|Game 7 roundup: Luck, faith on Canadiens’ side entering finale?||05.14.14 at 11:11 am ET|
TSN’s renowned radio host Tony Marinaro believes he has found the magic touch to send the Canadiens to the Eastern Conference finals with a Game 7 win over the Bruins on Wednesday night. Prior to Monday’s Game 6 in Montreal, with the Habs facing elimination, Marinaro had the Rev. Joseph Fugolo say a prayer for the Canadiens, particularly struggling forward Max Pacioretty, who scored in Montreal’s 4-0 win.
On Wednesday, Marinaro — who is broadcasting from the WEEI studios and will appear with Mut & Merloni at 1 p.m. — had Fugolo back again to “bless a white Canadiens road jersey” in hopes of keeping luck on the Habs’ side.
Whether you believe in the power of prayer or not, Pacioretty had arguably his best game of the series on Monday with a goal and an assist, and said after the game that it “felt good” to get back on the scoreboard after missing some opportunities in previous games. Pacioretty is hoping that kind of effort continues for him in Wednesday’s deciding Game 7 at TD Garden.
Montreal’s Nathan Beaulieu is hoping to bring some pride to the organization’s contingent of “Black Aces.” The Black Aces are the minor league players the Habs call up from the Hamilton Bulldogs — the team’s AHL affiliate — in the last month of the season, and Beaulieu is the one who got the call before Game 6 on Monday. Beaulieu’s efforts on the big stage made an impression on Canadiens coach Michel Therrien.
Even on the road, there’s no avoiding a crowded Bell Centre for a Habs-Bruins game. The Canadiens will host a viewing party with Game 7 being shown on the big screens at the arena. Tickets were sold for $10 with proceeds going to the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation.
Some Canadiens fans are so excited for Wednesday’s Game 7 that they have swarmed into a pair of local barber shops to have the Habs logo shaved in their hair. The barbers told CBC that fans have been lining up by the hundreds, and designs have included the Stanley Cup and P.K. Subban‘s face.
As is to be expected, there is plenty of support for the Habs north of the border in this series. But one Canadian bar went so far to hang a Zdeno Chara doll from the ceiling by a noose.
No matter who wins on Wednesday night, the Montreal Gazette’s Jack Todd writes that hockey is the real winner in this series. However, he did save room to leave his prediction at the end: a Canadiens win and eventual return to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since 1993.
Adrian Dater of the Bleacher Report sees the Canadiens as not only the hungrier team, but also the better team, giving them the advantage over the Bruins in Game 7. Dater views the Bruins as worn down and offensively challenged, and he expects Carey Price to once again outplay Tuukka Rask.
Alternatively, Yahoo’s Nicholas J. Cotsonika refuses to count the Bruins out despite the celebrations on the streets of Montreal after the Habs’ win on Monday. Cotsonika cites Boston’s recent Game 7 experience — the Bruins have played nine deciding games in the last seven years — and home-ice advantage as enough reason to like their chances.
If the Bruins want to win Game 7, playing their physical game may be the best way to do it. Sports statistics website FiveThirtyEightSports compiled penalty numbers from recent postseasons and determined that teams take significantly fewer penalty minutes in Game 7s than any other game in a playoff series, a likely result of officials swallowing their whistles rather than more disciplined play.
|Tuukka Rask: Bruins gave Canadiens ‘some gifts’ in Game 6, ready to ‘move on’ to Game 7||05.12.14 at 11:52 pm ET|
MONTREAL — From the moment he came out to play a bouncing puck from behind his net in the first period Monday night, Tuukka Rask and the Bruins were in a generous mood.
And that’s a terrible thing when you come into a game thinking you have your opponent down, right where you want them. But Torey Krug’s pass to Kevan Miller was mishandled and Rask failed to contain it and gift-giving was underway.
“I don’t know what happened behind the net,” Rask said after Montreal’s 4-0 win in Game 6. “All of sudden, it was right in front of me and out of the corner of my eye, I thought there was a guy on the left side so I just decided to jump on that and missed it and it wound up in the back of the net.”
The Bruins gave the Canandiens chance after chance in front of Rask, including a miscommunication between Rask and captain Zdeno Chara in the second period that resulted in a killer goal and a 2-0 Montreal lead.
“I kind of hesitated,” Rask said. “I didn’t want to get burned again as I did the first one. I got burned a different way. I think me and Zee got caught looking at each other. I thought he was going to dive and he thought I was going to play it. Just another gift.
|Bruins, Canadiens running out of time for first lines to produce||05.10.14 at 1:37 pm ET|
The Bruins are still awaiting the arrival of David Krejci‘s production in the second round, but first-line silence hasn’t been a one way street. On the other side, Montreal is still awaiting Max Pacioretty‘s first goal of the series after the Connecticut native put up 39 goals during the regular season.
Both Pacioretty and David Desharnais, who make up two thirds of Montreal’s top line with either Thomas Vanek or Brendan Gallagher, have just one point — each an assist — apiece through four games thus far.
“Playing here in this environment, I’ve got to be relied upon, I’ve got to be relied upon to score important goals and I haven’t done that yet,” Pacioretty said after the Habs’ morning skate Saturday. “I’ve just got to keep playing the way I have been and maybe just calm down a bit.”
It isn’t just that Pacioretty isn’t showing up, but rather the fact that he has to play against the best defenseman in the league. Pacioretty admitted that Zdeno Chara has gotten the better of him so far in the series, as Chara and Dougie Hamilton haven’t allowed anything to that top line in five-on-five play.
“That’s priority No. 1 I think,” Hamilton said Saturday of keeping Pacioretty quiet. “For me, I’m just trying to shut down their top lines and play physical on them and limit them. We’ve just got to keep trying to do that. I think all our D have done a good job of that, just trying to stay aware and limit our mistakes.”
Said Pacioretty: “It’s obvious that they want to pair certain guys against us. It’s not an excuse; it’s a good challenge. We haven’t risen to that challenge yet. Myself personally, I’ve got to do a better job of being able to overcome that adversity.”
Krejci and friends don’t have to worry about going up against a player like Chara, but Montreal has taken away their space. Boston’s first line created a ton of chances in Game 1 of the series but failed to score, and the line has yet to play that well since the series opened. Milan Lucic scored an empty netter that Krejci assisted and Jarome Iginla scored a 6-on-5 goal by tipping an Andrej Meszaros shot in the final minutes of Game 3, but the trio has yet to produce a five-on-five goal this series.
With it now a three-game series, the question becomes which top line will step up first or which team is better suited to win a series without getting anything from its first line. The Canadiens are a deeper opponent offensively than the Red Wings were, and their third line of Lars Eller between Brian Gionta and Rene Bourque has gotten chances throughout the series.
The same goes for Boston’s third line, which produced the only goal of Game 4 when Matt Fraser scored the game-winner in overtime. Especially against Montreal’s third pairing of Douglas Murray and Mike Weaver, that line has gotten chance after chance but hasn’t capitalized enough. Daniel Paille scored the third line’s other goal in Game 2 when he was playing with Soderberg and Loui Eriksson.
Should Michel Therrien keep Weaver and Murray together, Soderberg and friends should be champing at the bit to continue to take advantage of that matchup, but with more production. The first lines are often expected to cancel each other out in the postseason, but when neither teams’ first lines are doing anything, even more responsibility falls on everyone else.
“I think our team is built like that,” Eriksson said. “Everyone can score on every line. I thought the last game we had some really good chances, our line, and we finally got one. That’s something we want to do to try to help the team as much as we can and score those goals.”
Neither the Bruins nor the Canadiens should be satisfied with the performance they’ve gotten out of their best forwards. Within days, one team will undoubtedly view it as a reason as to why their season was ended.
“It’s a three-game series now, and we’re in a very good position,” Pacioretty said. “We had a great first round, four games into this we’re tied up. I like where our team’s standing right now.”
|Brad Marchand misses morning skate, Daniel Paille a game-time decision for Bruins vs. Canadiens||05.01.14 at 11:41 am ET|
For the second time in three days, Brad Marchand was not on the ice with his Bruins teammates as the team held its morning skate in anticipation of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Canadiens.
Marchand, who missed Tuesday’s practice but practiced Wednesday, was hoarse when he spoke to the media Wednesday, suggesting he was ill. Claude Julien — as is customary in the postseason — offered no update on Marchand’s health after Thursday’s morning skate, saying that “he took his option.” Based on that, the expectation should be that Marchand plays.
Daniel Paille, who missed the first round against the Red Wings due to a head injury, has been cleared to play for a number of days. Julien said that Paille is a game-time decision for Game 1. Assuming that Paille returns to the lineup, Jordan Caron would sit after filling in for Paille in the first round.
On the Canadiens’ end, Max Pacioretty was not on the ice for morning skate, but Michel Therrien said he too took his option. When asked if Pacioretty was OK, Therrien responded, “of course.”
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|Andy Brickley on M&M: ‘No maliciousness’ from Max Pacioretty on Johnny Boychuk hit||12.06.13 at 11:56 am ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley made his weekly appearance with Mut & Merloni on Friday, following Thursday’s 2-1 loss to the Canadiens in Montreal.
The Bruins had a 1-0 lead after a period but struggled in the second as the Canadiens took control.
“There’s nothing there in way of explaining why they played the way they did in the second period,” Brickley said. “In fact, the four days off should have worked to their benefit in the second period. You knew you were going to get a better push from Montreal than what they were able to give you in the first 20 given the fact that this was game three in four nights for them, plus travel.
“But this Montreal Canadiens team is a little different in the sense that they don’t just try to beat you with their speed and their skill, they do have a little sandpaper to their game. They compete a lot harder for pucks, they know that they had to add that element to their game if they wanted to win the Atlantic Division with a team like the Bruins in there, and the Bruins being — I don’t know if it’s the gold standard, but certainly the measuring stick that you need to play similar to in over to win the division.
“That being said, you expected Montreal to have a much better second period, and for some inexplicable reason, the Bruins played maybe one of the their worst periods of the year — Claude Julien used the word ‘atrocious’ following the game, and you can’t argue with that. When they’ve played poorly in second periods this year it’s been for a variety of reasons, but the common thread is just that lack of — I don’t know if you want to call it a sense of urgency — for me it’s more paying attention to detail.
“I’m lost, really, for an explanation as to why they are so inconsistent in the second periods when they have opportunities to put teams away after 40 minutes.”
“It was a borderline hit. I thought the call was accurate that it was worthy of a two-minute boarding call,” Brickley said. “He tried to get him on the side and not from the back, but it’s in that dangerous area, distance away from the boards and a player almost with his back to you. What they’re trying to do is educate players, even though you’ve played the game a certain way for so long, it has to change because too many guys are getting hurt. They have to continue to work on that and further educate these guys and maybe tweak the rules a little bit to allow you to make different types of hits in those situations.
“But there was no maliciousness there, I didn’t think, from Pacioretty. It was just one of those reactionary hits, two guys battling in an area where always there’s a puck battle. And it was just the awkwardness that Boychuck went into the boards.”
Brickley said he was impressed with how the Bruins kept their composure after the incident.
“As far as the players are concerned, they did a terrific job, I thought, of maintaining some focus. Because your focus and your attention and your emotional feelings change when you see that happen,” Brickley said. “Your focus is totally on a first-place game against your arch rival, a game that you really want, a game that you should out-energize them, and you had some decent things happening in the first period. And now your focus changes dramatically.
“And the Bruins did a pretty good job of doing what they needed to do the rest of that period to take a lead into the intermission. But then to just give it away in the second period was so disappointing.”
|Max Pacioretty feels terrible about Johnny Boychuk’s injury, and Bruins believe him||12.05.13 at 11:40 pm ET|
MONTREAL — Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty was adamant that he had no intention of putting Johnny Boychuk in a dangerous position on the play on which Boychuk was forced from Thursday’s game. Boychuk was taken from the game in a stretcher after getting injured on a first-period hit in the corner from Pacioretty.
The hit did not seem malicious, as Boychuk was turning when Pacioretty was already going in for a hit on Boychuk’s shoulder. The result was Boychuk going down hard after his left side was pinned against the boards.
“Honestly, I couldn’t even walk you through the hit,” Pacioretty said. “It’s, you know, I felt terrible, I didn’t even really know what happened. I was just kind of battling for the puck, I felt terrible after it happened. I’m going to have to see it because I haven’t even seen the replay.’
No Bruins went after Pacioretty as a result of the hit, and the Habs forward said he tried to get more information about the play and Boychuk’s status as the game went on.
‘No,” Pacioretty said when asked if the Bruins took issue with the hit. “I mean I asked people because I literally didn’t know what happened. They said, I think he twisted his back or something in regards to that. I obviously feel terrible, I’ve been in that situation before, and I had no intent to injury anybody, I thought I was just playing hard, I hope everything’s going to be all right for him.’
The Bruins clearly believe Pacioretty, as they wouldn’t have hesitated to have some sort of on-ice answer. Tuukka Rask said the play was a case of “bad luck and bad timing,” while Gregory Campbell and Claude Julien both said it was deserving of the boarding minor Pacioretty received, but nothing more.
“I guess it was deserving of a penalty, and that’s what it was called,” Campbell said. “Things happen fast, and Johnny was going in for the puck. I don’t think there was any intent. I’m almost positive. He’s a clean player, and it’s unfortunate things happen, and things happen quickly so sometimes you put yourself in those positions. It’s hard to stop yourself from the momentum you have going into the play there.”
Pacioretty has been at the center of a few controversial plays between the Bruins and Habs over the years. Such actions include celebrating an overtime goal by shoving Zdeno Chara, jumping an unsuspecting Steve Kampfer during a scrum, and most notably being the recipient of a shove from Chara on which his head went into a stanchion at Bell Centre in the 2010-11 season.
Asked whether the hit being from Pacioretty would be reason for anyone to suspect any malicious intent, Campbell replied, “Nobody on this team thinks that.”
Boychuk was down on the ice for several minutes, bent over, before he was placed onto a stretcher and had his head immobilized as he left the ice.
The injury was suffered as Pacioretty hit him into the boards as Boychuk was turning. Boychuk’s left side went into the boards first and he appeared to be jammed as the rest of his body hit the boards. Pacioretty, who appeared to be going for Boychuk’s on the shoulder in what seemed to be more bad luck than anything, was given a two-minute boarding minor.
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said the following in a statement:
“Johnny Boychuk has been taken to Montreal General Hospital for observation, after being injured in Thursday’s game against the Canadiens. Before he was transported to the hospital, he was able to demonstrate movement in all of his extremities. We will provide a further update when it is appropriate.”
The game marked the the fourth time this season the Bruins have had to play the majority of the game with only five defensemen, as injuries to Boychuk (Oct. 31), Adam McQuaid (Nov. 9) and Dennis Seidenberg (Nov. 19) have left the B’s down a blueliner.
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