|Milan Lucic: Penguins are ‘almost like the Miami Heat of the NHL’||05.26.13 at 1:02 am ET|
Now the road gets a lot tougher.
The Bruins enter the Eastern Conference finals against the Penguins as decided underdogs. The Bruins might have the better goalie in Tuukka Rask and may have won the Cup more recently (2011) than the Penguins (2009). But the Penguins have their version of the Big Three in Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jarome Iginla, reminding one player on the Bruins of a powerhouse in the NBA.
“Well, no doubt they’re a great hockey club,” Milan Lucic said after Saturday’s series-clinching 3-1 win over the Rangers at TD Garden. “In my mind, they’re almost like the Miami Heat of the NHL with all the star power they’ve got. Probably the two best players in the world and a 40-goal scorer and the former 50-goal scorer, a future Hall of Famer and a Norris Trophy candidate on their team.
“So, they definitely have a lot of weapons, and in saying all that, I think what makes them successful is they play real well as a team and I think that’s what you’re going to probably see going into this next series, is two well-rounded teams going at it, and for us we’ve got to be ready and excited for the challenge.”
Lucic and the Bruins proved they can beat at least one NHL superstar in the playoffs by dispatching of Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers in five games.
“It was big for us,” Lucic said. “I think the mindset in this room was that we didn’t want to be denied and we knew that he was going to be the best player on their team, and he was in this series for them and he kept a couple of games closer. He stopped me four good times here tonight, but he’s a great goaltender for a reason and he played well and like I said we did whatever we could to try to get to him and we were able to do that.”
What will be the key to beating the Penguins?
“We just got to play a strong team game and play to our strengths,” Lucic said. “We’re a team that plays in-your-face-type of hockey and I think what worked for us this series was we were able to establish our forecheck, and we’ve got to keep doing that, and they’re a team that you don’t want to turn the puck over against because they have more than enough weapons to make you pay for it. So, puck management is going to be huge for us, and in saying all that, I think tonight and tomorrow we need to enjoy what we accomplished so far in the playoffs.”
Claude Julien wanted no part of talking about Pittsburgh, preferring to bask in the glow of eliminating the Rangers, reflecting the mood of most inside the Bruins dressing room not named Milan Lucic.
“I’m not going to talk about the Penguins tonight, we just finished against the Rangers. I’ll stick to that, if you don’t mind,” Julien said.
John Tortorella has no such problems giving his opinion about Boston’s chances.
“I think Boston has a really good chance,” Tortorella said. “I think Claude and that staff has done a heck of a job with their club. I can’t believe some of the people, how they second-guess him, just being in the city for a few days, and the type of job he’s done here. That’s a good team. They’re very well-coached, and they’re seasoned. They’ve been through it before, and I give them a lot of credit, as far as what they’ve done with their club. They’re a good hockey team.”
|John Tortorella: Bruins ‘were the better team’||05.25.13 at 9:15 pm ET|
Following the Bruins’ Game 5 victory to advance to the Eastern Conference finals, Rangers coach John Tortorella said that the Bruins deserved the bid to advance more than the Rangers.
“They deserved to win,” Tortorella said. “They were the better team. They deserved to win.”
Tortorella, who has been something of a polarizing figure throughout the series and could be on the hot seat, praised Bruins coach Claude Julien, adding that he “can’t believe” that the coach is second-guessed by the local or national media.
Up next for the Bruins are the Penguins, with Tortorella saying “Boston has a really good chance.”
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Marc Savard: Rangers should fire John Tortorella||05.23.13 at 6:28 pm ET|
NEW YORK — Speaking of super weird tweets, Marc Savard thinks John Tortorella should get fired:
— marc savard (@MSavvy91) May 23, 2013
The tweet came in response to Tortorella’s decision to make Brad Richards a healthy scratch for Game 4 against the Bruins. This would technically qualify as trash talk, as Savard is still under contract with the Bruins through 2017, though his career is effectively over due to concussions.
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Rangers’ Brad Richards a healthy scratch for Game 4||at 11:53 am ET|
NEW YORK — With the Rangers on the brink of elimination, John Tortorella is sitting embattled center Brad Richards, the slumping scorer revealed Thursday after staying out on the ice following the team’s morning skate.
Richards, who is earning $12 million this season in the second year of his nine-year, $60 million deal (carrying a cap hit of $6.66 million), has skated on the fourth line in the first three games of the conference semifinals against the Bruins. He has no goals this postseason after scoring 11 in the regular season.
Richards said Tortorella called him Thursday morning to tell him he would not be playing.
|John Tortorella has no use for a pregame press conference||at 11:00 am ET|
NEW YORK — Maybe it’s the pressure of being down 3-0 to a superior team. Maybe it’s the fact he knows his team is cooked. Or maybe, just maybe, John Tortorella has absolutely nothing of value to say to reporters hours before a game that could end his season and his tenure with the Rangers.
Whatever the reason, Tortorella needed just 19 seconds Thursday to dismiss any questions from reporters before his team’s morning skate here at Madison Square Garden.
Reporters asked just two questions and then became hushed.
Here were the two questions and answers:
Any update on defenseman Anton Stralman, after he was knocked out of Game 3 in the third period?
“No. No updates,” Tortorella said.
What do you tell your team before a game like this?
“I’ve talked to them. I don’t need to talk about it here,” he responded.
After six seconds of silence, Tortorella uttered the word “OK” and exited stage right.
Game 4 is Thursday night (CNBC, 7 p.m.).
|Bruins can’t ease up with series lead like they did in first round||05.21.13 at 1:40 pm ET|
NEW YORK — Did the Bruins learn their lesson in the first round?
The lesson that they, as a Cup-winning team that had been embarrassed by a blown 3-0 series in the past, probably didn’t need taught to them? The lesson that nearly led to them being eliminated by Toronto and having their roster and coaching staff shaken up?
The lesson, of course, is that you never take a lead in a series for granted. You don’t go up in a series and assume that it’s won, and you don’t give your opponent any chance to get back in the series. The Bruins broke all those rules in the first round against the Maple Leafs, when they took a 3-1 lead and let Toronto force a seventh game with consecutive wins.
It took a monumental collapse from the Maple Leafs late in Game 7 for the Bruins to survive that and get through to the second round. Now that they’ve taken a 2-0 series lead on the Rangers, that killer instinct that wasn’t there before needs to start kicking in.
“I think we need to be aware with them being down, 2-0, and realize that they’re going to be a lot better,” Daniel Paille said Tuesday. “We felt that we had two strong games, but we can always improve. We don’t want to do too much, just add a little bit more effort and add a little bit more grit.”
Keep in mind that the Rangers dropped the first two games of their first-round series against the Capitals before storming back and winning it in seven. They’ve been in this position before and they’ve survived it, so the B’s had better expect a big push from John Tortorella‘s squad.
“We don’t want to lose two games here,” the Rangers coach said after New York dropped Game 2 on Sunday. “No one does. But there’s no give in the team. There will be no give in this team. Again, we need to go win a game. Not look anywhere else, just try to win our first home game this series.”
The good news for the Bruins is that they have swept two of the last three series in which they’ve held a 2-0 lead. They swept the Canadiens in 2009 and swept the Flyers in 2011, but sandwiched in there was their embarrassing seven-game elimination against the Flyers after holding a 3-0 series lead. While they haven’t won the first two games of a series since sweeping the Flyers, the only time they’ve held a two-game lead in a series since was this month against the Maple Leafs.
That means two of the last four series in which the B’s have held a two-game lead have resulted in sweeps, but the other two series have gone to seven games. They lost one of those series and they should have lost the other, so the B’s shouldn’t feel too satisfied just because they’ve got some breathing room.
“Obviously this is a huge game for both teams,” Chris Kelly said. “Killer instinct? I think we just want to go out and play well, play a solid 60 minutes and worry about our game and see what happens.”
|Shawn Thornton on D&C: ‘Those defensemen are playing unbelievable’||05.20.13 at 10:16 am ET|
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning to talk about the B’s-Rangers series.
The Bruins took a 2-0 series lead with Sunday’s 5-2 victory, as Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers continued to play below par.
“I think they had their chances, to tell you the truth,” Thornton said. “I think the second period, it could have went either way. We were fortunate to get out of that with the lead. It could have been a different game if Tuukka [Rask] didn’t stand on his head for us in the second period.”
The big story of this series has been the play of the Bruins’ young defensemen, Torey Krug, Matt Bartkowski and Dougie Hamilton, who have sparked the Bruins with their fresh legs.
“Those defensemen are playing unbelievable,” Thornton said. “Torey Krug, obviously — not just the goal and the assist, those are great plays — but there were some plays he made that probably went unnoticed during the game that made our lives as forwards a heck of a lot easier. Some of the vision he has and some of the plays he made look easy, but they weren’t really easy plays, especially in the neutral zone.”
Thornton said he hasn’t thought much about what will happen when injured defensemen Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ference and Wade Redden are ready to return.
“I don’t know what the timeline is for those guys, but I’m sure Claude [Julien] will have some decisions to make once everyone’s healthy,” Thornton said. “Not easy decisions, I’m sure, but good decisions. It’s nice when you have that many options. It’s better than the opposite, when you’re like, ‘Oh, my God, we can’t find anyone to put in the lineup.’ ”
As for the possibility of hard feelings if a veteran sits in favor of a rookie, Thornton insisted it won’t be issue.
“Not in our locker room,” he said. “I’ve been that veteran guy squeezed out of the lineup for the playoffs. It’s all about winning this time of year. There’s no time for any personal feelings or agendas. It’s all about the team. We have a good bunch of guys in that room, and everyone’s aware of it.”
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