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Cam Neely: ‘It’s a very sweet day for us’ 06.18.11 at 2:21 pm ET
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The city of Boston has celebrated world championship teams before with a “rolling rally” like it did on Saturday but never did so many fans turn out. When the city rolled out the duck boats for a three-mile rally route from TD Garden to Copley Square, fans as deep as 20 rows lined the streets to celebrate the 2011 Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins.

“Mayhem, but all good,” Bruins President Cam Neely said in describing the day. “These fans have waited a long, long time for this. They deserve this. Today is their day to really celebrate it, which is really great.”

Boston Police estimated the crowd at over 1,000,000 and city officials said that it eclipsed the 2004 “Rain Rally” on Oct. 30, 2004 when the city and region celebrated the first World Series title in 86 years. Neely’s Bruins became the seventh Boston team to be celebrated and honored with a duck boat rally, joining the 2001, ’03 and ’04 Patriots, the ’04 and ’07 Red Sox and the ’08 Celtics.

“Just how mentally draining it’s been. You live and breathe for every game, especially when you have four elmination games. I’m proud of the guys for what they did.”

“It’s nice that people feel that way. I came here when I was 21 and grew up here and have a huge passion for the Bruins and the players who played before me and the players I played with and the organization in general. And our fan base took me in and showed their passion for the team and the players. So, to finally win it for them has been an incredible experience.”

“It’s really sweet for everyone that’s put some time and effort in. The people in the back office, work extremely hard, don’t get the recognition. Obviously, all the players, coaches, GMs, it’s going to be a very sweet day for us.”

Neely said he and the organization have yet to come down completely from their epic 4-0 win over Vancouver in British Columbia last Wednesday in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals.

“It’s been fantastic, just the excitement the whole city has,” he said. “It’s kind of sunk in but hasn’t really sunk in yet. It’s been an incredible experience so far. I was driving in [Friday] and all I kept thinking is, ‘We’re Stanley Cup champs.’ You drive in, you think it’s a normal day but you’re Stanley Cup champs. It keeps running through your head. It’s starting to sink in but it hasn’t fully sunk in.”

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Brad Marchand is a rat’s rat 06.14.11 at 7:50 am ET
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If the Canucks were hoping that Brad Marchand would wilt as a rookie under the pressure of his first playoff experience, they obviously did not judge or scout him nearly close enough.

And there’s no reason to think Marchand is about to crumble under the pressure of the first Stanley Cup finals Game 7 in Bruins history.

“We have to make sure that we have a good start. And they just seem to get so much momentum and energy off their crowd and we just have to find a way to counter that and come out strong,” said Marchand sounding every bit the veteran of 24 playoff games.

When he scored in the Game 3 blowout of the Canucks, he referred to the fact that he is considered the modern-day “rat” of the Bruins, a nickname lovingly bestowed on Ken Linseman for being the bur in the side of every opponent. It’s a nickname that he continues to wear with pride as he proved again to the Canucks on Monday.

When he wheeled in and took a puck off the boards from Mark Recchi he showed no hesitation snapping off a wrister that beat Roberto Luongo over the goalie’s left shoulder just 5:31 into Game 6.

“I was there, it was a good shot but I have to make that save,” Luongo said. “He put it where he wanted but I have to make a save there.”

“We weren’t too worried about that in here,” Marchand said of Luongo’s talk after Game 5. “He can say what he wants to say. We were just trying to focus on playing this game so we got a couple early, and you know, obviously they switched the goaltenders up. Obviously he’s bounced back every game and I expect the same thing back in Vancouver.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Michael Ryder: We will do ‘everything’ to win it for Nathan Horton at 1:24 am ET
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The singular turning point of the series has also turned into a rally cry for the Bruins, as Michael Ryder acknowledged after scoring a goal in Boston’s 5-2 win over Vancouver in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals Monday night at TD Garden.

With the crowd already in a frenzy following two quick goals to start the game, the video board at the Garden showed Nathan Horton in the zamboni area waving a Bruins black and gold hanky. Horton was shown live for the first time since being knocked to the ice with a severe concussion exactly one week ago on hit by Canucks defenseman Aaron Rome in Game 3. He has been ruled out of the playoffs.

“Horty’s a big part of this team and he’s one of the reasons we’re where we are,” Ryder said. “He’s a great guy and it’s good to see him a lot better and we know he’s excited and he wants us to win. We have to make sure we do everything we can to pull it off for him.”

“We didn’t know that they were going to be doing that and showing him up there,” added Bruins forward Brad Marchand. “You know for him to come in and give us that boost of energy is unbelievable. And obviously the crowd loves it and loves him and are supporting him every minute of the day. It was great to see him out there. He gave us a big energy boost.

Two and a half minutes later, Andrew Ference fired a slap shot past Roberto Luongo on the power play for Boston’s third goal and pandemonium ensued with the Bruins up, 3-0, and Luongo chased to the bench.

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Bruins and Canucks: The little things lead to the big prize 06.13.11 at 1:50 pm ET
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It was a little thing – a little thing that Claude Julien works on often during practice. But on this Monday morning, the small detail of winning faceoffs could have a huge impact on who wins Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals.

Last Friday, in Game 5 in Vancouver, the Canucks found a way to win 34 of 65 draws while the Bruins only won 29 of those 65 one-on-one battles.

While none of them led directly to a goal, it did skew puck possession in Vancouver’s favor as the game progressed.

It’s actually been an area the Canucks have won in nearly every game of this series, including in both blowout wins by the Bruins in Games 3 and 4. But add the faceoffs in with losing puck battles and not getting enough bodies in front of Roberto Luongo and the small things become huge problems – problems the Bruins cannot afford tonight with no margin of error left.

In a close game, losing those battles can be deadly, especially when you’re the Bruins trying to kill one of best power play units in the game. So far, the Bruins have killed 24 of 25 Vancouver power plays.

The Bruins coach was also asked about the benefit of having Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci – two of the team’s top faceoff men – out on the ice for the team’s top power play unit.

“I don’t think we would be putting them there if it was just a faceoff thing,” Julien said. “But between Bergeron and Krejci are right-handed shots, and whether one of them is on the half fall, doesn’t really matter. The other one can be on the goal line. Krejci can make some plays from down low and Bergeron can take pucks at the net. We just feel that right now that’s a good scenario for that power play.

“We’ve got [Rich] Peverley who does move the puck well and [Dennis] Seidenberg who can shoot the puck well, we’ve got a good combination there. It’s shown some flashes of being very good, and when it hasn’t, it’s been not because of who you got out there, but what they’ve done. We’ve lost some battles in the last game. Certainly didn’t make some strong passes that were cut off. Vancouver does a great job. They’ve got good sticks on the penalty kill. If we don’t make crisp passes, you end up turning it over.”

The same goes for Vancouver.

“We have to bring our ‘A’ game and play the right way,” said Daniel Sedin. “When we win faceoffs and we have a lot of puck possession, we’re a good team. They’re obviously a good faceoff team so that’s going to be a big thing tonight. If we play the right way, and we play tight the way we did at home, it’s hard to get good scoring chances against us. When we play like we did in Games 3 and 4, we’re going to get some scoring chances but they are too, and that’s not the way we want to play.”

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Andrew Ference says B’s won’t be scared by the magnitude of the moment at 12:26 pm ET
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Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference believes he and his teammates won’t be scared or intimidated by the Stanley Cup being in the building tonight, ready to be raised on Garden ice if the Canucks win.

“We’ve had our back up against a wall a few times and I think that we’ve performed well under those circumstances. I think a lot of guys feel like this is another opportunity to go out there and prove ourselves and seize the moment,” Ference said.

Ference and the Bruins have faced elimination twice in the playoffs so far, winning both games on home ice by one goal, including Game 7 against Montreal in overtime in the first round.

“It doesn’t sound right but we’ve been here as a team,” Ference said. “Obviously, the Cup is on the line tonight but I think we felt like that against Montreal when we were down. Against Philly, there was such focus on getting back and Tampa went to Game 7. We’ve had our back up against the wall a few times and I think we’ve performed well under those circumstances.”

For Ference, this is his second time in a Game 6 of the Cup finals. Back in 2004 – with Calgary – the Flames were just one win away and could’ve clinched with a win on home ice. But instead, the Lightning survived and forced a Game 7, one which Tampa Bay prevailed, 2-1.

“Second time around is easier,” Ference said. “I remember the first time with Calgary mostly your mind gets pretty busy. But also, I was in a different situation. I was up 3-2 with Calgary so the mind works in different ways. But this time is a little easier.”

Ference – like every Bruin – will look to feed off the sizable energy in the Garden, a place the Bruins have outscored the Canucks, 12-1, in two blowout wins in Games 3 and 4.

“The city’s excited,” Ference said. “It’s been a long run and lots of ups and downs and crazy stuff but obviously, everybody can smell a finish coming up soon and wants us obviously, to continue the story fro another game.”

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Maxim Lapierre admits he got a ‘little lucky’ 06.10.11 at 11:25 pm ET
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The game-winning goal off the stick of Maxim Lapierre was a “lucky” break by the admission of the man who scored it. Lapierre was positioned to the right of Tim Thomas when he took a pass off the end boards and flipped it off the backside of Thomas. The puck trickled off of Thomas’ pads and dropped over the goal line, providing the margin of victory in Vancouver’s 1-0 win in Game 5.

“I was actually going backdoor for a tip,” Lapierre told Versus in a postgame interview, referring to a pass he was expecting from Kevin Bieksa in front of Thomas. “That was a good play. We got a little lucky but we’ll take it.”

“The puck got across the line by a couple of inches and that was the difference,” added Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault in his postgame press conference.

“I don’t think that was necessarily the play they were going for, from where the guy shot it to where it came out, he was pretty wide,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said of Bieksa’s pass from the right . “Normally, those pucks from where he shot it don’t come out there. Nonetheless, you make your own breaks. I think tonight – as a whole – they were the better team. I think we have to acknowledge that because if we don’t, we’re not going to be a better team the next game.”

Roberto Luongo – who stopped all 31 shots in the shutout – had his own take when asked if making saves like the one that got by Thomas are difficult.

“It’s not hard if you’re playing in the paint,” Luongo said, referring to Thomas’ aggressive approach. “It’s an easy save for me but if you’re wandering out and aggressive like he does, that’s going to happen.”

As for coming out stronger and outhitting the Bruins, 47-27, Lapierre said the Canucks were more in control.

“We played with a little more confidence and were more patient,” Lapierre said on his postgame TV interview. “It was good for us.”

Game 6 is now a must-win for the Bruins back in Boston Monday night. If the Bruins win, Game 7 is back in Vancouver Wednesday night.

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Media roundup: National opinion starts to turn against Canucks at 12:10 pm ET
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With the Stanley Cup finals down to a best-of-three series, two countries’ worth of media can’t help but comment on the series.

The Toronto Star’s Dan Robson hasn’t enjoyed the pettiness and immaturity by both the Canucks and the Bruins, calling them “fifth-grade versions of themselves.”

Wrote Robson: “The Bruins and Canucks have gone classless-tit for gutless-tat all series long.”

ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun, meanwhile, has focused on the games themselves, seeing Vancouver’s road losses to the Bruins by a combined score of 12-1 reflect numerous issues with the Canucks, ranging from poor goalie play to a lack of team confidence.

“They head home with their confidence shaken, their goalie perhaps rattled and their passionate fan base unquestionably believing 40 years of misery will continue with one more giant heartbreak headed their way,” LeBrun wrote Thursday.

Gord McIntyre, a writer for Vancouver-based newspaper the Province, wrote Friday that the media and much of the NHL wants to see the Canucks lose, that they have become the villains of the NHL. His article cited such examples as Versus commentator Mike Milbury calling Daniel and Henrik Sedin “Thelma and Louise,” a Chicago reporter seeing a picture of Cher and saying “Luongo,” and Blackhawks center Dave Bolland saying the team played “sort of like a little girl.”

Helene Elliot of the Chicago Tribune wrote Thursday that the Bruins’ success is based on Tim Thomas’ success, and Thomas’ success is based on his “feistiness.” Jackie MacMullan of ESPN.com wrote a similar article Thursday, but added that the Canucks don’t respect Thomas’ aggression and talent. MacMullan quoted Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa as calling Thomas “leaky,” and wrote that, according to the Canucks, simply shooting more will expose Thomas’ weaknesses.

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