|Bruins/Flyers: Everything you need to know for Game 4||05.06.11 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.
|Bruins-Flyers: Three points heading into Game 3||at 6:58 am ET|
Everyone knows what happened after Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals last year: a Flyers Game 4 victory followed by three more in what ended up being one of the most devastating ends to a season in Bruins history.
This time around, the Bruins have set about righting that wrong, if it’s possible, and they’re off to the best start they could have through two games: a 2-0 series lead. Even if they take Game 3, it won’t be anything new for a team that was in the same position a year ago, but they’ll be sitting pretty.
It looks like they’ll have to play Game 3 without Adam McQuaid, as the rookie defenseman sprained his neck trying to hit Mike Richards in Game 2. Expect Shane Hnidy to be in his place for the veterans second game this postseason. Hnidy played just 4:13 in Game 2 of the quarterfinals vs. the Canadiens when he filled in for an ill Zdeno Chara.
Injuries and substitutions aside, Wednesday’s game is a pivotal one. As the B’s saw last week, winning Game 3 when you’re down 2-1 can change plenty, and that’s what the Flyers will aim to do. On the other hand, if the B’s can grab a 3-0 series lead, they’ll be in good position to do what 99% of teams do with 3-0 leads. Here are a few quick points on where things stand entering a big game at the Garden:
KREJCI REMAINS KEY
Sure, the L’s didn’t start coming until game four, but the Bruins suffered a major loss in Game 3 last season when David Krejci broke his wrist. Without Krejci, the B’s weren’t the same team, and it had a lot to do with why Philadelphia was able to crawl back to make it a series.
This year, and after a pedestrian first round vs. the Canadiens, Krejci has been as a big a force as anyone else (except for perhaps Tim Thomas) through two games. After having difficulty finishing plays vs. the Habs, Krejci has lit up the Flyers to the tune of five points in two games, including the game-winner in overtime in Monday’s Game 2.
With Marc Savard making only a 25-game cameo, Krejci was the de facto top center on the team most of the year, yet he didn’t always play like it. Krejci’s a guy who runs hot and cold, but he’s showing that he’s using the right faucet when it counts.
The Bruins aren’t going to sit back and play the “what if” game with what they could have done with a healthy Krejci last year, but so far they’re finding out what they can do with him this year.
THE WINNING WAY: CIRCUMVENTING REGULATION, POWER PLAY?
Four overtime games, zero power play goals, and only one win in which they’ve outshot their opponent. Those are some of the interesting details of the Bruins’ postseason thus far, but they’ll take the results.
The B’s are in no way welcoming more OT games, but given that they’ve won all four they’ve played so far, they’ve got to like the reputation they’ve developed. Contests like Game 2 are ones they most certainly won’t win every time, as Thomas faced 32 shots in the third period and overtime, while the B’s mustered just 12 shots. As they say, a win’s a win. You’d think the B’s would just rather win the way they did in the 7-3 fashion in which they took Game 1.
As for the power play, the mystery of when “the streak” will finally end (they’re at 0-for-29 thus far in the playoffs), is growing in legend. Will it get to 30? 35? It looked better late in the second period Tuesday, and perhaps with the confidence of winning will come the confidence to get this ugly streak out of their heads. The B’s just need to make sure their power play looks more like it did in Game 2 than it did in Game 1, when the Flyers were easily gaining possession and sending it the length of the ice.
THOMAS HAS BEEN IN OCTOBER FORM IN THE PLAYOFFS
Blaming the goaltender would be absurd, but it would be fair to say after the first two games of the quarterfinals that Thomas wasn’t quite where he was earlier in the regular season. The rebounds were big, and the Habs were game-planning around them. Since then, the B’s netminder has played to the lights-out standard he set way back in October. The line of thinking back then was that if the Bruins could get that kind of performance in the postseason, they’d be tough to beat. Well, they’ve gotten that performance, and they sure are tough to beat.
As Brad Marchand pointed out after Game 2, the Bruins had no business winning that game. The Flyers came out harder, played a fantastic game and got 54 shots on Thomas. Yet Thomas was the exception to the rule that if a team can come out flying at home, they should win.
Consider that James van Riemsdyk, who had two goals in the first 9:31 of Game 2 but was stopped on his following bids, should have had even more than the hat trick he didn’t get (we make too many Ovechtrick jokes in this space, explaining the absence of an obvious reference here), but Thomas shut him down on a night nobody else could. Regardless of what an opposing team can throw out there, it seems Thomas, when at his best, trumps all. He may not have the numbers from the first month of the season, but he is playing like it and giving the B’s a great chance to win each night.
Wednesday, it will be interesting to see how each team comes out. The Flyers should be desperate to avoid a 3-0 deficit, but it would be hard to top the effort they gave in Game 2. The Bruins should come out stronger if they don’t want to leave it up to their goaltender again. Even if it does fall in Thomas’ hands, he proved in Game 2 that he can handle it.
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The Bruins and Flyers are back in Boston for Game 3 tonight at TD Garden (7 p.m.) and there’s no extended wait between Games 2 and 3 like there is with the Celtics and Heat. And that’s probably a good thing on many levels for the Bruins.
There’s little time to think about being up two games in the series, having dominated the Flyers in pretty much every aspect of the game – except the power play, of course. There’s little time to answer questions about what it’s like being on the flip side of the 2-0 equation just one series after wiping out the deficit and beating the Canadiens in seven games.
These Bruins aren’t about to complain about being up two games despite losing to the Flyers in a similar position last year and overcoming the 0-2 hole in the last round.
‘Well it’s good to be on the other side this round,” Game 2 hero David Krejci said. “We can control our own things and bring it back to our building. We are going to use our fans as our seventh player and just go out there and take it game by game. Hopefully we can win the third one and go from there.’
‘Like Dave said, it’s better to be on this end,” added Tim Thomas, who stopped 52 of 54 shots Monday, including all 10 in OT. “We do know from the way that we were able to come back last series though that a 2-0 lead in a series doesn’t mean that the series is over. We still have a lot of work in front of us. As long as we take the same approach one game at a time, one period at a time, one shift at a time I think that’s the right approach. So that’s the way we will approach it going forward.’
2010 met 2011 in the post-game following Game 2 when a reporter asked Bruins coach Claude Julien if he realizes how tenuous a two-game lead can be. Sure, it’s a great spot to be in heading home but the Bruins know what the Canadiens did.
‘Well, you know, it is a nice position to be in, especially when you win the first two on the road,” Julien said. “There is no doubt that it is the perfect scenario for the first two games on the road, but we are not thinking about that. We are thinking about this year. Probably half the players were not even here last year, so we can bring up whatever we want. Our goal here is to focus on what is happening this year. What happened last year is last year, so it hasn’t really been on our minds. We have absolutely learned from that. We are using those kinds of things as a learning tool.
‘They took a two to nothing lead and we never gave up. I believe teams that make is this far are teams that have a lot of character. We know they are not going to give up, and we know has what happened with this team. They are capable of bouncing back just as they did in the last round, so we have to be ready for them. We need to understand that the second half of tonight’s game was not good enough for this hockey club. We hold ourselves responsible for higher standards, and we are going to have to be better.’
|David Krejci gets last laugh on the Flyers in Game 1||04.30.11 at 8:21 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — Maybe trash talking is all it took for David Krejci to rediscover his playoff mojo. That, and some really bad defense and goaltending.
While the Flyers were playing atrocious defense in front of Brian Boucher, they were also letting their big mouths do some talking, so said the Bruins forward, who got the scoring underway less than two minutes into Game 1 Saturday.
Krejci said the Flyers were reminding him that the last time he was in Philadelphia for a playoff game, he suffered an injury that changed the momentum of the series.
Krejci broke his wrist in Game 3 of the series last year, a game the Bruins won, 4-1. But Boston lost its top center – and momentum – as the Flyers came back to win four straight.
“The guys from the other team, they let me know in the first period about last year,” Krejci said. “But I tried to forget about those things. This is a new year, new season, new series. We have so many new players on our team. Half of the guys didn’t even experience it last year so we didn’t talk about it that much.
“This is a new season and we were just focused for tonight’s game.”
Krejci – who scored twice and added an assist in Saturday’s 7-3 romp over the Flyers- said he wasn’t thrown off by the comments.
“There was yapping back and forth, so they kind of let me know but you have stay focused and I think that’s what we did,” Krejci said.
But certainly the temptation is to think what might have been for all Bruins players, coaches, management, equipment personnel and anyone else who follows the spoked-B. If Krejci doesn’t take that hit at center ice, most believe the Bruins dispatch of the Flyers and it’s the B’s – not Philly – in the Cup finals against Chicago.
Was the thought in Krecji’s head and did it motivate him to come out and have a strong game in the opener?
‘I try not to think about what happened last year but it’s in the back of my head,” Krejci said. “You don’t forget these things that often but I try not to think about it almost at all. It’s hard but I just try to stay focused for the game and my teammates helped me out today.’
The first shot Krejci took – the first shot any Bruin took – resulted in a goal on a shaken Boucher just 1:52 into the game.
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