|Bergeron the stick that stirs Bruins offense||05.10.10 at 12:30 pm ET|
For all the talk about Miroslav Satan, his hands and his legions or Mark Recchi and how he is the remarkable ageless one during these 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs, it is Patrice Bergeron who actually leads the Bruins in points this postseason.
Bergeron has four goals and seven assists through the first 11 games of the playoffs and he has been a difference-maker on both sides of the blue line. One has to wonder, though, if a guy like Bergeron, known especially to be a great defensive forward who is strong on the faceoff, purposely started to ramp up his offensive production. It seems in the nature of a guy like Bergeron, quiet yet with a developed sense of responsibility, to take it upon himself to create more offense for a team that struggled to light the lamp throughout the year.
“If you play defensively sound and it starts for a good offense. You know, I have always done that and it has been going well,” Bergeron said. “I think right now, I don’t think I am doing anything different, it is just going in. Obviously we needed it in the playoffs and everyone wants to chip in anyway possible and you know, right now, I am just happy that it is going the way it and and I just want it to keep on going.”
Bergeron leads the team in playoff shots at 33 (two more than Michael Ryder, four more Satan and six more than the nearest defensemen, Zdeno Chara and Johnny Boychuk at 27). He is second in assists (Dennis Wideman leads with nine) and has been dominant on the faceoff dot against the likes of Flyers captain Mike Richards or Sabres center Derek Roy. He posted his first sub-50 percent faceoff game of the playoffs on Friday in Game 4 but his numbers in the circle have been closer to 60 and 70 percent for most games this postseason.
“I think in Game 4 we didn’t do as good on the faceoff that we would have liked to so, it is huge to get the puck back and work with the puck and play a puck possession game and we have done a great job of that,” Bergeron said. “So, obviously we want to start with the puck more often to start with the puck as much as we can.”
It is not like Bergeron has all of a sudden flipped a switch in terms of offensive efficiency. He led the Bruins in point at 52 this year, which is not a lot in consideration with the NHL points leaders but still not a paltry sum. But, as the Bruins offense has come awake during the playoffs, either by good fortune that was not present during the regular season or increased efforts by guys like Recchi and Satan in the offensive zone, Bergeron by been the swizzle in the Bruins coffee.
Bruins coach Claude Julien knows that it is the responsibility of his players to play a good two-way game, such as the standard is Bergeron. The center was chosen for the Canadian Olympic team because of his defensive prowess and responsibility. For the Bruins, that approach has also turned into points on the scoreboard.
“We expect everybody to play a good two-way game. We always encourage our guys to be proactive offensively and we want them to be responsible defensively that is what you want in a well rounded team,” Juliens said. “That is what we have encouraged all year, whether is has happened or not, the way we like it, that is a different story. But, to have those guys do that it just makes us a better hockey team and certainly we encourage our guys to be more proactive.”
|First period summary: Bruins vs. Flyers – Game 4||05.07.10 at 7:50 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — The Wachovia Center feels much more alive on Friday than it did on Wednesday for Game 3. The theme music from the Rocky music led the Flyers on to the ice (noticeably absent from Game 3) and a couple early Philadelphia chances got the crowd in the game.
Milan Lucic took the first penalty of the game as the Flyers went on the power play for high sticking at 8:24. But, as it has been all series long, Philadelphia got the Rask treatment as he blocked both shots that were sent on him during the man-advantage and Boston continued its strong penalty kill that has not allowed a power play goal since Game 1 with 10 kills in the last two games into the the start of Game 4.
Boston got on the board first when Mark Recchi added his fifth goal of the playoffs after Patrice Bergeron got on a partial break set up by Dennis Wideman and Daniel Paille through the neutral zone. Bergeron had a weak shot on Brian Boucher but the goaltender laid out and deflected the puck back into the slot with his stick where Recchi, following the play, flipped it to the top of the net at 15:37 for the third opening goal by the Bruins in the four games.
A dustup between Vladimir Sobotka, Scott Hartnell and Arron Asham in front of the Flyers bench at 18:04 sent Sobotka and Hartnell to the box for matching roughing penalties at 18:04. Philadelphia used the extra ice space to its advantage as Matt Carle came down the left wing on the rush rush and crossed the puck through the high slot to Claude Giroux who tapped it aside to Danny Briere who sent a wrist shot from the top of the dot on Rask that had eyes and the game was tied at one at 19:06.
The Bruins lead in the shot department heading into the second with a 10 to nine advantage.
|Bruins ready to bury Flyers with Game 3 victory||05.05.10 at 9:31 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA ‘ The Bruins took a big step toward the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday night, taking a Game 3 win over the Flyers at the Wachovia Center. Boston put Philadelphia down 3-0 in the best-of-seven series with a 4-1 victory and will look to sweep away the Flyers in Game 4 on Friday. Tuukka Rask continued his solid playoff play and won his seventh game of the postseason, while Brian Boucher has fallen from his high perch coming out of the Flyers’ quarterfinals series and took the loss by allowing three goals on 19 Boston shots.
Philadelphia put a digit on the board first for the first time in the series when Arron Asham struck 2:32 into the game. The play was set up when Bruins rookie defenseman Adam McQuaid turned the puck over to center Blair Betts at the blue line to start a 2-on-1 the other way with Claude Giroux and Asham. Giroux waited long enough down the left wing to put the puck on Asham’s stick for a flip across the crease on Rask for the early advantage.
Boston came storming back. Blake Wheeler scored the first playoff goal of his career (in his 17th postseason game) when he tipped a Matt Hunwick shot from the left point through the crease to tie the game at 4:11 in the first. A minute later, the Bruins took the lead when Flyers center Mike Richards was over-aggressive in hitting David Krejci as the Bruins center made his way out of the zone and sent the puck sliding through the neutral zone to Milan Lucic making the entry on the blue line. Lucic flipped to Miroslav Satan rushing down the seam and the Slovakian forward made an up fake with his stick and went around a diving Boucher’s glove to make it 2-1 at 5:15. Krejci would not return to the game after the hit.
Mark Recchi made it 3-1 at 2:30 of the third period on the power play when he was able to slam home a bouncing puck off a shot from Zdeno Chara in the high slot was blocked to the ice by Wheeler. It was Recchi’s fourth of the playoffs and the 54th playoff goal of his career. Patrice Bergeron added an empty-netter at 18:02 to put the exclamation point on the victory.
Miroslav Satan — Scored the Bruins second goal and continues to lead his legions in playoff scoring with 10 points through nine games (5 goals, 5 assists).
Tuukka Rask — The Finnish rookie withstood the storm to emerge dry on the other side as the Flyers put up the most shots they had through the series.
Blake Wheeler — Scored his first career playoff goal and assisted on Recchi’s in the third for his second career playoff multi-point night (second of playoffs).
Turning Point – Asham took a tripping penalty at the 50-second mark of the third period that was a touch of a questionable call as Matt Hunwick had lost an edge on the end boards on the sub-optimal Wachovia Center ice. The Bruins would take advantage on the power play when Chara slipped into the high slot and sent a screamer to the crease that Wheeler blocked down to the ice with his chest, straight to the stick of Recchi waiting for it to fall and bang home for the two-goal lead at 2:30.
Key Play — The Flyers had a great chance to tie the game at two around 14:52 of the second period when Asham put a ricochet rebound of Rask’s pads back on the goaltender. Rask could not corral the rebound and Asham flipped it back to the far side, as Rask was out of the crease attacking the point of attack. But the forwards attempt hit the post and the Bruins were able to clear it out of the zone and protect their lead in a period where they were outshot 15-9.
|Flyers looking for good ole home cooking||at 12:58 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — Centermen think they are so clever.
Faceoffs. Simple science or mischievous underworld of cheats and chicanery? A sub-theme to the Bruins and Flyers series that developed during Game 2 and is carrying into Game 3 in Philadelphia on Wednesday has been the Boston’s dominance on the dot. Flyers captain Mike Richards did not fare well on Monday against Patrice Bergeron in the circle and he is hoping that being home in the Wachovia Center will help take away the Bruins advantage.
“They are good faceoff guys and they used the home ice to their advantage,” Richards said. “He [Bergeron], is strong, I think he has a enough respect where he is allowed to cheat a little bit more. I am not sure what else but faceoffs are all about who can cheat the most and in the long run it is a lot easier taking face offs at home than it is on the road.”
Boston centerman David Krejci said after Game 2 that “every center has his tricks” and then refused to elaborate on exactly what tricks he has up his sleeve. It is like every center in the NHL is part of a little fraternity and each unit has their own secret handshake when it comes to gaining the advantage on the dot.
“Every one cheats on faceoffs, it is just about who does it the best,” Richards said. “Home ice I think it is a lot easier to take faceoffs than it is on the road and obviously is better to play with the puck so we will use that to our advantage tonight.”
What Bergeron does so well in the circle is get his shoulder down, quick stick and box out. Some guys do not come to a full stop when skating in for the drop, giving them more momentum in getting that shoulder down and the other center off the puck.
“I do it too. I do it all the time, everybody does,” Richards said. “Just look for the edge to win the faceoffs and I think the refs have been doing a great job of letting us pause a little bit.”
Richards mentioned multiple times that “it is easier to win faceoffs on home ice.” What he is basically saying is that is when teams have the last change they can craft their matchups to their benefit. For instance, Richards never touched the ice in the first two games without Bergeron and Zdeno Chara on his back. Flyers coach Peter Laviolette would double shift Richards and Chara would double shift as well. Laviolette has been scrounging around for trios and pairs that can break down the Bruins.
“I don’t think there was as much line juggling as you guys would call it,” Laviolette said. “It is more of trying to get somebody away from somebody cause we can get different matchups. It will be easier at home where we can start where we want and play from there. We are double shifting some guys in the lineup so that is a cause (of the line juggling) as well. Just with opportunities when we have been behind, we need to get guys out on the ice so we have some guys who we will shift them a little bit more with the guys out of the lineup.”
Laviolette is, of course, referring to Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne as the guys out of the lineup. Richards was Laviolette’s primary center during the regular season and took 1373 faceoffs at 50.7 percent success rate. Carter was the next guy on the list with 1314 at 52. 4 percent and both were about 500 ahead of the next guy on the team, Blair Betts at 855.
“We have to do a better job of doing being ready on the face offs,” Laviolette said. “I thought there were some faceoffs that we won and they picked it up and therefore it looked like their win. We have to be ready as a group. The centermen have to do a good job but our wingers have to do a good job as well.”
Can the Flyers change their fortunes around in this series with the simple advantages that come with being on home ice? Creating matchups for the purpose of forechecking and winning face offs is definitely an important part of the game but, as Laviolette points out, the Flyers still have to execute.
|Inside the Bruins locker room||05.04.10 at 3:02 am ET|
|Bergeron: ‘We couldn’t lose that game’||05.01.10 at 7:14 pm ET|
Patrice Bergeron admitted the Bruins got away with one on Saturday.
Leading by two goals three on three different occasions, the Flyers scored twice in the final seven minutes to force overtime.
Then Marc Savard came to the rescue with his game-winner in overtime and the Bruins lead the best-of-seven series, 1-0.
But that doesn’t erase the fact that the Bruins couldn’t put away a short-handed Flyers team without stars Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne and enforcer Ian Laperriere.
“The overtime was huge,” Bergeron said. “After getting up the way we did, we couldn’t lose that game.
“Obviously, we didn’t come out the way we wanted to in the third period. We let them back in the game and we weren’t very happy about that. We had to come out strong because they are a good team, they are tough to play against and I thought the first couple of shifts set the tone for the overtime there.”
The Bruins wound up outshooting the Flyers 15-4 in overtime and it finally paid off.
“We were staying patient and staying confident that we could do it,” Bergeron said. “Obviously, we had a lot of chances. Sometimes it can hurt you when you don’t score, but we were staying positive and confident that we could get it done.”
|Savard triumphs in overtime to take Game 1||at 3:46 pm ET|
Summary — The Bruins and Flyers are off to the races in their Eastern Conference quarterfinals and it was Boston that came out a leg ahead in Game 1, taking it 5-4 in overtime on Saturday afternoon at TD Garden. Philadelphia came back from two down in the last ten minutes of the third period to send the game to extra time. Marc Savard scored the game-winner to clinch the series opener when he beat Brian Boucher in overtime. Tuukka Rask took the win with 32 saves while Boucher was the loser by allowing five goals on 46 shots.
There was bad news for the Boston right off the bat as forward Marco Sturm tried to check Matt Carle into the boards but Carle sidestepped and Sturm only registered a partial hit. As Sturm skated away he crumpled and fell in the slot and could not make it off the ice on his own and had to be assisted by trainers off the ice and down the tunnel.
Irony would then strike and so would the Bruins. Steve Begin, who took Sturm’s spot on line with with Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi, scored his first career playoff (in 30 appearances) goal at 2:39 when he caught a loose puck off attempts from Recchi and Bergeron on the right side of Boucher’s crease and snapped it top shelf for the early lead. It was only the second time in the playoffs (though second straight game) where the Bruins have scored the first goal of the game.
The Bruins would make it 2-0 at 12:54 on a quick snap-bang-slam play between Bergeron and Dennis Wideman. Bergeron won a face off to the stick of Wideman at the point and the center went straight to the net as Wideman wound up and put a slap shot on Boucher’s pads. The puck bounced up and Bergeron put it behind the goaltender for his second point of the game and third goal of the playoffs.
The Flyers cut into the lead at when Ryan Parent found the puck idling up the high slot after Mike Richards and Arron Asham put pressure on Rask at 7:38 of the second period. Parent skated in with a full head of steam and got every piece of it to send it screaming through traffic in front and rattle around the back of the net to make it 2-1.
But Boston insisted on keeping its two-goal advantage and used the power play to its advantage (Mike Richards, Daniel Carcillo and Marc Savard all for roughing at 9:58) when Johnny Boychuk hit a liner from the point that deflected off of defenseman Braydon Coburn’s skate straight onto the stick of Miroslav Satan on the right dot for the put back and a 3-1 lead at 11:43 in the second period.
Philadelphia gradually shook off the rust from its long layoff between series as the game went along and kept itself in the game and the Flyers finally broke down the Bruins penalty kill late in the second. Chris Pronger was the culprit as the puck was cycled to him in the high slot and he skated over to the right point and took a seeing-eye slap shot that went through Rask’s pads to make it 3-2 at 15:58. It was the first power play goal the Bruins had allowed all postseason through 21 opportunities.
David Krejci put Boston back up by two goals at 7:25 in the third when a shot by Satan got through traffic in front of the net and slipped through to crease level where the center could wait for Boucher to commit, which he did on Krejci’s second fake, and put it in the corner passed the goaltenders skate to make it 4-2.
Philadelphia stormed back with two goals four minutes apart in the back half of the third period. The first was a rebound put back by Richards at 12:37 to cut the Bruins momentum and keep the Flyers hanging around long enough to make it a contest. The strike would prove pivotal as Danny Briere tied the game at 16:38 when he took the puck straight down the middle of the ice, through the neutral zone and high slot and split Wideman and Matt Hunwick in half to shoot, rebound and score on Rask to knot it at four goals apiece.
Marc Savard– Had the game-winner in overtime.
Patrice Bergeron — Boston’s biggest engine propelled the team to a hot start with a goal and an assist in the first period and another in overtime giving him seven points (three goals, four assists) through seven playoff games.
Mike Richards — The Flyers’ captain had two assists and a goal as Philadelphia kept up with the Boston attack.
Turning Point – Briere torched Matt Hunwick and Wideman by skating straight down the ice, through the slot and put a shot on Rask, picked up the rebound and put in in the net without ever really slowing down to tie the game at four at 16:42 in the third to bring the Flyers back from what seemed a certain defeat in the opening game of the series and eventually send the game to overtime.
Key Play – Savard scored the game-winner in overtime when he found the puck on the right circle and whipped it with vigor at Boucher who had little chance at the screamer that sent TD Garden into a riot.
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