|Bruins light up Penguins in Game 2||06.03.13 at 10:36 pm ET|
PITTSBURGH — The Bruins offense has been the only one to show up offensively, and it led them to a 6-1 victory over the Penguins in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals Monday. The B’s now hold a 2-0 series lead after taking both games in Pittsburgh.
Brad Marchand, who had just two goals in the Bruins’ first 13 playoff games, turned in a big night with two goals, which came in the first and final minutes of the first period.
Sidney Crosby gave the puck away at the blue line on the first shift of the game, with Marchand racing his way to a breakaway and beating Tomas Vokoun with a wrist shot glove side. Goals from Nathan Horton and David Krejci in a two-minute span later in the period prompted Dan Bylsma to replace Vokoun with Marc-Andre Fleury.
Less than three minutes after the change, Brandon Sutter scored the Penguins’ first goal of the series with 34 seconds left in the first, but Patrice Bergeron‘s line negated any optimism the Penguins could have brought into the intermission by turning some good neutral zone work into a rush that resuled in Marchand’s second of the night with nine seconds left in the period.
The teams skated to a scoreless second period before Bergeron took a feed from Jaromir Jagr in the offensive zone with plenty of open net and made it 5-1. Johnny Boychuk poured salt on the wound with a slap shot goal from the point with just over a minute to play.
Interestingly enough, the last team to come back from an 0-2 deficit in the conference finals and win was the 1991 Penguins, who came back against the Bruins en route to winning the Stanley Cup. The series will head to Boston, with Game 3 being played Wednesday and Game 4 Friday.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
— The Penguins’ offensive stars have been duds through two games. Crosby had two bad turnovers, one of which led to a goal in the first minute of the game, and none of the Penguins’ top six forwards have managed a point through 120 minutes this series. Jarome Iginla got behind Zdeno Chara to set himself up for a good opportunity on a rebound from an Evgeni Malkin shot in the first period off a rush, but he fanned on it. Bylsma switched James Neal and Pascal Dupuis late in the second period.
|David Krejci: ‘We don’t have guys like [Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin], we have a team’||06.02.13 at 12:25 am ET|
The question was innocent enough. After scoring two more playoff goals in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals against Pittsburgh Saturday, David Krejci was asked if he considers himself in the same class as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
“No. Those guys, I think they’re the best players in the world at this moment,” he answered after Saturday’s 3-0 Bruins’ win in Game 1. “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, with seven goals and 12 assists, now leads all scorers in the Stanley Cup playoffs with 19 points. In yet another parallel with 2011, when the Bruins won it all, Krejci is leading the way. That year, Krejci had 12 goals and 11 assists in leading the Bruins to the Cup. The next three leading scorers in the playoffs are Penguins in Malkin (16 points), Kris Letang (16) and Crosby (15) and then another Bruin and Krejci line-mate in Nathan Horton, who scored the third and final goal of the night, and also has 15 points in the playoffs.
“I think Nathan played really well today,” Krejci said. “He set me up for my two goals. He scored a big one in the third. [Tuukka Rask] played pretty good, as well. I think it was pretty good effort by all the guys and a big win.”
Krejci was asked after his second goal that made it 2-0 whether it felt like the Bruins were playing with house money.
“I think so,” Krejci said. “You know, I think Tookes made some big saves in the third period. You know, that’s not our hockey, playing up and down. We want to play good defensively and play in their zone. They’re a good team, so it’s tough to do that. But the second goal was pretty big for our team. I think right after that we took over and kind of controlled the game from there.”
|Claude Julien: Tuukka Rask ‘wasn’t good, he was outstanding’||06.01.13 at 11:58 pm ET|
Claude Julien watched as his team scored first, then he scolded them for turnovers. Then the Bruins coach sat back and watched his team take Pittsburgh’s best punch and beat the Penguins, 3-0, in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals Saturday night at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.
The Bruins got a first period goal from David Krejci, the first of two on the night from the team’s leading scorer in these playoffs. In the second period, Julien said he was worried that the team was giving Pittsburgh too many chances.
“I thought for a while, halfway through the second period, I was saying to our players that we were turning too many pucks over in the neutral zone or just outside or inside the offensive blueline,” Julien said. “Sure enough, they’re a team that really takes advantage of those turnovers.
“We got caught into a run’and’gun type of game. I think we all know we’re not a team that does well in those run’and’gun games.
In the third period, we settled down, played more of our game. I think that’s why we spent more time in our own end and managed the puck better. I thought there was some average puck management in the second period, too. That’s what I mean, some of the passes they would intercept, we tried to hit our D, they would cut those off. Luckily, whatever little mistakes we made, Tuukka was up to the task.”
Rask stopped all 29 shots on the night and even took a shove from Sidney Crosby at the end of the second period, prompting a center ice scuffle as the teams went to the dressing room. Julien said Rask’s work with goaltending coach Bob Essensa all week paid off, preventing any possible rust from a six-day layoff.
“Bob has been with us all week,” Julien said. “He did some work with us before practice, worked on all the things he wanted to work on.
Those are all things that obviously helped us. [Rask] got some rest. So tonight, as far as I’m concerned, he wasn’t good, he was outstanding.”
Julien downplayed the scuffle at the end of the second period and didn’t go after public enemy No. 1 in Matt Cooke for his hit on Adam McQuaid in the first period that resulted in game misconduct on Cooke.
“I don’t know if it had any impact at all, to be honest with you,” Julien said when asked. “Again, I didn’t get a chance to look at it closely. I was asked that question on the bench. I can’t comment on that stuff. I didn’t see it clearly enough. Was he in that position ahead of time, that Cooke could see him in a vulnerable position? I don’t know. I’ll have to look at it.
“No matter what I say, the league will rule on that stuff and move forward with it. You got to trust, again, they’re going to make the right decision.”
As for the scuffle at the end of the second that also featured a fight between Patrice Bergeron and Evgeni Malkin and ended with a shouting match between captains Sidney Crosby and Zdeno Chara, Julien said that stuff happens.
“Whatever. I didn’t see everything happen except that there was a fight,” Julien said. “I saw Sidney push our goaltender as he’s skating off.
This is playoff hockey. Those things are going to happen. You don’t whine or complain about it, you just deal with it. What we had to deal with tonight was winning a hockey game. That’s all that mattered. Whichever way we took at the end of the night, that’s all that mattered.”
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|Pierre McGuire on M&M: Bruins need to goad Penguins ‘into a street fight’||05.31.13 at 12:09 pm ET|
NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Friday to talk about Saturday’s Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.
McGuire agreed with a suggestion from studio guest Lyndon Byers that the Bruins should try to take the Penguins out of their game by being physical.
“Absolutely, if I were Boston that’s all I’d be talking about, it turning it into a street fight early,” McGuire said. “I would take a page out of what Philadelphia did to Pittsburgh last year. They didn’t play nice with Pittsburgh, and Pittsburgh decided that they didn’t want to play nice and it got them out of their offense and their free flow and their attack game. It got them thinking more about retribution than about scoring goals.
“If I were Boston, that’s exactly what I’d try to do. Because that’s the one thing they have — Boston, that is — that a lot of teams in the league don’t have. They have four lines that can play. They have four lines that can bring some physical dimension. And they have four lines that can contribute offensively. But the one through four physical part is huge.”
Added McGuire: “If Boston can play a nasty game without taking penalties and goad Pittsburgh into getting off their game, that’s huge. And if Pittsburgh doesn’t retaliate and Boston gets a lot of penalties called against them and their power play is as good as we’ve seen, Boston’s going to be trouble.”
“If I were betting money, I’d say Bergeron against Crosby,” McGuire said. “They’re real good friends. It goes back to the ’05 World Junior. Crosby played on a line with Corey Perry and Patrice Bergeron. It goes back to the World Championships; they played together. They played in the Quebec Major Junior League against one another.
“A lot of people don’t know this: These guys are so close, they went on snowmobiling trips together in the winter during All-Star breaks when they weren’t playing in the All-Star Game, or during the lockout. Just so you have an idea how close these guys are. They’re extremely, extremely close.”
|Penguins not buying Bruins’ underdog talk||05.30.13 at 2:11 pm ET|
PITTSBURGH — The “B” on the Bruins’ jerseys should stand for “Boucher,” because the Bruins are taking a Guy Boucher-like approach to the Eastern Conference finals against the Penguins.
Two years ago, the then-Lightning coach played the underdog card strongly against the Bruins, saying that the Lightning would be hard-pressed to “solve” the “enigma” that was Tim Thomas. Now, it’s the Bruins who are volunteering just what an uphill climb they face, with Brad Marchand telling reporters Wednesday that the Bruins are “in over our heads” vs. the offensively loaded Penguins.
The Penguins aren’t buying it.
“I wouldn’t read into that too much at this point,” Sidney Crosby said after Thursday’s practice. “It doesn’t really matter who’s favored or who’s not. Two pretty good hockey teams who have gotten to this point and want the same thing, so all the other stuff doesn’t really matter.”
While the Penguins don’t have a problem with being labeled as favorites, they can appreciate that a team labeling itself the underdog is simply a means of trying to gain an us-against-the-world mentality.
“I think we’re pretty focused on just preparing ourselves,” Brooks Orpik said. “If that motivates them, then great for them. I think we have plenty of ways to motivate ourselves in here. Each team can motivate themselves however they want. That’s out of our control.”
|Matt Bartkowski on going home to Pittsburgh: ‘Everyone’s calling in their favors’ for tickets||05.29.13 at 5:45 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Going home again has its drawbacks. Just ask Matt Bartkowski.
The Bruins’ 24-year-old defenseman is headed back to where it all began for him and he couldn’t be more excited. But the homecoming for the native of nearby Mt. Lebanon, Pa., does have some obligations to fill.
“The last few years it’s been close [to] playing Pittsburgh in the playoffs and now it’s finally happening,” he said after practice on Wednesday. “I’m stoked up, pumped up and ready to go, and I’m sure the rest of these guys are. Everybody’s calling in their favors, this and that and all that crap. It just pumps us up and we’re ready to go.”
The homecoming was made possible the moment the Bruins beat the Rangers in Game 5 on Saturday, less than 24 hours after the Penguins eliminated the Senators, also in five games.
“You can’t believe how many times I’ve been asked that,” Bartkowski said of being asked about heading home. “It’s going to be awesome. I can’t think of any other way of it happening. Playing a role on the team now, and it’s playoff hockey. We’ve been looking at this match up for a while, especially me. It’s going to be awesome.”
When Bartkowski was growing up, his current teammate Jaromir Jagr was helping Mario Lemieux win back-to-back Cups in 1991 and ’92. The Penguins then went through a down period in the early 2000s before Sidney Crosby was drafted in 2005. Pittsburgh, home of the Steelers and Pirates, once again had the hockey bug.
“It died down for four years or so until Crosby got drafted,” Bartkowski said. “It’s the same thing with Jagr-Lemieux era. Now it’s the Crosby-Malkin era. Every time they get big players in Pittsburgh, it seems to jump-start all the little kids playing. It’s good for the area.
“With the Pirates doing [great], what do even you say about them? It’s pretty unfortunate. Every year they have a chance at the playoffs and then they kind of blow it. Once football season is over, it’s a hockey town. And especially with the talent they have now, it’s a hockey town once football season is over.”
His coach isn’t worried about Bartkowski being overwhelmed with it all.
“No, I don’t think so,” Claude Julien said. “I think it all depends how you approach it. He seems pretty excited, he’s looking forward to it. I think at the end of the day, he knows who he’s playing for. He wants to do well for his team. The better he does, the better he looks in everybody’s eyes, whether it’s his hometown that’s rooting for the other team or whether it’s us. I don’t see an issue with that; if anything, it’s a positive, it’s exciting. You know that he’s going to be ready to play.”
What’s interesting is that, as a defenseman, his idol didn’t play for the Penguins.
“Actually, it was [Scott Stevens] on the Devils,” Bartkowski recalled. “Any chance I got to watch a Devils game, I would. I remember in ’95, they played the Penguins in the playoffs.”
Reminded that it was Stevens who carved a reputation by laying out star players of other teams, like Eric Lindros in the 2000 playoffs, Bartkowski conceded, “Yeah, I don’t think you’d get away with those hits now. We talk about that sometimes.”
When Bartkowski, who was paired Wednesday with Dennis Seidenberg, gets on the ice, he won’t be worried about the fans, tickets or his hometown. The only names he’ll be concerned with are Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Jarome Iginla and the roster of the Penguins.
“I don’t know if many adjustments,” Bartkowski said. “Just making sure you’re hard on the puck and playing as physical as you can in every situation that you can. Don’t get yourself out of position but be as physical as you can.”
|Matt Bartkowski on M&M: ‘It’s not my call’ who suits up for Bruins||05.28.13 at 2:16 pm ET|
Bruins defenseman Matt Bartkowski checked in with Mut & Merloni on Tuesday afternoon to chat about the upcoming Eastern Conference finals against the Penguins.
Bartkowski and fellow call-up Torey Krug have played well since joining the team in the postseason following injuries to veteran blueliners. With Andrew Ference and Wade Redden back skating with the team, coach Claude Julien might soon have to make a roster decision.
“I don’t really think about it too much,” Bartkowski said. “I’m just trying to keep playing and assuming that I am going to play in the games. It’s not my call once it comes down it, who plays. All I can really do is put my best foot forward and see what happens.”
Bartkowski said the fact that he started the postseason playing in the AHL rather than sitting in Boston has played to his advantage.
“I think it was key that I went back down to play in Providence,” he said. “I think if I was just sitting up here and riding the bike, I don’t think I could have played the way I have. We were playing playoff hockey in Providence. It’s not the same level or speed or anything like that, but all in all, it’s still playoff hockey and you’ve got to bring the same intensity. That made a world of difference in being able to prepare for the role I’ve assumed up here.”
“Pittsburgh, you don’t want to call them an All-Star team, but they’ve got a lot of high-end talent,” he said. “I guess they’re more of a risk-reward team [than the Rangers]. I think it will be a pretty good matchup. We’re pretty defensively sound and we’re a strong team. It will be a fun series to play in.”