|Will it be a special night for the Bruins?||05.25.11 at 5:54 pm ET|
TAMPA — Perhaps fittingly, the reason the Bruins are on the brink of their first Stanley Cup finals appearance in 21 years is due to their special teams.
Obviously, we’re not talking about a power play that’s produced just four goals in 16 games.
Much was made of the red-hot Tampa Bay Lightning and their power play unit coming into the Eastern Conference finals with a playoff-best 12 goals in 54 chances. How would the Bruins respond?
The B’s have allowed just two power play goals in 18 chances. The penalty kill unit’s success was never more evident than when it killed off consecutive Nathan Horton penalties to end the first and open the second on Monday night in Game 5 with the Bruins already down, 1-0.
“I think it kind of actually did the same thing in our favor that it did in their favor last game,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “You know, we had those two early power plays in the second period and we didn’t do much and they built momentum off that. I know that when Horts [Nathan Horton] came out of that second one there, he scored a big goal for us and got us back in the game.
“So it did build some momentum. I think our penalty kill did a great job tonight for us. Right now, before the series started, special teams were the big concern, and right now I think in both areas, we’re pretty even.”
And the leader of that unit has been Daniel Paille. Not only has he helped killed off the penalties, he nearly scored twice on back to back chances in Game 5.
“Looking back on that game, we want to try to keep the same system going,” Paille said. “What was working for us is we just did the little things, stayed patient and did everything right. Obvously, we want to continue that throughout this game.”
The Lightning haven’t scored on the power play since Game 2 and the Bruins desperately would like to see that continue. If it does, they may be booking a trip for Vancouver this weekend.
|Brad Marchand: We better show up in the first period||at 1:05 pm ET|
TAMPA — Bruins rookie standout Brad Marchand admitted Wednesday morning, just hours before Game 6, that the pressure is on the Bruins to close out the Lightning tonight and avoid sending the Eastern Conference finals back to Boston for a Game 7 Friday night at TD Garden.
“Yeah, we want to,” Marchand said. “There’s definitely a lot of pressure. If it goes to a Game 7, anything can happen and it’s a situation we don’t really want to be in. We have to make sure we put our best game forward tonight and give ourselves the best opportunity.
“We do have to keep our emotions in check. The Stanley Cup finals, that’s obviously the end goal but there’s still a long ways to go to get there. They’re going to have to play an amazing game tonight, there’s no question about that. We have to make sure we’re really ready to counter these guys and put on a good game here.”
The veteran he is, Daniel Paille had a slightly different take. He was more concerned with the end result than how they got there.
“I don’t think we feel any more pressure tonight than we did the last game,” Paille said. “Even though we started out slow, we responded well and came out with a big win. It shouldn’t be any more or less than the last game.”
Paille and Marchand would probably agree on one thing for sure – don’t expect the Bruins to get outshot 14-4 in the opening 20 minutes like they were on Monday, only to recover and score twice in the second and stabilize the game.
“We want to carry the momentum from the last game into our first period and make sure we have a big start,” Marchand said. “They’re going to come out flying tonight and try to build off that. We have to make sure we have a lot better first period than we did last game. We were nowhere to be seen in that first period [Game 5] and we have to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”
If the Bruins beat the Lightning tonight, they will face the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup finals after Vancouver advanced with a 3-2 win over San Jose in double overtime Tuesday night. Face-off tonight at St. Pete Times Forum is 8 p.m. ET.
|Michael Ryder says Game 4 will come down to ‘first 10 minutes’||05.21.11 at 12:24 pm ET|
TAMPA — The Bruins are expecting a big rush from the Lightning at the beginning of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals. If they can withstand that, many Bruins feel they’ll have a good chance to win the game and head back to Boston with a chance to clinch on Monday night at TD Garden.
“Definitely excitement, that’s for sure,” Bruins winger Michael Ryder said of the feeling in the dressing room prior to Saturday’s 1:30 p.m. game. “It’s a big game, it could be an even series or up 3-1. It’s the biggest game of the series so far. For us, we have to take that mindset. I think we’re ready to go. It’s all about the first 10 minutes of the [first] period. We have to come out hard, throw pucks in and just get that momentum and take it to them quick.”
On the rare occasion this season the Bruins failed to look energized, it seemed to always come on a Saturday afternoon. Daniel Paille says he’s not exactly worried about that today, considering a win will leave the Bruins one win from the Stanley Cup finals and a chance to clinch Monday night at TD Garden.
“There’s no excuse for that,” Paille said of any energy drain from an early Saturday afternoon start. “I think everyone one of our guys and their guys will provide a lot of energy. If you can’t get up for Game 4 in the conference finals, you’ve got a lot of trouble. I know, myself, I’ll be really energized today.”
|Bruins ready for a matinee||at 11:55 am ET|
TAMPA — The last time the Bruins played a day game, they took a 7-3 contest in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, the first step of sweeping the Flyers. They will have their earliest start of the postseason with Saturday’s 1:30 Game 4 vs. the Lightning.
“I think we’re glad to get an earlier game,” forward Daniel Paille said Saturday at St. Pete Times Forum. “We’ve played the late games, so we’re happy to get the game started. I know we’re all anxious. We just want to play, and to get our afternoon games again is great to see.”
The Bruins have won eight of their last nine games and are hoping that nothing can disrupt their run. They don’t feel a matinee should be an issue.
“You’ve just got to make sure you go out there for the warmup and get your legs underneath you,” defenseman Johnny Boychuk said. “That’s more or less what it’s all about.”
|Tim Thomas sent the right message to Bruins between periods||05.07.11 at 4:18 am ET|
The Bruins were able to break a 1-1 tie in the third period in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals thanks to a snapshot from Johnny Boychuk, Milan Lucic‘s second goal of the game, and a couple of empty net goals courtesy of Brad Marchand and Daniel Paille en rout to sweeping the Flyers Friday night.
The win was just the latest example of what has been a season-wide trend for the Bruins. The Bruins’ 94 third-period goals in the regular season ranked second in the NHL, while they had a league-best 57 goals against in the final 20 minutes. The biggest case in the regular season was their five-goal showing to come from behind in the third against the Penguins back in November, but the most recent, and now most important, one came Friday. Tim Thomas knew the B’s had it in them, so between the second and third period, he spoke up and said so.
“It was an actual comment that I made to the team, was ‘third periods are ours,'” Thomas recalled after the game. “I just said that to reinforce and to remind guys that that’s the way it had been all year and hopefully help their confidence.”
It sure looked like it helped their confidence. After the Flyers got momentum in the second period on Kris Versteeg‘s goal, the Bruins were able to come out and make it a 2-1 game 2:42 into the third on Boychuk’s blast.
“Well, the result was great,” Thomas said. “We played a really good third period, but you did see a little bit of the fatigue set in because we weren’t getting pucks deep there a few times at the far blue line. It was just a couple of mistakes that we don’t normally make and stuff, but I think guys battled through it and just made sure to be even safer.”
|Lightning doesn’t strike twice, but it awaits: Bruins sweep Flyers||05.06.11 at 10:42 pm ET|
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.
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.
|Sustained pressure at both ends of the ice prevents Flyers from getting back in the game||05.04.11 at 11:43 pm ET|
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 »