|Tim Thomas blanks Lightning, Bruins take 2-1 series lead||05.19.11 at 10:43 pm ET|
TAMPA — Tim Thomas blanked the Lightning in a 2-0 Bruins win at St. Pete Times Forum, giving the Bruins a 2-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference finals.
The Lightning gave the Bruins’ netminder a run for his money in heavily outshooting the B’s in the third period, but Thomas and the Bruins held on for the 37-year-old’s first shutout of the postseason.
David Krejci opened the scoring for the Bruins, taking a feed from Milan Lucic and having all day to deke Dwayne Roloson in front to make it 1-0. The B’s scored again in the second period on a goal from Andrew Ference.
Both the B’s and Lightning went 0-for-3 on the power play, marking the first time this series that a special teams goal was not scored by either team.
The teams will square off for Game 4 in a 1:30 p.m. matinee on Saturday before returning to Boston for Monday’s Game 5.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Krejci now has goals in back-to-back games, his second such streak of the postseason. The first-line center had goals in three straight games (four total goals) to kick off the second round. With seven playoff goals, Krejci now leads the team in the postseason and through 14 games has more than half the tallies he amassed a 13-goal regular season (75 games).
– After allowing 10 goals (one of which was an empty-netter) over the first two games of the series, the Bruins buckled down defensively. Dennis Seidenberg had a huge blocked shot when Thomas kicked a rebound off a Vincent Lecavalier shot right onto the stick of Martin St. Louis in front. Seidenberg got in the way to break up a golden opportunity, and it wasn’t the only case of a Bruins’ defenseman coming up big. A little more than six minutes into the game, a long pass through the neutral zone set up a 2-on-1 for Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier. Zdeno Chara intercepted St. Louis’ pass to Lecavalier. Lucic had a big block in the third period when the game was 1-0 to keep the Bruins ahead.
– Another strong showing from unsung hero Ference, who fired the shot from the point on the goal that was somehow initially credited to Seguin. The puck slowly trickled through the pads of Roloson, though many in the press box were scratching their heads as to how Seguin factored into the scoring, as Chris Kelly was in front. Either way, it was created by a Ference shot that served as the latest reminder that it’s too bad that No. 21’s season has only gotten recognition as a result of gestures and comments about Daniel Paille.
– Kind of hard to believe it took this long given how solid he was late in the Montreal series and throughout the second round, but Thomas has his first shutout of the postseason. As WEEI’s Dale Arnold astutely pointed out on twitter, Thomas’ play this series is reminiscent of the first round when a couple of merely human games were followed by the Thomas people around Boston got used to in the regular season. It was Thomas’ first postseason shutout since May 10, 2010 when the B’s blanked the Hurricanes, 4-0, in Game 5 of the conference semifinals.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– Scary moment for the B’s with about two and a half minutes to go in the first period. Krejci took a pass in the neutral zone and was absolutely leveled by Marc-Andre Bergeron. Krejci remained on the ice for a bit but went back to the bench rather than the quiet room. He did not play the rest of the period, while Bergeron went off for an elbow. Luckily for the B’s the center was out there for his line’s first shift in the second period.
– The Bruins got their big power play showing in Game 2, but Thursday night’s results did not mirror those of Tuesday’s two-goal showing. The B’s went 0-for-3 on the night and followed the postseason-long trend of getting progressively better. The B’s had just one shot on the power play that followed the Krejci hit, while a second-period man advantage thanks to a too-many-men call was cut short when Patrice Bergeron interfered with Adam Hall at the blue line to prevent the Tampa winger from having a shorthanded breakaway. The unit did look good the third time around, as a rocket from Seidenberg was among the three shots for the B’s.
|David Krejci on ‘best player in the world’ Pavel Datsyuk: ‘I’m in the third round, and he’s done’||05.13.11 at 1:59 pm ET|
David Krejci deserves high praise for the way he has played of late, as he led the Bruins with eight points in the team’s four-game sweep of the Flyers in the second round. Still, the VS. coverage team for Thursday’s Game 7 between the Red Wings and Sharks may have gotten a little carried away when Pierre McGuire said that Krejci is “Boston’s version of Pavel Datsyuk.”
The differences between the two players can be seen on the stat sheet, of course. Datsyuk has had four seasons with at least 87 points in his nine-year career, while Krejci’s career-high in points came when he notched 73 in 2008-09.
Krejci was watching the game, but said he didn’t hear the “obviously” flattering remark.
“The guys told me about that,” Krejci said Friday. “I didn’t hear it on TV, but I don’t know what to say.”
Krejci himself had some kind words for the Detroit center, noting that he believes Datsyuk is the best hockey player in the world.
“I think he’s a little different player than I am,” the 25-year-old said. “He’s got great hands. I don’t think there is another player like him. He’s the best player in the world with his skills, with the puck moves. He’s just unbelievable. It’s just good to watch him. There is no one like him and there will never be.”
Krejci had difficulty comparing his game to that of Datsyuk’s, but had no problem comparing the B’s to the Wings, who were eliminated Thursday.
“I don’t know,” Krejci said when asked to compare himself to Datsyuk. “I don’t really care. I’m in the third round, and he’s done. It’s not just about skill players or about star players. You’ve got to have a good team, and I think that’s what we have. We have a better team than they do because we’re in the third round. We have a chance to go to the Stanley Cup final. They are done, so it’s different between me and him right now.”
|Bruins/Flyers Game 4 Live Blog: Brad Marchand empty netter makes it 4-1||05.06.11 at 7:05 pm ET|
Join DJ Bean, Mike Petraglia and other from TD Garden for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. The B’s will have a chance to sweep the Flyers and advance to conference finals for the first time since 1992. The blog opens at 7:30.
<a href=”http://www.coveritlive.com/mobile.php/option=com_mobile/task=viewaltcast/altcast_code=ba4ded56bb” mce_href=”http://www.coveritlive.com/mobile.php/option=com_mobile/task=viewaltcast/altcast_code=ba4ded56bb” >Bruins/Flyers Game 4 Live Blog</a>
|Bruins/Flyers: Everything you need to know for Game 4||at 2:38 am ET|
The Bruins can bust out the brooms and prepare for the Eastern Conference finals by eliminating the Flyers Friday night at TD Garden. Of course, given that the B’s could get only the first three wins of the series last year, four is the only number on anyone’s mind. With that being said, here’s a preview based around the number.
Four things the Bruins have to do:
– Don’t even think about letting up. If the B’s have any doubt as to whether the Flyers can bring it, all they have to do is think back to Game 2. The Flyers dominated them in that contest, and the B’s were bailed out by Tim Thomas. In Game 3, it looked like the Bruins feared a 2-1 series even more than the Flyers feared 3-0, and the result was a contest in which Philadelphia was clearly outmatched.
– Keep on hitting. The Flyers won’t be able to come out and make an early statement if the B’s are as physical as they were in Game 3. Brad Marchand racked up seven hits through the first two periods, including a big hit on Ville Leino with the Flyers on the power play in the first.
– Continue to play like it’s scoreless at all times. One thing that hasn’t gotten much attention with these Bruins this postseason is that the scoreboard hasn’t impacted them much. They fell behind by a pair of goals on the road in both Game 4 of the quarterfinals vs. the Canadiens and in Game 2 this series and came back to win both games. Also, the Bruins didn’t seem to slow down at all throughout Wednesday’s Game 3 despite leading in semi-blowout fashion.
– Stay healthy. One way or another, the Bruins are going to win this series, so when they face Tampa Bay in the conference finals, they’ll need to do so with all of their stars. Losing David Krejci last year was disastrous.
– If you’re happy with how Thomas has played against the Flyers thus far, consider that he fared better vs. the Lightning (1.67 goals against average, .950 save percentage) than he did against Philadelphia (1.96 GAA, .942 save percentage) in the regular season. His .935 save percentage this postseason is second only to Dwayne Roloson, who has a .941 mark for the Lightning.
– Nathan Horton‘s Gordie Howe hat trick (goal, assist, fight) Wednesday was the first of his career. His five playoff goals puts him in a tie with Krejci for the team lead.
– The Bruins won 43 of 55 face-offs in Game 3, including a perfect 8-for-8 from Krejci and and a 17-for-19 showing from Patrice Bergeron.
– While Wednesday marked the first game this postseason that the B’s scored a power play goal, it also marked the first contest this series in which the Flyers didn’t score on the man advantage. Philadelphia went 0-for-2 on the power play.
Four key players:
– Whichever Flyers goaltender gets the start: Rhode Island native Brian Boucher has lost all three games this series and has been yanked in two of them (not including briefly leaving Game 2 with an injury). Sergei Bobrovsky has allowed three goals to the B’s in 55:15 this series.
– David Krejci: The dominance continues. Including the playoffs, Krejci has had at least one point in his last 12 games against the Flyers, totaling five goals and 12 assists for 17 points. The B’s are 11-0-1 in those games.
– Tim Thomas: The Vezina nominee allowed three goals in Game 1, two in Game 2, and one in Game 3. The numbers are trending in the right direction, and he’s really stepped it up since his human start to the Montreal series.
– James van Riemsdyk: The former No. 2 overall pick has come a long way since his college days at New Hampshire, and he’s a guy the Bruins rightfully focused on Wednesday due to his two-goal, eight shot performance in Game 2. Van Riemsdyk has been the Flyers’ best player in a series in which they’ve had few candidates, leading them in shots on goal in each of the first three games (his eight tied Mike Richards in Game 1).
|Numbers don’t lie: David Krejci continues to crush the Flyers||05.04.11 at 11:49 pm ET|
After Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals a season ago, the questions surrounding the Bruins weren’t about whether they could close out a 3-0 series. They were about how the Bruins could potentially reach their ultimate goal without David Krejci, who had left the game with what would later be diagnosed as a broken wrist. This time around, there’s a storyline with Krejci, but it’s far different. With Boston’s first-line center healthy, he’s shown just how much of a factor he can be, and the Flyers have been the biggest victim.
That isn’t news for Krejci. For one reason or another, the 25-year-old center has been an absolute force vs. Philadelphia, and it continued Wednesday night with his fourth goal in three games, as well as an assist on Zdeno Chara‘s power play goal in the third period.
Dating back to last year’s Winter Classic, and including the playoffs, Krejci now has 17 points (five goals and 12 assists) in his last 12 games vs. the Flyers. The B’s have won 11 of those 12 games, with the one loss coming this season in overtime.
“One thing is that my shots are finding the back of the net, and that’s a good thing,” Krejci said after Game 3. “Hopefully it’s going to keep coming. I don’t think it’s anything different from other teams. I’m just trying to play the same way as I always do, and I guess I just hope that it’s going to keep going well.”
The Flyers have certainly made it a point to limit Krejci’s chances, but the first line has continued to click. He ended Game 2 in overtime with a goal off Brian Boucher, and his tally in the first period Wednesday also proved to be a game-winner. Try as the Flyers might, there’s been no silencing Krejci this time around, and the Bruins, with a healthy Krejci, have a far better 3-0 lead than they did a series ago.
“They’re playing me hard, that’s for sure,” Krejci said. “They’re all letting me know that it’s going to be tough, but the puck’s going in for me right now.”
Krejci isn’t one to boast about personal achievements, so you won’t catch him reflecting too much on his dominance vs. the Flyers, or even admitting it exists. The mere acknowledgement of it Wednesday was enough from a guy who certainly knows he’s in a groove.
“I know I was doing well last year before I got hurt, and obviously this year I know how I’m doing,” he said. “I just hope I can keep going.”
Given that he had just one point in the first round against the Canadiens and already has seven points through three games vs. Philadelphia, it’s clear that Krejci just steps it up against Philadelphia, and that the Flyers have had no fun when he’s been in the lineup. Krejci said Wednesday that he “didn’t plan” to get hurt last year, but he isn’t thinking about it. With the way he’s going, he might not even have to think about Philadelphia much longer, as his play could put them in the Bruins’ rear view mirror.
On Wednesday, the Bruins took just the series lead that they have been associated with for nearly a year. In holding a 3-0 edge over the Flyers in the Eastern Conference semifinals, the Bruins have the very lead that they blew a season ago when they were eliminated by Philadelphia in seven games. The Bruins are trying to block out the comparisons to last year, but given where they stand, it’s only natural.
“About half the guys weren’t here last year. It’s different,” center David Krejci said after the team’s 5-1 win. “We have better depth in our lineup, and we showed it in the first round. Hopefully that’s going to help us in the second round, too.”
While the roster itself is different, many of the veterans who were on the squad know that the B’s did learn from last season’s collapse — even ones who weren’t playing.
“We learned last year that the fourth win is the hardest,” Tim Thomas said. “We are playing one game at a time, one period at a time, and one shift at a time. We are going to try to play it the same way come Friday.”
The B’s can go for the sweep Friday at TD Garden.
|Bruins/Flyers Game 3 live blog: B’s lead, 4-1, in third||at 6:54 pm ET|
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.
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