|Milan Lucic: Penguins are ‘almost like the Miami Heat of the NHL’||05.26.13 at 1:02 am ET|
Now the road gets a lot tougher.
The Bruins enter the Eastern Conference finals against the Penguins as decided underdogs. The Bruins might have the better goalie in Tuukka Rask and may have won the Cup more recently (2011) than the Penguins (2009). But the Penguins have their version of the Big Three in Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jarome Iginla, reminding one player on the Bruins of a powerhouse in the NBA.
“Well, no doubt they’re a great hockey club,” Milan Lucic said after Saturday’s series-clinching 3-1 win over the Rangers at TD Garden. “In my mind, they’re almost like the Miami Heat of the NHL with all the star power they’ve got. Probably the two best players in the world and a 40-goal scorer and the former 50-goal scorer, a future Hall of Famer and a Norris Trophy candidate on their team.
“So, they definitely have a lot of weapons, and in saying all that, I think what makes them successful is they play real well as a team and I think that’s what you’re going to probably see going into this next series, is two well-rounded teams going at it, and for us we’ve got to be ready and excited for the challenge.”
Lucic and the Bruins proved they can beat at least one NHL superstar in the playoffs by dispatching of Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers in five games.
“It was big for us,” Lucic said. “I think the mindset in this room was that we didn’t want to be denied and we knew that he was going to be the best player on their team, and he was in this series for them and he kept a couple of games closer. He stopped me four good times here tonight, but he’s a great goaltender for a reason and he played well and like I said we did whatever we could to try to get to him and we were able to do that.”
What will be the key to beating the Penguins?
“We just got to play a strong team game and play to our strengths,” Lucic said. “We’re a team that plays in-your-face-type of hockey and I think what worked for us this series was we were able to establish our forecheck, and we’ve got to keep doing that, and they’re a team that you don’t want to turn the puck over against because they have more than enough weapons to make you pay for it. So, puck management is going to be huge for us, and in saying all that, I think tonight and tomorrow we need to enjoy what we accomplished so far in the playoffs.”
Claude Julien wanted no part of talking about Pittsburgh, preferring to bask in the glow of eliminating the Rangers, reflecting the mood of most inside the Bruins dressing room not named Milan Lucic.
“I’m not going to talk about the Penguins tonight, we just finished against the Rangers. I’ll stick to that, if you don’t mind,” Julien said.
John Tortorella has no such problems giving his opinion about Boston’s chances.
“I think Boston has a really good chance,” Tortorella said. “I think Claude and that staff has done a heck of a job with their club. I can’t believe some of the people, how they second-guess him, just being in the city for a few days, and the type of job he’s done here. That’s a good team. They’re very well-coached, and they’re seasoned. They’ve been through it before, and I give them a lot of credit, as far as what they’ve done with their club. They’re a good hockey team.”
|Andy Brickley on M&M: ‘Who can handle’ a determined Milan Lucic?||05.14.13 at 1:06 pm ET|
NESN Bruins commentator Andy Brickley joined Mut & Merloni on Tuesday to talk about the Bruins’ historic comeback in Game 7 against the Maple Leafs.
Brickley admitted he started questioning his faith in the Bruins when they fell behind by three goals in the third period before rallying for a 5-4 overtime victory.
“My believability was challenged that they could come back once we got close to that 10-minute mark,” Brickley said. “But I will go back to the beginning of the third period. When we were trying to set the stage, we talked about — I think Jack [Edwards] used the phrase ‘final 20 minutes of someone’s season.’ I wasn’t convinced of that. I thought that game would go to overtime. But when it did get 4-1, yeah, I certainly had my doubts. It was creeping in.
“No surprise, though, when you look back at that third period, that a guy like Milan Lucic would spearhead that charge. It’s in his DNA, it’s in his makeup. When he’s that determined, that committed and refuses to lose that attitude, who can handle him?”
When the Bruins started to exert their will late in the third period, the Maple Leafs showed their inexperience.
“Absolutely unchartered water for these guys, and that certainly worked in the Bruins’ favor,” Brickley said. “The minute you start to put a little pressure on a team that’s trying to protect a three-goal lead, and really, because they haven’t been in that closeout situation in the NHL playoffs – you can be in those positions during the regular season, with a three-goal lead or a two-goal lead in the third period, it’s a heck of a lot easier than it is in the postseason. Especially when you’re playing a team that supposedly, and in all probability, is a superior team to you.
“The minute [Nathan] Horton scores on that great rush up the ice by Lucic, the power move around the net and the nice pass out front, now that doubt seems to creep in. You start sneaking peeks at the clock, you start to watch the clock a little bit. You have the believability in your goaltender, even though he played really well in Game 5 and Game 6, can he handle the onslaught that you know is coming here in the final surge by Boston. And because they don’t have that experience on their resume, you knew that there was a lot of doubt, or at least some level of doubt for the Leafs.”
NESN Bruins analyst Barry Pederson joined Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday morning, hours after the B’s completed an incredible comeback with a 5-4 overtime victory over the Maple Leafs in Game 7 at TD Garden.
Pederson passed around the praise, beginning with Milan Lucic.
“Lucic took that team on his back going down the stretch with his physical presence, intimidation and going to the front of the net,” Pederson said. “I thought he really turned things around.
“But it got scary there that first shift of the hockey game when [Dennis] Seidenberg goes down 37 seconds into the game. All of a sudden no Seidenberg, no [Andrew] Ference and no [Wade] Redden. And boy, [Matt] Bartkowski stepped it up, then the other young guys on the right side, [Johnny] Boychuk, [Adam] McQuaid and [Dougie] Hamilton, brought their game up. And it’s not easy with Toronto’s speed.
“Then you’ve got to talk about the captain [Zdeno Chara], with 35 minutes of ice time that he had to log. He’ll be one tired guy. Then you’ve got to give [Tuukka] Rask a lot of credit, too. Here’s a kid that [when] it was 4-1, he didn’t quit. He made some big saves down the stretch — that breakaway on [Matt] Frattin and then on [Joffrey] Lupul in overtime. It was a total team effort.”
While the Bruins came up big in the third period and overtime, the Maple Leafs are looking back at a stunning collapse.
“The other part of the story, of course, is as they’re coming on, a young Toronto team, who had never been through this war before and never experienced it, totally collapsed in the sense that they quit making plays, they’re back on their heels. they’re getting the puck and instead of going tape to tape and trying to create some offense, they’re just banging it off the boards,” Pederson said. “For [James] Reimer, who played so well for them in Game 5 and 6 to get them there, he just had no chance with so many bodies around him. He wasn’t controlling his rebounds and then the Bruins were just pouncing.”
While the Bruins have faced criticism for their inconsistency, Pederson said it’s been a league-wide problem during the lockout-shortened season. That said, Pederson noted that the B’s turnover problems need to be remedied in a hurry if they’re going to advance any further.
“One of the hallmarks of Claude Julien‘s teams and one of the things that I’ve enjoyed watching was the defensive responsibility and the way they protect the puck and the way they don’t beat themselves with turnovers,” Pederson said. “But boy, down the stretch of the regular season and at various times throughout these playoffs, that was not what we saw from this team. This was a team that was self-destructing by turnovers, not getting the puck deep, not protecting the puck. So for the Bruins to get to that next level and get away from that Jekyll and Hyde, as Claude calls it, they’re going to have to protect the puck better and be mentally tougher. Because again, the competition gets that much more difficult against the New York Rangers.”
How desperate were the Bruins in the last 11 minutes of the third period of Game 7, down three goals?
“I just said, ‘Screw it, you just have to leave it all out there and anything can happen.’ And that’s what happened,” Milan Lucic said after the greatest Game 7 comeback in Stanley Cup playoff history Monday night.
“That’s all it took, especially when you’re down. You do whatever you can to give yourself a chance, and we were finally able to have a clean break out into a rush, which we haven’t had in three games until [Nathan Horton's] goal. And then it seemed like we started to play more reckless and taking pucks to the net and everything like that.
“That’s where I talk about, ‘Screw it, leave everything on the line and everything hopefully will take care of itself.’ ”
Lucic said Patrice Bergeron helped lift a weight off the shoulders of his team by lifting a weight off his own shoulders, scoring the game-tying and game-winning goals in the 5-4 Miracle on Causeway.
“Definitely, it’s a weight lifted off the shoulder and it creates momentum, and hopefully that’s the case this year as well. You need guys to step up at key times,” Lucic said. “Things aren’t always going to go smoothly for you, just like things didn’t go smoothly at all for Bergy, Marchy [Brad Marchand] and Segs [Tyler Seguin]. But all said and done, it doesn’t matter. They were still able to step up and get a goal when it mattered the most. Hopefully, they can gain some momentum off that and the team can gain momentum off the win.
“Hopefully, it builds momentum. Two years ago, it definitely built a lot of momentum for our team. We have a lot to look forward to. We know it gets tougher as each round goes on.”
Another great aspect of the win is that it gives Boston and New York fans one more chance to go face-to-face in the playoffs. It was the Red Sox-Yankees in 1999, 2003 and ’04. It was the Patriots and Jets in 2006 and 2010. The Knicks just dispatched the Celtics in six games. And now, it’s Bruins-Rangers in the 2013 Eastern Conference semifinals.
“Here we go, Boston-New York, Red Sox-Yankees, Giants-Patriots, Knicks-Celtics this year and now we have Bruins-Rangers. Two cities there’s a lot hatred between in sports. I think from a fans perspective, and a players’ perspective, there’s a lot to look forward to,” Lucic said.
|Milan Lucic: Bruins feared it was the end of this group||05.13.13 at 11:14 pm ET|
If you thought the Bruins were going to undergo some big changes following a series collapse and second consecutive first-round exit, you weren’t alone. Milan Lucic said after the Bruins’ 5-4 come-from-behind Game 7 overtime victory that when the Bruins trailed the Maple Leafs by three goals late in regulation that they were “real conscious” of the possibility that changes would be made if they lost.
“You’re looking at the clock wind down with half a period left at 4-1,” Lucic said. “You start thinking to yourself, ‘Is this the end of this group here?’ Because it probably would have been if we didn’t win this game.”
Lucic said that the team has been inconsistent since winning the Stanley Cup in 2011, and that the team proved Claude Julien‘s Jekyll-and-Hyde comparison right in Game 7. The 24-year-old winger scored with 1:22 left in regulation to bring the B’s within one before Patrice Bergeron scored in the final minute and then in overtime to give the Bruins the win.
“It’s a special group and we don’t want it to change,” Lucic said. “Everyone has a lot of fun coming to the rink here and being around each other and playing for each other. I think we need to keep stepping it up and hopefully push for another good run here because the Rangers are going to be just as hard or even better.”
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Bruins storm back to eliminate Maple Leafs in Game 7||at 10:06 pm ET|
The Bruins ended up having the comeback that mattered most, Boston came back from a 4-1 deficit in the third period against the Maple Leafs in Game 7 before advancing on an overtime goal from Patrice Bergeron.
With the Bruins trailing 4-1 in the third, Nathan Horton, Milan Lucic and Bergeron scored to even the game. Both Bergeron and Lucic’s goals came in the final 1:22 with Tuukka Rask pulled for an extra skater. Bergeron added his second of the game on a rebound at 6:05 of overtime to give the B’s a 5-4 win.
The Bruins were hurting big-time on their backend, as Wade Redden was kept out of the lineup with Andrew Ference already out. The biggest shoe of all dropped when Dennis Seidenberg didn’t play after the first two minutes of the first period, forcing the Bruins to rely heavily on Zdeno Chara, Johnny Boychuk and Matt Bartkowski.
Bartkowski did well with the responsibilities he was given, as he got the Bruins on the board in the first period with his first career NHL goal. Toronto answered back by getting a power-play goal from Cody Franson and another tally from Franson through a screen in the second period. The Leafs added to their lead in the third period with goals from Phil Kessel and Nazem Kadri. Horton brought the Bruins within two with his fourth goal of the playoffs before the B’s tied it with a late flurry.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
• That was the second three-goal comeback in the third period this season for the B’s, as they accomplished the feat on Feb. 12 against the Rangers before losing in in a shootout.
• Bartkowski picked a first time for his first career NHL goal. Bartkowski, who had played 21 career NHL games without a goal entering Monday, stepped up big with Seidenberg out. His highest time on ice total in the NHL entering the game was 16:36 on April 11, and he easily surpassed that total with well over 22:43 in regulation alone.
• The Bruins got away with one late in the first period when Chris Kelly elbowed James van Riemsdyk in the face without getting called from it. JVR was leaking from the play.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
• Seidenberg played just 37 seconds of the game and did not play after the first two minutes. His second shift lasted just six seconds, and though he never headed down the tunnel to receive treatment, he didn’t play for the final 18:16 of the period before missing the second and third. He took a twirl during a TV timeout following Bartkowski’s goal but didn’t stay out for a shift and could be seen sitting and standing up for long periods of time on the bench while appearing to occasionally stretch his left leg. Seidenberg stayed on the bench in the second period.
• The Bruins went a span of 18:15 from the first to second period with just three shots on goal — two from Gregory Campbell and the other a point shot from Dougie Hamilton. Bergeron was given credit for a shot on goal in that span, though it didn’t reach the net and thus shouldn’t have been registered as such.
• The Bruins won 29-of-36 faceoffs through the first two periods and still didn’t manage to control the play. They had only 12 shots on goal through the first 40 minutes.
|Chris Kelly, Milan Lucic ready to tough it out in Game 5 for Bruins||05.10.13 at 2:37 pm ET|
A few little scrapes aren’t about to get in the way of a hockey player’s appointed Stanley Cup rounds.
Just ask Milan Lucic (right eye) and Chris Kelly (right cheek), both of whom took nasty shots in Game 4 and both of whom have the bruises and stitches to show for it. Both will be ready to go in Game 5 against Toronto.
“I’ve been icing it the last few days, but I probably have the worst eyesight on the team and I’m squinting all the time [normally], so it shouldn’t be a problem,” Lucic joked. “I feel good. I’m looking forward to tonight. Obviously I’ve got a little bit of a shiner on my right eye, but looking forward to tonight and there’s a lot on the line for both teams. After last game, we expect them to come out hard and bring their best because we know what they’re playing for and we need to come out with the same approach as the Leafs are.”
As for Kelly, he was injured when he took a high stick to the face from Toronto’s Nazem Kadri in the opening minute of the third period Wednesday. He received what he called “nine or 10 stitches” and returned.
“Just a little swollen, just a cut, it’s fine,” Kelly said Friday morning. “It was bleeding and the refs knew it was bleeding, so there’s no need for me to lay on the ice; skate off and get it done quickly.”
At least Lucic and Kelly are playing. The same can’t be said for Toronto defenseman Mark Fraser. He had surgery Thursday to repair a broken bone in the forehead after being hit with a puck shot by Lucic in the third period.
“He’s back home resting comfortably,” Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said Friday. “It is tough when you lose players, and lose players to that type of injury.”
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