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Brian Leetch on M&M: ‘Back to the drawing board’ for B’s power play 05.06.11 at 2:17 pm ET
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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.”

Read More: Brad Marchand, Brian Leetch, Tim Thomas,
Bruins/Flyers: Everything you need to know for Game 4 at 2:38 am ET
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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.

Four numbers:

– 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).

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Brad Marchand, Brian Boucher, David Krejci
Matthew Barnaby on D&C: Bruins over Lightning in Eastern Conference finals 05.05.11 at 10:32 am ET
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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.”

Read More: Chris Pronger, Dominik Hasek, Dwayne Roloson, Matthew Barnaby
Flyers owner Ed Snider still has faith, says his guys ‘will never quit’ at 12:17 am ET
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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 »

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Boston Bruins, Ed Snider, NHL
Sustained pressure at both ends of the ice prevents Flyers from getting back in the game 05.04.11 at 11:43 pm ET
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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.

‘€œI 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. ‘€œThey’€™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.

‘€œThere 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. ‘€œIt’€™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.

‘€œI think our forecheck was really good,’€ defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said. ‘€œOur 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 »

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Daniel Paille, Johnny Boychuk, Tim Thomas
Up 3-0, Tim Thomas says Bruins must keep playing ‘one shift at a time’ at 11:10 pm ET
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On Wednesday, the Bruins took just the series lead that they have been associated with for nearly a year. In holding a 3-0 edge over the Flyers in the Eastern Conference semifinals, the Bruins have the very lead that they blew a season ago when they were eliminated by Philadelphia in seven games. The Bruins are trying to block out the comparisons to last year, but given where they stand, it’s only natural.

“About half the guys weren’t here last year. It’s different,” center David Krejci said after the team’s 5-1 win. “We have better depth in our lineup, and we showed it in the first round. Hopefully that’s going to help us in the second round, too.”

While the roster itself is different, many of the veterans who were on the squad know that the B’s did learn from last season’s collapse — even ones who weren’t playing.

“We learned last year that the fourth win is the hardest,” Tim Thomas said. “We are playing one game at a time, one period at a time, and one shift at a time. We are going to try to play it the same way come Friday.”

The B’s can go for the sweep Friday at TD Garden.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, David Krejci, Tim Thomas,
Why Tim Thomas vs. James van Riemsdyk is the best show in this series at 11:15 am ET
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One player nearly evened the series by himself. The other put on perhaps the best pressure goaltending performance of these Stanley Cup playoffs.

James van Riemsdyk had to settle for scoring twice and watching his Flyers fall into another 2-0 hole against the Bruins while dominating every shift he was on the ice.

Tim Thomas saved 52 of 54 shots, including all 10 in overtime, as he single-handedly made sure van Riemsdyk and the Flyers came to Boston in another desperate situation.

Tonight, the two of them will be asked by their teammates to keep it up in this Eastern Conference semifinal series.

Looking back at Game 2, there were several moments that could have put an entirely different perspective on Game 3 tonight. If JVR beats Thomas with six minutes remaining in regulation on a break in on net, the Flyers win. If JVR beats Thomas on a phenomenal shot off a faceoff with just over four seconds remaining in regulation, the Flyers win. If Thomas doesn’t make a save on Philly’s No. 21 on a clean look from the left circle 10 minutes into OT, the Flyers win.

Thomas was ready for every possible scenario on Monday, including that dramatic end of regulation, which also saw Danny Briere miss by a hair of putting Thomas’ save on van Riemsdyk into the net for the game-winner.

‘€œThis is one of the most dangerous faceoff teams in the offensive zone or our defensive zone that we play against,” Thomas said. “They have a lot of different things that they do. They actually already scored once this series in the first game on a play. So I knew even with a few seconds left that the faceoff could be dangerous.

“The way it worked out it came off the faceoff and for just a second there it went behind a screen for me and I found it just as the guy was throwing the first shot to the net but I saw it so late that I couldn’€™t control the rebound. I saw the rebound go over to Danny Briere’€™s feet and in that one hundredth of a second I thought it might be over because he’€™s one of those guys that gets them and you know. He fumbled it for just a second, just long enough for Seidenberg to dive over and block one. I was still waiting for that buzzer and I don’€™t know if by the time it hit me if the buzzer had gone off or not but it was relief when the buzzer happened.’€ Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, James Van Riemsdyk
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