|Lightning doesn’t strike twice, but it awaits: Bruins sweep Flyers||05.06.11 at 10:42 pm ET|
By DJ Bean and Scott McLaughlin
The Bruins finished off the Flyers with a 5-1 win, sweeping the Eastern Conference semifinals in four games and advancing to the conference finals for the first time since 1992. The Bruins will next face the Lightning, who also swept their semifinals series vs. the Capitals.
Johnny Boychuk sent a blast from the point over the glove of Sergei Bobrovsky at 2:42 of the third period to break a 1-1 tie. It was Boychuk’s second goal of the playoffs, both of which have come in series-clinching games this postseason.
Milan Lucic had two goals for Boston in the win. With Daniel Carcillo in the box for cross-checking, Lucic put the Bruins on the board at 12:02, scoring his first goal of the playoffs and giving Boston its first 5-on-4 goal this postseason. The Flyers would apply minimal pressure throughout the rest of the first period, but got on the board thanks to a goal from deadline acquisition Kris Versteeg. Lucic added his second of the night on a breakaway in the third period. Brad Marchand and Daniel Paille added empty netters.
Tim Thomas made 22 saves in the winning effort. It was the second straight game in which he allowed just one goal.
The Bruins will host the Lightning in Games 1 of 2 of the conference finals. The schedule of the series is currently unknown, though it may depend on when the Western Conference finals are set. San Jose and Vancouver hold 3-1 series leads over the Red Wings and Predators, respectively.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- Lucic finally broke out of what was statistically a postseason-long scoring slump by picking up his first goal since March 22. He had played much better in this series than in a pedestrian first-round vs. the Canadiens, so it was fitting that he be rewarded with a big goal on the score sheet before the second round was over. Going forward, the B’s will need more like that from their 30-goal-scorer.
- The Bruins could let out the smallest of sighs of relief after their 5-on-3 goal in Game 3, but getting their first 5-on-4 goal didn’t come until Lucic killed two birds with one stone. Nathan Horton hit Lucic with a pass on the doorstep to end the 5-on-4 drought and give Boston its second power play goal in the last two games (and of the playoffs).
- The Flyers turned up the pressure once the Bruins took a 2-1 lead, but the B’s responded to the challenge by getting in shooting lanes and preventing Philly from getting pucks to the front of the net. The Flyers tried to get shots from the point with traffic in front, but the Boston forwards did an excellent job of getting right on top of the Philly defensemen and not giving them anything to shoot at. Chris Kelly led the effort with with three blocks.
- Another game vs. Philadelphia, another point for David Krejci. Boston’s first-line center has 18 points (five goals, 13 assists) over his last 13 games vs. Philadelphia. Krejci picked up a helper on Lucic’s first-period goal.
- The Bruins drew three penalties in the first by just moving their feet and attacking on offense. James van Riemsdyk went off for a hook when he couldn’t catch up to Lucic, who was driving hard to the net in search of a centering pass. Then Gregory Campbell forced his way to the front of the net from below the goal line and drew a cross check on Daniel Carcillo. A few minutes later, Claude Giroux went to the box for a trip after Tomas Kaberle cut inside him on an aggressive entry into the offensive zone. The power play resulting from Carcillo’s infraction ended with the Bruins’ second power-play goal in as many games.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- The B’s had an injury scare for just one of th least guys they could stand to lose. A hit from Claude Giroux in the third period sent Patrice Bergeron downb the tunnel for the B’s, and he would not return to the game. Bergeron leads the Bruins with 12 points this postseason.
- Bad turnover by Brad Marchand in the Flyers’ zone to create a 2-on-0 for the Flyers, and it cost the B’s. Kris Versteeg beat Tim Thomas for his first goal of the playoffs. Versteeg was once property of the B’s, but was traded for Brandon Bochenski in 2007.
-The Bruins obviously want and need Zdeno Chara to be physical, but with eight seconds left in the first, he took it a little too far. When Scott Hartnell took exception to Chara trying to clear out the front of the Boston net, Chara responded by dropping his gloves and then dropping Hartnell with one punch. Unfortunately for Chara, Hartnell never dropped his gloves and Chara got a double minor to put the Flyers on the power play. Two minutes without Hartnell in exchange for four minutes without Chara is a deal the Flyers will take 11 times out of 10.
Join DJ Bean, Mike Petraglia and other from TD Garden for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. The B’s will have a chance to sweep the Flyers and advance to conference finals for the first time since 1992. The blog opens at 7:30.
<a href=”http://www.coveritlive.com/mobile.php/option=com_mobile/task=viewaltcast/altcast_code=ba4ded56bb” mce_href=”http://www.coveritlive.com/mobile.php/option=com_mobile/task=viewaltcast/altcast_code=ba4ded56bb” >Bruins/Flyers Game 4 Live Blog</a>
NHL Hall of Fame defenseman Brian Leetch joined the Mut & Merloni show Friday afternoon to talk about the Bruins, who will attempt to close out the Flyers in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Friday night. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
“I would say there’ll be no comeback this year, but I don’t know what’s going to happen tonight,” Leetch said.
Tim Thomas is the clear-cut MVP of this series, and Leetch said his ability to be far superior to whomever is in the Flyers net makes a comeback highly unlikely. “He’s the biggest difference-maker in this series,” Leetch said of Thomas. “I think the teams are pretty well-matched, pretty even others. If he continue to play this way, I can’t see Philly getting back and winning this in seven.
“Whether they win or not, I don’t know. All the games have a tendency to be close when both goaltenders are playing well. But the chance that Philly’s goaltenders are able to win in four straight, I don’t see it happening.”
The Bruins scored a 5-on-3 power-play goal in Wednesday’s 5-1 victory and now are 1-for-32 in the postseason, but Leetch said it’s still an obvious concern. “Now they’re 1-for-whatever, after being 0-for-whatever,” he said. “Because the goal wasn’t a game-winner and wasn’t 5-on-4, I think it’s just back to the drawing board for the next game.
“But just them winning and playing better 5-on-5, the feeling going through the team, the power play has taken a back seat to how well the other aspects of the game are going. It would be nice, certainly, for that to be a plus for the Bruins, because they’re doing so many other things well that if they can get that power play going it’s a plus.
“It starts over from the beginning of good breakout, good entering the zone, getting those opportunities to get that shot, and then the biggest deal is getting that puck in the net. They’ll go back to the drawing board tonight.
Brad Marchand has given the Bruins a spark with his aggressive play. “It’s been enormous for the Bruins,” Leetch said of the rookie winger. “In the playoffs, he’s a guy that just seems to be energized by being in these pressure situations and having the spotlight on them and everybody watching these playoff games. His feet just don’t stop moving. You watch from shift to shift, he’s not gliding once out there.He’s going to the net, and when the whistle blows, he’s right in the middle of the action. You notice him every shift on that ice.”
|Bruins/Flyers: Everything you need to know for Game 4||at 2:38 am ET|
The Bruins can bust out the brooms and prepare for the Eastern Conference finals by eliminating the Flyers Friday night at TD Garden. Of course, given that the B’s could get only the first three wins of the series last year, four is the only number on anyone’s mind. With that being said, here’s a preview based around the number.
Four things the Bruins have to do:
- Don’t even think about letting up. If the B’s have any doubt as to whether the Flyers can bring it, all they have to do is think back to Game 2. The Flyers dominated them in that contest, and the B’s were bailed out by Tim Thomas. In Game 3, it looked like the Bruins feared a 2-1 series even more than the Flyers feared 3-0, and the result was a contest in which Philadelphia was clearly outmatched.
- Keep on hitting. The Flyers won’t be able to come out and make an early statement if the B’s are as physical as they were in Game 3. Brad Marchand racked up seven hits through the first two periods, including a big hit on Ville Leino with the Flyers on the power play in the first.
- Continue to play like it’s scoreless at all times. One thing that hasn’t gotten much attention with these Bruins this postseason is that the scoreboard hasn’t impacted them much. They fell behind by a pair of goals on the road in both Game 4 of the quarterfinals vs. the Canadiens and in Game 2 this series and came back to win both games. Also, the Bruins didn’t seem to slow down at all throughout Wednesday’s Game 3 despite leading in semi-blowout fashion.
- Stay healthy. One way or another, the Bruins are going to win this series, so when they face Tampa Bay in the conference finals, they’ll need to do so with all of their stars. Losing David Krejci last year was disastrous.
- If you’re happy with how Thomas has played against the Flyers thus far, consider that he fared better vs. the Lightning (1.67 goals against average, .950 save percentage) than he did against Philadelphia (1.96 GAA, .942 save percentage) in the regular season. His .935 save percentage this postseason is second only to Dwayne Roloson, who has a .941 mark for the Lightning.
- Nathan Horton‘s Gordie Howe hat trick (goal, assist, fight) Wednesday was the first of his career. His five playoff goals puts him in a tie with Krejci for the team lead.
- The Bruins won 43 of 55 face-offs in Game 3, including a perfect 8-for-8 from Krejci and and a 17-for-19 showing from Patrice Bergeron.
- While Wednesday marked the first game this postseason that the B’s scored a power play goal, it also marked the first contest this series in which the Flyers didn’t score on the man advantage. Philadelphia went 0-for-2 on the power play.
Four key players:
- Whichever Flyers goaltender gets the start: Rhode Island native Brian Boucher has lost all three games this series and has been yanked in two of them (not including briefly leaving Game 2 with an injury). Sergei Bobrovsky has allowed three goals to the B’s in 55:15 this series.
- David Krejci: The dominance continues. Including the playoffs, Krejci has had at least one point in his last 12 games against the Flyers, totaling five goals and 12 assists for 17 points. The B’s are 11-0-1 in those games.
- Tim Thomas: The Vezina nominee allowed three goals in Game 1, two in Game 2, and one in Game 3. The numbers are trending in the right direction, and he’s really stepped it up since his human start to the Montreal series.
- James van Riemsdyk: The former No. 2 overall pick has come a long way since his college days at New Hampshire, and he’s a guy the Bruins rightfully focused on Wednesday due to his two-goal, eight shot performance in Game 2. Van Riemsdyk has been the Flyers’ best player in a series in which they’ve had few candidates, leading them in shots on goal in each of the first three games (his eight tied Mike Richards in Game 1).
|Matthew Barnaby on D&C: Bruins over Lightning in Eastern Conference finals||05.05.11 at 10:32 am ET|
ESPN NHL analyst Matthew Barnaby joined the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning to talk about the Bruins’ success in the Eastern Conference semifinals. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Boston took a 3-0 series lead on the Flyers with Wednesday night’s 5-1 victory and can close out the series Friday night at TD Garden.
“They’re playing at full tilt and they really aren’t making that many mistakes,” Barnaby said of the B’s. “When you look at the Philadelphia side, they just can’t seem to get anything going. '¦ It’s a different team than we saw all year long, very suspect goaltending and Chris Pronger not being in that lineup really changes the dynamic of that team.”
Tim Thomas has been stellar in the Boston goal and drawn comparisons to one of Barnaby’s former teammates. “Tim Thomas is to me right now what I played with in Dominik Hasek when I was with Buffalo,” Barnaby said. “He gets into guys’ heads. He makes you pass when you think you should shoot and shoot when you think you should pass. That plays into guys’ minds.
“Sometimes he has you beat [mentally]. He has shooters passing when they should be shooting, and it’s a tough thing to not think you can score. Because I saw it time in and time out, frustrating other teams, night after night, shift after shift. And that’s what Tim Thomas is doing. You expect him to make that big save, and it plays mind games with you.”
The Lightning swept the top-seeded Capitals in the other Eastern Conference semifinal, and that has Barnaby anticipating an exciting Bruins-Lightning series.
“I love this series,” Barnaby said. “You look at goaltending. Dwayne Roloson and Tim Thomas have been the two best goalies in the postseason so far and would be candidates for the Conn Smythe, early running. You look at power plays. Well, you have to give it to Tampa Bay. They’ve been incredible. I think they have 11 or 12 power-play goals already [12 for a 26.7 percent success rate]. Both with some dynamic forwards. The defensive side, I’d give it to Boston. I think Zdeno Chara, he’s logged so many minutes, he’s such a big man.
“I really think it will be an incredible series and could go seven games.”
Asked who he’d predict to win the series, Barnaby said: “I would take Boston.”
He acted like a man who wanted to believe what he was saying but deep down Ed Snider had the look of a beaten owner of his beloved Philadelphia Flyers.
There isn’t an owner in hockey who has seen more. He brought hockey to the City of Brotherly Love. He rejoiced in 1974 and 1975 when his Flyers became the first expansion team to win the Stanley Cup.
He beamed with nearly as much pride last spring when his team made history by overcoming an 0-3 deficit to beat the Bruins. His team fell two wins short of one of the best Stanley Cup championship of all time.
Well, after being shelled 5-1 in Game 3 at TD Garden Wednesday night, his team is in that very same hole. But in the Flyers dressing room afterward, Snider wasn’t talking like a man who really believes he can catch lightning in a bottle twice.
“It's a really difficult thing to do and they would be the first team in history to do it two years in a row,” Snider offered.
That’s one way of looking at it.
This is another.
“It's an awful lot to expect and Boston is playing very well and we're going to have to step up our game in order to compete with them,” added Snider, who began to finally see the neon writing on the wall. And it’s starts with goaltending and continues with defense. Read the rest of this entry »
|Sustained pressure at both ends of the ice prevents Flyers from getting back in the game||05.04.11 at 11:43 pm ET|
Last year, the Bruins failed to keep their foot on the gas pedal and let the Flyers back into a 3-0 series and back into a 3-0 Game 7. Whether the Bruins can finish off the Flyers in this series remains to be seen, but they showed on Wednesday night that they're not about to ease off the gas again. After jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the game's opening 63 seconds, the Bruins refused to let up and continued to pressure the Flyers at both ends of the ice.
'I think we knew there was still lots of hockey left to play, and it was important for us to keep playing our game and not all of a sudden go into a shell or sit back,' Claude Julien said. 'They're a team that is very good offensively and if you give them some space or if you sit back, they're going to make you pay for it.'
The Bruins made it clear they weren't going to sit back with a pair of huge hits on the forecheck. First it was Brad Marchand, who knocked Ville Leino clean off his skates with a hard shoulder to the chest. Later in the first period, Daniel Paille unloaded on Kris Versteeg and sent the forward sprawling into the boards.
'There were a couple big hits, and we need that,' said defenseman Johnny Boychuk, who had a nice hip check of his own on Leino in the defensive zone. 'It's a physical game in the playoffs. We just need guys to play like that and not run out of position to get that hit and give up an odd-man rush or something like that. They picked their spots and there were a couple great hits.'
Even when they weren't landing bone-jarring hits, the Bruins were consistently disrupting Philadelphia's breakouts. They got sticks on passes, forced them to circle back toward their own end and pressured them into turnovers.
'I think our forecheck was really good,' defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said. 'Our forwards were really getting on their D. Even when they were coming out of their zone, our guys were stepping up and having good gaps and just keeping them from coming with speed into the middle.' Read the rest of this entry »
- Friday Morning Skate: Late Night
- Bruins vs Oilers Recap: Second periods will be the death of us. Bruins...
- Public Skate Third Period: Bruins 3 Oilers 2
- Public Skate Second Period: Bruins 3 Oilers 0
- Public Skate: Bruins vs. Oilers, 9:30PM EST
- Bruins vs. Oilers Preview: Captain Planet Reunion Day
- And another one bites the dust: Loss to Bruins Final Straw for Feaster in...