|Bruins probably hope second time’s a charm for Andrew Ference||06.14.11 at 11:11 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference may be playing for his first Stanley Cup championship, but Wednesday night in Vancouver won’t be his first Game 7 of the finals. Ference has been one win away from the Cup before, but it wasn’t as memorable an experience as he would have hoped.
Ference and his Flames led the Lightning, three games to two, in the 2004 Stanley Cup finals before Tampa Bay took Game 6 in double overtime to force a seventh game. In that decisive contest, Ference led all Calgary skaters in ice time, but with the Flames trailing, 2-1, in the third period, he took a charging penalty with 1:01. The Lightning held on to seal Game 7 and hoist the Cup at St. Pete Times Forum.
Asked Tuesday at Rogers Arena whether being in another Game 7 with the Cup on the line, Ference wasn’t his generally elaborate self, saying he hasn’t given much thought to the way things panned out last time he got the chance.
“You don’t have to block [the memories] out,” Ference explained. “It was a long time ago. I don’t know. You obviously remember it and stuff like that, but it’s not really on my mind.”
Like the Bruins this year, the 2004 Flames had to deal with a seven-game series more than once. Ference’s squad opened that postseason as the No. 6 seed and defeated the No. 3 Canucks in seven. They then eliminated the Red Wings and Sharks (both in six games), to reach the finals and eventually come one victory away from wining it all.
Coming as close as he did to winning it in ’04 doesn’t give the 32-year-old Edmonton native any more motivation to winning the Cup. Though he’s been so close he could taste it before, he never felt the urge to close out the series was lacking. He just learned the hard way that one team wins, and one team loses.
“I had all the motivation last time as well,” Ference said. “Sometimes it shakes out the right way for you, and sometimes it doesn’t. I don’t think the approach is any different or the desire is any stronger. It’s the same. You just hope that the team that you’re on puts it together.”
Ference, like Mark Recchi, can use their experience in the final game of the postseason to prepare guys who haven’t been there before. The second-pairing blue-liner likes to think he’s helped his teammates get ready for it all year.
“You talk about it all year. You become friends with people on your team,” he said. “It’s not like you just start talking about these things when you’re in the situation. You live together all year and spend so much time together that stuff like that is always talked about.”
After Wednesday night, perhaps Ference won’t have any pointers left to give his teammates. If they’re all Stanley Cup champions, they’ll be on the same page.
|Brad Marchand is a rat’s rat||at 7:50 am ET|
If the Canucks were hoping that Brad Marchand would wilt as a rookie under the pressure of his first playoff experience, they obviously did not judge or scout him nearly close enough.
And there’s no reason to think Marchand is about to crumble under the pressure of the first Stanley Cup finals Game 7 in Bruins history.
“We have to make sure that we have a good start. And they just seem to get so much momentum and energy off their crowd and we just have to find a way to counter that and come out strong,” said Marchand sounding every bit the veteran of 24 playoff games.
When he scored in the Game 3 blowout of the Canucks, he referred to the fact that he is considered the modern-day “rat” of the Bruins, a nickname lovingly bestowed on Ken Linseman for being the bur in the side of every opponent. It’s a nickname that he continues to wear with pride as he proved again to the Canucks on Monday.
When he wheeled in and took a puck off the boards from Mark Recchi he showed no hesitation snapping off a wrister that beat Roberto Luongo over the goalie’s left shoulder just 5:31 into Game 6.
“I was there, it was a good shot but I have to make that save,” Luongo said. “He put it where he wanted but I have to make a save there.”
“We weren’t too worried about that in here,” Marchand said of Luongo’s talk after Game 5. “He can say what he wants to say. We were just trying to focus on playing this game so we got a couple early, and you know, obviously they switched the goaltenders up. Obviously he’s bounced back every game and I expect the same thing back in Vancouver.” Read the rest of this entry »
|If this is it, Mark Recchi finishing his career strong||at 4:48 am ET|
Bruins alternate captain Mark Recchi said it during the season: if the Bruins win the Stanley Cup, he’s done. He’ll close the book on a historic career and retire.
With the Bruins one game away from winning it all, Recchi could very well be in the final days of his career. He’s won the Cup twice already, having hoisted it with the Penguins in 1991, and against with the Hurricanes. This might be the last time he’s come this far, and he knows from experience that it’s worth savoring. Especially with this team.
“That’s the great thing about it. You know, I was fortunate to win one early in my career,” the 43-year-old said after recording three assists in the Bruins’ 5-2 win Monday. “From ’06 when I won in Carolina to every playoff I’ve played in after that, I’ve been able to embrace it and enjoy it and watch how guys react and watch how they’re acting and enjoy the experience of seeing guys go through the firsts.
“It’s neat and you’re able to do that. I’ve been doing that for a number of years now and it’s been just a great, great year this year for me. [It's been] great from the get-go with this group of guys. You knew there was something special right from the first time we got together. When we went over to Prague, we knew we had something good there.”
It’s unclear what Recchi will do if the Bruins do not the Cup this year. In a scenario in which he hung them up regardless of the series’ result, Monday could have been his last game had the Canucks won.
“It crosses my mind, but, you know, I have a job to do out there for the guys and I can’t put those thoughts in my head,” Recchi said of thinking about playing in his last game. “I’m going to lay it on the line one more time and see where it takes me after that.
“No matter what, it’s been a great 22 years, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. This has been one of my best ones, regardless of what happens and I’m just still proud to play in the NHL. I love playing hockey and love being in the NHL and I think it’s the greatest sport out there.”
Perhaps there’s something to be said for Recchi finishing strong. He has six points (three goals, three assists) the last five games. The next one might be is last. If it is, Bruins fans should consider themselves fortunate to observe a player who is a winner above all else.
|Barry Melrose on M&M: ‘Boston has to win this game to have a chance of winning this series’||06.08.11 at 2:45 pm ET|
ESPN hockey analyst Barry Melrose joined the Mut & Merloni show Wednesday afternoon to talk about the Stanley Cup finals and Wednesday night’s Game 4. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
When asked if he would be sitting with the Green Men at the game, Melrose joked: “I stay away from the Green Men. I can’t even believe they got into the country. I’m a little embarrassed about letting those guys in.”
He added: “We keep al-Qaida out, but we let these two guys in? What’s that all about?”
Melrose said that the finger-taunting in Game 3 has helped made this series an exciting one. However, it may come back to bite Boston in Game 4.
“I think [Alexandre] Burrows should’ve been suspended,” Melrose said. “I said that from Day 1. I think that if he would’ve been suspended that would’ve put away the finger crap. But I like the finger stuff. I thought it was funny. I had some fun with it. It’s interesting. Five years from now when we’re talking about this series, what are we going to talk about? We’re going to be talking about that stuff with the fingers and [Milan] Lucic and Burrows and stuff like that. I have no problem with that. It’s interesting. But, the NHL doesn’t want it.
“Obviously, the referees are going to crack down tonight. They’re going to be reffing very close to their vest. I think that favors Vancouver. Boston’s got to be aggressive. They’ve got to be physical. And the referees are going to be told to call everything, so we might see a lot of penalties tonight.”
|Mike Murphy hopes to do away with post-Alexandre Burrows finger ‘crap’||06.07.11 at 2:00 pm ET|
NHL vice president of hockey operations Mike Murphy met with the media Tuesday at Walter Brown Arena to discuss the league’s disciplinary actions in the Stanley Cup finals. Murphy suspended Canucks defenseman Aaron Rome for four games due to a late hit that ended Nathan Horton‘s series, something he viewed as a bad situation for the game given that the finals lost two players.
While Murphy’s decision on Rome has been well-received by people throughout the game, the league has been under heat since electing to not suspend Canucks forward Alexandre Burrows for biting Patrice Bergeron in Game 1. Since then, Burrows factored into all three Canucks’ goals in a Vancouver win in Game 2, while players from both teams have waved their fingers at one another and stuck their fingers in one another’s mouths, mocking the play on which Bergeron cut his finger and had to receive a tetanus shot.
Murphy said Tuesday that his intention is for such actions, for which Mark Recchi and Milan Lucic were criticized by Claude Julien, to stop.
“We made the right decision on Alex Burrows,” Murphy said. “We spoke with Alex, but I’m not here to speak about that. I dealt with that. We’ve moved on past that.
“We will deal with the issues of the series, the choppiness that’s gone on. [Senior vice president of hockey operations] Kris King is in charge of the series. We’ve addressed it. We’ve addressed it with the teams as early as this morning. I will be speaking with both general managers and coaches before the day is over about the crap that we’re seeing and the garbage that’s going on and some of the issues.”
|Bruins-Canucks preview: Three keys, stats, and players to watch||06.06.11 at 1:54 am ET|
The Bruins have a tall task ahead of them as they look to overcome an 0-2 hole and turn the Stanley Cup finals into an actual series. Both games have been determined by just one goal thus far, and though the Bruins have played poorly from the most part, the first two games have shown the B’s can hang with the Canucks, even if they haven’t totally shown up yet. With the number three in mind, here’s a preview of Monday’s Game 3.
THREE THINGS THE BRUINS NEED TO DO
- Get better looks vs. Roberto Luongo and establish a net-front presence. We’ll say it until it changes, and it didn’t change enough in Game 2. The Canucks have been able to box the Bruins out so far in the series, but look at how the B’s scored their goals in Game 2. Milan Lucic buried a rebound from in front, and Mark Recchi redirected a shot in front of Luongo. When the Bruins were able to set up shop and do things from close range, the puck went in. It seems trying it any other way is an exercise in futility.
- Keep moving Zdeno Chara around on the power play. Recchi’s goal came as a result of Claude Julien moving Chara back to the point, but Julien should keep mixing it up when it comes to the Bruins’ mammoth captain. He still appeared to be a nuisance in front of Luongo in Game 1, so Julien should have enough confidence in Chara’s abilities in both areas to play him in different spots from power play to power play.
- Use the home crowd to their advantage. Whether or not they want to admit it, Rogers Arena was absolutely electric and had to have been a tough place to play. If the Garden can turn down the music and let the fans create an authentic atmosphere, maybe the Canucks can truly feel like they’re at an opponent’s home and not a wrestling match.
- Both the Bruins and Canucks have seen four of their last five games be determined by one goal. The Bruins are 2-3 in that span, while the Canucks are 4-1.
- The four goals Tim Thomas has allowed over the last three games ties this stretch with his best of the postseason. Thomas let in four goals over Games 2 through 4 of the conference semifinals vs. the Flyers, though the difference is that the Bruins won all three of those games and have lost two of the three games in this stretch.
- Brad Marchand has gone four games without scoring. In the other two instances this postseason in which he went four straight without a goal, he scored the following game.
THREE PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON
- Tim Thomas: He plays aggressive – the sky is falling! As bad as the game-wining goal he allowed in overtime Saturday looked, the reaction by some suggest nobody has actually watched Thomas before. He’s all over the place, and he plays farther out of his net than most. It will be interesting to see how be performs in Game 3 given all the heat he’s been under for his style this series.
- Alexandre Burrows: The Bruins have every reason to be furious that Burrows wasn’t suspended for Game 2, though they’re not showing it. At any rate, their No. 1 concern should be finding away to stop the guy who showed Saturday that his offensive ability (2 G, A in Game 2) is just as sharp as his teeth.
- Rich Peverley: Where to play the speedy winger? Peverley has seen time on the second line, third line and fourth line (and the first if you want to count him taking one of Nathan Horton’s shifts in Game 7 of the conference finals when Horton was banged up) in recent games. Peverley could continue to take some of Mark Recchi’s shifts on the second line, or he could skate with Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder, as he did from late in the second period Saturday to the end of the contest. If and when Julien makes a move to get Shawn Thornton in the lineup at the expense of Tyler Seguin this series, the line of Kelly centering Peverley and Ryder would make sense.
Also, don’t rule out Peverley having a target on his back in Game 3. His two-handed slash to the back of Kevin Bieksa’s knee didn’t go over well with Bieksa, his teammates or his coaches. Given the nature of the play, it shouldn’t have. Peverley really got away with one, and had he scored on his shot that followed the non-penalized slash, it would have looked even worse.
|Bruins hold last regular practice before Stanley Cup finals||05.31.11 at 8:05 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — Only extra defenseman Shane Hnidy was missing from Tuesday’s Bruins practice at Rogers Arena. The practice, which lasted about an hour, was the team’s final regular practice before the Stanley Cup finals begin Wednesday vs. the Canucks.
Rich Peverley skated with the second line again, donning the gold sweater along with Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi. Peverley took shifts on the line in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, spelling Recchi from time to time.
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