|Bruins-Canucks preview: Three keys, stats, and players to watch||06.06.11 at 1:54 am ET|
The Bruins have a tall task ahead of them as they look to overcome an 0-2 hole and turn the Stanley Cup finals into an actual series. Both games have been determined by just one goal thus far, and though the Bruins have played poorly from the most part, the first two games have shown the B’s can hang with the Canucks, even if they haven’t totally shown up yet. With the number three in mind, here’s a preview of Monday’s Game 3.
THREE THINGS THE BRUINS NEED TO DO
– Get better looks vs. Roberto Luongo and establish a net-front presence. We’ll say it until it changes, and it didn’t change enough in Game 2. The Canucks have been able to box the Bruins out so far in the series, but look at how the B’s scored their goals in Game 2. Milan Lucic buried a rebound from in front, and Mark Recchi redirected a shot in front of Luongo. When the Bruins were able to set up shop and do things from close range, the puck went in. It seems trying it any other way is an exercise in futility.
– Keep moving Zdeno Chara around on the power play. Recchi’s goal came as a result of Claude Julien moving Chara back to the point, but Julien should keep mixing it up when it comes to the Bruins’ mammoth captain. He still appeared to be a nuisance in front of Luongo in Game 1, so Julien should have enough confidence in Chara’s abilities in both areas to play him in different spots from power play to power play.
– Use the home crowd to their advantage. Whether or not they want to admit it, Rogers Arena was absolutely electric and had to have been a tough place to play. If the Garden can turn down the music and let the fans create an authentic atmosphere, maybe the Canucks can truly feel like they’re at an opponent’s home and not a wrestling match.
– Both the Bruins and Canucks have seen four of their last five games be determined by one goal. The Bruins are 2-3 in that span, while the Canucks are 4-1.
– The four goals Tim Thomas has allowed over the last three games ties this stretch with his best of the postseason. Thomas let in four goals over Games 2 through 4 of the conference semifinals vs. the Flyers, though the difference is that the Bruins won all three of those games and have lost two of the three games in this stretch.
– Brad Marchand has gone four games without scoring. In the other two instances this postseason in which he went four straight without a goal, he scored the following game.
THREE PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON
– Tim Thomas: He plays aggressive ‘ the sky is falling! As bad as the game-wining goal he allowed in overtime Saturday looked, the reaction by some suggest nobody has actually watched Thomas before. He’s all over the place, and he plays farther out of his net than most. It will be interesting to see how be performs in Game 3 given all the heat he’s been under for his style this series.
– Alexandre Burrows: The Bruins have every reason to be furious that Burrows wasn’t suspended for Game 2, though they’re not showing it. At any rate, their No. 1 concern should be finding away to stop the guy who showed Saturday that his offensive ability (2 G, A in Game 2) is just as sharp as his teeth.
– Rich Peverley: Where to play the speedy winger? Peverley has seen time on the second line, third line and fourth line (and the first if you want to count him taking one of Nathan Horton‘s shifts in Game 7 of the conference finals when Horton was banged up) in recent games. Peverley could continue to take some of Mark Recchi‘s shifts on the second line, or he could skate with Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder, as he did from late in the second period Saturday to the end of the contest. If and when Julien makes a move to get Shawn Thornton in the lineup at the expense of Tyler Seguin this series, the line of Kelly centering Peverley and Ryder would make sense.
Also, don’t rule out Peverley having a target on his back in Game 3. His two-handed slash to the back of Kevin Bieksa‘s knee didn’t go over well with Bieksa, his teammates or his coaches. Given the nature of the play, it shouldn’t have. Peverley really got away with one, and had he scored on his shot that followed the non-penalized slash, it would have looked even worse.
|Travel and fatigue are challenges, not excuses, for the down but not out Bruins||06.05.11 at 10:34 pm ET|
One thing is for certain, that five-hour plane ride that began early Sunday morning in Vancouver would’ve been a lot shorter if the Bruins had found a way to hold onto their 2-1 third-period lead in Game 2 Saturday night.
But the Bruins had no choice but to get on the 7 a.m. bus and catch their 8 a.m. (PT) flight back for Boston. At least it was a charter and at least it was a big plane so most everyone could catch up on sleep and relaxation.
“We’re not going to hide the fact that we don’t travel as much as they do,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said, referring to the fact that the Canucks basically head out on a lengthy road trip every time they don’t play at Rogers Arena. “They’re probably used to this more than we are. So I think it was important for us to really look at it in a way where we had to make it the best possible way for us.”
When they beat Tampa Bay, 1-0, in Game 7 of the Eastern finals, Julien and the Bruins knew managing their travel would be nearly as important as solving Roberto Luongo. Julien wanted his team to leave Sunday morning so they could get back Sunday afternoon and get back on Eastern time ASAP, with Game 3 Monday night at 8 p.m. Read the rest of this entry »
Tim Thomas made one thing pretty clear Sunday.
He’s not about to change his aggressive approach in goal now.
The 2009 Vezina Trophy winner was outstanding in Game 1 and for most of Game 2 before allowing the game-tying goal with over 10 minutes left in regulation and a bizarre goal 11 seconds into overtime when he fell down chasing Alex Burrows.
Upon his arrival back in Boston Sunday afternoon at the Garden, Thomas was asked about whether he regrets his aggressive approach or plans on adjusting his tact in goal.
“I have a pretty good idea how to play goalie,” Thomas said at the beginning of the press conference. “I’m not going to take advice or suggestions at this time. I’m just going to keep playing the way I have.”
Following a five-hour flight back from Vancouver, Thomas and the rest of the Bruins came to the Garden briefly to check into their dressing room and fulfill a media obligation on the offday between Games 2 and 3 of the Stanley Cup finals.
“I think we’ve played in front of Timmy Thomas,” coach Claude Julien said. “To me, he’s a Vezina Trophy winner. We are here right now because his contribution has been really good. For us to be sitting here having to answer those questions is ridiculous to me. He’s won a Vezina Trophy already, he’s probably going to win one this year, in my mind anyway, for what he’s done. Read the rest of this entry »
|Canucks are blue over Tim Thomas’ positioning, but Bruins aren’t concerned||06.02.11 at 8:02 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — Biting aside, one hot-button issue to emerge from Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals was where Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas set up shop. The Vezina favorite drew a questionable tripping call on Alexandre Burrows in the second period of Wednesday’s game, which caused Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault to question Thomas’ positioning outside of the crease.
Following the game, Vigneault said one big difference between Thomas and Roberto Luongo, both of whom entered the series with nearly identical postseason numbers, is that his guy stays put.
“Our goaltender always plays in the blue, stays in his ice. Their goaltender is always out of the blue and comes into other people’s ice,” Vigneault said after Game 1. “We’re going to need a little bit of clarification there, especially when he’s initiating contact with our team. I’m sure we’ll be able to figure it out.”
If Vigneault needs clarification, he can simply go to Rule 69.4, which applies to contact outside the crease. Here is the part of that rule that would pertain to Wednesday’s play:
“A goalkeeper is not ‘fair game’ just because he is outside the goal crease. The appropriate penalty should be assessed in every case where an attacking player makes unnecessary contact with the goalkeeper. However, incidental contact will be permitted when the goalkeeper is in the act of playing the puck outside his goal crease provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such unnecessary contact.”
Thomas defended his ground Thursday when the subject was brought up during the Bruins’ media availability.
“Basically I have the right to go anywhere there’s open ice,” Thomas said. “If I’m set, I have a right to that ice. If I’m out of the paint and I’m set, I also have the right to get right-of-way to get back to the crease. That’s the way I understand it.”
That’s just what Thomas felt he was doing on the penalty taken by Burrows. As for the notion that the Canucks could need clarification on what he can and can’t do, Thomas pointed to how rare it is that he has drawn such a penalty. If the Canucks are worried about it happening often, they may be reading too far into things.
“I don’t think I’ve drawn that many penalties this playoffs,” Thomas said Thursday at the University of British Columbia. “Yesterday on the one on [Burrows], I went to make the first stop, then the puck was going off to the side. I was retreating back to the center of my net, felt resistance behind my leg, and I was actually just going with it. I was going to basically flip around, flip my body around, to be able to at least have a chance to stop that rebound that went to the side of the net.
“I didn’t know if it was my guy or their guy or who [tripped me]. I was backing up and there was something behind my leg. It sort of put me off balance.”
Bruins coach Claude Julien didn’t see reason for concern either and figured Luongo could do the same thing if he wanted.
“If he gets a chance to challenge, he challenges,” Julien said of Thomas. “The rule is pretty clear. You’re entitled to your ice. If he steps out and he’s got that ice, he’s entitled to it. That’s what he’s done through the whole process.
“Now, we all know that goaltenders are to be protected. If you’re going to say he’s out of his crease, he’s fair game, that should be the same thing behind the net. ‘¦ If he’s entitled to his ice, and he’s got it, then afterwards I don’t think people are entitled to run over those guys. If Luongo comes out of his net, he’s got his ice, it’s his, it belongs to him. The rule to me is pretty clear so I don’t see any issues there.”
Maybe Vigneault and the Bruins will have to agree to disagree, and though Thomas may have gone down a little easily on the play, the ruling seems clear enough.
|Five questions for Bruins national anthem singer Rene Rancourt||06.01.11 at 1:48 pm ET|
Bruins national anthem singer Rene Rancourt was on hand at Fenway Park Wednesday afternoon to sing the national anthem prior to the Red Sox-White Sox game. WEEI.com caught up with Rancourt before he took to the field.
What do you think of the Bruins’ chances vs. the Canucks?
I try not to think too much because I get nervous when I think.
How do you feel about singing the national anthem at the Stanley Cup finals?
It is a great honor. I have been waiting many years. I’ve been like a bride waiting at the alter for all these years. I have to pinch myself and make sure this is really going on.
Do you do anything special for road games?
I like to listen to other singers. I like competition. It spurs you on to be better.
Who else in the league is good?
I don’t know, I don’t know names. I don’t get that involved.
Who is your favorite player on the Bruins?
I haven’t thought of that. ‘¦ Tim Thomas, because we’re both old men.
|Gord Kluzak on D&C: Bruins ‘have surprised me’||05.31.11 at 9:39 am ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Gord Kluzak was a guest on the Dennis & Callahan show Tuesday morning and discussed the Stanley Cup finals that are set to start Wednesday evening. The former B’s defenseman began his talk about the differences between the Bruins and Canucks, with the highlight among those differences regarding of course penalties. With its power-play unit struggling in the postseason, there’s no surprise that Kluzak would think that the B’s would hope that the referees keep the whistles away from their mouths. (To hear the entire interview, head over to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.)
“Well, I think what the Bruins would want it to look like is very physical, sort of played in the corners and in the high traffic areas, certainly a five-on-five series,” Kluzak said. “I think what the Canucks would want it to look like is very end-to-end, very high-tempo, lots of penalties, lot of power plays on each ‘side. I think those are the two ways these teams are built.”
In fact, Kluzak went so far as to say that if the Bruins are going to be successful in the finals, they’ll need to reproduce their effort from the last game they played.
“I think the model for the Bruins and by far the best game they played was Game 7 against Tampa Bay,” he said. “That was as dominant of a 1-0 win as you’ll ever see. They had Tampa Bay completely stalled out. Even if they had chances, it was one and done. They just layered their defense so, so well, and all of that talent Tampa Bay had was totally squandered by the Bruins defensive schemes and intensity.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Roberto Luongo is no Tim Thomas, and he knows it||05.30.11 at 7:38 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — Call Roberto Luongo and Tim Thomas polar opposites, but the truth is there was a time when the Canucks’ Vezina finalist seriously considered playing Thomas’ signature risk/reward, flopping style.
“I did when I was five and playing street hockey,” Luongo said with a laugh after Monday’s practice at Rogers Arena.
All kidding aside, Luongo made it pretty clear that he has a great amount of respect for Boston’s 37-year-old netminder. In the end, Luongo, along with Nashville’s Pekka Rinne, will fall short of Thomas when the Vezina is awarded this summer, so as unorthodox as Thomas plays, Luongo can appreciate what he’s doing.
“You’ve got to give him credit for the type of value that he has on the ice,” Luongo said. “When you play like that, you have to have tremendous reads and anticipation and things like that.”
Though their styles differ, both Thomas and Luongo share a 2.29 goals against average and have 12-6 records thus far in the postseason. Luongo was pulled twice and was even benched for a game in the first round against the Blackhawks, but since Game 7 of the quarterfinals has been sharp as a tack.
You won’t catch Luongo lunging to make save after save or using his stick to bat down game-tying goals, but just because he’s more of a conventional goalie does not mean he is fooled by Thomas’ tendency to be all over the place.
“I mean, he likes to make saves looking at the net. I like to look the other way,” Luongo said. “He’s a great goalie. He had a great year and he’s a guy that we can’t take for granted that just because maybe you think he’s out of position that we’re going to get a goal. We have to make sure that we bear down and bury it, because he’ll find a way to stop it.”