|Claude Julien: We don’t need to change ‘a ton’ for the Flyers||04.29.11 at 2:06 pm ET|
Before the team left Boston for Philadelphia Friday, Bruins head coach Claude Julien said the Flyers are a better match up for his team than the Canadiens were in the first round. The Bruins captured three of the four meetings in the regular season and were even able to score on the power play four times, something they failed to do in 21 tries in the opening round.
“We match up well against them and they’re always close in tight games and we got to go in there with some confidence and obviously some determination,” Julien said. “Playoffs is a different situation than the regular season, but again as I mentioned it’s just one of those things that we feel that we don’t have to change a ton of things. And if there’s adjustments to make along the way, we just have to be prepared to make them.”
The Flyers, however, did not have big defenseman Chris Pronger at their disposal in the last meeting on March 27 in Philadelphia as he was still healing from the effects of a broken hand.
“He’s an experienced guy, a guy who has got good size as well and has got a good shot,” Julien said. “I know he certainly hadn’t used it much when he’s come back now. Whether he’s 100 percent, we don’t know, and it really shouldn’t matter to us.
“But he’s been a big part of their power play and when you get a guy like that back, it’s no doubt that it’s a boost for their hockey club and certainly helps. So we’ve just got to continue I guess playing the way we have been against them for most of the year this year. I thought we played them well and we came out with three wins, and I think we had the overtime loss.”
The Bruins’ only loss to the Flyers came with three seconds left in overtime on Dec. 11 at TD Garden when Mike Richards beat Tim Thomas with a wrist shot. The Bruins also showed they can win all sorts of games against Philly, 3-0, in Philly on Dec. 1, 7-5 in a Garden shootout on Jan. 13 and 2-1 on Brad Marchand’s goal late on March 27. The Bruins also appear to have the clear advantage in goal with Thomas starting all seven games of their series against Montreal while Brian Boucher was one of three different Philadelphia netminders to see action against Buffalo. Read the rest of this entry »
|Tim Thomas on M&M: P.K. Subban’s act ‘a travesty to the game’||04.28.11 at 2:09 pm ET|
Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas joined Mut & Merloni Thursday to discuss the B’s Eastern Conference quarterfinals win over the Canadiens. In talking with Mike Mutnansky and Lou Merloni, Thomas said he does not respect the play of Habs defenseman P.K. Subban, who appeared to dive in an attempt to draw a penalty on Gregory Campbell with Montreal already on the power play late in the first period Wednesday.
“I have respect for the Montreal Canadiens team and the way they played that series and the way that they battled, but to be completely honest, I don’t have respect for actions like that,” Thomas said when asked about Subban. “That’s a travesty to the game. That’s not the way the game is supposed to be played. When I saw that happen in the first period, when he threw himself back on Campbell… it can be infuriating.
“If anything, it seems the refs let him get away with more, which I’m very surprised at. He’s making the refs look not good on a regular basis. He’s got enough talent, and he’s a good enough player that there’s no need for stuff like that.”
Thomas is not the first Bruin to publicly criticize Subban’s style of play. Center David Krejci was open about his feelings for the rookie defenseman after Game 1 of the series.
‘I don’t like him,’ Krejci said after Subban appeared to embellish on a play to draw a hooking call in the Habs’ 2-0 win. ‘I’m not going to say what I think about him, but I don’t like him.”
While Thomas is no fan of Subban’s play, he is clearly a supporter of the Canadiens’ netminder in Carey Price. Both Thomas and Price allowed 17 goals over the course of the series, and though they fought back on Feb. 9, there is clearly a mutual respect between the two.
“He battled hard from start to finish in that series,” Thomas said. “I’ve got to give him a lot of credit. As an opposing goalie, it’s team vs. team. You’re not really playing goalie vs. goalie. In this scenario, when the other goalie’s playing that well, he pushes me to be as good as I can be.
“There were moments where you just kept waiting for him to hopefully break. It just never happened. A lot of times, if you put enough pressure for a long enough time on the opposing goalie, they’ll break. That didn’t happen.”
The Bruins will open the Eastern Conference semifinals Saturday in Philadelphia vs. the Flyers.
Don’t be fooled by Cam Neely.
The Bruins finally get their chance at revenge on the Flyers – and they want it badly.
“This probably gives you guys more to write about I’m sure,” Neely said with a grin following Boston’s 4-3 overtime over the Candiens in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals Wednesday. “We don’t have the same team as we did last year, and Philly doesn’t have the exact same team either. That’s certainly going to be mentioned a lot and talked a lot about, but first and foremost we’ve got to concern ourselves [with] how we play in that first game.”
At least Neely would recognize their next round opponent. The same could not be said for Tim Thomas.
“I told you, I have at least until midnight before I have to think about that,” Thomas said when asked repeatedly about the second-round series that opens Saturday afternoon at Wells Fargo Center.
Yes, the teams have tweaked their rosters, but they still have two of the most identifiable logos on the crests of their sweaters. Claude Julien wanted to focus on the fact that his team just beat another franchise with a pretty famous logo on its sweater – and did so in historic fashion.
“I mean, it is what it is and the fact is we got ourselves down two nothing in this series,” Julien said of overcoming the 0-2 hole against Montreal. “I think it was important for ourselves to get back into this series. There was a lot at stake in this series as well. We understand the rivalry between Montreal and Boston and it’s been there many times. And we also know the statistics of the winning percentages of both teams when they play each other.”
Then came Julien’s acknowledgment of the next opponent.
“It was a big deal for us and we really focused on that and there is no doubt that tonight, we knew winning this game would give us another opportunity to play Philly. If anything I think it’s going to make it interesting. I think a lot of people are going to be watching this to see how it develops, and we’re excited to have that opportunity.”
First round hero Nathan Horton wasn’t even on the Bruins team that couldn’t close out last year against the Flyers, but he senses the pain and the desire for redemption.
“Well, this is huge, and definitely with what happened last year, we can put that in the past now,” Horton said. “It’s a new year. We’ve gone through it. Anything can happen in the playoffs. You’re up three-nothing, or down two-nothing, and things can turn. You’ve just got to work through it, and be prepared to always continue to work until you get that fourth win, because like everyone says, it’s the hardest one to get.”
Now, if they can just repeat it three more times.
|Bruins Game 6 Live Blog: Canadiens lead Bruins in third||04.26.11 at 6:08 pm ET|
Join DJ Bean, Mike Petraglia and others at the Bell Centre for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. The B’s can close out the series with a win over the Canadiens. The live blog fun starts at 6:30, with the puck being dropped after 7 p.m.
|Six things the Bruins need in Game 6 vs. Canadiens||04.25.11 at 10:42 am ET|
The Bruins are one win away from advancing to the Eastern Conference semifinals for the third time in as many seasons. Momentum would appear to be on their side, as they have won the last three games of this quarterfinal series vs. the Habs, including the last two in overtime. In order to close it out and move on, they’ll need to win either Tuesday at the Bell Centre (their first trip to Montreal since Bird Gate), or Wednesday in Boston. Here are six things they might need in Game 6:
1. Never underestimate a desperate team
If the Bruins have trouble with this one, perhaps they didn’t learn anything from a certain series last year. The Habs want nothing more than to force a Game 7 in Boston Wednesday, and given that the teams won’t have a day off before the decisive final game, the B’s wouldn’t want to give the Habs that momentum.
2. Get even a fraction of the Tim Thomas they got in Game 5
Thomas has established himself as one of the better goaltenders in the league since making it to the show with the Bruins. In his six-plus seasons in Boston, he’s done some incredible things. He won a Vezina a couple of years ago and figures to win another for this season’s performance. He broke the single-season save percentage record. He’s even racked up 26 shutouts with the Bruins.
Amidst all the great showings the 37-year-old has turned in, Thomas’ performance in Game 5 had people wondering whether, despite it not being a shutout, they were seeing some version of Tim Thomas that is generally saved for special occasions. Thomas’ save on Brian Gionta when the Habs captain and Travis Moen were on a 2-on-1 was sensational, as he didn’t cheat towards Gionta in anticipation of the pass, but was still able to get over in time to make the highlight-reel stop after it. If the B’s can get that type of performance Tuesday, they’ll certainly be hard to beat.
3. Make the power play an actual advantage
This one’s almost like the free space in Bingo. It just goes without saying, so it’s almost cheap to include this among the six. Even if it does go without saying, the power play has gone without scoring for too long. The 0-for-15 mark it’s posted in the playoffs might make one wonder if the team ever scores on the power play. Such questions can be answered with the reassuring stat of the seven goals they’ve had on 80 power plays since acquiring Tomas Kaberle.
4. Watch out for that pesky blue line
The two teams combined for 10 offsides calls in Game 5. While it is perhaps a goaltender’s second-best friend, there’s no better way to disrupt an offense. This is certainly an area in which both teams would like to see less calls.
5. Get the Chris Kelly line the B’s got in Game 4
The Kelly line with Michael Ryder and Rich Peverley was the biggest one for the Bruins in their Game 4 overtime win. While Ryder made two very big non-offensive plays (a nice save and a nifty backcheck), the line’s output wasn’t nearly what it was when it pumped out three goals Thursday in Montreal. Ryder had three shots on goal Saturday, while Peverley had just one and Kelly had none. Kelly was one of only two Bruins players (Gregory Campbell) to have a negative rating on the night.
There has been no Bruin better than Patrice Bergeron in this series, and given the way Tim Thomas played Saturday, that’s saying something. Bergeron has six points over the last four games, and it seems his work has also elevated the play of Brad Marchand, who has four points over the last four.
Though the Bergeron line has been great, the David Krejci line has been hot and cold. The coldest link has certainly been Milan Lucic, who still has no goals and just one point through five games, though he was more involved Saturday night and led the Bruins with eight shots on goal in the double-overtime contest. If he can keep sending pucks Carey Price‘s way, he’ll be able to snap out of it.
|With a little help from his teammates, that was the Tim Thomas everyone was expecting||04.24.11 at 1:28 am ET|
Tim Thomas wasn’t just big Saturday night. He was – as they say in hockey – HUGE.
And his most monumental moment set up the game winner minutes later by Nathan Horton. If Thomas doesn’t stop Brian Gionta coming down the right wing and in on net for a clear shot with just over 13 minutes left in the double-overtime, the series has a totally different – and certainly desperate – feel for the Bruins.
“When it started I actually came out and was playing it as if [Travis] Moen would have a breakaway, because that’s what it looked like, a break, right off the start,” Thomas said of his stonewall job on Gionta. “And then I realized my D was going to get back and make it a two-on’one, and I was out pretty far so I had to make sure I started to get my backward momentum going so I could play both the shot and the pass. And I was just barely had enough speed to be able to make that push over on the pass. And I was just fortunate enough to get a leg out and cover that part of the net.”
Was the save on Gionta that helped the Bruins take a 3-2 series lead the biggest save of his career?
“No, I mean I don’t have a list like that,” Thomas said at first before reconsidering the question. “I do have a couple that stick out from the past and stuff and I’m sure I haven’t had much time to think about it. Yeah, probably because it ended up being such an important save. And I’ll have to watch it to get a better picture of exactly what happened because it was the second overtime and thing happen fast and I was just playing goalie.”
Thomas also had some help, like in the first period when Michael Ryder slid down to stop Tomas Plekanec as Thomas was out of the crease.
“That was awesome,” Thomas said. “And I was actually turned around, I got to watch it pretty good. That was a huge save and in this type of game that’s a game-breaker.”
Is Thomas capable of appreciating what an epic game it was? Read the rest of this entry »
|Nathan Horton sinks Habs in double overtime||04.23.11 at 11:07 pm ET|
By DJ Bean and Scott McLaughlin
Brad Marchand got the Bruins on the board at 4:33 of the third period, beating Price for his first career playoff goal. The lead would later be relinquished as Jeff Halpern tied it at 13:56, breaking up Tim Thomas‘s shutout bid.
In skating to more than two scoreless periods, the teams made the 44 minutes of shutout hockey the longest a game in the series had gone without a goal. Prior to Saturday, a goal had been scored no later than 8:13 into the first period.
The teams will next play on Tuesday in Montreal for Game 6 at the Bell Centre; a win will permit the Bruins to advance to the conference semi-finals. If necessary, Game 7 will be played the following day at TD Garden.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Milan Lucic finally got involved on offense. After leading the team in goals during the regular season and tying for the team lead in points, he had just five shots and no points through the first four games of the series. He got the primary assist on the game-winner, and he did a much better job of making his presence known in Game 5. He led all skaters with seven shots on goal, consistently went in hard on the forecheck and found himself with a few quality scoring chances around the net.
– Lucic wasn’t the only one shooting for the Bruins in the first period, as their 12 shots on Price marked just the second time this series that the Bruins have hit double-digits in first-period shots on goal. It didn’t pay off Saturday for either team, but the B’s have the right idea.
– Michael Ryder was a temporary fan-favorite before the game thanks to his Game 4 heroics, but the crowd really took it to a new level in the first period when Ryder made what at the time was the save of the game, stopping Tomas Plekanec with Thomas way out of the net.
In addition to his work as a part-time netminder (he actually played the position in ball hockey back in his Canadiens days), Ryder continued to get chances Saturday as well, though none made their way past Price.
– Marchand came up with a clutch goal on a night in which he’d been made popular for the wrong reasons. First, he nearly went face-first into the ice in the second period while attempting to throw down with Plekanec on a play that earned each player a roughing minor.
At the second period’s conclusion, Max Pacioretty — possessing villain status around these parts for shoving Zdeno Chara and jumping Steven Kampfer at different points this season, but more widely recognized as the victim of Chara/a Montreal stanchion from March 8 — tweeted that the game was “longer than marchands [sic] nose.” Pacioretty deleted the tweet shortly after and apologized.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– The Bruins probably would have preferred it if Benoit Pouliot remained in the lineup for the Habs, as Halpern was able to score the equalizer in his second game back in the lineup. Halpern got back in for the Canadiens on Thursday after missing Games 1 and 2 with a lower-body injury.
– Boston struggled in the faceoff circle, as Montreal won 33 of 57 draws through the end of regulation. The subpar performance on draws didn’t have a huge effect on the game until they lost a defensive zone faceoff that directly led to Halpern’s game-tying goal late in the third. The Canadiens were also able to kill some time when the Bruins were on the power play by winning faceoffs in their own end and sending the puck down the river. The B’s actually did a much better job in the first overtime, winning 14 of the 20 draws in the frame.
– The Bruins went 0-for-3 on the power play — including missing out on a chance to end it with a man advantage in the first overtime — and are now 0-for-15 in the series. They got some nice setups and some decent looks at the net, but they need to find a way to score on the man advantage, plain and simple. They still seem too lackadaisical when it comes to getting traffic in front and digging for rebounds. Shots from the point can be the best power-play strategy when you’re getting screens, deflections and rebounds, but the Bruins aren’t getting much of any of that right now. They’re starting to get some dirty goals at even strength; now they just have to carry that over to the power play.