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Flyers looking for good ole home cooking 05.05.10 at 12:58 pm ET
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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.

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Bruins consider Carcillo a non-factor 05.04.10 at 1:19 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — When it comes to instigators, the Bruins have upgraded from series to series.

Patrick Kaleta of the Sabres is one type of player — chippy and irritating — but Daniel Carcillo is another entirely. He accused Marc Savard of biting him in a scrum started when he and Kimmo Timonen jumped Savard after the Bruins center took a whack (and a subsequent slashing penalty) at the glove of Brian Boucher after a glove save. Earlier, Carcillo had a dust up with forward Steve Begin in which Carcillo easily could have taken an interference or a charging penalty or maybe even two for diving when Begin pushed him to the ice. The amazing thing through Game 2 was that Carcillo never actually went to the penalty box. Savard and Begin did.

“You saw the play, I got hit and I just wanted to push him and he went down,” Begin said. “I think he could have taken two for diving, but, he didn’t get one. Oh, it wasn’t a hard push,” Begin said. “We play hard too. We go out there, we play hard, we hit, we try to make things happen. You can’t get away from your game for players like that. He wants to draw penalties, so you have to be smart and just keep playing and make sure nothing bad happens.”

Carcillo is a character, to say the least. Self-assured with a chip on his shoulder, he adds only a touch of offense to the usually stacked Flyers lines (12 goals, 10 assists in 76 games this year) but racks up the penalty minutes by the by the fistful — 207 in total through the regular season. He is missing his two front teeth and speaks his mind, whether it is the entire truth or some exaggeration of the truth. Overall, his play and antics can be quite amusing.

The Bruins do not think so. Savard insisted that Carcillo put his hand in his mouth during the scrum and repeated early and often that the forward embellishes on just about everything he does. Coach Claude Julien did not think much of the Begin-Carcillo dustup, chalking it up to playoff hockey and a player known for theatrics.

“Those [penalties] most of the time you end up killing,” Julien said. “I think, you know, he took a pretty good run at him. It was deemed a clean hit and I don’t really disagree with that either but it was borderline charging and it basically just him [Begin] saying listen, that he crossed a line and I sent a message. I don’t think there are any issues with that either way from either team. If our player did that and threw a legal hit and it was borderline and did something about it, I wouldn’t mind that. It is playoff hockey guys, we worry about every little thing that happens but that is part of the game and we live with it.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Lucic’s winner give Bruins 2-0 series lead 05.03.10 at 9:45 pm ET
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Summary — The Flyers twice came back from a one-goal deficit before the Bruins reasserted their will in the third, paving the way for a 3-2 win and a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Milan Lucic scored the game-winner in the third to wrap up the victory for the Bruins. Tuukka Rask won his third straight playoff game with 24 saves, and once again out-dueled Brian Boucher, who took the loss by allowing three goals on 27 shots.

With the game tied at two heading into the final minutes of the third, David Krejci battled behind Boucher and sent a bouncing puck of a Flyers’ stick into the slot where Lucic settled it down and banged it home for the game-winner at 17:03.

After a strong start to the first period for the Flyers, the Bruins tampered the Philadelphia heat when Patrice Bergeron won a face off to the right of Boucher straight to the stick of defenseman Johnny Boychuk. Boychuk slipped a wrist shot with enough vigor on it through traffic to the top of the net and Boston had its second early lead of the series at 5:12.

Philadelphia came back late in the first when it used its aggressive two-man forecheck to break down the defensive pair of Matt Hunwick and Dennis Wideman coming out of the Bruins defensive zone. The trio of Ville Leino, Danny Briere broke down the exit and pushed the puck around the back of the net to Mike Richards who circled in from the circle to put the puck to the far side of Rask to make it 1-1 at 17:06.

Miroslav Satan continued his hot postseason in the second period when he put the Bruins back up at 9:31. The Flyers had been aggressively attacking the point of action on the puck to disrupt the Bruins flow in the offensive zone. Krejci was able to create a seem of space on the half wall and kick the puck to Wideman and then onto Blake Wheeler, who caught Satan on the dot on Boucher’s left and put a wrist shot into the net to make it 2-1.

Boston was guilty of one of hockey’s greatest pet peeves — allowing a goal in the last minute of a period. Leino and Briere rushed down the wing with a little give-and-go game that ended with the puck on Briere’s and a wrister above Rask to tie the game at two with 21.8 seconds left in the second.

Three Stars

Danny Briere — The feisty forward has pushed the Flyers attack through the first two games of the series and was instrumental in their first two goals with an assist in the first and a lamp-lighter in the second.

Miroslav Satan — Scored his fourth goal of the playoffs and extended his point streak to five games. Also had an assist on Lucic’s game-winner. The forward has nine points in the Bruins eight playoff games thus far.

Tuukka Rask — Solid when he needed to be in holding the Flyers to two goals and sending the series back to Philadelphia with the Bruins up two games.

Turning Point – Boston took control of the momentum in the second half of the third period when the Flyers took a couple of penalties to Arron Asham and Briere, as the Bruins turned the play around and held on after a fury of a Philadelphia attack through the late second period and beginning of the third.

Key Play — Lucic’s game-winner. The hulking forward scored his first of the playoffs in a big way when he settled the bouncing puck, turned and fired to beat Boucher low to his stick side.

Read More: Brian Boucher, Danny Briere, David Krejci, Johnny Boychuk Print  |  Email   | Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
Recchi standing tall 05.02.10 at 2:06 pm ET
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It is always fun to see the diminutive players take on the those of elevated physical stature. Smaller players, by definition, have to be scratchy, buckle-up-your-bootstraps type of guys if they want to survive in professional sports. It is not a matter of talent; often the smaller players are more talented than their larger peers and thus pack more talent per square inch into the smaller package. It is akin to pundits saying that Shaquille O’Neal was never a very talented center but was just so physically dominant that he became unguardable.

One of the smallest guys in the Bruins locker room (and also the oldest) is forward and future Hall of Fame member Mark Recchi. In Game 1 against the Flyers on Saturday he had lost his helmet in front of the crease and found himself face-to-chest with towering Philadelphia defenseman Chris Pronger. The defenseman is listed at 6-foot-6 while Recchi is quite generously on the roster at 5-10 (probably more like 5-7 or so, maybe a tad taller). Recchi did not like the extra juice with which Pronger hit him at the end of the play and gave the blueliner a big push to let to show his displeasure.

“It is just the way Mark Recchi has played for us all year,” B’s coach Claude Julien said. “I think we talk about him being a good example, and that is another one besides his work ethic and commitment. He has just gone in there and it is all about business. We know that Chris Pronger takes liberties with players at times, and at one point you have got guys pushing back and that is what [Recchi] decided to do.”

For his part, Recchi did not really think much of the fracas. He was served with roughing and cross-checking penalties, and Pronger took two for a cross check.

“It is part of it,” Recchi said. “It is the playoffs. That is the way goes. You know, he is a competitive guy, we all are. Whether it is him or whatever. You try to create space and try what it takes to win games, and he is going to do that, and there is a reason that he has won championships because he does what it takes. It is just us going out there and playing and it is really no big deal.”

This is an interesting series for Recchi, who served two separate stints with the Flyers, the first from the 1991-92 season until 1994-95, when he was traded to the Canadiens in midseason. Montreal then traded him back to Philadelphia in the middle of the 1998-99 season and he stayed there until 2003-04. He won a championship with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006.

“Yeah, I played the longest there and Philly is a great town and very similar to Boston, a great sports town,” he said. “Great place to live and I really enjoyed my time there. I ended up winning a Cup a couple of years later so it worked out. Everything happens for a reason.”

The 42-year-old Recchi may be one of the oldest players in the NHL, but even he would be hard-pressed to give specific details on the last time the Bruins and Flyers met in the playoffs in 1978, when he was 10 years old and living in British Columbia. That does not mean he is not unwilling to help write a new chapter in the rivalry.

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Savard triumphs in overtime to take Game 1 05.01.10 at 3:46 pm ET
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Marc Savard made a triumphant return, scoring the game-winning goal in overtime to lead the Bruins past the Flyers Saturday. (AP)

Marc Savard made a triumphant return, scoring the game-winning goal in overtime to lead the Bruins past the Flyers Saturday. (AP)

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.

Three Stars

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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Julien: ‘I think some of our players weren’t even born’ at 12:25 pm ET
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Bruins coach Claude Julien held a pre-game press conference at TD Garden Saturday morning before puck drop of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Flyers. Julien touched on how he will monitor the return of center Marc Savard, the play of rookie defenseman Adam McQuaid and the playoff history of the two teams. Along those lines, Julien said not to expect the same type of series that was waged between the two franchises during the heyday of the Broad Street Bullies of the 1970s.

“Because the past is the past and we all anticipate the same thing to happen that happened in I think it was 1975, that was quite a few years ago. I think some of our players weren’t even born,” Julien said. “Nonetheless, we want to associate that with today. The game has changed, the rules have changed, so much has changed. I’m not saying it won’t be a physical game, but to try and associate those two, I don’t think there is going to be a ton of comparison.”

The Bruins and Flyers have not met in the playoffs since the semis in 1978 when the Boston took down Philadelphia in five games.

Julien was noncommittal about who would make the lineup come game time though word has just come down that Shawn Thornton is the healthy scratch. He participated in warmups but will be on his way to the press box to watch shortly. Blake Wheeler will get the nod at the forward spot on the fourth line.

Here is the transcript of the press conference, courtesy of the Bruins media relations staff:

On how the team is going to handle Philadelphia is going to try and rough up the thin defensemen core:

Well, Mick I think we have been dealing with that for about a month now, since those two other guys [Mark Stuartand Dennis Seidenberg] got hurt and we have had to use more those [other] players. It hasn’t been an issue so I don’t know why we should be looking at it as an issue again. Guys know what to do. They want to stay out of the box. We have to stick together. It’s the same old cliche as you hear everyday so, again, it’s not a big deal for me and we will deal with it the way we have dealt with it so far and if it becomes more of an issue, then we will make the adjustment.

On how he monitors how Marc Savard is playing and feeling:

I think you get a pretty good idea by watching what he is doing out there and seeing the energy he is deploying and at one point he gets to the bench, you can see if he is overly tired. You can do that with any player right now. When you see them on the bench, you have a pretty good idea if a guy needs an extra break, so those are all things that we have to look at. The thing is, we talked about putting him in situations where he is going to help our hockey club. At the same time, this is playoff hockey. We can’t wait or sacrifice our team for the sake of giving him that opportunity. It is important for him to go out in the situations we put him in and really try and help our team out. It’s as simple as that. We are here to win. We are not here to cater to anybody, but we have to do what it takes for the team and that is why he has been working hard for the last ten days to get into the best shape possible so that he can step in and at least contribute in some way or fashion.

On Adam McQuaid and how he has been prepared for the playoffs:

He is a stay at home defenseman, we know that. You’re not going to see him rush up the ice a lot, but what he does is take care of his own end and takes care of it well. He is a good sized defenseman that has a good presence. He can certainly take care of the toughness area. He takes care of himself extremely well there. He makes a good first pass and that is what we’re getting out of him and that’s what we expect out of him. I don’t think we are going to ask him to do more than what he does well. I think he has done a tremendous job when called upon. That is where he fits in and we are happy with the way he has answered.

On if he expects the style of play to be the same between the two teams as it was in the past:

I don’t know. We always want to predict here before it starts and a lot of times we predict rough and tough and all of the sudden it is a good, fast-paced hockey game. I think we will probably have a better idea after tonight which direction the series is going into. I know that we just want to go out there and play our game and I think they want to do the same thing here. Because the past is the past and we all anticipate the same thing to happen that happened in I think it was 1975, that was quite a few years ago. I think some of our players weren’t even born. Nonetheless, we want to associate that with today. The game has changed, the rules have changed, so much has changed. I’m not saying it won’t be a physical game, but to try and associate those two, I don’t think there is going to be a ton of comparison.

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Winter Classic ticket drawing for public on Sept. 15 08.17.09 at 1:07 pm ET
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The much-anticipated 2010 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on New Year’s Day at Fenway Park has already sparked huge interest from fans yearning for tickets, and the NHL announced Tuesday afternoon that a ticket drawing for the general public will take place on Sept. 15 at noon.

 The drawing, which will randomly pick lucky fans as ticket winners, will come to a close on Oct. 5 at 11:59 a.m. after everyone has had a chance to enter the ticket derby. Winners will be notified by Oct. 20 and allowed to buy one pair of tickets — with prices ranging from $50-$350 depending on the seats chosen at Fenway.

 It’s expected that the Fenway upper level seats will be the most expensive of the bunch, just as those particular seats were at Wrigley last January. The ticket drawing will be hosted exclusively through the NHL.com website, but interested fans should stay tuned for any more details concerning ticket prices and availability for pucks on ice at the Fens moving forward.

Season-ticket owners for the Bruins and Flyers will receive notification in late August concerning the process of buying Winter Classic tickets, and every full season ticket holder is guaranteed a chance to purchase tickets. Given that over 200,000 people entered the ticket drawing for the Winter Classic at Wrigley Field last season, there’s going to be a pretty healthy amount of luck involved for those hoping to win their way into watching the Bruins skate at Fenway.

Fans seeking information about a chance to win the right to purchase tickets to the 2010 Bridgestone/NHL Winter Classic® can sign up at www.nhl.com/winterclassic to receive detailed alerts regarding the NHL Winter Classic — for example, how and when to register for the opportunity to get their hands on the hottest tickets in hockey.

The NHL also announced that it again will make a certain number of tickets available for local youth hockey groups in Boston. This year, the Boston Bruins Foundation will coordinate the youth hockey initiative ticket drawing for young hockey fans in the greater Boston area. The B’s will release details later this month on the community program.

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