|Milan Lucic: ‘This is where players are remembered the most’||06.24.13 at 2:14 pm ET|
Bruins players spoke to a jam-packed room of reporters in comically large media scrums after what might have been their last morning skate of the season. They answered their questions, sounded optimistic, but Milan Lucic sounded tired of his own words. He looked, pretty obviously, like a guy who just wanted to get back on the ice for Game 6.
After all, the Bruins know their situation: Win and it’s Game 7. Lose and it’s over.
“When you’re in a moment like this, there’s definitely nothing to save it for. You don’t come this far to lose, right?” Lucic said. “It would have been easy to quit two months ago in that Game 7 in Toronto to get ourselves through that game. There’s no reason why we can’t dig deep and find a little bit extra to get us through this one.”
Added Lucic: “This is where players are remembered the most. You’ve got to find it within you to do whatever you can. You never know when you’re going to be back in this situation, and you’ve got to make the most of the opportunity that’s given to you. Right now you’ve got to view this as an opportunity and try to do everything you can to force a Game 7.”
The Bruins came back against Toronto in the most unfathomable way possible. If they’re trailing by three goals midway through the third on Monday (or maybe Wednesday), you can bet that they’ll be toast. Still, the lesson in Toronto’s collapse is that anything is possible. Both teams will have the rosters they’ve had throughout the series (Patrice Bergeron and Jonathan Toews are in), so the Bruins don’t need to worry about anything but coming out of Game 6 with a win.
How might they do that? Getting better looks against Corey Crawford would be a start. The B’s outshot the Blackhawks in the early going of Game 5 (the Blackhawks held the overall edge at 32-25), but they didn’t pepper his glove side the way they did when they scored five against him in Game 4. Lucic says the B’s need to take whatever chances they can get.
In general the Bruins could stand to get more out of the top line of Lucic, David Krejci and Nathan Horton. Though they produced a goal in Game 5, the members of the line have yet to score since Lucic’s two-goal performance in Game 1.
Consider the circumstances of their most promising period in a while. The Bruins had the Blachawks on their heels at points in the third period and saw the Krejci line produce a goal, but they were able to do that with Jonathan Toews not in the game. The Krejci line scored against the Bickell – Kruger – Kane line on a Zdeno Chara blast, but given that the Blackhawks were mixing and matching without this season’s Selke winner, the Krejci line played against the Kane line and also Dave Bolland‘s line in the third. Still, you’ll take results either way, and though Chicago got that goal back on a Bolland empty-netter and sealed up Game 5, Krejci was encouraged by his line’s third period.
“I think we had a great third period,” Krejci said. “Maybe the best in the whole finals. We’ve got to try to build on that and bring it to tonight’s game from the first minute to the end.”
Krejci still leads all playoff skaters in a landslide with 25 points (the next guys have 19), but he has yet to go off in the finals like he has in series past — most notably, they could use some production like he had in the first round. After having 13 points (five goals, eight assists) against the Maple Leafs, Krejci has put up four points in each of the last three series: four assists against the Rangers in five games, four goals against the Penguins in four games, and four assists against the Blackhawks through four games.
If the Bruins are to push this to seven, more offensive output from their top line would go a long way.
“We need to do more. We’ve definitely talked about being better,” Lucic said. “We’ve been playing well throughout the whole playoffs, and we’ve talked about [how] there’s no reason we can’t bring our best in situations like this.”
|Bruins’ physical play helped lift them back into Game 2||06.16.13 at 8:47 pm ET|
The Blackhawks know they aren’t the NHL’s most physical team — both coach Joel Quenneville and defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson acknowledged the fact on Sunday. Whether or not that played a role in the Bruins’ comeback win in Game 2 is harder to determine, but Quenneville said it’s a possibility.
“It’s hard to gauge,” Quenneville said. “I know you look at the hit sheet game to game, and I think we’re always on the underside of it by whatever number or margin. You’ve got certain guys that are more physical than others. I think we’ve got to be harder to play against than we were last night.”
The recorded number of hits the Bruins had compared to the Blackhawks isn’t particularly significant, given that hits can be measured differently in every venue. But as the Bruins worked their way back from a flat first period, outmuscling their opponents for loose pucks and seeing their hardest hitters — like Milan Lucic, who saw more time on the ice than any Bruins forward except David Krejci — play their hard-nosed style helped them even out the game.
The Blackhawks have faced teams known for their physicality before in this postseason, most notably the Kings. Quenneville said they’ve responded to the Bruins’ big hits much the same way they did to Los Angeles’.
“As long as we’re not deterred in where we have to travel to be successful, is something we’ll talk about,” Quenneville said. “L.A. is a physical team. Boston, they’re a big team. At the same time, we can’t get distracted knowing if we get out-hit, it makes a difference. Our guys have to travel, whether it’s to the net or first to pucks, we’ve got to be there.”
Defenseman Duncan Keith agreed, saying he thought the problems came when the Blackhawks were outworked in puck battles.
|Stanley Cup finals Game 1 postgame notes: Blackhawks 4, Bruins 3 (3OT)||06.13.13 at 1:25 am ET|
Andrew Shaw scored off a double deflection at 12:08 of triple overtime to give the Blackhawks a 4-3 win over the Bruins in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals Wednesday night at the United Center in Chicago. It was the longest overtime game in Stanley Cup finals play since Petr Klima beat the Bruins in triple overtime in Game 1 of the 1990 finals at Boston Garden.
With 52 minutes, eight seconds of overtime play, it was the fifth-longest finals game in history and the longest since Detroit beat Carolina on June 8, 2002, a game that took 54 minutes, 47 seconds. The longest game in finals history came on May 15, 1990, at Boston Garden when Petr Klima scored at 55:13 of overtime.
Tuukka Rask made 59 saves while Corey Crawford stopped 51 shots for the Blackhawks.
Milan Lucic scored Boston’s first two goals of the Stanley Cup finals, staking Boston to a 2-0 lead midway through the second period. Lucic scored on a pretty assist from Nathan Horton just over 13 minutes into the game.
Lucic scored on a shot from between the circles just 51 second into the second period.
‘¢ The game was the longest of this postseason at 52:08 of overtime and stands as the fifth-longest game in Stanley Cup final history.
‘¢ The Bruins played their 123rd lifetime playoff overtime game, and they now have a 53-67-3 record in playoff overtime. They are 4-2 in overtime in this postseason. It was their 64th on the road and that record now stands at 23-40-2.
‘¢ It was Boston’s 21st multiple-overtime playoff game in their history and second of this postseason. It was the sixth game in their history to go into three or more overtimes and they now have a 3-2 mark in triple-overtime games and an 0-1 record in a six-overtime game. It was the fourth-longest game in Bruins history.
‘¢ The Blackhawks played their 84th lifetime playoff overtime game, and they now have a 45-39 record in playoff overtime. They are 4-1 in overtime in this postseason. It was their 43rd on home ice, and that record now stands at 27-16.
‘¢ It was Chicago’s 20th multiple-overtime playoff game in their history and second of this postseason. It was the seventh game in their history to go into three or more overtimes and they now have a 4-3 mark in triple-overtime games. It was the third-longest game in Blackhawks history.
|Adam McQuaid has moved beyond joy of Game 4 against Pittsburgh||06.10.13 at 2:46 pm ET|
Friday was quite the night for Adam McQuaid.
He fulfilled Milan Lucic‘s prophecy of scoring a goal, a tally that sent the Bruins onto their second Stanley Cup finals appearance in three seasons. He savored the moment, talked to friends who texted him congratulations and got his rest.
Now, all of that is in the distant past.
‘That night was pretty fun but turn the page and [get] focused for the next round here,” McQuaid said Monday as the Bruins began to prep for the Blackhawks on the ice. ‘I had a few more messages than normal. It was nice. Just turn the page now and get re-focused.”
The Bruins skated on Sunday but Monday had more a regular feel as the Bruins staff had a day to break down film and get their team ready.
‘Yeah, we need to make sure that we’re ready to go,” McQuaid said. “We’re facing a real tough challenge. We have to make sure we’re focused and at our best here.”
McQuaid and the Bruins defensive corps will have their hands full with the likes of Patrick Kane, Bryan Bickell, Jonthan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa and Michal Handzus. McQuaid was watching all of them Saturday night when the Hawks won Game 5 in double-overtime on a Kane hat trick.
‘They’re a well-balanced team,” McQuaid said. “They come hard with a lot of talent. And again, they’re another team that can generate offense and is strong on the puck. It’s going to be a good challenge.’
Both the Bruins and Blackhawks came perilously close to not making this date in the finals. The Bruins had their epic comeback from 4-1 down in the last 11 minutes of Game 7 against Toronto in the opening round. The Hawks were down 3-1 to the Red Wings before winning three straight in the second round.
‘To get that point and to be able to come through it, maybe we were able to relax a little bit and go out and play the way we’re capable of playing, where at times before, maybe we weren’t,” McQuaid said of being down in Game 7. “Maybe we were a little too worried about the result instead of going out and playing our game and giving ourselves the best chance.
‘I think you see for our teams to get this point usually they go through something like that. Chicago came back from that 3-1 [deficit] against Detroit. I guess we’ve learned nothing is over until it’s over. So, something to learn from, I guess.’
This is not the first trip to the finals for McQuaid, who of course was part of the 2011 Bruins team. He said that might help at first but then, it will come down to execution on the ice.
‘Having been there before, everything won’t be totally new,” he said. “But at the same time, it’s a new year. We have to be sure we’re approaching it the right way, that we’re not thinking that just because we’ve been there before that we’re going to have the same result if we just go out and play. We have to make sure we’re approaching this as a new situation, a new year and being ready to go.’
|Bruins’ top two lines face various challenges vs. Penguins||06.01.13 at 1:36 pm ET|
PITTSBURGH — Defensive pairings aside, the Bruins’ top two lines have their work cut out for them.
The Bruins will likely try to match the Milan Lucic – David Krejci – Nathan Horton line, with the Zdeno Chara–Dennis Seidenberg pairing, against the Penguins‘ top line of Evgeni Malkin between James Neal and Jarome Iginla. Patrice Bergeron‘s line can be expected to be matched up against the Chris Kunitz – Sidney Crosby – Pascal Dupuis line.
This will be as challenging a series as the Bruins will have this postseason for any of their players, but it will be especially tough on Boston’s top six forwards as they try to handle Pittsburgh’s forecheck while also trying to outscore the team that led the regular season in scoring.
“Obviously you’ve got to be responsible,” Lucic said of handling the Malkin line. “They’re great hockey players. I mean, all three guys on that line have scored 40 goals, two of them (Malkin and Iginla) scored 50. It’s no secret what they can do if you’re making careless plays and turning pucks over. Even on the other line, you look at Kunitz and Dupuis. Both scored 20 goals in a shortened season, and Sidney Crosby is Sidney Crosby. Their top two lines are full of fire power. You can’t be careless and make stupid turnovers.
“As much as there is focus in playing well defensively, we also need to score goals as well. We need to be making good hard plays and try to spend as much time in the offensive zone as we can.”
All six members of Pittsburgh’s top two lines have at least 10 points through 11 games this postseason, with Malkin leading the way with 16 points. Though Krejci leads all postseason players with 17 points through 12 games, the Bruins haven’t had the type of offensive consistency in the playoffs as the Penguins. Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin led the team in goals with 18 and 16, respectively, during the regular season but have combined for just three this postseason, with Seguin having since been demoted to the third line.
Though Krejci, Horton and Lucic all have at least 10 points so far, the Bergeron line hasn’t gotten that type of production. Marchand has nine points (two goals, seven assists), Bergeron has seven (three goals, four assists) and Jaromir Jagr has no goals and four assists.
Stopping the Penguins’ loaded offense is one thing, but the B’s need to also match their production.
“They’ve definitely had consistency throughout their lineup from start to finish of the season and also so far throughout the playoffs,” Lucic said. “That hasn’t been a problem for them for a while now.”
|Milan Lucic: Penguins are ‘almost like the Miami Heat of the NHL’||05.26.13 at 1:02 am ET|
Now the road gets a lot tougher.
The Bruins enter the Eastern Conference finals against the Penguins as decided underdogs. The Bruins might have the better goalie in Tuukka Rask and may have won the Cup more recently (2011) than the Penguins (2009). But the Penguins have their version of the Big Three in Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jarome Iginla, reminding one player on the Bruins of a powerhouse in the NBA.
“Well, no doubt they’re a great hockey club,” Milan Lucic said after Saturday’s series-clinching 3-1 win over the Rangers at TD Garden. “In my mind, they’re almost like the Miami Heat of the NHL with all the star power they’ve got. Probably the two best players in the world and a 40-goal scorer and the former 50-goal scorer, a future Hall of Famer and a Norris Trophy candidate on their team.
“So, they definitely have a lot of weapons, and in saying all that, I think what makes them successful is they play real well as a team and I think that’s what you’re going to probably see going into this next series, is two well-rounded teams going at it, and for us we’ve got to be ready and excited for the challenge.”
“It was big for us,” Lucic said. “I think the mindset in this room was that we didn’t want to be denied and we knew that he was going to be the best player on their team, and he was in this series for them and he kept a couple of games closer. He stopped me four good times here tonight, but he’s a great goaltender for a reason and he played well and like I said we did whatever we could to try to get to him and we were able to do that.”
What will be the key to beating the Penguins?
“We just got to play a strong team game and play to our strengths,” Lucic said. “We’re a team that plays in-your-face-type of hockey and I think what worked for us this series was we were able to establish our forecheck, and we’ve got to keep doing that, and they’re a team that you don’t want to turn the puck over against because they have more than enough weapons to make you pay for it. So, puck management is going to be huge for us, and in saying all that, I think tonight and tomorrow we need to enjoy what we accomplished so far in the playoffs.”
“I’m not going to talk about the Penguins tonight, we just finished against the Rangers. I’ll stick to that, if you don’t mind,” Julien said.
John Tortorella has no such problems giving his opinion about Boston’s chances.
“I think Boston has a really good chance,” Tortorella said. “I think Claude and that staff has done a heck of a job with their club. I can’t believe some of the people, how they second-guess him, just being in the city for a few days, and the type of job he’s done here. That’s a good team. They’re very well-coached, and they’re seasoned. They’ve been through it before, and I give them a lot of credit, as far as what they’ve done with their club. They’re a good hockey team.”
|Andy Brickley on M&M: ‘Who can handle’ a determined Milan Lucic?||05.14.13 at 1:06 pm ET|
NESN Bruins commentator Andy Brickley joined Mut & Merloni on Tuesday to talk about the Bruins’ historic comeback in Game 7 against the Maple Leafs.
Brickley admitted he started questioning his faith in the Bruins when they fell behind by three goals in the third period before rallying for a 5-4 overtime victory.
“My believability was challenged that they could come back once we got close to that 10-minute mark,” Brickley said. “But I will go back to the beginning of the third period. When we were trying to set the stage, we talked about — I think Jack [Edwards] used the phrase ‘final 20 minutes of someone’s season.’ I wasn’t convinced of that. I thought that game would go to overtime. But when it did get 4-1, yeah, I certainly had my doubts. It was creeping in.
“No surprise, though, when you look back at that third period, that a guy like Milan Lucic would spearhead that charge. It’s in his DNA, it’s in his makeup. When he’s that determined, that committed and refuses to lose that attitude, who can handle him?”
When the Bruins started to exert their will late in the third period, the Maple Leafs showed their inexperience.
“Absolutely unchartered water for these guys, and that certainly worked in the Bruins’ favor,” Brickley said. “The minute you start to put a little pressure on a team that’s trying to protect a three-goal lead, and really, because they haven’t been in that closeout situation in the NHL playoffs — you can be in those positions during the regular season, with a three-goal lead or a two-goal lead in the third period, it’s a heck of a lot easier than it is in the postseason. Especially when you’re playing a team that supposedly, and in all probability, is a superior team to you.
“The minute [Nathan] Horton scores on that great rush up the ice by Lucic, the power move around the net and the nice pass out front, now that doubt seems to creep in. You start sneaking peeks at the clock, you start to watch the clock a little bit. You have the believability in your goaltender, even though he played really well in Game 5 and Game 6, can he handle the onslaught that you know is coming here in the final surge by Boston. And because they don’t have that experience on their resume, you knew that there was a lot of doubt, or at least some level of doubt for the Leafs.”