|Bruins can’t close out Lightning despite David Krejci hat trick||05.25.11 at 10:46 pm ET|
TAMPA — The Bruins and Lightning are heading back to Boston to decide the Eastern Conference finals, as a hat trick from David Krejci was not enough to propel the B’s into the Stanley Cup Finals — instead, it was a 5-4 loss in Game 6 Wednesday night.
After the Bruins erased an early 1-0 Bolts lead with goals from Milan Lucic and Krejci. Tampa would come back with three unanswered goals before a back-and-forth third period left the B’s down by one following Krejci’s third goal.
Teddy Purcell did most of the Lightning’s damage to Tim Thomas, opening the scoring just 36 into the contest and giving Tampa a 3-2 lead 13:35 into the second period. Purcell now has six goals this postseason, three of which have come this round.
Thomas made 21 saves for the Bruins, while Dwayne Roloson stopped 15 of the Bruins’ 19 shots.
Game 7 will be played at TD Garden on Friday.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR BRUINS
– Another goal allowed very early for the Bruins. Krejci was set to take the face-off against Vincent Lecavalier and was tossed from the dot, allowing Lecavalier to go against Chris Kelly. The Tampa center won it cleanly, allowing for Purcell to blast one past Thomas. It was the Lightning’s second goal in the first minute of a game this series, and third goal in the first 1:09. Amazingly, it was the only game in the aforementioned three that the Lightning won.
– Yes, Eric Furlatt was officiating and the Lightning were penalized more than the B’s, but it was Tampa that won out when it came to actually capitalizing. The Bruins’ power play looked improved with Zdeno Chara in front, and Krejci scored his second of the game with the B’s on the man advantage in the third, but the Lightning went 3-for-4 as opposed to Boston’s 1-for-5.
– Once again, the Bruins simply couldn’t build momentum at St. Pete Times Forum. After blowing a 3-0 lead in Game 4, the B’s blew a 2-1 lead in the second and got no boost from Krejci’s goal that brought them within one in the third. Martin St. Louis scored 29 seconds after Krejci’s tally.
– Taking an interference penalty with 13:02 remaining in a game in which your team is trying to make a two-goal comeback probably isn’t what you want to do if you’re Tomas Kaberle. The polarizing defenseman did just that in the corner on a play that left Ryan Malone bloodied. Kaberle actually had a good night defensively, but the penalty won’t help his reputation around Boston as a bust of an acquisition.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Krejci’s hat trick gives him five goals in six Eastern Conference finals games. The dominance from the second round hasn’t been there, but the numbers have been.
– Say what you want about Lucic disappearing this postseason, but he always smells blood when his team has a chance of ending a series. Lucic had a pair of tallies in Game 4 against the Flyers in the second round last year, and had three goals in Games 6 and 7 combined against Philly last year. Taking Games 6 and 7 against the Habs this year into consideration, Lucic now has 6 goals in the last six games in which the Bruins could eliminate an opponent.
– Dennis Seidenberg had a big play for the Bruins on a play in which the Lightning could have made it 4-2 late in the second. A Marc-Andre Bergeron shot yielded a rebound that Steven Stamkos tapped toward the net with Thomas out of position. Seidenberg literally put his foot down, stepping in front of the puck before it could hurt the B’s and starting a circus that landed Andrew Ference in the box for cross-checking Stamkos. The Lightning would score on the power play early in the second period on a goal from Stamkos, thus making the transaction a wash.
TAMPA — In case you haven’t heard, one team is in the Stanley Cup finals. After tying it with 14 seconds left in regulation and getting the game-winner in overtime from Kevin Bieksa, the Canucks have moved past the Sharks and into the the finals.
“I watched the tying goal and I was like ‘I’m going to bed,'” Dennis Seidenberg said Wednesday. “I went to bed, and this morning I watched the goal and was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s a tough one to lose on.'”
Of course, now the Bruins know that they have a team waiting for them. All they need is one more win vs. the Lightning before it becomes all about Vancouver and the Cup. They can close it out in Game 6 Wednesday night and send Boston into a frenzy. They were quick to note on the morning of the game that while they know that one team is in, they don’t know who else is.
“Obviously, you know that whoever goes through this series is going to play Vancouver, but at the same time, we don’t know who’s going through,” rookie forward Brad Marchand said. “If we start thinking that it’s us, then Tampa’s going to come back and take over control of the series. We have to make sure we don’t worry about that and just worry about our game.”
Shawn Thornton has been in this situation before. In fact, for the man who won a Cup with the Ducks in 2007 after sinking the Red Wings in the west for a spot in the finals, it’s comically similar.
“I was actually in the exact same position. I was in the press box watching Games 5 and 6,” Thornton, a healthy scratch since Game 3 this round, said Wednesday morning. “I remember. It was against Detroit, and it was the same type of thing. ‘¦ Two good teams, and a tough series.”
Now that he’s once again one win from going back, the last thing he wants to talk about is the finals. In fact, he politely declined talking about the next round.
“I can’t speak for everybody, but my mentality is I never look past what’s going on here. If you start looking [ahead] and then you forget about what you’re [doing]. That’s not even in our heads. It shouldn’t be, anyways,” Thornton said. “We have to focus on Game 6 tonight, and that should be our only focus.”
One more win, and a very realistic possibility becomes even more real. The players aren’t trying to let the fact that a team and Cup awaits them, even if it’s a finals matchup some saw coming.
“I think the whole playoffs, we’ve kind of seen who could be possible opponents, and for me at the beginning, I thought it was Vancouver,” Seidenberg said. “They were one of the strongest teams, but at the end, it doesn’t really matter who it is. Right now, our main focus is on tonight and focusing on our game and making sure we’re gonna win tonight.”
|Bruins-Lightning Game 5 preview: Five things, stats and players||05.23.11 at 1:12 am ET|
The Bruins learned the hard way Saturday that they need more than a strong start and a big day from Patrice Bergeron to get their third victory of the Eastern Conference finals. After blowing a 3-0 lead in Saturday’s Game 4, the Bruins will be back at home Monday to take on the Lightning in Game 5.
FIVE THINGS THE BRUINS NEED TO DO
– Take advantage of playing at home/score the first goal. The Bruins don’t want to find themselves a loss away from elimination when the teams head back to Tampa for Game 6, so taking care of business in their own building will be key.
The B’s weren’t able to score the first goal in Games 1 and 2, though they were able to head to Tampa with the series tied at a game apiece. The first goal hasn’t been everything this series, as the team to strike first has gone 2-2 thus far.
– The B’s must get the type of production from David Krejci‘s line that made the second round such a walk in the park. Krejci was a minus-3 with zero shots on goal in Game 4, while Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic each had just one shot on goal in the loss.
– The Bruins’ second line probably would be a stinker as well if it weren’t for the redeeming qualities of Bergeron. If it weren’t for a Brad Marchand interference penalty in the second period, there would be minimal proof that the feisty rookie even played in Game 4. Marchand had no shots on goal for the second time this series. The B’s have lost both games in which the 23-year-old has failed to put a shot on net. Mark Recchi is a minus-4 this series and has just five shots on goal.
– Selective memory would probably serve the B’s best after their Game 4 collapse. Remember that it happened, but don’t think about just how much momentum the come-from-behind win could have given Tampa Bay.
– Not that they will, but the B’s should at least give consideration to playing Steven Kampfer. We said it last week, and Saturday’s soft showing behind the net on a costly turnover to Sean Bergenheim only confirms it: it’s worth seeing what Kampfer can do in place of Tomas Kaberle. Kaberle looked better in Games 2 and 3, but if you’re going to give him between 11 and 12 minutes a game and he still finds a way to make them costly minutes as he did Saturday, you’re better off easing Kampfer back in with an 11-or-12-minute night. Kampfer has as many goals this season against the Lightning (two) as Kaberle has had turnovers that resulted in Tampa goals this series.
FIVE CRAZY STATS
– Kaberle’s 11:35 of ice time in Game 4 isn’t just ridiculously low for someone the team invested so much in, but it’s the lowest total that Kaberle ‘ two injury games aside — has played in his entire career. While with the Maple Leafs, he left the team’s March 2, 2007 game vs. the Devils after being blindsided in the second period by Cam Janssen, and he left a Jan. 6, 2004 game with a shoulder injury in the first period. Back then, injuries were all that could keep Kaberle from playing less than 12 minutes. Now, it’s just poor play.
– That stuff about Michael Ryder turning it on in the playoffs is true. Ryder has seven points (3 G, 4 A) in his last five games. He never amassed more than five points in any five-game stretch during the regular season, and this five-game stretch ties for Ryder’s second-best as a member of the Bruins. He had nine points over the Bruins’ first five games of the 2009 playoffs.
– Tim Thomas has allowed four goals four times this postseason, and the Bruins are 3-0 thus far in games that directly followed said performances. Thomas allowed one goal in 89 minutes in Game 5 of the first round after allowing four goals two nights earlier. He followed the team’s 5-2 loss in the conference finals opener by allowing five in Game 2, but the B’s came away with the win. It was after that contest that Thomas really bounced back, blanking the Lightning in Game 3.
– Neither the Bruins nor the Lightning have scored a power play goal since Game 2 of the series. This marks the first time this postseason that the Bruins and their opponent have put up a goose-egg on the man advantage in consecutive games.
– Steven Stamkos is a minus-2 this series, and has only had a positive rating in one game this postseason. The lone positive rating came in Game 5 of the quarterfinals when he had two goals, an assist and was a plus-1.
FIVE KEY PLAYERS
– Whichever Lightning goalie starts. Dwayne Roloson has been chased from two of the series’ first four games, and Guy Boucher has yet to reveal whether Roloson will be a go for Game 5. If Boucher makes a change, it will be Mike Smith, who has stopped all 20 shots he’s seen from the B’s in 60:51 this series.
– Simon Gagne: The veteran winger simply slays the Bruins, and he did it to the tune of three points and a plus-4 rating in Game 4.
– Ryder and Tyler Seguin: In the event that Lucic and Horton fail to step it up and Bergeron’s wingers continue to struggle, the B’s will need the magical Ryder/Seguin duo to light it up the way they did in Game 2. Seguin was on the ice for three of the Lightning’s five goals Saturday, but he’s been second to only Ryder this series as far as who the B’s best winger has been.
– Dennis Seidenberg: One last opportunity to point out that the B’s minute-eating defenseman had seven blocked shots in Game 4. He and Kaberle were out there for Gagne’s game-winner.
|As Bruins power play struggles, Tomas Kaberle still trying to ‘prove why I’m here’||04.24.11 at 1:20 pm ET|
Tomas Kaberle was supposed to be the answer for Boston’s power play. So far, there’s just been more questions in what has been an ugly tryout for a new contract.
Seemingly destined to don the black and gold eventually, the Bruins finally acquired the heavily sought-after free agent-to-be 10 days prior to the trade deadline. Since then, the Bruins’ power play has been almost unfathomably unproductive. With just seven goals in 80 opportunities, the unit has been clicking just eight percent of the time. Even general manager Peter Chiarelli said recently that the team expected more out of the defenseman when they sent a first-round pick and highly touted prospect Joe Colborne to Toronto in exchange for the veteran defenseman. Chiarelli isn’t the only one hoping Kaberle can pick it up.
“I always put a lot of pressure on myself,” Kaberle said Sunday at TD Garden. “Hopefully I can prove why I’m here. I would like to help with every little thing I can do on the ice. Obviously, I am one of the guys on the PP, and it would be nice to be something going there.”
Kaberle had nine points for the Bruins in his 24 regular season contests since being acquired, but as the spotlight grew brighter with the arrival of the playoffs, the 33-year-old had an ugly showing. He reversed a puck too hard in the Bruins’ zone, making for an easy Scott Gomez pass to Brian Gionta to set up what would be the game-winning goal.
From there, things didn’t improve as much as they needed to. Kaberle had major struggles in Game 2, displaying an inability to keep the puck in the zone on routine plays, a suggestion that perhaps he may have been pressing. If a turnaround is to be made, perhaps the defenseman can build on the fact that things have at least been looking up statistically. He’s had an assist in each of the last two games, and with how bad things were in Games 1 and 2, it’s a starting point.
“I felt like the first couple of games I could have been better,” Kaberle admitted Sunday. “The last few games, I’ve felt a lot better, and I’m feeling better confidence-wise. I’ll take it from there.”
Right now, any signs of confidence from Kaberle should be a good thing, as his play — despite making the as-advertised passes — has not been a major game-changer for the B’s in the postseason. He still isn’t producing on the man advantage, and his now-infamous fakes on the power play aren’t fooling anybody. Fairly or unfairly, Chiarelli’s move to get Kaberle will be seen as a major steal by the Leafs unless the power play starts getting the results that have eluded them for too long. There’s no better way to do that than to get the power play going, but teammates won’t let all the responsibility fall on Kaberle.
“I’m sure he feels pressure just like all of us,” Dennis Seidenberg said Sunday. “It’s not just him that wants to do better. I think it’s everybody that wants to create and wants to get that advantage you’re supposed to get. Right now it’s just not working, and I’m sure he thinks as much as everybody else about it — what he can do, and what we should do improve it. I guess it’s a work in progress.”
A first-round pick and a former first-round center with as high a ceiling as Colborne’s is not something a team wants to give up for a player that can help the power play be a “work in progress.” That type of package is reserved for a star player, and that’s clearly what the Bruins thought they were getting. There’s still time for Kaberle to justify the move and prove that the trade for a puck-moving defenseman was more than an asset-moving blunder, but for now the waiting game continues.
|Bruins fall to Devils in regular season finale||04.10.11 at 5:20 pm ET|
The Bruins finished their regular season schedule Sunday, taking a 3-2 loss to the Devils in New Jersey.
Tuukka Rask took the loss for the B’s, getting the start after Tim Thomas sealed the single-season save percentage record in his final start Saturday. Rask allowed goals to Patrik Elias, Vladimir Zharkov and Alexander Urbom.
Rich Peverley scored the first goal for the Bruins, beating Johan Hedberg for his 18th goal of the year. A Dennis Seidenberg shot with less than four seconds remaining also yielded a Boston goal. Mark Recchi and Zdeno Chara did not play for the Bruins, as they stayed in Boston after playing the first 81 games of the season.
The Bruins finished the regular season with a 46-25-11 record and 103 points. They will be the Eastern Conference’s No. 3 seed when they go against the Canadiens in the playoffs begin next week.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– The game didn’t mean anything, but the B’s shouldn’t have shown it the way they did in the second period. They had just one shot on the goal in the second, while the Devils had 10.
– The one injury scare came for rookie Tyler Seguin, who took a high stick in the second period and left the bench, though it did not appear serious and he returned to the game in the third period.
– Dennis Seidenberg was on the ice for the first two Devils goals. He took the shot that led to the the final goal, but his minus-1 rating on the game means he finishes the season with a plus-3, worst among Bruins defensemen this season.
– Nathan Horton did not register a shot on goal Sunday, making it the 10th game this season in which he had zero shots on goal. Horton has picked it up of late (six goals over the final 10 games), but he needs to put pucks on net if he wants them to go in.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Nobody was hurt, and that’s the biggest thing the Bruins could have been hoping for in a meaningless regular-season-ending game.
More importantly, Tuukka Rask did not get injured or yanked in the game. He made the save of the game on David Clarkson in the second period. Plus, imagine all the re-adjusting of the Tim Thomas record stories.
– Peverley scored for the second time in as many games. The Bruins need to have both the David Krejci line and the Patrice Bergeron line going at the same time once the playoffs start, but it’s good to see that they are finally getting something out of Chris Kelly’s line.
|Tim Thomas gets start Saturday, aims for record||04.09.11 at 12:23 pm ET|
In what will likely be his final start of the regular season, Tim Thomas looks to break the NHL’s single-season save percentage record Saturday afternoon against the Senators. Through 56 games thus far, Thomas’ save percentage stands at .9376, .001 ahead of Dominik Hasek‘s record-setting mark of .9366 in 1998-99.
Before Saturday’s game, coach Claude Julien said he’s focused more on just making sure Thomas is ready for the playoffs than he is on the record.
“He seems to be feeling good,” Julien said. “He’s realized that he’s forced his game a little bit, especially the game in New York [on Monday], but other than that, I think he’s been pretty steady for us all year. He feels well-rested, he feels good and he feels ready to get into the playoffs.”
Julien made a couple changes to the lineup for Saturday’s game, giving both Patrice Bergeron and Dennis Seidenberg the day off. This will be the first game Seidenberg has missed all season. Tyler Seguin will take Bergeron’s place as the second-line center, while Shane Hnidy will fill in for Seidenberg on the blue line.
|Michael Grabner has Islanders within one after two periods||04.06.11 at 8:37 pm ET|
The B’s continued to get pucks past Rick DiPietro in the second period, but a pair of Michael Grabner strikes have the Islanders within one. After two, the Bruins lead the Islanders, 3-2.
Grabner tied the game at one with his 32nd goal of the season, a power play strike at 3:24. Though the B’s would answer back with goals from Dennis Seidenberg and Gregory Campbell, Grabner would make it 3-2 on a shorthanded goal at 14:26.
The Islanders outshot the B’s, 14-10, in the period. Through two, the Bruins are 0-for-4 on the power play and have allowed a shorthanded goal.
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