|Guy Boucher: ‘I highly doubt’ Patrice Bergeron will miss Game 2||05.16.11 at 3:58 pm ET|
It’s hard to know what to expect for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals given the uncertainty that surrounds Patrice Bergeron. The Bruins center has skated the last three days and participated in Monday’s practice, but coach Claude Julien still isn’t saying when the center will be back for the B’s. Amidst the fog that clouds Bergeron’s status, the Lightning have an easy strategy: assume the Bruins’ points leader this postseason will play.
This isn’t the first time the Lightning have been through this, after all. Tampa Bay faced the Sidney Crosby-less Penguins in the first round, but kept the mindset going into each game that Crosby would return to the lineup. They’re taking the same approach with the Bruins and Bergeron.
“We prepared for him playing for the first game, so we’re preparing for him just like we did with Pittsburgh,” Lightning coach Guy Boucher said Monday. “We told the players Sidney was going to play every game, and that’s the way we approach it.”
Bergeron has been out for the B’s since leaving Game 4 of the conference finals in the third period following a hit from Claude Giroux. He leads Boston with 12 points in the playoffs, and has arguably been the team’s best player this postseason. As a result, when the Lightning prepare as though he’ll play, they have a lot to prepare for.
“We know how important he is to the team,” Boucher said of the 25-year-old. “He’s a great player. He’s a great individual. And that usually has a tendency to uplift your team in terms of confidence, and we know the impact he’s got on the faceoff. So obviously his team’s going to start with the puck a lot more often.
“It changes a lot of things in terms of the way the game is going to develop. So we’re expecting him to be there for the opening faceoff, and if he’s not, which I highly doubt, I think he’s going to be there. It just makes it way harder.”
Julien clearly isn’t willing to venture to guess as to when the B’s will have Bergeron back, but if Boucher’s guess is correct, the Bruins coach will be happiest of all.
|Bruins aren’t only team coming off a big win as Blackhawks come to town||03.29.11 at 4:04 am ET|
This time of year, some teams are already eliminated or close to it, and getting two points on a particular night is no longer a top priority. That’s why the Bruins’ recent schedule has made for some very interesting hockey. The B’s last six games have been against teams either in the playoffs or competing for a spot. Tuesday should feature another very intriguing matchup, as both the B’s and Blackhawks are coming off big victories that teams try to build momentum off of, especially given that the playoffs are just a couple of weeks away.
The Blackhawks are coming off an overtime win against Detroit Monday night in which former Red Wing Marian Hossa buried the game-winner on the power play. Chicago is eighth in the Western Conference, so they have every reason to bring everything they can Tuesday.
The Bruins, of course, are coming off a 2-1 victory in Philadelphia that saw both the appearance of a successful power play (2-for-3) and the return of Brad Marchand‘s scoring, as he picked up the game-winner for his 20th goal of the season and first strike in 13 games.
WHERE IT’S AT
– The Bruins are 18-12-5 at TD Garden this season, and it’s been a mixed bag for the B’s at home of late. After a huge 7-0 win over the Canadiens Thursday, the B’s struggled to get shots past Rangers bodies and on netminder Henrik Lundqvist Saturday.
– Chicago has won its last two road games after dropping the previous four. The Blackhawks haven’t been to the Garden since last season, when they took a 5-2 victory on Jan. 7.
If there’s one thing the Blackhawks are capable of, it is taking an opponent to overtime while playing on the road. The Blackhawks have gone into overtime 10 times on the road this season and have a league-high eight overtime/shootout losses on the road. Their overall record on the road is 18-11-8.
– The third line of Chris Kelly between Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley has looked good, but it has not produced. Seguin has just one goal in his last 14 games (dating back to before the line was in existence), while both Kelly and Peverley have totaled zero points and each have a minus-3 rating over their last five contests.
– The Blackhawks’ 3.13 goals per game on the road is second only to the Red Wings for tops in the NHL. The Red Wings certainly helped that number when they put six goals past Bruins goaltenders at TD Garden back on February 11, to the B’s will have to hope the Blackhawks don’t do the same.
– Tim Thomas has a bit more breathing room for the league lead in goals against average and save percentage. Thomas has led both categories since the second game of the season, but came one hundredth of a goal from being tied with Pekka Rinne after last Saturday’s loss to the Maple Leafs. After allowing just one goal over his last two starts, Thomas is now a tenth of a goal ahead of Rinne with a 2.00 GAA.
– Milan Lucic has zero shots on goal over the last two games, while his center in David Krejci has totaled one over the same span. Despite leading the Bruins with 30 goals, Lucic is fourth on the B’s in shots on goal with 160. He’s far enough behind the likes of Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron and Nathan Horton that his three games missed don’t seem to play a huge factor in the statistic.
STORYLINES GOING IN
– Will Michael Ryder be a healthy scratch in consecutive games for the first time all season? Ryder watched Sunday’s game from the press box while Daniel Paille got in the lineup for the Bruins. If Ryder does return, it will likely be on Gregory Campbell‘s line.
-The Blackhawks know they need to keep the pedal to the medal after their win against Detroit. After Tuesday, the eighth-place Blackhawks will have played two more games than the Stars, who trail them by four points. This should mean the Bruins could see a very hungry team.
Not exactly a storyline related to this game, but if you have the NHL Center Ice package, it might be worth it to check out the Penguins-Flyers game during commercials. Despite a rut in February, the Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin-less Penguins have been able to get the job done so well that a victory in regulation would give them as many points as the Flyers at 100. If the Penguins hope to take the division they’ll have to finish with more points than Philadelphia, as the Flyers hold the tiebreaker with less overtime/shootout wins.
|Pens show Bruins they’re a lot more than just Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin||03.05.11 at 11:10 pm ET|
Without superstars Sidney Crosby [concussion] and Evgeni Malkin [right knee], the Penguins got two goals from HBO “24/7″ star Dustin Jeffrey, including the game winner less than two minutes into overtime to come away with a 3-2 win over the Bruins, snapping Boston’s seven-game winning streak.
Crosby or no Crosby, Malkin or no Malkin, the Penguins played exactly the kind of hockey that wins in the playoffs. It’s not superstar hockey, it’s team hockey. What exactly is that?
“They’re a lot more hard-working,” Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk said. “Their hard work takes over [for] their skill. When they have those other guys in, there’s a lot of skill in there and they still work hard, but they try to make different plays than they would if they had those guys in the lineup. They just got the [puck] in deep and just tried to keep as much time in our zone as possible.”
B’s coach Claude Julien had his own take.
“Obviously, they’re missing some star players,” Julien noted. “We thought one of our best forwards tonight was missing, too. You have to adjust to those kinds of things and what it boils down to is the team play. And that’s what they did tonight, they played a good team game.
“They were forechecking hard, they were on top of us. Even when we got the puck in the neutral zone, they didn’t give us much time. They really skated hard and took away our time and space and they did a good job of that. I think that’s where their success came from tonight. When you work hard enough, eventually you get rewarded, and they got a break there at the end and were able to score in OT.”
|Tyler Seguin says All Star weekend will be surreal||01.27.11 at 12:15 am ET|
While most of his teammates will be going home this weekend, Tyler Seguin will be heading to North Carolina to participate in the rookie SuperSkills competition as part of the All Star festivities. He said he’s looking forward to being around some of the game’s biggest stars for the weekend.
“I’m still a fan,” Seguin said. “I was watching the NHL like any other fan last year and now I’m on the ice, so it’s starting to be a surreal experience.”
When asked if he was going to ask anyone for autographs, Seguin said he might have to, but that he would be “low-key” about it. He added that his sister is going to be disappointed because Sidney Crosby had to back out of the game with a concussion.
“I was supposed to ask Crosby if he wanted to date my sister, too,” he said. “That’s not going to work out now that he’s gone.”
|Bruins look to rebound from loss to Canadiens as they take on Penguins in Pittsburgh||01.10.11 at 2:03 am ET|
The Bruins (21-12-7) are in the midst of a rather tough stretch in their schedule, and it continues Monday night against the Penguins (26-13-4) in Pittsburgh. While the Penguins, whose 56 points are the second-most in the Eastern Conference, are looking for their first win without Sidney Crosby (concussion), the Bruins are simply looking for anything that can make people forget about their collapse against the Canadiens Saturday night in a 3-2 overtime loss.
WHERE IT’S AT
– The Penguins are 14-8-1 at CONSOL Energy Center, and only the Capitals and Canadiens have more home points this season. On Saturday, they dropped a 4-0 contest to the Wild at home.
– Despite getting one point in a game in which they should have had two in Montreal, the B’s continue to rack up the points on the road. They are 12-5-4 in away games and haven’t lost a road contest in regulation since Dec. 16.
– Zero. That’s how many shots Milan Lucic, Marc Savard, and David Krejci combined for on Saturday. Especially in Lucic’s case, that’s about as inexcusable as it gets for a leading goal-scorer, and as we pointed out after the game, it’s something that has happened eight times this season.
– Kris Letang, one of four Penguins voted into the All-Star game in the fan-balloting process, is fourth among defensemen with 36 points. That’s already a career-high for the 23-year old, and he’s on pace to finish his fourth season with 69 points. Letang leads the Penguins with a plus-21 rating.
– If you’re a fan of power play goals, you might want to watch a different game. Over the last nine games, the Penguins are 3-for-32 on the man advantage, while the B’s are 3-for-27. The Bruins have gone five games without a power play goal.
To make matters worse for each team’s power play, they’ll be going against stiff competition. The Penguins and Bruins’ penalty kills rank first and seventh in the league, respectively.
STORYLINES GOING IN
– What will the Bruins’ blueline look like? The Bruins recalled Matt Bartkowski on an emergency basis Sunday, and reports indicate he’ll take the place of Adam McQuaid in the lineup. The Bruins have been mum on what ails McQuaid. Maybe he caught the “discomfort” that’s going around.
Speaking of which, whether or not Nathan Horton makes his way back into the lineup is another thing to keep an eye on. “Discomfort” is the only word of information the B’s will divulge regarding why the 25-year-old missed Saturday’s game.
Regardless of who the B’s have out, they won’t have the right to complain while in Pittsburgh. Crosby, who still leads the league with 32 goals and 66 points, has been out for the last two games, with the team going 0-1-1 in his absence.
– The Bruins pulled off a memorable one vs. Penguins last time they were in town. The B’s came back from a 4-2 deficit with five third-period goals and took a 7-4 victory behind a three-point night from Mark Recchi on Nov. 10.
– Will the Lucic-Savard-Ryder line live to see another day? With the way it performed on Saturday (two shots on goal, both of which were from Michael Ryder), Bruins fans should hope not. Savard just isn’t himself, and his presence on a top line isn’t helping the B’s quest for offense right now.
– While on the subject of Savard, Monday will be the center’s first trip back to Pittsburgh since suffering his concussion on a hit from Matt Cooke last March 7.
– This will be the first of two match-ups between the two teams over the next week. After the B’s leave Pittsburgh, they will return to the Garden, where they will face the Senators and Flyers this week before hosting the Penguins on Saturday. After Saturday, the two teams won’t meet again until they close out their season series on March 5.
|Mike Milbury on D&H: ‘Tuukka Rask is the future of this franchise’||01.05.11 at 12:52 pm ET|
NESN and NBC Sports hockey analyst Mike Milbury checked in for his weekly visit with the Dale & Holley show Wednesday to talk about the Bruins and the NHL. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
Milbury said the calls for Claude Julien to be fired during the Bruins’ recent slump were uncalled for. “I didn’t think it was fair,” Milbury said. “I mean, here’s a guy a year just removed a year from the Coach of the Year award and a team that was second overall in the National Hockey League, and I know the story of the collapse as well as anybody, but one game from the conference championship. Then he comes into this season and because of bumps in the road, all of a sudden it’s all his fault.”
Added Milbury: “I don’t think at any time did Peter Chiarelli have in mind that this was Claude Julien’s fault.”
Describing Julien’s coaching attributes, Milbury said: “I think he’s an honest, diligent coach who’s fair to his players. I think he’s a very even-keeled coach. He’s not a ranter or a screamer. I don’t think there’s as much room for that in today’s game with today’s player as there was in previous years. ‘¦ I think he’s a good coach.”
Milbury has consistently preached that the Bruins need to give more playing time to Tuukka Rask because he is the obvious goalie of the future in Boston while Tim Thomas is toward the end of his career. In the past week, Rask was pulled after one period of a loss to the Sabres but inserted the following game and delivered in a 2-1 win over the Maple Leafs.
“I think they’ve been a little unfair to Tuukka Rask,” Milbury said. “I think they yanked the chance to be the No. 1 goaltender. And again, we’ve kind of gone through this before, but Thomas has been incredible. But Tuukka Rask is the future of this franchise in terms of goaltending. I don’t think he deserves to be given second-tier status or backup status. I would have thought they would have gone to two No. 1 goaltenders for a while. And I was happy he got back in net. I’ve been wanting to see more of Tuukka Rask, because I think down the line, they’re going to need him. It was a great sign that he bounced back. It was a great sign that they gave him an opportunity and a great sign that he bounced back.”
|Tim Thomas not voted to All-Star Game by fans||01.04.11 at 1:39 pm ET|
On Tuesday, the NHL announced the six players chosen in the fan vote for the upcoming All-Star Game. Only the Penguins and Blackhawks were represented, as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Marc-Andre Fleury will represent Pittsburgh, while Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith will go from Chicago.
In last week’s voting update, Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas was fourth among netminders in votes. He still has the opportunity to be one of the 36 additional All-Stars announced on Jan. 11. Thomas leads the league with a .945 save percentage and a 1.80 goals-against average. He is tied for the NHL lead with five shutouts.
Fleury, meanwhile is fifth in the league with a 2.31 GAA and 12th in the league with a .918 save percentage. He has 17 wins to Thomas’ 18. Detroit’s Jimmy Howard leads the NHL with 20 wins.
The 2011 All-Star game will be played on Jan. 30 in Raleigh, N.C.