|Bruins-Lightning Game 7: 7 players to keep an eye on||05.27.11 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 »
|Bruins can’t close out Lightning despite David Krejci hat trick||05.25.11 at 10:46 pm ET|
TAMPA — The Bruins and Lightning are heading back to Boston to decide the Eastern Conference finals, as a hat trick from David Krejci was not enough to propel the B’s into the Stanley Cup Finals — instead, it was a 5-4 loss in Game 6 Wednesday night.
After the Bruins erased an early 1-0 Bolts lead with goals from Milan Lucic and Krejci. Tampa would come back with three unanswered goals before a back-and-forth third period left the B’s down by one following Krejci’s third goal.
Teddy Purcell did most of the Lightning’s damage to Tim Thomas, opening the scoring just 36 into the contest and giving Tampa a 3-2 lead 13:35 into the second period. Purcell now has six goals this postseason, three of which have come this round.
Thomas made 21 saves for the Bruins, while Dwayne Roloson stopped 15 of the Bruins’ 19 shots.
Game 7 will be played at TD Garden on Friday.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR BRUINS
- Another goal allowed very early for the Bruins. Krejci was set to take the face-off against Vincent Lecavalier and was tossed from the dot, allowing Lecavalier to go against Chris Kelly. The Tampa center won it cleanly, allowing for Purcell to blast one past Thomas. It was the Lightning’s second goal in the first minute of a game this series, and third goal in the first 1:09. Amazingly, it was the only game in the aforementioned three that the Lightning won.
- Yes, Eric Furlatt was officiating and the Lightning were penalized more than the B’s, but it was Tampa that won out when it came to actually capitalizing. The Bruins’ power play looked improved with Zdeno Chara in front, and Krejci scored his second of the game with the B’s on the man advantage in the third, but the Lightning went 3-for-4 as opposed to Boston’s 1-for-5.
- Once again, the Bruins simply couldn’t build momentum at St. Pete Times Forum. After blowing a 3-0 lead in Game 4, the B’s blew a 2-1 lead in the second and got no boost from Krejci’s goal that brought them within one in the third. Martin St. Louis scored 29 seconds after Krejci’s tally.
- Taking an interference penalty with 13:02 remaining in a game in which your team is trying to make a two-goal comeback probably isn’t what you want to do if you’re Tomas Kaberle. The polarizing defenseman did just that in the corner on a play that left Ryan Malone bloodied. Kaberle actually had a good night defensively, but the penalty won’t help his reputation around Boston as a bust of an acquisition.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- Krejci’s hat trick gives him five goals in six Eastern Conference finals games. The dominance from the second round hasn’t been there, but the numbers have been.
- Say what you want about Lucic disappearing this postseason, but he always smells blood when his team has a chance of ending a series. Lucic had a pair of tallies in Game 4 against the Flyers in the second round last year, and had three goals in Games 6 and 7 combined against Philly last year. Taking Games 6 and 7 against the Habs this year into consideration, Lucic now has 6 goals in the last six games in which the Bruins could eliminate an opponent.
- Dennis Seidenberg had a big play for the Bruins on a play in which the Lightning could have made it 4-2 late in the second. A Marc-Andre Bergeron shot yielded a rebound that Steven Stamkos tapped toward the net with Thomas out of position. Seidenberg literally put his foot down, stepping in front of the puck before it could hurt the B’s and starting a circus that landed Andrew Ference in the box for cross-checking Stamkos. The Lightning would score on the power play early in the second period on a goal from Stamkos, thus making the transaction a wash.
Legendary Bruins defenseman Ray Bourque stopped by for a chat with Dennis & Callahan Wednesday morning during a charity benefit for the Massachusetts Soldiers Legacy Fund at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Boston. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Asked if the Lightning have a psychological edge over the Bruins in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday night because they are the more desperate team, Bourque said: “I think it brings the best out of you, so I’d say yes. But the flip side of that, the Bruins are kind of a good counter-puncher kind of a team.
“Sometimes when you come out with that kind of energy or intensity, you might try to do too much and make mistakes and counter and maybe take advantage of those mistakes and go down early in the game, like you saw in Game 4 in Tampa. That’s what happened. It’s not that the Bruins played an incredible first period and came out of that period up 3-0. It’s Tampa that made some mistakes, and the Bruins capitalized on it. So, a game like tonight, you could see that happening again.”
Should the Bruins finish off the Lightning, the challenge in the Stanley Cup finals would be enormous. “Vancouver’s going to be very tough,” Bourque said. “That’s going to be by far their toughest series.”
Bourque said no matter how the season ends this year, the future looks bright for this Bruins team. “I think it’s a very good team with a great goalie, and a team that’s only going to get better, I think, in years to come,” he said. “And experiencing what they’re experiencing this year in the playoffs, the growth of some of these players is going to be tremendous.”
“I think defensively he’s better than both of us,” Bourque said. “He’s a shutdown D that is like no other in the league. I’ll tell you that any player playing against him ' you’re not hearing much about [Martin] St. Louis or [Vincent] Lecavalier because of Zdeno. That’s why.
“Defensively, he’s the best, and one of the best that’s ever been because of his size and his strength and his reach. I mean, this guy’s 7 foot on skates and his reach is incredible. You just watch him, like Inspector Gadget all of a sudden ' bang, that stick comes out, and it’s amazing.”
|Gregory Campbell, Bruins know it’s ‘only natural’ to think about Stanley Cup finals||05.24.11 at 6:28 pm ET|
TAMPA — The Bruins are one win away from being somewhere they haven’t been in a long time.
Sure, they have closed out their first two opponents this postseason and are 2-1 in potential series-clinching games, but Wednesday’s Game 6 will be, much like this series has been, uncharted territory. The B’s can advance to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since 1990 with a win. The one-game-at-a-time approach is one from which they’ve benefitted, but given what they’d be playing for if they advanced, the B’s should come out just as hungry for a shot at the Cup as the Lightning will be to stay alive.
“You have that in the back of your mind, and maybe that’s a little bit of motivation just to try to get it done,” forward Rich Peverley said Tuesday in Tampa. “They’re a great team, and we expect nothing but their best.”
While Tim Thomas said after Game 5 that the B’s must view Wednesday as just another game, players would be lying if they said they weren’t thinking about what lies ahead.
“I think it’s only natural to look ahead and to say, ‘this is an opportunity to play in the finals,’” Gregory Campbell said. “For a lot of players on our team, it will be our first time, and if we do make it there, it will probably be the last chance a lot of players will have. It is natural to want to get excited and look ahead.
“I know it’s been said by tons of people, but it’s so important just to play our game well and not really focus on the results. It’s more just how we’re playing. If we’re playing well, good things will happen, but for us to start setting our sights on the next series is usually a dangerous thing to do.”
|Mark Recchi: ‘We got away with one’ thanks to Tim Thomas||at 6:10 pm ET|
TAMPA — Claude Julien meant nothing personal at all by his comments but the Bruins coach was clear Tuesday that he doesn’t want his team putting everything on the shoulders of Tim Thomas as they try to advance to the Stanley Cup finals with a win Wednesday night in Game 6 at St. Pete Times Forum.
Clearly, that would be easy to do when Thomas was the single-biggest reason the Bruins stole Game 5 on home ice Monday night. But that’s also a good way to get pounded and wind up with a Game 7 Friday in Boston, something every Bruins fan, player and coach wants to avoid.
“You don’t want to rely on your goaltender,” Julien said. “He’s an important part of our team, and it’s nice to be able to rely on him, but you don’t want to go into the game relying on him.
“You want to do your job. And there’s going to be some games, like we said yesterday, that what’s important is a win is about finding a way. And you fall down 1-0 in the first two minutes of the game, and, you know, it’s a team that usually shuts other teams out pretty good. We stayed the course. We weren’t our best, but we stayed the course, and we found a way to get back into the game.”
Then there was the take of veteran Mark Recchi, who realizes the Bruins were extremely fortunate to ride their hot goalie to a win.
“Right off the bat, we have to be a lot better. The first period was not our hockey club. Give them credit, they came out to win and Timmy gave us that opportunity and he shut the door. We had a little tension last night and it showed in our play.
“We know we got away with one [Monday] night but at the same time, we found a way to win and the guys’ attitudes are great like that way. We’re going to have to be a lot better in Game 6 if we expect to finish this series.” Read the rest of this entry »
ESPN NHL analyst Barry Melrose called in to the Dennis & Callahan show Tuesday morning and predictably talked about the play of Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, who allowed just one goal on 34 shots in Boston’s 3-1 win over Tampa Bay Monday night in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals and made perhaps the best save of the playoffs in the third period on a shot from Tampa Bay’s Steve Downie. (To hear the entire interview, click over to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.)
“Last night, he was the only guy to talk about,” Melrose said. “The Bruins basically took the first half of the game off and left Timmy Thomas out to fend for himself. The guy was great. He was fantastic. He made that game-saving save later in the game. But right off the start, he was very solid. You could tell he was on his game. He was very aggressive. He was outside the crease. And that’s how you tell if Timmy’s ready to play or not. If he’s making saves inside the paint, it’s going to be a long night. If he’s out challenging and outside the paint and very aggressive, it’s going to be a good night for Timmy Thomas. Last night, he was really on his game.”
Melrose was also willing to discuss the Lightning situation between the pipes. Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher gave Mike Smith the start in net instead of Dwayne Roloson, who had started the previous four games in the conference finals. Despite Tampa Bay’s loss on Monday, Melrose said he would stick with Smith going forward.
“I think Mike Smith. I think number one it’s hard to go back to Roloson,” Melrose said. “You have a 41-year-old goaltender. You pull him twice. You bench him and then say, ‘Hey man, we made a mistake. We want you back.’ So I think it’s Mike Smith’s series now, win or lose. And Mike Smith played well, those two goals he gave were basically unstoppable. The guy handles the puck well. That created a lot of problems for Boston. If Boston falls asleep, Mike Smith will make that long pas and create a breakaway at the other end. So that gives Boston another thing to worry about when they’re looking at their gameplan.” Read the rest of this entry »
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