|Bruins looking for more physical, less penalized play in Game 2||06.04.11 at 5:48 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — The Bruins found themselves shorthanded six times in the first two periods of Wednesday’s Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals against Vancouver, and despite shutting down the Canucks’ power play, they don’t want to push their luck.
“We don’t want to take too many penalties,” Nathan Horton said Saturday in anticipation of Game 2. “We know they’ve got a great power play, and we want to stay out of the box as much as possible, but we want to play as hard as we can and not cross that line. When we’re playing the way we can, we’re not taking penalties. We’re moving our feet, and that’s what we want to do.”
The Bruins’ primary focus for Game 2 will be to get better looks against Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo, who had a relatively easy 36-save shutout on Wednesday. One area in which the B’s know they need to be more physical — but cautiously so in an effort to stay out of the box — is in front to set up more close-range opportunities.
“There can always be more [net-front presence], regardless of if you feel you did a good job, or if you did a poor job,” center Chris Kelly said. “Obviously, when you get traffic in front of any goalie, especially a guy of his caliber, it makes things easier on yourself and harder on him.”
As for the 28 penalty minutes between the two teams in the game’s first 40 minutes, Kelly said the officials may have been more inclined to call the game tighter based on the fact that it was the first of such a big series.
“I think obviously the refs wanted to establish that they weren’t going to let anything go. You tend to see that in the first game of the series, lots of calls made,” Kelly said. “We need to know that we need to stay out of the box, because they’ve got a good power play. If we can stay out, the less chances they get. That’s better for us.”
Added Horton: “We don’t know what to expect from [the refs], but we’re just going to get back to the way we can play and leave everything on the ice. It’s an important game for us, and we don’t want to go down, 0-2.”
|Brian Leetch on M&M: Bruins ‘don’t feel an underdog’||06.01.11 at 12:09 pm ET|
Hall of Fame defenseman Brian Leetch joined the Mut & Merloni show Wednesday morning to talk about the Stanley Cup finals, which get under way Wednesday night in Vancouver. To hear the interview, go the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
Leetch, who grew up in Connecticut and played collegiately at Boston College, was asked about the Bruins being underdogs in this series.
“I know they don’t feel an underdog,” he said. “When you have two good teams playing, sometimes it’s just an easier pick to pick the team with more points during the regular season, or they had a couple of better stats. But you look at their stats up and down, these teams ‘ we’ve almost gotten to 100 games now ‘ are almost identical. Right through the playoffs and the regular season, there’s not much that separates them. The goaltending is both excellent, their top players, their depth.”
Asked about the Bruins being physical while avoiding penalties, Leetch said: “I think when we talk about the Bruins playing physical, it kind of gets taken a little out of context, of them going outside of their game or playing some different style. Really, their game is to get the puck in, is to finish their checks. It’s not to physically intimidate a team or to injure or to get a different style of play going.
“It’s their strength. It’s the way they play. And that doesn’t mean taking the extra run, it doesn’t mean going out of your way. It means getting he pucks int eh areas where you can get in on the forecheck, where you can take the body, where you can play physical. And the Bruins know as a team, you’ll hear it come out of each guy’s mouth, that we’re at our best when we play that way. We’re at our best when we finish checks, we’re moving our feet, we’re involved physically. So, I don’t think it does anything to take them out of a comfort zone or to run around. It’s just emphasis on playing the game the right way, which for the Bruins means playing physical.”
|Source: Nathan Horton fined $2500 for water bottle incident||05.28.11 at 4:11 pm ET|
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli addressed the media Saturday at TD Garden, reflecting on his team’s Eastern Conference finals victory and discussing the upcoming Stanley Cup finals vs. the Canucks.
On the subject of Nathan Horton, who scored the game-winning goal in the team’s 1-0 Game 7 victory, Chiarelli noted that Horton was disciplined by the league for squirting Tampa fans and then throwing a water bottle into the crowd following Game 6.
“You know that’s an unfortunate incident. I didn’t really focus on it and I didn’t talk to Nathan about it,” Chiarelli said. “He has been fined, so that issue has been resolved.”
While Chiarelli did not reveal how much Horton had to fork over, a source told WEEI.com Saturday that the fine was for $2500, which is the same amount defenseman Andrew Ference paid after giving the middle finger to Montreal fans in Game 4 of the quarterfinals. There was no hearing with the league prior to the disciplinary action, suggesting the winger was not in any danger of being suspended, as Rangers coach John Tortorella was for hitting a fan with a bottle in 2009.
During Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, defense partners Andrew Ference and Johnny Boychuk and assistant coach Doug Houda talked about a play they thought would break the Lightning’s 1-3-1 neutral zone setup. Instead of gathering speed through the neutral zone to win the race to a dump-in, they discussed using that speed to make short passes and skate the puck into the offensive zone.
The Bruins used that plan to varying amounts of success throughout the series, but it never really worked out well enough to result in a goal… until the third period of Game 7.
The play started with all three forwards circling back toward the defense to pick up some speed as Ference walked the puck into the neutral zone. Then Ference made a quick pass to David Krejci that sprung the speedy center clear through Tampa’s three-man front at center ice.
“I’ve been waiting for that all series,” Ference said. “All series, we’ve talked about that. I talked about that play with Doug Houda, I think Game 1. Johnny and I, we’ve been in that situation, I don’t know, 50, 60 times this series where we bring up the puck into the forecheck that they have. Game 1, we drew that play up and said, ‘Boys, look for this play. It’s gonna work, it’s gonna work.’ We tried it a couple times, but tonight was the first time it really just worked perfect, the timing and everything. Krejci came through with the perfect timing and obviously the finish was sick.”
That finish was a criss-cross by Krejci and winger Nathan Horton once they entered the zone, a quick pull-up by Krejci in the left circle, and a crisp centering pass that Horton tipped home from the top of the crease.
“We knew we wanted to come back and get some speed,” Horton said. “You want to have speed to get going through the zone and we kind of did that. We had a little bit more than they probably thought, so it worked out well. That’s what you want. You want Dave coming over the blue line with the puck. I just tried to give him some space and he made an unbelievable pass to me.”
Claude Julien said that play gave the Bruins a nice second option on entries, allowing them to keep the Lightning on their toes.
“I liked the way our guys made some decisions tonight as far as knowing when to run it in because we have guys going with speed,” Julien said. “I think that was a great play where you walk the puck in, and obviously Dave made a great play hanging onto it and Horts went to the net.”
|Tim Thomas and the Bruins have waited a long time for this||at 12:41 am ET|
Tim Thomas has waited his whole career to get to this point and now the Bruins goalie will have the chance to play on hockey’s biggest stage and play for the most famous trophy in all of North American sports. Thomas stopped all 24 shots Friday night, posting his second shutout of the playoffs and third career in the postseason, in Boston’s 1-0 win that sends them to the Stanley Cup finals starting Wednesday in Vancouver.
“This is a great moment,” the 37-year-old Thomas said. “There’s no doubt about it. When’s the last time Boston’s been to the Stanley Cup finals? Twenty-one years. It’s been a long time for Boston, it’s been a long journey for me to get here. Now, you want to take advantage of this opportunity. There’s more work to be done. Unfortunately, that’s the way it is. You can’t ever be too happy for too long until you’re the last man standing.
“They had to earn. We pressured them, offensively. The only reason it was a 1-0 game was because of Dwayne Roloson. He played an incredible game.”
Roloson stopped the first 34 shots he faced before Nathan Horton put one past him with 7:33 left in the third for the deciding goal in the Eastern Conference finals.
|Video: Bruins react to Game 7 win in locker room||at 12:39 am ET|
|Looking back at Bruins’ Game 7 history over last decade||05.26.11 at 4:38 pm ET|
The Bruins will be fighting for their playoff lives when they take the ice for yet another decisive Game 7.
How many times have B’s fans heard that phrase in the last 10 years? Well, Friday night’s Game 7 against the Lightning in the Eastern Conference finals will be the sixth time in the last decade that the men in black and gold have played in the most-pressure packed game in professional hockey. In fact, Boston has played in a Game 7 in five of the seven seasons that it qualified for the playoffs over that span.
But that Game 7 history hasn’t been necessarily a good one. The Bruins are a horrid 1-4 in Game 7’s since 2001, with the lone win finally coming this season in the opening round against the rival Canadiens.
Here’s a look back at how the B’s fared in each of their Game 7’s of the past decade.
2004 Eastern Conference quarterfinals, 2-0 L vs. Canadiens
As the second seed in the Eastern Conference, this series against the seventh-seeded Habs should’ve been an easy one on paper. After the first four games of the series, it looked like that would certainly be the case as Boston jumped out to a 3-1 lead. But this was still the NHL playoffs, arguably the least predictable of all the professional North American postseason tournaments, and the Habs stormed back to score five goals in both Game 5 and Game 6 to tie the series.
In Game 7, it was Montreal goalie Jose Theodore‘s time to take over. The netminder stoned all 32 shots from the Bruins while Richard Zednik potted both goals in the third period, one on an empty net in the waning seconds, to give the Habs the series win. The Game 7 win marked the first time Montreal had ever come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a playoff series. If there’s any silver lining for the Boston fans looking back on this loss, it’s that current Bruins bench boss Claude Julien was actually calling the shots for the Canadiens at the time. (Julien is 2-3 in Game 7’s for his career.) Read the rest of this entry »