|Bruins getting offensive with the defense||04.24.12 at 10:21 am ET|
For all of the talk – and deservedly so – about Patrice Bergeron finally getting nominated as a finalist for the Selke award for best defensive forward in the game, it’s ironic that the offensive play of the Bruins’ defensemen is a key reason they even find themselves in a Game 7 Wednesday night against the Caps.
“Yeah, they’ve played well all series, but also I think all year and it’s just another aspect of our game that shows right there that we’re deep offensively, but also we’re deep on defense and throughout the lineup,” Bergeron said Monday. “They’ve been helping us in this series a lot to just get offense, but also defensively to stop their skilled guys and can’t say enough about all of them back there. They all do their job and they all take pride in it.”
Everyone knows about the abilities of Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg in helping to contain Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom. And everyone knows that both of them bring cannons from the point with their slap shots. What fans – and even the Caps – may not have counted on was the offensive contributions of Johnny Boychuk and Andrew Ference.
Boychuck had one of his patented “Johnny Rockets” on a power play to tie Saturday’s Game 5 at 3-3, when time was running down. Sunday, it appeared for all the world that Ference – on “Earth Day” – had given the Bruins the game-winning goal in regulation when he pinched down and scooped up a rebound off a Tyler Seguin shot and put it in the net.
Earlier in the game, it was Ference who smartly read the rush of Patrice Bergeron and Rich Peverley out of the offensive zone circle draw toward the slot and fired a shot that Peverley tipped past Braden Holtby for the game’s first goal.
“I think he’s done a great job,” B’s coach Claude Julien said of Ference. “We’ve always liked Andrew’s battle and also for his size and also for the fact that he certainly has good versatility. He moves well, he skates well and again, we keep encouraging our D’s to support the attack and go out the ice and he’s done a great job of that.”
There is a risk, of course, like when Chara and Seidenberg get caught too far up ice as was the case on Capitals’ goals in Games 3 and 6. In Game 6, the Capitals tied the game, 2-2, when Jason Chimera got behind Seidenberg, who had a broken skate, and beat Tim Thomas.
“Our D’s seem to be finding a little bit more balance in this series as we get near the end, between jumping in [and] supporting, and also being reliable defensively we can’t forget the fact that this is a team in Washington that’s got some guys that can score goals and they love to blow the zone quickly. So we’ve got to be careful we don’t get our D’s caught up the ice all the time, but he did a great job [Sunday] at identifying that opening and going up the ice and giving us that lead.”
The Bruins will be relying on that again in Game 7 as they look for every advantage.
|Barry Pederson on M&M: Capitals play into Bruins’ hands by focusing on physicality||04.13.12 at 1:29 pm ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Barry Pederson joined Mut & Merloni Friday to discuss Thursday night’s 1-0 overtime victory over the Capitals in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
“If we had any doubt that Seidenberg was going to take his game to the same level it was at last year in the playoffs, man, did he ever show that,” Pederson said. “He and [Zdeno] Chara I thought did a tremendous job on the Ovechkin line. Of course, they had the advantage of having [Patrice] Bergeron‘s line out there as well. And then [David] Krejci‘s line did a great job against [Nicklas] Backstrom and [Alexander] Semin.
“The Bruins were very solid physically. Defensively I thought they were tremendous. The game I didn’t think should have been as close as it was. I thought in the second period in particular, the Bruins on the power play, they had 4 1/2 minutes to start the second period, the power play, and then they had that 4-on-3 a full two minutes. To me, that’s where the game should have been put out of reach for Washington. They only had seven shots against after two periods. The Bruins let them hang around, then they needed Tim Thomas to kind of hold the fort for them in that third period.”
Added Pederson: “The Bruins’ strength, as we all know, is their defensive game led by Thomas and Chara and Seidenberg and the physicality that they bring. If Washington wants to play that way, that to me is playing right into the Bruins’ hands. When you see a player like Ovechkin trying to take a run at Seidenberg and Chara, you could just see that pairing just licking their chops, saying, ‘Come on, bring it on. If we can get you off that offensive game and get you thinking about playing physical, that’s an advantage to us.’ ”
The Bruins struggled Thursday on the power play, a reminder of the team’s problems in last year’s playoffs.
“They were just way too stationary,” Pederson said. “When you watch the replays of it, you can just see they’re all standing — if you envision a box, they’re at each corner of the box, with the three Washington defenders allowed to collapse, and nobody was in a scoring position. So, Washington is just saying, ‘Hey, keep the puck on the outside, that’s fine, our goaltender can see it, there’s no traffic in front, there’s nobody who’s a direct threat to us.’ I just thought they got way too stationary.
“When the Bruins power play looked a little bit better that latter part of the season into the final month, they were moving around. I especially remember [Rich] Peverly on the point on the power play was very active. They were dropping down. Seidenberg would be dropping down and getting involved and not just staying stationary, moving the puck to the point. Because one of the things I was very impressed with with Washington, especially in the first two periods, they were blocking a lot of shots. So, for the Bruins to be successful, they’re going to have to get those shots through. They’re going to have to get their defense involved a little bit more by pinching and by being active in the offensive zone.”
|Bruins look for rare Game 1 victory||04.12.12 at 1:38 pm ET|
Not to rain on 2011’s parade, but one detail that may go forgotten as the story of that Bruins team is told is that the Bruins lost Game 1 of every series except the one they swept against the Flyers.
In hindsight, it’s just a minor detail that showed the makeup of the team. They came back from 1-0 deficits in three times, and from 2-0 deficits twice. They were resilient, and they didn’t give in whenever they fell behind.
That’s all fine and dandy, but the B’s would probably rather change that aspect of this postseason by picking up some Game 1 victories.
Two of those Game 1 losses were shutouts, as the B’s were blanked by Carey Price in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals and Roberto Luongo in the Stanley Cup finals. The Bruins obviously recovered nicely in both series as well as the Eastern Conference finals (they lost Game 1, 5-2, to Tampa Bay), but they’d rather start their series with the Capitals differently.
“This team has a lot of confidence and knows how to play under pressure and just knows how to come back from deficits in a series or in a game, but it doesn’t mean we can just rely on that,” B’s defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said after Thursday’s morning skate. “We have to be focused and bring our A game tonight.”
The numbers are skewed a bit by their 7-3 win over the Flyers in Game 1 of the conference semifinals last year, but the B’s were outscored, 11-9 in Game 1s last postseason (8-2 in their Game 1 losses). In the rest of the postseason, they outscored their opponents by a 72-42 margin.
A series is not won and lost in the first game, and truthfully, losing three of four Game 1s is a good thing because it means a team played in four Game 1s. Still, taking a series lead on home ice couldn’t hurt, could it?
|Was hit on Adam McQuaid dirty? ‘Reckless’ is more like it||03.30.12 at 12:07 am ET|
At first glance, the Jason Chimera hit on Adam McQuaid with six minutes left in the first period Thursday evokes emotions of anger and revenge.
But even the Bruins, who have been on both sides of vicious hits over the last several seasons, were careful to choose their words carefully after the game, given the fine line between finishing your check and hitting from behind and endangering a vulnerable player.
Chimera was given a five-minute major for charging and a game misconduct for the hit that left McQuaid on the ice for several minutes with a gash over his eye and a dazed head.
The Bruins reaction? Measured.
“Well, you know, again, when it happens to you, you also have to be honest about it. I think, again, he came off the bench, and he was going hard, and maybe it was a little bit reckless, but there’s no doubt in my mind that it wasn’t intentional,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “You know, McQuaid, Mac just turned at the last second and, you know, put himself in a bit of vulnerable position, but still, like, I agree with the referee’s call.
“It was a bit of a reckless hit, and it deserved probably a five[-minute penalty] when you look back at the replay, and they had to make that decision. It was a tough one, but certainly wasn’t intent to injure by the player, in my mind. And, you know, and that’s why I keep saying, and you’ve heard me before, I really, really encourage our players to be careful, with the speed of the game today, to make sure you don’t turn your back to the play as much because those kind of things happen. And you worry about the security of the players, you worry about the safety of the game, and I’m one of those guys that will look at both sides of it and not just preach for my side of it.”
Joe Corvo – already filling in for injured Dennis Seidenberg – not only saw the hit, but saw both sides.
“It’s nearly impossible when a guy comes, I noticed I think he came off the bench, and really didn’t break stride,” Corvo said. “It’s a tough play because it’s hard for that forward to stop when he’s coming that fast and Quaider [McQuaid] kind of turned a little bit. The guy could have let up a little bit but it just happens fast. I think that’s why he was so upset that he got thrown out. I don’t think he’s a dirty player, I think just with his speed it was hard for him to stop.”
|Infected cut forces Dennis Seidenberg out of Bruins’ lineup for first time this season||03.29.12 at 12:07 pm ET|
Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg was the only Bruin missing from morning skate Thursday, and he’ll miss his first game of the season when the B’s host the Capitals Thursday night at TD Garden.
Seidenberg will be kept out of the lineup with an infected cut. The blueliner suffered the cut on his left leg Saturday against the Kings, and after getting it stitched up played Sunday and Tuesday prior to it becoming infected.
“In LA, he suffered a cut on his leg, and they stitched it up and everything was good, but a little infection has gotten into it now, so he’s on antibiotics and just to play it safe, we’re going to keep him out,” coach Claude Julien explained. “It’s just day-to-day, it’s not long-term. It’s just to take care of that.”
Joe Corvo, who has been a healthy scratch for the last six games, will be inserted into the lineup in place of Seidenberg. With Seidenberg not playing for the first time this season, centers Patrice Bergeron and Chris Kelly will remain the only two Bruins to play in each contest.
Julien added that the team will “probably” go with the same forwards as they have the last two games, meaning Daniel Paille is likely to remain a healthy scratch.
|Barry Pederson on M&M: Bruins ‘built to be good for a number of years to come’||02.27.12 at 2:55 pm ET|
With the NHL trade deadline just hours away, NESN Bruins studio analyst Barry Pederson joined Mut & Merloni Monday afternoon to talk about what the Bruins need to improve and what kind of moves they should make, if any.
Very few major moves have been made by any teams, but Pederson said that he would be more surprised if the Bruins made no move than if they made a major trade.
“I think they need some depth, especially when Andrew Ference went down, that really showed me that you needed another left-handed defenseman,” Pederson said. “I would look for them to try to add that because I know that Dennis Seidenberg can play the right side, he showed that and then some in the playoffs what he could do when he’s with [Zdeno] Chara, and I think they’ll want to do that come playoff time again.
“I think you want to get some depth up front for the reasons we just talked about — you’re not sure what’s going to happen with Nathan [Horton], you’re hoping he can come back, and Rich Peverley with that knee injury, you never know what they’re going to be like.”
That being said, Pederson noted that the Bruins would be wise to not jeopardize the promising future that they have with their current roster.
“They’re still in great, great shape,” Pederson said. “They’ve got a great core, they’re well-positioned salary cap-wise, they’re young, they’re talented, they’re physical, they’re packing the building over here.
“The Bruins fans are excited not only because of last year’s win, but if you look ahead and you go, ‘You know what? Barring any major injuries, this organization is built to be good for a number of years to come.’ ”
Part of the reason the Bruins should be weary of a major trade, to Pederson, is that trades often come with a wide array of variables and can often backfire.
“The difficult part with that, and it’s the same thing I’m sure the Rangers are kind of talking about and Pittsburgh with [Sidney] Crosby, is you have concussions and you also have great chemistry, and that’s something that you can’t take for granted,” Pederson said. “One of the major reasons for the Bruins to be so successful in that Cup run last year was they had each other’s back.
“It was an all-for-one, one-for-all type of mentality. The Rangers, I think, have that right now, I think Pittsburgh’s getting that. That, to me, is so important.”
|Bruins wake up late, win in third period again||01.31.12 at 9:32 pm ET|
The Bruins returned from the All-Star break two periods late Tuesday night, but by the time they awoke, they were back to their old ways and defeated the Senators, 4-3, with a dominant third period.
The B’s came back from a 3-2 deficit in the third period, with Dennis Seidenberg scoring the unlikely game-winner with a slapshot from center ice that beat Senators goaltender Craig Anderson. The win improved the B’s to 6-8-1 when trailing after the second period.
The Bruins took the lead in the first period on a power play goal from Zdeno Chara. Colin Greening tied the game late in the first thanks to a nice pass from Milan Michalek. The Senators then dominated the B’s in the second period, getting goals from Kyle Turris and Erik Karlsson before Milan Lucic brought Boston within one with 45 seconds left to play in the period.
In a fashion that’s been somewhat typical this season, the Bruins won the game in the third period. Brad Marchand‘s hard work in front paid off in the form of the game-tying goal. Seidenberg gave them lead less than five minutes later.
Tim Thomas got the start in net for the Bruins, manning the pipes in Boston for the first time since blowing off last Monday’s trip to the White House. The reigning Vezina and Conn Smythe winner was given a loud ovation from the fans on hand at TD Garden.
The Bruins will return to action Thursday when they host the Hurricanes at TD Garden.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Chara’s first-period power-play goal was the captain’s first tally in 17 games, as his last goal came way back on Dec. 17 in the Bruins’ 6-0 win over the Flyers. The goal featured some nice work in front screening by Milan Lucic, who on Monday said that the hardest shot contest serves as an annual reminder that he’s pretty crazy to stand in front of that shot each time the B’s go on the power play.
– Great persistence from the Little Ball of Nicknames on Marchand’s goal to tie the game in the third period. After Joe Corvo put the puck on net from the point, Marchand out battled Chris Phillips in front of the net with Anderson sprawled out and tied the game with his 18th goal of the season.
– Good to see Corvo with a two-point night for the Bruins. If there were to be one spot the B’s might need to upgrade it would be Corvo’s after his disappointing showing thus far with the B’s, but his second half got off to a much better start.
– Seidenberg has a knack for scoring goals from center ice. The German defenseman also picked up a goal from the red line last season when he faked a dump-in on Lightning goaltender Mike Smith and put the puck on net.
Tuesday’s goal was a case of horrifically weak stuff from Anderson, as unlike Smith, Anderson hadn’t left his net and saw the puck as it went past him and in.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– In allowing three goals, the Bruins extended their season-long streak of games with three or more goals allowed to four games. Prior to the last four games, the Bruins’ longest such stretch was two games.
The team has sloppy play to credit to the development, and the fact that Thomas wasn’t at his best Tuesday didn’t help.
– The B’s took the second period off, though they were fortunate to get a goal in the final minute from Lucic. Ottawa outshot the B’s, 13-5, in the second period, and the Bruins went a long stretch without hitting the net after Steven Kampfer’s shot from the point about four minutes in. Teams talk about wanting to put together 60-minute efforts, and the Bruins failed to do that Tuesday.
– It was Tyler Seguin‘s birthday, but he and hits line played like they had a birthday party to get to. Seguin, Patrice Bergeron and Marchand seemed out of sync as a unit, as Seguin’s pass to Marchand on a second-period 2-on-1 was well ahead of his line-mate. Marchand made up for his line’s uncharacteristic play with his game-tying goal.