|Bruins-Lightning Game 5 preview: Five things, stats and players||05.23.11 at 1:12 am ET|
The Bruins learned the hard way Saturday that they need more than a strong start and a big day from Patrice Bergeron to get their third victory of the Eastern Conference finals. After blowing a 3-0 lead in Saturday’s Game 4, the Bruins will be back at home Monday to take on the Lightning in Game 5.
FIVE THINGS THE BRUINS NEED TO DO
– Take advantage of playing at home/score the first goal. The Bruins don’t want to find themselves a loss away from elimination when the teams head back to Tampa for Game 6, so taking care of business in their own building will be key.
The B’s weren’t able to score the first goal in Games 1 and 2, though they were able to head to Tampa with the series tied at a game apiece. The first goal hasn’t been everything this series, as the team to strike first has gone 2-2 thus far.
– The B’s must get the type of production from David Krejci‘s line that made the second round such a walk in the park. Krejci was a minus-3 with zero shots on goal in Game 4, while Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic each had just one shot on goal in the loss.
– The Bruins’ second line probably would be a stinker as well if it weren’t for the redeeming qualities of Bergeron. If it weren’t for a Brad Marchand interference penalty in the second period, there would be minimal proof that the feisty rookie even played in Game 4. Marchand had no shots on goal for the second time this series. The B’s have lost both games in which the 23-year-old has failed to put a shot on net. Mark Recchi is a minus-4 this series and has just five shots on goal.
– Selective memory would probably serve the B’s best after their Game 4 collapse. Remember that it happened, but don’t think about just how much momentum the come-from-behind win could have given Tampa Bay.
– Not that they will, but the B’s should at least give consideration to playing Steven Kampfer. We said it last week, and Saturday’s soft showing behind the net on a costly turnover to Sean Bergenheim only confirms it: it’s worth seeing what Kampfer can do in place of Tomas Kaberle. Kaberle looked better in Games 2 and 3, but if you’re going to give him between 11 and 12 minutes a game and he still finds a way to make them costly minutes as he did Saturday, you’re better off easing Kampfer back in with an 11-or-12-minute night. Kampfer has as many goals this season against the Lightning (two) as Kaberle has had turnovers that resulted in Tampa goals this series.
FIVE CRAZY STATS
– Kaberle’s 11:35 of ice time in Game 4 isn’t just ridiculously low for someone the team invested so much in, but it’s the lowest total that Kaberle ‘ two injury games aside — has played in his entire career. While with the Maple Leafs, he left the team’s March 2, 2007 game vs. the Devils after being blindsided in the second period by Cam Janssen, and he left a Jan. 6, 2004 game with a shoulder injury in the first period. Back then, injuries were all that could keep Kaberle from playing less than 12 minutes. Now, it’s just poor play.
– That stuff about Michael Ryder turning it on in the playoffs is true. Ryder has seven points (3 G, 4 A) in his last five games. He never amassed more than five points in any five-game stretch during the regular season, and this five-game stretch ties for Ryder’s second-best as a member of the Bruins. He had nine points over the Bruins’ first five games of the 2009 playoffs.
– Tim Thomas has allowed four goals four times this postseason, and the Bruins are 3-0 thus far in games that directly followed said performances. Thomas allowed one goal in 89 minutes in Game 5 of the first round after allowing four goals two nights earlier. He followed the team’s 5-2 loss in the conference finals opener by allowing five in Game 2, but the B’s came away with the win. It was after that contest that Thomas really bounced back, blanking the Lightning in Game 3.
– Neither the Bruins nor the Lightning have scored a power play goal since Game 2 of the series. This marks the first time this postseason that the Bruins and their opponent have put up a goose-egg on the man advantage in consecutive games.
– Steven Stamkos is a minus-2 this series, and has only had a positive rating in one game this postseason. The lone positive rating came in Game 5 of the quarterfinals when he had two goals, an assist and was a plus-1.
FIVE KEY PLAYERS
– Whichever Lightning goalie starts. Dwayne Roloson has been chased from two of the series’ first four games, and Guy Boucher has yet to reveal whether Roloson will be a go for Game 5. If Boucher makes a change, it will be Mike Smith, who has stopped all 20 shots he’s seen from the B’s in 60:51 this series.
– Simon Gagne: The veteran winger simply slays the Bruins, and he did it to the tune of three points and a plus-4 rating in Game 4.
– Ryder and Tyler Seguin: In the event that Lucic and Horton fail to step it up and Bergeron’s wingers continue to struggle, the B’s will need the magical Ryder/Seguin duo to light it up the way they did in Game 2. Seguin was on the ice for three of the Lightning’s five goals Saturday, but he’s been second to only Ryder this series as far as who the B’s best winger has been.
– Dennis Seidenberg: One last opportunity to point out that the B’s minute-eating defenseman had seven blocked shots in Game 4. He and Kaberle were out there for Gagne’s game-winner.
|Claude Julien isn’t about to let his team think Stanley Cup finals yet||05.20.11 at 2:55 pm ET|
TAMPA — Despite a dominating defensive perfomance in Game 3 and watching his team record its first shutout of the playoffs, Bruins coach Claude Julien isn’t letting his team think about what could be if they win their next two games. Julien was asked Friday if being two wins away from the team’s first Stanley Cup finals appearance in 21 years provides motivation.
“We don’t even talk about that, honestly,” Julien said. “Right now, all we’ve talked about is how important a game tomorrow is for us. We don’t want to live in the past. Yesterday was yesterday. [Saturday] is what we want to talk about. We want to live in the present. And today is about getting some good rest and making sure that tomorrow we’re well rested, we’ve got the energy and the focus to do a job. That’s what we’ve been doing since the start.
“And that’s what’s helped us get through it. The same thing in Montreal. We lost the first two games. We went to Montreal not thinking about the two losses but what we had to do that night. It’s really helped us get through things, and that’s what our guys are all about right now. So I don’t have to worry about what you just asked, because we’re not thinking that way.”
The players would certainly appear to be heeding the message.
“You can’t take any situation for granted,” Milan Lucic said after Friday’s mainly optional skate at St. Pete Times Forum. “You can’t take any team for granted, and that’s what we’ve done so well. We’ve got to keep being determined to push for more.”
“At this point, there’s not much you can say,” Lucic added. “You’ve got to know what needs to be done, and when they speak, you can learn a lot from them. They’ve done a great job leading the way so far, and hopefully they keep leading the way and staying vocal and getting us ready for every situation.”
The Bruins play Game 4 against the Lightning Saturday afternoon at 1:30 at St. Pete Times Forum before returning to Boston for Game 5 Monday night in Boston.
|Milan Lucic misses morning skate, but will play Game 3 vs. Lightning||05.19.11 at 1:08 pm ET|
TAMPA — Bruins forward Milan Lucic was not on the ice for Thursday’s morning skate at St. Pete Times Forum, marking his second straight absence from a morning skate after getting hit on the right foot by a Tyler Seguin shot in Monday’s practice. Despite whatever discomfort Lucic may be feeling, coach Claude Julien confirmed after the skate that the team’s regular-season leader in goals will be in the lineup Thursday night vs. the Lightning.
“There’s no issues,” Julien said of Lucic. He’s going to be in tonight. “During the playoffs, there’s certain things you do, and you give guys time off for whatever reason. He’s going to be in there, and there won’t be any excuses to his game at all. ‘¦ There’s very minor issues when it comes to that.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Mixing it up: Bruins swap centers Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly||05.16.11 at 11:41 am ET|
The Bruins scored just once in the first 58 minutes of Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Lightning in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Meanwhile, Milan Lucic had to take a momentary seat on the bench after taking a slap shot from Seguin on the right foot during pre-practice warmups.
|Lightning not getting worked up over Bruins’ punches in final minute||05.15.11 at 1:16 am ET|
It would be understandable if the Lightning were angered by the punches Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic landed on Dominic Moore and Victor Hedman, respectively, in the final minute of Saturday’s Game 1. It would even be understandable if they retaliated, either at the time or in the future.
Instead, the Lightning seem completely unperturbed by Lucic and Horton’s actions. They didn’t respond on the ice, and they didn’t have much of a response after the game, either.
‘Well, there is not too much to say,’ Hedman said of the incident. ‘That is part of the game, too. I have to expect that and there is nothing I can do about it. That’s what he did, and I wasn’t expecting it, so that is why it took me a little aback.’
Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher avoided commenting on Horton and Lucic and said he was just happy his team kept its composure.
‘We only focus on our emotions, not the other team’s emotions,’ Boucher said. ‘We were really calm and we stayed calm.’
Hedman said he doesn’t expect a carryover or anyone going out of their way to get revenge in Game 2 Tuesday night.
‘No, I don’t think so,’ he said. ‘It happens in games and it is something you have to expect. I don’t think there is going to be anything else going on.’
|Tim Thomas sent the right message to Bruins between periods||05.07.11 at 4:18 am ET|
The Bruins were able to break a 1-1 tie in the third period in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals thanks to a snapshot from Johnny Boychuk, Milan Lucic‘s second goal of the game, and a couple of empty net goals courtesy of Brad Marchand and Daniel Paille en rout to sweeping the Flyers Friday night.
The win was just the latest example of what has been a season-wide trend for the Bruins. The Bruins’ 94 third-period goals in the regular season ranked second in the NHL, while they had a league-best 57 goals against in the final 20 minutes. The biggest case in the regular season was their five-goal showing to come from behind in the third against the Penguins back in November, but the most recent, and now most important, one came Friday. Tim Thomas knew the B’s had it in them, so between the second and third period, he spoke up and said so.
“It was an actual comment that I made to the team, was ‘third periods are ours,'” Thomas recalled after the game. “I just said that to reinforce and to remind guys that that’s the way it had been all year and hopefully help their confidence.”
It sure looked like it helped their confidence. After the Flyers got momentum in the second period on Kris Versteeg‘s goal, the Bruins were able to come out and make it a 2-1 game 2:42 into the third on Boychuk’s blast.
“Well, the result was great,” Thomas said. “We played a really good third period, but you did see a little bit of the fatigue set in because we weren’t getting pucks deep there a few times at the far blue line. It was just a couple of mistakes that we don’t normally make and stuff, but I think guys battled through it and just made sure to be even safer.”
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.’
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