|Andrew Ference: Bruins have been waiting for that goal setup all series||05.28.11 at 12:42 am ET|
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 »
|Horton squirts fan, throws water bottle||at 4:02 pm ET|
The internet is going crazy over this video, which features Nathan Horton squirting and then throwing a water battle at a fan, who threw what appeared to be one of the clapping devices given away at St. Pete Times Forum at David Krejci after Game 6.
As has been documented many a time, Horton is one of the friendliest people you’ll meet, but when people go after Krejci or Milan Lucic, he loses his mind.
NBC and Versus play-by-play man Mike “Doc” Emrick joined the Mut & Merloni show on Thursday to discuss the Lightning-Bruins series and preview Friday night’s Game 7 at TD Garden.
“The whole series has been [unusual], nothing [predictable] about what we’ll get tomorrow based on what we’ve seen so far,” Emrick said. “We know they are both good defensive teams, but try proving it.”
Emrick noted that Games 7′s are entirely unpredictable.
“Weird things that can happen in a seventh game we remember more because they were seventh games and not Games 4, 5 or 6’s,” he said. “Anybody can beat anybody in a Game 7. You get the right penalty call at the right time, you get a fluky bounce. …. If you care who wins you go, ‘Shoot, this is torture.’”
To hear the entire interview, visit the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
Here are more highlights from the interview:
On the Bruins’ struggles on the power play: “It’s a very unusual squad because its only happened a couple of times in history. It’s never happened before that a team didn’t get one power play goal and won a series, which they did in seven games against Montreal.
“The power play did strike late [in Game 6] and that certainly helped, but overall it was as flawed on the night as Tampa Bay’s was strong. Special teams made a big difference in this game, and they tend to make a big difference in games, but when you have a Bruins team that has got this far without much of a power play you have to say, ‘Well the ultimate seventh game might it not mean anything.’”
On the Bruins adjustments, including Zdeno Chara to the front of the net on the power play: “I think that confused [Dwayne Roloson], [Chara] had a deflection once, he got tangled with him once. Some of the things they were doing didn’t work but [Claude Julien] is more of a status quo coach than [Guy] Boucher is, but the thing is they have both had success they way that they do.”
On the Tampa Bay power play: We talked earlier in the series about how [David] Krejci, [Milan] Lucic and [Nathan] Horton had a lot of pressure because they weren’t producing well it was that same thing with the star power for Tampa Bay because [Vinny] Lecavalier and [Steve] Stamkos haven’t aligned in recent games. They came to the floor last night.
“It may have been not so much the Bruins penalty kill, but the fact there was heat on these guys, the ultimate heat on these guys, that if they don’t perform last night they aren’t performing anymore till October. They rose to the occasion.”
On Tyler Seguin’s ice time: “I am not sure what kind of difference he would have made. You have to remember that the game he had the four points in and tied a record, it wound up being a wacky wide open game that set up perfect for him.
“People say Seguin should get more time, and I understand that, but who will you take it away from? Maybe people would have people hand-picked to take time away from, but I can’t think of anyone. I know you mentioned [Mark] Recchi and thought he was out there too much, but there’s savvy and skill for a seventh game in particular that Mark Recchi has.”
On his Game 7 prediction: “This is going to be low scoring, and something bizarre will happen later on, but if I wake up two mornings from now and pick up the paper and realize the score was 7-6 I won’t be shocked.”
|Video: Bruins react to Game 5 win||05.24.11 at 1:27 am ET|