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Leafs force Game 7 with dramatic win over Bruins 05.12.13 at 10:37 pm ET
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TORONTO — It isn’t about eliminating the Leafs any more than it is staying alive now for the Bruins, as Toronto handed them a 2-1 loss in Game 6 Sunday to force a winner-take-all Game 7.

The Bruins, who had a 3-1 series lead, could not get to James Reimer again, as the Toronto goalie allowed just one goal for the second straight game, with the one Boston goal not coming until the final 30 seconds of the game on a Milan Lucic tally.

After the teams skated to a scoreless first two periods, Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf tipped a Nazem Kadri shot past Tuukka Rask at 1:48 of the third period to give the Leafs the lead. Phil Kessel later beat Tyler Seguin to a rebound to extend the lead to two goals, which was too much for the Bruins to overcome given the performance of Reimer.

Game 7 will be played Monday at TD Garden, with the winner facing the victor of the Capitals-Rangers series, which also is tied at three games apiece.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

‘€¢ Any hockey fan had to smirk at the sound of the “Thank You, Seguin” chants that rang throughout Air Canada Centre following the Kessel goal. With another night without a point, Seguin has now put up a goose egg through the first six games of the playoffs while Kessel has three goals and one assist for four points. Seguin needs to rise to the occasion.

‘€¢ David Krejci had a rough go of it on the shift on which Phaneuf scored. A botched drop-pass in the Toronto zone left the B’s behind as the Leafs took the puck the other way. Furthermore, Krejci was gliding back into the zone and let Kadri get the shot off. Had he been hustling, Krejci likely could have broken up the play by knocking the puck away.

‘€¢ The Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Tyler Seguin line had no shots on goal in the first period, with Seguin missing the net on a 3-on-2. Bergeron had a shot on goal late in the first, but it came on the power play and not with his line. Marchand played just 3:49 in the first and registered his first shot on goal in two games late in the second period.

The line came to life early in the second period and had a number of scoring chances, including on one shift in which Bergeron followed a Seguin bid by trying for a wraparound and being stopped by Reimer. On that same shift, a Bergeron slap shot yielded a rebound with lots of open net, but Marchand was battling in front and didn’t see it.

‘€¢ With Andrew Ference out, Claude Julien inserted Dougie Hamilton into the lineup and broke up the Zdeno Chara-Dennis Seidenberg pairing in order to have a lefty and righty on each pairing. There was a lot of mixing and matching done on the blue line for the B’s, but Hamilton was used less as the game went on. After playing 4:49 on six shifts in the first period, Hamilton was given only three shifts for 1:31 in the second.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

‘€¢ For the third straight game, Rask showed up big. Rask made a glove save on a Phaneuf slap shot in the final seconds of the second period to keep it scoreless after shining late in Game 4 and through Game 5. Yes, the Bruins gave up a big series lead against the Leafs, but don’t think this is 2010 all over again for Rask. He’s been one of the B’s most consistent players. The same can’t be said for a lot of guys on this team right now.

Read More: Brad Marchand, Claude Julien, Dougie Hamilton, James Reimer
Bruins enter amped atmosphere as Toronto gets playoff hockey back 05.05.13 at 7:49 pm ET
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TORONTO — These Bruins have dealt with a wider variety of atmospheres than any other team. They’€™ve played playoff games in Montreal, where the Bell Centre has been pretty close to deafening. They’€™ve played in front of an overly passionate Vancouver crowd with the Stanley Cup on the line. Most notably, they’€™ve played at TD Garden two days after a terrorist attack on their own city.

Obviously, the first two don’€™t compare to the third for pretty much every reason you could think of, but the B’€™s have seen more than their fair share of buzzing barns. They’€™ll probably be able to add Monday’€™s scene to the list, as Toronto will host its first playoff game since 2004. With the series tied at a game apiece, the crowd on Monday night will have plenty to be excited about.

The Air Canada Centre opened its doors in 1999, and the Maple Leafs made the playoffs in each of the arena’€™s first six seasons. Dougie Hamilton was just a kid (or, to put it correctly, a younger kid than he is now).

‘€œI think I remember going to playoff games as a kid and I know the fans are pretty good in Toronto,’€ Hamilton said. ‘€œI’€™m sure it’€™ll be a really good atmosphere.’€

The Air Canada Centre hasn’€™t hosted a postseason game since that six-season run, and you can bet that a city that eats, sleeps and breathes hockey (and produces NHL stars aplenty — Hamilton, Tyler Seguin and Nathan Horton are among the big-name Bruins who hail from the area) will be more than up for the game.

More importantly, you can count on the Leafs being up for it. After looking like a team that didn’€™t know it was in the playoffs in Game 1, the Leafs boasted a more balanced attack (thanks to both altered lines and the Bruins playing a messy defensive game) and, with the exception of a ton of rebounds from James Reimer, looked far more confident in Game 2. Considering they won the game and got big production from its stars in Joffrey Lupul (two goals), Phil Kessel (his first even-strength goal against his former club) and James van Riemsdyk (his second goal in as many games as he continues to establish himself as a big-time playoff performer against the Bruins), they should be feeling good.

‘€œWe’€™ve got the best fans in the National Hockey League, so I’€™m sure they’€™ll be excited to cheer loud,’€ Dion Phaneuf said. ‘€œWe’€™re happy with the way that we played [in Game 2], but we’€™ve got lots of work to do yet.’€

So with a buzzing barn and a team coming off a big win to even the series, what can get in the way of Toronto taking a series lead or at least splitting the games at ACC? Two things: The obvious one is a better game from the Bruins, and the other is the play of Reimer. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Dougie Hamilton, Phil Kessel,
Dougie Hamilton, Rich Peverley in for Bruins in Game 2 05.04.13 at 6:47 pm ET
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Dougie Hamilton and Rich Peverley are both in Boston’s lineup for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Maple Leafs Saturday night at TD Garden. Hamilton beat out Aaron Johnson to play in place of the suspended Andrew Ference, while Peverley is in over Kaspars Daugavins.

The lines and defensive pairings in the pre-game warmup were as follows:

Lucic ‘€“ Krejci ‘€“ Horton
Marchand ‘€“ Bergeron ‘€“ Seguin
Peverley ‘€“ Kelly ‘€“ Jagr
Paille ‘€“ Campbell ‘€“ Thornton

Chara-McQuaid
Seidenberg-Boychuk
Redden-Hamilton

For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.

Read More: Dougie Hamilton, Rich Peverley,
Dougie Hamilton, Rich Peverley crack Bruins’ lineup in practice 05.03.13 at 11:06 am ET
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WILMINGTON — After staying off the ice on Thursday, the Bruins held practice at Ristuccia Arena with a tweak to their lineup. Rich Peverley, who was a healthy scratch in Boston’s Game 1 win over the Maple Leafs Wednesday, skated on the third line with Chris Kelly and Jaromir Jagr. That bumped Kaspars Daugavins out, as he appears to be headed for the press box in Saturday’s Game 2.

Andrew Ference, who is suspended for Game 2, practiced. It would appear based on defensive pairings in one of the drills that Dougie Hamilton will step into the lineup for Game 2, which would break up the Zdeno Chara-Dennis Seidenberg pairing.

The lineup was as follows:

Lucic – Krejci – Horton
Marchand – Bergeron – Seguin
Peverley – Kelly – Jagr
Paille – Campbell – Thornton

Extra forwards: Daugavins, Soderberg, Pandolfo

Chara-McQuaid
Seidenberg-Boychuk
Redden-Hamilton

Extra defensemen: Ference (suspended), Johnson

For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.

Read More: Dougie Hamilton, Rich Peverley,
Andrew Ference suspension leaves Bruins with choice to make on defense 05.02.13 at 6:37 pm ET
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After a completely one-sided contest in Game 1, things got interesting Thursday in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series between the Bruins and Maple Leafs when B’s defenseman Andrew Ference was suspended for Game 2 for an illegal hit to the head of Toronto forward Mikhail Grabovski.

Ference was viewed as a repeat offender because his last suspension (the only other one of his 13-year career) came within the past 18 months — he was suspended for three games last January for his hit on Ryan McDonagh.

You can say all you wanted about Ference’s start to the season — which was not good — but he recovered well and is once again one of the more important and underrated pieces for the B’s. His absence isn’t something to overlook, and if the Maple Leafs plan on showing up for Game 2 (a big “if” after they chose not to Wednesday), it could be a closer game than the 4-1 drubbing the B’s gave the Leafs.

Without Ference, the Bruins have two options: There’s Dougie Hamilton, who played in 42 of the Bruins’ 48 regular-season games, and there’s Aaron Johnson.

While Hamilton’s name might come to mind first because of his offensive skill and the fact that he’s, well, Dougie Hamilton, don’t rule out Johnson. The 30-year-old is a left shot like Ference and could either slide into Ference’s spot on the pairing with Johnny Boychuk or play with Adam McQuaid, allowing Wade Redden to move onto Boychuk’s pairing.

The issue with Johnson is that he’s likely rusty after playing in only 10 regular season games, the most recent of which was over a month ago on March 30 against the Flyers.

Hamilton being in the lineup would give the B’s a bit of a predicament from a pairing standpoint. With Dennis Seidenberg playing on the right side with Zdeno Chara as part of the top pairing, that would give the Bruins three right-shot defensemen in their other two pairings. Perhaps Hamilton being in the lineup would force Claude Julien to break up the Chara-Seidenberg pairing to allow Seidenberg to go back to the left side on another pairing, with Hamilton skating with either Chara or Seidenberg, but would the Bruins really want to break up that top pairing given how effective it was in Game 1?

So those are the Bruins’ two options: Play the more talented rookie — but one who looked more and more like a rookie in the second half of the season — who would likely cause a bit of shuffling among the defensemen. Or, play the veteran who hasn’t been in the lineup in over a month. Those aren’t the best options, but just remember that Shane Hnidy at the very end of his career played three games in the playoffs in 2011, getting just 3:09 of ice time per game, and the Bruins won the Stanley Cup that postseason. Losing Ference is bigger than you might think, but it isn’t the end of the world.

Read More: Aaron Johnson, Andrew Ference, Dougie Hamilton,
Rich Peverley, Dougie Hamilton healthy scratches for Game 1 05.01.13 at 6:55 pm ET
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The Bruins scratched Rich Peverley and Dougie Hamilton for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Maple Leafs. Boston’s other healthy scratches were Carl Soderberg, Jay Pandolfo and Aaron Johnson.

The lineup in warmups was as follows:

Milan Lucic ‘€“ David Krejci ‘€“ Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand ‘€“ Patrice Bergeron ‘€“ Tyler Seguin
Kaspars Daugavins ‘€“ Chris Kelly ‘€“ Jaromir Jagr
Daniel Paille ‘€“ Gregory Campbell ‘€“ Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara ‘€“ Dennis Seidenberg
Andrew Ference ‘€“ Johnny Boychuk
Wade Redden ‘€“ Adam McQuaid

Tuukka Rask

For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.

Read More: Dougie Hamilton, Rich Peverley,
Andy Brickley on M&M: Bruins-Leafs ‘should have all the elements of a playoff series [B's] can win’ at 2:15 pm ET
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NESN’s Andy Brickley joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to talk about the Bruins’ approach to the playoffs, some lineup decisions they’ve made, and how they match up with the Maple Leafs.

Brickley said he would have preferred to see the Bruins face the Islanders in the first round, but he thinks Toronto is a better matchup for them than Ottawa would have been.

“Toronto, they’re a little porous on defense,” Brickley said. “I’m still not sold on [James] Reimer being an elite guy. He’s got no experience, really, when it comes to NHL postseason play. So I think it’s a pretty good matchup. My preference would have been the Islanders, but be careful what you wish for. But it should have all the elements of a playoff series they can win, which is physical play, 5-on-5 hockey. If Toronto wants to initiate, the Bruins will oblige, but I’m looking for the Bruins to initiate.”

Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg are slated to play together as the Bruins’ top defensive pairing, although there had been some talk of breaking them up to balance the pairs out more evenly.

“I’m not surprised,” Brickley said of Chara and Seidenberg playing together. “I don’t know if it’s my preference. Toronto, one of their strengths this year is the fact that they have more than one scoring line. You put those guys together and you try to play them against Phil Kessel and his threesome, and they can still hurt you with [Joffrey] Lupul, [Nazem] Kadri. But that’s something they wanted to do. They were committed to it before the season ended. Now it’s up to the other four defensemen that are in the lineup to get the job done on the matchups.”

Brickley said that while Dougie Hamilton looks likely to sit in favor of Wade Redden in Game 1, Hamilton likely will crack the lineup at some point in the playoffs.

“I absolutely think we’ll see Dougie, whether it’s an adjustment or an injury or trying to get a little bit more on your power play,” Brickley said. “They want to get him some playoff experience, no doubt, but it’ll all be determined on how the Bruins play and how healthy they are on the back end.”

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Read More: Andy Brickley, Dougie Hamilton, Rich Peverly, Zdeno Chara
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