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Why Tim Thomas vs. James van Riemsdyk is the best show in this series 05.04.11 at 11:15 am ET
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One player nearly evened the series by himself. The other put on perhaps the best pressure goaltending performance of these Stanley Cup playoffs.

James van Riemsdyk had to settle for scoring twice and watching his Flyers fall into another 2-0 hole against the Bruins while dominating every shift he was on the ice.

Tim Thomas saved 52 of 54 shots, including all 10 in overtime, as he single-handedly made sure van Riemsdyk and the Flyers came to Boston in another desperate situation.

Tonight, the two of them will be asked by their teammates to keep it up in this Eastern Conference semifinal series.

Looking back at Game 2, there were several moments that could have put an entirely different perspective on Game 3 tonight. If JVR beats Thomas with six minutes remaining in regulation on a break in on net, the Flyers win. If JVR beats Thomas on a phenomenal shot off a faceoff with just over four seconds remaining in regulation, the Flyers win. If Thomas doesn’t make a save on Philly’s No. 21 on a clean look from the left circle 10 minutes into OT, the Flyers win.

Thomas was ready for every possible scenario on Monday, including that dramatic end of regulation, which also saw Danny Briere miss by a hair of putting Thomas’ save on van Riemsdyk into the net for the game-winner.

“This is one of the most dangerous faceoff teams in the offensive zone or our defensive zone that we play against,” Thomas said. “They have a lot of different things that they do. They actually already scored once this series in the first game on a play. So I knew even with a few seconds left that the faceoff could be dangerous.

“The way it worked out it came off the faceoff and for just a second there it went behind a screen for me and I found it just as the guy was throwing the first shot to the net but I saw it so late that I couldn’t control the rebound. I saw the rebound go over to Danny Briere’s feet and in that one hundredth of a second I thought it might be over because he’s one of those guys that gets them and you know. He fumbled it for just a second, just long enough for Seidenberg to dive over and block one. I was still waiting for that buzzer and I don’t know if by the time it hit me if the buzzer had gone off or not but it was relief when the buzzer happened.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, James Van Riemsdyk Print  |  Email   | Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
Bruins-Flyers: Three points heading into Game 3 at 6:58 am ET
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Everyone knows what happened after Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals last year: a Flyers Game 4 victory followed by three more in what ended up being one of the most devastating ends to a season in Bruins history.

Tim Thomas and David Krejci have shined for the Bruins vs. the Flyers. (AP)

This time around, the Bruins have set about righting that wrong, if it’s possible, and they’re off to the best start they could have through two games: a 2-0 series lead. Even if they take Game 3, it won’t be anything new for a team that was in the same position a year ago, but they’ll be sitting pretty.

It looks like they’ll have to play Game 3 without Adam McQuaid, as the rookie defenseman sprained his neck trying to hit Mike Richards in Game 2. Expect Shane Hnidy to be in his place for the veterans second game this postseason. Hnidy played just 4:13 in Game 2 of the quarterfinals vs. the Canadiens when he filled in for an ill Zdeno Chara.

Injuries and substitutions aside, Wednesday’s game is a pivotal one. As the B’s saw last week, winning Game 3 when you’re down 2-1 can change plenty, and that’s what the Flyers will aim to do. On the other hand, if the B’s can grab a 3-0 series lead, they’ll be in good position to do what 99% of teams do with 3-0 leads. Here are a few quick points on where things stand entering a big game at the Garden:

KREJCI REMAINS KEY

Sure, the L’s didn’t start coming until game four, but the Bruins suffered a major loss in Game 3 last season when David Krejci broke his wrist. Without Krejci, the B’s weren’t the same team, and it had a lot to do with why Philadelphia was able to crawl back to make it a series.

This year, and after a pedestrian first round vs. the Canadiens, Krejci has been as a big a force as anyone else (except for perhaps Tim Thomas) through two games. After having difficulty finishing plays vs. the Habs, Krejci has lit up the Flyers to the tune of five points in two games, including the game-winner in overtime in Monday’s Game 2.

With Marc Savard making only a 25-game cameo, Krejci was the de facto top center on the team most of the year, yet he didn’t always play like it. Krejci’s a guy who runs hot and cold, but he’s showing that he’s using the right faucet when it counts.

The Bruins aren’t going to sit back and play the “what if” game with what they could have done with a healthy Krejci last year, but so far they’re finding out what they can do with him this year.

THE WINNING WAY: CIRCUMVENTING REGULATION, POWER PLAY?

Four overtime games, zero power play goals, and only one win in which they’ve outshot their opponent. Those are some of the interesting details of the Bruins’ postseason thus far, but they’ll take the results.

The B’s are in no way welcoming more OT games, but given that they’ve won all four they’ve played so far, they’ve got to like the reputation they’ve developed. Contests like Game 2 are ones they most certainly won’t win every time, as Thomas faced 32 shots in the third period and overtime, while the B’s mustered just 12 shots. As they say, a win’s a win. You’d think the B’s would just rather win the way they did in the 7-3 fashion in which they took Game 1.

As for the power play, the mystery of when “the streak” will finally end (they’re at 0-for-29 thus far in the playoffs), is growing in legend. Will it get to 30? 35? It looked better late in the second period Tuesday, and perhaps with the confidence of winning will come the confidence to get this ugly streak out of their heads. The B’s just need to make sure their power play looks more like it did in Game 2 than it did in Game 1, when the Flyers were easily gaining possession and sending it the length of the ice.

THOMAS HAS BEEN IN OCTOBER FORM IN THE PLAYOFFS

Blaming the goaltender would be absurd, but it would be fair to say after the first two games of the quarterfinals that Thomas wasn’t quite where he was earlier in the regular season. The rebounds were big, and the Habs were game-planning around them. Since then, the B’s netminder has played to the lights-out standard he set way back in October. The line of thinking back then was that if the Bruins could get that kind of performance in the postseason, they’d be tough to beat. Well, they’ve gotten that performance, and they sure are tough to beat.

As Brad Marchand pointed out after Game 2, the Bruins had no business winning that game. The Flyers came out harder, played a fantastic game and got 54 shots on Thomas. Yet Thomas was the exception to the rule that if a team can come out flying at home, they should win.

Consider that James van Riemsdyk, who had two goals in the first 9:31 of Game 2 but was stopped on his following bids, should have had even more than the hat trick he didn’t get (we make too many Ovechtrick jokes in this space, explaining the absence of an obvious reference here), but Thomas shut him down on a night nobody else could. Regardless of what an opposing team can throw out there, it seems Thomas, when at his best, trumps all. He may not have the numbers from the first month of the season, but he is playing like it and giving the B’s a great chance to win each night.

Wednesday, it will be interesting to see how each team comes out. The Flyers should be desperate to avoid a 3-0 deficit, but it would be hard to top the effort they gave in Game 2. The Bruins should come out stronger if they don’t want to leave it up to their goaltender again. Even if it does fall in Thomas’ hands, he proved in Game 2 that he can handle it.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Brad Marchand, David Krejci, James Van Riemsdyk Print  |  Email   | Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
David Krejci wins it for Bruins in OT 05.02.11 at 10:42 pm ET
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PHILADELPHIA — It took some extra time and some extra nail-biting, but the Bruins grabbed a 2-0 series lead over the Flyers in the Eastern Conference semifinals Monday thanks to a 3-2 overtime victory. David Krejci scored the game-winner at 14:00 of the first overtime period. It was Krejci’s third goal the last two games, and the Bruins’ fourth overtime victory this postseason.

The Flyers jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the game’s first 10 minutes thanks to a pair of goals from James van Riemsdyk. The 21-year old beat Tim Thomas 29 seconds into the contest to give the Flyers the lead, and he followed it at 9:31 with a power play goal.

The B’s would come roaring back, as Chris Kelly put a puck past Brian Boucher with traffic in front of the net at 12:50, with Brad Marchand scoring 1:25 later. The teams played to a scoreless second period, though Boucher would leave with an apparent hand injury after from a Johnny Boychuk slap shot. Boucher was replaced by Sergei Bobrovsky for the remainder of the period, but would return in the third and play the rest of the game.

Thomas made 42 saves in regulation, while Boucher stopped 28. Bobrovsky saved all six shots he saw.

The teams will now head to Boston, where they will play Games 3 and 4 at TD Garden on Wednesday and Friday, respectively.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- The Bruins have trailed by multiple goals on the road twice this postseason, and have come back to tie it in both instances. The B’s trailed by a pair in the second period of Game 4 of the quarterfinals vs. the Canadiens and went on to win the game in overtime, and once they got going, they needed less than three minutes to come back from the Flyers’ 2-0 lead in the first period.

- This is some start to the series for Marchand. After totaling an impressive five points in the Montreal series, the rookie has four points, including three goals, in the first two contests of the quarterfinals. His goal on Monday was a big one, as his snipe on a wrist shot in the first period tied the game at two. He did have one of the occasional moments that comes with his play when he took a cross-checking penalty 3:21 into the third period.

- Chris Kelly can say he hates his cage all he wants, but the fact of the matter is that he’s had six points in six games since first donning in in Game 4 of the quarterfinals vs. the Canadiens. It’s either a good-luck charm or perhaps there’s far more to Kelly than was initially seen when the B’s traded for him in February.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- Adam McQuaid left the game in the first period and did not return. The rookie defenseman went to hit Mike Richards in the Boston zone, but it seem his stick hit Richards’ skate, causing him to trip over it and go head-first into the boards. He was taken to Jefferson Hospital for evaluation. If he is unable to play in Game 3, you can expect Shane Hnidy — unless Steve Kampfer is ready to return.

- The Flyers really applied the pressure in the third period, with 22 shots begin fired on Tim Thomas. Luckily for the Bruins, their netminder was up for the challenge and shut down many serious bids from Philadelphia. The B’s had seven shots in the third period.

- JVR has been a thorn in Boston’s side, and there’s no question about it. The 21-year-old New Jersey native has scored three goals in the first two games of the series, even after Thomas stoned him on a 2-on-1 with Nikolay Zherdev in Game 1. The UNH product has now scored in four straight games, and three straight playoff games against the Bruins. He had the goal late in the first period of Game 7 against the B’s that started the Flyers’ comeback.

The flashy play from van Riemsdyk wasn’t limited to just his scoring. He had a boat-load of opportunities for the Flyers Monday on a night in which he was clearly the best player on the ice. Among his chances was a breakaway in which he missed the net with Dennis Seidenberg giving chase.

- Speaking of defensemen, Zdeno Chara most definitely gave Danny Briere a little extra something in front of the Bruins’ bench with 2:39 remaining in the game, going off for roughing and giving the Flyers a big power play at the wrong time.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Brad Marchand, Brian Boucher, Chris Kelly Print  |  Email   | Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
Bruins/Flyers Game 2 Live Blog: Headed to overtime at 6:59 pm ET
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Join DJ Bean, Mike Petraglia live from Wells Fargo Center (as well as a cast of others) as the Bruins take on the Flyers in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Brian Boucher, Chris Pronger, James Van Riemsdyk Print  |  Email   | Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
James van Riemsdyk proud to be an American amidst bin Laden news at 11:43 am ET
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Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk

PHILADELPHIA — The Flyers have a game to focus on Monday night, but the morning after it was learned that Osama bin Laden had been killed, Philadelphia forward and New Jersey native and former UNH Wildcat James van Riemsdyk couldn’t help but think back to what it was like as a youngster as the events of Sept. 11, 2001, unfolded.

“I remember exactly where I was when everything happened,” van Riemsdyk, 21, said Monday. “I remember being in middle school, sixth grade. I think I was at lunch at the time — that’s when we first found out — and they didn’t want to tell us what happened, but there were rumors going around the school, and then we got home. To see all the stuff that had happened, it was just a terrible thing. It was just a very tough time.

“There was a buzz about it, and I think right before I went home, we heard about what happened. I actually had a computer class, and they told us to stay off the Internet, but I was pretty eager and curious to see what happened and go on CNN.com to hear what had happened.”

A friend of van Riemsdyk’s lost his father in the terrorist attacks, as he was at the World Trade Center at the time, while two people from his home town of Middletown, N.J., also were killed.

“There was a big memorial in our town that they did a pretty nice job on,” van Riemsdyk said. “It definitely affected a lot of people close to me. … It was definitely a sad day. A lot of good people died that day, but it’s good that some justice finally came out of it now.”

The winger, who has represented the United States in international play in multiple competitions, including winning the gold with the U.S. under-18 team in 2006, said his father could see the events unfold from where he worked. Frans van Riemsdyk was one of the first people he spoke to Monday morning.

“They saw the second plane come cruising in,” he said. “They thought it was like an accident at first. No one knew what was going on, and then you see this plane take a direct course [toward the World Trade Center]. It was a pretty crazy thing.”

A day after chants of “USA” broke out at Citizens Bank Park during Sunday night’s Phillies-Mets game, JVR can only imagine what the atmosphere will be like for the Flyers’ pregame tradition of “God Bless America,” a duet sung by Lauren Hart with a video of the late Kate Smith.

“The fans and the atmosphere should be great for that part of the game,” van Riemsdyk said. “It’s a proud day in our history, you could say now, is the day that this guy was brought to justice. At that point last night, I know hockey was put on the back burner for a second there when you kind of think of all the things that have been affected and all the people close to you that maybe lost someone. It’s obviously a good thing that all this came to justice last night.”

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Bruins trail Flyers after two 12.11.10 at 8:36 pm ET
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James van Riemsdyk scored his fifth goal of the season, a wrester off the glove of Tim Thomas at 18:39 of the second period, and the Flyers lead the Bruins, 2-0 at the second intermission.

With Adam McQuaid and Jody Shelley both chasing an iced puck in the Bruins’ zone, Shelley pushed McQuaid — clearly the winner of the foot-race — and the defenseman’s momentum took him right into the boards, where he remained motionless for a few moments.

Shelley was handed a five-minute major penalty for hitting from behind and a 10-minute game misconduct. McQuaid returned to the ice later in the period.

The B’s outshot the Flyers, 13-7, in the second and lead them in shots, 22-17.

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Game 7 was nice, but James van Riemsdyk’s first impression of the Garden was a bad one at 2:49 pm ET
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Don’t get James van Riemsdyk wrong: he was plenty happy with the results the last time he was at the Garden, but that doesn’t mean the place has always been good to him.

James van Riemsdyk, who sparked the Flyers' Game 7 comeback, played in Hockey East for two years. (AP)

Prior to Philadelphia’s morning skate on Saturday, van Riemsdyk’s most recent experience on the Garden ice was celebrating the Flyers’ 4-3 comeback victory in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, something he called a “surreal” experience. The 21-year-old scored perhaps the biggest goal of his career when he put the Flyers on the board in the first period with his team trailing, 3-0.

In the regular season last year, his rookie campaign, van Riemdsyk scored a goal in his two games in Boston. So what gives for the former second overall pick? His stats have been fine when playing in Boston and he won one of the biggest games he’ll likely ever play in there.

The bad memory for JvR dates back to college, when he was playing under coach Dick Umile at the University of New Hampshire.

“I know that in college, we played one game in this building and it wasn’t very nice to us,” van Riemsdyk said Saturday.

For van Riemsdyk, whose brother, Trevor, will play defense at UNH in the fall, it was certainly a memorable one. Unlike in last season’s playoffs, van Riemsdyk found himself on the wrong end of a three-goal comeback. With a trip to the Hockey East championship at stake, UNH jumped out to a 4-1 lead before relinquishing it in the third period and falling, 5-4, to Boston College in triple overtime.

The game was one of the more dramatic college hockey contests in recent memory. Eagles forward Matt Greene appeared to win it for BC in overtime when Wildcats netminder Kevin Regan skated out to play a puck and had his mask knocked off in colliding with Benn Ferriero, leaving him well out of his net to set up the easy goal. Yet after an irate protest from Regan and a video review, the play was ruled no goal, as his mask was off seconds before Greene put the puck in.

Ferriero ended it for good in the third overtime when his shot from the point tipped off UNH defenseman Craig Switzer and in. It was the longest semi-final game in Hockey East history.

Of course, he was singing a different tune after Game 7 last year. After Milan Lucic scored his second goal of the night to make it 3-0, van Riemsdyk recalls the Flyers’ attitude as being pretty atypical of what one might expect given the situation.

“It was kind of a weird thing, because usually you would think that everyone would be panicked and saying, ‘Oh no,’ but everyone was pretty calm. We knew that when we played our game, we were tough to play against, so we just regrouped,” van Riemsdyk said. “Coach [Peter Laviolette] called a timeout, we regrouped, and started playing the game we knew how to play.”

What the team went on to do was something few thought possible. Though he was new to the league, van Riemsdyk could see that.

“That was a lot of fun for us, I’m sure not so much for them,” he said of the game. “We never quit, we gave ourselves a chance every night, and it’s just incredible to think about it.”

Things haven’t been stellar for the New Jersey native this season. After getting off to a disappointing start of four points — all assists — in his first 13 games, van Riemsdyk was benched for four games. Since returning to the lineup, he’s had seven points (4 G, 3 A) in 13 contests

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