|Milan Lucic remains positive in face of playoff struggles||04.23.11 at 1:09 pm ET|
To say Milan Lucic has struggled this series would be an understatement. After leading the Bruins in goals and tying for the team lead in points during the regular season, Lucic has no points and just five shots on goal through four playoff games. Lucic said he isn’t about to get down on himself, though.
“This is not the time to get frustrated and be negative and bring yourself down,” Lucic said. “Because when you’re bringing yourself down, you might bring someone else down with you. You don’t want to be doing that.
“At this time of year, the only thing that matters is wins and losses,” he added. “It’s tough to be negative and feel sorry about myself when we’ve won the last two games. Other guys have stepped up and obviously played well. Hopefully they can keep their play up, and I just want to do whatever I can to start playing like they are. For myself, all my focus is to elevate my game and play the way I know I can.”
With the series now even at two games apiece, Lucic said he’s not only looking at Saturday night’s Game 5 as a fresh start for both teams, but also as a fresh start for himself.
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s a fresh start,” Lucic sad. “It’s almost like 0-0 again. For myself, it’s obviously hopefully a chance to get myself back and get myself going and start doing the things I know I can do.”
Starting slow in the playoffs is nothing new for Lucic. He was held off the scoresheet for the first five games of last year’s opening round series against Buffalo before breaking through with two assists in Game 6. He went on to register five goals and two assists against Philadelphia in the next round. Lucic said the key then and the key now is to find a way to get that one bounce that gets things going.
“I think it was just getting a good bounce,” Lucic said when asked how he broke out of last year’s slump. “When you start thinking positive again, it’s almost like a weight gets lifted off your shoulders once you get that bounce. It seems like the bounces haven’t really been there [this year], but you have to find a way to battle through things and get those bounces again.”
|Five things the Bruins must do to win Game 5 vs. Canadiens||04.22.11 at 10:55 pm ET|
The Bruins are coming off one of the more exciting victories they have had in recent memory, as they came back three times to beat the Habs in overtime on a Michael Ryder goal less than two minutes into overtime in Game 4. With the B’s having tied the series at two games apiece, they can prove that there is such thing as a home ice advantage by beating the Habs in Game 5 Saturday night. Here’s what they’ll need to do in order to grab the series lead Saturday at TD Garden.
1. Believe in momentum
Claude Julien thinks that momentum is overrated, but if the B’s can keep Game 4 fresh in their minds, they should be able to go with a full head of steam. Coming from behind the way the Bruins did at the Bell Centre is no easy task, and it was a rather embarrassing game for the Habs to lose given that they blew three leads in their own building. The B’s confidence combined with whatever the slipping Canadiens are feeling is probably a good thing for Boston.
2. Find Milan Lucic
The Bruins are still waiting for their leading goal-scorer from the regular season to pick up his first postseason point. So far, he’s been kept off the scoring sheet and has compiled a minus-2 rating. An indication that he probably isn’t working his way out of it is that he has had one or zero shots on goal in three of the four games thus far in the series. He is definitely off for some reason, but if he can get more involved in the play and show signs of life, the Boston’s top line may actually resemble a top line.
3. Pepper Carey Price early
The Bruins have had nine shots on goal or less in the first period of three of the series’ first four games. That’s no way of finding out whether they can get to Price, and it has shown. Aside from the two pucks they were able to get past Price on nine shots in the first period of Game 3, the Bruins haven’t scored on Price until the second period. Here’s a breakdown of the B’s shots on goal and goals per period in this series:
Patrice Bergeron leads the Bruins with 16 shots on goal this series.
4. Remember March 24
This series has been all about the road team thus far. The got the two goals in both Games 1 and 2 and sat back with the lead en route to big road victories. The Bruins scored a pair of first-period goals Monday and mounted a terrific comeback victory on Thursday. For whatever reason, the home team just can’t seem to win.
If the Bruins can think back to their March 24 win, they can change that trend. Johnny Boychuk scored 1:01 into the game, and the Canadiens seemed to give up at TD Garden from there, with the B’s grabbing a lopsided 7-0 win. The game was also Tim Thomas‘ lone shutout vs. the Habs, and though he’s looked fantastic at stretches during games this postseason, he has yet to dominate for 60 minutes.
5. Limit the turnovers
When the Canadiens have scored this series, it has often been because of uncharacteristic turnovers by the Bruins. It started when Tomas Kaberle put too much zip on a reverse in Game 1, and it has continued throughout the series. The B’s still have yet to play the type of game they need to, though the last half of Thursday night’s contest displayed guts like no other.
|Bruins finish their work in Lake Placid||04.20.11 at 1:48 pm ET|
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — The Bruins’ time in Lake Placid is done, as they will return to Montreal Wednesday in anticipation of Thursday’s Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals vs. the Canadiens. The B’s held practice Wednesday after most of the regulars were given Tuesday off.
Here’s what some of the players had to say about Lake Placid and its history:
“I already had some inkling that I wanted to be a goalie, but those Olympics and Jim Craig, that sealed the deal. That’s why I became a goalie, and my goal from age five until really probably 20 was to play in the Olympics, not the NHL. Not that I didn’t want to play in the NHL, but the main goal was the Olympics.”
“It was funny. The movie [‘Miracle’] was filmed in Vancouver in the Agrodome, where I actually started playing hockey. You come and you see this, and it’s actually two very similar rinks. It’s cool to come see this. Obviously, they were big-time underdogs, and they were able to win the Olympic Gold. It’s cool to see what it was like last year in Vancouver, and the differences between the two cities, but it’s definitely cool to see both ends of it.”
“We’ve done the retreats at the start of the year to Vermont, to kind of just get away. I think whether it’s Montreal or any other city, the playoffs are pretty, well look around. Even in Lake Placid you get a pretty good showing of media. I don’t think you ever escape anything. I think it’s just more of being relaxed in a setting like this.”
|Milan Lucic and the postseason expectations of a 30-goal scorer||04.19.11 at 6:17 pm ET|
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — The playoffs are a time when the top talent can take over a series. Teams know which guys to account for, and the big-time goal-scorers are at or near the top of the list of guys who can change a series.
When Milan Lucic scored 30 goals in the regular season, perhaps he entered that class of players expected to do big things in the postseason. Given that he also had nine points in each of the last two postseasons, Lucic also had high expectations for himself as the Eastern Conference quarterfinals began.
So far, Lucic is the only member of the Bruins’ top line without a goal in the playoffs, as David Krejci and Nathan Horton scored the B’s first two goals in Monday’s 4-2 victory in Game 3 at the Bell Centre.
Once a player reaches the 30-goal mark in the regular mark, does he suddenly feel a responsibility to be a reliable producer? Lucic said that everyone puts pressure on themselves come the postseason, but admitted Tuesday that this time around he does expect more of himself.
“For myself, I think the first two games, I put almost too much pressure on myself to go out there and score,” Lucic said Tuesday at Whiteface Lake Placid Olympic Center. “For myself, my game, if I just simplify it and just go out there and play and just focus on just straight lines and getting pucks in deep, everything tends to take care of itself.”
Lucic was a minus-1 in each of the series’ first two games. Things seemed to be getting worse Monday when he stole the puck from P.K. Subban in the neutral zone, but got barely anything on his shot on the breakaway that ensued. The Habs brought it down the ice after the play and got on the board thanks to Andrei Kostitsyn maneuvering around Zdeno Chara and beating Tim Thomas. Instead of potentially being 4-0, it was 3-1 and the crowd made its presence felt once again. Lucic’s play improved over the rest of the game, though, and given the way things seem to be trending with his linemates, coach Claude Julien hopes Lucic will begin seeing some statistical output.
“He was better last night. If his linemates are starting to roll, usually he follows up or vice versa,” Julien said. “When those guys start playing, usually the other guys catch up to them. I’m expecting him to get even better, and we’re going to need him to be better if he expect to win this series.”
|Nathan Horton learning to channel excitement as he becomes more comfortable in playoffs||at 5:40 pm ET|
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — When Nathan Horton said he was excited for the playoffs, there were a couple of reasons to believe him. First of all, he’s Nathan Horton, so he’s excited about everything. Second of all, after playing six seasons in Florida, he had been chomping at the bit to get his first taste of postseason action.
So far, the excitement has been on display, but it hasn’t always been in the prettiest ways. Horton seemed to be going a million miles an hour in Game 2, playing a reckless style and only showing up on the stat sheet for a second-period roughing penalty.
Monday night, Horton saw his efforts pay off. On a heads-up play, he found Carey Price out of position after a Zdeno Chara shot missed the net and banked the puck off the back of the Montreal goaltender for his first career playoff goal. It was the second of the Bruins’ four goals in a 4-2 victory that brought them within a game of tying the series.
“It was nice. It’s always nice to contribute and help my team, but getting the win, that’s what feels good,” Horton said. “It’s nice to get back on the board in the win category.”
While it is rewarding for Horton to see that there is a payoff for his efforts (he also tied for the team lead with three shots of goal Monday — a low number for a team-high, but a team-high nonetheless), he understands that he may have been going a bit too hard at previous points in the series. Horton snapped his stick out of anger after a play in Game 2 and was later demoted to the third line for the third period. It was unclear whether his recklessness was the reason Claude Julien swapped him out for Rich Peverley, but he explained the play Tuesday at the Whiteface Lake Placid Olympic Center.
“It really wasn’t [frustration getting to me],” Horton said. “It probably looked like that, but my stick was broken on the play and I was in the corner digging for it. I was just upset because my stick was broken and I could have gotten the puck.”
While Horton doesn’t think he was getting too angry, he can recognize that he’s better when he can relax.
“I think you do want to finish your hits and you want to play hard, but there’s also a thing that you’ve got to take time and relax and play your game,” he said. “That’s a big thing.”
Just as unsurprising as Horton’s excitement is the review his small playoff sample has gotten from his linemate in Milan Lucic. The 22-year-old Lucic has long been a fan of Horton’s game, and he likes what he’s seen so far vs. the Habs. He also believes it’s going to get better.
“I think his game has gotten better as the series has gone on. I told him before, ‘You’ve just got to go in and enjoy it. It’s that time of year where you need to go out there and enjoy the experience,'” Lucic said. “It’s a first-time experience for him, so I think it’s a bit of a weight off his shoulders, being able to get his first playoff goal. I felt like we were able to play our game more last game, and we want to do whatever we can to be better going into Game 4.”
Through three playoff games, Horton has averaged 16:56 of playing time. He has a minus-2 rating and one point, which came in the form of Monday’s goal.
|Milan Lucic: ‘We’re in trouble right now’||04.17.11 at 1:53 pm ET|
The Bruins did not hold practice on Sunday following their Game 2 loss to the Canadiens. The B’s will travel to Montreal down two games to none, and speaking at TD Garden Sunday, forward Milan Lucic did not sugar-coat the team’s situation.
“It’s no secret now’¦ We’re in trouble right now and we need to find a way to rally and get our heads around it,” Lucic said. “Everyone needs to step up and play the way we know we can.”
The Bruins have not been able to score the first or second goal in either game, playing from behind for 116:23 of the 120 minutes the teams have played in thus far in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
“It all starts with a good start. That’s what our focus is going to be on, is getting out there and trying to establish that first goal, trying to establish a good first shift,” the 22-year-old said. “That’s what’s lacked in the first two games, especially the last game.
“You give up a goal in the first 43 seconds, you’re not giving yourself a good chance to win when you’re doing that. We need everyone to step up and rise to the occasion to have a good start going into Game 3.”
A year ago, the sixth-seeded Bruins were able to upset the No. 3 Sabres in the first round. Once favored to eliminate the Habs, the B’s will need a pretty big comeback in order to avoid missing the conference semifinals for the first time in three years. To even bring the series back to Boston for a fifth game, the B’s will need to beat the Canadiens at the Bell Centre, an arena in which they lost all three of their meetings in the regular season.
“We’re definitely the underdogs for the rest of the series, but we’re not thinking about that at all,” Lucic said. “We’re just thinking about what we need to do to get ourselves back in this series.”
The Habs have cashed in on turnovers and converted them into goals. Lucic is among a handful of B’s who have seen blunders with the puck result in Montreal tallies, and he knows that if they are going to right the ship, they had better do it soon.
“The main thing is, we’re fighting the puck, and it’s almost like we’re shooting ourselves in the foot,” he said. “That’s the most upsetting part, but we need to put that aside and we need to put our rally caps on and figure something out quick, because we’re definitely running out of time.”
The B’s and Canadiens will play Game 3 in Montreal on Monday night.
|Shawn Thornton doesn’t think Bruins should be feeling pressure||04.16.11 at 3:37 pm ET|
The Bruins certainly don’t want to fall down two games to the Canadiens as they hit the road for Montreal Sunday, but they still haven’t strayed from their calm, optimistic view on what they face. One would think they might be facing pressure, but Shawn Thornton doesn’t see it that way.
“I think pressure is five kids and no job,” he said. “This is just a game. This is fun.”
The Bruins were blanked by Carey Price in Game 1, as they got 20 shots blocked and saw their top line produce just one shot on goal through the first two periods.
“There’s always pressure,” Milan Lucic said. “Game 1 was a big game, and Game 2 is an even bigger game. They’re going about it the same way we are. It’s a big game for us. We want to get ourselves a split here at home, and we’re going to do everything we can to have the preparation and focus to get the result that we want.
“For myself, I obviously played just OK last game,” he later added. “For myself, I’m definitely going to do whatever I can to raise my game to another level and see what happens.”
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