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Don Cherry on D&C: ‘This is going to be a battle of goaltenders’ 05.13.11 at 9:00 am ET
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Don Cherry

Hockey Night in Canada commentator Don Cherry checked in with the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning to talk about the Stanley Cup playoffs. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The Bruins picked things up offensively in the series sweep of the Flyers, but Cherry said goals will be at a premium against Lightning backstopper Dwayne Roloson. He predicts both team’s goalies will take center stage in this series.

“I tell you one thing, they won’t get those goals off of Roloson,” Cherry said. “I phoned [Capitals coach] Bruce Boudreau in January and left him a message. I usually don’t do that, but I said, ‘You’ve got to get a hold of that Roloson. This guy will win you the Stanley Cup. He’s hungry, he’s 41 years old, this is his last shot.’ And he didn’t do it. A week later, [Lightning general manager] Stevie Yzerman picked him up. I think he got two shutouts in a row, shut out Washington. He is dynamite.

“And I’ll tell you one thing: Philadelphia, I have never understood them that they have gone 20 years and they seem as if they don’t want to get a good goaltender. It’s beyond me.

“You watch this guy [Saturday night], Roloson. He is dynamite. But Timmy Thomas, right on the money, too. This is going to be a battle of goaltenders.”

Added Cherry of Thomas: “Timmy Thomas is on a roll right now. He’s got something to prove.”

Cherry, who coached the Bruins from 1974-75 through 1978-79, predicts the Bruins will advance to the Stanley Cup finals vs. the Canucks. “I like Boston,” he said. “I picked Boston to be in the finals. But this will be a tough one, because these guys are on a roll — [Martin] St. Louis and [Vincent] Lecavalier. And [Steven] Stamkos hasn’t really picked it up yet. I’ll tell you one thing: This is going to be a great series.”

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Read More: Don Cherry, Dwayne Roloson, Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos
How Zdeno Chara shut down Flyers and why it matters against Lightning 05.07.11 at 3:08 pm ET
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Before their Eastern Conference semifinal series, there was lots written and said about how much trouble the Bruins would have stopping the high-powered Philadelphia offense.

After all, the Flyers led the East in the regular season with 259 goals, behind only Vancouver and Detroit in the entire NHL. Against Buffalo in the first round, Philly scored five goals in three of its four wins and four in the other, all against Ryan Miller, one of the elite goalies in the sport.

But the Bruins didn’t blink, after allowing three goals — two in garbage time — in Game 1, the Flyers scored just four the rest of the way in getting outscored 20-7 in the Bruins sweep.

Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said every Bruins player understood what was expected in “the system.”

“It was big,” Chara said. “I thought eventually in Games 3 and 4 they started to find a way of creating speed through the neutral zone. But I thought the first two games, we completely took that away from them.”

Danny Briere, Mike Richards and James van Riemsdyk scored in Game 1. Van Riemsdyk accounted for both Philly tallies in Game 2. Andrej Meszaros scored a harmless goal in Game 3 and Kris Versteeg scored in Game 4.

There was nothing from Claude Giroux, Ville Leino, Nikolay Zherdev, an injury-slowed Jeff Carter, a nicked-up Chris Pronger and Scott Hartnell. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Danny Briere
Bruins and Lightning get on the board (and in the box) in second period 03.03.11 at 8:38 pm ET
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Things got ramped up a bit (both scoring-wise and otherwise) in the second period, and the Bruins and Lightning are tied at one goal apiece entering the third.

From a goals perspective, it was a tale of two Steve Kampfers. The rookie blueliner couldn’t get the puck out of the Bruins’ zone just over four minutes into the period, and the play resulted in Eric Brewer beating Tim Thomas for his ninth goal of the season at 3:04. Kampfer would make up for it, as he scored his fifth of the season with a blast from the point at 6:06. Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley, both making their home debut as Bruins, picked up assists on the play.

The Bruins have shown throughout the season that they can handle the high intensity, high physicality games. They’ve done so against some of the tougher teams in the league, and it seems they’re trying to do the same against a team that isn’t known for dropping the gloves.

There was a lot of chippy play in the second period Thursday night (some of which even came from Martin St. Louis) and it finally culminated in a fight when Milan Lucic tangoed with Brewer at 10:10. While seemingly a potential momentum-booster in a tied game at first glance, the play resulted in the Lightning getting a two-man advantage. Nathan Horton had tripped Sean Bergenheim, and when Bergenheim responded, Lucic jumped in and was eventually assessed a roughing minor. The B’s ended up killing off the 5-on-3.

Read More: Eric Brewer, Martin St. Louis, Milan Lucic, Sean Bergenheim
Bruins cannot bottle Lightning in loss 03.25.10 at 9:34 pm ET
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Summary — The Bruins could not bottle up the Lightning at TD Garden en route to a 5-3 loss on Thursday night. Tuukka Rask took the loss by allowing five goals on 18 shots after coming into the game the NHL leader in goals against average at 2.02. Antero Niittmaki shut down a Bruins attack that mustered an astounding 50  shots but only the three goals.

Tampa Bay came out of the gates hot. Just 49-seconds into the game  Steve Downie fed Steve Stamkos coming down the slot right at Rask. Downie put it right on Stamkos’s tape and it was any easy goal. There was a mild controversy if Stamkos was offsides on the rush but no ruling was made. The Lightning would go up two ate in the first period when Dennis Seidenberg botched a pass to Michael Ryder rolling up the right wing that turn Vincent Lecavalier instantly turned for a break the other way. Lecavalier would shoot/pass from the wing to a rushing Martin St. Louis. The puck and St. Louis reached Rask at the same time and the forward won the battle and slipped the puck into the net at 18:05.

Boston would gain one of those goals back with 26.8 seconds left in the first period. David Krejci battled on the half-wall to win the puck and passed the puck in front of Niittymaki onto the stick of Zdeno Chara who deflected it through the crease to cut the Lightning lead in half.

Tampa pushed its advantage back to two in the front half of the second period when Paul Szcezchura spotted the puck on a turnover in the Bruins zone on the right circle and sent a shot on Rask that was stopped but slipped through the crease somehow to make it 3-1 at 6:50.

Johnny Boychuk got the goal back for Boston at 10:42 in the second when he beat Niittymaki through a stretching, far side five hole for his fifth of the season.

Stamkos struck again within a minute of the end of the second period on the power play when he fired a one-time rocket from the top of the left circle that streaked through traffic and passed Rask to make the score 4-2.

Szczechura got his second of the game at 3:00 in the third on the power play when he took a feed from St. Louis in the slot in front of Rask and beat the goalie high glove side to make it a three goal Tampa advantage. Boston closed it to two at 11:50 when Mark Recchi scored his 16th of the season by banging the puck into the net from the within the crease.

Three Stars

Steven Stamkos — An impressive effort by the 20-year-old former No.1 overall pick. He was a constant thorn in the Bruins side en route to a two goal performance that gave him 45 for the season.

Paul Szczechura — The Lightning center scored his fourth and fifth goals of the season in his 48th game of the year for Tampa.

David Krejci — The Bruins center looked a lot like his 2008-09 self as he set up the Bruins first two goals and was active with the puck all game long.

Turning Point — Stamkos’ second goal at the end of the second period stopped any chance of a comeback that the Bruins may have had as it increased the Lightning lead back to two goals. The Bruins are 3-22-0 (including Thursday) this season when they trail by two goalsl at any time during a game.

Key Play — The the Bruins biggest breakdown of the game cost them on what turned out to be Szczechura’s first of the game in the second period. The Lightning chased the puck into the Bruins zone and maintained a forecheck that ended up with Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference attempting to clear the puck from behind the goal line that ended up right on the stick of a charging Szchechura. All the center needed to do was wind up and fire. Rask stopped it initially but the shot’s momentum carried it through the crease.

Read More: David Krejci, Johnny Boychuk, Mark Recchi, Martin St. Louis
Bruins hold off Lighting for third straight 02.11.10 at 10:16 pm ET
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Summary — The Bruins scored four first period goals en route to a 5-4 victory over the streaking Lightning at St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa Bay on Thursday. Michael Ryder had two goals and an assist in the first and Milan Lucic added to tip-in goals to pace the Bruins attack. Tuukka Rask won his third straight game for Boston with 30 saves and now has earned points in five straight. The Lightning came back on Boston with two second period goals and another in two in the third before the Bruins were able to put the game away.

Antero Niittymaki let in the four first period goals on 21 shots before being pulled for Mike Smith to start the second.

Ryder almost had a natural hat trick in the first. He got an assist on Lucic’s first goal with a shot from the point that the big forward deflected on its way passed Niitymaki. Ryder scored twice later in the period with the first coming courtesy of a give-and-go on the rush with Blake Wheeler and then another on the power play off a shot from Marc Savard to make it 4-0.

Lucic was credited for his second of the game in the second period when the Bruins made it 5-0. Lucic tipped a shot off a turn-and-blast from Zdeno Chara in the high slot that found its way through Smith’s pads.

The Lightning came back late in the second on the power play when Martin St. Louis picked up two goals in the final four minutes as the Bruins picked up a couple questionable penalties. Steve Downie scored the third and fourth goals for Tampa Bay in the third period.

Three Stars

Michael Ryder — The Bruins winger had his 15th career three-point game and has eight goals in nine career games against Niittymaki. His two goals give him 15 on the season.

Milan Lucic — The big bodied Bruin got credit for two goals on the night with deflections in front of the Lightning net. Lucic now has five goals on the year.

Martin St. Louis — Tampa Bay’s veteran forward had two second period goals and now has seven in the Lightnings’ last six games.

Turning Point

Boston’s third goal of the game was one of the best of the year for the Bruins. Ryder tipped a backhand tip pass to Wheeler who immediately gave it back to catch Niitymaki completely out of position. Ryder rammed the puck home and followed it with a trip/dive into the net to give the Bruins the 3-0 lead. Boston had taken 2-0 leads in its past four games but this was the first time in a long time that the Bruins were able to take a three-goal advantage in the first period.

Key Play

Lucic scored his second of the game on a tip in the second period to make it 5-0. The goal become important as the Lighting would score four straight through the end of the second period into the third to make it a one-goal game with 8:51 left before the Bruins were able to put it away.

Read More: Martin St. Louis, Michael Ryder, Milan Lucic, Steve Downie
Bruins up three after two at 9:22 pm ET
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Most everything is going right for the Bruins.

Boston made it 5-0 at 4:53 in the second when Zdeno Chara whipped a turn-and-blast shot from the high slot that was tipped by Daniel Paille and Milan Lucic on its way passed Mike Smith. Lucic got the credit for the goal, his second of the game and fifth on the year. The two-goal game is the fourth of his career. Smith replaced Antero Niittymaki to start the period after the top line goaltender let in four goals on 17 shots in the first period.

Chara would get a little nasty with Steve Downie later in the period when Downie tried to get in the captain’s face. Downie had been an instigator in the first period when he got a roughing major for trying to pick a fight with Miroslav Satan (the penalty would lead to Boston’s fourth goal). When Downie tried the same thing with Satan’s country mate (both hail from Slovakia) Chara let him know that he will not tolerate people messing with his teammates. Satan did not return to the ice for the second period.

Things started to unravel a little bit late in the period. Martin St. Louis got the Lightning on the board at 16:10 when he beat Tuukka Rask to break up the shutout on the power play. In the last minute of  Bruins took a couple of penalties (Michael Ryder and David Krejci) along with one from the Lightning (Todd Fedoruk) to set up a 4-0n-3 that Tampa took advantage of with another goal from St. Louis at the 19:03 mark.

End of second period. 5-2 Bruins.

Shots through second (total):

Boston — 5 (26)

Tampa Bay — 9 (22)

Read More: Martin St. Louis, Mike Smith, Steve Downie, Tampa Bay Lightning
Bruins look to cool Lightning at 11:14 am ET
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The Bruins know the recipe that will take to climb back into solid playoff contention — goal scorers doing their job, streaky shooting and a hot goaltender to carry the load. It is an easy formula that can propel a team on long streaks that eventually lead to extended spring hockey.

For an example, the Bruins only need to look across to the other bench on Thursday to the Lightning. Tampa Bay has won four in a row and is 10-1-2 in its last 13 games to pull itself out of the Eastern Conference basement to be tied for the seventh and eighth playoff spots with Philadelphia. With 63 points the Lightning stand two ahead of the ninth-place Bruins.

Antero Niittymaki is on fire. The Tampa goaltender is 7-0-1 in his last eight games with a 1.09 goals against average and a .965 save percentage. Thought Tuukka Rask was playing well for the Bruins? Rask is 2-0-2 on his current point streak and and his 2.01 goals against for the season is second in the NHL but Niittymaki has been the best goaltender in the NHL over the last month.

On the offensive end, the Lightning have been putting up some points behind Steve Stamkos and Martin St. Louis. The duo has propelled Tampa over the last nine games, scoring 16 of its last 22 goals. Stamkos in particular looks impressive. The first overall pick in the 2008 draft already has 33 goals through 58 games this year and another 30 assists on top of that. For a second year player to be able to put up those kind of numbers makes scouts heads turn and gives the denizens of the Tampa area dreams of a superstar in the St. Petersburg Times Forum for years to come. Stamkos has five goals in his last five games.

St. Louis, the wily veteran southpaw forward, also has five goals in the last five games and has 20 goals and 46 assists for the season. His six game-winning goals are good for fifth in the NHL.

Look for Bruins captain Zdeno Chara to be near every time that Stamkos touches a skate to the ice at the Forum on Thursday. Yet, the fun does not stop there. The Lightning are deep with threats on their first two lines with Vincent LeCavalier, Ryan Malone and Alex Tanguay all in the mix. LeCavalier is third on the team in points with 55 (15 goals, 40 assists) and Malone has 21 goals to trail only Stamkos in that department. For a comparison, the lowly Bruins offense has no player with more than 36 points (Patrice Bergeron) or 18 goals (Marco Sturm).

If the Bruins want to really get back into the mess that is the Eastern Conference playoff race, they will have to win games against the teams ahead of them and right now that means cooling down the Lightning. If Boston can claim a regulation two-point victory (something it has only done twice since Jan. 5) it will create a three-way tie for the final spot in the conference and set the Bruins up to rise above the demarcation line if they can claim points against the Panthers on Saturday.

Read More: Antero Niittymaki, Martin St. Louis, Steve Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning
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