|Tim Thomas shuts out Canucks, Bruins even series||06.08.11 at 10:57 pm ET|
By DJ Bean and Scott McLaughlin
The Bruins evened the Stanley Cup finals up at two games apiece Wednesday night at TD Garden, chasing Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo on the way to a 4-0 win. Tim Thomas picked up his third shutout of the playoffs.
Rich Peverley, seeing time on the first line with Nathan Horton out for the remainder of the playoffs, had a two-goal night for the Bruins. His second of the night chased Luongo in the third period, making way for Marblehead native and former Boston College goalie Cory Schnieder. Peverley had entered the game with two goals the entire postseason.
Michael Ryder and Brad Marchand also scored for the B’s. Both players have scored in consecutive games.
As for Thomas, he has now allowed only five goals over his last five games, and one goal over the last two. He took a vicious hack at Alexandre Burrows after the Vancouver winger cross-checked him in the third period. Thomas took a slashing minor for the play.
The pre-game ceremonies were topped off by Bruins legend Bobby Orr waving a No. 18 flag in honor of Horton. With the B’s leading in the third period, chants of “Nathan Horton” filled the arena.
The B’s and Canucks will head to Vancouver for Friday’s Game 5. The teams will return to the Garden for Game 6 on Monday, the last Bruins’ home game of the season.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- Claude Julien‘s decision to give both Peverley and Ryder time on the first line in place of Horton paid off. David Krejci gave a nice pass to Peverley in the neutral zone in the first period, and Peverley flew past Raffi Torres en route to beating Luongo on a breakaway. Even following the goal, Ryder continued to see time with Krejci and Milan Lucic. Lucic and Krejci picked up assists on Peverley’s third-period goal, which chased Luongo from the game.
- Marchand was clearly a man on a mission, and for the second straight game, he was able to cash in. No, his second-period goal wasn’t anywhere near as pretty as his shorthanded goal in Game 3, but he certainly displayed a high level of skill and fanciness in putting together sound rushes. He also displayed his signature feistiness, though he needed to be calmed down a couple of times after dives from Henrik Sedin.
- We wrote here after Game 3 that the Bruins did a good job exposing Luongo’s weak glove — three of Monday’s goals beat the netminder high to the glove side. Ryder continued that trend in Game 4 when he snapped off a fluttering shot that Luongo just waved at with the leather. Luongo might’ve been screened a bit by his own defenseman, but it was still a shot he should’ve had. It wasn’t a rocket and it wasn’t a snipe — it was actually only about two feet off the ice. Not every shot high-glove is going to go in, but the Bruins would be well-advised to keep shooting there until Luongo proves he can stop it.
- When it came to his normal role as a third-liner, Ryder got some help from an old friend in Tyler Seguin. The rookie turned in a characteristically timid play in the Canucks’ zone, stopping short of going in the corner and allowing the Canucks to break it out as a result, but made up for it later in the shift by feeding Ryder.
Seguin’s assist was his first point since Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals. The Bruins are going to need both Ryder and Seguin to turn in big performances going forward, and on Wednesday Seguin showed that the good can outweigh the growing pains.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- When Peverley scored with 8:01 left in the first, shots were 7-5 Vancouver. Whether the Bruins eased up a little after the goal or the Canucks just picked up their play, shots for the rest of the period were 5-1 in favor of Vancouver. The Canucks didn’t generate a ton of sustained pressure or long offensive-zone possessions, but they were able to get shots on rushes and force Thomas to make some quality saves. The shot deficit carried over into the second, as Vancouver registered eight of the period’s first nine shots. The Bruins pressured Vancouver’s defense plenty during the first eight minutes of the second — even controlled play at times — but they couldn’t translate it into shots.
-At 16:10 of the first period, Marchand was called for cross-checking Kevin Bieksa. At full speed, it was easy to see why the ref thought it was a penalty, but replay showed that it was a pretty soft call. Bieksa had lost an edge and was already falling to the ice when Marchand barely got his stick on Bieksa’s back. Luckily, it didn’t cost the Bruins thanks to another great penalty kill.
Bieksa later rewrote the book on embellishment when he grabbed his face following a check from Mark Recchi in the third period. He apparently sold it well enough, as Recchi was sent to the box for high-sticking despite not making contact with his face in any way. Yes, Recchi should have controlled his stick better, but that’s a tough break when you don’t commit the infraction.
|Rich Peverley starts out on first line||at 7:49 pm ET|
The question that has been on everyone mind since Nathan Horton’s season was announced as over was answered Wednesday in warmups. Rich Peverley skated on the first line, meaning is the team’s first option at filling in for Horton on the team’s top line. Tyler Seguin is skating on the third line with Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder.
Join DJ Bean, Mike Petraglia and many others from TD Garden for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals. The Bruins trail the Canucks, 2-1, in the series.
|Barry Melrose on M&M: ‘Boston has to win this game to have a chance of winning this series’||at 2:45 pm ET|
ESPN hockey analyst Barry Melrose joined the Mut & Merloni show Wednesday afternoon to talk about the Stanley Cup finals and Wednesday night’s Game 4. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
When asked if he would be sitting with the Green Men at the game, Melrose joked: “I stay away from the Green Men. I can’t even believe they got into the country. I’m a little embarrassed about letting those guys in.”
He added: “We keep al-Qaida out, but we let these two guys in? What’s that all about?”
Melrose said that the finger-taunting in Game 3 has helped made this series an exciting one. However, it may come back to bite Boston in Game 4.
“I think [Alexandre] Burrows should’ve been suspended,” Melrose said. “I said that from Day 1. I think that if he would’ve been suspended that would’ve put away the finger crap. But I like the finger stuff. I thought it was funny. I had some fun with it. It’s interesting. Five years from now when we’re talking about this series, what are we going to talk about? We’re going to be talking about that stuff with the fingers and [Milan] Lucic and Burrows and stuff like that. I have no problem with that. It’s interesting. But, the NHL doesn’t want it.
“Obviously, the referees are going to crack down tonight. They’re going to be reffing very close to their vest. I think that favors Vancouver. Boston’s got to be aggressive. They’ve got to be physical. And the referees are going to be told to call everything, so we might see a lot of penalties tonight.”
Bruins fans and media should know the drill by now. A forward goes down, and it’s Seguin mania. As a result, it should come as no surprise that Tyler Seguin was a popular guy as he prepared for his return to the team’s lineup Wednesday.
With Nathan Horton out for the remainder of the playoffs due to a severe concussion suffered on a headshot from Aaron Rome in Game 3, Seguin will step in after being a healthy scratch for Monday’s 8-1 win over the Canucks. While plenty of attention will be placed on how his presence in the lineup makes up for the loss of Horton, he knows as well as everyone else should that asking him to fill the shoes of the team’s second-leading regular season scorer may be a bit of a stretch.
“Obviously, you can’t replace a guy like Horts, but everybody has to step up just like when [Patrice Bergeron] was out,” Seguin said Wednesday. “Guys had to step up even more, and that’s what guys have to ask of each other for tonight’s game.”
After scoring three goals and totaling six points against the Lightning in his first two playoff games, Seguin’s play declined. He turned in a solid performance in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals, but by the time the Vancouver series began, he was getting less opportunities and played a more timid game. He was a ghost for nine minutes in Game 2, and coach Claude Julien sat him in Game 3 in favor of Shawn Thornton as a result.
“I think you have to be understanding. I wasn’t happy with how I played the last game in Vancouver. I don’t think I played my best. I can’t say I saw it coming, and I can’t say I was shocked,” Seguin said. “It was what it was. I gave Thorny a pat on the back and said, ‘go get ‘em,’ and that’s all you can really do.”
While Games 1 and 2 featured flashier play, Game 3 against the Lightning was the most indicative of an NHL player. He was sound in all zones in his 13 minutes of ice time and showed more hockey smarts than he had previously. Though he wasn’t credited with an assist given that the puck changed hands too many times afterward, he set up Andrew Ference‘s third-period goal. On Wednesday, he was asked what was bigger: his fear of screwing up in his own zone (a common tendency for younger players) or the pressure he’s put on himself to make a difference offensively.
“I think it’s neither,” Seguin said. “I think it starts with being good in your defensive zone, and I think that will lead to offensive opportunities. I feel like if I go out there worried of making mistakes, that’s what I’m going to make. If I go out there confident and focused, I shouldn’t make any. That’s my mindset going into tonight.”
Then there’s the idea of the rookie finding motivation in the healthy scratches. After all, Seguin wore a suit for the first two rounds of the playoffs and it took Bergeron’s concussion to get him into the lineup. While the idea of proving himself has been a season-long motivating factor, Seguin intimated that a certain trophy trumps all personal goals when it comes to getting up for the finals.
“Everyone in here is motivated for this,” he said. “There’s a million reasons right there in front of you. Obviously that’s another one in there. You’ve got to bring it tonight and use it as good energy.”
With Horton out and Seguin in, suddenly there’s a spot for the 23rd guy in warmups. That man will be fellow rookie Jordan Caron, who began the year with the team in Prague and totaled seven points in 23 games with the B’s in a season that saw him spend the majority of his time with the Providence Bruins. He won’t be playing, but he’ll be able to go out there with the Stanley Cup patch on his uniform and take in the finals experience.
It also means that should another Bruins’ forward go down, Caron would be on the biggest stage after not seeing game action for nearly two months.
“It’s the Stanley Cup Final, so just to be around the team and playing practice with them and stuff [is cool],” Caron said. “If I get the call I’ve got to be ready. It should be fun.”
Said Julien: “Jordan has an opportunity to live that same experience that we’ve been giving [Seguin], and [Steven] Kampfer, a young player that we feel is a big part of our organization. Besides the game, you look at ways to help your young players grow. I think that’s one of the ways, as well.”
|Phish and their fans like the Bruins, too||at 12:44 pm ET|
Check out the following video from last night’s Phish concert. Sticktap to twitter follower @billdamon.
Canucks coach Alain Vigneault expressed frustration with Bruins’ goaltender Tim Thomas Wednesday, saying that he has spoken to the NHL about the way Thomas plays outside the crease and initiates contact with players. He also had a problem with Thomas’ hit on Vancouver center Henrik Sedin in the third period of Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals, a hit that occurred in the crease.
“We’ve asked the league, obviously,” Vigneault said. “Part of Thomas’ way of playing is playing out of the blue paint, initiating contact, roaming out there. He seems to think that once he’s out, he’s set and makes the save, that he can go directly back in his net without having anybody behind him. That’s wrong. He’s got the wrong rule on that.
“If we’re behind him, then that’s our ice. We’re allowed to stay there. We’ve talked to the NHL about that. We’ve talked to the NHL about him initiating contact, like he did on Hank, and they’re aware of it. Hopefully they’re going to handle it.”
Vigneault had also complained about Thomas after Game 1, in which Thomas drew a tripping call on Canucks winger Alexandre Burrows.
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