|Bruins-Canucks preview: Three keys, stats, and players to watch||06.06.11 at 1:54 am ET|
The Bruins have a tall task ahead of them as they look to overcome an 0-2 hole and turn the Stanley Cup finals into an actual series. Both games have been determined by just one goal thus far, and though the Bruins have played poorly from the most part, the first two games have shown the B’s can hang with the Canucks, even if they haven’t totally shown up yet. With the number three in mind, here’s a preview of Monday’s Game 3.
THREE THINGS THE BRUINS NEED TO DO
- Get better looks vs. Roberto Luongo and establish a net-front presence. We’ll say it until it changes, and it didn’t change enough in Game 2. The Canucks have been able to box the Bruins out so far in the series, but look at how the B’s scored their goals in Game 2. Milan Lucic buried a rebound from in front, and Mark Recchi redirected a shot in front of Luongo. When the Bruins were able to set up shop and do things from close range, the puck went in. It seems trying it any other way is an exercise in futility.
- Keep moving Zdeno Chara around on the power play. Recchi’s goal came as a result of Claude Julien moving Chara back to the point, but Julien should keep mixing it up when it comes to the Bruins’ mammoth captain. He still appeared to be a nuisance in front of Luongo in Game 1, so Julien should have enough confidence in Chara’s abilities in both areas to play him in different spots from power play to power play.
- Use the home crowd to their advantage. Whether or not they want to admit it, Rogers Arena was absolutely electric and had to have been a tough place to play. If the Garden can turn down the music and let the fans create an authentic atmosphere, maybe the Canucks can truly feel like they’re at an opponent’s home and not a wrestling match.
- Both the Bruins and Canucks have seen four of their last five games be determined by one goal. The Bruins are 2-3 in that span, while the Canucks are 4-1.
- The four goals Tim Thomas has allowed over the last three games ties this stretch with his best of the postseason. Thomas let in four goals over Games 2 through 4 of the conference semifinals vs. the Flyers, though the difference is that the Bruins won all three of those games and have lost two of the three games in this stretch.
- Brad Marchand has gone four games without scoring. In the other two instances this postseason in which he went four straight without a goal, he scored the following game.
THREE PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON
- Tim Thomas: He plays aggressive – the sky is falling! As bad as the game-wining goal he allowed in overtime Saturday looked, the reaction by some suggest nobody has actually watched Thomas before. He’s all over the place, and he plays farther out of his net than most. It will be interesting to see how be performs in Game 3 given all the heat he’s been under for his style this series.
- Alexandre Burrows: The Bruins have every reason to be furious that Burrows wasn’t suspended for Game 2, though they’re not showing it. At any rate, their No. 1 concern should be finding away to stop the guy who showed Saturday that his offensive ability (2 G, A in Game 2) is just as sharp as his teeth.
- Rich Peverley: Where to play the speedy winger? Peverley has seen time on the second line, third line and fourth line (and the first if you want to count him taking one of Nathan Horton’s shifts in Game 7 of the conference finals when Horton was banged up) in recent games. Peverley could continue to take some of Mark Recchi’s shifts on the second line, or he could skate with Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder, as he did from late in the second period Saturday to the end of the contest. If and when Julien makes a move to get Shawn Thornton in the lineup at the expense of Tyler Seguin this series, the line of Kelly centering Peverley and Ryder would make sense.
Also, don’t rule out Peverley having a target on his back in Game 3. His two-handed slash to the back of Kevin Bieksa’s knee didn’t go over well with Bieksa, his teammates or his coaches. Given the nature of the play, it shouldn’t have. Peverley really got away with one, and had he scored on his shot that followed the non-penalized slash, it would have looked even worse.
|Alain Vigneault calls Rich Peverley’s slash on Kevin Bieksa a ‘cheap shot’||06.05.11 at 10:32 pm ET|
Upon his arrival in Boston late Sunday afternoon, Canucks coach Alain Vigneault called Rich Peverley’s slash on Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa in the second period of Saturday’s Game 2 a dirty play.
“Kevin didn’t get hit,” Vigneault said when asked about the Canucks matching the physical play of the Bruins. “He got a cheap shot in the back of the knee, so that’s totally different. He went down by something you don’t want to see in the game. But at the end of the day, we know they’re a big, physical team and we can play a speed game but we can play a physical game, which I think we’ve shown throughout the playoffs.”
Bieksa returned after limping to the bench and no penalty was called on the play. The Canucks outhit the Bruins, 40-31, Game 2 Saturday after the Bruins held a 31-30 advantage in Game 1.
|Rich Peverley: ‘Hockey could work’ in Atlanta||06.01.11 at 12:14 am ET|
VANCOUVER — Bruins forward Rich Peverley can thank his lucky stars that he is playing in the Stanley Cup finals rather than having to worry about relocation.
The Bruins swung a deal for Peverley and defenseman Boris Valabik on their day of retooling on Feb. 18, though the speedy forward was the centerpiece of the deal that sent Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart to Atlanta. Now, Peverley’s Atlanta teammates officially know that they’ll be playing in Winnepeg next year due to relocation of the team. Peverley said he’s been in touch throughout the process.
“I think a few guys are disappointed,” Peverley. “They really enjoyed the city, but at the same time, they’re going to have to move on, and I think a lot of guys are excited about the opportunity to play in a Canadian market. That’s going to bring a lot of passionate hockey to the city, and I think they’re really excited about that.”
Peverley still has another deal remaining on his contract, so he would have been a part of the team’s relocation unless he was dealt away. He seems clearly disappointed that the franchise with which he played parts of the last three seasons couldn’t stay where it was, but he also understands it.
“I think it’s a tough market if you’re not winning,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of hockey fans there that might be other fans and not necessarily Thrashers fans, so I think hockey could work in that city, but when you make the playoffs one out of 10 years, you put yourself behind the 8-ball a little bit.”
One reason for the relocation you shouldn’t rule out: Perhaps it’s just because the Peverley Hillbillies stopped giving the team their money after Feb. 18.
“I don’t know,” Peverley said with a laugh. “I have no idea [what happened to them].”
|Bruins hold last regular practice before Stanley Cup finals||05.31.11 at 8:05 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — Only extra defenseman Shane Hnidy was missing from Tuesday’s Bruins practice at Rogers Arena. The practice, which lasted about an hour, was the team’s final regular practice before the Stanley Cup finals begin Wednesday vs. the Canucks.
Rich Peverley skated with the second line again, donning the gold sweater along with Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi. Peverley took shifts on the line in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, spelling Recchi from time to time.
|Bruins notes Monday: Claude Julien pumps up the volume and Rich Peverley gets the gold||05.30.11 at 4:55 pm ET|
The Bruins held their final practice before departing for Vancouver in preparation for Wednesday’s opening game of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals at Rogers Arena.
Every player was on the ice – with the exception of defenseman Shane Hnidy – for the 45-minute skate that began at 11:35 and ended with several laps of hard skating around the rink, which was covered in a thin haze of fog by the end of the session. It was the first day back on the ice for several players since winning Game 7 Friday night against Tampa Bay.
“Conditioning doesn’t go bad,” coach Claude Julien said. “We came back on the ice, and then as a whole team, it was obviously a little warm out there today. So, the ice was probably not at its best and it was a tough grind to push through this practice today, which I think is not a bad thing because we might as well get used to it.
“That’s what the buildings are like on game nights. I thought we pushed ourselves pretty good today and did a little bit of sprints at the end to make sure we raise the volume, if you want, and [Tuesday] hopefully, we’ll be really good and flying out there in Vancouver and getting ready for Wednesday.”
Shawn Thornton took shifts on the fourth line with Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell, otherwise known as the “Merlot” line.
“They don’t get the same amount of ice time those others do,” Julien said. “And with Thorty not having played, I think it was important for them to get a regular turn at practice. And those other guys play a lot. Whether it’s Mark who we like to give a rest at times, or Bergy, who plays a lot, we kind of rotate through that. I wouldn’t read more into it than it was.”
Wearing a gold sweater, Rich Peverley skated with the regular second-line unit of Patrice Bergeron, Mark Recchi and Brad Marchand.
Julien moved Peverley up to the second shift during Friday’s Game 7 against Tampa Bay, replacing Recchi at times to give the line added speed with Bergeron.
Peverley told WEEI.com’s Scott McLaughlin he’s totally fine with moving from line to line, especially at this time of year.
|Rich Peverley is being shuffled all around the line chart, and he’s perfectly OK with it||at 4:52 pm ET|
For the entire first two rounds of the playoffs, Rich Peverley played on a line with Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder. It was the same line — with some guest appearances by Tyler Seguin — that he had played on since coming to Boston in mid-February.
In Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals, however, Peverley was dropped down to the fourth line. Patrice Bergeron‘s absence in the first two games had opened the door for Seguin to assert himself as a top-nine forward, and once Bergeron returned, Peverley found himself as the odd man out of the top three lines.
The problem for Claude Julien — one any coach would love to have — was that Peverley was simply too good to keep on the fourth line. He is solid defensively and he kills penalties. He has the speed and vision to create chances on offense. And he has been the Bruins’ second-best faceoff man behind Bergeron, having ranked 13th in the NHL in the regular season with a 55.9-percent success rate.
So in Game 7 against the Lightning, Julien got Peverley on the ice any way he could. He slid him onto other lines throughout the game, both giving Peverley more ice time and giving some other guys more rest in the process. In fact, Peverley had played on all four lines by the end of the first period.
“I’m all over the place,” Peverley said Monday. “But I enjoy getting minutes. I just try to play my game and use my speed. I’m lucky I’m used in all situations. … Whichever way the minutes come, it really doesn’t matter to me as long as I continue to play my game.”
The only concern with moving Peverley around so much would be that there wouldn’t be much chemistry. Peverley said that isn’t an issue, though, because everyone knows how everyone else plays by this point in the season.
“You don’t want to change too much,” he said. “You want to try and play your game, and hopefully guys will adapt to you, also. … I think everybody I’ve played with so far, I had a chance to play with them even before last game. So you already know what guys are doing, and that helps.”
Whether or not Julien continues to bounce Peverley up and down the line chart against the Canucks remains to be seen, but Peverley said he’s ready to play with anyone.
“Yeah, I think so, just being out there in different situations,” Peverley said when asked if he expects to be used in a similar role. “Claude relies on me a little bit for faceoffs, so sometimes I stay out there, sometimes I change. Just being able to play with everybody, I think that’s good for me, too, because it gets me a little more ice time.”
|Gregory Campbell, Bruins know it’s ‘only natural’ to think about Stanley Cup finals||05.24.11 at 6:28 pm ET|
TAMPA — The Bruins are one win away from being somewhere they haven’t been in a long time.
Sure, they have closed out their first two opponents this postseason and are 2-1 in potential series-clinching games, but Wednesday’s Game 6 will be, much like this series has been, uncharted territory. The B’s can advance to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since 1990 with a win. The one-game-at-a-time approach is one from which they’ve benefitted, but given what they’d be playing for if they advanced, the B’s should come out just as hungry for a shot at the Cup as the Lightning will be to stay alive.
“You have that in the back of your mind, and maybe that’s a little bit of motivation just to try to get it done,” forward Rich Peverley said Tuesday in Tampa. “They’re a great team, and we expect nothing but their best.”
While Tim Thomas said after Game 5 that the B’s must view Wednesday as just another game, players would be lying if they said they weren’t thinking about what lies ahead.
“I think it’s only natural to look ahead and to say, ‘this is an opportunity to play in the finals,’” Gregory Campbell said. “For a lot of players on our team, it will be our first time, and if we do make it there, it will probably be the last chance a lot of players will have. It is natural to want to get excited and look ahead.
“I know it’s been said by tons of people, but it’s so important just to play our game well and not really focus on the results. It’s more just how we’re playing. If we’re playing well, good things will happen, but for us to start setting our sights on the next series is usually a dangerous thing to do.”
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