|Merlot Line leads Bruins to 3-0 series lead||05.21.13 at 10:11 pm ET|
NEW YORK — The Bruins’ fourth line stole the spotlight from Henrik Lundqvist Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden as the Bruins came back in the third period to beat the Rangers, 2-1, and take a commanding 3-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
With the B’s trailing by a goal entering the third period, the Merlot Line produced goals in two if its first four third-period shifts, the latter of which yielded a funky go-ahead goal from Daniel Paille off a rebound that went off Lundqvist’s mask and stayed in the air for a good amount of time before landing on the door step. Johnny Boychuk produced Boston’s first goal (his fourth of the postseason) on a shot from the point that had to make its way through some traffic that was led by Shawn Thornton.
Tyler Pyatt redirected a shot past Tuukka Rask at 3:53 of the second period to give the Rangers the lead in the second period after the teams skated to a scoreless first. The goal came on a rather uncharacteristic shift for Patrice Bergeron on which he lost the faceoff and then was unable to get a clearing attempt out of the zone.
But that was the only harm done against Rask, who turned in his latest superb performance highlighted by a pair of big saves on Rick Nash in the third period.
The Bruins will have the opportunity to finish off the Rangers Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS Read the rest of this entry »
NEW YORK — Did the Bruins learn their lesson in the first round?
The lesson that they, as a Cup-winning team that had been embarrassed by a blown 3-0 series in the past, probably didn’t need taught to them? The lesson that nearly led to them being eliminated by Toronto and having their roster and coaching staff shaken up?
The lesson, of course, is that you never take a lead in a series for granted. You don’t go up in a series and assume that it’s won, and you don’t give your opponent any chance to get back in the series. The Bruins broke all those rules in the first round against the Maple Leafs, when they took a 3-1 lead and let Toronto force a seventh game with consecutive wins.
It took a monumental collapse from the Maple Leafs late in Game 7 for the Bruins to survive that and get through to the second round. Now that they’ve taken a 2-0 series lead on the Rangers, that killer instinct that wasn’t there before needs to start kicking in.
“I think we need to be aware with them being down, 2-0, and realize that they’re going to be a lot better,” Daniel Paille said Tuesday. “We felt that we had two strong games, but we can always improve. We don’t want to do too much, just add a little bit more effort and add a little bit more grit.”
Keep in mind that the Rangers dropped the first two games of their first-round series against the Capitals before storming back and winning it in seven. They’ve been in this position before and they’ve survived it, so the B’s had better expect a big push from John Tortorella‘s squad.
“We don’t want to lose two games here,” the Rangers coach said after New York dropped Game 2 on Sunday. “No one does. But there’s no give in the team. There will be no give in this team. Again, we need to go win a game. Not look anywhere else, just try to win our first home game this series.”
The good news for the Bruins is that they have swept two of the last three series in which they’ve held a 2-0 lead. They swept the Canadiens in 2009 and swept the Flyers in 2011, but sandwiched in there was their embarrassing seven-game elimination against the Flyers after holding a 3-0 series lead. While they haven’t won the first two games of a series since sweeping the Flyers, the only time they’ve held a two-game lead in a series since was this month against the Maple Leafs.
That means two of the last four series in which the B’s have held a two-game lead have resulted in sweeps, but the other two series have gone to seven games. They lost one of those series and they should have lost the other, so the B’s shouldn’t feel too satisfied just because they’ve got some breathing room.
“Obviously this is a huge game for both teams,” Chris Kelly said. “Killer instinct? I think we just want to go out and play well, play a solid 60 minutes and worry about our game and see what happens.”
|Patrice Bergeron: ‘It’s not bad to win in regulation’||05.19.13 at 1:43 pm ET|
The Bruins are hoping to keep up their one-goal magic in Game 2 against the Rangers.
The Bruins can take a 2-0 lead against the Rangers with a win at TD Garden before the series shifts to New York for Games 3 and 4.
“The last two games were good,” Shawn Thornton said. “I don’t have a ton of confidence in overtime. I’m on the edge of my seat the whole time. But the experience we’ve had in the last few years, the core group here, helps in the extra frame. We’re not jumpy, we’re not edgy. We’re trying to control pucks and play our game. That’s helped. These are two teams pretty evenly matched. There are going to be a lot of close games. Let’s hope we can continue to feed off that experience.”
Thornton would like his fourth line to finally put one in the net after coming so close in the last two games.
“We’re pretty deep as far as the lines go,” Thornton said. “I’m still waiting for us to chip in. We’ve talked about it. Listen, we’ve been close. We’ve had a ton of chances. We’re not putting them in right now. It’d be nice if we could take the pressure off some of the big boys with a couple of goals from our line.
“With three different guys [scoring in overtime so far], it’s kind of been the thing for our team the last few years. When we’re successful, we have everyone chipping at different times. That needs to continue for us to have success.”
Daniel Paille, another member of the Merlot line with Thornton, was asked about what a 2-0 series lead would do for the Bruins.
“If the situation like that were to come today, we’d feel pretty good about ourselves but we try not to jump too far ahead,” Paille said. “New York was down 2-0 in [last series] and they fought back to win the series and won two games at home right away. Obviously, we want to put ourselves in that position but we have to do the little things first.”
“I think every second, every shift is important and it’s about making sure you’re ready for that one shift,” Patrice Bergeron said when asked about the overtime magic. “It goes with experience, also. We’ve been through it so many times, we know what to expect. We know that we have to keep putting pressure to keep going at to get some results. It’s not bad either to win in regulation, also. If you do have to go into overtime, you have to keep your poise but still keep attacking.”
|Finishing touch: How Daniel Paille has become a more dangerous penalty-killer||05.06.13 at 11:25 pm ET|
TORONTO — There have been few better stories with this Bruins team than Daniel Paille, a former first-round pick (and one of the nicer guys in the game) who never became a big star, carving out an important role with Boston. It isn’t glamorous, but Paille has a job as a fourth line left winger and penalty-killer, and he does it exceptionally.
Paille had his best campaign with the Bruins in the regular season, scoring 10 goals — two of which were shorthanded — and adding seven assists for 17 points. That point total is two less than his previous Boston best set in 2009-10, but he did it in 28 less games.
The Bruins value their penalty-killers, but Paille, like Brad Marchand, is more than a penalty-killer. His ability to create shorthanded scoring opportunities semi-regularly can be a game-changer, and he proved it once again on Monday when he intercepted a Phil Kessel pass intended for Dion Phaneuf and raced to the net before beating James Reimer with a backhander to make it a 4-1 game.
It’s easy to see why Paille is capable of creating as many scoring opportunities on the penalty kill — he’s smart and he’s fast — but this season it seems that he’s done had more chances on the PK than ever before.
“I think I’m a lot more confident with the puck in knowing what I need to do on breakaways and trying to find out certain weaknesses,” Paille said. “I like when there’s pressure on me and then I’m not thinking about it. It makes it a lot easier for me to just react instead of think.”
As for the issue of finishing, which has plagued him throughout his career, Paille said that taking a calmer approach has allowed him to capitalize once he does have a scoring opportunities. He remembers trying to shoot as hard as he could in the past, but now he focus on placement above all else. That was apparent on his backhander to beat Reimer in the second.
Zdeno Chara praised Paille’s positioning and use of his speed in noting what makes the 29-year-old such a threat on the penalty kill. You can’t count out Paille’s smarts either.
‘I just try to read plays at the same time,’ Paille said. ‘Honestly, I try not to over-commit, but at the same time I want to have my stick there where they can’t pass it. In that situation I was able to get a piece of it and it stopped dead for me. That’s where I have to use my speed to get ahead of the other guy.’
|No hearing for Dion Phaneuf regarding hit on Daniel Paille||05.05.13 at 10:54 am ET|
According to multiple reports, there will be no hearing with the league for Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf regarding his high hit on Bruins forward Daniel Paille in the third period of Saturday’s Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
With less than eight minutes to play, Paille played the puck along the boards at center ice before getting hit high by Phaneuf, whose shoulder appeared to cut Paille’s nose. Though the play looked worse at full-speed, replays show that it was not an elbow. Phaneuf was not penalized for the play.
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|Fourth line getting into postseason form for Bruins||04.26.13 at 12:55 am ET|
It’s getting to be the time of year when tight games are often decided by players like Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton. As the Bruins wrapped up home ice in the first round of the playoffs with a 2-0 win over the Lightning on Thursday, their Merlot Line came through with a goal that solidified the victory, playing the way they’ll likely need to when the postseason begins.
Paille became a 10-goal scorer for the first time since 2009-10 at 13:31 of the second. Campbell found him open at the top of the right circle and sent the puck right into his wheelhouse, setting up Paille to fire a one-timer past Tampa Bay goalie Anders Lindback.
Paille had three shots and another that was blocked on Thursday, as many as any Bruin. Although they weren’t all over the scoresheet, the fourth line was one of the Bruins’ most energetic, creating chances with an aggressive forecheck and consistently maintaining possession in the Lightning’s zone.
‘We know, for our line, if we don’t score it’s not a big deal, but the main goal for us is to create as much energy as we can and it felt like we did that today,’ Paille said. ‘With [Thornton] taking the puck from a couple of guys, and [Campbell] as well, you know, I thought we all contributed in a positive way today, even if we didn’t score.’
Entering Thursday’s game, the trio had a combined 16 goals on the year. They’re not on the ice to score on every shift, but the Bruins will welcome any offensive contributions from them, especially with just two games left in the regular season. And although they haven’t been exempt from the Bruins’ recent line-shuffling, Paille acknowledged that the three of them do always seem to wind up back together.
‘We know we’re not going to play a ton of minutes, but we’re happy with who we play with,’ Paille said. ‘And I think that’s a big thing going on the last few years that we’ve been here.’
Bruins coach Claude Julien said he thought that line did its job on Thursday, overcoming some issues it had earlier in the year.
‘There’s some confidence there — you know, [Campbell] making that pass and Paille not hesitating, great shot, and the goaltender didn’t have much time to get across,’ Julien said. ‘So overall making the right plays and keeping pucks in down low and battling. And [Thornton], the same thing. Not only that, but they’ve had some challenges at times this year where they weren’t making good line changes and leaving the next line … hanging. But they were sharp in all those areas tonight, so I thought they were good.’
|Bruins prepare for emotional return to action||04.17.13 at 12:41 pm ET|
Wednesday will be an emotional night at TD Garden, as the Bruins’ contest against the Sabres marks the first professional sporting event in Boston since Monday’s bombings at the Marathon.
“We don’t only need to be ready, but we need to show that we want to support everyone in the city,” Daniel Paille said after Wednesday’s morning skate.
The security was ramped up at TD Garden Wednesday, with all entrants being tested with a security wand and having their bags checked thoroughly. Additionally, the Bruins’ helmets now have “Boston Strong” decals on the back.
It isn’t the game-day experience everyone’s used to in which you go to the morning skate, go home and come back to play a game with the rest of one’s everyday life sprinkled in. It’s amplified and it’s more emotional because the seconds spent off the ice are occupied by dealing with Monday’s events. The important thing, Claude Julien said, is that the Bruins use their emotions for good Wednesday night.
“It’s a natural thing to still be emotional, but yesterday’s practice had a lot of energy. Today’s skate, we seemed to be showing a lot of energy,” Julien said. “The only thing left is to bring it to the game and really put it in the right place where we can do what we want to accomplish.”
What the Bruins hope to accomplish is obvious. They want to give Boston not only a distraction from its grieving, but, to quote Brad Marchand from Tuesday, “something to believe in.” They can’t make everything better, but they can help.
“The one thing I sense from our team is we have the ability to maybe help people heal and find some reason to smile again by representing our city properly,” Julien said. “To me, this is a time when you’re proud to be associated with a professional team. Even the NHL and all professional sports. When you look at the support this city’s had from rivals and everything else that are giving us support at this time, it’s amazing. We have an opportunity to make our city proud, and I think we’re all in for it. Hopefully we can do that for the city right now.”
Folks get into the National Anthem every game, but it figures to be an impassioned scene prior to Wednesday’s game. The players have felt the weight of Monday’s events like the rest of the city, so they’ll have to deal with the challenge of keeping it together once they hit the ice.
“Obviously it’s going to be emotional in the beginning, we’re going to show respect, but after that, for the next two and a half hours, we just have to play the game,” David Krejci said. “It’s all we can do to give something to Boston to be happy about.”