|Tim Thomas and the Bruins have waited a long time for this||05.28.11 at 12:41 am ET|
Tim Thomas has waited his whole career to get to this point and now the Bruins goalie will have the chance to play on hockey’s biggest stage and play for the most famous trophy in all of North American sports. Thomas stopped all 24 shots Friday night, posting his second shutout of the playoffs and third career in the postseason, in Boston’s 1-0 win that sends them to the Stanley Cup finals starting Wednesday in Vancouver.
“This is a great moment,” the 37-year-old Thomas said. “There’s no doubt about it. When’s the last time Boston’s been to the Stanley Cup finals? Twenty-one years. It’s been a long time for Boston, it’s been a long journey for me to get here. Now, you want to take advantage of this opportunity. There’s more work to be done. Unfortunately, that’s the way it is. You can’t ever be too happy for too long until you’re the last man standing.
“They had to earn. We pressured them, offensively. The only reason it was a 1-0 game was because of Dwayne Roloson. He played an incredible game.”
Roloson stopped the first 34 shots he faced before Nathan Horton put one past him with 7:33 left in the third for the deciding goal in the Eastern Conference finals.
|Jeremy Roenick on The Big Show: Tim Thomas needs to play better||05.27.11 at 5:34 pm ET|
Versus hockey analyst and former NHL star Jeremy Roenick joined The Big Show show Friday afternoon to talk about the decisive Eastern Conference finals Bruins-Lightning Game 7 matchup. To hear the interview, go to The Big Show audio on demand page.
Though Bruins goalie Tim Thomas will likely win the Vezina Trophy for the year’s best netminder, Roenick said he needs to improve his play for Game 7.
“I really don’t think he’s been very good in this series,” Roenick said. “I think he has to find a way to be just a little bit better, a little bit sharper. He doesn’t have to make saves like he did in Game 5. That was probably one of the best saves I’ve ever seen. But he has to find a way to keep this team, Tampa, down to two or three goals, because if he gives up another five goals, I don’t know if they’re going to be able to do anything.”
Roenick was even more critical of defenseman Tomas Kaberle, who came to Boston in trade from the Maple Leafs in February.
“He’s got a stick made of Jell-O,” Roenick said. “Kaberle doesn’t have a very good shot. He’s a playmaker and a very good playmaker. He shouldn’t be at the top putting shots on net. You should have Dennis Seidenberg up at the top pounding the puck on net, Kaberle on the side dishing the puck to the net.
“I think Kaberle played his best game maybe of the playoffs his last game. But I don’t think he’s been very good in the playoffs at all, not to mention since he’s come over from Toronto. He’s got to up his game another level. He hasn’t been in the playoffs for seven years. He’s got to show it a little bit harder tonight, but he’s one of those guys who can make a difference if he just makes the simple play and the right play like he has for many years, which has made him so good.”
Versus NHL analyst and former NHL center Ed Olczyk joined the Mut & Merloni show Friday to talk about the Eastern Conference finals Game 7 showdown between the Bruins and Lightning. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
Olczyk made a comment during the Game 6 broadcast on Versus about Bruins coach Claude Julien needing to mix up the lines to get more consistent offense. While he acknowledged Friday, “I think Claude has pushed a lot of the right buttons,” he stood by his analysis.
“If you look at the [David] Krejci line, with them having the majority of the success at even strength, I just kind of felt at that time, when you look up at the shot [totals] and there’s not a lot of generating going on, you look to try to change it up,” he said. “You look to add a little spark somewhere.”
Olczyk also suggested making a change on the Bruins’ power play, which has struggled all postseason.
“If you are struggling — and I think at times the Bruins have done all the right things, they just haven’t been able to score,” he said. “So, the issue is, the check and balance is, do you drastically change your personnel and load up? I think for me, I think at some point if you’re going to play Big Z [Zdeno Chara] in front of the net, I think you’ve got to put Patrice Bergeron on a point on the power play if you’re not going to play him down low because you’ve got Krejci and [Nathan] Horton and Chara down there and you’ve got [Dennis] Seidenberg and [Tomas] Kaberle. I think you load up. I think you put Patrice Bergeron on a point on the power play with Dennis Seidenberg — if that’s my first unit.”
Added Olczyk: “I would suggest loading up your first-power-play unit. And Patrice Bergeron’s got to be on that first power-play unit. I just think he has that ability. He had a quiet game [Wednesday]. I think he’s been terrific since he’s come back, but he was very quiet, probably a little too quiet in Game 6. But for me, I would put Bergeron on a point with Seidenberg. I would put Kaberle on the second unit. And I would load up with Chara, Krejci and Horton on that first power-play unit. If you’re going to go down, go down with your best guys. Go down swinging.
“But if the Bruins can play well defensively, and I think they will, I think they’ll take on the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup finals.”
|Garry Galley on D&C: ‘I like Boston’ in Game 7||at 11:10 am ET|
Hockey Night in Canada analyst and former Bruins defenseman Garry Galley joined the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning, hours before Game 7 between the Bruins and Lightning. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Galley said the Bruins have the edge because of home-ice advantage and Tim Thomas.
“I always like the team that is at home, and I like the team that’s got the best goaltender,” he said. “Dwayne Roloson just has not had the kind of series, and he’s not exuding the kind of confidence right now that I would have liked to have seen. Even though he won Game 6, I don’t think he looked as good as I thought he was going to, and it’s a very tough series for him.
“I do believe you go with Dwayne Roloson. You have to; he’s the one who got you to the dance. And he’s capable of having a Game 7-winning kind of game. But I just think Tim Thomas has always bounced back from games like this. He shown in this series in Game 5 that he can pretty much win a game on his own. I like Boston in this.”
Galley also said he won’t be surprised if the game is decided on an unpredictable bounce of the puck.
“This game may come down to late in the third and overtime,” he said. “And it comes down to a bounce, guys, it always has. … There’s always something that happens. It’s a game of mistakes, so there will be a mistake on the play, and someone will benefit from it. I don’t think it will be next to one team or another when that happens, it will just be the hockey gods that tip it one way or another.”
Here are some other highlights from the interview:
On the biggest factor for Game 7:
Listening to Claude Julien‘s comments, what matters the most is that you embrace the opportunity. You can’t go into this thing thinking of the “what ifs” and what can happen. You have to go in and you have to embrace the chance that you have the opportunity to win a hockey game and put yourself in the Stanley Cup finals. That’s it. If you come into this game thinking about losing and what’ll happen if you lose, then you’re already done.
Longtime Bruins executive Harry Sinden joined the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning to talk about Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, with the Bruins hosting the Lightning Friday night. Sinden, who was the team’s general manager from 1972-2000, now serves as senior advisor to the owner and alternate governor. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Sinden expressed cautious optimism about the game. “I’m not sure they’ll win. I’m almost sure they’ll win,” he said. “Tim Thomas is, of course the key, the number one factor as to whether we win, for sure.”
Sinden said home-ice advantage isn’t a major factor, but it’s more evident in a Game 7 than any other time.
“I would give the advantage to the Bruins, Sinden said. “In hockey maybe the home ice isn’t as big of an advantage as it is in a couple of the other sports, particularly, it appears to me in basketball. But the seventh game I think is an advantage to be playing it at home. Even though Tampa has got a lot of momentum after that last game, I think it will be offset by the fact that we are playing in front of our fans. I give them a slight advantage for that.”
For the Bruins to be successful, Sinden said they need to take the pressure to the Lightning the way they are capable of doing.
“We have a team that can be a very, very strong checking team. It has the will of any of the good teams in the league to get that part of the game done,” he said. “Sometimes we don’t apply it, we kind of sit back and let the other team come to us. But on the nights that we go to the other team, it’s kind of almost as simple as that — instead of sitting back and letting them bring it you, you go to them, even if they have the puck. When we play like that, we’re pretty tough to beat with Tim Thomas in goal, really tough to beat.”
|Bruins-Lightning Game 7: 7 players to keep an eye on||at 1:23 am ET|
It’s only appropriate that we get carried away with the number seven with the Bruins and Lightning set to square off in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals Friday. Here are seven players to keep an eye on.
- Dwayne Roloson: Make no mistake about it – Roloson was bad in Game 6. So bad that the Bruins really have to be frustrated that Tampa limited them to only 19 shots. Asked after the game to assess his goaltender’s performance, Guy Boucher replied, “we won.”
- Tim Thomas: The Vezina favorite has allowed at least four goals in four of the series’ six games thus far, but his Game 5 performance was even more impressive than his Game 3 shutout. Thomas has been human too often in this series, and he’ll need to rise to the occasion with an otherworldly performance in Game 7.
- Steven Stamkos: Look who woke up. After being a ghost in Game 3 and going both Game 3 and 4 without a point, the Lightning’s leading goal-scorer in the regular season contributed a goal and a pair of assists in Game 6. It marked the second time this series that Stamkos has had three points in Game.
Here are the numbers for Stamkos in Games 2 and 6: 2 G, 4 A, 11 SOG.
And the his stats in Games 1, 3, 4 and 5: 0 G, 1 A, 7 SOG.
- Tyler Seguin: Remember him? Seguin scored his first postseason goal in Game 1, took over the second period in Game 2 and looked like a savvy veteran in Game 3. Since then, he’s done little and has been given the appropriate ice time as a result. He might be the most talented player in this series, but he needs to stop going out of his way to avoid contact. If Seguin’s gift can take over, he could be Boston’s secret weapon again. Otherwise, it could be back to the fourth line for the rookie.
- Johnny Boychuk: Oof. It’s been bad for Boychuk this series. The 27-year-old was on the ice for all five of Tampa’s goals in Game 6, and his shakey showing in the second round also led to a minus-3 rating in Boston’s 6-5 win in Game 2.
- Sean Bergenheim: Before leaving Game 5 with a lower-body injury, Bergenheim led all postseason players with nine goals in the playoffs. He missed Game 6 with the undisclosed injury, but skated earlier in the day on Wednesday. If he returns to Tampa’s lineup, the B’s would have to worry about a guy who’s already burned them twice this series. Boucher said Thursday that Bergenheim’s status “doesn’t necessarily look like something positive” for the Lightning.
- Mark Recchi: This could very well be Recchi’s last game should the Bruins lose and he opt to retire in the offseason, and it would be a tough way to go if he kept up his production-less streak. The second-line winger had zero points this series, is a minus-5 and has totaled just six shots on net in six games.
|Looking back at Bruins’ Game 7 history over last decade||05.26.11 at 4:38 pm ET|
The Bruins will be fighting for their playoff lives when they take the ice for yet another decisive Game 7.
How many times have B’s fans heard that phrase in the last 10 years? Well, Friday night’s Game 7 against the Lightning in the Eastern Conference finals will be the sixth time in the last decade that the men in black and gold have played in the most-pressure packed game in professional hockey. In fact, Boston has played in a Game 7 in five of the seven seasons that it qualified for the playoffs over that span.
But that Game 7 history hasn’t been necessarily a good one. The Bruins are a horrid 1-4 in Game 7’s since 2001, with the lone win finally coming this season in the opening round against the rival Canadiens.
Here’s a look back at how the B’s fared in each of their Game 7’s of the past decade.
2004 Eastern Conference quarterfinals, 2-0 L vs. Canadiens
As the second seed in the Eastern Conference, this series against the seventh-seeded Habs should’ve been an easy one on paper. After the first four games of the series, it looked like that would certainly be the case as Boston jumped out to a 3-1 lead. But this was still the NHL playoffs, arguably the least predictable of all the professional North American postseason tournaments, and the Habs stormed back to score five goals in both Game 5 and Game 6 to tie the series.
In Game 7, it was Montreal goalie Jose Theodore’s time to take over. The netminder stoned all 32 shots from the Bruins while Richard Zednik potted both goals in the third period, one on an empty net in the waning seconds, to give the Habs the series win. The Game 7 win marked the first time Montreal had ever come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a playoff series. If there’s any silver lining for the Boston fans looking back on this loss, it’s that current Bruins bench boss Claude Julien was actually calling the shots for the Canadiens at the time. (Julien is 2-3 in Game 7’s for his career.) Read the rest of this entry »
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