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Bruins’ power play problems are with execution, not personnel 06.13.11 at 1:33 pm ET
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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.

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Tony Amonte on M&M: Roberto Luongo ‘pumps his own tires enough’ at 12:55 pm ET
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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.”

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Read More: Boston Bruins, Dennis Seidenberg, Gregory Campbell, NHL Stanley Cups Print  |  Email   | Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
Gregory Campbell can’t imagine former teammate Roberto Luongo being malicious 06.12.11 at 1:32 pm ET
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Gregory Campbell says the Roberto Luongo he knows wouldn't purposely insult another goalie. (AP)

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.

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Bruins can’t have one bad period in Game 7 05.26.11 at 11:35 pm ET
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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.”

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Gregory Campbell, Bruins know it’s ‘only natural’ to think about Stanley Cup finals 05.24.11 at 6:28 pm ET
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The Bruins would be lying if they said they weren't thinking ahead. (AP)

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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Bruins/Flyers Game 1 live blog: Gregory Campbell makes it 7-3 04.30.11 at 2:31 pm ET
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Join DJ Bean, Mike Petraglia and others from Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia as the Bruins take on the Flyers in the Eastern Conference semifinals for the second time in as many years. The live blog begins at 2:30.

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Hard for Bruins to get ahead of themselves considering how close it’s been 04.25.11 at 1:00 pm ET
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Gregory Campbell can appreciate how close the games have been. (AP)

One team won two games in a row. Then the other rattled off three straight. For series that has seen such stretches of wins, it’s quite surprising that neither run has exactly featured dominance. It’s been close the whole way.

Looking at the Bruins/Canadiens Eastern Conference quarterfinals series, neither team has necessarily outperformed one another to the point of it being noteworthy. Both teams have scored 12 goals in the series, and neither has won by more than two goals (something that’s only occurred twice). The Bruins, who hold a 3-2 series lead, have a chance to close it out Tuesday, and it’s just how close it’s been that has let them keep the right perspective.

“The last two games have been in overtime and could have gone either way, right? It could have been a totally different series,” Gregory Campbell said of the Bruins’ victories in Games 4 and 5. “Even the first three games were tight as well. We had a lot of chances in the first two games, and in Game 3, they had the lead on us.”

Given their awareness of just how close it’s been, there is no chatter of desired second-round opponents. The B’s know that if they let up even the tiniest bit, the Habs can put their backs to the wall.

“It hasn’t been the case, where you look at other series, and there’s been some games where a team has dominated the other team. That’s not been the case in this series,” Chris Kelly said. “Every game’s been close, and a hard-fought battle right to the end of the game. We don’t expect anything different tomorrow night, and I don’t think they would either.”

With all that having been said, there’s obviously the added factor of desperation. The Habs are playing for their playoff lives, but the Bruins are also taking the must-win approach. That can be a good thing and a bad thing, depending on the way you approach it.

“You don’t want to ever categorize a game where it kind of takes you off your game and makes us tense. You feel everything’s got to be done in the first period and think, ‘we have to get the first goal,’” Campbell said. “I mean, We have to play our game. We have to play like we’ve been playing the last three games. That has included being desperate, that’s included making plays, getting a lot of chances and scoring goals. That’s what we’re going to do tomorrow night.”

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