|Andrew Ference has inkling he and Joe Corvo have at least one thing in common||07.20.11 at 3:10 pm ET|
When players begin showing up for captains practices and eventually training camp as the summer winds down and the preseason begins, Andrew Ference, like the other returning players from the Stanley Cup champions, will have a couple of new faces to meet.
Ference will have a new fellow blueliner in defenseman Joe Corvo, for whom the B’s traded a fourth-round pick to the Hurricanes the day Tomas Kaberle signed with Carolina. Ference may not know Corvo personally, but he knows they’ll have a good ice-breaker for when they meet.
“I know he’s got a lot of tattoos, so we’ll be able to swap,” Ference said with a laugh.
Ference, the team’s resident tattoo aficionado, flew his tattoo artist in from Calgary so he and his teammates could commemorate their Stanley Cup championship with ink on breakup day. While many players discussed what types of tattoos they were considering that day, the final tally of players to go through with it was a measly seven, including Ference, Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin. Ference noted that other teammates simply got them on other days, such as Chris Kelly, whom Ference said was set to get his this week.
While a simple google search will show that Seguin and Marchand (the latter of whom rarely wore a shirt in the week that followed the Cup win) got “Stanley Cup Champions Boston Bruins 6-15-11″ on the side of their ribs, Ference went with a very plain black-and-white spoked B on his right arm.
“Some guys got the writing, and I went with the B,” Ference said. “I don’t know. I left room for more years though.”
Ference will also meet Benoit Pouliot, with whom he’s already had at least one dealing. It was Ference who sparred with Pouliot in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals after the then-Canadiens forward attempted to hit Johnny Boychuk high on a dangerous play in the corner. Ference isn’t concerned about having any difficulty befriending who was once the enemy, citing the team’s ability to do it in the past.
“We got along fine with Michael Ryder,” Ference pointed out, as Ryder spent his entire career in the Montreal organization before becoming a popular guy in the Bruins’ dressing room.
While there are similarities between the two situations of Ryder and Pouliot in that both came to the Bruins after playing for the Habs (Ryder signed a three-year, $12 million deal with the B’s back in the summer of 2008), one would generally be far more skeptical of Pouliot today than they were of Ryder in 2008. Ryder was an established scorer in the NHL, while Pouliot, to borrow a bit of logic from Jack Edwards, has been nothing short of a fantastic bust since being drafted fourth overall by the Wild in 2005. For Pouliot to do anything like Ryder on the stat sheet would make the $1.1 million they dropped on the 24-year a sound investment.
|Peter Chiarelli: Bruins letting Tomas Kaberle, Michael Ryder test market||06.30.11 at 12:42 pm ET|
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli spoke with the media Thursday in anticipation of the NHL’s free agency period opening Friday. The Bruins have two players set to hit unrestricted free agency in winger Michael Ryder and defenseman Tomas Kaberle. The GM said that ties have not been severed with either player, but that the B’s likely won’t be active in the early stages of free agency.
“Certainly theres no finality to our relationship,” Chiarelli said of Kaberle. “What we’ve agreed to with Tomas and his agent is that he would look into the market and we would continue to talk with him. … Let me be perfectly clear, there’s no end to the relationship because we haven’t signed him to this point.”
Chiarelli noted that if the Bruins are unable to retain Kaberle, he will look both in-house and elsewhere for his replacement on the Bruins’ blue line.
He also indicated that the B’s are taking the same approach with Ryder, and that if the players take deals with other teams, the Bruins are willing to accept that fate.
“I’m wary of the market and where it stands now,” Chiarelli said. “I said, ‘Look guys, go out there, see what’s going on and let’s continue to talk.’ The risk that we run is that they get a deal and then they can’t come back to us, and I understand that risk. That’s where those two guys stand.”
Depending on what the B’s do with Ryder, Kaberle, restricted free agent Brad Marchand and what happens with Marc Savard, the team could be in good standing with the league’s salary cap (set for $64.3 million next season). Despite the fact that they should have money to spend, allocating resources to multiple years could make things difficult for the Bruins, as both David Krejci and Tuukka Rask will see their current contracts expire after the coming season. Tyler Seguin‘s deal is up in two years, and one would have to assume all three players will see increases in pay.
“It certainly impacts it,” Chiarelli said of knowing they have future raises to give. “I’m a little wary of the market, first and foremost. The cap is high, and the cap is certainly going to come down in some shape or form, so generally speaking, I’m wary of the market and where I think it may be going.
“Two, and a close two, is that we do have guys that we warrant to re-sign, and they’re going to command raises. I’m really not in a position to go out and give a guy a big-term contract. I think thwart we can find that help elsewhere other than a big-term contract and still be in a good position to re-sign our guys as they come up the next year or two.”
The Bruins qualified restricted free agents Marchand, Andrew Bodnarchuk and Stefan Chaput. Chiarelli said that negotiations with Marchand have not yet begun.
The GM also said that the team will not re-sign defenseman Shane Hnidy, who served as a healthy scratch/depth player during the stretch run and postseason. Hnidy, 35, played three games in both the regular season and postseason.
“We’ve told Shane that we aren’t re-signing him,” Chiarelli said. “I think he’ll be a good addition somewhere else, and I told him that. Certainly I’d help him along the way for that.”
As for whether the list of Bruins’ targets may be shrinking, Chiarelli admitted that some players have been taken out of consideration in recent days. The rights of players set to hit free agency have been traded, which may factor into that.
“I have a big whiteboard in my office and I have our interest list and I have our secondary list,” he said. “Yes, there are names knocked off. Just because they’re on our interest list doesn’t mean we’re going to go off and sign them, but certainly we’re going to explore them. And I’ve crossed off names.”
One thing that came up time and time again was Chiarelli noting how “wary” of the market he was. He assessed the crop as being less than outstanding, which may be a reason why he would have reservations about making a big splash.
“I look at my board and I see the number of players and the quality of players,” he said. “And the numbers may be the same, [but] the quality is … there’s just not the high end players. Then of course you’ve got the floor of the cap and teams have to spend, so you’re going to get contracts I think that, maybe that, they’re generally higher in the unrestricted market, but I even think they’ll be that added premium because teams have to spend. … That’s why I’m a little cautious going into this market. There’s not the supply that there normally is, and I think the demand is greater because of the cap floor and teams have to spend.”
|Michael Ryder: We will do ‘everything’ to win it for Nathan Horton||06.14.11 at 1:24 am ET|
The singular turning point of the series has also turned into a rally cry for the Bruins, as Michael Ryder acknowledged after scoring a goal in Boston’s 5-2 win over Vancouver in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals Monday night at TD Garden.
With the crowd already in a frenzy following two quick goals to start the game, the video board at the Garden showed Nathan Horton in the zamboni area waving a Bruins black and gold hanky. Horton was shown live for the first time since being knocked to the ice with a severe concussion exactly one week ago on hit by Canucks defenseman Aaron Rome in Game 3. He has been ruled out of the playoffs.
“Horty’s a big part of this team and he’s one of the reasons we’re where we are,” Ryder said. “He’s a great guy and it’s good to see him a lot better and we know he’s excited and he wants us to win. We have to make sure we do everything we can to pull it off for him.”
“We didn’t know that they were going to be doing that and showing him up there,” added Bruins forward Brad Marchand. “You know for him to come in and give us that boost of energy is unbelievable. And obviously the crowd loves it and loves him and are supporting him every minute of the day. It was great to see him out there. He gave us a big energy boost.
Two and a half minutes later, Andrew Ference fired a slap shot past Roberto Luongo on the power play for Boston’s third goal and pandemonium ensued with the Bruins up, 3-0, and Luongo chased to the bench.
|Expect the unexpected: How about some early scoring?||06.13.11 at 1:51 pm ET|
The scoreboard operator got plenty of work early into games when the Bruins faced the Lightning in the Eastern Conference finals. In fact, 12 first-period goals were scored between the teams in the first five games of the series.
The same can’t be said for the Stanley Cup finals. The three Bruins’ losses have been nail-biters, and in total there have been just two goals scored in the first period. Quite a departure when considering that more goals were scored in the first 69 seconds (three) in the first five games of the conference finals than in the first 20 minutes of games thus far between the B’s and Canucks.
While the Bruins have used their home ice to essentially do whatever they want against Vancouver, the idea that they could be up for yet another close game in which the teams are scoreless in the third period (as has happened twice already) is not out of the question given the stakes.
“You can’t let anything get to you. If they score early, we can’t let it bug us,” Michael Ryder said Monday. “We still have a lot of game left. It’s a matter of us wanting to get that first goal. We need to get that first goal to set the tone. If it doesn’t happen, we can’t let it get to us. I think that’s upper main priority: come out, get the emotions up high early, get the intensity up there. I think if we do that, we’ll get on the scoreboard first.”
The team that has scored the first goal has one each game this series, though in Game 2 there were two blown leads before the final score was decided. Even so, the idea of getting a lead early on would provide this series with some fresh material.
“It definitely gets guys in the game, gets you going when you have the lead,” Ryder said. “When teams play with the lead, you do things a little different, you play a little harder. That’s what we want to do tonight.”
The earliest a goal has been scored in a game this series was 11:59 into Game 4, when Rich Peverley scored the first of four Bruins’ goals.
The Bruins’ power play appeared to finally be coming around earlier this series, as it went 3-for-13 (23.1 percent) in the first three games. It has taken a step back since then, however, going 0-for-8 in the last two contests.
Claude Julien tried something new in Game 5 when he put Gregory Campbell in front of the net on the Bruins’ first couple man advantages, hoping that the fourth-line grinder would create some traffic and get some deflections. While much of the talk has been about the decision to use Campbell on the power play, the struggles had more to do with execution than personnel. Julien said after Game 5 that the Campbell-in-front plan never materialized because the Bruins never got the looks at the net that they wanted.
On Monday, Michael Ryder — who has been on the second power-play unit most of the playoffs — agreed that the problem isn’t with who’s on the ice.
“I think it’s all about our breakouts and the way we enter the zone,” Ryder said. “It seemed like last game, we couldn’t really get set up. And when we did, [Roberto] Luongo made some big saves. It’s just a matter of us establishing traffic in front and getting our breakout all on the same page with that first pass.”
Better entries into the zone would obviously make it much easier for the Bruins to get some of those setups that Julien said were absent in Game 5. Ryder added that once they’re in the zone, the Bruins will need to work harder and not overthink plays.
“Sometimes we have a tendency in the zone to look for plays that aren’t there instead of taking what Vancouver gives us,” Ryder said. “I think tonight we have to make sure that if we get the chance to take that shot, we take it and get the traffic in front. And we have to outwork their penalty kill. I think that’s one of the biggest issues. If we outwork their PK, we’ll have success on the power play.”
Julien hasn’t said if he plans to use Campbell on the power play again — he wasn’t on the Bruins’ last two man advantages in Game 5. It won’t matter who’s out there, though, if the execution and work ethic aren’t out there with them.
|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.
|Looking back at Bruins’ Game 7 history over last decade||05.26.11 at 4:38 pm ET|
The Bruins will be fighting for their playoff lives when they take the ice for yet another decisive Game 7.
How many times have B’s fans heard that phrase in the last 10 years? Well, Friday night’s Game 7 against the Lightning in the Eastern Conference finals will be the sixth time in the last decade that the men in black and gold have played in the most-pressure packed game in professional hockey. In fact, Boston has played in a Game 7 in five of the seven seasons that it qualified for the playoffs over that span.
But that Game 7 history hasn’t been necessarily a good one. The Bruins are a horrid 1-4 in Game 7’s since 2001, with the lone win finally coming this season in the opening round against the rival Canadiens.
Here’s a look back at how the B’s fared in each of their Game 7’s of the past decade.
2004 Eastern Conference quarterfinals, 2-0 L vs. Canadiens
As the second seed in the Eastern Conference, this series against the seventh-seeded Habs should’ve been an easy one on paper. After the first four games of the series, it looked like that would certainly be the case as Boston jumped out to a 3-1 lead. But this was still the NHL playoffs, arguably the least predictable of all the professional North American postseason tournaments, and the Habs stormed back to score five goals in both Game 5 and Game 6 to tie the series.
In Game 7, it was Montreal goalie Jose Theodore’s time to take over. The netminder stoned all 32 shots from the Bruins while Richard Zednik potted both goals in the third period, one on an empty net in the waning seconds, to give the Habs the series win. The Game 7 win marked the first time Montreal had ever come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a playoff series. If there’s any silver lining for the Boston fans looking back on this loss, it’s that current Bruins bench boss Claude Julien was actually calling the shots for the Canadiens at the time. (Julien is 2-3 in Game 7’s for his career.) Read the rest of this entry »
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