|Bruins not smug about playoff success||04.30.10 at 11:32 am ET|
If the Bruins wanted to, they have every right to puff up their chests and say to every fan and media member in Boston: “Hey, how do you like us now?” After the whole Marc Savard-Matt Cooke situation (both the March 7 hit at the Igloo and the followup at TD Garden on March 18), everybody who pays attention to the B’s just wanted them to go away, fade into NHL playoff oblivion and take two high draft picks in June’s NHL Entry Draft. There was a 10-game losing streak, a record-breaking home losing streak, a paucity of goals and a general melancholy surrounding the so-called Big Bad Bruins that frustrated even the most casual of NHL fans.
So, is there any self-satisfaction being emitted from Bruins camp now that they are hosting an Eastern Conference semifinal series?
“Not at all,” forward Mark Recchi said. “We didn’t deserve it, we weren’t playing well. We weren’t competing like we should have and sure there are going to be some doubters but, you know, we have got a longs ways to go here. We can’t be complacent in that we won one series or that we had a good end of the regular season. We have got to want bigger and better things, and if you do that then good things will happen. If you are happy to just be in the second round, then you are not playing for the right reasons.”
At the other end of the spectrum, the hard times from January through March are one of the reasons the Bruins are in the situation in which they find themselves. To say that just about every game after the 3-0 clunker to the Penguins on March 18 was a playoff game is not much of an exaggeration. Milan Lucic said that it was not an easy time to go through but in retrospect the ire of the Hub helped the team get through the difficult stretch.
“I think that was probably a good thing for us where we hit some adversity like that where we hit such a low,” he said. “I mean, for us to overcome that and end up where we are now we found a way to come together and do that. It is what helps a lot of teams — to be successful is to go through some adversity and with everyone pegging us out, the media was all over us, the fans were all over us to just walk up to bat and do some good, it was just a good thing for us to see and pull through and stick up for each other.”
Did the fans and media really abandon the team? There was weird talk in March, and the buzz around Boston was that people would almost prefer the Bruins not make the playoffs. Fair-weather fans or true blood of black and gold, it is telling when a fan base would rather see a team go away than fight for a championship, no matter how remote the chances are. Yet, TD Garden was (officially if not in reality) sold out every night through the stretch run, with cheers raining from the rafters when the Bruins scored three short-handed goals in 64 seconds against the Hurricanes in the home finale, and boos pounded from the loge after they had been shut out by Panthers backup goaltender Scott Clemmensen a week earlier.
“Even though they may have booed us a couple of times we knew they were still behind us,” Johnny Boychuk said. “It is just one of those things that if we are that bad they are going to let us know, but they still want to see us win. Now that we are starting to do better they are behind us the entire way. Even if we are down a goal or two they are still behind us and we know that.”
Still, though, the frustrating times persisted, and Boston did not wrap up a playoff spot until the final weekend of the regular season (in the aforementioned Hurricanes game). Recchi believes that, for the most part, the team has played consistently, except for maybe the possible clincher in Game 5 in Buffalo.
“At the end [of the regular season] it was better, but there was still some, ‘What team is this?’ You know?” Recchi said. “But it got much better but in the playoffs, I don’t think in Game 5 we were at our best, but I think throughout the six games we were a good hockey club.”
The veteran has been through frustrating teams and disappointing playoffs before. But, based on what he saw last year and the talent in the dressing room through the 2009-10 season, there is no surprise that the team is poised for a second-round tilt with a more than decent chance of looking toward the Eastern Conference finals.
“I knew we had it in here but we just had to bring it out. I never had any doubts about the guys. You know, I just know what is in here,” Recchi said. “That was the frustrating part because you know what is in here and you know we can get it through a couple more notches and we just weren’t doing it consistently. We would do it some nights, but it wasn’t a consistent thing and that was our problem all year.”
|Bruins slam the door on the Sabres||04.26.10 at 9:40 pm ET|
Summary — For the second straight season the Boston Bruins are headed to the Eastern Conference semifinals as they closed out their series against the Sabres with a 4-3 win at TD Garden on Monday night. Tuukka Rask earned the first series-clinching victory of his young career with 27 of saves while Ryan Miller was the loser, allowing four goals on 32 Boston shots.
The Bruins got on the board first with their fifth power play strike of the series. Mark Recchi shot from the right wing with David Krejci in the slot, slightly off-center from Miller. Krejci got enough stick on the puck to change its direction ever so slightly but enough to get it into the net for his second of the series at 13:39. It was the first time in the series that Boston scored the first goal of the game and entered the second period with a lead.
The Bruins took a two-goal lead early in the second period, again on the power play, this time a 4-on-3 with Zdeno Chara, Tim Connolly and Henrik Tallinder in the box. Krejci and Recchi were the culprits again, this time switched around as Krejci used the extra space to pick apart the Sabres triangle defense with a cross through the slot to Recchi on Miller’s doorstep for the pop in goal at 1:01.
The Sabres got one back in second period when an aggressive forecheck led to a couple snap passes to Patrick Kaleta wide open in front of Rask. Kaleta flipped it up and Rask had no chance to make it a 2-1 game at 6:34. The strike was Kaleta’s first of the series.
The teams traded goals within a minute of each other midway through the third period. The first was scored by Krejci on a snap shot to the side of Miller’s crease after receiving the puck from behind the goal line at 7:18. Former Boston College product Nathan Gerbe kept Buffalo’s playoff dream alive by bringing the Sabres back within a goal at 7:40 for his first career playoff strike.
Miroslav Satan got the goal back at 14:49 with his second of the playoffs when he beat Miller off a centering pass from Dennis Wideman that deflected off Milan Lucic as he passed through the crease. Thomas Vanek then brought the Sabres back yet again as Buffalo operated for the last two minutes with an empty net. He beat Rask at 18:47 to push the action to the final seconds of the game.
David Krejci — Opened the scoring with a tip goal passed Miller and put the helped on the second with a zip pass to set up Recchi. He added the game-winner in the third to cap his three-point night.
Mark Recchi — The veteran forward registered his 75th career postseason assist in the first period and scored his third goal of the series in the second. The strike was the 53rd of his playoff career.
Milan Lucic — Got two big assists in the third period for his first playoff points of the year in the Bruins biggest game of the year.
Turning Point – Krejci’s second goal of the game gave the Bruins a cushion that would prove essential as Gerbe brought the Sabres back within a goal 22-seconds later. The puck was pushed from behind the goal line by Milan Lucic to Krejci on the elbow of Miller’s crease for the snap shot goal at 7:18. Gerbe’s goal was unassisted after taking the puck off the half wall and turning with a whipcord to go far side on Rask to keep the Sabres playoff hopes alive.
Key Play – Satan’s goal sealed it as he crashed the net to put a Dennis Wideman centering pass into the net at 14:41 of the third. Lucic had cleared the way for the puck as he passed through the crease moments before and deflected the pass slightly to earn the primary assist on the play, his second of the period.
|Bruins notebook: Recchi open to contract, Rask still steady||04.21.10 at 12:26 pm ET|
The Bruins had an optional morning skate at TD Garden on Wednesday before Game 4, with 10 players participating, including goalie Tim Thomas. Dennis Wideman and non-regular players including Brad Marchand and Andrew Bodnarchuk got some ice time in.
Goaltender Tuukka Rask was not on the ice but spoke with the media in the dressing room about his play through the first three games and how he has handled his first career NHL playoff series.
“It always helps when your ‘D’ blocks shots and makes it easy for you. It has been like that all year,” Rask said. “It is intense, great atmosphere, tight games. It has been pretty much what we have expected. It is just hockey, you don’t want to think about it too much … It is the same [as the AHL playoffs] but different players and a different level. It’s louder but still at the end of the day it is the same game, not too much difference.”
Rask has kept his cool and calm demeanor on and off the ice through the first three games of the series. He has not changed and is not planning to change. When asked if he has played to his own expectations Rask’s answer was smooth and steady.
“You know, I don’t think I have played a great game. I have played on my level and you know, so far it has helped us to win a couple of games but the guys have done a great job in front of me, leaving me so I do not have to play that great game. I just try to save every puck and if that means to play a great game, so be it. But I don’t want to give up those easy goals, you know,” Rask said.
– Coach Claude Julien touched on the power play deficiencies of each team heading into Game 4. So far the Sabres are 0 for 12 while the Bruins are 1 for 6, with the lone goal coming courtesy of Mark Recchi in Boston’s Game 1 loss at HSBC Arena in Buffalo. Julien said it is a matter of making adjustments between games, especially in a long playoff series against a divisional foe that the Bruins have seen nine times so far this season.
They had some power play opportunities, obviously more than us, but you know, both teams have done a great job on the penalty kill. What happens in [the] playoffs too is we forget that you’re playing the same team night after night, so you’re seeing their tendencies and then you’re making adjustments,” Julien said. “We saw that last year, when we were in the playoffs, that it’s harder for power plays to have the success that they’ve had during the regular season because they play one team one night. They play another the next night. Every team has a chance to adjust. You have days in between games and they look at the video and make those adjustments, so it’s not as easy as it is watching and you just make the best you can out of it, and that’s why you’re starting to see teams shoot a lot more when they have those opportunities.”
– Speaking of Recchi, his contract is up at the end of the season and the 42-year-old forward has said repeatedly this season that he has not made a decision about retiring though he is probably leaning towards playing next year. He said that he and general manager Peter Chiarelli have not talked about a contract yet but that the he is open to staying in Boston.
“It has been a good spot for me here, so, yeah,” Recchi said.
Recchi is playing out a $1 million, one-year contract he signed with the team last summer and said that at this point in his career, where he has made close to $50 million in player contracts alone, money is not an issue. He is looking for a good spot to play that will give him playoff opportunities going forward.
– Injured defenseman Dennis Seidenberg began working out on Monday after getting clearance from doctors after severing a tendon in his arm. Seidenberg could not work out before that because of the risk of infection after the surgery. He said he is doing some strength and cardio work but, anything he can do that does not involve the injured arm. Seidenberg, who has a short cast on his arm, said that he will be in the cast for another for two weeks and then a splint for two weeks before starting physical therapy on the forearm. He said his range of movement in the wrist is “about 10 percent” and that would have to significantly improve before he came back.
At this point Seidenberg would be available if the Bruins make the Stanley Cup Finals that would start around the end of May. If that were to happen, Seidenberg joked that he would end up on the bench because the team would have already done so much without him.
“When they get to the Finals without me, I doubt they would play me,” Seidenberg said.
|Recchi on D&H: ‘It would be a big boost getting [Savard] back’||04.20.10 at 2:31 pm ET|
Bruins forward Mark Recchi, one of the heroes of Monday night’s Game 3 victory over the Sabres, joined the Dale & Holley show Tuesday afternoon. Recchi said teammate Marc Savard has been skating longer than the two days that the media found out about this week, and he’s hopeful Savard will return to action soon.
“He actually texted me last week and told me he was actually sneaking on the ice, so I knew it,” Recchi said. “He swore my secrecy, so I wasn’t allowed to to say it. I didn’t even tell any of my teammates. So, I knew he was getting eager and feeling good. It’s great to see him out there. He’s had a couple of hard days of practice [on his own]. I don’t think he likes being out there by himself right now, but hopefully we’ll see him in practice here soon and get him back in the lineup.”
Asked if he thought Savard might return by the end of the Sabres series, Recchi said: “I’m not sure. We’re the last guys to hear when he’s going to play. Like I said, he’s been practicing before us, and he hasn’t been there after. I’m not really sure. The longer it goes, obviously the chances get better, because he is feeling good and he is skating. By the end of this week he’ll have a full week of skating in. So, who knows? … Obviously, it’s going to come down the coach as well, if things are going well, when do you put him in, when’s the right time to do it? Obviously, he’s a tremendous player, and it would be a big boost getting him back.”
As for his own future, Recchi said he feels like he still has some hockey left in his 42-year-old body. “I still love the game, I still love the practice, I still love everything about it, and being in the dressing room with the guys,” Recchi said. “So, at the end of the season I’ll sit down. Obviously, I think I can still play and still help. It’s just a matter of figuring out everything at the end of the year and figuring out what’s best for me and my family.”
Recchi was asked about rookie goaltender Tuukka Rask, who has developed into a young star. Said Recchi: ”He’s right there with all them. This kid is a world-class goalie. His composure for a 22, 23-year-old is incredible. … He made the big saves all year when we needed them, and he continues to do it.”
Recchi said Rask does not get taken out of his game even when he allows a goal. “It doesn’t faze him one bit,” Recchi said. “He’s a very, very competitive kid. He knows, he gets upset at himself, but he’s able to put it aside. … Game 2 in Buffalo, he battled like a bugger. You don’t see it too often, but you could see he was fighting it a little bit, he was fighting the puck. But when a goalie competes as hard as he does and fights it and battles it and is able to make the big saves really when you don’t feel great is a great sign for a young goalie. He came out and we had a great win. And then he was awesome again [Monday] night.”
Recchi reflected on the Bruins’ revenge game against the Penguins March 18 when the fans booed the B’s off the ice. “We were kind of disappointed in the way we played because we came out of that seven-game trip just before that playing great hockey and we really seemed to get more consistent,” Recchi said. “We found a way to be a tougher team to play against every night and a team that is committed to being better. That’s why we went on that good stretch — 8-3-1 in our last 12 games or whatever — to get ourselves in a good position for the playoffs.”
To hear the interview, click on the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
|Bergeron’s goal gives Boston Game 3||04.19.10 at 9:37 pm ET|
Summary — The Bruins and Sabres shifted back to Boston on Monday for Game 3 in their quarterfinal Stanley Cup Playoff series, and Boston went up a game by beating the Sabres 2-1 in front of a sold-out crowd at TD Garden.
Patrice Bergeron got the game-winner for Boston at 12:57 of the third period to put the Bruins on top for good. Tuukka Rask won his second career playoff game 32 saves while Ryan Miller took the loss with 27 stops.
For the third straight game, the Sabres were the first to break the seal with a goal in the first 10 minutes of the first period. This time, forward Michael Grier was the perpetrator after Tim Kennedy pushed the puck forward to him through the neutral zone on the right wing. Grier took a took a snap shot from the top of the circle that Rask could not glove as it passed him far side for the 1-0 lead at 6:57.
Boston came back as the teams’ skated a 4-on-4 after Andrew Ference and Paul Gaustad had gone to their respective penalty boxes at 13:18 with matching roughing calls after a scrum in front of Rask’s net. Matt Hunwick hit center Vladimir Sobotka rushing down the right wing. Sobotka waited long enough to catch Dennis Wideman trailing the play enter the slot and hit him with a pass that the defenseman could one-time on the net to beat Miller stick side at 15:17 to tie the game heading into the second period.
The second period was a see-saw affair that featured 10 penalty minutes (four for Sabres, six for Bruins) and one giant hit by Boston defenseman Johnny Boychuk on Matt Ellis at the blue line that separated the Buffalo forward from the puck. Neither team could take advantage of the power play time and the game headed to the third still tied at one.
Patrice Bergeron — The Bruins center scored his first goal of the playoffs and recorded his second point of the playoffs with the game-winner in the third.
Tuukka Rask — Out-dueled Ryan Miller for the second straight game in stopping 32 shots for his second career playoff win.
Dennis Wideman — Had a hand in two Bruins goals as he tied the game in the first and had the secondary assist on Bergeron’s game-winner.
Turning Point – After about a period and a half of spinning wheels on each side, Boston took the lead in the third period. That’s when Mark Recchi retrieved a loose puck behind the goal line in the corner and snapped it back in front to the bottom of the circle where Bergeron was waiting with a one-timer that Miller had no chance at to send the Bruins towards the victory. On the Sabres next time down the ice, there was a scrum in front of Rask that led to a variety of fisticuffs with Sobotka and Andrej Sekera dropping the gloves. Andrew Ference and Raffi Torres each took 10-minute misconduct penalties while Dennis Wideman and Craig Rivet had matching roughing calls.
Key Play – Rask got pressure in the third and handled a loose puck in his leg pads by just laying on it in the series after the big penalty scrum to foil one of the last chances that the Sabres would get in the game. Rask also made a big save after Miller went to the bench for the extra attacker when Buffalo took a timeout with 44.7 seconds left.
|Miller and Sabres claim Game 1||04.15.10 at 9:43 pm ET|
Summary — Playoff hockey is a different animal than its regular-season cousin. The Bruins and Sabres proved that on Thursday in Game 1 of their quarterfinal Eastern Conference matchup that was won by Buffalo 2-1 at HSBC Arena in Buffalo. (Recap.)
Tuukka Rask made his first career playoff start and allowed the two goals on 32 shots but was out-dueled by veteran superstar Ryan Miller, who made 38 saves in the win.
Thomas Vanek gave Buffalo the early lead at 4:52 in the first period. He was set up by Sabres center Derek Roy, who won the puck coming out of the Buffalo defensive zone and started a break down the right wing. After making the entry, he skated to the top of the faceoff circle and laid the puck up for Vanek, who chose his spot (far side high) on Rask and buried it for the 1-0 lead.
Mark Recchi got the Bruins back into it during a second period in which his team rarely let the puck out of the Buffalo zone. In the second 20 minutes, Boston outshot the Sabres, 24-8. Recchi tied it on a power play (Toni Lydman – cross check, 8:44) when he found the puck bouncing in the slot after a booming one-timer from the point by Zdeno Chara that had been set up off the stick of Matt Hunwick. Patrice Bergeron tangled enough in front of the net to let the puck pass back through traffic on the rebound, and Recchi swept in to put it back on the top shelf at 9:30.
The tie would not last long. Boston was caught sleeping once in the second period, just long enough for Craig Rivet to beat Rask with a slap shot from the top of the right circle for the game-winner. Tim Kennedy set up Rivet with a back pass from the goal line as the Sabres captain came down the wing with a full head of steam at 14:10.
The victory gave the Sabres a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Game 2 is scheduled in Buffalo for Saturday.
Ryan Miller — The likely 2009-10 Vezina Trophy winner and MVP candidate stood tall for Buffalo, especially in the second period, when the Bruins set a record with 24 shots, the most the Sabres have ever allowed in a period in the playoffs.
Mark Recchi – The veteran scored on the power play in the second period for his 51st career postseason goal, good for a tie for second among active NHL players.
Tim Kennedy — The Sabres forward was a pest on the ice all night and totaled a plus-two with an assist on Rivet’s second-period goal.
Turning Point – In the midst of withstanding a 24-shot period by the Bruins, Rivet was able to find enough time (which the Sabres had very little of as Boston controlled the puck all period) and space on the right wing to let loose a slap shot after a back feed by Kennedy. The goal stopped Boston’s momentum just enough to allow the Sabres to catch their breath to finish the period with the lead.
Key Play — With Boston trying to claw back in the game towards the end of the third period, two consecutive hard-luck penalties that sapped any momentum it could have gained. The first was on what looked to be a phantom tripping call on Dennis Wideman when Roy went to the ice with hardly a touch at 13:20. Right after the Bruins killed that penalty, Miroslav Satan accidentally flipped the puck over the boards into the crowd for a delay of game at 15:40 that put Boston on the kill for half of the remaining four minutes.
|Second period summary: Bruins vs. Sabres – Game 1||at 8:46 pm ET|
Maybe the Bruins power play is starting to come back to life.
They scored one in the regular season finale against Washington to break an 0 for 23 funk and then turn around to score on their first opportunity of the postseason after a Toni Lydman cross checking penalty. Mark Recchi found the back of the net off a rebound in the low slot from a Zdeno Chara slap shot from the high slot. The play was set up by a nice touch pass by defenseman Matt Hunwick on the point to give Chara the one-timer that split the Sabres forward penalty killers. Patrice Bergeron did not register and assist on the play, but he should have as his tangling play in front of Ryan Miller helped keep the puck loose from Buffalo defenseman Henrik Tallinder long enough for Recchi to find it and put it home to tie the game at 9:30.
Boston absolutely lived in the Sabres’ zone for most of the period but, outside of the power play strike, did not have much to show for it except a bunch of shots and Recchi’s goal. Then, the moment that the Bruins let their foot off the gas pedal for a minute, Buffalo struck.
It was captain Craig Rivet that did the damage with a back pass assist from Tim Kennedy. Rivet came down the right wing from the point with a head of steam and let go a slap shot at the top of the circle that whittled its way through traffic passed Rask at 14:10.
Boston had another power play opportunity late in the period when Thomas Vanek went for tripping Milan Lucic flying through the neutral zone at 16:28. The Sabres penalty kill was more effective this time around to preserve their 2-1 lead heading into the third.
Boston outshot Buffalo 24 to 8 on the period and lead the game 33 to 20.
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