|How Zdeno Chara shut down Flyers and why it matters against Lightning||05.07.11 at 3:08 pm ET|
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.
|Adam McQuaid skates, doing better||05.06.11 at 5:56 pm ET|
Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid took the ice Friday morning, according to coach Claude Julien. McQuaid has been out with a sprained neck since leaving Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals in the first period after crashing head-first into the boards attempting to hit Mike Richards.
“He’s getting better,” Julien said of McQuaid. “He skated this morning, and things are looking positive.”
Shane Hnidy filled in for McQuaid in Game 3, playing 2:38. He will be in the lineup again for Game 4.
|Krejci should be good to go come training camp||07.08.10 at 1:26 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Sporting an air case on his right arm, injured center David Krejci spoke with contained optimism as he updated reporters on his progress recovering from an injury that left both him and and the Bruins helpless in the Eastern Conference semifinals. He said Thursday that he plans to be ready for training camp upon getting screws removed from his wrist in a month. Krejci has frequented Ristuccia Arena as he continues to recover from the injury suffered in the third game of the series.
“I’ve been doing rehab for the past month and it’s going good so far, so hopefully it will go that way,” Krejci said. “I’m going to have surgery in [four weeks] to take the screws out and after that I should be able to go on the ice and start lifting much heavier weights than I’m used to right now.
“I’m really excited,” he later added. “It feels pretty good right now but it’s not 100 percent.”
Krejci had surgery on the wrist in early May and began his rehab a month ago. He plans on being ready to go after another month, meaning he should be at 100 percent well before Bruins training camp opens on September 17.
Though he said Thursday that he is “looking forward to being in the best shape possible,” such a positive view may have been a little more difficult to take on the night of his injury, a hit from Flyers center Mike Richards.
“It hurt,” Krejci said. “I tried to ice it but then when I had to go on the ice, I couldn’t lift it, so I knew there was something wrong.”
Following x-rays, it became apparant that the wrist would recquire immediate surgery, but it didn’t play out like that. Because the injury occurred early in the first period of the game, Krejci actually had to wait until the game was over so the doctor on hand could tend to him without putting other players in the game at risk. This led to Krejci spending the rest of the game in a room by himself. Though the Bruins eventually won the game, 4-1, the other events of the night seem to stand out more so for Krejci.
“I was sitting in some little room. No TV, nothing, so I couldn’t watch the game,” Krejci said, almost in disbelief all over again.
The doctor and Krejci then waited for the arena to empty so they could leave, but they ended up stuck in traffic. Eventually the surgery was performed and the 24-year-old has proven to have a steady recovery to this point. Now that he’s nearly done with the healing process, Krejci is eager to put the injury and the series — a seven-game defeat — in the past.
“It’s a new year,” Krejci said. “Everybody starts from basically nothing and I’m really excited.”
|Flyers shut down Bruins to force Game 7||05.12.10 at 10:37 pm ET|
Summary — The Flyers became only the sixth team in NHL history to come back from a 3-0 series deficit to force a Game 7 as they beat Boston 2-1 at Wachovia Center in Game 6 of their Stanley Cup semifinal series. Michael Leighton got his first career playoff start and made 30 saves as the Bruins could not end their sudden scoring woes. Tuukka Rask was not up to the task to close out the Flyers for the third straight game as he allowed two goals on 27 Philadelphia shots.
The Flyers continued their charge with their sixth consecutive goal in the series as they opened the scoring at 6:58 in the first period. Simon Gagne put the puck on Rask who made the initial save, but Daniel Carcillo crashed the crease and prevented Johnny Boychuk from clearing the rebound. The puck squirted into the slot where Mike Richards was there to clean up the mess and Philadelphia had an early lead once again.
Danny Briere put the Flyers up by two goals at 16:20 in the second period on the power play as the Flyers had a 4-on-3 advantage with Marc Savard, Daniel Paille in the box for the Bruins and Chris Pronger for Philadelphia. Briere crossed through the slot and let a wrist shot off that Rask got a piece of with his chest and arm but still got through to make it 2-0 heading into the third period.
With Rask on the bench in the final two minutes of play the Bruins pressed the 6-on-5 advantage and Milan Lucic banged home a rebound with 1:00 remaining on the clock to make the final minute of play tense but Leighton was able to hold on. The goal snapped 134:12 of scoreless play from the Bruins as they had not scored since the final minute of Game 4 when Mark Recchi forced overtime.
Mike Richards — Scored the opening goal and assisted on the second to pace the Flyers attack.
Michael Leighton — Withstood the Bruins second period pressure and delivered a win to Philadelphia to push the Bruins to a Game 7.
Matt Carle — The oft-overlooked defenseman paired with Chris Pronger had six blocked shots to keep the puck from getting to Leighton’s crease. Carle also has a plus-6 rating for the series.
Turning Point — Briere’s goal. The Bruins spent most of the second period in the Flyers zone but started taking penalties starting a high-stick by Savard at 15:15 and then a Paille elbow at 15:49. Pronger checked Zdeno Chara at the top of the crease and went for interference and the Flyers wasted no time in the 4-0n-3 as Briere used Rask as a pinball flipper to stop any momentum the Bruins had gained.
Key Play — Leighton made a save on a Mark Stuart shot early in the third period off his shoulder and Miroslav Satan crashed the net but was unable to slam the puck through the crease and a chance for the Bruins to make it a one-goal game was snuffed out. Boston would go on the power play a few minutes later when Matt Carle went for tripping at 5:15 but could muster nothing as the Flyers were aggressive at the point of attack to thwart the chance.
|1st Period Summary: Bruins vs. Flyers Game 6||at 8:45 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — From well before the opening face-off, this game in Philadelphia had a far different feel – in terms of energy in the building – than the previous two. The Flyers capitalized on the early momentum by taking a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
And the Wachovia Center crowd, fired up by video board inspiration from Vince Lombardi, Winston Churchill and graphics that screamed in bold letters, “WE WILL MAKE HISTORY,” had plenty to cheer early on. The Flyers applied pressure in their opening three shifts.
The Flyers rewarded their fans when Mike Richards netted a loose rebound in front of Tuukka Rask at 6:58 of the first period. As he has been since returning to the lineup, Simon Gagne was again the difference-maker, starting the play by putting a quick backhander on Rask that the Bruins goalie could not control.
The Flyers then had a chance to go up two on the first power play of the game. But it was the Bruins who nearly tied it when Trent Whitfield intercepted a pass at the Boston blue line and skated in on Michael Leighton. The Flyers goalie replacing Brian Boucher came up with his biggest save of the season, stoning Whitfield and keeping it, 1-0.
The only bigger save for Philly this season came on the same end of the same sheet of ice on the last day of the regular season when Boucher stopped Olli Jokinen of the Rangers in a shoot-out to send the Flyers to the playoffs.
The Bruins, with Zdeno Chara pinching in deep as he did during the season when the Bruins were searching for offense, applied good pressure in the final three minutes but still couldn’t break Leighton.
The Bruins, with the late rush, outshot the Flyers, 9-8.
|No Krejci could mean no Cup||05.06.10 at 10:42 am ET|
PHILADELPHIA — All of a sudden the Bruins are missing 89 points of production out of their lineup.
This is not a team that has all that much production to lose, let alone almost 100 points. Marco Sturm (22 goals, 15 assists) may not be seen as a huge loss for Boston, as he had not scored a goal in the playoffs and only had two strikes since March 13, but the loss of David Krejci (17 goals, 35 assists) to a reportedly broken wrist after a hit from Flyers captain Mike Richards in Game 3 is a huge blow.
Krejci was the key player to spur the Bruins to their late-season run and has been instrumental in their playoff success. It took the young Czech center a while to get going this year coming off of offseason hip surgery but he has been near the top of his game since the Olympic break, constantly creating chances around the net and showing that he has the potential to be a top-tier offensive talent in the league. He can be a joy to watch as he breaks down would-be defenders, like he did in Game 2 against the Flyers when eluding pressure on the half wall before sending the puck to the other side of the rink where Dennis Wideman and Blake Wheeler ended up assisting Miroslav Satan (who else?) on a goal.
Fact of the matter is, without Krejci, this magical playoff run the Bruins are on will probably come to and end. Center is the deepest position on the Bruins between Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Marc Savard, Vladimir Sobotka and Steve Begin but Sobotka is not the type of guy who can step up his game to the point of coming anywhere near being able to replace Krejci. Sobotka is a high-effort guy, concerned enough with just keeping his spot on the roster, let alone turning in to an offense-first NHL centerman.
So, sans Krejci, Boston just does not have another guy like that who can extend their roster. Savard, Bergeron and Krejci are supposed to complement each other, not replace each other. If Savard could have started ramping up his production coming off a Grade 2 concussion, you would have to like the Bruins chances against anybody in the NHL with their skill down the middle. There are no forwards on the roster who, without some extraordinary breakout playoff hysterics, can pick up that production. If you look at the Bruins roster they are strong on defense (and about to get stronger if Mark Stuart can come back soon), great in goal with Tuukka Rask or even Tim Thomas (because, yes, Thomas can still be a great goaltender) and deep down center. Forward is the lacking position and [potential No. 2 overall pick] Taylor Hall would be quite a welcome addition to the team come training camp next fall.
But that does not help the Bruins right now. With or without Krejci, there is almost no way that the Flyers are going to beat Rask four straight to take the series, but the production and roster-lengthening effect of Krejci cannot be replaced. This is especially pertinent if the Bruins end up playing the Penguins who are perhaps the deepest team at center in the entire league with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal.
Either way, it is a sad day for the wily Czech. Knowing his quiet intensity, it will be difficult for him to watch his teammates continue to battle for Lord Stanley’s Cup from the press box.
UPDATED — Now with correct math.
|Flyers looking for good ole home cooking||05.05.10 at 12:58 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — Centermen think they are so clever.
Faceoffs. Simple science or mischievous underworld of cheats and chicanery? A sub-theme to the Bruins and Flyers series that developed during Game 2 and is carrying into Game 3 in Philadelphia on Wednesday has been the Boston’s dominance on the dot. Flyers captain Mike Richards did not fare well on Monday against Patrice Bergeron in the circle and he is hoping that being home in the Wachovia Center will help take away the Bruins advantage.
“They are good faceoff guys and they used the home ice to their advantage,” Richards said. “He [Bergeron], is strong, I think he has a enough respect where he is allowed to cheat a little bit more. I am not sure what else but faceoffs are all about who can cheat the most and in the long run it is a lot easier taking face offs at home than it is on the road.”
Boston centerman David Krejci said after Game 2 that “every center has his tricks” and then refused to elaborate on exactly what tricks he has up his sleeve. It is like every center in the NHL is part of a little fraternity and each unit has their own secret handshake when it comes to gaining the advantage on the dot.
“Every one cheats on faceoffs, it is just about who does it the best,” Richards said. “Home ice I think it is a lot easier to take faceoffs than it is on the road and obviously is better to play with the puck so we will use that to our advantage tonight.”
What Bergeron does so well in the circle is get his shoulder down, quick stick and box out. Some guys do not come to a full stop when skating in for the drop, giving them more momentum in getting that shoulder down and the other center off the puck.
“I do it too. I do it all the time, everybody does,” Richards said. “Just look for the edge to win the faceoffs and I think the refs have been doing a great job of letting us pause a little bit.”
Richards mentioned multiple times that “it is easier to win faceoffs on home ice.” What he is basically saying is that is when teams have the last change they can craft their matchups to their benefit. For instance, Richards never touched the ice in the first two games without Bergeron and Zdeno Chara on his back. Flyers coach Peter Laviolette would double shift Richards and Chara would double shift as well. Laviolette has been scrounging around for trios and pairs that can break down the Bruins.
“I don’t think there was as much line juggling as you guys would call it,” Laviolette said. “It is more of trying to get somebody away from somebody cause we can get different matchups. It will be easier at home where we can start where we want and play from there. We are double shifting some guys in the lineup so that is a cause (of the line juggling) as well. Just with opportunities when we have been behind, we need to get guys out on the ice so we have some guys who we will shift them a little bit more with the guys out of the lineup.”
Laviolette is, of course, referring to Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne as the guys out of the lineup. Richards was Laviolette’s primary center during the regular season and took 1373 faceoffs at 50.7 percent success rate. Carter was the next guy on the list with 1314 at 52. 4 percent and both were about 500 ahead of the next guy on the team, Blair Betts at 855.
“We have to do a better job of doing being ready on the face offs,” Laviolette said. “I thought there were some faceoffs that we won and they picked it up and therefore it looked like their win. We have to be ready as a group. The centermen have to do a good job but our wingers have to do a good job as well.”
Can the Flyers change their fortunes around in this series with the simple advantages that come with being on home ice? Creating matchups for the purpose of forechecking and winning face offs is definitely an important part of the game but, as Laviolette points out, the Flyers still have to execute.