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Brad Marchand is a rat’s rat 06.14.11 at 7:50 am ET
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If the Canucks were hoping that Brad Marchand would wilt as a rookie under the pressure of his first playoff experience, they obviously did not judge or scout him nearly close enough.

And there’s no reason to think Marchand is about to crumble under the pressure of the first Stanley Cup finals Game 7 in Bruins history.

“We have to make sure that we have a good start. And they just seem to get so much momentum and energy off their crowd and we just have to find a way to counter that and come out strong,” said Marchand sounding every bit the veteran of 24 playoff games.

When he scored in the Game 3 blowout of the Canucks, he referred to the fact that he is considered the modern-day “rat” of the Bruins, a nickname lovingly bestowed on Ken Linseman for being the bur in the side of every opponent. It’s a nickname that he continues to wear with pride as he proved again to the Canucks on Monday.

When he wheeled in and took a puck off the boards from Mark Recchi he showed no hesitation snapping off a wrister that beat Roberto Luongo over the goalie’s left shoulder just 5:31 into Game 6.

“I was there, it was a good shot but I have to make that save,” Luongo said. “He put it where he wanted but I have to make a save there.”

“We weren’t too worried about that in here,” Marchand said of Luongo’s talk after Game 5. “He can say what he wants to say. We were just trying to focus on playing this game so we got a couple early, and you know, obviously they switched the goaltenders up. Obviously he’s bounced back every game and I expect the same thing back in Vancouver.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Roberto Luongo can’t explain poor performances in Boston, ready to move on at 12:47 am ET
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Roberto Luongo never saw it coming. No, that’s not a reference to the Bruins’ third goal Monday night, an Andrew Ference shot from the point that found its way through a Mark Recchi screen. Luongo never envisioned himself having another bad game in Boston, his third of the series.

“Honestly, I had a good feeling all day,” Luongo said after Game 6, a game in which he lasted just 8:35 before being pulled. “There were no extra nerves or anything like that. I was excited to play. I mean, we had a chance to win the Cup.”

And yet there he was, heading to the bench after allowing three goals on eight shots. Although Luongo was blinded on the Bruins’ third goal, the first two were definitely stoppable. Brad Marchand scored on the Bruins’ first shot of the game with a wrister from the right circle that found the top right corner. No doubt it was a great shot by Marchand, but Luongo said he could’ve had it.

“I mean, I was there,” Luongo said. “It was a good shot, but at the same time, I got to make that save. He put it where he wanted, but I got to make a save there.”

Thirty-five seconds later, Milan Lucic managed to sneak a shot through Luongo’s five-hole that ended up trickling over the line.

Luongo said he didn’t have any explanation for why he has struggled so much in Boston during this series — he’s given up 15 goals in three games here and has been pulled twice — and that this wasn’t the time to start trying to explain it.

“I’ve had success on the road all year,” Luongo said. “I know that before the series even started, I enjoyed playing in this building. So I’m not going to make any excuses. It just didn’t happen for me obviously, in all three games.

“I’m just going to move on right now,” Luongo continued. “We have one game at home to win a Stanley Cup. … You can’t hang your head now and feel sorry for yourself. That would be the worst thing I could do.”

Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said after the game that Luongo will be back in net to start Game 7, and he said he fully expects Luongo to bounce back, just like he did in Game 5 when he picked up a shutout.

“I don’t have to say anything to him,” Vigneault said. “He’s a professional. His preparation is beyond reproach, and he’s going to be ready for Game 7.”

Luongo said he isn’t worrying about how he’ll perform in Game 7, either.

“I mean, I got to believe in myself, right? That’s a big component of bouncing back and playing a good game,” Luongo said. “We’re going to put what happened tonight behind us as soon as possible and get ready for what is going to be a dream as far as playing in Game 7 in a Stanley Cup Final.”

The rest of the Canucks players deflected criticism away from Luongo and turned their attention to Wednesday night.

“He’s done it before and he’s going to do it again,” Daniel Sedin of Luongo bouncing back from bad games. “We’re not blaming individual guys when we lose. We lose as a team and we win as a team. We’re excited going into Game 7. It’s going to be awesome.”

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Roberto Luongo, Print  |  Email   | Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
Eddie Olczyk on M&M: ‘I’ve already got my travel [to Vancouver] booked’ 06.13.11 at 1:13 pm ET
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NBC and Versus NHL analyst Eddie Olczyk made an appearance on the Mut & Merloni show Monday to talk about the Stanley Cup finals. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

The home team has won all five games in this series, and Olczyk indicated he expects that trend to continue Monday night in Game 6.

“I’ve already got my travel [to Vancouver] booked,” he said “So, for what that’s worth, I believe that the Bruins will have a large game tonight. I think the crowd will have a major impact on this game. I think the first goal is very crucial, but I think the Bruins will find a way and I think home ice will stay the course and there will be a Game 7 for all the marbles on Wednesday night back in Vancouver.”

There has been a lot of talk about which team will be more physical. Olczyk said another key is the play in the neutral zone.

“I think the team that has had the greatest success in this series and has really dictated is when they’ve controlled the neutral zone, the area between the two blue lines,” he said. “And I think that’s when the teams are really, really stifled, not only physically, but I think scheme-wise of not allowing either one of these teams to create anything.”

Canucks players have drawn attention for their habit of trying to draw penalties with some acting antics. Olczyk has suggested that referees waive off the initial penalty if a player dives, only assigning a penalty to the player who embellishes.

“I think that’s the way that you’re going to remove the embellishment in the game, if that’s what you want to do,” he said, adding: “When I made that suggestion, the rebuttal was, ‘We can’t get inside the mind of the embellisher.’ ”

Touching on Roberto Luongo‘s comments about Tim Thomas, Olczyk said it was surprising to hear the Canucks goalie talk that way.

“Regardless of how the question posed, you’re better off to be seen and not heard and just say, ‘Look, I’ve got my own issues in goal. I’m worried about how I’m playing. The other guy’s done a great job,’ and move from there,” Olczyk said. “So, I was a little bit surprised. I don’t know if he got caught up in the moment. Because I think Roberto Luongo has matured a lot. I think he’s grown up a lot over the last season-and-a-half, and expectations and what have you.”

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Game 6 countdown, noon: Tim Thomas in line for Conn Smythe? at 11:59 am ET
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Tim Thomas

Even if the Bruins lose Game 6 Monday night, there is speculation that Tim Thomas will win the Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP. At Canada’s Sportsnet website, Ian Mendes writes that he’s hearing from fellow media members Thomas is the favorite, but he makes a case for Thomas’ counterpart, Roberto Luongo. The premise of his argument is that Luongo had bad games in Boston when the Canucks were going to lose anyhow, so ignore those games and focus instead on how well he’s played in the rest of the playoffs.

The Toronto Star has five questions for Game 6, including the question: Which Bruin will step up and replace the clutch scoring of Nathan Horton? The last question, which will not sit well with Bruins fans, is: If the Canucks win, who will be the first players to handle the Stanley Cup?

♦ Following a relatively tame series against the Lightning, the Bruins have had no shortage of villains step forward for the Canucks. In the National Post, Sean Fitz-Gerald recaps and analyzes the controversy from the finals.

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Doc Emrick on D&C: ‘I think [Bruins] will win this one tonight’ at 10:57 am ET
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Mike Emrick

Stanley Cup finals play-by-play announcer Doc Emrick checked in with the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to offer his thoughts on Game 6. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Emrick picked the Bruins to win Monday night.

“I think the more desperate team stands to win,” Emrick said, adding: “The memory of Boston games here against Vancouver is a pretty strong and emphatic one. These were not close games. All three of the ones in Vancouver were one-goal games. So, I fully expect, I would not be shocked to look back at Vancouver for a Game 7.”

Emrick added that Game 7s are a “dice roll.”

“Pawtucket could beat the BoSox in a Game 7,” he said. “You get a couple of breaks, and all of a sudden you’re in there and you’re winning a game. The Bruins have been the underdogs the whole series, and there’s nothing says they can’t win a Game 7. I think they will win this one tonight, but there’s nothing that says they can’t take a seventh.”

Emrick said that plays like Alex Burrows bite and Aaron Rome’s illegal hit, regardless of how dirty they might have really been, have been useful in generating fan support for the Bruins.

“You don’t have to stretch too far to find villains in this one compared to others,” Emrick said. “I think the nature of the fouls and the grievances are the thing that make it unique compared to others. We haven’t had this many penalty minutes in a finals series in over 20 years.”

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Andy Brickley on D&C: ‘I don’t like the way [Canucks] play the game’ at 9:42 am ET
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Andy Brickley

NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley called in to the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to talk about the Stanley Cup finals and Game 6. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Brickley said that despite Vancouver’s home-ice domination during the Stanley Cup finals, the Canucks certainly aren’t going to sit back Monday night and wait to play Game 7 back home.

“They want to end this thing tonight, because anything can happen in Game 7,” Brickley said. “And you don’t know how you are going to come out of Game 6 in terms of your health.”

The Bruins, meanwhile, must counter with the determination to prevent the Canucks from celebrating on their ice.

“Not in our building, not in our house, not at the Garden,” Brickley said. “They do not win a Stanley Cup on here on our ice in front of our fans.”

Brickley said that Roberto Luongo’s trash-talking Tim Thomas was a case of “a guy that’s a little bit immature when it comes to dealing with the media.”

“I think there’s a hint of jealousy in what he’s saying about Tim Thomas,” Brickley said.

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Barry Pederson on D&C: Bruins ‘let Vancouver off the hook’ at 9:34 am ET
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NESN Bruins analyst Barry Pederson joined the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to discuss the Stanley Cup finals. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Pederson said he was surprised at the Bruins’ inability to match the Canucks’ intensity in Game 5 Friday night.

“Momentum has been funny this series,” Pederson said. “The Bruins had momentum going out to Vancouver and I thought let Vancouver off the hook. They didn’t make [Roberto] Luongo‘s life very difficult. They had four power plays, and all they needed was just even one to get some momentum. Vancouver, to me, was the far more desperate hockey club, outhitting and taking the play to the Bruins.”

Asked about Luongo’s comments regarding Tim Thomas, Pederson said Luongo may have been affected by all the pressure he faced going back to Vancouver and felt a little smug after posting a shutout following two routs in Boston.

“Tim Thomas has played spectacular this entire series, every game,” Pederson said. “Win, lose or draw, I think Tim Thomas is going to be your Conn Smythe winner anyway. To me, it was more of [Luongo] was just relieved they had won the game.”

Pederson talked about the Bruins’ matchups — specifically how they try to get defensemen Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg on the ice against the Canucks’ first line — and how it’s affected the attack.

“I think they work so hard at trying to get that, I think sometimes it takes away from your offense,” Pederson said. “If they’re able to win tonight, which I expect, then I would think maybe they may try to change things up a little bit [for Game 7] and maybe split Chara and Seidenberg so that one of two of those are on the ice every time.”

Pederson picked Milan Lucic as the key to the Bruins’ offensive success.

“I think that’s going to be the key for the Bruins, is attacking, five-man attack, get the forechecking game going and get the Garden crowd into this thing early on,” he said. “We said it all season long, obviously Thomas is the key in goal, but to me, the key person up front is Milan Lucic. He’s the key that sets the pace for this hockey club. He’s the guy that gets that puck dumped softly into the corner, making the defenseman turn around, and that’s defenseman knows — he can hear him coming — he knows it’s going to be a big hit. And as soon as that big hit happens, the Garden crowd goes crazy, momentum happens and the Bruins can get a team on the run.”

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