and having good gaps and just keeping them from coming with speed into the middle.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Daniel Paille, Johnny Boychuk, Tim Thomas Print  |  Email   | Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
Bruins/Flyers Game 3 live blog: B’s lead, 4-1, in third at 6:54 pm ET
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Join DJ Bean, Mike Petraglia and others from TD Garden as the Bruins and Flyers square off in Game 3 ofthe Eastern Conference semifinals. Boston has a 2-0 series lead.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Brian Boucher, Daniel Paille, David Krejci Print  |  Email   | Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
Bruins use their own comeback vs. Canadiens to keep perspective vs. Flyers at 1:20 pm ET
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The Bruins started their comeback from an 0-2 deficit on the road, just as the Flyers hope to. (AP)

A 2-0 series lead is a good thing, but not the thing that a team ultimately wants. It’s a case of a team having desired results so far, but still not having the desired result. One game can change everything, and with the Bruins holding a 2-0 lead on the Flyers entering Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Wednesday night, the Bruins know that. They should have as good a perspective on that as anyone else.

No, this isn’t about the players who were on last year’s team thinking back to the blown 3-0 series lead in 2010. Instead, the B’s can simply think back to the last series. With the Canadiens winning the first two games of the quarterfinals, the Bruins took Games 3 and 4 in Montreal and eventually won the series in seven games. It all started with that 4-2 Game 3 win, and they know it.

“[We were thinking] that if we got the third game, the series would completely turn around, and that the pressure would be on them, and we’d be right back in it,” Brad Marchand recalled Wednesday. “Anything could happen from that point forward, so the third game is a huge turning point. We knew that, and that’s what we want to focus on. They’re definitely doing that [in the Flyers' room] right now.”

The similarities are there for the Bruins in the first round and the Flyers in the second round. Both teams lost the first two games at home, the second of which they had to play without their key defenseman. If the two teams are to share another thing in common, it could come in the form of a win on the road for the Flyers in Game 3.

“We want to make sure that we’re ready and not waiting. We’re prepared for that. We know that we were down 2-0, and we came back,” Marchand said Wednesday. “You kind of use that to put ourselves in this situation here and make sure that we don’t give them any opportunity to get back in this series.”

While some players are using their first-round triumph to give themselves perspective on how possible a Flyers’ comeback is, others are blocking everything out altogether. For Shawn Thornton, it’s as simple as winning a game.

“We’re not really talking about last series. We know that this is Game 3. It doesn’t matter what the record is. It’s Game 3, either way. I haven’t really put too much thought into anything except for preparing for tonight’s game as best as possible.”

The idea of not thinking about the score of the series is one shared by Thornton’s linemate in Daniel Paille. The fourth-liner remembers the feeling of having to “prove a point” after Game 2 of the last series, but doesn’t want to even consider the fact that the B’s could potentially have a stranglehold on the series with a win Wednesday. The way he sees it, they haven’t accomplished anything yet.

“[Leading] 2-0 doesn’t mean much. The way we look at it, it’s still 0-0 right now because if start thinking ahead of ourselves, we get in trouble. When we start doing that, it’s just not good a team, so we try to do everything we can to stay focused and avoid all of those types of situations.”

The Bruins are in the right situation entering Wednesday, but they know as well as anyone that it could be a completely different story when the game is concluded.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Daniel Paille, Shawn Thornton, Print  |  Email   | Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
The legend of the Bruins jacket and Darth Quaider 04.14.11 at 12:38 pm ET
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The Bruins windbreaker was debuted by Milan Lucic on March 22. (AP)

When Milan Lucic scored his 30th goal of the season last month, he shocked many, and it had nothing to do with the fact that nobody expected him to reach the 30-goal mark.

Instead, it was his wardrobe choice that came off as perplexing. It was March 22, and it was the debut of the now famous Bruins jacket.

The jacket, a worn-out windbreaker seemingly from the late 80′s or early 90′s, was brought into the Bruins’ dressing room by Andrew Ference. Since Lucic debuted the windbreaker, it has been worn by a variety of differnt players in post-game interviews, with it signifying that the player wearing it was crucial to the team’s success. The list has included Daniel Paille and Zdeno Chara, and though it’s a bit snug on the 6-foot-9 captain, Ference isn’t concerned.

“Tough luck for him,” Ference said of Chara with a laugh. “He shouldn’t be so big. It’s not our fault.”

Ference said Thursday morning that he bought the jacket on eBay. He frequents the auction site, and was happy to pick up the jacket for the B’s room to keep the players loose. He did note that the jacket may not be worn by the best player every night, noting that “Timmy [Thomas] would hog it all the time.”

To those seeing the players interviewed the disgusting threads, the purpose of jacket may be confusing, but Ference sees it as just another sign of how close-knit a group this Bruins team is.

“You’ll drive yourself crazy if you don’t have fun,” Ference said. “It’s not just this time of year. This time of year is intense, so you need a release, but it’s a long year. When people talk about camaradie and a good dressing room, I think the value of a good dressing room comes at this time of year.

“At the end of 82 games, you’ve spent a lot of time together. If you don’t have camaraderie and a good vibe in the room, you’re sick of each other. I’ve been on teams where you are kind of sick of each other. …Chemistry is a very important thing.”

Now in his 11th season, Ference has been around a few locker rooms in his time. The former Penguin and Flame knows what it takes to cultivate the right chemistry, and he feels the Bruins are doing it right.

“It’s been good here for years, but I think it’s like a marriage. It takes work,” he said. “You have to make sure that theirs a certain attitude. The biggest thing we’ve done in this locker room is just the inclusion of everybody, whether it’s the rookies or the older guys, or the Europeans or the Canadians.

“Everybody goes out together. The benchmark is you can literally see any person in the room and go out with them for dinner on the road, and it wouldn’t be weird. That’s not normal. I’ve been on teams where there was a cliquiness with certain groups. Literally, around the room, everybody’s been out for dinner with each other and hangs out together. It’s not forced. It’s really good. It’s really nice.”

The "Darth Quaider" shirt. (Bruins photo)

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It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Ference found the jacket on eBay, as he certainly has a history of getting his clothing online. Back in February, Ference strutted through the B’s dressing room at Ristuccia Arena rocking a “Darth Quaider” shirt that he customized online. The shirt, an homage to fellow defenseman Adam McQuaid, was certainly clever, but he can’t take credit for it.

Turns out the inspiration for the shirt came from his daughter. Prior to the season, she called Milan Lucic “Looch Skywalker.” From there, a Stars Wars-themed nicknaming frenzy began, with “Darth Quaider” sticking for McQuaid.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Adam McQuaid, Andrew Ference, Daniel Paille Print  |  Email   | Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
Third and fourth lines come up big in Bruins win 04.09.11 at 5:11 pm ET
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The energy line has been big for the Bruins this season. (AP)

The Bruins know that if they’re going to make a deep playoff run, they’re going to need scoring from the third and fourth lines. In Saturday afternoon’s 3-1 win over the Senators, they got just that.

The fourth line scored the game’s first goal 12:53 into the first when Shawn Thornton threw a shot on net from the right wing that led to a juicy rebound. Gregory Campbell collected the loose puck and backhanded a centering pass right to Daniel Paille’s stick for an easy tap-in.

“That first goal that line scored tonight was something that all the coaches love to see,” coach Claude Julien said. “Thorny just throws a puck at the net, but Campbell is driving the net and there’s a loose puck and he gets to it first. And Paille is driving the net as well and they find him and it’s kind of a tic-tac-toe play. … Those guys are working hard and they’re earning their goals and I think that’s what I like about that line.”

Paille said he and his linemates are just trying to work as hard as they can down low and hope it pays off with goals like his on Saturday.

“What works for us is just keeping it simple and getting pucks in deep and winning the battles,” he said. “That’s what we’re doing right now and it’s paying off.”

The goal was Paille’s third in his last four games and fourth in his last eight. He had just two goals in 34 games prior to March 19, but he has come on strong in the last couple weeks and appears to have earned a spot in the lineup — at least to start the playoffs — after not being a regular until the last month or so.

“It’s just something I’ve been waiting for all year,” Paille said of the playing time. “I’m glad that it’s paying off at this point in the season. It’s something that I’ve thought I can do all season, so I’m just glad that it’s working right now.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Bruins beat Senators, Tim Thomas breaks save percentage record at 3:37 pm ET
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The Bruins held fan appreciation day at the Garden Saturday and made sure they delivered a win to the home crowd, beating the Senators, 3-1.

Daniel Paille, Nathan Horton and Rich Peverley, provided the goals for the B’s, though it was the goaltender who may ultimately end up being the biggest story.

Claude Julien said following the game that Tuukka Rask would play in the regular-season finale Sunday, meaning Tim Thomas has set the NHL record for save percentage in a single season. By finishing the game with a .9381 mark, he surpassed Dominik Hasek’s .9366 save percentage in 1998-99. The stat first began being recorded in the 1982-83 season.

Marlborough native Bobby Butler scored the Senators’ only goal, beating Thomas at 18:27 of the first period.

With the win Saturday, the B’s are still alive to potentially take the second seed in the Eastern Conference, though they will need a combination of one or two points Sunday vs. the Devils and for the Penguins and Flyers to lose their final games in regulation or in overtime/shootout fashion.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- Thomas’ performance this season has been nothing short of magnificent, so it’s fitting that he be remembered for it in the record books. It was just months ago that Tuukka Rask was the obvious choice to begin the season as the B’s starter. Ever since Thomas was given the second start of the season in Prague, he’s taken the opportunity and run to what should be his second Vezina Trophy.

- By playing in Saturday’s game, Mark Recchi moved past Chris Chelios for fourth all-time. He has played in 1652, and it could take nearly another full season for him to catch Ron Francis’ 1731.

- Paille once again submitted a strong case to be in the lineup next week. His tally on Saturday was his fourth goal in the last eight games. Considering he had just two goals on the season prior to that stretch, it’s a good sign.

- Shawn Thornton can hold his head high knowing he produced an even 20-point season offensively for the Bruins. His apple on Paille’s goal gave him 10 on the season to match his total of goals. This season has now produced career-highs in goals, assists and points. Thornton had never scored more than six goals in a season, though he did have nine helpers a year ago.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- While everyone was glad to see Horton score his 26th goal of the season, there was reason for concern when he left the ice following his second-period fight with Zack Smith. He would end up returning to the ice, but the last thing the Bruins would want would be for the hot-scoring Horton (six goals over his last nine games) to go down with an injury before the playoffs.

- While Paille may have cemented his suspected playing status for the beginning of the playoffs, Tyler Seguin did not do anything to help his case. The rookie was placed in the lineup Saturday in place of Patrice Bergeron, but the game provided more cases of the 19-year-old shying away from contact. Seguin was a minus-1 on the day.

Read More: Daniel Paille, Nathan Horton, Rich Peverley, Tim Thomas Print  |  Email   | Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
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