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5 things we learned as Maple Leafs made Bruins miss Zdeno Chara 11.12.14 at 10:32 pm ET
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Phil Kessel scored twice against the Bruins Wednesday. (Abelimages/Getty Images)

Phil Kessel scored twice against the Bruins Wednesday. (Abelimages/Getty Images)

TORONTO –€” The first eight games of the Zdeno Chara-less schedule looked like a group of largely winnable contests before they would have to face the Canadiens.

For as well as the Bruins survived that stretch, they ended it in disastrous fashion.

For all the bad moments have had this season — and they’€™ve had plenty between their early-season struggles and the injuries they’€™ve suffered –€” they hadn’€™t really gotten walloped by anyone, let alone a Maple Leafs opponent they had handled easily without Chara once already.

The Bruins’€™ 6-1 loss to the Maple Leafs (here is the box score) provided a reminder for anyone who had forgotten that, though Boston hasn’€™t played many good teams of late, things are a lot harder without No. 33 on the ice. Phil Kessel, a player who is usually silent against his former team because of Chara, enjoyed a two-goal night against Boston’€™s mortal blue line.

Tuukka Rask was yanked after giving up three goals early in the second period and four on the night. Even what looked like a well-targeted Bruins goal by Reilly Smith was negated in the second period by Carl Soderberg being in the crease.

Of course, it wasn’€™t just about Chara, Rask or Boston’€™s defense. This was one of those once-in-a-season colossal stinkers that a team can only hope will end up being their worst loss of the season with few other candidates.

Here are four other things we learned Wednesday night:

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Phil Kessel, Toronto Maple Leafs, Tuukka Rask, Zdeno Chara
Leafs’ Phil Kessel: ‘You can’t blow a lead like that’ 05.14.13 at 3:26 am ET
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In the immediate moments after the worst Game 7 collapse in Stanley Cup playoff history, Phil Kessel, a man of few words to begin with, need few words to describe his emotions.

“It’€™s pretty tough,” Kessel said. “Obviously, we were up 4-1 with 10 minutes left or something. You can’€™t blow a lead like that.”

What did coach Randy Carlyle tell the Leafs in the intermission before overtime after his team self-destructed?

“Obviously, he just said if we put ourselves in this position, we take it,” Kessel said. “Obviously it’€™s disappointing. I don’€™t know what happened to us. 4-1, you can’€™t lose that game.”

How will the Leafs possibly bounce back from this next season?

“Obviously we’€™ll have the summer to think about it, work hard and get back at it next year,” Kessel said. “It’€™s pretty tough — 4-1, you can’€™t lose.”

Kessel kept repeating 4-1 over and over. Did the Leafs fall into a shell and take their foot off the gas?

“I don’€™t know. I don’€™t think so, they kind of took it to us and we sat back,” Kessel said. “We can’€™t do that. I think, we didn’€™t do things we needed to do right? We sat back and they came at us.

“I don’€™t know. I can’€™t look at the positive after a game like that, it’€™s pretty tough.”

Read More: Phil Kessel, Toronto Maple Leafs,
Shawn Thornton on Game 7: ‘Obviously, we didn’t want to be here’ 05.13.13 at 5:42 pm ET
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Leave it to Shawn Thornton to lighten the mood heading into a winner-take-all Game 7 against the Leafs at TD Garden. Asked what was the biggest advantage to flying back to Boston on the morning of Game 7 instead of flying back right after the Game 6 loss, Thornton had an immediate response.

“I didn’t have my dogs kicking me in the back in the middle of the night,” Thornton said. “I probably got more sleep last night staying over than I would have coming in. I think we got some more rest. We didn’t fly out at an atrocious time this morning. Everyone got their sleep, got in, had a good meal. I don’t know. I feel pretty good.”

The Bruins flew back to Boston mid-morning, after being grounded in Toronto Sunday night due to a “malfunction” with their charter plane. Thornton said the key for the Bruins in Game 7 will be attitude.

“Try not to get too high before the game and try to keep it fairly even keel,” he said. “If you get too ramped up, everyone can start looking like they have my hands, bobbling pucks. We have a lot of experience but they’re going to be pretty fired up over there, too. You have to try and keep it even keel but we have to be ready for them.”

Thornton also said the mood in the dressing room is not one of nervousness.

“Not uneasiness,” Thornton said. “Obviously, we didn’t want to be here but we are so you turn the page and get ready for tonight and embrace it. Game 7s are pretty fun for everyone so just have fun with it.”

“This is a great opportunity,” added Chris Kelly. “Play in Game 7 at home. We’ve worked hard all year to put ourselves in this situation. Obviously, it’s not the ideal situation but I don’t think it is for them, too. I’m sure they wouldn’t have wanted to play a Game 7 at the start of the series. But we are where we are and I’m excited.”

Kelly has been centering the third line with Jaromir Jagr and Rich Peverley. Kelly is confident that face-off wins can finally result in goals in Game 7.

“I think we’ve done a good job in the face-off circle, not ony the center men but a five-man unit getting in there and helping out,” Kelly said. “It’d be nice to manage the puck a little bit better than we have, putting it in better situations than where we can retrieve it after those face-off wins.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Chris Kelly, Shawn Thornton, Stanley Cup Playoffs
Game 7 setup, Bruins vs. Maple Leafs at 12:43 am ET
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The Bruins, on Monday night, will be playing their 24th lifetime Game 7, and this is the 19th of those games played on their home ice.

Here, thanks to the Bruins media relations department, are some other nuggets to consider.

This is the 13th time that the Bruins have been taken to a Game 7 after leading in a series by a 3-2 margin. This is their sixth Game 7 in their last seven series played and is the ninth in their last 12 series.

They are 12-11 overall in Game 7s and are 11-7 on home ice. They are 3-3 lifetime in Game 7s decided in overtime. They became the first team in NHL history to win three Game 7s in one playoff year in 2011.

They have shut out their opponent in two of their last three Game 7s. This is their third lifetime Game 7 vs. Toronto, with each team winning one of the previous two.

As for the Maple Leafs, they are playing the 22nd lifetime Game 7 in their franchise history and this is the 14th of these games they will play on the road. This is the 11th time that they have forced a Game 7 after trailing in a series by a 3-2 margin. This is their sixth Game 7 in their last eight series played. They are 12-9 overall in Game 7 and are 5-8 on the road. They are 2-1 lifetime in Game 7s decided in overtime. This is their third lifetime Game 7 vs. the Bruins, with each team winning one of the previous two.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Game 7, Toronto Maple Leafs,
Postgame notes from Game 6 at 12:32 am ET
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Here are some key nuggets from the 2-1 Game 6 loss to the Maple Leafs from the Bruins media relations department.

‘€¢ The Bruins now have a 10-14 lifetime record in Game 6s of best-of-seven series in which they entered with a 3-2 series lead.

‘€¢ The Maple Leafs now have a 10-10 lifetime record in Game 6s of best-of-seven series in which they entered trailing the series
2-3.

WHO’€™S HOT

‘€¢ Milan Lucic had a goal Sunday, giving him 1-6-7 totals in four of the six games of this series.

‘€¢ Zdeno Chara had an assist, giving him 1-6-7 totals in four of his last five games.

‘€¢ Jaromir Jagr had an assist, giving him single assists each in three of his last four games.

‘€¢ Toronto’€™s James van Riemsdyk had two assists, giving him 2-3-5 totals in four of the six games of this series.

‘€¢ Toronto’€™s Phil Kessel had a goal, giving him 3-1-4 totals in four of his last five games.

‘€¢ Toronto’€™s Cody Franson had an assist, giving him 1-3-4 totals in four of the six games of this series.

FUN FACTS

‘€¢ These teams played penalty-free second and third periods. They were the first periods of this series in which neither team was assessed an infraction. The third period of Game 3 did not feature a power-play opportunity for either team but the clubs were assessed coincidental minors in that stanza.

‘€¢ Dion Phaneuf‘€™s goal at 1:48 of the third period was the seventh of this series scored in the first two minutes of a period, with Toronto netting five and Boston two.

‘€¢ The Bruins outshot the Maple Leafs by a 30-26 margin. It was the first game of this series in which neither team had a 40-or- more shot game.

MILESTONES REACHED

‘€¢ Toronto’€™s Joe Colborne played his first NHL playoff game.

FIRST GOAL OF GAME

‘€¢ The Maple Leafs scored the first goal of the game when Phaneuf scored at 1:48 of the third period.

‘€¢ The Bruins now are 2-2 this postseason when allowing the first goal of the game. They finished the regular season with a 9-10-3 mark this season when allowing the first goal of the game.

‘€¢ The Maple Leafs now are 2-2 this postseason when scoring the first goal of the game. They finished the regular season with a 19-9-4 record this season when scoring the first goal of the game. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Bruins, Stanley Cup Playoffs, Toronto Maple Leafs,
Claude Julien frustrated with his ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ Bruins at 12:14 am ET
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Bruins coach Claude Julien said he didn’t want to say he was frustrated after a 2-1 loss to the Maple Leafs that forced a Game 7 Monday night at TD Garden.

But after watching how his team handled or more accurately – in his eyes – mishandled the puck Sunday night, he’d seen enough.

“Before the game we talked about it, and after the first period, I didn’t think our puck management was very good,” Julien said. “That means being strong on the puck and making the right plays, shooting versus over-passing. I didn’€™t think it was very good.”

Asked about the inconsistent play of his team, he didn’t mince words.

“As I said to our players after the game, we’ve been a Jekyll and Hyde hockey club all year, and that’s what you’€™re seeing right now,” Julien said. “I think it’s important for us to bring the good Bruins team to the table for Game 7.”

Julien was asked about his team’s inability to put away teams when they have the chance.

“No doubt, I’d like to have it any other way but at this stage of the year, frustration on my part isn’t going to help my club turn it over,’€ Julien said.

What Julien wouldn’€™t do is throw one particular player or line under the bus.

“I have no comments on my lines,” Julien said tersely. “I’m not talking about certain lines. I’m talking about our whole team as a Jekyll and Hyde hockey club. You see when we play well how good we can be. Tonight, poor puck management never gave us a chance to win. It’s as simple as that.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Jeykll and Hyde, Stanley Cup Playoffs, Toronto Maple Leafs
Plane ‘malfunction’ forces Bruins to fly back to Boston on Monday 05.12.13 at 11:57 pm ET
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Things simply went from bad to worse after a Game 6 loss that forced the Bruins to a winner-take-all Game 7 in Boston Monday night.

Not only will the tired Bruins be playing three games in four nights, they will be forced to fly on the morning of their most important game of the season due to trouble with their charter plane Sunday night in Toronto.

The Bruins issued the following statement from general manager Peter Chiarelli.

“Late during [Sunday’s] game we were made aware that there was a malfunction with our airplane. As a result we are staying in Toronto on Sunday night and the team will travel to Boston on Monday morning.”

The Bruins will not have a morning skate but instead have select players available to the media at 4:30 p.m. with coach Claude Julien speaking to reporters about an hour later.

Face-off is set for 7 p.m. Monday night at TD Garden, as the Bruins try to avoid the indignity of blowing 3-1 series lead, three years after losing a 3-0 advantage to the Flyers.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers, Stanley Cup Playoffs, Toronto Maple Leafs
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