|Milan Lucic breaks out of slump with two goals in Game 4 win||05.07.11 at 2:09 am ET|
Friday night’s series-clinching win over the Flyers was special for everyone involved with the Bruins, but it was a little extra special for Milan Lucic. The team’s leading goal scorer during the regular season entered the game without a goal in the playoffs. In fact, he hadn’t scored in 20 games going back to the end of the regular season.
That drought finally came to an end when Lucic one-timed home a centering pass from Nathan Horton for a power-play goal 12:02 into the game.
“It was great,” Lucic said when asked how he felt after the goal. “It was a great feeling once I scored that goal just to get that monkey off my back and get that lead.”
Lucic wasn’t done, either. He gave the Bruins a 3-1 lead with 4:57 remaining in the game when he beat Sergei Brobovsky five-hole on a breakaway for his second goal of the night. That was the backbreaker for the Flyers, who had turned up the pressure after the Bruins made it 2-1 earlier in the third.
“That’s what it was all about here. We had to weather that storm,” coach Claude Julien said. “When you are desperate and you need to score to stay in the series, you know they are going to give it their best shot. … We did a great job until we got that third goal, which was a big goal. Certainly it relieved a lot of pressure.”
Lucic admitted that he got frustrated at times during the slump, but he credited his teammates for supporting him and helping him get through it.
“My teammates, especially my linemates with [David] Krejci and Horton, we’ve been able to create so much chemistry here,” Lucic said. “They had my back and they just told me, ‘It’s going to come. Just keep sticking with it.’ I tried my hardest not to get frustrated. There was a time there when I was really frustrated. But right now, obviously it feels good to step up and help the team win a big game.”
Assistant captain Mark Recchi said that sort of team unity is one of the biggest reasons the Bruins are where they are right now.
“That’s what good teams do,” Recchi said. “When you haven’t scored for a while, you tend to get tight. He’s a young kid and hopefully now he’s found a really good time to start getting hot. He’s been a great teammate to everybody else this year. When guys are struggling or they’re fighting to score goals, what good teams do is find ways to help him and take that pressure off of him.”
|Lightning doesn’t strike twice, but it awaits: Bruins sweep Flyers||05.06.11 at 10:42 pm ET|
By DJ Bean and Scott McLaughlin
The Bruins finished off the Flyers with a 5-1 win, sweeping the Eastern Conference semifinals in four games and advancing to the conference finals for the first time since 1992. The Bruins will next face the Lightning, who also swept their semifinals series vs. the Capitals.
Johnny Boychuk sent a blast from the point over the glove of Sergei Bobrovsky at 2:42 of the third period to break a 1-1 tie. It was Boychuk’s second goal of the playoffs, both of which have come in series-clinching games this postseason.
Milan Lucic had two goals for Boston in the win. With Daniel Carcillo in the box for cross-checking, Lucic put the Bruins on the board at 12:02, scoring his first goal of the playoffs and giving Boston its first 5-on-4 goal this postseason. The Flyers would apply minimal pressure throughout the rest of the first period, but got on the board thanks to a goal from deadline acquisition Kris Versteeg. Lucic added his second of the night on a breakaway in the third period. Brad Marchand and Daniel Paille added empty netters.
Tim Thomas made 22 saves in the winning effort. It was the second straight game in which he allowed just one goal.
The Bruins will host the Lightning in Games 1 of 2 of the conference finals. The schedule of the series is currently unknown, though it may depend on when the Western Conference finals are set. San Jose and Vancouver hold 3-1 series leads over the Red Wings and Predators, respectively.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- Lucic finally broke out of what was statistically a postseason-long scoring slump by picking up his first goal since March 22. He had played much better in this series than in a pedestrian first-round vs. the Canadiens, so it was fitting that he be rewarded with a big goal on the score sheet before the second round was over. Going forward, the B’s will need more like that from their 30-goal-scorer.
- The Bruins could let out the smallest of sighs of relief after their 5-on-3 goal in Game 3, but getting their first 5-on-4 goal didn’t come until Lucic killed two birds with one stone. Nathan Horton hit Lucic with a pass on the doorstep to end the 5-on-4 drought and give Boston its second power play goal in the last two games (and of the playoffs).
- The Flyers turned up the pressure once the Bruins took a 2-1 lead, but the B’s responded to the challenge by getting in shooting lanes and preventing Philly from getting pucks to the front of the net. The Flyers tried to get shots from the point with traffic in front, but the Boston forwards did an excellent job of getting right on top of the Philly defensemen and not giving them anything to shoot at. Chris Kelly led the effort with with three blocks.
- Another game vs. Philadelphia, another point for David Krejci. Boston’s first-line center has 18 points (five goals, 13 assists) over his last 13 games vs. Philadelphia. Krejci picked up a helper on Lucic’s first-period goal.
- The Bruins drew three penalties in the first by just moving their feet and attacking on offense. James van Riemsdyk went off for a hook when he couldn’t catch up to Lucic, who was driving hard to the net in search of a centering pass. Then Gregory Campbell forced his way to the front of the net from below the goal line and drew a cross check on Daniel Carcillo. A few minutes later, Claude Giroux went to the box for a trip after Tomas Kaberle cut inside him on an aggressive entry into the offensive zone. The power play resulting from Carcillo’s infraction ended with the Bruins’ second power-play goal in as many games.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- The B’s had an injury scare for just one of th least guys they could stand to lose. A hit from Claude Giroux in the third period sent Patrice Bergeron downb the tunnel for the B’s, and he would not return to the game. Bergeron leads the Bruins with 12 points this postseason.
- Bad turnover by Brad Marchand in the Flyers’ zone to create a 2-on-0 for the Flyers, and it cost the B’s. Kris Versteeg beat Tim Thomas for his first goal of the playoffs. Versteeg was once property of the B’s, but was traded for Brandon Bochenski in 2007.
-The Bruins obviously want and need Zdeno Chara to be physical, but with eight seconds left in the first, he took it a little too far. When Scott Hartnell took exception to Chara trying to clear out the front of the Boston net, Chara responded by dropping his gloves and then dropping Hartnell with one punch. Unfortunately for Chara, Hartnell never dropped his gloves and Chara got a double minor to put the Flyers on the power play. Two minutes without Hartnell in exchange for four minutes without Chara is a deal the Flyers will take 11 times out of 10.
|Powerless: B’s aren’t about to complain about officiating on the eve of Game 7||04.27.11 at 12:15 am ET|
After getting what many observers clearly felt was the raw end of the deal from the men in striped shirts Tuesday night, the Bruins still were not about to take a page out of the book of Mike Gillis.
He is the Vancouver Canucks general manager who lambasted the NHL and its officiating crew on Monday, just about 24 hours before its Game 7 Tuesday against the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks Tuesday night.
Yes, the Bruins were put on not one but TWO 5-on-3 disadvantages and the Canadiens scored both times in a 2-1 win to force Game 7 less than 24 hours later in Boston. Yes, the major penalty to Milan Lucic for boarding seemed harsh, even if Jaroslav Spacek was bleeding from the head. And yes, the Bruins can’t really complain about the power play since they yet to convert a single one of 19 chances in the series.
But these Bruins know they still have Game 7 ahead. They figure that eventually the breaks have to even out – with the whistles and on the scoresheet, right?
But still it was a crushing blow to lose your top scorer with more than half the game remaining in a 1-1 contest in Game 6. But that’s what happened when Lucic was shown the gate when Spacek showed the officials blood from the hit just under five minutes into the second period – and just moments after the Bruins had tied it.
“Well, I’m not going to comment on it, and simply not for not getting any information, but I haven’t had any chance to really look at it closely,” Julien said cleverly. “And you see quick replays here and there but it’s something that I need to see here before I’m able to comment on that.”
“I can’t comment because I heard it but haven’t seen a replay at all,” added Mark Recchi. “Strange game and a lot of strange things happened out there but it’s part of it. I think 5-on-5 we were a very good hockey team tonight and we have to take that positive and go home and have our home crowd. We’ve been in this before. We have to stay focused, stay relaxed, stay positive and go from there.
“I’m not going to focus too much on what happened. It’s over now. We have to worry about [Wednesday] and can’t dwell on it and have to embrace what’s coming up [in Game 7].”
Added Patrice Bergeron, “I didn’t get a good look at it so I can’t comment on it but obviously, losing Looch, he means a lot.”
Then there was this from Tim Thomas that summed up the Bruins’ frustration.
“It was no harder than any other game,” Thomas said with a wry smile. “Obviously, when it’s 5-on-3, it’s harder to keep the puck out of the net. I’m not a forward. I don’t make or take those type of hits. I’ve already heard from some of the guys on their take on it but I don’t have one. I’m just a goalie.”
|Canadiens beat Bruins to force a Game 7||04.26.11 at 9:40 pm ET|
MONTREAL — The Canadiens have forced a seventh game of the Eastern Conference finals, as they took a 2-1 victory over the Bruins Tuesday night at the Bell Centre. Game 7 will be played Wednesday night in Boston.
With both Shawn Thornton (serving a too many men bench minor) and Dennis Seidenberg (Slashing) in the box, Micahel Cammalleri gave the Habs a 1-0 lead on a blast from the circle at at 10:07 of the first. Seidenberg would make it 1-1 just 48 seconds into the second period, though Brian Gionta would score on another two-man advantage at 5:48 to give the Habs the lead once again.
Milan Lucic was given a five-minute major and game misconduct in the second period for boarding Jaroslav Spacek. The Canadiens defenseman would remain bleeding on the ice for a few moments, though he did return to the game.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR BRUINS
- Once Lucic was tossed from the game, the Bruins didn’t get much from the top line. David Krejci and Nathan Horton combined for just one shot on goal (as many as Lucic had before being ejected), and it seemed Claude Julien was giving looks to multiple forwards in Lucic’s absence, including Michael Ryder, Brad Marchand and Daniel Paille. It was Paille who played with the line for much if the third period.
- It’s hard for a team to win when they are on the wrong end of two separate 5-on-3s. The Habs found themselves with a two-man advantage in both the first and second periods, and scored on both of them.
Denting the B’s chances at a comeback late in the third was a high stick called on Chris Kelly with 3:10 remaining in regulation. The penalty box, as it tends to be, was an enemy Boston’s Tuesday night.
- As great as Patrice Bergeron has been for the Bruins this series, Tuesday was not a night to remember for the B’s center. He negated an early B’s power play (not that it’s such a bad thing) by going off for goaltender interference late in the first. He also caused one of the two-man advantages by flipping the puck over the glass in Boston’s zone.
- While the Canadiens were able to take advantage of special teams, the B’s weren’t. Their power play looked especially dreadful in going 0-for-4 on the night. Through six games, they are now 0-for-19 in this series.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR BRUINS
- Nice play by Dennis Seidenberg early in the second period to step out from behind the net and beat Carey Price on a quasi-wraparound. The goal was his first of the postseason, but with the goal, he now has points in each game at the Bell Centre this series. He had one assist in both Game 3 and Game 4.
- Rich Peverley came ready. The third-line winger led the team with five shots on goal and picked up an assist on Seidenberg’s tally in the second period. The 28-year-old now has four points ( 1 G, 3 A) in the last four games of the series.
- The Habs appeared to score the first goal early, as Tim Thomas had no idea where the puck was when it wad mere inches from his blocker. Gionta came flying in to whack it home, but an apparent earlier whistle negated the goal. The referees were more than generous with makeup calls going forward, so ultimately it didn’t pay off as much as it could have.
|Bruins Game 6 Live Blog: Canadiens lead Bruins in third||at 6:08 pm ET|
Join DJ Bean, Mike Petraglia and others at the Bell Centre for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. The B’s can close out the series with a win over the Canadiens. The live blog fun starts at 6:30, with the puck being dropped after 7 p.m.
MONTREAL — The Bruins couldn’t have expected to play a potential series-clinching game without hearing about last year, and it was a popular topic at the Bell Centre Tuesday morning.
While some, such as coach Claude Julien, noted that the team has “turned the page” and are thinking about the present, forward Milan Lucic had no problem addressing the team’s inability to close out their Eastern Conference semifinals series with the Flyers despite winning the first three games.
“We learned last year that the fourth one is always the hardest one,” Lucic said. “It’s not going to be any different tonight. We know they’re going to bring their best game, and we have to do the same.”
Right now, the Canucks are dealing with the same thing the B’s faced last year. After jumping out to a 3-0 series lead, the top-seeded Canucks have dropped the last three to the Blackhawks, with the series-deciding Game 7 to take place Tuesday night. A native of Vancouver, Lucic can see big similarities between Boston’s collapse last year and Vancouver’s situation.
“You don’t want to relax just because you’re in the position that you’re in,” Lucic said. “It almost felt like that a bit too. After they won Game 4 and they won Game 5, all of a sudden you start panicking. You don’t start executing like you did the first three games. You’re seeing a little bit of it right now with Vancouver and Chicago. You give the their team a little bit of life, and they start gaining momentum. They start coming at you.
“You go back to [Chicago's] Game 4, where they won 7-3,” he added. “Obviously, you can switch our Game 4 vs. Philly with their Game 6 that they just had with the big overtime win. They had Simon Gagne come back, and now [Chicago] has David Bolland coming back. It’s just an emotional lift for the team, and all that type of stuff. I remember Game 5 at home. Philly came into our building and won 5-0. It was almost the same thing when [Chicago] went into Vancouver and won 5-0. The wheels start turning and all that type of stuff. For us, we want to not make the same mistake, that’s for sure.”
Lucic seemed very comfortable going into detail when discussing one of the more devastating moments in team history. Despite how painful a lesson it was at the team, the 22-year-old feels the lesson was learned in the B’s dressing room.
“You learn from it,” Lucic said. “You definitely do learn from it. It’s a lot easier to talk about it now than before, for sure.”
The B’s will find out how well they learned when they face the Habs in Game 6 Tuesday night.
|What history can teach the Bruins in the the next week||04.24.11 at 12:26 pm ET|
History can be a funny thing in sports.
It can be a teacher. It can be a guide. It can provide motivation.
If you’re the Boston Bruins, the next two days, it’s going to be all of the above.
The Bruins want to close out the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night in Game 6 because if they don’t they are going to hear about 2010 again. No, it’s not like they were up 3-0 against the Habs like they were against the Flyers in the Eastern semis last year but they are going to be asked about how hard it is for them to close a team out.
Just ask their coach.
“I think we’ve experienced that last year, right?” Claude Julien asked rhetorically in the afterglow of Game 5 Saturday night. “We don’t want to bring that up, but unfortunately it is what it is. That last win is a tough one, we recognize that. We need to go to Montreal with the intentions of winning that game and playing to win that game. We need to understand it’s probably going to be the toughest game of the series. When teams are playing for their lives they come out with their best effort. And we have to be ready for that.”
Then again, experience is what you make it – like Brad Marchand and Nathan Horton who are playing in their first playoffs. Marchand scored the first goal Saturday and Horton put in the game-winner in double-overtime.
“It was a huge goal for him,” Julien said of Horton. “I wasn’t worried about the fact he hasn’t played in the playoffs because he is a guy that competes all the time. That is one reason why he wanted to come to Boston was to be on an Original Six playoff team. I’m sure he is pretty happy. That has got to be his biggest goal but I think he has been great for us.”
Before the meltdown against Philly last year, there was the stunning Game 7 overtime loss to the Hurricanes in the Eastern semis in 2009 that kept a 53-win team on the sidelines as the NHL held its own final four party.
But having faced those pressure situations in past playoffs may finally be paying dividends. In Games 4 and 5, the Bruins have shown tremendous poise, to go along with great goaltending from Tim Thomas, Michael Ryder and Zdeno Chara.
“We’ve been through a lot the last few years and this was something different,” said Milan Lucic, the player who scored twice in Game 7 last year against Philly before the lights went out on the B’s offense. “Obviously this year going down the first two games at home and having to go to a building where we haven’t won all year and try to even up the series.
“But I think our focus so far is after those first two games wasn’t on the big picture like it was on the first two games. After we were down, the focus was just on, okay, forget about what’s going to happen. Let’s just worry about what we need to do next and what we’re going to do that next shift and that’s what is getting us in a bit of a groove here.”
The Bruins need to make sure the music doesn’t suddenly stop in Montreal Tuesday night.
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