|Dare to dream: Bruins hope to keep things 5-on-5 at Bell Centre||05.06.14 at 1:57 pm ET|
MONTREAL — The Bell Centre can be a tough place to play, especially in the postseason.
The fans are crazy and the pregame presentation is second to none, but home ice calls overshadow everything. The Canadiens get their power plays one way or another, and if their power play is anything like it’s been the last two games, they score.
Yet with nine power plays in the first two games of the series in Boston, the Canadiens proved something that was proven throughout the regular season: They get calls anywhere. Montreal had 140 power plays at home this season and 139 on the road.
As such, it’s safe to assume the Habs will get something like nine power plays over the next two games. Whether it’s the same way they got them in Boston — with some diving, some should-be matching minors that weren’t matching and the Bruins losing their cool — remains to be seen. Either way, the B’s have to know the power plays for Montreal are coming.
When they do, the Bruins have to look more like the group that held the Red Wings to two power play goals and less like the group that has allowed four goals to Montreal through two games.
The biggest issue has been stopping P.K. Subban, who has been able to get too many pucks to the net. Only one of the four goals he’s created (two scored, two assisted) has come off a one-timer, with the others being a normal slap shot, a wrist shot and a pass.
The solution there is getting in the shooting lanes and stopping those bids, which for whatever reason the B’s haven’t done. Zdeno Chara, Gregory Campbell and Brad Marchand have all been guilty parties in that regard.
‘That’s one of the areas we have to be better at,” Chara said Tuesday morning. “He’s putting those shots really quickly through our players and we’ve got to make sure we do a better job.’
It goes without saying, but if the Bruins can stay out of the box, they’ll be in tremendous shape. The B’s were the best five-on-five team in the NHL this season and have outscored the Canadiens, 7-2 in the second round.
“Five-on-five I thought we’ve played very well. Carey Price is a good goalie and he’s made some big saves, but I think that we’ve had enough chances that we can win games five-on-five,” Reilly Smith said. “We’ve been the stronger team five-on-five for sure.”
Perhaps the most notable penalty thus far wasn’t given to a player at all, but rather Claude Julien. The Bruins were given a bench minor late in the second period of Game 2 when Claude Julien cussed out an official.
The B’s don’t want that to happen again, but Julien said Tuesday that he isn’t ashamed of the penalty.
“I don’t regret doing what I did,” Julien said. “I thought I stood up for my team at the time. But the biggest thing there is is you turn around and you tell your team to turn the page and go out there in the third and play the way they can. That’s part of the message that our team has to take from the last game. When we focus on the things we can control, it’s a lot more beneficial than not.”
Pierre McGuire of NBC Sports joined Mut & Merloni on Tuesday morning to discuss the Eastern Conference semifinal series between the Bruins and Canadiens. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
The Bruins evened up the series in dramatic fashion on Saturday, as the team rallied from a two-goal deficit in the third period en route to a 5-3 victory in Game 2 at TD Garden.
“It was like Game 2 of Detroit and Boston, too, exactly what Boston had to do,” McGuire said. “Sometimes it takes a little while to warm up to a series, and it took the Bruins a little while to warm up to the Detroit series and they clearly did that in Game 2 and never lost another game in the series. I thought that Boston really warmed up to this series after losing in double overtime in Game 1. It takes a little while.
“They’re into it, they’re fully engaged now, and they’ll have to be because that will be a raucous crowd in Montreal tonight and Thursday night won’t get any easier.”
The Bruins once again struggled with maintaining their composure in Game 2. The Canadiens made use of six power-play opportunities in the contest, with two goals coming on the man advantage.
“It’s easier to say and harder to do,” said McGuire, adding: “It’s really difficult to talk about it and you keep getting hit over the head all the time with it, and I think there was some frustration because they were getting chances. … It’s all difficult stuff, but I think they’ll find their way. The one thing I know about this team, when they’re home, it’s one thing, because they want to please their fans so badly. … But the other thing, when they go on the road, I find them to be much more disciplined on the road than they are at home.”
It was not just the Bruins skaters getting penalized by the referees in Game 2, as Bruins coach Claude Julien was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the final minutes of the second period.
“It started early on in the game and I can tell you, he was really upset with [official] Scott Cherrey on an offside that he thought wasn’t an offside,” McGuire said. “Then it carried over to the second period, he didn’t like some of the calls going against his team, but it was nothing out of this world. It was nothing crazy. Trust me, I hear it all. It wasn’t anything nuts. And then, I don’t know what happened.”
Added McGuire: “I did not hear him say anything derogatory. I thought it was something that happened on the ice. I don’t know how [official] Dave Jackson heard anything from where he was standing from the Bruins bench, because it was definitely loud at that point in the game and when you’re on the ice, you’re down low. Unless you’re really scrutinizing, there’s no possible way you can hear anything.”
|P.K. Subban apologized to Shawn Thornton for ducking||05.03.14 at 5:18 pm ET|
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton left the game in the third period after hurting his right knee on a collision with P.K. Subban in the neutral zone. Thornton was going for a hit on Subban, who lowered himself as he sent the puck into the Bruins zone. Thornton ended up returning to the game, but he said after the game that he didn’t like the position Subban put him in and that the Canadiens defenseman apologized to him for the play.
“I don’t like people ducking. I think [Brad Marchand] got about five games for it once,” Thornton said. “I will say, off the draw he apologized afterwards, so there’s that. I think it’s a dangerous play, personally. But it’s playoffs, it’s hockey, I’m fine, so we’re OK.”
The suspension to which Thornton referred was Marchand’s ban in the 2011-12 season for a low-bridge hit on Sami Salo. Marchand’s offense was far more egregious than Subban’s, and no penalty was called on Saturday’s incident.
“I don’t know what happened,” Subban said of the play. “I just tried to shoot the puck around the zone and I sort of lost my footing there. Obviously you don’t want to see anybody go off hurt, but he came back. I don’t know if he stayed in the game, but [I was] happy to see that.”
When Thornton got back on the bench, the Bruins were still trailing by a pair of goals in the third period. He delivered them a message on the bench midway through the period: one goal every five minutes.
“I’m not psychic. It’s a pretty standard statement depending on the time and the score,” Thornton said. “I think I said two goals, but we’re a resilient crew here. We have been all year, so I knew the character would be there’I was just hoping the pucks would go in.”
|Bruins condemn racist tweets about P.K. Subban||05.02.14 at 1:19 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins issued a statement Friday regarding the racist tweets that were sent out by some fans following P.K. Subban‘s game-winning goal in double overtime in Game 1 of the second round.
It’s the second time Bruins fans have been accused of racism in recent years, as Joel Ward was the victim of hateful tweets after he had the overtime game-winner in Game 7 of the first round in 2012 against the Bruins.
“The racist, classless views expressed by an ignorant group of individuals following Thursday’s game via digital media are in no way a reflection of anyone associated with the Bruins organization,” Cam Neely said in Friday’s statement.
The idea that the people who used racist language regarding Subban are Bruins fans might be a bit of a stretch. The team’s regular-season co-leader in goals, Jarome Iginla, is black, while Subban’s younger brother, Malcolm Subban, was a first-round pick of the B’s in 2012.
“Exactly,” Milan Lucic said. “Jarome is here and he’s been treated with nothing but respect in Boston since he’s been here. All the Celtics and Patriots and Red Sox and all those players that have been here have been treated with nothing but respect. If you’re going to make bad comments, stick to hockey comments, not to stuff that crosses the line.”
Lucic himself has dealt with some unnecessary hatred on the part of hockey fans. His church in Burnaby, British Columbia, was vandalized in 2012 by Canucks fans.
Claude Julien said he’s never heard racism on any benches or from any fans during games.
“There’s a lot of good fans out there, and that’s the sad part about it,” Julien said. “Your good fans get tarnished because of a couple of comments like that who don’t belong in that same group.’
|P.K. Subban is expecting nothing less than fierce battle from Bruins: They are ‘a resilient team’||at 1:04 am ET|
P.K. Subban wasn’t turning cartwheels in the Canadiens dressing room after his power-play goal 4:17 into the second overtime lifted Montreal to a 4-3 win over the Bruins in Game 1 Thursday night at TD Garden.
There’s good reason for his reservation.
Three years ago, Subban’s Canadiens not only won Game 1, they came back and beat the Bruins in Game 2 soundly and everyone, including the Canadian media, had the Bruins dead and buried heading up north for Games 3 and 4. But a funny thing happened in the Lake Placid retreat between Games 3 and 4. The Bruins found themselves. They tied the series and took a 3-2 lead before losing Game 6 in Montreal.
Of course, Game 7 back in Boston was sent to overtime after Subban drilled home a laser on the same end of the ice where he won Game 1 Thursday night. Nathan Horton saved the day, the series and the Stanley Cup dreams with an overtime goal and the Bruins were on their way to their first title since 1972.
All of which led to Subban keeping it low key after the Game 1 win Thursday.
“Well, it’s great that we won, but listen, I have played against these guys more than a few times over the past couple of years and in the playoffs. The one thing I can tell you is this is a resilient team,” Subban said of the Bruins. “That’s not something that you can say about every team, but against these guys I have to give them credit. They always battle back. They always find a way to persevere. Tonight, it feels good to be the team that found the way to get it done.”
Boo him all you want, but Subban does understand the value of respecting your playoff opponent, especially when it’s the Bruins.
“Listen, I don’t think we can even think about winning the series,” Subban added. “I mean, a couple of years ago we came in here and took two games and went back and we lost in Game 7. When there is success you have to take it and get better. I still think that there are things we need to get better on. We can’t be giving up 50-plus shots, I can tell you that for the rest of the series. [Carey Price] shouldn’t have to stop that many pucks.”
One sign of a true leader is taking full blame for a difficult playoff loss. Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask did just that Thursday night when he stood in front of his dressing room stall and told the world he should have saved P.K. Subban‘s rocket of a shot from the center point that beat him and the Bruins 4:17 into the second overtime, giving the Canadiens a 4-3 win in Game 1 of the second-round series.
Matt Bartkowski had just taken a holding penalty for hauling down Dale Weise in front of Rask. Seven seconds later, Subban beat Rask to give Montreal the 1-0 series lead.
“I think I saw enough of that last one to catch it but I don’t know. Just a typical overtime goal. Somebody’s mistake, right? Now, it was mine,” Rask said.
“When you suck, you suck. That’s it. What can I say? It’s the playoffs,” added the Bruins goalie, who stopped 29 of 33 shots on the night while Carey Price stopped 48 of 51 Boston shots on goal.
Is Rask confident he will better Saturday when the Bruins take on the Canadiens at 12:30 p.m. in Game 2 at TD Garden?
“Yeah, we have practice [Friday]. Maybe I’ll save [good performance] for Saturday. That’s the only option. We played a great game. We can’t change anything except we have to kill those penalties and I’ve got to keep the puck out of my net. That’s the only change we need.
“We played overall a good five-on-five, pretty much dominated, had a lot of chances, couldn’t score. But I was [expletive] today. I’ve got to be better.”
But then Rask clarified, adding, “Not an off night. I made some saves, but I couldn’t make the game-savers as you say. So, just go home, sleep and regroup. We had a lot of bounces there. Could go either way, especially in the first overtime. It just went the wrong way, on the goal line and stuff.”
Rask was referring to the puck that came from the stick of Carl Soderberg and passed along the goal line behind Carey Price midway through the first overtime, only to just barely stay out of the net.
Said Rask: “I think as a team, we deserved to win, but from a goalie’s standpoint, Price played a lot better than I did.”
|Montreal sports radio host Mitch Melnick on M&M: ‘Every player dives and embellishes a little,’ including Bruins’ Shawn Thornton||05.01.14 at 12:04 pm ET|
Montreal sports radio host Mitch Melnick of TSN 690 joined Mut & Merloni on Thursday to discuss the Bruins-Canadiens playoff series and accusations that the Habs sell out in an effort to get penalty calls. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
The Canadiens often are criticized — at least in Boston — for embellishing physical contact in an effort to draw penalties.
“When the Bruins talk into microphones and cameras and are talking about stuff like, ‘We don’t do stuff like that. We don’t dive. We don’t embellish. We don’t do this, we don’t do that.’ Everybody does it. Everybody does it. Shawn Thornton, stand-up guy, he does it. Every player dives and embellishes a little,” Melnick said.
“The fact of the matter is, if you polled players around the league, who’s the most disliked guy on the ice, Brad Marchand probably wins that poll by a mile since Sean Avery was kicked out of the league. And do they respect Brad Marchand? Absolutely. It’s kind of like Boston toward [P.K.] Subban. The bigger the moment, the more P.K. Subban wants that spotlight. Those guys are winning hockey players. On the ice, in the heat of battle, they do things that drive you absolutely up the wall, and you want to strangle them. But there’s a respect factor. As long as they don’t cross the line and do stuff that ends up in a serious injury. These are winning hockey players.”
Subban has become the poster child for Bruins fans’ distaste for the Canadiens’ style. Melnick said Subban “takes a lot of abuse ‘¦ behind the play” and it’s not always visible to fans.
“I’m not trying to defend him. He’s still learning. He’s still a kid,” Melnick said of the 24-year defenseman. “He’s doing things that he won’t do a year from now, or two years from now. But it’s a growing process. And he feels that he gets so much abuse that once in a while he’s got to put some mustard on it.”
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