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Kevan Miller returns with a vengeance and sets tone for Bruins Game 2 win 04.21.14 at 9:10 am ET
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Kevan Miller returned to the lineup Sunday and imposed his will early and often. (AP)

Kevan Miller returned to the lineup Sunday and imposed his will early and often. (AP)

It took exactly 72 seconds for Kevan Miller to make his presence felt in Sunday’s series-evening win over the Red Wings at TD Garden.

Just 29 seconds into his first defensive shift, Miller crushed Detroit left wing Drew Miller along the defensive boards to the right of Tuukka Rask on a dump in by the Wings.

The hit set the tempo and immediately got the Garden crowd into a game the Bruins desperately needed on Easter Sunday.

“Happy to be able to be out there so I was excited,” Miller said. “I think as a team we kind of wanted to do that, come out early, come out on our toes. It’s always good to try and get a hit to get going early.”

Of course, Miller was just happy to be on his skates himself after the last week when a virulent stomach bug made its way through the Bruins room, also hitting fellow D-man Matt Bartkowski.

“It was tough, started earlier in the week and kind of persisted,” Miller said. “I know it was the same for a number of guys. Me and Bart seemed to have it pretty bad. Just getting fluid back in me, trying to do my best there.

“It was tough. After practice is when things really went south. Just kind of unfortunate.”

The Bruins clearly missed Miller’s physical presence in a 1-0 Game 1 loss. But after the hit on Drew Miller, Miller and the Bruins were most definitely into the flow of the game. Miller didn’t let up there.
In his next shift four minutes later, Miller took out Daniel Alfredsson. Miller had two loud, energizing hits before the Bruins even had a shot on goal.

A minute and a half later, Wings goalie Jimmy Howard decided to play a gamble and throw a puck off the side boards. It backfired when Justin Florek collected the puck, spun and fired a shot under the pads of the scrambling goalie for a 1-0 Bruins lead.

“He stepped up for us huge this year with the absence of some key D-men that we lost throughout the year, and to see him step up like he did here, and how he’€™s been playing throughout the year, has been great to see,” Milan Lucic said. “He’€™s a physical guy, he’€™s a real competitor, and you saw that here tonight, like you said, especially in the first five minutes.”

“Millsy, right from the start, I thought he helped set the tone with a couple of big hits, and I think they were within the first five minutes. I mean, he looks like he’€™s about to get hit and he still hits the other way, so he reverses and he brings a lot of energy, but he still moves the puck well and he’€™s a tough guy to beat but he’€™s just ‘€“ he’€™s a very strong competitor and it was great to have him back on the lineup and set that tone early,” added Jarome Iginla.

But perhaps no one appreciated having Miller back than captain Zdeno Chara, who was busy keeping Reilly Smith’s brother out of his face. With Miller back, Chara doesn’t have to carry the whole burden of enforcing the physical style that the Bruins needed so badly in Game 2.

“It’€™s nice to have him back,” Chara said. “It probably wasn’€™t fun for him the last few days, but I thought he handled it really well and he played a strong game.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Kevan Miller, NHL
Jimmy Howard admits Red Wings were ‘pretty lucky’ to beat Bruins 04.18.14 at 11:20 pm ET
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It was the key moment of Game 1.

Jarome Iginla fired a centering pass from the right side boards to Milan Lucic with just over three minutes left in regulation. Lucic got a clean piece of the puck for a redirect on Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard. It appeared to be the perfect pass and perfect chance in a game that had precious few of each.

But instead of the puck finding it’s way past Howard, the Detroit goalie got just enough to flick the puck wide of the goal mouth and out of harm’s way.

“It was a fortunate save,” Howard said. “It was pretty lucky. [Lucic] stuck his stick out and got a lot on it and it sort of just spun off my glove and I was able to get just enough on it. I was pretty lucky.”

The momentum swing didn’t end there. The pendulum, as it often does in a game like Friday night, swung completely the other way leading to a Red Wings rush up the ice. Wings veteran forward Pavel Datsyuk came across the Bruins blue line and, using the collision of Justin Abdelkader and Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton as a screen, fired a shot that beat Tuukka Rask on the far side for the game’s only goal and a 1-0 Detroit win.

“He was by himself there so I’m just thinking a shot there and then he drags it across and releases from our D’s legs so you just try to get the puck in your eyes and I couldn’t,” Rask said of Datsyuk’s shot. “It squeaked by me. Usually he tries to make a pass but I thought he was by himself there. I just couldn’t see it.

“It still went through me so I thought I should have it. But I didn’t see it.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Jarome Iginla, Jimmy Howard
Patrice Bergeron: ‘I’m not rooting for anyone except us right now’ at 11:59 am ET
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Every Stanley Cup playoff series got a head start on the Bruins and Red Wings. Now, on Friday night, Patrice Bergeron and the Bruins get their chance to show how ready they are after a league-best 117 points in the regular season.

“It was great to have those games and get in the mode of playoff hockey and watching it all helps to get a focus,” Bergeron said Friday morning after participating in a light optional skate before Friday’s Game 1 at TD Garden. “I was getting antsy just watching, for sure. You want to get out there, you want to get going. It’s nice that it’s finally tonight.

“I’m not rooting for anyone except us right now, so I’m just watching games and, like I said, it helps me getting focused just by watching it and being ready for tonight.”

The biggest break for the Bruins and the Red Wings is that they’ve had a full four days off since the regular season ended on Sunday.

“I think it’s good for everyone, just with the schedule we’ve had after the [Olympic] break,” Bergeron said. “It was pretty crazy so it was good everyone to get ready and now we’re looking forward to it.”

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Read More: Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, NHL, Patrice Bergeron
Brad Marchand: ‘I don’t think anybody is out there trying to injury guys’ 06.17.13 at 1:53 pm ET
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Brad Marchand defends himself and his team Monday. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Brad Marchand has been called a lot of things in his brief NHL career.

Antagonizer. Spark plug. Skillful finisher. Intense.

But the one thing he maintains is he plays within the rules. He doesn’t, for a second, consider himself a dirty player. The “dirty” tag came up again in an interview with ESPN Boston on Monday when Don Cherry said Marchand “is not a pest. He’s a hockey player that plays dirty.”

“When you’re getting suspensions and stuff like that, that’s playing dirty,” Marchand said Monday morning before Game 3. “You play hard, a lot of things happen in a game but I don’t think anybody is out there trying to injure guys.”

During the Eastern Conference finals, Cherry first told WEEI’s Mut & Merloni that Marchand is no pest.

As a matter of fact, Marchand maintains he hasn’t even tried to get under the skin of the Blackhawks so far in this Stanley Cup final.

“I haven’t really tried to do a whole lot,” he said. “I’m just trying to play the game. Everyone is so caught up in trying to antagonize guys and stuff like that, it just doesn’t happen like that. It comes with the game and you have to react to different situations.”

One thing is for sure, Marchand has plenty of respect for a Chicago team that has just as much speed and skill as the Bruins.

“They’re a great team,” Marchand said. “They come with a ton of speed which is always tough to play against. They don’t just throw pucks away. Every time they have the puck they make a play, which makes it tough out there. I think that’s the biggest thing I’ve noticed is just that they don’t ever seem to throw pucks away. Everything is right on the tape. If they don’t have anything, they just seem to swing back so they’re a great team. There’s no doubt about that.”

Still, Marchand was asked if he thought the Blackhawks hate him yet?

“I have no idea. You have to ask them,” he said.

The Bruins are 3-0 in Game 3s so far in these Stanley Cup playoffs while the Blackhawks are 0-3. Meaningful heading into Game 3 of the Cup final?

“It means nothing right now,” Marchand said. “It’s a completely different series and a completely different time.”

Read More: 2013 Stanley Cup, Boston Bruins, Brad Marchand, Chicago Blackhawks
Claude Julien: ‘There’s no doubt we’re hungry’ 06.10.13 at 5:02 pm ET
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The Bruins were focused on head coach Claude Julien as they begin to install a game plan for Chicago. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

The Bruins have reached the Stanley Cup finals for the second time in three years. And being back so soon hasn’t diminished the thirst to drink from the Cup, some Claude Julien pointed out Monday after another practice at TD Garden.

“I would think so,” Julien responded when asked if the desire to win it all still burns. “There’s no reason why it wouldn’t. Anybody that makes it this far know how hard it is. There’s no doubt we’re hungry.”

That doesn’t mean Julien won’t press a few buttons, something he did mid-practice Monday when he brought all of his troops together for a high-spirited discussion.

Beyond that, Julien and his staff are busy right now trying to impart the right information on the Blackhawks to his troops without bordering on information overload.

“That part of it hasn’t changed for us. Even if we haven’t played them we’ve taken the same approach as far as giving information,” Julien said. “Same thing, even if you’ve played them you don’t want to give them information overload. Like I said, we do all the research as coaches and we have all that stuff for ourselves, so if we need it we can share it with the players. We give them the basics and you give them the things that you really have to be careful with.

“That way you don’t kind of handcuff your players not to play their games because they’re overthinking. It really is all about your team and how well you want to play, and whatever they do extremely well you try to adjust to that. Not anymore than that, even though we haven’t played them it’s really about us having confidence in our game and trying to minimize their strengths like we’ve done with every other team so far.”

Most importantly, Julien made it clear that despite the speed the Hawks possess through the neutral zone in players like Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp, the Bruins have to stick to their game plan and have a strong forecheck in the offensive zone.

“Our forecheck has to be our forecheck,” Julien said. “It’s got to be efficient in order to minimize that. And that means putting pucks in the right places. If you don’t, they’ll have some easy breakouts. They excel at that area. They have a lot of D’s back there that can carry the puck and skate well, so there’s no doubt that that’s going to be a key. Some of our success will be how good we are in those areas.”


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Read More: 2013 Stanley Cup, Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Claude Julien
Patrick Kane hat trick sends Hawks into Stanley Cup finals against Bruins 06.09.13 at 12:08 am ET
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Patrick Kane netted a hat trick, including the game-winner in 2OT, to send the Hawks into a Stanley Cup showdown with the Bruins. (AP)

Patrick Kane scored his hat trick goal with 8:20 left in double-overtime to give the Hawks a 4-3 win over the Kings Saturday night in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals, sending the Hawks to the Stanley Cup finals and a match up with the Bruins beginning Wednesday night in Chicago.

The meeting of the Bruins and Blackhawks gives the NHL its first “Original Six” final since 1979, when the Canadiens defeated the Rangers, 4-1.

Game 1 is Wednesday in Chicago, followed by Game 2 Saturday, June 15 in Chicago. The series will then shift to Boston for Games 3 and 4 back in Boston on June 17 and 19. Game 5 will be June 22 in Chicago, followed by Game 6 in Boston on June 24. Game 7 would be back in Chicago on June 26. All games will start at 8 p.m. ET.

The Hawks appeared on their way to an easy night when Duncan Keith and Kane scored in the opening six minutes. Keith’s goal came on a slap shot from the left point when Jonathan Quick didn’t seal the five-hole and the puck slipped between his pads. Kane scored when Quick came out of his net to play the puck but fell down and Kane circled until he had an open net.

But the Kings began to build momentum when Dwight King scored shorthanded in the second period.

Los Angeles got their first equalizer of the night when Bryan Bickell took an ill-advised boarding penalty. Anze Kopitar made Bickell and the Hawks pay with a power play goal 3:34 into the third. The goal was set up by a perfect pass from Jeff Carter from the high slot.

Another former Philadelphia Flyer – Mike Richards – would figure in much higher drama later in the game. After the Hawks got the second goal of the game from Kane with 3:52 left in regulation, Chicago appeared destined for the Stanley Cup finals.

But Bickell iced the puck with 15 seconds left, giving the Kings one more chance in the Chicago end with their goalie pulled. The Kings won the draw and Kopitar fired a shot from the boards that was redirected by Richards’ lower body and past Corey Crawford with 10 seconds left in regulation, forcing overtime.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings, Stanley Cup Playoffs
Sidney Crosby: ‘I thought we deserved better’ 06.06.13 at 12:14 pm ET
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Sidney Crosby says the Penguins may be down but not out. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

At least the chances were there for Sidney Crosby and the Penguins in Game 3 Wednesday night.

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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Read More: Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins, Sidney Crosby, Stanley Cup Playoffs
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