|B’s getting defensive about tonight||05.12.10 at 1:24 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — While Zdeno Chara wears the ‘C’ as captain, Mark Stuart’s return has been a steadying influence in the Bruins dressing room.
He missed the last two weeks of the regular season with an infection following surgery on his pinkie. And then he missed the opening round against Buffalo and the first three games against the Flyers. When he finally returned in Game 4 of this series against the Flyers, a quiet leader had returned to the Bruins dressing room.
That leadership was on full display on Wednesday morning when asked if he and his fellow defensemen need to get more offensive pressure on just-returning Flyers goalie Michael Leighton after getting just two shots on net in Monday’s 4-0 loss.
“Obviously, we want to get as many shots as we can,” Stuart said. “We didn’t do a great job of that last game. Tonight’s a new night here. If we can just forget about last game and quit talking about it and go play tonight.”
“Anybody who’s been out for a long time, it just doesn’t come back overnight,” Julien added. “What you need to see is a guy getting better and better and I think Mark was better in the second game than he was in the first and hopefully he’ll be better in the third than he was in the second so it’s like every player that comes back, you hope that they get better as they move on here.
“Mark, to me, was a much better player than he was in the first and hopefully, that continues.”
Just as obvious to the Bruins is the mission at hand tonight. They are hoping to avoid the pressure of a do-or-die Game 7 back in Boston on Friday night by beat the Philadelphia Flyers tonight at the Wachovia Center. The Bruins now lead the series, 3-2, after dropping the last two games while the Flyers have gained momentum with star Simon Gagne back in the lineup.
Stuart is not the only defenseman looking to pick up his game after not getting a shot on net. Matt Hunwick was also blanked on the shot chart.
“I think we just need to relax a little bit more and not hold the stick too tight and just play how we played the first three games,” Hunwick said. “We battled the first three games. They were tight, they were close but we found ways to win. I think we can look back on those efforts and we should do a little bit better tonight.”
As for the Bruins getting together for Kumbaya, Unbuntu or any other team-building the night before Game 6, Julien said there was no need.
“I don’t think there was anything special [Tuesday] night. We didn’t do a team dinner but I think our guys, in order to have success, we can’t be tense,” Julien said following this morning’s optional pre-game skate at the Wachovia Center. “Being relaxed is maybe not even the right word but in the right frame of mind and hopefully that’s what we show tonight when we start the game.”
The Flyers can become the first NHL team since 1976 to force a Game 7 after being down 3-0 with a win on home ice tonight and are looking to become the fourth major pro sports team to win a series after being in a 3-0 hole.
“We haven’t talked about it much,” admitted Flyers coach Peter Laviolette Wednesday. “Certainly everybody understands the difficult challenge that an 0-3 series presents. That’s part of the story you write through the course of the playoffs if you’re able to get through it, it’s part of the story. Our guys are well aware of it. Certainly they know not many teams get an opportunity at something like this. Any time you can put your name to a positive mark in history like that, it certainly would be a good thing.”
For the Flyers, head coach Peter Laviolette indicated that forward Claude Giroux would be ready for Game 6 after being held out of the third period on Monday after a hit to the boards from Steve Begin.
|Buckle down or buckle under for B’s||05.11.10 at 2:19 pm ET|
For the first three games of the series, the Bruins showed exactly what it takes to win playoff hockey games. Make the key play at the key moment while keeping your cool.
It paid off in Game 1 when the Flyers scored twice in the final eight minutes to force overtime. It paid off in Game 2 when Milan Lucic turned and fired a shot on an unsuspecting Brian Boucher for the game-winner. And it paid off in Game 3 when the Flyers scored to open the game in their building, only to have the Bruins score twice in the next five minutes to take command and not look back.
But all of a sudden, it’s the Flyers who have found the magic touch. They were the ones who were scored on in the final 31 seconds of regulation in Game 4 with the series on the line, only to net the game-winner off the stick of Simon Gagne in overtime.
Then Monday night, the Flyers scored in the opening seven minutes and got some lucky bounces to hold on to the lead while the Bruins were taking penalty after penalty, sapping them of any strength to come back as the Flyers prevailed, 4-0.
Now, with the Bruins’ lead down to 3-2, the stage is set for Game 6 in Philadelphia Wednesday night at 8 p.m. at the Wachovia Center.
“It’s buckling down and playing good hockey,” Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference said. “You know, both games that they’ve won now have been very deserved wins, so that’s what you’re going to get this time of this year. You’re not just going to show up, sneak by anybody, and get an easy win. I mean, the team that plays the best hockey will most of the time end up with a win, and that’s what’s happened.”
And if they don’t take care of business and ‘buckle down’ on Wednesday on Broad Street? Get ready to hear all about the about the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, the 1975 New York Islanders and, of course, the 2004 Red Sox. They are the three teams that have come back in major professional sports from 3-0 deficits to win a best-of-seven playoff series.
Ference says the Bruins would be well advised to just take a deep breath.
“I think a lot of the breakdowns, going back early, was not making good plays, you know, good breakouts and good passes, and you know, just calming down and making good plays,” he said. “I mean, it’s something that when you do it well from us to the forwards, it makes us a much better team, But you know, we started turning over a lot of pucks and creating a lot of problems for ourselves on top of what they were creating themselves, so they played well and we also hurt ourselves by some of the stuff we did.”
This series started with the Flyers missing Simon Gagne, Jeff Carter and Ian Laperriere. But as hockey fate would have it, the Bruins lost Marco Sturm in Game 1 and David Krejci in Game 3 while the Flyers got Gagne back in Game 4 and could have Carter back for a Game 7 Friday in Boston.
“Of course we miss him,” Ference said of Krejci. “He’s a great player – just as much as we missed Savvy [Marc Savard], and just as much as we missed Marco [Sturm] and Bergy [Patrice Bergeron]. You know, we’ve had great players for extended periods before and he’s left out of the lineup, but tough luck.
“That’s just the way it works and some other guys have to step up, so you know, the good teams that have won in the past, that’s always a storyline – you know guys step into increased ice time and increased roles and make the most of it, so obviously that has to be a storyline for us if we’re going to have any success is somebody or a few guys stepping up and you know, trying to fill some of those points and fill some of those plays and that energy that he brings.”
|2nd Period summary: Bruins vs. Flyers Game 5||05.10.10 at 8:55 pm ET|
This is what it felt like for the Bruins against the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 2 of the same round last spring.
They were coming off a 4-1 rout of the Hurricanes in Game 1 and they had just blown away the Canadiens in four straight the round before.
Then Game 2 happened and the whole perspective of the series changed.
Fast forward to tonight and a 3-0 Flyers lead after two periods. The Bruins had just lost a heart-breaker in overtime in Philly but still had a commanding 3-1 series lead, needing just to win Game 5 on home ice to advance to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 1992.
But the Flyers came to play and fight for their lives, even when Brian Boucher went down in the opening five minutes of the second with what appeared to be a nasty lower body injury. Boucher made a save and then immediately grabbed his midsection. He could barely make it to his skates before being helped off by Chris Pronger.
Enter Michael Leighton, the same Michael Leighton who started at Fenway Park on Jan. 1 and the same Michael Leighton who hadn’t even been active in a game since suffering a high ankle sprain on March 16 in Nashville.
He was tested on a Bruins power play and then the Flyers rewarded him when Scott Hartnell finally got credit for a goal. Then the Bruins started taking undisciplined penalties and Simon Gagne finally made them pay with a power play goal on Philadelphia’s fifth chance of the night.
The Flyers will begin the third period with another power play as Andrew Ference was whistled for a cross-checking penalty.
|1st period Summary: Bruins vs. Flyers Game 5||at 7:52 pm ET|
The Flyers apparently brought their rabbit foots, horseshoes and other assorted good luck charms for Game 5 as they lead the Bruins, 1-0, after 20 minutes.
Villie Leino gave the Flyers the lead at 6:41 of the first period when Chris Pronger took a shot from the mid-slot that Tuukka Rask could not contain. The rebound came out to the left of Rask and Scott Hartnell was originally credited with the goal when it appeared he poked in the rebound for his first goal of the playoffs and first in 22 games. But a replay showed it was Leino and he was given his second of the playoffs.
The Flyers then had a golden opportunity to add to it when Vladimir Sobotka took a high sticking penalty on Hartnell. But the Bruins killed off 2 minutes, 37 seconds of it when the Flyers took a sloppy penalty on a line change for too many men on the ice.
Toward the end of the Bruins power play, Marc Savard had the puck on his stick and appeared to score, only to have the puck slip behind Boucher and through the crease.
Earlier in the first, Blake Wheeler was all alone in front of Boucher for a point-blank chance, only to have the puck roll off his stick before he could fire a shot. Then there was the shot from the right point that Milan Lucic and Miroslav Satan both appeared to get a piece of. The spotlight came on in front of Boucher, signaling a goal celebration.
One minor problem. The puck bounced straight up in the air and Boucher gloved it.
The Flyers outshot the Bruins, 10-8, in the first period and will start the second period with 33 seconds of power play time after Satan was called for a tripping late in the period.
|2nd Period summary: Bruins vs. Flyers Game 3||05.05.10 at 8:39 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — For the first time in the series, neither team found the back of the net in a period and, as a result, the Bruins stand just 20 minutes from a nearly insurmountable 3-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Flyers.
The Flyers ended the period with a power play but as has been the case nearly all season long, the Bruins penalty was more than up to the task.
The only Boston concern remains the injury bug. Neither David Krejci nor defenseman Adam McQuaid will return to the game due to undisclosed injuries, the team’s media relations staff announced late in the second. Both players appeared in just two shifts of the first period before leaving the game.
The Flyers are outshooting the Bruins, 27-17, after 40 minutes.
|1st Period summary: Bruins vs. Flyers Game 3||at 7:48 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — The Bruins grabbed a 2-1 lead after the first period and became the first visiting team to lead in the series so far. But it came at a cost as David Krejci and Adam McQuaid were sent to the dressing room with undisclosed injuries.
The first 20 minutes of the series in Philadelphia in the series featured the first lead by the Flyers.
Rookie defenseman Adam McQuaid, who might be playing his last game if Mark Stuart returns Friday for Game 4, turned the puck over at the offensive blue line. The bobble led to a 2-on-1 rush by Flyers Claude Giroux and Aaron Asham.
Andrew Ference tried in vain to get back in time but couldn’t as Giroux found Asham across the low slot. Asham beat Tuukka Rask just 2:32 into the game.
But the Bruins wasted little time gathering themselves and mounting a comeback as less than two minutes later Blake Wheeler scored on a re-direct in front of Brian Boucher at 4:11, his first career playoff goal in 17 games.
Mike Richards, who reportedly threatened to take out Savard during Game 2, took out Krejci instead in the neutral zone. But just before the hit, Krejci found Milan Lucic at the right point. Lucic found a streaking Miroslav Satan down the slot. Satan skated in alone on Boucher and beat the Flyers goalies with a nice backhanded deke at 5:45 for a 2-1 Bruins lead, the first by a visiting team in the series.
Krejci did not return for the remainder of the period.
The Flyers outshot the Bruins, 12-8 in the opening period.
|Bruins need cooler heads to prevail||at 2:03 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — Claude Julien said at the onset of the series that everyone should not automatically turn the clocks back to 1975 when looking at this Eastern Conference semifinal series between his Bruins and the Flyers.
Well, Julien may want to revise that a bit, or at least caution his team of the possibility heading into Game 3 tonight. The ‘Broad Street Bullies’ of the 1970s were known to attempt to intimidate for an edge. They played in the old Spectrum, which still stands to the north, across the parking lot from the Wachovia Center.
Julien’s team heads into a hostile building against a team that is cornered and still believes they can win the series, even though the Bruins hold a somewhat commanding 2-0 series lead.
Add to that Marc Savard doesn’t have the TD Garden crowd tonight waving yellow hankies but rather 20,000 rabid Flyer fans wanting blood for his alleged chomp on Dan Carcillo’s right hand in the second period of Game 2.
The Bruins have a chance to put the Philadelphia Flyers in a 3-0 hole tonight in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series. But to do so, Boston must get the job done on the road, a task they were unable to finish the last time they had the chance in Buffalo
Julien put the team through an optional skate Wednesday morning at the Wachovia Center before addressing the media and the importance of understanding what’s at stake in Game 3.
“I think both teams have their approach,” Julien added. “Obviously, the Flyers want to get back in the series and there’s no doubt they’re going to be ready. We don’t want to let them back in the series so we need to be ready. It’s not a very complicated thing. I think it’s a matter of understanding the urgency of both sides and be ready to counter what the other team is going to throw at you.”
Savard did not take part in the optional pregame skate, choosing to get his rest for tonight. He is more than prepared to hear some not-so-nice things from the fans tonight.
“It’s part of the game and whatever comes, it just makes you play better,” Savard said Wednesday morning.
Savard is not alone in wanting to be disciplined tonight as the Flyers figure to at least attempt to draw the Bruins into some penalties the way they did in the second period Monday.
“I wouldn’t say distracting,” Bruins defenseman Dennis Wideman said. “We’ve played in loud buildings before and this is one of the louder ones. And it’s a little tougher when they’re not cheering for you but we have to find a way.”
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