|Third line first-rate for Bruins as they are ‘playing smart and simple’ against Canadiens||05.11.14 at 8:33 am ET|
Keep it simple.
It’s a time-tested cliche in sports and the Bruins third line is proving that it’s also a very effective way to finally get through the Canadiens’ wall of defense and establish the style of play needed to advance.
Loui Eriksson and Carl Soderberg each had a goal and an assist while Matt Fraser added an assist to help the Bruins build a 3-0 lead on their way to a 4-2 win Saturday night in Game 5 of their best-of-seven series against the Canadiens at TD Garden.
The third line was responsible for the only goal of Game 4 as Fraser scored within the first two minutes of overtime on a rebound from a shot by Soderberg. Since being down 2-1, the Bruins re-worked third line has single-handedly turned the Canadiens and the series around.
“We’re playing really good. We’re playing smart and simple and making good plays and we’re getting some really good chances out there. So, it definitely feels good. We have to keep doing that,” Eriksson said. “I thought in the game the other night we played really well, too. It was nice that we kept going in this game and I thought we played a really good game. So, it was definitely nice.”
“We are pretty good team to play with a league and they are, too,” said Soderberg, who was wearing the winner’s jacket on the dais postgame. “So I think in four of five games, the first goal scorers have won the game. It’s always important, especially in the second and third.”
Since Chris Kelly went down late in the regular season, the Bruins have been searching for an answer on the third line. They tried Justin Florek, who had a measure of success against the Red Wings in the opening round. But before Game 4 in Montreal, Peter Chiarelli decided to call up Fraser, who along with Reilly Smith and Eriksson, is yet another product of the Tyler Seguin trade.
“Yeah, I play with whoever Coach [Julien] wants to play with me. But right now since Fraz [Matt Fraser] came in and he scored the game winner last game and it seems like he is fitting in pretty well with our line. Loui [Eriksson] and I, I think we have played good the whole playoffs but we haven’t scored so it is a good both of us scored,” Soderberg said of the line chemistry.
“It always takes [time] — with [Chris] Kelly we had before, it took like 10 games, 15 games to get the chemistry together but then it was all set. Loui [Eriksson] and I had that chemistry for a long time and now we have changed the third guy in our line and, I don’t know. It seems like Fras [Matt Fraser] is a pretty good option there.
WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and DJ Bean review the domination displayed by the Bruins Saturday night in their 4-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens, giving them a 3-2 series lead. The Bruins can wrap up the series with a win in Game 6 Monday night in Montreal.
|Johnny Boychuk calls Game 6 in Montreal a ‘must-win’ for Bruins||05.10.14 at 11:36 pm ET|
Johnny Boychuk remembers Game 7 of the 2011 first round run to the Stanley Cup championship very, very well. The Bruins led 3-2 late in Game 7 when the P.K. Subban tied the game late on a power play goal. The Bruins escaped when Nathan Horton scored in overtime as the Bruins won the first of three Game 7 showdowns that spring.
After winning Game 5 Saturday night, 4-2, the Bruins are in the same position they were in three years ago, leading 3-2 heading up to Montreal for a potential closeout in Game 6. He’d like to avoid that scenario repeating itself. But more than just the convenience and rest that comes with closing out a series before the limit, Boychuk feels the Bruins need to win Monday night to advance.
“I mean, it’s basically a must-win game,” Boychuk said Saturday night. “You can’t sugarcoat it. It’s going to be a tough game. We have to battle hard and they’re a great team. We have to be prepared for everything. They’re going to be putting everything on the line and we shouldn’t be expecting anything less because they are a good team and we better be prepared.”
It was Boychuk’s drive to the stanchion behind Carey Price in overtime of Game 4 that set up Carl Soderberg to put a shot on net. That shot wasn’t controlled and Matt Fraser scored the game-winner. As it stands now, that is the pivotal sequence of the series. And Boychuk knows the Bruins were fortunate to get that bounce that put them in the position to come back to Boston and take a series lead, which they accomplished Saturday night.
“It was 0-0 for the whole game,” Boychuk said of Game 4. “I mean nobody made too many mistakes and it was a lucky bounce and we had to play that way, because we didn’t want to come back obviously 3-1 to Boston instead now we are going to Montreal 3-2.
“They’re better chances, but you can’t count them out. We’ve been in situations before and we might of taken a team lightly, but you can never take this team lightly because they are a great team and you have to respect them.”
The Bruins lost Game 6 in 2011 by a 2-1 count before escaping in Game 7. Again, it is the memory of that series that was fresh in Boychuk’s mind after Saturday’s game.
“We have to keep going like that,” he said. “You can’t give them a chance to get into it and build momentum for them. They’re a good team and if you give them a chance they are going to burn you.”
What made Boychuk most pleased is that the Bruins came out and took it to the Canadiens from the opening puck drop.
“I mean we just played the way we should be playing,” Boychuk said. “Before we were trying to do things that were uncharacteristic and we knew that. We have to play our game in order for us to succeed or have a chance to win.”
“I mean that’s our game. I mean once we start trying to do things that we’re not used to doing it usually turns out bad. We know that and whenever we did today or any game it turns out bad and if we minimize those we have a better chance of winning.”
|Claude Julien: ‘I don’t think we’ve played our best hockey’||05.09.14 at 12:37 am ET|
MONTREAL — It was a lot easier for Claude Julien to admit the obvious after a 1-0 overtime win in Game 4 than the alternative. His team still does not look like the squad that won 54 games and the Presidents’ Trophy with 117 points.
If it weren’t for the efforts of a player just called up from Providence to bolster the third line, the Bruins could easily be looking at being down 3-1 heading into Game 5 Saturday night back at TD Garden.
But Matt Fraser saved the day and Julien was grateful, not only to the player who got 14 games under his belt this season but to his boss Peter Chiarelli, who called Fraser up in time for Game 4. What did Julien expect?
“The winning goal,” Julien quipped. “He’s been playing well lately in Providence and actually has been scoring some goals. He’s been playing some pretty good hockey and he showed that tonight. I liked his game, not because he scored but his whole game. He seemed to be strong on the puck, making some good decisions, wasn’t turning pucks over, seemed to be skating well. It was nice to see [goal] happen. The GM probably deserves the credit because he was the one who called him up. He’s a good player. We knew that. We had him for quite a while there this year. He can certainly shoot the puck and he has a knack to score some goals. In this series, we need that.”
Then Julien seemed to go back to reality, the reality that his top two lines seem stuck in the mud against Montreal’s system, giving them precious little room to maneuver in the offensive zone. David Krejci, Brad Marchand, Jarome Iginla and Patrice Bergeron have been bottled up in this series. Things were so bad that Julien tried to loosen everyone up by completely breaking up the lines in the Thursday morning skate.
“A win was important obviously to get us back in this series,” Julien said. “I don’t think we’ve played our best hockey. That’s not to downplay this win. We’ve played hard but I know I’ve seen our team play better. But you know it seems to be a process right now and we’re working through it. You hope that this win here helps us to get better anyways, and you go from there.
“There’s no doubt these guys are working hard, they care, they want to. Just because it doesn’t always go as smooth as we like it to be, what I like is we’re showing character and we’re battling through it and trying to find ways to win games.
|Matt Fraser on his Game 4 OT winner: ‘Words can’t even describe that feeling’||05.08.14 at 11:59 pm ET|
MONTREAL — Boston has a new humble hero and his name is Matt Fraser.
Just seven hours after joining the Bruins on a recall for Justin Florek, Fraser calmly stepped into the playoff fray between the B’s and the Canadiens, scoring the game-winning goal on a rebound from a Carl Soderberg shot just 79 seconds into overtime, giving the desperate Bruins a 1-0 win in Game 4 of the second-round series.
Trying to describe his emotions while recollecting the goal that pumped new life into the Bruins, Fraser sounded an extraordinarily genuine and humble tone.
“Words can’t even describe that feeling,” Fraser said. “I just watched the replay of it and, you know, I don’t even want to begin to try and explain that because that’s something I wish every kid could feel.”
What exactly does he remember about the game-winner?
“I wish I could remember,” he said. “It just happened in a blur. The puck got to the net and was bobbling around in front. I tried to sniff it out and knock it in.”
More specifically, it was Johnny Boychuk who fired a shot high off the stanchion behind the net. The puck ricocheted in front of Carey Price, who stopped all previous 34 shots. Soderberg collected the puck and put a shot on net in the low slot. Price couldn’t contain the rebound and Fraser was more than happy to jam at the puck, with some help from Canandiens defenseman Mike Weaver, and put it past Price to even the series, 2-2, heading back to Boston Saturday night for Game 5.
“As you can tell from my voice, it’s pretty exciting,” Fraser said. “I hardly slept today and I’m sure I’ll hardly sleep tonight. But at the same time, you have to keep it in perspective. This is one game. We’ve evened the series and now we have to go back to Boston and come with the same effort.
“I actually turned my phone off today. It’s just easier to focus on the game rather than talk to everyone. It’s most important that I talk to my parents. I always try to talk to them after the game. Hopefully, my dad was impressed with this one.”
MONTREAL — Brad Marchand and the Bruins have been through the Stanley Cup playoff wars over the last four years and a little 2-1 hole in the second round against the Canadiens isn’t going to faze them one bit. Even if the pivotal Game 4 is again on the very hostile ice of the Bell Centre.
“There’s no need to panic here,” Marchand said. “It’s 2-1. It’s not like it’s 3-0 [down] here right now. There’s no need to hit the panic button. We have a lot of really good leadership in here. We’ve been in a lot of situations before, and I think we just want to make sure we put our best game on the ice.
“We’re definitely not in the position we prefer to be in but we’re here and we want to definitely try to make the most of our opportunities. These guys are a huge challenge. They’re playing very well right now and we definitely have a big job to be prepared tonight.”
Marchand was playing it cool when asked about being separated from his typical line mates of Patrice Bergeron and Reilly Smith for the morning skate. Head coach Claude Julien said he was just having some fun with reporters who were watching the morning skate seven hours before Game 4.
“Every time he’s switched it up before, that’s normally how we start so we’d have to expect the same thing,” Marchand said. “We really just want to focus on our individual jobs and how we have to play. If that’s the lineup, we’re going to play the exact same way we do every night and just make sure we work hard. It doesn’t happen a lot but I’m sure there’s a reason whenever he does and he’s the coach. He makes those decision and we just live by them.”
More than who plays on which lines, Marchand knows full well it won’t matter if the Bruins aren’t winning the puck battles and taking care of their assignments in their own zone, something they failed to do at critical times in Game 3 Tuesday night.
“You look at their goals last game, they were all missed assignments by us. We left guys alone and they capitalized on them,” Marchand said. “So we definitely have to be more aware and definitely be better on our details.”
The Bruins, when they have been successful in recent years in the playoffs have imposed their will in critical games like Thursday’s Game 4. Marchand said Thursday morning they definitely need more of that than they showed in Game 3.
“I think we definitely could do a little bit more. They’re a very skilled team and you want to be physical on guys like that but they’re playing physical, too. We’re trying to take the opportunities when they’re there but we don’t want to take penalties and be reckless so we definitely have to do it within the rules.
“We definitely want to play our game a little bit more, be a little more physical on them, try to battle a little more in the corners. We turned a few too many pucks over at the blue lines so we definitely want to try and clean that up.”
|Shawn Thornton on D&C: ‘We plan on it being a long series’||05.07.14 at 11:12 am ET|
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday to discuss Boston’s 4-2 loss to the Canadiens in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
The Bruins once again got off to a slow start in Game 3, as Boston trailed 3-0 before finally getting on the board with a little over two minutes remaining in the second period thanks to a goal from Patrice Bergeron.
“I think it’s just uncharacteristic,” Thornton said. “I know the one coming out of the power play, maybe you should be aware of the clock, but it looked like we were in control. Yelling from the bench, you actually can’t hear it, to be completely honest. That’s one of the home-ice advantages, I guess. It’s just a couple of plays that were maybe a little uncharacteristic of us and end up in the back of our net. Give them credit, they capitalized on the chances that we gave them.”
Bruins netminder Tukka Rask once again took the loss after stopping 21 of 24 shots on the night. Rask has allowed nine goals in three games during the series.
“He’ll be good. He’s done a good job. His whole career, he’s been a really good professional — just banking things, knowing it happened and then moving on to the next one,” Thornton said, adding: “He’s just one of the best team guys that I’ve seen as a goalie. He’ll be great today, he’ll be focused on tomorrow. It’s 2-1, it’s not the start we wanted, but we plan on it being a long series.”
Thornton said the team’s usual stout defense should once again be present on the ice in Game 4.
“It’s more about just playing our game. … We had some chances and we had some sustained pressure and all that, but we are very strong defensively and we don’t normally give up backdoor passes or two or three breakaways a game. That just doesn’t happen with us,” he said.
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