|James Neal has phone hearing for kneeing Brad Marchand in head||12.07.13 at 11:25 pm ET|
Shawn Thornton isn’t the only player who figures to be suspended for their actions in Saturday night’s game between the Bruins and Penguins, as Penguins forward James Neal will have a phone hearing for kneeing Brad Marchand in the head.
Because it’s a phone hearing, any suspension for Neal will be five or less games. Thornton’s is in person, which would allow the league to suspend him for more than five games.
Marchand had fallen to the ice after some stick work from Sidney Crosby, at which point Neal glided by and stuck out his left leg to hit him in the head.
“I was skating by him. I haven’t like seen the replay or anything so I mean I hit him in the head with my leg or my foot or my knee or shin area I don’t know,” Neal said after the game. “But I mean, he’s already going down and I guess I need to try to avoid him, but I have to look at it again. I haven’t gotten a chance to look at it.”
Asked if he intended to hit him in the head, Neal, who has twice been suspended by the league, denied it.
“I mean, what do you want me to say? That I was trying to hit him? No, I’m going by him, I don’t get out of the way like I said,” he said. “I need to be more careful and I guess get my knee out of the way, but I’m not trying to hit him in the head or injure him or anything like that.”
Marchand was clearly told by the Bruins to not divulge his thoughts on the situation. Asked whether he saw the replay, Marchand happily and confidently replied, “no.” He gave the same response when asked if he had an opinion on the play.
“I can’t comment on this, guys,” Marchand said after a few questions. “I know you guys can tell I can’t comment. You know I want to, but I can’t.”
Marchand didn’t even honestly shed light on Crosby’s role in the play.
“I think I just tripped myself,” he said. “Tough skates today. Two left feet.”
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma admitted that the play could have been avoided.
“It was a sequence there where I think Marchand and Sid were in it physically,” Bylsma said. “Marchand went down as Neal was skating by, and he didn’t really make an attempt to get out of the way on Marchand.”
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|Torey Krug OT hero as Bruins overcome Sidney Crosby’s last-second goal||11.25.13 at 9:42 pm ET|
Torey Krug one-upped Sidney Crosby‘s late heroics as the rookie defenseman netted the overtime winner in a 4-3 Bruins win Monday at TD Garden.
With the win, the B’s improved to 16-6-2 with a conference-leading 34 points. Tuukka Rask made 28 saves for his 13th win of the season.
Crosby had scored with 0.3 seconds left in the third period to send the game into overtime. In doing so he made up for the Bruins’ go-ahead goal with 5:15 remaining in regulation in which he tipped a Zdeno Chara slap shot past Marc-Andre Fleury.
The Bruins got on the board in the first period when Loui Eriksson beat Fleury with a nice backhander following some nice stickwork off a pass from Carl Soderberg. Minutes later, with Pascal Dupuis in the box for hooking Soderberg, it was Soderberg coming up with another big play as he assisted Reilly Smith‘s fifth goal of the year.
The Penguins got back into it 37 seconds into the second period when Jussi Jokinen fed James Neal, who beat Rask stick-side high with a wrist shot. Neal then tied it with his second of the night with a wrist shot from the left faceoff dot that beat Rask glove side high with less than nine minutes remaining in regulation.
The Bruins were once again without Dennis Seidenberg and Adam McQuaid. Seidenberg skated for the first time since last week’s injury Monday morning and missed his second game, while McQuaid has been skating since last Monday but has missed the team’s last eight games.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- For the second straight game, the Bruins went with one defenseman and three forwards in overtime in an aggressive attempt to avoid a shootout, and it paid off once again. Krug netted the game-winner while skating with Patrice Bergeron‘s line a game after Johnny Boychuk was out there with David Krejci‘s line for Saturday’s game-winner.
- Soderberg is really coming into his own with the B’s. He played a major role in both of the Bruins’ first period goals, taking the puck the other way after Brooks Orpik fanned on a point shot and sending it over to Eriksson entering the Pittsburgh zone. He also drew the penalty on Dupuis to give the B’s a power play and provided a laser of a pass from down low to Smith in front for the B’s power-play goal.
Soderberg now has six points (2 G, 4 A) over his last five games.
- Smith also finds himself amidst something of a hot streak, as the 22-year-old now has goals in back-to-back games and has five points (3 G, 2 A) over his last five contests.
- Chara saved a goal when, with Rask laid out after a save on Dupuis, he knocked the puck out of the crease before Crosby could poke it in.
- Eriksson had gone three games without a point, but with a goal and an assist he got back to the pace at which he was producing earlier in the month. Even with no points over the previous contests, Eriksson has nine points (3 G, 6 A) over his last 10 games.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- Johnny Boychuk took a Dupuis stick to the face with about three minutes to go and had to go down the tunnel. He didn’t miss any time, however, as he returned to the bench during the next TV timeout and took his next shift.
- Two of them went in, but the Bruins only had five shots on goal in the first period. The Penguins landed 10 of the first 11 shots on goal in a period that saw them set up shop in the Boston zone, and Chris Kunitz could have scored twice on his first shift were it not for the right pad of Rask.
The good thing for the Bruins was that they were able to quiet the Penguins in the first after Pittsburgh’s hot start. The Penguins didn’t get another shot on goal in the period after their 10th, a Brandon Sutter bid at 8:27 of the first.
- The Bartkowski-Boychuk pairing was beaten twice by Neal and Jokinen, as the pairing was on the ice for both of Neal’s goals. Boychuk was caught up ice and left Bartkowski back as the only defenseman in front on Neal’s first goal, while Boychuk was tangled up with the puck prior to the second goal.
|Make no mistake: Sidney Crosby is no Wayne Gretzky||06.08.13 at 9:43 pm ET|
The 25-year-old Crosby, who just finished his eighth year in the NHL, is an immensely talented hockey player. He forms one half of the ‘Mega Powers’ with teammate Evgeni Malkin for good reason, but the alleged modern-day Gretzky falls short in one area: While Crosby may be great, he is far from The Great One.
Crosby did not register one point in the Bruins’ four game sweep of the Penguins.
‘If you look back, the chances were there,’ Crosby said. ‘You try to fight, you try to get through to the net and get rebounds, and sometimes they come to you, sometimes they don’t. But obviously, you score two goals as a team in four games and virtually we go without any points. That doesn’t sit very well.’
There are definitely similarities between the two superstars. Both players hail from Canada and entered the league soon after their 18th birthdays. Crosby became the first teenager to lead the NHL in scoring since Gretzky achieved the feat in 1980. Just like Wayne, Sid the Kid has captured the Hart Trophy. Both players have hoisted the Stanley Cup, and there is no denying that both are wonderful ambassadors for the game of hockey. The similarities, at least up to this point in Crosby’s career, do not extend much further.
‘When you’re the best player in the league and you’re the face of the NHL, you are always judged by a tougher standard,’ said ESPN hockey analyst Barry Melrose. ‘Sidney’s judged by a very tough standard. If he doesn’t go out and get a goal every night, or get two or three assists every night, people say he’s in a slump.’
Slump or no slump, Crosby was unable to create any offense against the Bruins. Unlike Gretzky, The Kid could not find a way to lead his team. The Great One spent a decade of pure dominance in Edmonton, putting such a fork in the Islanders dynasty that it is rarely ever discussed. He won the Stanley Cup on four occasions with the Oilers before resuscitating professional hockey in Los Angeles. As incredible as Gretzky’s numbers were in the regular season, his work in the playoffs was simply on another level. Gretzky holds the record for most points in one playoff year with 47 in 1985, which was accomplished in only 19 games (the Bruins, by comparison, have already played 16 games this postseason). He dished out 31 assists during the 1988 playoffs, with 10 of those coming at the expense of the Bruins in the Stanley Cup finals. Gretzky was always judged by an incredibly high standard: the one that he set for himself.
Crosby is also judged by a higher standard, but he came up short this postseason. Crosby’s performance likely spells the end for Pens coach Dan Bylsma. Earlier this season, Bylsma became the fastest coach ever to win 200 games. He likely will soon be known as the former coach of the Penguins, joining John Tortorella as the second coach to be dismissed after an embarrassing playoff loss to Claude Julien‘s big, bad Bruins.
|David Krejci: ‘We might have the best team in the world’||06.07.13 at 11:58 pm ET|
“We don’t have the superstars on this team. We don’t have the best player in the world. But we might have the best team in the world,” said Krejci. “We play as a team.”
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard Krejci talk about the “best players in the world.” After a 3-0 Game 1 victory, Krejci compared the Penguins to the Bruins.
‘Those guys, I think they’re the best players in the world at this moment. There’s no one like those guys. On the other hand, we don’t have guys like that. We have a team. We all play as a team,’ Krejci said at the time.
The Bruins forward is the team leader in points, goals, and assists this postseason, but has stressed a team-first mentality throughout.
“In the playoffs you need everyone to step up at one point,” answered Krejci. “Tuukka [Rask] has been doing it, defensemen have been doing it, and forwards have been doing it. If you want to go far in the playoffs you need more than just one or two lines to score goals.”
Fifteen different Bruins players have scored goals so far this playoffs.
|Sidney Crosby says his scoring drought isn’t weighing on him, but it seems like it is||at 12:52 pm ET|
Sidney Crosby is finding no silver lining when it comes to his scoring drought.
In going the first three games without a point, Crosby is in his longest scoreless streak in since November of 2009. He won a faceoff against Patrice Bergeron in Game 3 to set up a Chris Kunitz goal, but through three games this series, he has a total of zero points and is a minus-2.
“Sometimes that’s the way it goes,” he said when asked if his drought has been a weight on his shoulders. “You get chances and they don’t go in. Unfortunately they haven’t the first few. You’ve got to trust that they will. I don’t think it’s something that I’ve thought about too much, to be honest with you.”
Here’s the thing, though. Evgeni Malkin doesn’t have a point, either. Nor do Jarome Iginla, James Neal or Kris Letang. Yet all anyone’s talking about is Crosby. As a captain, he could welcome the heat as a means of letting his teammates avoid criticism as the Penguins trying to get back in the series. Does he?
“I don’t welcome not scoring,” Crosby said.
“I want to score,” he said. “I think that everybody wants to. The playoffs are tight-checking. You have to realize that you have to take advantage of your chances, but if you don’t, you’ve got to find ways to put it in. There’s no way around it. There’s no trying to make something positive of it besides [recognizing] they’re good chances. You’ve got to find a way to score goals.”
The Penguins have just two goals this series.
Pittsburgh radio host Mark Madden, who earned the enmity of Bruins fans earlier in the week when he insisted that Tuukka Rask is a mediocre goalie, joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday morning and was asked if his opinion has changed now that the Bruins have a 3-0 series lead.
“God knows, he’s had trouble winning the fourth game in the past, so I’d rather reserve judgment,” Madden said of Rask. “He’s played very well, the goalposts have done very well, too.
“But to me, the story of this series has been [David] Krejci and the job Claude Julien has done outcoaching Dan Bylsma,” Madden continued. “Bylsma did a better job in the third game, but he waited 120 minutes to make adjustments he should have been making after 40. Whereas Claude Julien has been one step ahead all the time. He’s coached an excellent series. Gutsy lineup change yanking [Matt] Bartkowski and putting [Andrew] Ference back in, but Ference has played very well. Those are the guys I give primary credit to.
“The Penguins just have not had an answer for David Krejci. He plays such a quiet game, but I mean that in a good way. Before you know it he’s open, a split-second after that it’s in the net. He’s just been amazing.”
“I think Crosby’s played a bigger role in Crosby’s disappearance,” Madden said. “I’ve got to be honest, the Penguins as a team have not handled adversity well, which is a disturbing pattern in the last four playoff years. I thought that the stars played a bit better for the Penguins in Game 3. But still, a loss is a loss, there’s no moral victories. And Crosby, [Evgeni] Malkin and [Kris] Letang have no points between them and are a combined minus-12. Like Mario Lemieux always used to say, ‘When you make the most money, you’ve got to do the most.’ And those guys make the most money.”
Matt Cooke, already reviled in Boston, has not earned any new friends with his chippy play in this series. Madden said he expects Cooke to be playing elsewhere next season.
Said Madden: “Matt Cooke is perceived by a lot of people — and I bought into it at first — into having a good playoffs because he’s [doing] a good job on the penalty kill and he’s been a good forechecker. But he has zero goals in the playoffs. How can any forward on the top three lines be perceived to be having a good playoffs if he has zero goals? Plus, he’s taken a ton of penalties. The Penguins will be well rid of Matt Cooke. That’s not to say he won’t help another team. But they’re just tired of his act. That’s in the locker room, too. ‘¦ Guys are just tired of having to clean up his messes.”
|Sidney Crosby: ‘I thought we deserved better’||06.06.13 at 12:14 pm ET|
And in the mind of the superstar, that’s a starting point for trying to get back in an Eastern Conference final series they trail 3-0 heading into Game 4 Friday night at TD Garden.
“Unfortunately, we’re kind of comparing Game 2, and we didn’t give ourselves a chance, so we can’t get that one back,” Crosby said. “We gave that one to them so-to-speak. We did a lot better job tonight, but that doesn’t guarantee anything. We do a lot of these same things, and I think we all trust and believe we can get this back to Pittsburgh.
“I think we responded pretty well. Unfortunately, that Game 2 nobody really liked the way that turned out, and what happened there. I thought we responded well and did everything we could have besides get that last one.”
Crosby had three of Pittsburgh’s 54 shots on the night and was a plus-1 for the night. He best scoring chance might have been a shot when he wasn’t even facing the net.
Late in the first period, and with the Penguins down, 1-0, Crosby was spun around in front of Tuukka Rask and flipped a backhander on goal. The shot rang off the post as Rask was caught slightly out of position.
“I didn’t’ really know where the net was, but I heard it hit the post,” Crosby said. “Obviously it was kind of a scrambled play but it would have been nice for it to go in.”
Evgeni Malkin had 10 shots on goal but he and Crosby are still scoreless in the series through three games.
“I think if we play the same way we’re going to get our chances,” Crosby said. “I thought we generated more scoring chances than them, and I thought we deserved better.
“I think the whole game we felt really comfortable with our play. I think we felt like it was just a matter of time before we were going to get it. Unfortunately they didn’t, and hung around, and got the one at the end.”
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