|Video: Inside the Bruins locker Room, Game 1||04.14.11 at 11:02 pm ET|
|Bruins vs. Canadiens: keys to the first round||at 1:35 am ET|
Finally, after plenty of hype, the Bruins and Canadiens are a matter of hours away from beginning their best-of-seven first-round series.
While one group of fans (and both will be present at TD Garden) chants ‘Ole’ and the other chants ‘USA’ (Bruins fans must really like Tim Thomas, as chanting ‘USA’ applies to only one player on the team), there will be hockey to be played. The Bruins-Canadiens rivalry is the circus of all circuses, but if either team gets caught up in it, they could slip. Here are the things that will actually matter in this series:
DICTATING THE TEMPO EARLY
The first game of a playoff series is a big one, but the first 20 minutes of this series might be even more important. The Bruins are capable of overpowering the Canadiens with their style of play, but there were multiple instances in which the B’s sat back early and waited until the Canadiens had already established their presence. The two teams were split, 3-3, in the first-goal department, and in the four instances that a team got on the board in the game’s first 10 minutes, that team won.
The Habs certainly gave their netminder plenty of work this season, as price finished second to only Cam Ward in games played among goaltenders with 72. That’s a heavy workload, but Price handled it well, and it will be interesting to see whether the 23-year-old wears down in the postseason.
While Price was very good for the Canadiens this season, TD Garden was far from good to him. After allowing one goal in a 3-1 Canadiens win back on Nov. 11, his other two trips to Boston this season provided Habs fans with reason to worry. He gave up 13 goals over two losses at TD Garden in 2011 and was yanked from the the March 24 game less than five minutes into the third period.
The mystery of how Price can handle this series is very intriguing. His eight shutouts this season suggests he should be considered capable of taking over a playoff series, and if he does, it could be a classic goaltending matchup. If not, the Habs could be in trouble.
MILAN LUCIC AND NATHAN HORTON
The Bruins are the better team in this series, so they need their best players to be relentless. It’s no secret that Horton can disappear in games and struggled with consistency at points of the regular season, but it’s unknown whether he’s susceptible to drop-offs in the playoffs. Horton had a pair of forgettable games in his first two contests against the Canadiens (zero points and just one shot on goal over a pair of losses), but came up big in the other three (three goals, four assists).
Lucic, meanwhile, enjoys being known as a playoff player, and his 18 points over the last two postseasons speak for that. Lucic stepped up his game big-time this season but after scoring his 30th goal failed to strike again in the final 10 games. Will he also take his postseason play to a new level, or will his goal-less streak spill over into the playoffs?
The Bruins couldn’t buy a power play goal down the stretch, and with special teams always playing an important role in the postseason, they’ll have to find a way to convert against a very good Montreal penalty kill. The Bruins were just 3-for-24 against the Canadiens on the power play this season, while the Habs were 9-for-28.
THE BELL CENTRE
The reason this series might not be a short one is because the Bruins could struggle playing at the Bell Centre, as they did during the regular season (0-2-1). The difficulty they’ve encountered winning games in Montreal will make the B’s home games even more important. The Habs are capable of stealing one or two on the road, and the B’s need to prove they’re capable of doing the same.
|Milan Lucic: Bruins fans want ‘us to beat the hell out of’ the Habs – and vice versa||04.12.11 at 3:23 pm ET|
“Our fans are going to want us to beat the hell out of them and their fans are going to want to see them to beat the hell out of us,” Lucic said. “We know the energy is going to be high in both buildings, and I think that’s what makes this rivalry so great, the fans are so pumped up about it. That’s what it makes it fun being a player, being a part of this rivalry.”
The Bruins are trying to advance past the Eastern Conference semifinals for the first time since 1992. They have lost in Game 7 in each of the last two seasons, including last year when they blew a 3-0 series lead and a 3-0 lead in Game 7 to the Flyers, dropping Game 7, 4-3, when the Bruins were called for too many men on the ice.
“It is the playoffs, and it can even come down to one little thing that makes a difference in winning or losing,” Lucic said. “For ourselves, we have to do a good job of managing our emotions and using it to our advantage and feeding off of it. We don’t have to change anything from how we played in the season.
“We still have to play with an edge and play that high-energy type game where we’re into the game emotionally but then again we have to manage it to the point where we’re not spending most of the time in the box.”
|Tim Thomas, Shawn Thornton among those to pick up Bruins awards||04.06.11 at 7:12 pm ET|
The Bruins gave out their regular season awards prior to Wednesday night’s game. They are as follows:
Eddie Shore Award (exceptional hustle and determination): Shawn Thornton
Elizabeth Dufresne Award (outstanding performance in home games): Tim Thomas
John Bucyk Award (greatest off-ice charitable contributions): Andrew Ference
|Bruins lose to Maple Leafs in shootout||03.31.11 at 9:53 pm ET|
The Bruins fell to the Maple Leafs, 4-3, in a shootout Thursday night at TD Garden.
The Bruins got goals from Brad Marchand, David Krejci and Andrew Ference. All three Bruins goals came in the second period. Tim Thomas made 32 saves in regulation, and made the save of the game in stopping Mikhail Grabovski on a penalty shot in overtime.
However, the Bruins blew two leads in the game. Joffrey Lupul struck for two goals for Toronto ‘ both of the Toronto forward’s tallies were of game-tying variety, as his second period power-play goal knotted the game at two, and his third-period goal made it 3-3. Lupul went off for slashing Tomas Kaberle with 1:05 remaining in overtime.
The Capitals defeated the Blue Jackets Thursday, so the Bruins are now four points behind Washington. Bruins will wrap up their three-game home-stand on Saturday when they host the Thrashers in a matinee.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- Milan Lucic became the 10th player in the post-lockout NHL to have 30 goals, 30 assists and 100 penalty minutes in a season when he assisted Krejci’s second-period goal. Lucic later added to his penalty minute total by fighting Jay Rosehill.
- With Marchand’s shorthanded goal, he moved into a three-way tie for second in the NHL. It also gave him points in three straight games, and he now has five points (2 G, 3 A) over his last five contests.
- Krejci’s goal preserved the high level at which the B’s center has produced. Since Jan. 11, Krejci has not gone more than two consecutive games without a point. He has five (1 G, 4 A) over his last five games.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- Zdeno Chara went missing for a bit. After his shift with 2:46 remaining in the second period, the Bruins captain was not on the bench, and he was nowhere to be seen as the third period began. He ended up returning to the at 3:05 and playing the third period without appearing hindered, so the B’s seem to have dodged a bullet after a scare to one of their most important players.
- Toronto initially got on the board because a puck deflected off former Leaf Tomas Kaberle. The tally was credited to Luke Schenn. The goal also gave Schenn goals against Thomas in the last two meetings between the two clubs. Not bad for Schenn considering he’s scored just three other times this season.
- Schenn’s first-period tally broke up Thomas’ shutout streak at 1:22:21. For a while it seemed it would take a flukey goal to end the streak, and it did.
- Bruins fans seemed to dislike hearing a Phil Kessel assist being announced more than they did seeing a Toronto goal scored. The former Bruin picked up helpers on both of Lupul’s goals.
|Bruins aren’t only team coming off a big win as Blackhawks come to town||03.29.11 at 4:04 am ET|
This time of year, some teams are already eliminated or close to it, and getting two points on a particular night is no longer a top priority. That’s why the Bruins’ recent schedule has made for some very interesting hockey. The B’s last six games have been against teams either in the playoffs or competing for a spot. Tuesday should feature another very intriguing matchup, as both the B’s and Blackhawks are coming off big victories that teams try to build momentum off of, especially given that the playoffs are just a couple of weeks away.
The Blackhawks are coming off an overtime win against Detroit Monday night in which former Red Wing Marian Hossa buried the game-winner on the power play. Chicago is eighth in the Western Conference, so they have every reason to bring everything they can Tuesday.
The Bruins, of course, are coming off a 2-1 victory in Philadelphia that saw both the appearance of a successful power play (2-for-3) and the return of Brad Marchand‘s scoring, as he picked up the game-winner for his 20th goal of the season and first strike in 13 games.
WHERE IT’S AT
- The Bruins are 18-12-5 at TD Garden this season, and it’s been a mixed bag for the B’s at home of late. After a huge 7-0 win over the Canadiens Thursday, the B’s struggled to get shots past Rangers bodies and on netminder Henrik Lundqvist Saturday.
- Chicago has won its last two road games after dropping the previous four. The Blackhawks haven’t been to the Garden since last season, when they took a 5-2 victory on Jan. 7.
If there’s one thing the Blackhawks are capable of, it is taking an opponent to overtime while playing on the road. The Blackhawks have gone into overtime 10 times on the road this season and have a league-high eight overtime/shootout losses on the road. Their overall record on the road is 18-11-8.
- The third line of Chris Kelly between Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley has looked good, but it has not produced. Seguin has just one goal in his last 14 games (dating back to before the line was in existence), while both Kelly and Peverley have totaled zero points and each have a minus-3 rating over their last five contests.
- The Blackhawks’ 3.13 goals per game on the road is second only to the Red Wings for tops in the NHL. The Red Wings certainly helped that number when they put six goals past Bruins goaltenders at TD Garden back on February 11, to the B’s will have to hope the Blackhawks don’t do the same.
- Tim Thomas has a bit more breathing room for the league lead in goals against average and save percentage. Thomas has led both categories since the second game of the season, but came one hundredth of a goal from being tied with Pekka Rinne after last Saturday’s loss to the Maple Leafs. After allowing just one goal over his last two starts, Thomas is now a tenth of a goal ahead of Rinne with a 2.00 GAA.
- Milan Lucic has zero shots on goal over the last two games, while his center in David Krejci has totaled one over the same span. Despite leading the Bruins with 30 goals, Lucic is fourth on the B’s in shots on goal with 160. He’s far enough behind the likes of Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron and Nathan Horton that his three games missed don’t seem to play a huge factor in the statistic.
STORYLINES GOING IN
- Will Michael Ryder be a healthy scratch in consecutive games for the first time all season? Ryder watched Sunday’s game from the press box while Daniel Paille got in the lineup for the Bruins. If Ryder does return, it will likely be on Gregory Campbell‘s line.
-The Blackhawks know they need to keep the pedal to the medal after their win against Detroit. After Tuesday, the eighth-place Blackhawks will have played two more games than the Stars, who trail them by four points. This should mean the Bruins could see a very hungry team.
Not exactly a storyline related to this game, but if you have the NHL Center Ice package, it might be worth it to check out the Penguins-Flyers game during commercials. Despite a rut in February, the Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin-less Penguins have been able to get the job done so well that a victory in regulation would give them as many points as the Flyers at 100. If the Penguins hope to take the division they’ll have to finish with more points than Philadelphia, as the Flyers hold the tiebreaker with less overtime/shootout wins.
|Bruins not focusing on Mark Recchi’s comments||03.24.11 at 5:22 pm ET|
Thursday night’s game between the Bruins and Canadiens has been getting even more attention than usual thanks to Mark Recchi’s recent suggestion that the Habs exaggerated Max Pacioretty’s injury to get B’s captain Zdeno Chara suspended. Milan Lucic made similar comments Wednesday, but prior to the game stressed that the team’s focus is on the game.
“I think the focus, even berfore the war of words is to get the win,” Lucic said. “Whatever Mark said he said. He’s been on the Montreal side before, and now he’s on the Boston side. I don’t think we need to repeat what he said or what I said. As of right now, we’re focused on getting a big win here, and we know it’s a big night for us in the last game of the season [series].
“He’s been in the league for two decades. He’s done more than his fair share of time here, and I feel like he has the right to say whatever he’s going to say. Rex said whatever he felt was right, and our focus is not on anything like that. We’re just going to go out there and play.”
Claude Julien had no interest in answering questions about Recchi’s comments.
“We’re here to play hockey,” the coach said. “That’s all there is to it, and this he-said-she-said stuff and soap opera, I’m not interesting in asnwerign those questions because two hours from now, there’s a big game to be played, and it’s a big two points for both teams. That’s what my focus is on right now.”
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