|Bruins, Canadiens running out of time for first lines to produce||05.10.14 at 1:37 pm ET|
The Bruins are still awaiting the arrival of David Krejci‘s production in the second round, but first-line silence hasn’t been a one way street. On the other side, Montreal is still awaiting Max Pacioretty‘s first goal of the series after the Connecticut native put up 39 goals during the regular season.
Both Pacioretty and David Desharnais, who make up two thirds of Montreal’s top line with either Thomas Vanek or Brendan Gallagher, have just one point — each an assist — apiece through four games thus far.
“Playing here in this environment, I’ve got to be relied upon, I’ve got to be relied upon to score important goals and I haven’t done that yet,” Pacioretty said after the Habs’ morning skate Saturday. “I’ve just got to keep playing the way I have been and maybe just calm down a bit.”
It isn’t just that Pacioretty isn’t showing up, but rather the fact that he has to play against the best defenseman in the league. Pacioretty admitted that Zdeno Chara has gotten the better of him so far in the series, as Chara and Dougie Hamilton haven’t allowed anything to that top line in five-on-five play.
“That’s priority No. 1 I think,” Hamilton said Saturday of keeping Pacioretty quiet. “For me, I’m just trying to shut down their top lines and play physical on them and limit them. We’ve just got to keep trying to do that. I think all our D have done a good job of that, just trying to stay aware and limit our mistakes.”
Said Pacioretty: “It’s obvious that they want to pair certain guys against us. It’s not an excuse; it’s a good challenge. We haven’t risen to that challenge yet. Myself personally, I’ve got to do a better job of being able to overcome that adversity.”
Krejci and friends don’t have to worry about going up against a player like Chara, but Montreal has taken away their space. Boston’s first line created a ton of chances in Game 1 of the series but failed to score, and the line has yet to play that well since the series opened. Milan Lucic scored an empty netter that Krejci assisted and Jarome Iginla scored a 6-on-5 goal by tipping an Andrej Meszaros shot in the final minutes of Game 3, but the trio has yet to produce a five-on-five goal this series.
With it now a three-game series, the question becomes which top line will step up first or which team is better suited to win a series without getting anything from its first line. The Canadiens are a deeper opponent offensively than the Red Wings were, and their third line of Lars Eller between Brian Gionta and Rene Bourque has gotten chances throughout the series.
The same goes for Boston’s third line, which produced the only goal of Game 4 when Matt Fraser scored the game-winner in overtime. Especially against Montreal’s third pairing of Douglas Murray and Mike Weaver, that line has gotten chance after chance but hasn’t capitalized enough. Daniel Paille scored the third line’s other goal in Game 2 when he was playing with Soderberg and Loui Eriksson.
Should Michel Therrien keep Weaver and Murray together, Soderberg and friends should be champing at the bit to continue to take advantage of that matchup, but with more production. The first lines are often expected to cancel each other out in the postseason, but when neither teams’ first lines are doing anything, even more responsibility falls on everyone else.
“I think our team is built like that,” Eriksson said. “Everyone can score on every line. I thought the last game we had some really good chances, our line, and we finally got one. That’s something we want to do to try to help the team as much as we can and score those goals.”
Neither the Bruins nor the Canadiens should be satisfied with the performance they’ve gotten out of their best forwards. Within days, one team will undoubtedly view it as a reason as to why their season was ended.
“It’s a three-game series now, and we’re in a very good position,” Pacioretty said. “We had a great first round, four games into this we’re tied up. I like where our team’s standing right now.”
|David Krejci, Bruins first-liners look to cash in on Carey Price in Game 2||05.02.14 at 2:16 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Missed opportunities were what separated the Bruins from winning and losing Game 1. Carey Price was beyond great for the Canadiens, but the B’s found themselves earning great scoring chances and somehow not finding the back of the net too often.
Though Carl Soderberg had the biggest heartbreaker of a failed bid in overtime when he sent a puck behind Price but across the crease, it was Boston’s first-liners in David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Jarome Iginla who can play the “snakebitten” card the most as they prepare for Game 2.
Though the only even-strength goal Krejci was on the ice for was Francis Bouillon‘s third-period tally, the Krejci line turned in a borderline dominant performance after coming on strong late in the first round against the Red Wings. Yet Krejci missed the net on a second-period breakaway and was robbed by Price on a breakaway in overtime, Iginla missed the net on a rebound with plenty of space during a second-period power play and Lucic had a colossal fan in the third period just prior to Bouillon’s goal.
‘I thought we had so many chances, we could’ve scored like 10 goals yesterday,” Krejci said. “But we didn’t, so hopefully we are saving them for next game.’
Had the Bruins buried even one or two of those chances, they’d have won. Lucic said Friday that he didn’t see the puck as it was coming from Krejci, as Krejci sent the puck through Brandon Gallagher‘s legs. The result was him missing the puck by a mile despite having half the net open.
“It was a split-second; I couldn’t see it until the last second,” Lucic said. “Unfortunately, my stick wasn’t in the right spot where it went off it and in, and I missed it. We’ve got to do the same sort of things tomorrow to create those chances, but get a few more and bury them.”
Krejci’s line generated very little offense in Game 1 against the Red Wings in the first round and was on for a goal against in Game 2 before Lucic scored in the second period. When the series shifted to Detroit, the line was quiet as it handled the task of keeping Pavel Datsyuk from scoring, but the trio had a very sluggish start to Game 4. The line came alive late with a Lucic goal in the third period and the overtime winner from Iginla.
From there, Boston’s top line has elevated its game to the point where it looked like a group ready to score by the handful in the opening game against the Habs.
“Our shots and the chances that we were able to create last night, I think that’s definitely a positive,” Lucic said. “Once we got our feet moving in the second period there when we were down, 2-0, we were able to control the pace of the game and create all those chances like I was talking about. Going into next game, I guess the main focus is you don’t want to grip your stick too tight and bury those opportunities when you get them.
“It sucks losing the way that we did, it was a tough loss to swallow, but you’ve got to have short-term memory and forget about it as quick as you can and focus on the next one because it’s coming soon with a 12:30 game tomorrow. We’re excited about it.”
|Bruins can’t wait for fourth win vs. Red Wings like they did with Leafs||04.25.14 at 12:27 am ET|
DETROIT — The Bruins know too well that 3-1 doesn’t mean a series is over.
Even without taking into consideration their blown 3-0 lead against the Flyers in the 2010 Eastern Conference semifinals, all they have to do is think back to the first round a year ago.
Just like they did last season in Toronto, the B’s earned an overtime win in Game 4 to take a 3-1 series lead. What happened next the last time around were two straight 2-1 losses to a force a Game 7 that they would have lost were it not for a major comeback.
What happens this time around can be different, and the B’s will keep last year in mind.
“We were in this position last year, same thing, winning in overtime in Game 4 in Toronto,” Milan Lucic said Thursday after the B’s 3-2 overtime win over the Red Wings. “We all know what happened after that, so we’re not taking anything for granted here. We all know how hard it is to close out a series and we all know how desperate they’re going to be headed into Saturday.”
The team that the Bruins had up 3-1 in the first round last year hadn’t been to the playoffs in nine years. The one the B’s face now are in the playoffs for a 23rd consecutive season. Though the B’s also faced a solid coach in Randy Carlyle in the first round, this Red Wings team is an experienced and extremely well-coached team. If the B’s go into cruise control, guys like Pavel Datsyuk will take advantage and the Red Wings will close the gap.
So, with a recent reminder of what can happen, the B’s — particularly David Krejci‘s line, which won’t have to play against Datsyuk with the Bruins getting last change at home — need to keep the pedal to the metal.
“You can’t really describe it with words,” Krejci said. “You just go out there and you use those experiences. Everything happens so fast out there, so you’ve got use what happened in the past and learn from it.”
If the Bruins can close out the Red Wings and advance to the second round, they will face the Habs for the first time since they played in the first round in 2011. Oddly enough, that first-round series also saw the Bruins win Game 4 in overtime.
The B’s showed in Games 3 and 4 that they can win at Joe Louis Arena — something they hadn’t done since 2007 in the regular season — but they’d be silly to want to return for a Game 6. Saturday presents an opportunity to get to the second round without any of the dramatics.
The B’s are better-served saving those for the later rounds, anyway.
“We can talk about it all we want, but it’s going to show in our play,” Lucic said. “We’ve learned a lot of hard lessons in the past, like Toronto, and fortunately we were able to get out of that and move on, and last year we had Chicago down, 2-1, and we probably didn’t play our best Game 4 and lost that in overtime and weren’t able to recover after that. You don’t want to do anything to give the other team life in a series.”
|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 »
Latest from Bleacher Report
- Brad Marchand's Hot Streak a Big Reason for the Boston Bruins' Recent...
- Prospect Depth Allows BOS to Not Rush Pastrnak
- Seth Griffith Fitting in on the First Line with the Boston Bruins
- Bruins' Depleted Defense Returns to Reality in Loss to Wild
- Bruins' Patrice Bergeron Records 500th Career Point
- Bruins Players Dress Up as 'Frozen' Characters
- Looking at Bruins Defensive Pairings Without Chara