|Bruins year in review: Top rookie||06.22.11 at 3:09 am ET|
Each day this week, WEEI.com will be taking a look back at the Bruins’ historic 2010-11 Stanley Cup Championship season. So far, we’ve looked at the goal of the year, fight of the year and save of the year. Up today is the Bruins’ rookie of the year, a no-brainer for anyone who followed the championship season.
BRUINS’ TOP ROOKIE
Brad Marchand: 21 G, 20 A, 41 points (regular season); 11 G, 8 A, 19 points (postseason)
“I was impressed with with Marchy from the moment I saw him play. I obviously wasn’t too familiar with him, but having seen him early in training camp’¦ then just build his way up and keep getting better and better, to be honest with you, he was so important to our team. When we were successful, usually Marchy had a big game or played well.
“Playing with Marchy, I enjoyed it a lot’¦ He deserves everything that he’s gotten. He’s worked for it. He had the opportunity. He made the team and he started with us and worked for his ice time. Rightfully so, he’s an important part of this team. To even do what he did in the playoffs, that’s even more important, and says more about him as a player that he can step up in those big games.”
At the beginning of training camp, Tyler Seguin was a household name in Boston. He was perhaps the only Bruins rookie a Bostonian could pick out of the very lineup Seguin assured he had yet to crack. By the end of the Bruins’ Stanley Cup run, people were talking about a few Boston rookies. Seguin’s goals got him the hype and Adam McQuaid‘s mullet got him the cult following and customized t-shirts from Andrew Ference, but no Bruins rookie came close to bringing it the way Brad Marchand did.
When the B’s opened the regular season in Prague, Marchand was a fourth-liner who got around 10 minutes of ice time. When the season ended, he had assisted the game-winning goal in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals and scored two of his own. When all was said and done, Marchand hoisted the Cup having scored 11 goals in the postseason, one behind David Krejci for the postseason lead. He worked his way from being a famed member of the Merlot Line with Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton to forming perhaps the team’s most consistent line with Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi, and aside from missing time after being rocked on a beautiful P.K. Subban hip check in December, the 5-foot-9 Marchand looked invincible in the process.
The story of Marchand’s preseason confidence has been well-documented. He told both Peter Chiarelli and Claude Julien that he would score 20 goals (the very number Milan Lucic was optimistically aiming for prior to the season) in his first full season. Chiarelli told him to think about what he was saying. While thinking may never be Marchand’s game, he certainly backed up his words by popping 21 in the regular season.
The downside with Marchand is that with the good, you must take the bad, but depending on how you look at it, the bad isn’t all that bad. He crosses the line often, whether it be with his on-ice actions or words. He was suspended for elbowing R.J. Umberger in the head, but at the end of the day he’s a far cry from a dirty player. He’s one of the Bruins who have been guilty of embellishment, but with Marchand, it’s nowhere near the point of some of the players the B’s saw in Montreal and Vancouver. If anyone wants to deem Marchand’s feistiness a problem, it’s a problem every team in the league would love to have. He’s a special type of player, and the B’s are fortunate to have someone who’s just as good in all three areas of the ice and at killing penalties as he is at getting under opponents’ skin and scoring goals.
Now, after a rookie year in which he became a hero in Boston, Marchand will get paid. A restricted free agent, Marchand couldn’t have asked for a better time to be due a raise, as it should be a big one. He had a salary cap hit of $821,667 last season and could now get upwards of $3 million.
Just a note before we get to the honorable mention section: While McQuaid was a far more mature player in his rookie campaign and provided far more stability than Seguin did (it’s an apples and oranges comparison anyway given the difference in age and position), the argument could be made that the B’s could have won the Stanley Cup without him. In this scribe’s opinion, the Bruins would not have won the Cup were it not for Tyler Seguin. The youngster may have singlehandedly changed the Eastern Conference finals with his performance in the second period of Game 2. As a result, if we had to make this thing a list, Seguin would be the runner up to Marchand.
HONORABLE MENTION: Tyler Seguin, Adam McQuaid
|Plain and simple: Bruins win the Stanley Cup||06.15.11 at 10:45 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — The Stanley Cup never entered TD Garden when the Canucks had a chance to win it on Monday. Now, it’s safe to say it will be in plain sight in Boston for quite some time.
The Bruins knocked off the Canucks, 4-0, in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals Wednesday night to win the Cup for the first time since 1972 and take the trophy for the sixth time in franchise history.
It was only fitting that the longest tenured Bruin, Patrice Bergeron, sure-fire Conn Smythe winner Tim Thomas and top rookie Brad Marchand stole the show in Vancouver in providing Boston with the most coveted trophy in all of sports.
Both Bergeron and Marchand had a pair of goals on the night, factoring for all of the Bruins’ tallies. Marchand’s second was an empty-netter with just over two minutes remaining.
Bergeron opened the scoring for the Bruins at 14:37 of first period, taking a pass from Marchand in the slot and sending the puck past a pair of Canucks skaters and just past Roberto Luongo‘s right leg.
The goal marked one bookend of a telling issue for the Bruins, as they did not record another shot on Luongo until 7:40 into the second period. Marchand had another superb opportunity in that span, though he saw his backhanded bid in front of Luongo go off the crossbar.
Despite the lack of work provided for Luongo, Marchand made his presence felt by beating the Vancouver netminder on a wraparound at 12:13. The rookie finished the postseason with 11 goals, and the B’s won all nine games in which he scored.
If it’s possible for a dagger to come in the second period, Bergeron provided it with a shorthanded goal on a breakaway late in the period. The play was reviewed to determine whether Bergeron punched the puck into the net, though the goal stood, and so too did the Bruins’ lead.
Thomas’ performance capped a remarkable series for the anticipated Vezina winner, as he allowed just eight goals over the entire series and set the record for most games in a Stanley Cup finals series. His shutout was his fourth of the postseason and second of the finals.
Though first period yielded the Bruins’ first goal, though it was not the most encouraging 20 minutes. The B’s managed only five shots on goal, with the fourth line of Gregory Campbell between Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille. The line’s tireless work and aggression stood out for the Bruins, with each member getting a shot on Luongo. By the end of the period, the line had contributed 60 percent of the team’s shots on goal.
An injury scare occurred for the Bruins early on as well, as a hit from Chris Higgins at the blue line in the first period left captain Zdeno Chara down on the ice for a few moments. Chara got up and returned to the bench without any further issues.
The Canucks came out of the gate much stronger than the Bruins, and had quality opportunities throughout the night despite the Bruins’ attempts to push the play to the side. Vancouver’s best opportunity came a little over nine minutes into the second, when Chara was attempting to send the puck up the boards in his own zone, only to see the puck deflect off of Henrik Sedin and in front of the net to Alexandre Burrows. The controversial Vancouver winger had an empty net to work with, but Chara made up for his own miscue by getting in position to save the puck for Thomas.
A few odds and ends from the game:
– Dennis Seidenberg is now the second German to win the Stanley Cup, joining Uwe Krupp (1996).
– Both Henrik and Daniel Sedin were on the ice for the first three Bruins’ goals. Henrik was one of the players in front when Bergeron’s shot went past him on its way to Luongo on the first goal.
– The Canucks’ power play finished the Stanley Cup finals just 2-for-31.
– Tyler Seguin has gone from No. 2 overall pick to Stanley Cup champion in less than a year.
– Of the four major sports, the Patriots now have the longest Boston championship drought, as they las won the Super Bowl in February of 2005.
|Bruins’ power play problems are with execution, not personnel||06.13.11 at 1:33 pm ET|
The Bruins’ power play appeared to finally be coming around earlier this series, as it went 3-for-13 (23.1 percent) in the first three games. It has taken a step back since then, however, going 0-for-8 in the last two contests.
Claude Julien tried something new in Game 5 when he put Gregory Campbell in front of the net on the Bruins’ first couple man advantages, hoping that the fourth-line grinder would create some traffic and get some deflections. While much of the talk has been about the decision to use Campbell on the power play, the struggles had more to do with execution than personnel. Julien said after Game 5 that the Campbell-in-front plan never materialized because the Bruins never got the looks at the net that they wanted.
On Monday, Michael Ryder — who has been on the second power-play unit most of the playoffs — agreed that the problem isn’t with who’s on the ice.
“I think it’s all about our breakouts and the way we enter the zone,” Ryder said. “It seemed like last game, we couldn’t really get set up. And when we did, [Roberto] Luongo made some big saves. It’s just a matter of us establishing traffic in front and getting our breakout all on the same page with that first pass.”
Better entries into the zone would obviously make it much easier for the Bruins to get some of those setups that Julien said were absent in Game 5. Ryder added that once they’re in the zone, the Bruins will need to work harder and not overthink plays.
“Sometimes we have a tendency in the zone to look for plays that aren’t there instead of taking what Vancouver gives us,” Ryder said. “I think tonight we have to make sure that if we get the chance to take that shot, we take it and get the traffic in front. And we have to outwork their penalty kill. I think that’s one of the biggest issues. If we outwork their PK, we’ll have success on the power play.”
Julien hasn’t said if he plans to use Campbell on the power play again — he wasn’t on the Bruins’ last two man advantages in Game 5. It won’t matter who’s out there, though, if the execution and work ethic aren’t out there with them.
CSNNE Bruins analyst Tony Amonte spoke with the Mut & Merloni show Monday morning. To hear the interview, go the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
Amonte said the key to the Bruins winning Game 6 Monday night is to ‘ride [Zdeno] Chara and [Dennis] Seidenberg.’
‘I think that’s what they’ve done at home is been able to ride those two defensemen, their top D pair,’ Amonte said. ‘They don’t get scored on much, and they help you out, create a lot of offense for the Bruins.’
Amonte said that a key to the offense is getting Tyler Seguin more minutes, especially on the power play.
‘Seguin’s a guy that could break the game open,’ he said.
‘You have to play the odds. You have to put a guy out there you know is going to score a little bit more than another guy.’
While Gregory Campbell is good on faceoffs and penalty kills, Amonte said he lacks the puck control necessary to play in front of the net on power plays.
‘If you can’t get control of the puck and you can’t get it set up, you’re never going to see a net-front guy,’ Amonte said, adding: “That second unit just never had the ability to get the puck, settle it down, and establish a net-front presence.’
|Gregory Campbell can’t imagine former teammate Roberto Luongo being malicious||06.12.11 at 1:32 pm ET|
With all that’s been made of the way Roberto Luongo has spoken about Tim Thomas, the biggest question is why Luongo’s doing it. Is he playfully joking around (as he was — no matter what you hear anywhere else — when he made his pre-series comments about Thomas playing the way he did when he was five years old), or is he intentionally taking jabs at the man who seems a shoo-in to win the Vezina and a safe bet to win the Conn Smythe?
Luongo’s recent comments came as a surprise here to this scribe, as he spent the day before media gushing with praise for Thomas. The talk of him pumping Thomas’ tires is correct, but why then, would he make the punk move of saying he would have saved Maxim Lapierre’s game-winner?
He can’t plead ignorance or claim it as a misunderstanding, as he’s as well-spoken and well-intentioned a guy a media member will deal with. What he says, he means, and it’s hard to imagine Luongo “accidentally” dissing another player when it seems that clear — and especially amongst all the talk of Thomas’ positioning.
One man in the Bruins’ locker room has some perspective when it comes to Luongo’s intentions, and though he claims to have not heard Luongo’s comments, Gregory Campbell said Sunday he can’t imagine his former teammate in Florida talking a mess with any malicious intent.
“I don’t know him as that type of person. I played with him for a year. I’m sure he has a lot of pressure on him as well, and he’s had to face a lot of critics in these playoffs, especially the last couple of games of late. Knowing him, I don’t think that’s his personality, but to be honest, I don’t really care. I don’t think Timmy cares either. It’s not going to affect our hockey club one way or the other.”
Campbell and Luongo played together in the 2005-06 season with the Panthers and briefly the year before, when Campbell played two games.
|Bruins can’t have one bad period in Game 7||05.26.11 at 11:35 pm ET|
BEDFORD — When it comes to cliches, a Game 7 brings no shortage. From “do or die,” to “most important game of the year,” to “this is why you play hockey,” they’re all hit on.
Another one you’ll hear is players talking of giving a “60 minute effort.” With the way the Eastern Conference finals has gone, maybe the Bruins should consider breaking it down even further. After winning Game 2 and losing Games 4 and 6 in the second period, perhaps they should view it more as bringing three 20-minute efforts. One period has made the difference too often in the series, and the Bruins know it.
“That’s been our biggest challenge all year, is to put three solid periods together each and every game,” Gregory Campbell said Thursday. “Tomorrow night is going to be no different. We have to take the first period and play well in that. Whether we’re up or down, the game is not won in one period. We have to make sure that we’re playing well in all three periods.
“If it goes extra time, that’s fine. We have the confidence that we can win those games, and we’ll just have to make sure that we’re executing and competing and working as hard as we can.”
The Bruins held a 3-0 lead in Game 4 and a 2-1 lead in Game 6, both of which were held after one and were erased after two. If you take away the second period of Game 2 in which Tyler Seguin had four points in a five-goal Bruins’ second period, the B’s would have just two second-period goals this series. That isn’t to say that the B’s have been dominated in second periods, as it speaks more to a point that applies to both teams. Leads aren’t safe, despite the fact that this was billed as being such a big goaltender’s duel. Any team can steal a game with one strong period, and the B’s see playing three good periods as a starting point for success.
“I think you want to play a consistent 60 minutes,” Chris Kelly said, “and maybe that will be our focus for tomorrow night — coming out and playing all three periods.”
|Gregory Campbell, Bruins know it’s ‘only natural’ to think about Stanley Cup finals||05.24.11 at 6:28 pm ET|
TAMPA — The Bruins are one win away from being somewhere they haven’t been in a long time.
Sure, they have closed out their first two opponents this postseason and are 2-1 in potential series-clinching games, but Wednesday’s Game 6 will be, much like this series has been, uncharted territory. The B’s can advance to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since 1990 with a win. The one-game-at-a-time approach is one from which they’ve benefitted, but given what they’d be playing for if they advanced, the B’s should come out just as hungry for a shot at the Cup as the Lightning will be to stay alive.
“You have that in the back of your mind, and maybe that’s a little bit of motivation just to try to get it done,” forward Rich Peverley said Tuesday in Tampa. “They’re a great team, and we expect nothing but their best.”
While Tim Thomas said after Game 5 that the B’s must view Wednesday as just another game, players would be lying if they said they weren’t thinking about what lies ahead.
“I think it’s only natural to look ahead and to say, ‘this is an opportunity to play in the finals,'” Gregory Campbell said. “For a lot of players on our team, it will be our first time, and if we do make it there, it will probably be the last chance a lot of players will have. It is natural to want to get excited and look ahead.
“I know it’s been said by tons of people, but it’s so important just to play our game well and not really focus on the results. It’s more just how we’re playing. If we’re playing well, good things will happen, but for us to start setting our sights on the next series is usually a dangerous thing to do.”
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