|After challenging regular season, Loui Eriksson off to good postseason start with Bruins||04.21.14 at 9:17 pm ET|
When the Bruins traded for Loui Eriksson, one of the most common words associated with him was “underrated.”
He’d been a 36-goal-scorer and one of the better two-way players in the game, but because of his responsible style and the market in which he’d played, the narrative was that he didn’t get the credit he deserved while playing for the Stars.
So, when Eriksson was traded to Boston in the Tyler Seguin deal, he went from being underrated to facing some lofty expectations. Eriksson struggled to find chemistry with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron early and suffered two concussions during his first regular season in Boston, and as such finished with just 10 goals and 27 assists for 37 points in 61 games.
Two games into the playoffs, however, the Bruins are getting a combination of the player they saw after he returned from his first concussion — a player who was finding his way and providing a great blend of finesse and smarts in front of the net — and the player who was playing more confidently down the stretch on a line with fellow Sweden native Carl Soderberg.
Reilly Smith knows Eriksson as well as any of his teammates, as the two played together in Dallas before being sent to Boston as the two main pieces acquired by the B’s in the Seguin trade. In Sunday’s Game 2 against the Red Wings, Smith capitalized on Eriksson’s net-front work by jumping into the crease and knocking the puck into the net to give the B’s a 2-0 lead. It came on a power play that followed the expiration of the first penalty of a five-on-three, but Boston still had its five-on-three unit with Eriksson in front on the ice. That goal stood as the game-winner as the B’s went on to claim a 4-1 victory.
That wasn’t Eriksson’s only contribution. The Red Wings haven’t scored against his line and he has been a major part of a penalty kill that has limited the Red Wings to just two shots on goal — none of which have gone in — on six power plays.
|Though Habs may soon await, Bruins focused on Red Wings||at 9:07 pm ET|
One major difference brought about with the change to the NHL‘s playoff format is the fact that in each series, teams have a 50-50 chance of knowing who they’ll face next.
Usually, it isn’t until the conference finals that teams know that they will play one of two teams should they advance, but with the divisional, non-reseeding format the league changed to for this season, that scenario is provided throughout the playoffs.
The Bruins and Red Wings both know that, should they win, they will face the winner of the series currently being played between the Canadiens and Lightning. Well, that series could be over awfully soon, as the Habs hold a commanding 3-0 series lead over the Bolts.
The Boston-Detroit series, on the other hand, has just begun. Tied 1-1 heading into Tuesday’s Game 3, the series has at least three games to go, and with the way it has looked thus far, could go four or five more. The Montreal series could be over as soon as Tuesday night, in which case the Canadiens would both have a lot of time to wait for their next opponent and face a potential matchup against the Bruins.
“That’s their series. We’re worried about ours right now,” Claude Julien said Monday. “Our players shouldn’t worry about that. As coaches, you worry about your team but you also are allowed to watch and prepare in a certain way by watching the other series as well, so I don’t think it’s a big issue.
“I know that there were times in the past where we were done and we had to watch a couple of different series because we didn’t know, depending on who would win, who we’d play, so there’s no doubt it’s a lot clearer now. We don’t have to look too far to find out who our next opponents could be, but at the same time, it’s about getting out of this one here, and right now it’s a 1-1 tied series that, to me, has the potential to go a long ways.”
|Patrice Bergeron: ‘I’m not rooting for anyone except us right now’||04.18.14 at 11:59 am ET|
Every Stanley Cup playoff series got a head start on the Bruins and Red Wings. Now, on Friday night, Patrice Bergeron and the Bruins get their chance to show how ready they are after a league-best 117 points in the regular season.
“It was great to have those games and get in the mode of playoff hockey and watching it all helps to get a focus,” Bergeron said Friday morning after participating in a light optional skate before Friday’s Game 1 at TD Garden. “I was getting antsy just watching, for sure. You want to get out there, you want to get going. It’s nice that it’s finally tonight.
“I’m not rooting for anyone except us right now, so I’m just watching games and, like I said, it helps me getting focused just by watching it and being ready for tonight.”
The biggest break for the Bruins and the Red Wings is that they’ve had a full four days off since the regular season ended on Sunday.
“I think it’s good for everyone, just with the schedule we’ve had after the [Olympic] break,” Bergeron said. “It was pretty crazy so it was good everyone to get ready and now we’re looking forward to it.”
|Mike Petraglia, DJ Bean on Patrice Bergeron, Daniel Paille and Bruins in Stanley Cup playoffs||04.12.14 at 8:06 pm ET|
WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and DJ Bean assess the Stanley Cup playoff chances of the Bruins after they clinched the Presidents’ Trophy Saturday with a 4-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres. The Bruins won their 54th game of the season, giving them 117 points on the season but lost the services of Daniel Paille after a big hit by Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe. Patrice Bergeron also scored his 30th goal of the season but did not play the third period after a very minor injury, according to head coach Claude Julien. Bergeron is expected to be ready when the Stanley Cup playoffs begin this week.
The Bruins offered no update on winger Daniel Paille, who left Saturday’s game in the third period after taking a big hit from Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe.
Paille was slow to leave the ice and has already had two concussions this season. Patrice Bergeron also left the game, but he played the first two periods before missing the third, seemingly for the sake of rest. Bergeron sat Thursday in Minnesota, though the team said it wasn’t a healthy scratch.
“With Bergy it’s very minor,” Claude Julien said. “With Paisy I haven’t had a chance to talk yet with my trainers or to the doctors. I’ll probably see later on.”
The Bruins will finish their regular season schedule Sunday in New Jersey. Chris Kelly is not expected to play and Julien said that the team will likely call up multiple players from Providence to play.
For more Bruins coverage, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Bruins clinch Presidents’ Trophy, Patrice Bergeron scores 30th goal in win over Sabres||at 3:12 pm ET|
Patrice Bergeron hit the 30-goal-mark and the Bruins clinched the Presidents’ Trophy Saturday with a 4-1 win over the Sabres.
The B’s, who sit at 117 points (54-18-9) with one game to play, will finish with the most points in the NHL for the first time since the 1989-90 season.
Bergeron got to 30 goals for the second time in his career when he took a pass from Brad Marchand and sent a one-timer past Matt Hackett to give the Bruins a 3-0 lead in the second period. Bergeron’s other 30-goal season came in 2005-06, when he had 31.
Bergeron left the game after the second period, though he played the first two periods and didn’t look hindered in any way. It’s possible the team was just resting him.
The big scare, however, came in the third period when Daniel Paille left the game in the this period on a big hit at the blue line from Jake McCabe. McCabe was given a game misconduct for the hit (despite it actually looking clean, though slightly high), while Paille — who has already had two concussions this season — was slow to get up.
Gregory Campbell scored his eighth goal of the season when he took a first-period feed from Jordan Caron and tipped it past Hackett to give the B’s a 1-0 lead. David Krejci followed by getting the rebound off a Zdeno Chara shot off the end boards and sending it in for his 24th goal.
The Sabres scored their only goal in the third period, when Cody Hodgson picked up his 20th of the season. Krejci made it 4-1 on a power play with a shot from the point that went off the end boards and hit Connor Knapp‘s skate on its way in.
The B’s will finish their regular-season schedule Sunday in New Jersey.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Jarome Iginla’s 30-goal season is well impressive, but Bergeron hitting 30 goals is the most impressive individual achievement this season from any Bruin. The thirty goal mark is hard to hit in Claude Julien‘s system (Bergeron became the fourth player to do it since Julien came to town in 2007), and he made it tougher on himself by being a responsible player and not cutting any corners for the sake of goals.
An example of that came in the second period before his goal Saturday. About seven minutes into the period, Brad Marchand and Reilly Smith went deep into the offensive zone, with Bergeron staying high. With the puck bouncing around in front moments later, Bergeron stayed high rather than jumping up and giving himself a chance at a goal at the risk of an odd-man rush.
A breakdown of Bergeron’s 30-goal season is as follows: 22 even-strength, seven on the power play, one shorthanded and three empty-net goals.
– Bergeron and Iginla also gave the Bruins their first pair of 30-goal scorers since Julien has been the coach. The last time the B’s had two 30-goal scorers was in the 2002-03, when they had three in Glenn Murray (44), Joe Thornton (36) and Mike Knuble (30).
– The win guaranteed that the Bruins will not lose two straight regulation games this season.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– That would be pretty rough news if Paille were to have suffered a head injury on the hit from McCabe. Though a fourth-line player, Paille makes up one third of the best fourth line in the league and is a player who has been moved up when wings on other lines have been injured. He is also a plus penalty killer and was a very good performer last postseason (four goals and five assists for 13 points in 22 games).
– Another scary scene came in the third period when Torey Krug landed on Hackett, causing Hackett to remain down on the ice in pain for several minutes before leaving in a stretcher.
– The Bruins didn’t need to get into the whole John Scott thing, but it happened twice. Scott went after Lucic in the second period, leading to a scuffle in which Zdeno Chara intervened and cross-checked Scott in the face. Chara and Scott got into it again late in the third period and were given 10-minute misconducts.
|Pierre McGuire on M&M: ‘I’m not that concerned’ about Bruins heading into postseason||04.04.14 at 1:43 pm ET|
NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Friday to discuss the Bruins’ mindset heading into the postseason. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
Since the Bruins clinched a playoff spot on March 21, they have gone 4-3 with two consecutive losses to the Red Wings and the Maple Leafs this week.
“They understand it,” McGuire said of the team’s focus heading into the postseason. “They’ve been to the finals in 2011 and had to win three Game 7s — they had to beat Montreal in Game 7, they had to beat Tampa in Game 7 and they had to beat Vancouver on the road in a Game 7. That takes a lot of focus and determination and good portions of that team are back, so they understand that commitment.
“They also lost a heartbreaking Game 6 last year — everybody in Boston, with about three minutes to go, everybody thought there was going to be a Game 7. Obviously there wasn’t because of the offensive explosion of the Blackhawks. I think Boston learned from that.”
The Bruins spent the majority of March on a 12-game winning streak.
“I don’t think there are a lot of hockey lessons that these guys have to learn,” McGuire said. “I’m not that concerned about them, and, again, I throw this out because of the experience I had — I went through this twice in Pittsburgh where we had real good teams and we clinched early — we never had a problem keeping our guys focused and taking them in and out of the lineup. I see Claude [Julien] doing that, and I think he’s doing some really good things with that group.”