|Bruins respond to ‘ludicrous’ accusations from Dale Hunter||04.18.12 at 3:27 pm ET|
ARLINGTON, Va. — Responses are usually saved for the ice in hockey, but on Wednesday the Bruins had to answer to something pretty serious.
On Tuesday, Washington coach Dale Hunter suggested the Boston players had been targeting the head of Nicklas Backstrom, who missed 40 games during the regular season with a concussion.
Backstrom was suspended for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals for cross-checking Bruins forward Rich Peverley in the face after the Bruins’ 4-3 victory in Game 3. Hunter said on Tuesday that because of how the Bruins had been playing against him, Backstrom had to “protect himself.”
“That doesn’t make sense,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said after Wednesday’s practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. “I don’t know any coach that would tell his team to go after somebody’s head. It speaks for itself.”
Added Julien: “It’s ludicrous. It’s ridiculous. There’s always going to be emotions in games, and there’s things that are happening. Like I said [after Game 3], there was three cross-checks. They penalized one and they suspended one. We’re not whining about the refs and we need to win the series and what’s going on here. That’s where are focus is on. That’s what it should be.”
Bruins center Patrice Bergeron has returned from two major concussions in his day, and last season missed two playoff games with a concussion. He said he hasn’t gotten a sense that players target the heads of players returning from head injuries, and certainly hopes that id doesn’t happen on any team.
“I think we’re just playing playoff hockey,” Bergeron said. “We’re not worrying about who’s out there. I certainly would be the last guy to do something like that. I’ve been through it, so I don’t really worry about that, to be honest with you.”
Shawn Thornton doesn’t pay attention to other teams, whether it be their place in the standings, the scores of their games or the words that they say. One thing Thornton is sure of, however, is that Hunter’s accusation had nothing to do with a mere fourth-liner.
“I’m not on the ice against that guy anyway,” Thornton said of Backstrom, who once had 101 points in a season, “so I really don’t have to worry about it.”
Capitals center Keith Aucoin joined the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning to discuss his team’s series against the Bruins and his experience growing up in the Boston area.
Aucoin may have grown up playing hockey in Waltham and Chelmsford, but now he plays on an enemy line as far as Bruins fans are concerned as the B’s and Capitals square off in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Aucoin and the Capitals returned home with the series tied heading into Game 3, but the Bruins were able to snag a victory, something that Aucoin said was because the Bruins simplified their game.
“I think they kept the game a lot more simple,” Aucoin said. “They were a lot more physical than they were in Game 1 and 2, and I think they kind of wore us down a bit toward the end of the game. They turned the puck over, which is what they key on.
“They got us off our game a little bit, and after the whistles stopped there was a lot of extracurricular activity. We have to make sure we stay away from that and that’s what we did in Games 1 and 2.”
When asked if the physical play of Game 3 was a sign of things to come, if the series may take an ugly turn as it has in many series around the NHL, Aucoin said that these kinds of actions are what happen when two teams have prolonged exposure to each other in such a condensed period of time.
“I think that’s what happens in a series,” Aucoin said. “[In] Game 1 there wasn’t much at all, and Game 2 a little bit more and Game 3 a little bit more. As the games go on, you get sick of each other and you grow tired of each other. You never know what can happen. You could see the hate going in Game 3.”
The Capitals suffered a tough setback to their hopes to rebound from their Game 3 loss when it was announced that Nicklas Backstrom would be suspended for Game 4 for his cross-check on Rich Peverley at the end of the game. Though Backstrom’s absence will certainly make things tougher for the Capitals, Aucoin said that the team can possibly rally around it.
” I think the guys have to rally around each other and go out there and figure out a way to win,” Aucoin said. “Tomorrow’s a must-win game for us, so we can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We have to go out there and somebody’s got to step up.
“[For] the last month and a half before the playoffs started we’ve been playing playoff hockey. We have to figure out a way to do it again and rally. We’re a team that’s rallied around each other all year and it’s been fun to be a part of.”
|Bruins leave Johnny Boychuk, Zdeno Chara, Tim Thomas and Patrice Bergeron back in Boston||04.04.12 at 1:02 pm ET|
WILMINGTON – Tim Thomas, Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara all stayed out on the ice for extra work after Wednesday’s practice, and all three players will join Johnny Boychuk in staying behind when the team travels to Ottawa for Thursday’s game against the Senators. Of the four players, all but Boychuk will simply be given the game off for rest.
Boychuk left Tuesday night’s loss to the Penguins in the third period with a leg injury, but Claude Julien offered no update on the status of the defenseman aside from the fact that he won’t be making the trip.
Thursday’s game will be the first this season in which Bergeron has not played, and it will leave Chris Kelly as the only Bruin to play in each contest. It will be Thomas’ second straight scratch as the team aims to keep the reigning Conn Smythe winner fresh for the playoffs.
|Plenty to like about Sunday’s win over Rangers||04.02.12 at 12:26 am ET|
The Bruins became the first team in the Eastern Conference to clinch their division, wrapping up the Northeast with their 2-1 win over the Rangers Sunday evening. The division win means they will hold the No. 2 seed when they begin the playoffs on April 12.
For the Bruins, Sunday was obviously about way more than clinching the division. In fact, you could take your pick when it comes to the positives that emerged from their victory at Madison Square Garden.
They finally did what they have often been unable to do by beating Rangers goaltender and Vezina favorite Henrik Lundqvist. They only put two pucks past Lundqvist, but the win showed that when Tim Thomas is on, two can be enough.
Thomas made 33 saves in the victory, and both the numbers and the eyeball test are suggesting that he’s getting right where he needs to be for the postseason.
No. 30 was far from himself for a pretty lengthy stretch during the regular season. In an eight-game span from Dec. 31 to Jan. 22, he allowed four or more goals four times. In early March, he allowed four goals in four of seven games. The Bruins were struggling, and they didn’t have a dominant Thomas to bail them out. That seems to be in the past now for both the B’s and Thomas.
Over his last seven starts, Thomas has allowed two goals or less in each game, a span in which he’s gone 5-1-1. Though he was coming off a shootout loss to the Capitals Thursday (his first shootout loss of the season), Thomas had to have been feeling pretty good about the way he’d been playing.
Sunday’s win means Thomas has beaten the Rangers for the first time in three tries this season (Tuukka Rask got the other start). Thomas had allowed three goals in each of his two starts against the conference leaders this season (0-2-0), but on Sunday the reigning Vezina winner held Rangers to one goal on 34 shots.
|Patrice Bergeron, Tim Thomas lead Bruins past Kings||03.24.12 at 11:45 pm ET|
The Bruins maintained their two-point lead on the Senators Saturday night thanks to a 4-2 victory over the Kings in Los Angeles.
Patrice Bergeron scored a shorthanded goal 5:18 into the second period to give the B’s a 1-0 lead, but Colin Fraser‘s second goal of the season tied it later in the period. The Bruins would increase their lead to 3-1 thanks to goals from Milan Lucic and Chris Kelly, but a Slava Voynov goal with 5:14 left in regulation made it a one-goal game. The B’s would hang on to win after killing off a Jordan Caron penalty with 4:03 remaining in regulation. Brad Marchand scored an empty-netter in the final second of the game.
The Bruins’ victory broke a six-game winning streak for the Kings, who are fighting for one of the final two playoff spots in the Western Conference.
Tim Thomas played in his 15th consecutive game for the Bruins and made 40 saves on 42 shots in the victory. The win was the Bruins and Thomas’ third in his last four games.
The B’s will finish their three-game west coast road trip when they face the Ducks Sunday night in Anaheim.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- Another fine example of why the Bruins are still dangerous when on the penalty kill. Bergeron poked the puck away from Anze Kopitar, sending the puck into the neutral zone. When Drew Doughty tried to bring the puck back through the neutral zone and into the Bruins’ zone, Marchand picked off his pass to create a shorthanded break, the rebound of which was buried by Bergeron to give the Bruins’ the 1-0 lead.
- Bergeron’s goal was his first in 13 games. Because of everything he brings special-teams wise and just as one of the premier two-way forwards in the game, Bergeron can never be considered “slumping,” but his return to the goal column is a sign the Bruins will welcome. Bergeron has now scored 20 goals in back-to-back seasons and four of the six seasons in which he’s played 70 or more games.
- Thomas was once again big for the Bruins, and it’s starting to look like he’s finally busted out of his midseason malaise. The reigning Vezina winner is 3-1-0 in his last four games with six goals allowed and one shutout. Thomas came up with a big stop on Dustin Brown in the second period with the Bruins caught in the midst of a line change, but his best work came in the final minute of the game, rejecting an onslaught of bids from the Kings.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- The Bruins could have really put the game out of reach with six minutes left in the game, but Jonathan Quick robbed David Krejci. Lucic created the play by bursting past multiple Kings players in the neutral zone, and he and Krejci broke into the Kings’ zone with a 2-on-1. Lucic fed Krejci, only to see Quick rob him and keep it a two-goal game. The Kings got within one less than a minute later.
- The Bruins couldn’t have picked a worse time to be killing a penalty, as Caron went off for high sticking with 4:03 remaining in the game. The Kings had momentum thanks to Voynov’s goal less than a minute earlier, but the B’s were able to kill off the man advantage as past of a big night for the team’s penalty kill.
- One game after mustering a season-low 17 shots on goal, the Bruins struggled with consistently getting pucks to the net. The B’s finished the night with 26 shots on goal, but had only eight and six shots on goal in the second and third periods, respectively.
|Seventh-place Bruins thinking corrections, not collapse||03.16.12 at 11:38 pm ET|
The Bruins fell into seventh place in the Eastern Conference Friday night, something that would have seemed impossible back in late December when the Bruins were dominating teams left and right.
Yet for as good as the Bruins were back in December (a nine-point lead in the Northeast Division and just three regulation losses over a two-month span), their horrid play of late has been enough to undo their good standing in both the division and the conference. The Senators haven’t needed to play well (10-10-3 over their last 23 games) to catch Boston, but they overtook the division Friday night with an overtime win over the Canadiens.
On Friday, the Bruins held an hour-long skate to try to get their legs going for Saturday’s game. They know that when they take on the Flyers, they won’t just be trying to break a season-worst four-game losing streak, but trying to get back in front of the Senators.
“If you ask anyone and [they say] they don’t know what the standings are, they’re lying to you,” Chris Kelly said after the practice. “Obviously, we know where we stand and where other teams stand. All we can do is focus on ourselves and the games we have coming up.”
It wasn’t too long ago that the Bruins were using the standings for motivation. They woke up on November 1 in last place in the Eastern Conference after a wretched October. The defending champs didn’t like it where they stood, so they did something about it by going 21-3-1 for the rest of 2011.
This slump is much worse than anything that happened in the first month of the season (3-7-0). This isn’t some ugly 10-game stretch to open the season, but a two-and-a-half-month-long collapse. They’ve given up five goals in three consecutive games, and have allowed six in their last two.
“To give up six goals in back-to-back games, that’s not the definition of this hockey team. I think we’re a good, sound hockey team, especially in our own end,” Kelly said. “That hasn’t shown in the last few games.”
The Bruins’ mistakes have been clear. Take the Panthers’ fifth goal Thursday for example. Kelly tried firing a pass across to Andrew Ference in the Bruins’ zone, but the pass went of Adam McQuaid‘s skate and bounced right to Tomas Kopecky in front to set up a Florida tally. The Bruins know what they’re doing wrong, but they can’t seem to keep from doing it. They’re running with just 12 games left in the regular season, they’re running out of time to figure it out.
“Obviously we’d like to [have fixed everything] after one game,” Patrice Bergeron said after Friday’s practice. “Right now it’s not happening. It’s about finding answers and not worrying about the four-game losing streak. It’s about us finding desperation and finding answers. It’s about us working hard and giving everything we’ve got on every shift and coming out on top on every shift. If we do that [every game] we’re going to be alright.”
Said Claude Julien: “You lose your identity when you lose the way [we] have been lately,” Julien said. “Any team that goes through a slump loses its identity. We understand that we have to work hard and win more battles and that comes again with the attitude. The breakdowns are kind of camouflaging the fact that we are still a pretty hard-working team, but when you don’t work smart, you don’t look like a hard-working team.”
If they don’t figure it out, the Senators will stay atop the division, while the Bruins would likely remain in seventh place, making for a regular-season collapse that would be considered unfathomable had some baseball team not just re-written the book on regular-season collapses.
The Bruins know they’re headed down a disappointing path unless they right the ship. Fixing it is their only option, assuming they can do so in time.
“It’s not really a thought right now,” Kelly said of losing the division. “We’re going to go play and see what happens.”
|Andy Brickley on D&C: David Krejci ‘hasn’t been good enough’||02.08.12 at 11:18 am ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley made his weekly appearance on Dennis & Callahan Wednesday morning and talked about David Krecji being dropped to the third line, the evolution of Patrice Bergeron, and the tough road ahead for the Bruins.
Krecji, who usually plays on the first line with Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton, saw his role changed when he was put on the third line. Brickley looked at the move as Bruins coach Claude Julien trying to ignite a spark under the veteran.
‘You always have to be as measured as you can be as a coach in order to get the desired results,” Brickley said. “But I will guess that David Krecji going to the third line, things have happened prior to this move to try to get more from David Krejci. … From time to time these are the things you have to do to get his attention in order to get more out of him.’
Brickley said the move isn’t that much of a shock, based on how Krecji had been playing with Rich Peverly, who was a replacement on the line for the injured Nathan Horton.
‘He’s affected by not having Nathan Horton on his right side, he’s real comfortable when he plays in between Lucic and Horton,” Brickley said. “Peverly gives you a totally different element on that right side. I don’t think he and David Krecji are a good mix, I think they’ve proven that, there’s a little bit of stretch where it hasn’t gone their way.
“But David Krecji is good enough to dictate how that line plays. He hasn’t been good enough, and Claude needs to figure out a way to get more out of him. And I’m sure he’s had conversations with him, I’m sure that they’ve made adjustments on how they want to move the puck and how they want to break it out and how they want to forecheck given the personnel that he’s playing with. And now it’s gotten to the point where I’m going to win hockey games by putting other lines together that I know what I’m going to get from, and David, you make your adjustments playing with these two other players.”
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