|Bruins won’t let Henrik Zetterberg distract them from Pavel Datsyuk||04.24.14 at 2:02 pm ET|
Claude Julien thinks he knows.
“In my mind, he’s going to be there tonight,” Julien said.
Zetterberg has not played an NHL game since Feb. 8 and had back surgery on Feb. 21 after playing one Olympic game. He skated on a line with Pavel Datsyuk and Justin Abdelkader in Thursday’s morning skate, suggesting he will be in the lineup and play on Detroit’s top line. Babcock did note that he must first be cleared by a doctor.
Babcock matched Datsyuk’s line against David Krejci‘s in Game 3. If he does that again Thursday, it will be interesting for a couple of reasons. For starters, it could potentially make that top line a handful for Krejci’s trio. Having Datsyuk play against a line not centered by Patrice Bergeron is one thing, but Datsyuk and Zetterberg together is a different animal.
For Krejci, his focus won’t change if Zetterberg’s in the lineup. As he sees it, there is one man that absolutely has to be accounted for, and that’s Datsyuk.
“You know what? [Zetterberg] is a good player, but Datsyuk is Datsyuk and we still have to be aware of Datsyuk any time he’s on the ice,” Krejci said.
The Bruins have held Datsuk to one goal on four shots on goal in the first three games of the series. In total, Detroit has scored just two goals through three games.
With Zetterberg skating alongside Datsyuk, Krejci would welcome the challenge of facing such a line. Krejci has led two of the last three postseasons in scoring, but has no points thus far as he has been tasked with keeping Detroit’s offense quiet, especially in Game 3. That’s different from some other series, but it’s working out for Boston.
“It’s kind of fun,” Krejci said. “For most of the year, you’re facing lines that are trying to shut you down and you’re fighting through it. This time, it’s a little bit different. We’re trying to shut their line down. It’s kind of fun. It’s a little bit challenging at times, but I’ve been having lots of fun this series so far.”
If Datsyuk’s line with Zetterberg does play against Krejci’s line, it also means that a player returning from a back injury will have to take regular shifts against Milan Lucic and Jarome Iginla — two very physical players — in his first game back.
Asked whether he thought Zetterberg would be up to that physical challenge, Detroit defenseman Brendan Smith laughed.
“Are you serious? Like yeah, obviously I think he can,” Smith said. “I mean, the harder the competition, the better Z is. You look at series before where you have [Ryan] Getzlaf and [Corey] Perry, who are big boys. He just came in and stepped in really well there and then he had to go against [Marian] Hossa and [Jonathan] Toews and just kind of toyed with them.
“He’s an unbelievable player. He’s a top-notch player. Yeah, any first line on any team is going to be tough to come in for your first game, but that’s the type of player he is. He’s a competitor.”
Regardless of which line plays against Datsyuk and Zetterberg, you can bet Zdeno Chara will be on the ice against them. Zetterberg scored two five-on-five goals this season when both Chara and Bergeron were on the ice, which is fairly unheard of.
“They’re very dangerous,” Chara said of Datsyuk and Zetterberg being teamed together. “They play really well together. They know about each other pretty well, even without looking at each other, they know every time where they’re at. It’s a really good line with them being together.”
|Milan Lucic, David Krejci, Jarome Iginla fail to get going in Bruins’ Game 1 loss to Red Wings||04.19.14 at 12:02 am ET|
Going into this series, it seemed like a pretty safe assumption that Patrice Bergeron and Pavel Datsyuk would match up frequently. Maybe you’d give the Bruins a slight edge there given that Datsyuk is coming back from an injury, but for the most part, you’d expect that to be a back-and-forth dogfight. Sure enough, that’s more or less how Game 1 played out — their lines went against each other pretty much every time out, and the matchup was essentially a wash until Datsyuk’s goal with 3:01 left in the game.
In theory, that matchup should have freed up the Bruins’ top line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Jarome Iginla to pick on Detroit’s lesser lines and banged-up defensive corps. That didn’t happen, though.
In fact, that line played one of its worst games of the season in Game 1. It went up against the trio of Gustav Nyquist, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Tatar for the majority of its shifts (thanks to shiftchart.com for the excellent data), and found itself chasing the puck most of the night. Lucic, Krejci and Iginla were able to get what should have been a favorable matchup against Detroit’s second pairing of Kyle Quincey and Danny DeKeyser — an OK, but far-from-great duo — for about half their shifts, but they never really got a chance to take advantage because of how much time they spent in their own zone.
A lot was made of Detroit’s speed going into the series, and this was really the one place that it showed. Nyquist and Tatar motored their way through the neutral zone and into the Bruins’ end time and again, with the back pressure from Krejci and company a little too late too often. From there, the cycle was on, as Boston’s top trio had to resort to chasing the puck rather than possessing it. When they did get it, they struggled to get through the neutral zone and sustain any sort of offensive pressure.
The result was Lucic, Krejci and Iginla all finishing with Corsi percentages under 40 (according to the fantastic extraskater.com), marking just the sixth time this season their possession numbers as a line have dipped that low. In near perfect symmetry, Nyquist, Sheahan and Tatar all finished with Corsi percentages over 60. If the more basic shot on goal stat is your thing, Sheahan’s line had eight, while Krejci’s line had four. It is worth mentioning, however, that Krejci’s line had arguably the Bruins’ best chance all night when Lucic tipped an Iginla shot that wound up trickling just wide about 30 seconds before Datsyuk scored. Read the rest of this entry »
|Andy Brickley on M&M: ‘I have no problem with tinkering with lines right now’||04.02.14 at 12:32 pm ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley made his weekly appearance with Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to talk about the Bruins’ final stretch of games in April before the playoffs begin. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
With the season winding down, Claude Julien may change some of the lineups to see how different players play together and give rest to others.
“I have no problem with tinkering with lines right now,” Brickley said. “If I expect a few guys, like [Patrice] Bergeron or even a David Krejci, get a night off between now and the final game against Jersey, the regular season, then you’re going to be forced to have different combinations. And if you choose to break up some lines in order to see what something look likes, now is the time to do it.”
The Bruins went 15-0-2 in the month of March, playing in multiple back-to-backs on their way to securing a division title. According to Brickley, the third and fourth lines were a big reason they were able to do that.
“That third line along with the fourth line and their ability to play and handle significant minutes during that month when you’re playing 17 games really sets this Bruins team apart from the rank and file,” Brickley said.
Brickley sees two distinct views when it comes to projecting the first opponent of a team during the playoffs.
“Do you want to start out with a team that you know you can pretty much handle, and then you want to gradually increase that emotion and adrenaline to keep you getting in the postseason?” Brickley said. “Or do you want someone really meaningful right off the bat, get that emotion where it needs to be in the postseason? I’m of the school of thought that it doesn’t matter. You’ve got to beat three really good teams to get to the final. You’ve got to beat four unbelievable teams to win a Stanley Cup.”
|Bruins not dwelling on recent struggles vs. Canadiens||03.11.14 at 6:36 pm ET|
MONTREAL — Whenever the Bruins and Canadiens play, it’s a big game. For the last year, the rivalry has been a big disappointment for the Bruins.
The Habs have won the last five meetings between the two teams dating back to last March 3 and are looking to improve to 3-0-0 against the B’s this season. In each of the last three games between the teams, the Bruins have scored just one goal.
The B’s can’t put their finger on why the Habs have had their number, but Claude Julien ventured a guess Tuesday.
“I can’t answer that, but I can tell you one thing: I don’t think we’ve played well against them,” Julien said. “Have they given us trouble or have we given ourselves trouble? That’s the thing we’ve got to figure out here because in my mind it’s not to take any credit away from them but I’m going to talk more about this year.
“The game in Boston [a 4-1 Habs win on Jan. 31], we just weren’t playing well at all, so hopefully tomorrow we’ll paint a different picture, and if we play the way we’ve played lately I think it’s going to be a great game. So we’ve just got to focus on that.”
While the troublesome outings have been there for the B’s in recent meetings with the Canadiens, Julien wouldn’t go as far as saying that the Habs do something that throws them off their game. Read the rest of this entry »
|Zdeno Chara, David Krejci return to Bruins practice; Niklas Svedberg, Matt Linblad recalled||02.24.14 at 1:10 pm ET|
The Bruins recalled forward Matt Lindblad and goaltender Niklas Svedberg for Monday’s practice as the team awaits getting its full roster back from the Olympics.
Though the team has called up players in recent days to fill out its practice roster (Lindblad practiced Friday and was sent back down), Svedberg could have stayed up with the team and gone to Buffalo if the team wanted to let Rask rest after the Olympics. Bruins assistant coach Geoff Ward said that is not the case, and that Svedberg is simply up with the team to practice.
“No, he’s here just to make sure that we’ve got a complement,” Ward said. “As far as the other guys go, I’m sure you probably won’t see them at practice tomorrow, but they’ll be getting back quickly.”
The Bruins will practice Tuesday and then travel to Buffalo for their first game back from the Olympic break.
|Bruins playing it safe with families given threat of danger at Olympics||01.23.14 at 11:41 pm ET|
With suicide bombings striking Russia and the threat of more — three potential suicide bombers are rumored to be on the loose — leading up to the Olympics, Bruins representatives are unsure of whether they want their families there.
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, who will be Slovakia’s captain and flag bearer, has plans for his father, a former Olympic wrestler and coach, to go. However, he told WEEI.com Thursday that his family is still taking things (one of which is safety) into consideration.
“Not sure,” Chara said. “We’re planning. Everything is set up for him to come, but we have to still wait for a few things [and see] how it goes.”
David Krejci, who will represent the Czech Republic, does not want his mother to go, though she intends to see her son play.
‘I told my family not to go, but my mom wants to go so I can’t stop her,” Krejci said. “I would prefer if she didn’t go. I understand everybody who doesn’t want their families to go. It’s a scary situation. I’m sure the Russian president is going to take care of everything and he’ll make the Olympic Games safe, but we’ll see what happens.”
Added Krejci: ‘I’ve been reading papers and watching TV, so I know there’s been a lot of talk about it. I know [the United States] have sent lots of military people over there, so it’s going to be interesting. You kind of don’t know what you’re getting into but I’m sure they’re going to do everything they can to make it safe.’
Claude Julien, who is on Canada’s coaching staff, faces a similar situation with his wife, who wants to go, while Julien would rather his family be safe.
“That’s still a debate right now. Not my family. If anything, it will be my wife, but that’s still under debate right now,” Julien said. “There is concern, like anybody else, but there’s concern like that everywhere else. I think it’s been exposed more because of what it represents, but it’s a decision we’ll make later.”
For more Bruins coverage, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Bruins don’t believe in measuring-stick games||01.19.14 at 5:27 pm ET|
CHICAGO — Are there still measuring-stick games when a team has been the Stanley Cup finals twice in the last three seasons? If it’s against a team as talented and deep as the Blackhawks, probably.
The Bruins rose to the occasion in their 3-2 shootout loss to the Blackhawks Sunday, coming a Tuukka Rask miscue or one less Gregory Campbell whiff away from wrapping up a two-game road trip with four points. After the game, players agreed that the two teams brought their best in a rematch of the 2013 Stanley Cup finals, but not all of the Bruins felt they needed to learn how they measured up against Chicago.
“No,” David Krejci said. “We know what we can do, so it doesn’t matter who we play against. If we play our best game, then we can beat anybody. We’ve proven that so far in the last few years. As long as all four lines are going and all six D and goalie [play well], then we can beat anybody in the league.”
The Bruins had been treading water of late, as they were 4-5-0 in their previous five games, but their effort at United Center was one that would have likely earned them a win in any of those contests.
Claude Julien said the showing Sunday — which didn’t necessarily look promising early on — was simply a case of the B’s knowing they needed to play better than they had been.
“I think that we just kind of looked at ourselves here and told ourselves that we needed to be better and we knew we could be better,” Julien said. “That’s just about going out there and showing it. We don’t have to prove anything; we just have to show that we’re a good team night-in, night-out. It’s as simple as that.”
The Blackhawks are second in the NHL with 75 points this season, while the B’s lead the Atlantic Division and are second in the Eastern Conference with 62 points. The Bruins will have another game against an elite Western Conference team Monday when they host the Kings at TD Garden.