|Bruins and Canucks: The little things lead to the big prize||06.13.11 at 1:50 pm ET|
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.
“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.”
|Patrice Bergeron: ‘We haven’t done anything yet’||06.09.11 at 7:48 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — The Bruins have returned to Vancouver having tied the Stanley Cup finals after dropping the series’ first two games and winning two at home. Though the 2-0 hole may have seemed insurmountable, the Bruins were able to overcome it for the second time this offseason. With the team still two wins away from their first Stanley Cup championship since 1972, center Patrice Bergeron said now is not the time for the B’s to feel accomplished.
“We’ve done it against Montreal, when were down 2-0 [in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals], so we knew we could do it, but with that being said, we haven’t done anything yet,” Bergeron said Thursday at Rogers Arena. “Yes, we came back, but we need to make sure we’re not stopping there.”
The Bruins and Canucks will play Game 5 Friday night at Rogers Arena.
|GQ’s Jonah Keri: ‘No one wants’ Bruins to win||at 4:31 pm ET|
In a piece written for GQ.com entitled “The Boston Bruins vs. The World,” noted sportswriter Jonah Keri has a simple but sharp message for the Bruins and their fans.
After spending a few paragraphs discussing the “We want the Cup” chant that has filled the TD Garden and discussing how every other NHL team wants a Stanley Cup, Keri writes, “But you, Bruins fans? No one wants you to have it.”
He notes that there are plenty of good reasons to root for the B’s. Among them are Tim Thomas‘s long journey to stardom, Alexandre Burrows‘s bite on Patrice Bergeron and Nathan Horton‘s season-ending concussion. But Keri still adds “You know what? We’re still not rooting for you.”
His main reasoning behind this thesis is that Boston fans complain of “The Drought,” the 39-year period since the B’s have lost won the Stanley Cup, when the Red Sox, Patriots and Celtics have all took home trophies in the last decade. Since Keri claims that all Bruins fans also root for these other squads, there should be no remorse for those who don the black and gold.
“You sound like the douchebag who [expletive] that, after the three-bedroom in Tribeca, the place in the Hamptons, the kids’ boarding school, the annual trips to Paris and Aruba, the four cars, and two alimonies, you’ve barely got enough left for that third bottle of Dom at Per Se,” Keri writes before concluding, “We feel for the 12 Bruins fans who’ve shunned the city’s other franchises and waited nearly 40 years for their shot. The rest of you? Prepare yourselves for heartbreak. Until the day after Vancouver wins the Cup, when you can watch your first-place Red Sox try to break Boston’s Three-Year Curse.”
|Ray Ferraro on M&M: Alex Burrows should have been suspended||06.06.11 at 2:29 pm ET|
Former longtime NHL player Ray Ferraro, who now has a radio show in Vancouver and provides game analysis for Canadian television, joined the Mut & Merloni show Monday and offered a small dose of optimism for Bruins fans. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
“I think the Bruins can get back in the series tonight,” said Ferraro, who retired in 2002 after 18 NHL seasons and 898 points (408 goals). “I think if you played 100 games, I think the Canucks would win more. I really do. I think the Canucks are a deeper, better team. But that doesn’t mean that they’re going to win this series. What it means is tonight is absolutely imperative to the Bruins. They lose, they don’t have a chance. They win, then they’ve got a chance. They give themselves a chance in Game 4 to even this series.
“I think the Bruins can win tonight. But they’d better be letter perfect, because the Canucks are a good road team.”
Ferraro said it’s important for the B’s to get off to a good start, and physical play from Shawn Thornton ‘ who has not dressed the first two games ‘ might help in that regard.
“I would make that move,” Ferraro said, adding: “If the Bruins are going to get back in the series — and really, without poo-pooing a 2-0 deficit, they haven’t really haven’t lost anything. They haven’t lost at home. At some point, they’ve got to win a game in Vancouver to win the series. Now, they’ve got to take care of their business here at home.
“They’re looking for an aggressive start. Well, Dan Paille is playing four minutes a game. So, if Shawn Thornton goes into the lineup in his place, the opportunity Thornton plays those four, five, six minutes ‘ and he had a good season for the Bruins ‘ he’ll give you some physical play. If I’m coaching, I’m really thinking about it. The only concern I would have is if the pace of the game is too fast for Thornton. You’ve got to make sure that he can keep up with the pace of play, because right now it is a track meet out on the ice. It is extremely fast.”
Canucks forward Alex Burrows had two goals and an assist in Game 2 after apparently taking a bite of Patrice Bergeron‘s finger in Game 1. Ferraro said he felt it was a suspendable offense.
“I do,” Ferraro said. “I’m on the radio in Vancouver and it wasn’t a real popular position. I’m not a fan of ‘ let me put it this way: I know there’s different standards for playoffs and regular-season games. I thought Nathan Horton should have been suspended for Game 7 [of the Bruins-Lightning series] for squirting a fan with a water bottle, because you get suspended in the regular season for that. And I thought Burrows should have been suspended for Game 2.
“The other thing, too, guys, is like, OK, so they decide not to suspend him. But for them to say there’s no conclusive evidence of him biting Bergeron ‘ I said on our show, if that’s the case then I want to rob a bank in the city of the NHL, because I’ll never get caught. How much more evidence do you need than that? He shouldn’t have been in the game. And then you’re right, it is the NHL’s worst scenario, that a player that shouldn’t be in the game goes and has such a direct impact on the outcome of the next game.”
|Travel and fatigue are challenges, not excuses, for the down but not out Bruins||06.05.11 at 10:34 pm ET|
One thing is for certain, that five-hour plane ride that began early Sunday morning in Vancouver would’ve been a lot shorter if the Bruins had found a way to hold onto their 2-1 third-period lead in Game 2 Saturday night.
But the Bruins had no choice but to get on the 7 a.m. bus and catch their 8 a.m. (PT) flight back for Boston. At least it was a charter and at least it was a big plane so most everyone could catch up on sleep and relaxation.
“We’re not going to hide the fact that we don’t travel as much as they do,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said, referring to the fact that the Canucks basically head out on a lengthy road trip every time they don’t play at Rogers Arena. “They’re probably used to this more than we are. So I think it was important for us to really look at it in a way where we had to make it the best possible way for us.”
When they beat Tampa Bay, 1-0, in Game 7 of the Eastern finals, Julien and the Bruins knew managing their travel would be nearly as important as solving Roberto Luongo. Julien wanted his team to leave Sunday morning so they could get back Sunday afternoon and get back on Eastern time ASAP, with Game 3 Monday night at 8 p.m. Read the rest of this entry »
|Bruins downplay Alexandre Burrows feasting on them||at 12:03 am ET|
VANCOUVER — There was plenty of buzz over whether Canucks first-line winger Alexandre Burrows would play in Game 2 in the hours that followed his bite on Patrice Bergeron at the end of the first period of Game 1. The league’s decision not to suspend Burrows hurt the Bruins big-time Saturday, as he had a hand in all three Canucks goals and scored the game-winner 11 seconds into overtime in a 3-2 Vancouver win.
The Bruins and coach Claude Julien were quick to dismiss the connection between Burrows’ act the impact Wednesday he had Saturday.
“No comments. That’s got nothing to do with that,” Julien said when asked whether Burrows’ performance made him reconsider whether he felt the league made the right call. “I never thought about that that way. They made a decision and we moved on. If we start using that as an excuse, we’re a lame team. To me, it’s not even a consideration.”
Bergeron had cuts on his right pointer finger and had to get a tetanus shot following the bite. Given all the attention surrounding his finger, Canucks forward and longtime Bruins nemesis Maxim Lapierre waved his finger at Bergeron and even put his finger in his face in an effort to taunt the B’s center.
“I’ve got nothing to day about it,” Bergeron said of Lapierre’s gesture. “That’s just him I guess.”
Throughout the Bruins’ room, players tried to downplay any irony or added frustration from Burrows being the man who did them in.
“You don’t want to get too much into it with each little guy,” David Krejci said. “You’ve just got to take it the way it is. He scored. He’s just another player from their team.”
Added Bergeron: “I don’t see the relation there, but obviously just for us to lose like that, we’ve got to make sure we bounce back.”
|More memorable moments from Tyler Seguin would be big for Bruins||06.03.11 at 9:16 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — Bruins rookie forward Tyler Seguin has obviously had an up-and-down rookie year. Though it’s easy to get hypnotized by his skill given his age, the learning process has not always been easy for Seguin. He was a healthy scratch for seven games in the regular season, as well as in the team’s first 11 games of the postseason. In most instances, it was warranted.
When Patrice Bergeron‘s concussion opened up a spot in the lineup, Seguin showed at points of the first three games of the Eastern Conference Finals just why having him on the ice can pay off. Seguin was flashy, smart and even more mature at the same time.
On Friday, the 19-year-old was asked at the University of British Columbia if he recalled a “welcome to the NHL” moment in his rookie campaign.
“Umm,” Seguin said as he thought about it. “I’ve heard before that people have had their one thing that [got their attention]. I had a ‘welcome to the playoffs’ moment.”
No, that moment was not on his first-period goal against the Lightning in Game 1 in which he embarrassed Michael Lundin at the blue line. The moment came before that.
“My second shift, where Tampa scored two goals on my line, that was kind of my ‘welcome to the playoffs,'” Seguin said. “It wasn’t a good welcome, but luckily on my third shift, I scored one.”
Seguin did score one, and he scored two more in the second period of Game 2. In Game 3, he executed a smart play by holding onto the puck and drawing two defenders over to him before sending the puck deep on a play that resulted in an Andrew Ference goal.
Yet since then, it’s been quiet for Seguin. Considering he didn’t get an assist on the aforementioned Ference goal, the rookie has gone six straight games without a point, and he hardly did anything Wednesday to provide a ‘welcome to the Stanley Cup finals’ moment.
Seguin, skating on his normal line with Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder, logged 6:21 in ice time, his lowest total this postseason and second-lowest total since coming to the NHL. He played 6:16 on February 26th, which coincidentally (or not) was also against the Canucks. Seguin did not register a shot on goal in Game 1 Wednesday.
“There’s a lot of guys that have gone scoreless in those six games as well,” coach Claude Julien said Friday when asked about Seguin. “As I mentioned earlier, he’s 19 years old. We don’t expect him to carry our team on his back.
“After the first two games in Tampa, they certainly were respectful of him a lot more than they were in the first two, they realized the damage he could make. Good players have to find ways to fight through that. This is the opportunity that Tyler has to gain even more experience in regards to that.”
The potential reward for the Bruins of having Seguin in the lineup is tremendous, and other teams are realizing it as they try to limit the rookie’s chances. It’s been a memorable and, at times, chaotic season for Seguin, and with the team trying to win the Stanley Cup, a few more good memories would be a good thing for everybody.