|Flyers looking for good ole home cooking||05.05.10 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.
|Lucic: ‘Last year we kind of looked past the second round’||04.28.10 at 2:01 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Milan Lucic and the Bruins are in the Eastern Conference semifinals for the second year in a row, and this time around they want to make sure they leave their mark, no matter which team they end up facing. If Washington beats Montreal Wednesday night, the Bruins will start the playoffs on Friday in Pittsburgh and play Game 2 on Sunday at Mellon Arena. If the Canadiens can pull off the upset, the Flyers will travel to Boston this weekend, though the official schedule has not been announced for that potential matchup.
Last year the Bruins had 10 days off between their first-round sweep of the Canadiens and the start of the semifinals against the Hurricanes. Coach Claude Julien admitted on Wednesday that Boston had definitely lost its playoff frame of mind and it took until basically Game 5 after the Bruins had fallen behind in the series 3-1 to get the edge back.
“There is no doubt that that will obviously help but what I mean by that is that we allowed ourselves to slip out of the playoff mode because we had so much time off and as hard as we might have tried as a coaching staff to give some days off and some practice,” Julien said. “It is almost the frame of mind has to be there and everybody’s mind needs to be in the right place. Ten days is a lot, no matter who you are, so it took us a while to get our game back and it was a little too late, obviously. We had to scramble back from it so, hopefully this short break is just the right time and from what I see our players are still enthusiastic and get excited about going on to the next round.”
Defenseman Dennis Wideman agreed that the Bruins did not deal with the long layoff as well as they could have.
“I think last year we had so much time off that we got into a mode that we lost some intensity and we didn’t carry over the intensity and the drive from the first round into the second because we just didn’t deal with the layoff well,” he said.
Yet last year the Bruins almost seemed like they could be a team of destiny. They rolled through the regular season with the No. 1 seed in the conference and Lucic said the team was guilty of the biggest of playoff sins — looking ahead.
“I think you can’t look too far ahead of yourself,” Lucic said. “Last year we were thinking too much ‘Stanley Cup finals, Stanley Cup finals, Eastern Conference finals,’ you know. Last year we kind of looked past the second round and the Carolina Hurricanes, and we will not make that same mistake again.”
Center Patrice Bergeron, who has grown into a definitive, if quiet, leader of the Bruins over the past year or so, said that since the Bruins did not face much adversity through the regular season and first round of the playoffs last year that perhaps they did not handle the tough times as well as they could have against Carolina.
“I guess it has changed that we have to work for every inch just a little bit more, and last year everything was going right in the regular season that when we faced a little adversity, maybe we weren’t expecting it as much,” Bergeron said. “I think we have faced a enough this year that we can handle it a little bit better maybe.”
Bergeron said that there are even lessons to be learned from the Buffalo series this year, as Boston had a 3-1 series advantage and the Sabres came out and won Game 5 decisively to send it back to Boston with a chance to force a Game 7 back in Buffalo. Last year the Bruins rolled over Montreal. Yes, it was a physical and emotional series (especially considering the seven-game drama in the quarterfinals in 2008) but the Bruins were never in doubt of losing that series whereas there were times against the Sabres when it looked like they were dancing on the edge of a knife.
“Well, we have experience,” Bergeron said. “This will be my second time in the second round and we are aware of the intensity increasing more again. You can see from the first round of the playoffs that it gets harder, and now that it is the second round it is even higher and it is not over until that fourth game is won. Like in the last series we were up 3-1 and they came up with a big win.”
Lucic has been the type of player who comes up big on the biggest of stages. When he was in juniors he played on two Canadian Hockey League Memorial Cup teams with the Vancouver Giants, and he said that the pressure from being on that big stage at a young age was not incredibly different from what he has faced in the NHL playoffs.
“Obviously with it being a higher level it goes up another notch,” he said. “Playing in the Memorial Cup a couple of times, that is a lot of pressure to deal with at a young age. It is similar, pretty much the same as that, for sure. I was lucky enough to win two championships in juniors and learn and have that experience a little bit in junior to know what it takes to win. Like I said, you don’t look too far ahead and that you just take everything one game at a time, and that is the approach that I always have taken from my first NHL playoff game to the next one coming up.”
|Where does Savard fit when he returns?||04.22.10 at 1:39 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins had a meeting and workout day at Ristuccia Arena on Thursday before heading to Buffalo for Game 5 on Friday night. Players who did not play in Wednesday’s double overtime Game 4 worked out on the ice, including Marc Savard as he makes his way back from a Grade 2 concussion.
“Same as normal, skated with the guys a little bit and tomorrow I will be skating with the guys again so it is positive, for sure,” Savard said.
Savard had a doctor’s appointment this morning to determine if he was ready for contact but said in the locker room that he had not heard back from about his status. Regardless, Savard will not be taking many hits when he does return to the full team practice as battle drills are typically suspended in the playoffs to keep players as fresh as possible.
“I hope to know this afternoon. There is not going to be much bumping in practice from here on in,” Savard said. “You know, tomorrow I think I am cleared to start doing some of that stuff. Some little bumps and stuff and gradually getting back into it.”
An interesting question has arisen with the daily Savard Watch — which center gets bumped from the rotation in Savard’s eventual return? It probably will not be against Buffalo but if the Bruins can put away the Sabres the reality that Boston has five good centers for four spots.
Bergeron and David Krejci are going to continue to man their respective lines. Vladimir Sobotka has been a spark plugged since getting regular time starting at the beginning of March and has really helped the games of the struggling Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder since he was paired with them in the final weeks of the regular season. With Savard coming back the natural thing would be to put Sobotka on the fourth line and sit either Steve Begin or Shawn Thornton. If Thornton sits, which would be likely in that situation, Begin would go to the wing and Sobotka would be the center but the fourth line would mean reduced minutes for the center and Boston benefits from having him on the ice.
It is a good problem to have but one that will need to be addressed when (if) Savard comes back.
Outside of Savard, there was not much else cooking around the Bruins in Wilmington. A couple meetings and a few players wandering in and out of the dressing room. Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara both gave the “one game at a time” routine and how hard it will be to close out the Sabres in Game 5 at HSBC Arena.
“It is always tough to play in Buffalo. The fans really get into it and they are really going to be going hard, we all know that so we have to be focusing on our game and be ready,” Chara said.
Boston was on the opposite end of the three games to one playoff spectrum last year after winning the first and dropping the next three to Carolina in the conference.
“We’ve been in their situation before so we know how hard it is to win that fourth game,” Chara said.
|Boston storms back to take Game 4 in double overtime||04.21.10 at 10:46 pm ET|
Summary — The Bruins took a dominating lead in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal playoff series against the Sabres with a 3-2 win at TD Garden on Wednesday night. Miroslav Satan scored the game winner for Boston in double overtime. Tuukka Rask took the win for Boston while Ryan Miller got the loss after giving away a 2-0 lead in the third period. The Bruins now lead the series 3-1 heading into Game 5 in Buffalo on Friday.
Boston entered the third period trailing by two goals but fought back in the first six minutes of the period to tie it. David Krejci got the first for Boston eights second into what was its fourth power play attempt of the night when he put a rebound off a Matt Hunwick shot from the high slot passed Miller at 2:07. Patrice Bergeron would then tie it when he got a bouncing puck coming off Daniel Paille’s stick from behind the net for the one-timer on the circle that Miller could not corral at 6:40.
For the fourth consecutive game, the Sabres got on the board first with a strike within the first 10 minutes of the first period. This time, the goal came at a relatively early 2:12 off the stick of Tim Kennedy when he found a bouncing puck loose in the slot in front of Rask and rushed for the slap shot that the net-minder had no chance at to make it 1-0.
Buffalo took a 2-0 lead at 6:59 in the second when former Bruins Steve Montador lined up a slap shot on the right point in such a precise manner that it would have to travel through a series of players in front of Miller to find the net. The puck had eyes ‘ it deflected off a Boston defenseman and went through the skates of Paul Gaustad camped out in front of Rask. It was Montador’s first goal of the playoffs.
Miroslav Satan — The Bruins forward got the game-winner in double overtime.
Patrice Bergeron — Scored the game-tying goal in the third period off a shot similar to his Game 3 winner except from the other side.
David Krejci — Got the Bruins on the board when his astute play in front of the net on the power play resulted in a rebound strike to beat Miller.
Turning Point — Boston got broke the power play seal after three misfires to cut the Sabres lead in half in the third period. Mark Recchi pushed the puck from the right slot to Hunwick who waited for two stick-handles before sending the puck on net, getting tangled near the skates of Bergeron before bouncing out to Krejci who side stepped and put it in an open net to make it 2-1.
Key Play — Tuukka Rask had a flying leap on a Michael Grier shot a little more than halfway through the third period on a play where he was way out of position on the other side of the crease.