|Bruins getting offensive with the defense||04.24.12 at 10:21 am ET|
For all of the talk – and deservedly so – about Patrice Bergeron finally getting nominated as a finalist for the Selke award for best defensive forward in the game, it’s ironic that the offensive play of the Bruins’ defensemen is a key reason they even find themselves in a Game 7 Wednesday night against the Caps.
“Yeah, they've played well all series, but also I think all year and it's just another aspect of our game that shows right there that we're deep offensively, but also we're deep on defense and throughout the lineup,” Bergeron said Monday. “They've been helping us in this series a lot to just get offense, but also defensively to stop their skilled guys and can't say enough about all of them back there. They all do their job and they all take pride in it.”
Everyone knows about the abilities of Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg in helping to contain Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom. And everyone knows that both of them bring cannons from the point with their slap shots. What fans – and even the Caps – may not have counted on was the offensive contributions of Johnny Boychuk and Andrew Ference.
Boychuck had one of his patented “Johnny Rockets” on a power play to tie Saturday’s Game 5 at 3-3, when time was running down. Sunday, it appeared for all the world that Ference – on “Earth Day” – had given the Bruins the game-winning goal in regulation when he pinched down and scooped up a rebound off a Tyler Seguin shot and put it in the net.
Earlier in the game, it was Ference who smartly read the rush of Patrice Bergeron and Rich Peverley out of the offensive zone circle draw toward the slot and fired a shot that Peverley tipped past Braden Holtby for the game’s first goal.
“I think he's done a great job,” B’s coach Claude Julien said of Ference. “We've always liked Andrew's battle and also for his size and also for the fact that he certainly has good versatility. He moves well, he skates well and again, we keep encouraging our D's to support the attack and go out the ice and he's done a great job of that.”
There is a risk, of course, like when Chara and Seidenberg get caught too far up ice as was the case on Capitals’ goals in Games 3 and 6. In Game 6, the Capitals tied the game, 2-2, when Jason Chimera got behind Seidenberg, who had a broken skate, and beat Tim Thomas.
“Our D's seem to be finding a little bit more balance in this series as we get near the end, between jumping in [and] supporting, and also being reliable defensively we can't forget the fact that this is a team in Washington that's got some guys that can score goals and they love to blow the zone quickly. So we've got to be careful we don't get our D's caught up the ice all the time, but he did a great job [Sunday] at identifying that opening and going up the ice and giving us that lead.”
The Bruins will be relying on that again in Game 7 as they look for every advantage.
|Claude Julien: ‘Maybe in trouble, but we’re not dead’||04.22.12 at 10:50 am ET|
The Bruins know the refrain by now.
The series isn’t over till you win four games.
“Well there's certainly lots of guys in that dressing room that have gone through that and there's some others that are new to our hockey club that have to manage that as good as they can,” Julien said. “A guy like [Brian Rolston], he's got some experience so our guys that we've gotten are experienced guys so I don't see that as an issue. We're down 3-2 in the series and most people will tell you, until they win four games, that's when the series is over. So we've got an opportunity to get back into this series and create a Game 7 and that's what we're going to try to do.”
There were positives from Saturday that the B’s will try to carry over to today in Washington, like Milan Lucic getting in front of the net time and time again in the third period. Lucic’s “jam” in the slot created a point-blank chance for Tyler Seguin with 10 minutes left. Only a superhuman effort by Braden Holtby kept the Bruins from a late lead in their own building.
“There are some good things ' I don't think now's the time to start collaborating all those things with players,” Julien said. “Sometimes you've got to feel that sting a little bit in order to get yourself ready the next day and we'll address that tomorrow certainly before the game. Still a lot of good things that we did tonight and you look at some of the missed opportunities ' Seguin is one, he had grease tonight and those opportunities were there for him, so that's a positive. You wish he would have put some of those in and it's a different outcome. But building on the positives, and as I said, we're maybe in trouble but we're not dead and we're certainly going to make tomorrow a game that's going to create a Game 7 for us.”
Johnny Boychuk finally blew a cannon past Holtby to tie the game on the power play to tie the game, 3-3. He sees a lot of hope.
“I thought we came out really well,” he said. “Again, [Holtby] played extremely well ' he made that one stop and stretched out and got it with his toe. We did play well, but it wasn't good enough. They scored more goals than us and that's the end of the day. We lost the game and [today], we have to win.”
|Johnny Boychuk: ‘So far so good’ after return from knee injury||04.13.12 at 2:20 pm ET|
Without Johnny Boychuk and Andrew Ference playing effectively as the second pairing, the whole operation could fall apart, especially against a team like Washington that spreads its offensive talent to create a more balanced attack.
For that reason, the Bruins should be breathing a sigh of relief. Playing in his first game since spraining his right knee on April 3 against the Penguins, Boychuk handled his return well, helping to shut down Nicklas Backstrom‘s line. He looked so much like himself, in fact, that his partner didn’t even realize he was playing in his first game back from an injury.
“I forgot that was his first game back,” Ference after a pause when asked to assess Boychuk’s return. “Honestly, I did until you just said it. He got those couple of good practices in, and [the fact that he was returning from injury] didn’t even actually cross my mind.”
Ference laughed and added, “I guess that means he did good.”
Boychuk said he felt comfortable Thursday as he logged 17:58 of ice time without feeling especially limited. He said it’s a case of “so far so good,” and overall he was more pleased with how the defense as a whole played.
“In the first two periods we held them to under 10 shots,” he said. “You can’t say more than that. They’re one of the best offensive teams in the league, so if you limit them to under 10 shots in two periods, it’s obviously a good job by the D men and the forwards.”
Said Claude Julien: “He's good. He played well and had a couple good shots from the point and I thought he was a real decent player. He didn't look like a guy that missed any games. I was good with his whole play physically and moving the puck and everything that comes with his game.”
|Claude Julien hopeful Johnny Boychuk (knee) will play in Game 1||04.12.12 at 1:17 pm ET|
Based on this week, it would appear that Boychuk should be ready to return after missing the last two games of the regular season with a sprained knee. He participated in Thursday’s morning skate, marking the fourth straight day he’s been on the ice with the team. In practices and line drills, Boychuk has played on the second pairing with Andrew Ference.
Julien would not reveal the healthy scratch among forwards, but it should be either Jordan Caron or Daniel Paille, as the two have shared the left wing on the fourth line this week in practice.
Here are the Bruins’ lines:
Milan Lucic ' David Krejci ' Rich Peverley
Brad Marchand ' Patrice Bergeron ' Tyler Seguin
Benoit Pouliot ' Chris Kelly ' Brian Rolston
Daniel Paille/Jordan Caron ' Gregory Campbell ' Shawn Thornton
|Proactive Claude Julien says ‘nothing’s changed’ with Adam McQuaid||04.10.12 at 1:05 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Adam McQuaid was once again absent from Bruins practice on Tuesday as he continues to deal with what the team is calling an upper-body injury.
Things got testy between coach Claude Julien and the media Monday regarding the defenseman’s status and what the identity of the injury, and on Tuesday Julien addressed injuries prior to taking questions.
“Guys, before we get going,” Julien said, “Injury update: It’s the same as yesterday. Nothing’s changed, and that’s where we are.”
McQuaid was initially hurt when he went into the end boards head-first in the Bruins' March 29 game against the Capitals on a hit from Capitals winger Jason Chimera. The defenseman cut his eye on the play, which led to swelling. He tried to return last Thursday against the Senators while wearing a visor, but left the game in the second period. The team considers him to be day-to-day.
|Johnny Boychuk does everything as he returns to practice||04.09.12 at 1:37 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Johnny Boychuk‘s sprained knee is feeling better, and that could mean a return to the lineup in time for the playoffs.
The veteran defenseman returned to practice with his teammates Monday, and in addition to feeling good physically said his conditioning has not fallen off since suffering his injury last week against the Penguins.
“I felt good out there,” he said. “Just wanted to get back practicing and see how it feels. It felt pretty good, so I’ll take it day-by-day.”
Boychuk wasn’t held back at all during the practice, as he took regular turns in line rushes and participated in the team’s physical 3-on-3 drills.
“There wasn’t really any limitations,” he said. “I went on the ice a little bit yesterday and it was a little sore, so I tried it out today with some tape and a nice knee brace and it felt better.”
Claude Julien says that Boychuk is still day-to-day, and with three days until the Eastern Conference quarterfinals begin against the Capitals, No. 55 aims to be in the lineup.
“I hope so,” he said. “We’ll see how it feels every day. The main thing is just to come back 100 percent and be at your best.”
The 28-year-old defenseman, who this season was signed to a three-year, $10.08 million extension, admitted that he thought his injury was worse at the time. Boychuk remained down on the ice after trying to hit Penguins forward Aaron Asham and was eventually helped off by teammates.
Said Boychuk: “When you’re on the ice and you’ve never felt that feeling before, you don’t want really want to get up and then ‘what if it was bad and I made it worse by getting up?’ That was the first reaction when I was on the ice at least.”
WILMINGTON — The Bruins held their first practice of the postseason Monday at Ristuccia Arena. Johnny Boychuk (knee) and Tuukka Rask (abdomen/groin) were both present for the skate, while Adam McQuaid (eye) was missing.
The lines are as follows:
Jordan Caron served as the extra forward on the Campbell line. One could assume the final spot in the lineup will come down to Caron and Paille.
Boychuk took regular turns when the Bruins did line rushes early in the skate. Rask was moving around well, taking shots as one of three goaltenders on the ice. Tim Thomas and Anton Khudobin are the other two, as Marty Turco is ineligible because he signed after the trade deadline.