|Maxim Lapierre loves that he’s facing hated Bruins||05.31.11 at 11:29 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — It’s a cliche to say that if one can’t get excited to play this time of year, that they had better check their pulse. Maxim Lapierre‘s pulse is probably berserk right about now.
The 26-year-old Quebec native is realizing a lifelong dream of not only playing in the Stanley Cup finals, but doing so against the Bruins. A childhood of rooting for the Canadiens and five years of playing for the Habs made it so Lapierre could never have anything but negative feelings for the Bruins.
“It’s pretty special,” Lapierre said of facing the Bruins. “Being from Montreal, all my life I was kind of raised to hate them, so it’s unreal. I can’t wait to play tomorrow. It’s going to be a great experience for everybody.”
Lapierre was traded from the Canadiens to the Ducks on Dec. 31 of this season. He didn’t stay there long, as he was dealt to the Canucks after playing 21 games for Anaheim.
Now, he finds himself four wins away from the Stanley Cup. His Canucks eliminated the Sharks in five games in the Western Conference finals, so Lapierre and his teammates had plenty of time to watch the Bruins and Lightning series play out. He admits that at least on some level, he hoped it would be the Bruins who would advance.
“A little bit,” Lapierre said. “It would make it special. It’s really special to play against this team. They’re a great team — well-coached, good players, they’re physical, so we’re going to have a real taste of the Stanley Cup finals.”
Lapierre has had more of a taste of facing the Bruins in the postseason. He was on the 2007-08 Habs team that eliminated the B’s in the first round in seven games, and he was with Montreal when the Bruins swept them the following year.
Though he’s scored some goals and racked up some penalty minutes in his 35 career games against the Bruins (including the playoffs), when it comes to the B’s, Lapierre may be best known for being the recipient of a cross-check to the head from Milan Lucic in Game 2 of the 2009 quarterfinals. Lucic received a match penalty and was suspended for Game 3 of the series.
“Tomorrow is a new day. It’s the playoffs. Everybody wants to play their role,” Lapierre said about facing Lucic in the postseason again. “We know Milan is a great player. He’s strong, he’s physical. He’s going to be in our face and he’s going to be ready to play, and so are we.
“That’s part of the game, and I understand that. He’s playing a great role for this team. He’s a good player, and he’s going to be there tomorrow like a warrior and the same thing for our guys. Everybody’s going to be ready. It’s the Stanley Cup finals.”
While Lapierre no longer dons a Canadiens jersey when he goes to work, his Montreal ties remain as strong as ever as he and the Canucks try to take down the Bruins. Lapierre knew he’d be getting support from his loved ones anyways, but when the Bruins are the opponent, it makes it even sweeter.
“A lot of people from Montreal are behind us now, but it won’t be easy at all,” Lapierre said. “This team is unreal. We’re going to have to be ready from the first shift to the last one.”
|Canucks’ Cory Schneider on M&M: Bruins ‘a tough matchup’ in Stanley Cup finals||05.30.11 at 1:00 pm ET|
Former Boston College standout and current Canucks goaltender Cory Schneider joined the Mut & Merloni show Monday morning to talk about the upcoming Stanley Cup finals. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
Schneider said that although the Canucks didn’t learn all that much about the Bruins from their 3-1 loss in February, what he’s noticed most from watching the playoffs is Boston’s depth.
‘They have three deep lines, and offensively even their fourth line is effective in what they do,’ Schneider said. ‘On any given night for them a different guy can step up and be the difference.’
Schneider also said the Canucks would need to keep track of Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron in particular. He called Lucic a ‘big guy who can disrupt a lot of plays and go to the net and create problems.’ He compared Bergeron with Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler: a multi-talented player who contributes on offense, defense, faceoffs and special teams.
‘He [Bergeron] can really burn you if you’re not paying attention,’ Schneider said.
Schneider also complimented Zdeno Chara‘s defense, calling him a ‘No. 1 guy’.
‘He’s got such a long reach that it doesn’t matter who you put out against him, he’s going to try and find a way to shut them down,’ Schneider said. He added that the Canucks’ Swedish twins, Daniel and Henrik Sedin, might be able to beat Chara.
‘You probably haven’t seen anything like them when they’re playing down low,’ Schneider said. ‘They’re cycling the puck and they make these soft passes to each other, you have no idea how they made it. It’s pretty incredible to watch. That will be a great matchup.’
|For Milan Lucic, Stanley Cup finals will be ‘extra special’||05.28.11 at 1:55 am ET|
“I mean, that makes it extra special,” Lucic said. “A lot of good things have happened to me in Vancouver.”
They sure have. Lucic, who was born and raised in Vancouver, got the chance to play junior hockey there for three seasons with the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League. He helped lead the Giants to a Memorial Cup title in 2007, and when the Bruins visited Vancouver earlier this season, the Giants held a “Milan Lucic Night” and inducted him into the club’s Ring of Honour. That trip was made even more memorable when Lucic scored what proved to be the game-winner in a 3-1 Bruins win.
Lucic said it will be great to play in front of friends and family in the finals, but that he might have some work to do when it comes to convincing them to root for his team.
“I know I am going to have to convert a lot of my, well my family is already converted, but a lot of my friends into Bruins fans,” Lucic said. “So that is going to be a little tough to do.”
While Dwayne Roloson was putting forth the performance of a lifetime – epic by even Stanley Cup playoff standards – it was fair to wonder if it just wasn’t meant to be for the Bruins in Game 7.
But for these Bruins, thankfully, that question never even entered their mind. That’s essentially why they were finally able to beat the apparently unbeatable 41-year-old goalie for one Nathan Horton tally with 7:33 left and make it stand in a Game 7 1-0 win for the ages that sends them to the Stanley Cup finals.
“We’ve had a few games like that, even in regular season,” Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said. “To have that performance in Game 7, it’s just nice to see. Everybody bought into it. It was really a strong mindset before the game, throughout the whole game. I was very impressed the way we played and never changed anything.”
“We talked about it between periods, just stick with it, stick with it and eventually, it did happen,” Chara said. “It’s something you have to do that to be able to accomplish something. Everybody has to play the same way. It’s a team discipline.”
Chara and the Bruins were being denied time after time by Roloson, a goalie, who entering Game 7, was 7-0 in elimination games in his career, including four wins in these 2011 playoffs, alone. Read the rest of this entry »
|Regardless of age, Bruins know they might not get this opportunity again||05.27.11 at 2:01 pm ET|
“You know that that’s the case, but you’re going to do everything you can to seize the moment, seize the opportunity,” Seguin said after Friday’s morning skate in anticipation of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals. “Obviously it’s a great opportunity, and it could be the only conference final Game 7 I ever play in, but who can predict that? Every year you just go out, work your hardest, stay focused and see what happens.”
Soon-to-be 23-year-old Milan Lucic is in a similar boat. He said after Game 6 that Friday’s game was the biggest of his and many of his teammates’ careers, and reiterated his point on Friday. In his case, there’s even more incentive to take down the Lightning at TD Garden, as a win at home would take him to his real home in Vancouver for the finals.
“You never know what can happen in the future. You look at myself, as young as I am even, you never even know if you’ll get another chance like this,” Lucic said Friday. “Especially for myself it’s a chance where if you win a game here, you get to play in your home town for the Stanley Cup. You’ve got to go out there and have fun with no regrets, and lay it all out on the line.”
In Seguin’s case, his rookie campaign has him somewhere where many of his veteran teammates have never been. He isn’t surprised by that, but he knows he and his teammates have to make the most of it.
“Obviously, coming into this year, I knew the Bruins were a Cup-contending team, and you never can predict or know what’s going to happen,” Seguin said. “You’ve just got to take advantage of everything you have, every opportunity you have. That’s what I’m doing and that’s what the team’s doing.”
The Bruins are able to appreciate that this isn’t just any opportunity. Regardless of age, it could be the only time (or the last time) they come this close to playing for a Stanley Cup. They have perhaps the best man for getting that message across to the youngsters.
“We’ve talked a lot about it. You just don’t get that opportunity all the time,” 43-year-old Mark Recchi said. “It’s tough to get to this point in this league. It’s a hard league, and there’s a lot of parity in the league. We have a chance to grab it and run with it. It’s just something you’ve really got to enjoy.”
None of the Bruins know whether they’ll ever come this far again in their careers. Their job now is to take it further.
After falling behind, 5-3, more than halfway through the third period of Game 6, the Bruins and their first line ramped up the pressure put on Lightning goaltender Dwayne Roloson in what would eventually be a 5-4 loss. First-line left wing Milan Lucic, who had a first-period goal and assisted the third goal of David Krejci‘s hat trick, hopes that the Bruins’ late surge in Game 6 can extend throughout Friday’s Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.
“It would be nice to start off the game the way we finished [Game 6]. I think we applied a lot of pressure, we saw an opportunity and we started to play with that confidence that we need in order to succeed,” Lucic said. “That’s what it’s all going to come down to tonight: which team is more confident, which team is more determined and which team is more willing to go out there and pay the price to win this game.”
While Lucic was able to list what needed to be done, he noted that simply knowing what to do won’t be enough with a trip to the Stanley Cup finals in his hometown of Vancouver on the line.
“I can give you every cliche in the book, but in the end, what I say, words don’t mean nothing right now,” Lucic said. “Our actions are going to speak louder than anything right now.”
|Bruins-Lightning Game 7: 7 odds and ends||at 1:43 am ET|
With Game 7 just hours away, we’re getting carried away with the number seven. Here are seven stats/tidbits entering the game:
- Tampa has scored in the first 69 seconds of three different games this series, and have won only one of those contests. The B’s have gone on to take the lead in all three games.
- After scoring in the first period of Game 6, Milan Lucic now has six goals in the last six games in which the B’s could eliminate an opponent. In fact, all three of his goals this postseason have come in such games. He had two in Game 4 vs. the Flyers in the second round.
- The Bruins are 10-10 all-time in Game 7′s.
- Friday’s Game 7 will be Boston’s 100th game of the season.
- Tomas Kaberle has four points over the last two games, which ties him with Krejci for most among the B’s in Game 5 and 6. Kaberle’s eight points this postseason put him in a tie with Dennis Seidenberg for most among Bruins defensemen.
- The Bruins have outshot their opponent just once in their last 11 games.
- The only Bruins player with a multi-point game in the team’s Game 7 against the Canadiens this postseason was Andrew Ference, who had two assists.
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