|All eyes on the ice (conditions) for Game 6||06.24.13 at 2:39 pm ET|
High humidity and temperatures in the 90s outside for a second straight day are hardly the ideal conditions for good ice for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals.
But that’s what both the Bruins and Blackhawks will be dealing with Monday night in front of a loud and fired-up Garden crowd, whose energy will only add to the heat.
“Well, obviously with some fans in the building tonight, it’ll get obviously warmer,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “I thought the ice this morning was in pretty good shape, and they’ve done a good job. Walking in here yesterday with 90-plus degrees it was nice and cool in the arena.
“But those doors are going to open I would imagine and some of the heat will come in. But those are conditions that you have to play with at this time of year. Everybody has been through it, and two teams are going through the same conditions. Both teams are going to tell you the same truth; keep the game simple and try and avoid those mistakes from overhandling pucks in those kind of ice conditions.”
Chris Kelly, who was outspoken about the patchy ice conditions after the Bruins won Game 3, provided the best perspective.
“It’s June, late June,” he said. “You expect it. I think even up in Canada it’d still be warm. If the ice is going to be bad, it’s going to be bad for both sides. You expect that. I think the pretty plays might not always be there because of the ice conditions.”
What’s the most important thing the Bruins can do tonight to handle the ice and the Blackhawks?
“I think managing the puck, putting it in a better situation so we can get it,” Kelly said. “Just making better plays. I think our puck management can still be a bit better.”
|These ‘really confident’ Bruins know they have to re-capture road warrior mentality||06.21.13 at 9:09 pm ET|
Perhaps the lasting legacy of the 2011 Stanley Cup champion Bruins was their ability to win in a hostile environment when they had no other choice.
Game 7 in Vancouver was the ultimate testament to that quality.
Now, these Bruins have a chance to repeat that accomplishment, and must, if they are to achieve their ultimate goal. Already, the Bruins have proven they can win in Chicago. But after losing Game 4 in overtime, they must find a way again.
“It’s tough, but we know we can do it,” captain Zdeno Chara said Friday. “We have a good enough team. We just have to be ready. It’s going to be a battle.”
“I guess it helps some kind of confidence there, but it’s still going to be a tough one,” Tuukka Rask said of winning Game 2 last Saturday.
Chara knows the value of the experience of Game 7 in 2011 – and Game 2 this year – in Boston’s quest.
“It’s huge,” Chara said. “You need to be able to win games on the road. It’s something that good teams go to do, and certainly we’ve done it once, so we’ve got to do our best to do it again.”
Added Tyler Seguin: “I think it helps a ton. We know what to expect a bit more and that being said Chicago’s been in this series just as much as we have. You know, it’s going to be a long series still and it’s one we’re enjoying.”
All eyes will be on Rask to see how he handles the “bounce back” game.
“Yeah, we’ve got to focus on [Game 5], hopefully get the win and have a chance to finish it at home,” Rask said. “[We’re] really confident. I think that’s one of our good qualities as a team. We never let things bother us.”
Maybe Johnny Boychuk had the best take of all on the road factor.
“It doesn’t really matter at this point where we’re playing,” Boychuk said. “I think both teams are just trying to worry about what they’re doing and trying to just battle as hard as you can to win a Cup.”
|Bruins give their fans another send-off party||06.20.13 at 9:55 pm ET|
As was the case at the beginning of this series, the Bruins Friday will give their fans the chance to send them off on a mission.
With their team tied, 2-2, in the 2013 Stanley Cup finals, Bruins fans are invited show their support for their team as they leave TD Garden for Saturday’s Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals in Chicago. The Bruins are expected to hold a brief practice at 10:30 on Friday morning before gathering their belongings and hopping on a charter bus for their flight.
Fans can cheer on the Bruins as they board the team bus and head for the airport. The event will take place in the parking lot outside TD Garden off Causeway Street. Fans can enter the TD Garden parking lot starting at 11:00 a.m. The crowd is expected to gather for about one hour before sending the team off at noon to catch their charter flight to Chicago.
The event is expected to be similar to the send-off on June 11 when the Bruins first took off for Chicago for Games 1 and 2. The team will spend Friday night in Chicago in preparation for Game 5 Saturday at the United Center.
For more, visit the Bruins team page at weei.com/bruins.
Sometimes it just takes simplifying things to their most basic form.
That’s the way Tuukka Rask feels about the defense in front of him in Game 4 and what he expects for Game 5 Saturday in Chicago.
“We talked about it and moved on,” Rask said. “New game Saturday.”
Was Wednesday’s six-goal implosion on defense the result of Chicago’s skill or Boston’s breakdowns?
“I think it was both,” Rask said. “I think they played a good game. They had, as I said yesterday, legs right off the bat. We didn’t, and we had some mental mistakes. The layers weren’t there and we kind of got caught standing still a lot of times. So, I think it was both.”
Can Boston’s defensive issues from Game 4 be resolved by Saturday?
“Yeah. I think it’s not rocket science at this point,” Rask said. “I think they played good, as I said. We didn’t play our game for the most part. We were standing still and not doing the things we were supposed to do in order to have a chance to win hockey games. We have to adapt that.”
“I mean, a lot of occasions, these finals especially, the momentum shifts and both teams have their moments. We just try to recognize what the situation is and not get too much carried away about the losses or wins and just try to stay even-keel and try to play our game as good as we can and hope that the result will be good.”
There’s little doubt in Rask’s mind that the Bruins will find their game again.
“I don’t think it should be an issue,” Rask said. “I don’t think, for us, it matters whether we are at home or away we always play good games at either places, but I feel confident we can respond.
“That’s something we definitely can do. We can’t just rely on the fact that we have done it in the past. We have to go out there and make it happen again. We feel confident that we have it in us, but we have to be better.”
|Claude Julien on Gregory Campbell: ‘He’s part of our family’||06.17.13 at 2:22 pm ET|
On Monday, part of the drama of the Bruins returning home to play Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final at TD Garden will be Campbell in attendance to watch his team play in person. He was unable to make it to Chicago for Games 1 and 2 because of surgery to repair the leg.
“It’s nice to see him,” coach Claude Julien said Monday. “There’s no doubt. Obviously he can’t play. We miss him. He’s a good player for us. But just to be around our team, it’s nice to have him back. He’s part of our family. That’s how we look at things in that dressing room. If he could have, he would have been in Chicago. It was too early after surgery. From here on in, he’s good to go, going to be with us the whole way.”
Campbell, who drew huge cheers during an appearance on the video board in Game 4 against the Penguins, was with the team Monday morning as they prepared for Game 3 Monday night.
Julien has juggled the lines often since the injury to Campbell in Game 3 of the Eastern finals against Pittsburgh. Shawn Thornton has watched his playing time decrease somewhat but in Julien’s eyes he still remains an integral part of the fourth line.
“Let’s not confuse something here,” Julien said. “He’s not in the lineup because of what he brings in the dressing room. We got a lot of guys that do that. He’s in our lineup even though his minutes go down because he deserves to be there. He’s great on the forecheck. He’s actually a lot smarter of a player than a lot of people give him credit for. He reads plays well, doesn’t get himself in trouble much, gets the puck out of our end.
“Certainly his presence makes our team better. We’ve seen that at times when we’ve had to pull him out. There’s no doubt our team is more comfortable with him in our lineup for all the right reasons.”
WIth Daniel Paille jumping up to join Tyler Seguin and Chris Kelly on the third line, the fourth line has been a work-in-progress. With the home team having the last change, Julien figures to have a distinct advantage in getting more time for Thornton and the fourth line.
“There’s no doubt it makes it a little bit easier,” Julien said. “Doesn’t mean it’s going to happen all the time, but it certainly is a lot easier. Joel’s a pretty good coach, smart coach. When he senses something, he’ll take advantage of it. I had to be extra careful in Chicago with that. But, again, tonight hopefully it’s a little easier. Nonetheless, we’re in the Final here, you got to do what you got to do. Sometimes you may play guys a little bit more, but they’re capable of handling the ice time. You’re right, that last change will hopefully give me a little bit of an easier change.”
Antagonizer. Spark plug. Skillful finisher. Intense.
But the one thing he maintains is he plays within the rules. He doesn’t, for a second, consider himself a dirty player. The “dirty” tag came up again in an interview with ESPN Boston on Monday when Don Cherry said Marchand “is not a pest. He’s a hockey player that plays dirty.”
“When you’re getting suspensions and stuff like that, that’s playing dirty,” Marchand said Monday morning before Game 3. “You play hard, a lot of things happen in a game but I don’t think anybody is out there trying to injure guys.”
During the Eastern Conference finals, Cherry first told WEEI’s Mut & Merloni that Marchand is no pest.
As a matter of fact, Marchand maintains he hasn’t even tried to get under the skin of the Blackhawks so far in this Stanley Cup final.
“I haven’t really tried to do a whole lot,” he said. “I’m just trying to play the game. Everyone is so caught up in trying to antagonize guys and stuff like that, it just doesn’t happen like that. It comes with the game and you have to react to different situations.”
One thing is for sure, Marchand has plenty of respect for a Chicago team that has just as much speed and skill as the Bruins.
“They’re a great team,” Marchand said. “They come with a ton of speed which is always tough to play against. They don’t just throw pucks away. Every time they have the puck they make a play, which makes it tough out there. I think that’s the biggest thing I’ve noticed is just that they don’t ever seem to throw pucks away. Everything is right on the tape. If they don’t have anything, they just seem to swing back so they’re a great team. There’s no doubt about that.”
Still, Marchand was asked if he thought the Blackhawks hate him yet?
“I have no idea. You have to ask them,” he said.
The Bruins are 3-0 in Game 3s so far in these Stanley Cup playoffs while the Blackhawks are 0-3. Meaningful heading into Game 3 of the Cup final?
“It means nothing right now,” Marchand said. “It’s a completely different series and a completely different time.”
|Claude Julien: Tuukka Rask ‘just as good’ as Tim Thomas in 2011 Cup run||06.16.13 at 3:18 pm ET|
The comparison has been obvious since the second round of this Bruins playoff run.
In the eyes of Bruins coach Claude Julien, there’s no doubt.
“I think it’s just as good, no doubt,” Julien said of Rask, who is now 13-5 in the playoffs, a 1.73 goals against and a .944 save percentage. All of those numbers better the performance of Thomas when he won the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP. “Tim has been a great goaltender for us. When you lose a guy like that, there’s always that fear that you’re not going to be able to replace him.
“Tuukka’s done an outstanding job. To me, he’s been as much of a contributor to our team as Tim was two years ago.”
Rask gave his take on Sunday morning.
“For myself, that was the best I’ve ever seen, obviously,” Rask said of Thomas’ 16-9 record, with a 1.98 GAA and a .940 save percentage in the 2011 playoffs. “I’d never been that deep in the playoffs before and for me, as a spectator, that was the best stretch of goaltending I’d ever seen.”
The only area where Thomas has Rask beat right now is in shutouts (4-2), that and a Conn Smythe trophy, for now.
Rask did admit one thing Sunday – this is the best goaltending he’s played in his career.
“Probably, yeah,” Rask said.
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