|Bruins can’t wait for their next test: Sidney Crosby and the East-leading Penguins||12.05.11 at 10:42 am ET|
It’s the perfect test at the perfect time.
The Bruins have rebounded from a 3-7-0 start and are the hottest team in the NHL. They have 13 of 14 and are unbeaten in regulation since Oct. 29 in Montreal.
The Penguins are the top team in the East and have been the best team in the conference since the start of the season.
Now the top two teams in the conference meet in tonight in Pittsburgh.
“It’s going to be a great challenge for us,” said Chris Kelly, who scored the game-winner on Saturday night. “They are playing extremely well. They have their best player back and he seems like he hasn’t missed a beat. It will be an exciting game for us.”
Of course, the “best player” to whom Kelly refers is Sidney Crosby. He returned from his post-concussion symptoms on Nov. 21 with two goals in a 5-0 win over the Islanders. He hasn’t scored since but he does have 10 assists and the Pens are 5-1-1 in the seven games with him back in the lineup.
“It’s going to be a big game,” Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said. “We haven’t faced them this season yet. Obviously they’ve got a healthy team now. I’m sure it’s going to be a good game.”
Tonight marks the first of four games between the last two Eastern Conference teams who have won the Stanley Cup. The Penguins won on Detroit’s home ice in Game 7 in 2009 while the Bruins accomplished the same feat back on June 15 in Vancouver.
Is this is a “measuring stick” game for the defending champion B’s?
“I think we’re approaching- we’ve got the right mind set going into every game right now,” new pugilist Joe Corvo said. “I feel like we’re playing the same way every game and we’re being super consistent and if we don’t at some point in the game, it gets corrected. I think it’s obviously a good test, they’re in first place so it’ll be an exciting game.”
With a regulation win, the Bruins will be just one point out of the top spot in the East, 15 games after being in the cellar.
“We want to get up there in the standings and this is a game for first place so it’s going to be a big one,” David Krejci said.
There will be no rest after the game, either. The Bruins hop on a plane and go halfway across the continent for a Tuesday night game in Winnipeg.
|Game 7 countdown, 11 a.m.: Bruins look to Pittsburgh for motivation||06.15.11 at 11:15 am ET|
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review notes that only three road teams in any North American professional sport have won a Game 7 over the past four decades. Those teams all have come from Pittsburgh.
The Pirates have two Game 7 wins on road. In 1971 they defeated the Orioles, 2-1, in Baltimore. In 1979 the Pirates also faced the Orioles in the World Series. The Pirates also won that series in seven games, with the seventh game being played in Baltimore. The Pirates won by a score of 4-1.
Most recently, the Penguins won Game 7 on the road to capture the 2009 Stanley Cup. They defeated the Red Wings, 2-1. That series went exactly the same way the Bruins-Canucks series has gone so far, with the home team winning every game, until Game 7 when the Penguins finally won on the opposing team’s ice.
|What Zdeno Chara and the Bruins learned Saturday night||03.07.11 at 10:11 am ET|
One loss following a very impressive seven-game winning streak is hardly cause for alarm. And that’s especially true since the Bruins managed a point Saturday night when they didn’t play their best game and found a way to tie it with 32.5 seconds left in regulation.
But there was a lesson to be learned. Just asked Zdeno Chara. If you don’t skate hard against a hungry team, you’ll likely wind up on the losing end.
The captain gave the Bruins the lead, 1-0, just under eight minutes into the second period. But from then on, the B’s seem to take a collective breath and relax as the Pens picked up their intensity and took it to them in every way.
They took more shots, delivered more hits and until the final 33 seconds, scored more goals.
“We didn’t have our best game, that’s for sure,” Chara said. “We were just, we had heavy legs, we didn’t skate well, we didn’t move the puck well. On the other side Pittsburgh played extremely well. They put a lot of pressure on us. They took away space and time and we couldn’t create much.”
All of this from a Penguins team that came in losing 6-of-7 and had lost in overtime 24 hours earlier in New Jersey.
“I think it was mostly us, we weren’t moving our feet at all,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “We were second to the puck. At the same time, you couldn’t establish a physical game because you never got there on time. So they were on the puck and we were doing a lot of watching, I thought in the second period and they just took the game away from us at that point.”
“They even they had back to back games,” Chara added. “They had pretty good jump and energy. It almost felt like we were the team who played last night. But it’s going to happen. You’re going to have games like this where we were just slow and not moving the puck as well as we used to. But we worked extremely hard in the third and earned that point. That’s the positive. Obviously we’d like to get two but it happens.”
But now, following the end of the winning streak, the Bruins know they have to pick it back up with a big division game Tuesday night in Montreal. The Canadiens have won four straight and 5-of-6. They trail the Bruins by just five points in the Northeast.
No reason for the Bruins not to have their legs under them for this one.
|Pens show Bruins they’re a lot more than just Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin||03.05.11 at 11:10 pm ET|
If the Bruins somehow wind up playing the Penguins in the Stanley Cup playoffs this spring they should take a very close look at the video from Saturday night’s game at TD Garden.
Without superstars Sidney Crosby [concussion] and Evgeni Malkin [right knee], the Penguins got two goals from HBO “24/7″ star Dustin Jeffrey, including the game winner less than two minutes into overtime to come away with a 3-2 win over the Bruins, snapping Boston’s seven-game winning streak.
Crosby or no Crosby, Malkin or no Malkin, the Penguins played exactly the kind of hockey that wins in the playoffs. It’s not superstar hockey, it’s team hockey. What exactly is that?
“They’re a lot more hard-working,” Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk said. “Their hard work takes over [for] their skill. When they have those other guys in, there’s a lot of skill in there and they still work hard, but they try to make different plays than they would if they had those guys in the lineup. They just got the [puck] in deep and just tried to keep as much time in our zone as possible.”
B’s coach Claude Julien had his own take.
“Obviously, they’re missing some star players,” Julien noted. “We thought one of our best forwards tonight was missing, too. You have to adjust to those kinds of things and what it boils down to is the team play. And that’s what they did tonight, they played a good team game.
“They were forechecking hard, they were on top of us. Even when we got the puck in the neutral zone, they didn’t give us much time. They really skated hard and took away our time and space and they did a good job of that. I think that’s where their success came from tonight. When you work hard enough, eventually you get rewarded, and they got a break there at the end and were able to score in OT.”
|Marc Savard hasn’t forgotten about Matt Cooke||01.15.11 at 5:22 pm ET|
It was 10 months ago that Matt Cooke hit Marc Savard with a blindside hit on a Sunday afternoon in Pittsburgh that put not only his season but his career in jeopardy.
Savard did come back and appeared in the playoffs, scoring the game-winning overtime goal against the Flyers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semis. But still, he was not the same.
On Saturday, Matt Cooke returned to Boston with the Penguins and was booed lustily by the Bruins crowd each time he touched the puck. The Bruins Johnny Boychuk even tried to engage him long enough to drop the gloves. No luck.
“He won’t do a thing,” Savard said. “Johnny [Boychuk] has tried him last few games and he just skates away. He’ll get you from different areas but he won’t get you head on, obviously.”
But on Saturday, it wasn’t Cooke but rather defenseman Deryk Engelland that leveled him with a clean hit along the far boards in the third period, knocking him off-balance and into the boards.
“A little woozy, to be honest with you,” Savard said. “But we’ll see how I feel the rest of the day here tonight and stuff, because… I don’t know I haven’t seen the replay, it felt like he just got my head, so I don’t know. But a little woozy.”
Savard, as was the case in Pittsburgh last March 8, was caught off-guard.
“Yeah, I think I was looking kind of behind me for a pass to make, and I think he closed me off,” Savard said. “I felt okay, I felt a little bit… a little winded king of thing. Nothing bad right now.
“All I wanted to do, is make sure I gathered my thoughts, you know, and everything came back together … fine so, I’ll monitor it and watch the rest of the day here, see how I feel a little bit … I was a little bit shaken up.”
He is just hoping he’ll be okay to skate with the team during it’s Sunday practice in advance of Monday’s matinee with the Hurricanes.
“Just a little dazed,” Savard said. “I haven’t gotten a headache yet or anything like that. Just a little dazed and just getting your bell rung a bit. I don’t think it’s anything to worry about right now.”
Rookie defenseman Steve Kampfer was sent to the hospital with a broken nose after being bloodied by teammate Zdeno Chara 57 seconds into the second period. Chara became entangled with Pittsburgh’s Pascal Dupuis in the offensive corner when Kampfer came skating by, catching Chara’s stick in the face.
“He went to the hospital and has a broken nose,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “They are just checking him out. We’re going to find out more and the severity of it [Sunday].”
Dupuis was called for the major high-sticking penalty but TV replays clearly showed it was Chara’s stick that did the damage.
“I think it was my stick but not 100 percent sure,” Chara explained after the 3-2 loss to the Penguins. “I was batting and somehow my stick got high, hit Stevie. Just an unfortunate play. But I don’t know exactly how it happened.”
Meanwhile, Marc Savard took a header into the far boards in the third period, after a hit from Pittsburgh’s Deryk Engelland but after spending about a minute on the ice, he got to his knees and skated off on his own power.
“From what I’m told, there was nothing wrong. It was a clean hit,” Julien said. “He was off-balance, got his bell rung a little bit but he’s alright.”
Savard, of course, was hit by Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke last March 8 on a blindside hit and missed several weeks with a Grade 2 concussion. The two had a couple of run-ins on Saturday but no major brush-ups.
Still, Savard will pay close attention to how he feels over the next 24 hours before getting ready for the Hurricanes on Monday afternoon at TD Garden.
“I’ll monitor it and watch the rest of the day, see how I feel a little bit,” Savard said. “I was a little bit shaken up.”
|Zdeno Chara and the Bruins didn’t want to ‘ruin’ the good vibes from Pittsburgh||01.12.11 at 2:55 pm ET|
As much talk as there was following Tuesday’s 6-0 win over the Senators about Patrice Bergeron and his first career hat trick, there was just as much about the impressive way the Bruins followed up their dramatic win in Pittsburgh 24 hours earlier.
“It’s huge,” said captain Zdeno Chara. “You want to follow up with a good performance. You don’t want to have obviously a nice comeback game and then come back and just ruin it. I mean that’s totally something you don’t want to do.”
The Bruins showed what they call in hockey “good jump” in getting up 2-0 after one and 5-0 after two periods. But for Chara to consider the night a truly good one, the B’s would have to finish the job.
“Even after the first 20 or 40 minutes of tonight’s game, you don’t want to, at the end of the night, count regrets that you played well for 40 and bad for 20,” he added. “You just want to have a good feeling after the game that you really played a solid 60 minutes.”
Bruins coach Claude Julien agreed. It was a good night from what he could see from behind the bench.
“I like the way we skated. I thought we had some good jump right off the start and we had some good clean breakouts and it allowed us to have some good speed through the neutral zone,” Julien said. “We got pucks behind their D and took advantage of it. I thought our guys were well-focused tonight. It was important to build on last night and not sit on it.”
It’s rare for a team to show such good energy on the back-end of a back-to-back in mid-January like the Bruins did but Tim Thomas wasn’t complaining, as he posted his career-best sixth shutout of the season.
“We looked like we had really good legs tonight on a back-to-back with the heavy schedule that we’ve had and that’s a good sign too,” Thomas said. “A lot of things went our way tonight.”
And, of course, leading the way was Bergeron with his first career hat trick.
“We’ve talked about it, after the game in Pittsburgh, to just carry what happened in the last three minutes, you know, and carry that over to tonight, and I think we did that, you know, all game, the 60 minutes that’s what we needed.”
What the Bruins needed and got on Wednesday was the day off to stay inside and avoid the blizzard outside. They’ll need their rest with the Flyers and Penguins coming to town on Thursday and Saturday, respectively. Just another two games to test how far these Bruins have come in turning around their season.
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