|Milan Lucic is fully prepared for Dale Hunter and his ‘underachieving’ Capitals||04.11.12 at 9:22 am ET|
It was on April 28 that year when Hunter laid out Pierre Turgeon, after Turgeon had just scored the clinching goal for the Islanders late in the third period of the decisive Game 6 of their opening playoff round against Hunter’s Capitals.
Hunter was understandably ticked. But he inexplicably checked Turgeon from behind and into the side boards, separating his shoulder and knocking him out of the next round against the defending champion Penguins.
Hunter received a then-record 21 game suspension for the hit. Turgeon returned for the semi-finals against the eventual champion Canadiens after missing seven games.
Fast forward 19 years and Hunter is now coaching the Capitals in the first-round series against the defending champion Bruins. The Capitals – who finished with the best record in the NHL two seasons ago – were 42-32-8 but had to struggle to get into the playoffs this season in the final week, finishing as the No. 7 seed. That’s quite a change for a team that fired Bruce Boudreau early on this year because they were 12-9-1 and underachieving with names like Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin.
“You can say the Capitals have probably underachieved a bit this year,” Lucic said of the Capitals, who actually won the season series against the Bruins this year, 3-1. “They have a lot of great players over there that can definitely do some damage. They’ve had some success against us this year. Season success and playoff success are two different things, which we’ve found out in the past. We know that they’re a great team and have a lot of great weapons and a lot of great players who can step up and be an impact in this series and I think that’s what’s going to make this a real challenging and hard-fought series for us.”
Hunter instilled a new dedication to physical play and no doubt realizes his finesse-laiden Capitals need to channel at least some of his toughness against the new Big Bad Bruins in order to have a chance.
“Especially playing under Dale Hunter, I’m sure they’re going to be real physical,” Lucic said. “They have some forwards that definitely will get in there and get dirty. Even a guy like Ovechkin is not afraid of the physical play and likes to use his body. It’s a way that they have success. For us, we have to do whatever we can to be physical and I think that’s what’s going to make it even a better series because both teams are going to go after each other.
“Part of our identity and part of our success is being physical, regardless of who we play so we have a game plan and we have a type of way we’re going to play and playing physical is one of the ways. We’re going to do everything we can to establish a forecheck and finish our checks and it’s important for us to do that.”
Lucic insisted the Bruins aren’t about to take the Capitals lightly and certainly place no significance on their No. 7 position in the conference.
“I think you definitely learn a lot,” Lucic said. “You can take from what you’ve done in the past and kind of use that experience, hopefully to your advantage. One thing that we did [this season] was that we never took anyone or any opponent for granted. Just because we’re second and they’re seventh doesn’t mean a thing right now. What happened last year is last year. This is a new year, new playoff. Everyone starts off at 0-0. It’s important for us to have a good start, come out strong and hopefully have a good game in Game 1.”
|Bruins know Cup defense is all about them, not the opponent||04.07.12 at 8:30 pm ET|
Through all the number crunching and scenario possibilities Saturday afternoon, the Bruins knew one thing – it doesn’t matter who they’re playing, they are focused on themselves.
And they like what they’re seeing in the mirror right now.
“Well it helps, it definitely helps,” Milan Lucic said of Saturday’s 4-3 shootout win, giving them four wins in their final five games. “Obviously, there was a bit of a worry I guess when we couldn’t even put two wins together. We were winning one, losing one. Winning one, losing two, winning one. So, you know the fact that we were able to kind of regroup and get things going in is definitely more of a confident feeling and we’re looking forward to the challenge that’s coming up ahead.
“It doesn’t matter at all,” Lucic said when asked if he was planning to pay close attention to Saturday’s night games to see if they’re playing Washington or Ottawa.
“There’s a good saying, ‘In order to be the best, you have to beat the best.’ So, you know, it doesn’t matter who you play or who’s on the other side. It’s about who’s in this room and how we’re going to play so we’re committed to that, and that’s our main focus right now.”
The Bruins are happy with where they’re at following a shootout win against the Sabres that left them with 102 points and the No. 2 spot in the East. They’ll be opening with the Capitals on Thursday at TD Garden, as the Capitals won Saturday night in New York while the Panthers clinched the Southeast Division with a win over Carolina, clinching the No. 3 seed in the East. The Capitals wound up as the No. 7 seed while the Senators – who will play the Rangers – finished as the No. 8 seed.
“I got the app that shows you all the scores on the old iPhone so obviously I’m going to take a look by the end of the night and see who we’re up against,” Lucic said afterward. “It’s going to be a hard-fought battle no matter who we play… We’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Added Claude Julien, “That’s the feel that there should be in the dressing room. Anybody who decides who they want as an opponent, whether it’s, you know, saying, ‘Oh, I’d rather play this team than that team,’ or plays to pick their own opponents don’t deserve to win.
“That’s the way — this is a game. This is not wrestling, it’s not a fake sport, you don’t go out there and pretend to play and make sure you lose because you want a certain team to play against, because karma’s a pretty powerful thing, and I believe in doing the things right. And if we’re going to win, we’re going to have to beat every team that comes in our way, and that’s the way we’ve approached it.”
|Brendan Shanahan on D&C: Brad Marchand ‘didn’t get it’ after five-game suspension||03.13.12 at 11:37 am ET|
NHL head disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan joined Dennis and Callahan Tuesday morning, discussing all things NHL and the job he has done in his first season on the job. Shanahan took over for Colin Campbell (father of Bruins forward Gregory Campbell) on June 1.
Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin was not suspended or fined for his hit from behind on Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk Sunday. Shanahan explained the ruling on the hit, which was called boarding on ice.
“Boychuk’s shoulder is exposed, so it’s a green light, good time to hit, and just as the contact is about to be made Boychuk reverses the puck and turns his back,” he said. “It’s the same with [David] Krejci and Mark Stuart back in December. It was the same a while back when Zach Bogasian of Winnipeg hit Pierre Marc Bouchard of Minnesota, broke his nose and unfortunately there was a concussion, but we felt this was something we have to be consistent on.”
Bruins forward Brad Marchand has been punished multiple times by Shanahan this season, as he was fined $2,500 for his Dec. 5 slew foot on Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen and suspended five-games for his low bridge hit on Canucks blueliner Sami Salo on Jan. 5. Shanahan, who had talked to Marchand over the offseason at Marchand’s request over what he could and couldn’t do, said he had a “forceful” talk with him following his clip on Habs defenseman Alexei Emelin on Feb. 15.
“We had a conversation with Peter Chiarelli on the phone after the low hit on Emelin, which I didn’t think was as low as Salo. I didn’t think deserved a suspension,” he said. “There was just stuff about that hit that just sort of stunk. It wasn’t smart to be tempting fate almost as low. There was 1.6 seconds left in the period, it was in the offensive zone.
“It’s not illegal to hit a guy with 1.6 seconds left. It’s not. You can hit a guy whenever you want. But there were things about that hit ‘¦ it was low again. It seemed from his remarks after the first suspension that he sort of didn’t get it. So we had a really good forceful conversation that didn’t result in a fine or a suspension, but I hope we got to him.”
As for the Bruins in general, Shanahan responded to the idea that he has a bias against the B’s when it comes to suspensions. Marchand, Milan Lucic and Andrew Ference have all been suspended this season for various infractions.
“It’s funny, people in Boston might think I have something against the Bruins, which is so absurd and crazy,” he said. “It makes you feel any better I can promise you all I have to do is flip on my Twitter page, or if I ever wanted to venture onto the internet, almost every team in the league thinks there a specific reason I hate their market and hate their city as well.
“I have to defend why I don’t hate Pittsburgh, or why I don’t hate Montreal, or why I don’t hate Buffalo, or why I don’t hate Minnesota. For Boston, it’s even more absurd, quite honestly. Talk about a team I grew up admiring. Cam Neely is probably the one player I tried to model my game after more than anybody. It doesn’t matter if it’s a team you grew up admiring, or a team you played for, there’s so much scrutiny in this job, you can do this job and you can’t sleep at night, if you don’t do it with as much integrity as possible. That doesn’t mean you’re perfect. You would love to have a perfect season in sports. You can objectively look at this hit and disagree with the assessment, and that’s fair. That’s always going to be fair. But it’s absurd to suggest in any market that we have a grudge or have it in against anybody.”
|David Krejci: ‘You just can’t turn it on when the playoffs come’||03.02.12 at 8:46 am ET|
David Krejci knew full well what his February was like. Like his whole season to this point, it had been very up and down and inconsistent.
That all changed Thursday when the calendar flipped to March. The center-turned-winger was back at center and he netted his second career hat trick, finishing it off with an overtime goal that propelled the Bruins past the Devils, 4-3, in overtime.
Krejci had been in a huge slump coming in, just 13 goals, including two in 13 games in the month of February. His assist totals are also way off. He hasn’t had a helper since Jan. 31 and has 28 for the season, one reason why Julien moved him from center to wing.
But Thursday night with Tyler Seguin on his wing, Krejci was back at center. He looked reenergized and fresh, and most importantly, ready to contribute in a big way down the stretch as the Bruins try to regain their momentum for another spring title run.
“Yeah, I wasn’t thinking about it, I had two goals in the month of February,” Krejci said of his struggles in February. “But, you know, I just take it game by game. I want to do my best every game and I was feeling really good before the game and I got Segs on my line so I was excited about it. We click well together with Looch [Milan Lucic] and him and it was a good game for us. I know we had a little sloppy second period but we came back hard in the third and won the game. That was the most important thing.”
His coach has noticed an improvement of late.
“I think he’s really, he looks more comfortable right now,” Claude Julien said of Krejci. “As I’ve often said, he puts a lot of pressure on himself. He’s probably his worst enemy when things aren’t going well, and because of that, it doesn’t help him in the long run. You try and take some of that pressure off and say, ‘Listen, you’ve just got to go out there and play.’ So, when he feels good about his game, you see a big difference, and that’s what we’ve seen here.”
Like his previous two goals, his overtime goal came as the result of finding space in front of Martin Brodeur. And like his first two goals of the night his timing and positioning in front paid off.
“A little lucky that one, I guess. I was at the end of my shift, I was tired and, you know, Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] made a good play,” he said. “I kind of sensed it that he was going to throw it in front of the net and Z [Zdeno Chara] tried to jam it and I was just at the right time at the right place. I saw Brodeur was down so first thought was go upstairs and it worked that time.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Bruins hope to shake sloppy play as they return from All-Star break||01.30.12 at 9:04 pm ET|
The Bruins are ready to jump back into their busy schedule, and they’re hoping that they’ll look more ready for their games than they did prior to the break.
The B’s were red-hot in November and December, but they limped into the All-Star break with uncharacteristically sloppy games, and a seven game stretch that saw them go 3-3-1. in their last three games prior to the break, the Bruins allowed three or more goals in three straight contests for the first time this season.
Now that the break is over, the Bruins are embracing the fresh start that comes with diving back into game action, and they’re hoping that whatever was plaguing them in past weeks is gone.
“It’s almost a blessing in disguise that we got to shut it off and reload and refocus after a couple crazy games and uncharacteristic games,” Milan Lucic said Monday. “That’s probably the best way to describe it. We’re aware of what we need to get back to doing well.
“The feeling for me coming off this break is that I wanted to get back and be around the boys and start playing again. Hopefully everyone else has got that same feeling, and that’s what’s going to help us be at our best.”
The B’s will be without both Andrew Ference (serving the last game of his three-game suspension) and Nathan Horton (concussion) Tuesday against the Senators, but that doesn’t mean they can’t come out with a better effort Tuesday. The B’s may have peaked in November, but that doesn’t mean they’re incapable of returning to the level of play that saw them go on a 21-2-1 earlier in the season.
“We enjoy winning, and we enjoy playing the way we were in November and the early part of December,” Brad Marchand said. “It’s a little frustrating when you’re not playing your best, and you know you can be better, but that’s how hockey goes. You’re not going to be your best every night. We know that.
“There’s always ups and downs during the season. The thing that you have to be bale to do is make sure you don’t get too high and don’t get too low, and hopefully we’ll be able to bounce back here.”
|NHL rescinds Milan Lucic’s game misconduct from altercation with Canucks||01.07.12 at 6:54 pm ET|
Breathe easy, Bruins fans. Milan Lucic will not be suspended for one game, let alone 10.
The NHL rescinded the game misconduct issued to the Bruins forward Saturday in the first period of the team’s 4-3 loss to the Canucks.
Lucic was tossed from the game for leaving the bench to join an altercation. Upon review, it was determined that Lucic had gotten on the ice for a line change and was actually considering getting back on the bench.
“The referees reacted to what they saw,” NHL director of officiating Terry Gregson said. “The only player they saw coming from the bench area from either team was Lucic. But with the benefit of replay, we can see that Lucic had previously entered the ice over the boards legally to join the play and actually was contemplating stepping back onto the bench through the door when the altercation ensued.
“It should be further noted that a review of the video confirmed that all players on both teams involved in the altercation had entered the ice legally for the purpose of joining the play. None entered the ice for the purpose of joining or starting an altercation, which is prohibited by Rule 70.”
Had the penalty not been rescinded, Lucic could have faced a 10-game suspension, which is issued to players for leaving the bench to participate in altercations.
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