|Claude Julien: ‘There’s no doubt we’re hungry’||06.10.13 at 5:02 pm ET|
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.”
|Patrick Kane hat trick sends Hawks into Stanley Cup finals against Bruins||06.09.13 at 12:08 am ET|
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.
|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.”
It was not the result the Penguins desperately needed, but after losing their third straight to the Bruins to fall into an 0-3 hole, coach Dan Bylsma sees hope.
“It was a hard-fought game on both sides,” Bylsma said. “It was a very good response from our team. We did a lot of things to get opportunities to win the hockey game. We have to bounce back from a goal very early on in the game, and I thought we did that very well and stuck with it, got the goal to tie the game and really was a hard-fought game all over the ice. Again, we did everything but get the game-winning goal there.”
Asked if he and the team sensed frustration that Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have yet to register a single point in the series, Bylsma went a step further than predicting they would come out of it. Bylsma made a prediction about Game 4 Friday night at TD Garden.
“I don’t give goal-scoring tips to too many guys, but again, that’s the way we need to play. That’s the way we can play, and we pushed it and we pushed it hard, and we had opportunities. Those guys had great opportunities, five on five, Evgeni had a mini breakaway there, we had good chances on the power play, they all had good looks and we just have to keep playing that way, and that’s what we’re going to do. We know the situation being down 0-3 but we’re going to come back for Game 5 and we’re going to play exactly that same way and get a win in Game 4.”
Bylsma was reminded that his team led the East with 72 points in the regular season and is one game away from getting swept out by a No. 4 seeded team.
“We’re competing in the conference final for a chance to win and go to the Stanley Cup, and that’s where we’re going to be,” he said. “We’re down 3-0, we have lost the first three games, and we’re going to battle and lay it out there, and we threw it at them tonight and didn’t get the win, but we are going to — it’s a race to four, and they’re not there yet, and we’re going to come back in here, regroup and go after Game 4.”
|Tuukka Rask: ‘It was definitely a grind’||at 2:53 am ET|
Of all the great performances Tuukka Rask has had in these 2013 playoffs, Wednesday night was certainly the most grueling.
He stopped 53 shots in 95 minutes and 19 seconds, allowing only a Chris Kunitz goal in the second period as the Bruins prevailed, 2-1, in double-overtime in Game 3 of the Eastern finals at TD Garden.
“Yeah, it was definitely a grind,” Rask said. “Both teams played pretty good. That second period was the worst one for us, but we battled and going into double overtime it’s anybody’s game.
“It’s five periods. So I imagine everybody gets tired. It’s more of a mental challenge I think. I wasn’t cramping up today or anything. So that was positive.”
Is he wiped out?
“Yeah, a little bit. I mean, it’s I don’t know 12:30 or something, five periods of hockey. Not the freshest feeling, but I think the win makes it a little easier,” he said with a smile. “I don’t think you feel that physical fatigue-ness at that point. It’s just trying to keep your head, and not thinking that you’re tired. It’s just a nice little challenge ‘ you know if you think you’re tired you’re tired, and if you don’t you don’t.”
Tired or not, the numbers don’t lie. Rask is putting up even better stats to this point of the playoffs than Tim Thomas – the Conn Smythe winner – did in 2011 on the way to the Cup.
Thomas was 11-4 through 15 games with a goals against of 2.28. He had two shutouts, facing 521 shots with a save percentage of .931. Rask is also 11-4 through 15 games, with a 1.85 goals against, one shutout, facing 501 shots and a .940 save percentage.
“I feel good. I mean, I don’t feel any better than I’ve felt throughout the playoffs,” Rask said. “I think our team is helping me out a lot. Although obviously you let in two goals in three games you’re making some good saves too. But we’re blocking shots and taking care of those rebounds pretty well. So they’re helping my job a lot.”
Rask made several big saves and was helped out by a pair of posts, including a shot by Sidney Crosby in the first period. But the biggest save may have come from Gregory Campbell, who blocked a slap shot from Evgeni Malkin in the second period during a Penguins power play.
“I saw it, yeah. A guy had a lane and he sacrificed his body,” Rask said. “It was a great thing, just bad thing he got hurt. He blocks a lot of shots, he took one for the team there, and we really wanted to win this for him.”
|Gregory Campbell (right leg) knocked out of Game 3||06.05.13 at 10:51 pm ET|
After going to the ice to block a powerful slap shot from Evgeni Malkin on a power play in the second period, Gregory Campbell, the center of the “Merlot” line will not be returning.
Campbell stayed on the ice for over 30 seconds of the penalty kill and hobbled off on his left leg while unable to put any pressure on his right leg. He was pushed slightly by an official, who helped him to the bench as the crowd chanted, “Campbell, Campbell, Campbell.”
The Bruins announced before overtime that Campbell would not be returning.
Defense wins championships. It’s a cliche nearly as old as the Stanley Cup. But it’s true. Keep your opponent from scoring and your chances of winning in the playoffs increases dramatically. And, according to Claude Julien, it’s been the secret to success for the Bruins in the first two games against the Penguins as the Boston forwards have shown a commitment to coming back and playing defense while the Penguins, not so much.
“It’s been good for us,” Julien said Wednesday morning before Game 3. “I think, when you look at our team, it’s built that way. We take pride in that part of our game, and that part of our game’s also given us the opportunity to be better offensively; turn that puck over quick and then everybody comes back, then we go back up the ice as a unit. That’s been a big part of our game and when it’s good, it provides us with some good offense.”
Julien was told that some in the Bruins dressing room Wednesday – like Daniel Paille – said that’s it’s not as simple as it looks to play a defensive system like the Bruins employ. Julien begged to differ.
“It’s not complicated, so I’m going to have to have a talk with Dan,” Julien said half-jokingly. “It really isn’t. What we try and do is eliminate the gray areas, make it black and white. It really is easy. He probably said complicated because he doesn’t want to tell you what it is. But it isn’t. This game shouldn’t be a complicated one.
“Guys have skills, you try to put some structure together, but the one thing you don’t take away is their ability to use their imagination and their skill and their hockey sense to make plays. Defensively, is where you’re extremely structured, and you want to make sure that you have layers and guys come back to where they should be positionally. When it comes to offense, a couple of rules, but the rest is about letting them do their job and letting them use their creativity.”
Julien again reminded everyone that his team is taking a level-headed approach in the hours before Game 3, knowing the Penguins figure to be hungry after losing Games 1 and 2 on home ice.
“It doesn’t matter what situation it is, I think our guys our mature enough to understand that whatever we went through, whatever the situation is right now, we have to be a good team in order to win at this stage of the season,” Julien said. “We can’t afford to let our guard down, whether it’s the respect for a team you’re playing, and the ability of that team to take advantage of you if you’re not ready, or whether it’s just from within our group to want to be a good team every night. That’s what’s important right now, thats we stay focused on the present and don’t live in the past, don’t look in the future. I’ve said that before, we’ve been good when we’ve kept our eye on what’s going on right now. That’s what we’ve got to do.”