|Claude Julien, Bruins trying to manage media spin machine vs. Michel Therrien, Canadiens||05.06.14 at 12:51 pm ET|
MONTREAL – Claude Julien and the Bruins are no strangers to postseason wars of words.
In what looks a bit like the 2011 Eastern Conference finals, when Julien and Guy Boucher went back and forth with comments in the media, Julien and Habs coach Michel Therrien have had some things to say about one another in the second round.
After the Bruins won Game 2, Julien said that the B’s won the game despite putting up with “a lot of crap.” Therrien fired back Monday morning.
“[Claude]‘s not happy with all that ‘crap,’ ‘’ Therrien said. “They try to influence referees. That’s the way they are. That’s not going to change. That’s the way that they like to do their things. … But we all know what they try to do.”
Therrien’s words were similar to Julien’s comment in 2011 about Boucher lobbying for calls with his comments in the media. On Tuesday, Julien declined to take things any further with Therrien.
“You know what? Everybody’s entitled to their comments,” Julien said. “People are trying to make more out of this on-ice rivalry, trying to turn it into an off-ice rivalry. Everybody’s entitled to their comments. Some of it can be gamesmanship; whatever it is doesn’t really matter. Right now I’m focusing on my team and what we need to do. That’s what both teams are trying to do, I think.”
Therrien also asserted that the Bruins started this week’s popular storyline that the Bruins have “solved” Carey Price by shooting pucks high. That wasn’t the case, as both Torey Krug and Dougie Hamilton were asked Sunday about scoring goals high on Price with him moving laterally across the net. Hamilton essentially said that goalies look low when you screen them, which was then spun into the Bruins saying that they’ve figured out Montreal’s goaltender.
“I don’t know if we’re really trying, but we’ve definitely noticed that,” Hamilton said Sunday. “I think when we can get our shots through past their defensemen — especially when they’re trying to block it — I think we have a good chance of getting it in.”
That somehow turned into a proclamation that the B’s have uncovered the secret to scoring on Price.
“We hope that people will write the things that were actually said,” Julien said in French. “It’s that Carey Price, I had him for several weeks with Team Canada, he’s one of the best goalies in the National Hockey League. I don’t think we’re here talking about weaknesses or things like that. It’s pretty obvious that thanks to him his team is very good at the moment, he’s been playing some great hockey from the start. Some things said by a young player were taken out of context, and something bigger was made of it. As I said earlier, we’re looking after our own stuff and we’re keeping the focus on what we need to do on the ice, not off the ice.”
The biggest oddity regarding the “shoot high” narrative is that the Bruins have only scored three times this series from shooting the puck high on Price. The players themselves find the storyline something between amusing and silly.
“It’s just the press and the media trying to create arguments and create banter,” Reilly Smith said. “We stay away from that kind of stuff, and if that’s the way the media wants to portray the series and talk between the teams, that’s what they’ll do.”
|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.
|Reilly Smith stops cold streak ‘burden’ from leaking into playoffs||04.20.14 at 7:46 pm ET|
The first half of Reilly Smith‘s season was great. The second wasn’t. In the Bruins’ Game 2 win over the Red Wings, he made the start to his playoff career a bit more encouraging than the previous three months.
With the Bruins on a first-period power play and Loui Eriksson providing his signature brand of finesse netfront work, Patrice Bergeron threw a puck on net from high in the zone. Jimmy Howard made the save but left the rebound in front with bodies galore and Smith raced through the crease and put the puck in the net to make it 2-0. The goal went on to be the game-winner, as the B’s allowed just a Luke Glendening tally in its 4-1 victory.
Bruins fans had gotten used to seeing Smith score, but needed their memory refreshed given that Smith had just two goals in the final 30 games of the season after putting up 18 in his first 52 games as a Bruin.
Smith never got ahead of himself when he was leading the Bruins in goals early in the season and was on pace to flirt with 30 goals, but his second-half struggles provided some frustration. As such, a goal in the second game of the playoffs was more than welcome.
“I was hoping it wasn’t going to take a long time in the playoffs, because it can be a little bit of a burden when you’re trying to help out the team,” Smith said after the game. “It was good to see it go in the back of the net and have that kind of opportunity early in the game.”
Smith even took it a step further, saying he didn’t want to become like Tyler Seguin and Jaromir Jagr, who scored one and no goals, respectively, last postseason for the B’s and caught some flack.
“It definitely gives you confidence, and I’m pretty sure the press in Boston, they can get on you if you’re not scoring. I’ve heard, even from Dallas, enough about Seguin and Jagr not scoring too much in the playoffs last year,” he joked. “It is good to get that one in the back of the net and kind of keep you guys off my back a little bit.”
Speaking of jokes, Smith’s brother, Brendan Smith, went after Zdeno Chara at the end of the first period Sunday. Considering that Chara is 6-foot-9 and Brendan Smith is listed at 6-foot-2 and isn’t known for being physical, the idea of a potential fight between the two players was amusing.
It turned out it was amusing for Chara as well, as the Bruins captain laughed and smiled even as the Detroit defenseman took a jab at his face.
Reilly said that he saw it from the bench and could observe that he didn’t look too worried. The Red Wings won in the exchange given that there was no fight and, with matching roughing minors, Chara missed the first two minutes of the second period, but it was still a pretty risky move on Brendan’s part.
“[Chara] wouldn’t be the first guy I’d choose in the NHL to go against,” Reilly said. “[Brendan] should probably think twice next time.”
|Brendan Smith reflects on Tyler Seguin trade, why Reilly Smith has been good fit with Bruins||04.18.14 at 12:49 pm ET|
Brendan Smith is a bit more vocal than Reilly Smith.
Reilly, more of the shy type with the media, is extremely self-effacing. When things are going well, he’d rather somebody else get the credit. When things aren’t, he’s a little harder on himself.
So it was interesting Friday to talk to his brother, a defenseman for the Red Wings, about some of the major storylines that have surrounded Reilly’s young career.
Reilly was a big part of the package the Bruins received in the trade that sent Tyler Seguin to Dallas. Brendan recalls the day the trade went down, as he was hanging out with Reilly that July 4.
“The thing was, the first time we saw it was on Twitter. We were just on the couch and [see] ‘Reilly Smith is traded for Seguin with Loui Eriksson,’ and the whole deal,” Brendan said Friday. “We were kind of thrown off, and then when we thought about it, we thought it was a great fit for him. He could earn his position and go in and play hard.
“I knew going up, he worked really hard in the offseason. I wouldn’t say he was nervous, but he was really adamant [about] going into camp in really good shape and trying to earn a good spot on the team. Look what he’s done. He’s done a great job, and you’ve seen him. He’s a mature kid for his age, so it’s a been a testament to him. I have to give him a lot of credit.”
|Brothers Reilly Smith, Brendan Smith weigh in on playoff meeting||04.13.14 at 12:31 am ET|
Reilly Smith and Brendan Smith are already weighing in on the difficult decision their parents will face when the brothers meet one another in the first round of the playoffs.
Reilly Smith, the Bruins’ second line right wing, has played against his older brother, Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith, six times in the regular season over the last two seasons (three times with the Stars and three with the Bruins). Brendan and the Red Wings have won four of those six games.
After the Red Wings were locked into the second wild card spot Saturday night, both players took to Twitter:
Let’s get out those B’s jerseys Ma and Pa
‘ Reilly Smith (@reillysmith18) April 13, 2014
Family of red for the playoffs. Love when my parents stand behind the winged wheel! #BecauseItsTheCup
‘ Brendan Smith (@bssmith7) April 13, 2014
|Reilly Smith ‘finally’ back to scoring for Bruins||03.18.14 at 9:54 am ET|
When Reilly Smith jumped out to a hot start as the Bruins’ leader in goals through the first three-plus months of the season, he didn’t soak it in the same way other young players might. He stayed quiet and it didn’t go to his head. Respectfully, he was boring.
So when he finally snapped his nearly seven-week-long scoring slump in the third period of Monday’s win over the Wild, there was no triumphant celebration — just hands in the hair and one spoken word: “Finally.”
That, minus the “finally” was pretty much what the rest of his 19 celebrations have looked like. Nothing fancy, and nothing too proud; everything you’d expect from a kid who has maintained that his goals only matter to him if they help the team win.
Yet as even-keeled as he seemed to remain during that slump — which lasted 15 games and began after he notched his then-team-leading 18th goal of the season (he’s tied for fourth on the team now) — it weighed on him. Smith’s clearly the type of player who doesn’t get carried away with success, but when it wasn’t coming, maybe a little frustration did set in.
“He demands a lot, and that’s a trait of a lot of players, to be honest with you,” Claude Julien said before Monday’s game. “He’s just one of those guys that has that trait, and it’s up to us to kind of take some of that pressure off him. He’s just got to go out there and play hard, and most of all you have to play hard but you have to have fun at this game. It’s work, but your work has to be a lot of fun, too.
“I think right now he had a lot of pressure on his shoulders. I think he was coming to the rink and getting on the ice there and instead of smiling was just carrying the weight that he didn’t need to carry. So we’re just trying to help him take some of that weight off his shoulders.”
Monday should have helped a little. Smith went to the net and jammed a rebound of a Patrice Bergeron shot past Darcy Kuemper to expand the Bruins’ lead to 3-1. For a player who made a name for himself early with rebound goals and finishing off Carl Soderberg backdoor plays, he was just glad it went in.
“I don’t think I’ve scored a pretty goal this year, so I figured it was going to come that way,” he said after the game. “It was a long time, so it was definitely a good feeling.”
|Reilly Smith returns to Bruins practice, Adam McQuaid progressing||02.22.14 at 12:47 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins practiced again Saturday, with those who didn’t play in the Olympics skating for the third straight day.
Back on the ice was Reilly Smith, who missed Friday’s practice with an illness. Adam McQuaid practiced with teammates for the third consecutive day as he works his way back from a lower-body injury. McQuaid has not played since Jan. 19, and though he skated prior to the Olympic break, he did not take the ice over the two-week break from team activities. He says he is not quite ready to play, but that he continues to feel better.
The Bruins won’t practice Sunday, but McQuaid is expected to skate on his own.
“I think he’s still working his way back in,” Bruins assistant coach Doug Jarvis said Saturday. “My understanding is he’ll skate [Sunday] on his own and we’ll continue to work with him. I see it being, from what I understand, a day-to-day scenario as we move along. We’ll see how he keeps improving.”
Justin Florek and Matt Lindblad, both of whom were recalled for Friday’s practice, were returned to Providence Saturday.
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