|Bruins have one last chance to get traffic in Vancouver||06.15.11 at 3:40 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — The Bruins had no problem addressing the elephant in the province Wednesday.
The Bruins don’t play well in British Columbia (specifically Vancouver) — at least they haven’t thus far in the Stanley Cup finals. They’ve been sound defensively for the most part, and Tim Thomas has turned in the same type of dominance he’s turned in (three goals against in three losses) anywhere else. Yet the team hasn’t been able to create traffic and set up shop in front of Roberto Luongo, limiting their close-range chances and handing the Vancouver goaltender a pair of easy shutouts.
“It seems like we haven’t brought our physical game here to Vancouver,” native Milan Lucic said. “If we can just focus on that and moving our feet, kind of just playing more of a relaxed game ‘¦ It feels like we’ve been tense the last three times that we’ve played here, so if we can do that I like our chances.”
It was interesting that Lucic admitted to playing tense, as it’s seemed clear that the Bruins’ offense has seemed to be just that on the Rogers Arena ice. If there’s any time for them to break out of it, it’s now.
“I don’t think that we’ve had our best games out here,” Chris Kelly said Wednesday, “so hopefully tonight we can correct that and come out and play our best game.”
It’s been a breeze for the Bruins when it comes to getting in close when playing at home. So why, in Vancouver, have the Canucks been able to box them out as well as they have? And why, in turn, have the Bruins seemingly bought into the mirage that is a stronger Vancouver defense at home?
“I think [it's been] a bit of both,” Kelly said of whether it’s been the Canucks’ defense or the Bruins’ offense that is to blame for Boston’s lack of traffic in British Columbia. “Give them credit. They’ve done a good job boxing us out, preventing us from getting to the front of the net, but I think we need to battle a little harder and find ways to get there.”
If the Bruins can’t find ways to battle harder, their season will end in so-close-yet-so-far fashion. Coach Claude Julien has sent a message to the B’s since they closed out Game 6. The message?
“Crash ‘n bang,” Tyler Seguin said. “We made our adjustments, and obviously we want to get up in their face a little bit more. I think last time in their building they took it to us more than [we did to them], and we definitely want to respond with just as much if not more physicality.”
Yes, the Bruins have been a different, weaker animal in Vancouver than they have been in Boston. But when it comes to Wednesday night, they have to be aware that with the Stanley Cup just 60 minutes (or more) of hockey away from being theirs, they have to look at it as one game to shine, rather than the fourth game of a rough Vancouver experience.
“That’s kind of why we think it’s a different mindset tonight,” Seguin said, “because it’s just one game.
|David Krejci: Revolving door at RW makes it ‘hard to get the chemistry going’||06.13.11 at 1:02 pm ET|
Everyone knew the loss of Nathan Horton was going to be a big blow for the Bruins. But after Rich Peverley scored two goals while playing on the top line in Game 4, some of the questions about how the Bruins were going to replace Horton subsided. Then they rose right back to the surface after the top line — along with the rest of the offense — was shut down in Game 5.
Although Peverley is the one who has scored on the first line that includes mainstays David Krejci and Milan Lucic, he hasn’t been a permanent fixture there. Michael Ryder and Tyler Seguin have also seen time there in the two-plus games since Horton went down. Krejci admitted Monday that it has been tough playing with new right wings after having Horton on his flank pretty much all season.
“As a line, me and Looch have basically played every time with a different guy, so it’s hard to get the chemistry going,” Krejci said. “Obviously you like to have your linemates and stick with them so you can get chemistry going, but it’s kind of hard to do. With the power plays and PKs, it’s tough to get us there together.”
Krejci said he was hoping that being at home Monday night and having the last change would help stabilize the lines a little bit, but Claude Julien said that isn’t necessarily something he’s trying to do.
“It’s been by design,” Julien said when asked about the revolving door. “We talked about that when Horton went down. I had to use different players, so that’s exactly what I’ve done.”
Although Lucic agreed with Krejci about the adjustment not being easy, he said they’re not going to use it as an excuse for anything.
“It’s tough because we’re obviously used to Nathan being there on our right side, and the same game you have Peverley, Ryder and Seguin on the right side,” Lucic said. “But you don’t want to make excuses. Everybody has to do their part when we’re out there. We still have to play the same way we always do. Not much is going to change tonight, so we’re going to have to find a way.”
Pederson said he was surprised at the Bruins’ inability to match the Canucks’ intensity in Game 5 Friday night.
“Momentum has been funny this series,” Pederson said. “The Bruins had momentum going out to Vancouver and I thought let Vancouver off the hook. They didn’t make [Roberto] Luongo‘s life very difficult. They had four power plays, and all they needed was just even one to get some momentum. Vancouver, to me, was the far more desperate hockey club, outhitting and taking the play to the Bruins.”
Asked about Luongo’s comments regarding Tim Thomas, Pederson said Luongo may have been affected by all the pressure he faced going back to Vancouver and felt a little smug after posting a shutout following two routs in Boston.
“Tim Thomas has played spectacular this entire series, every game,” Pederson said. “Win, lose or draw, I think Tim Thomas is going to be your Conn Smythe winner anyway. To me, it was more of [Luongo] was just relieved they had won the game.”
Pederson talked about the Bruins’ matchups ‘ specifically how they try to get defensemen Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg on the ice against the Canucks’ first line ‘ and how it’s affected the attack.
“I think they work so hard at trying to get that, I think sometimes it takes away from your offense,” Pederson said. “If they’re able to win tonight, which I expect, then I would think maybe they may try to change things up a little bit [for Game 7] and maybe split Chara and Seidenberg so that one of two of those are on the ice every time.”
Pederson picked Milan Lucic as the key to the Bruins’ offensive success.
“I think that’s going to be the key for the Bruins, is attacking, five-man attack, get the forechecking game going and get the Garden crowd into this thing early on,” he said. “We said it all season long, obviously Thomas is the key in goal, but to me, the key person up front is Milan Lucic. He’s the key that sets the pace for this hockey club. He’s the guy that gets that puck dumped softly into the corner, making the defenseman turn around, and that’s defenseman knows ‘ he can hear him coming ‘ he knows it’s going to be a big hit. And as soon as that big hit happens, the Garden crowd goes crazy, momentum happens and the Bruins can get a team on the run.”
|Rich Peverley does his best Nathan Horton and the Bruins are grateful||06.09.11 at 1:09 am ET|
After all, Nathan Horton has done it all this postseason for the Bruins – especially in the clutch. There was the overtime winner in Game 5 against Montreal. There was the overtime winner in Game 7 against Montreal.
And there was game-winner against Tampa Bay in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.
But Horton won’t be playing anymore this season. Peverley was moved up to the top line of David Krejci and Milan Lucic and responded with first and last goals of a 4-0 thumping of the Canucks to even the series at 2-2 going back to Vancouver.
Peverley wasn’t informed he was on the top line until just before the game.
“Just before warm-ups,” Peverley said when asked when he found out he was playing on the top line. “I had no idea who was going to go in there, if it was going to be me or [Michael Ryder]. Rydes took a lot of shifts with them too. [Tyler Seguin] was in there, too. Nothing is set in stone.
“I haven’t contributed as well as I think I could, offensively. Anytime you can help out, especially in this environment, you want to do so.”
Julien has experimented with different looks for his top line and came to the conclusion before Game 4 that Peverley was his choice.
“We had different looks,” Julien said. “We saw [Michael] Ryder go up there a few times as well when Rich was killing penalties. I said I’d use different players at that position. Pev’s got good speed. Their line had forechecks pretty well with Lucic on one side. We thought we’d keep that going. He still has pretty decent hands. We thought we would start with that. Michael is another guy who can fit on that line as well. Certainly Tyler [Seguin] was a consideration. His skill and speed level on that line at times also.”
|Barry Melrose on M&M: ‘Boston has to win this game to have a chance of winning this series’||06.08.11 at 2:45 pm ET|
ESPN hockey analyst Barry Melrose joined the Mut & Merloni show Wednesday afternoon to talk about the Stanley Cup finals and Wednesday night’s Game 4. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
When asked if he would be sitting with the Green Men at the game, Melrose joked: “I stay away from the Green Men. I can’t even believe they got into the country. I’m a little embarrassed about letting those guys in.”
He added: “We keep al-Qaida out, but we let these two guys in? What’s that all about?”
Melrose said that the finger-taunting in Game 3 has helped made this series an exciting one. However, it may come back to bite Boston in Game 4.
“I think [Alexandre] Burrows should’ve been suspended,” Melrose said. “I said that from Day 1. I think that if he would’ve been suspended that would’ve put away the finger crap. But I like the finger stuff. I thought it was funny. I had some fun with it. It’s interesting. Five years from now when we’re talking about this series, what are we going to talk about? We’re going to be talking about that stuff with the fingers and [Milan] Lucic and Burrows and stuff like that. I have no problem with that. It’s interesting. But, the NHL doesn’t want it.
“Obviously, the referees are going to crack down tonight. They’re going to be reffing very close to their vest. I think that favors Vancouver. Boston’s got to be aggressive. They’ve got to be physical. And the referees are going to be told to call everything, so we might see a lot of penalties tonight.”
The Bruins, coming off an 8-1 win over the Canucks in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals, have a chance to tie the series up Wednesday in Boston. Thus far in the playoffs, the Bruins have followed up their first win of a series with another one the next day. Here is a preview of Game 4:
FOUR THINGS THE BRUINS NEED TO DO
- Figure out life after Nathan Horton, and fast: At the very least, David Krejci and Milan Lucic will be playing with someone they haven’t played with much this season, so they’ll need to click fast. Michael Ryder and Rich Peverley seem to be the best options.
- Beat them physically, but watch out: The refs are going to be on extra lookout for extra curricular stuff. The Canucks might want to entice the Bruins, but the B’s have to keep in mind that the other guys aren’t interested in fighting as much as they are in drawing penalties. As for the finger stuff, there probably aren’t many players who want to be the one that ends up costing his team a goal because he stuck his fingers in another players’ mouth.
- Keep the pedal to the metal on the power play: The Bruins have now scored power play goals in back-to-back games for just he second time this postseason. The other time occurred in Games 3 and 4 of the conference semifinals vs. the Flyers.
- Treat it as a must-win: The Bruins can either tie the series or end up going to Vancouver down three games to one. It would be hard to imagine the B’s overcoming such a deficit, so the level of desperation has to be high on Wednesday night.
- The Canucks outshot the Bruins, 41-38, in Game 3. The B’s are now 10-4 in games in which they’ve been outshot. They had a 6-0 mark in such games through the first two rounds, and have gone 4-4 when being outshot the last two rounds.
- Tim Thomas allowed five goals in the team’s Game 6 loss to the Lightning. Since then, he’s allowed five goals over four games.
- Former Boston College and Bruins defenseman Andrew Alberts has had a negative rating in four of the five games he’s played this postseason. The 16:28 he played in Game 3 made for a postseason high. Part of that is a result of the team having five defensemen for all but five minutes of the game.
- Chris Kelly‘s goal in Game 3 was his first since removing the full cage from his helmet. Kelly had four goals while wearing the cage, but had gone 11 straight games without a goal, nine of which were cageless. Now, the curse of the cageless Kelly can be laid to rest.
FOUR PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON
- Tyler Seguin: The rookie hasn’t registered a point since Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals, and he hasn’t played particularly well since Game 3 of that series. Now his scoring ability is more of a need for the Bruins than a luxury with Horton out.
- Roberto Luongo: Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault didn’t want to pull Luongo, and Luongo didn’t want his coach to pull him on a night in which the floodgates opened wide. Now it’s a matter of how he bounces back. There’s no history to guide this one, as he had never allowed eight goals before, and the only time in which he allowed seven was Game 6 against the Blackhawks last year in the second round, a contest in which Vancouver was eliminated.
- Henrik and Daniel Sedin: It has to have dawned on the Sedin twins that they haven’t been their dominant selves this series. Aside from a two-point performance in Game 2 from Daniel, the Sedin twins have been kept off the scoring sheet. Daniel has an even rating this series, while Henrik has only a minus-1 rating and a big hit from Thomas in Game 3 to show for himself.
|Milan Lucic says Vancouver fans harassed his family at Game 1||06.07.11 at 2:37 pm ET|
Milan Lucic has been the man of the hour throughout the Stanley Cup playoffs, as he hails from Vancouver and plays for the Bruins. He had plenty of family in attendance for the first two games of the series at Rogers Arena, but when asked Tuesday to address the rowdiness of Boston fans, noted that his family had a tough time in Vancouver.
A Vancouver reporter asked Lucic about the way Boston fans treat out-of-towners, saying that Vancouver natives had phoned his station saying they were verbally abused, among other things, by Bostonians after Game 3.
“It’s funny they say that,” a suddenly fired-up Lucic began, “because I remember after Game 1, people in Vancouver throwing popcorn and peanuts at my grandparents. That’s almost as low as it gets as that goes. They’re my grandparents. They’re in their sixties. If there is anyone you should show respect to, it’s them.
“Also, my uncle and his uncle, [fans] were pouring beers on their seats in Vancouver. There’s no difference between the two cities. I said it before the series started: they’re two really passionate [fanbases], they’re really into their teams, and there’s nothing more that Boston fans want than for us to win and there’s nothing more than Vancouver wants than for their team to win.”
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