|Barry Pederson on D&C: Bruins ‘are going to be a good team for a long time’||06.25.13 at 10:05 am ET|
NESN analyst Barry Pederson, in an interview on the Dennis & Callahan show, identified a number of roster decisions that now face the Bruins following their elimination in a Game 6 loss to the Blackhawks. Still, Pederson suggested that the team’s long-term outlook remains excellent.
With a number of young, still-improving talents like Tyler Seguin, Matt Bartkowski and Dougie Hamilton, Pederson suggested that if Boston can re-sign restricted free agent Tuukka Rask and lock up Patrice Bergeron — who now has one year left in his contract — to an extension, the team has the core to continue to build upon its run of two Stanley Cup Finals and one championship in the last three years.
He emphasized the need for players like Tyler Seguin, Carl Soderberg and Jordan Caron to get stronger to help carry the Bruins through a 2013-14 season that starts in 13 weeks, but overall, Pederson pointed to a sunny outlook for a team that just endured a devastating defeat. Read the rest of this entry »
|These ‘really confident’ Bruins know they have to re-capture road warrior mentality||06.21.13 at 9:09 pm ET|
Perhaps the lasting legacy of the 2011 Stanley Cup champion Bruins was their ability to win in a hostile environment when they had no other choice.
Game 7 in Vancouver was the ultimate testament to that quality.
Now, these Bruins have a chance to repeat that accomplishment, and must, if they are to achieve their ultimate goal. Already, the Bruins have proven they can win in Chicago. But after losing Game 4 in overtime, they must find a way again.
“It’s tough, but we know we can do it,” captain Zdeno Chara said Friday. “We have a good enough team. We just have to be ready. It’s going to be a battle.”
“I guess it helps some kind of confidence there, but it’s still going to be a tough one,” Tuukka Rask said of winning Game 2 last Saturday.
Chara knows the value of the experience of Game 7 in 2011 – and Game 2 this year – in Boston’s quest.
“It’s huge,” Chara said. “You need to be able to win games on the road. It’s something that good teams go to do, and certainly we’ve done it once, so we’ve got to do our best to do it again.”
Added Tyler Seguin: “I think it helps a ton. We know what to expect a bit more and that being said Chicago’s been in this series just as much as we have. You know, it’s going to be a long series still and it’s one we’re enjoying.”
All eyes will be on Rask to see how he handles the “bounce back” game.
“Yeah, we’ve got to focus on [Game 5], hopefully get the win and have a chance to finish it at home,” Rask said. “[We’re] really confident. I think that’s one of our good qualities as a team. We never let things bother us.”
Maybe Johnny Boychuk had the best take of all on the road factor.
“It doesn’t really matter at this point where we’re playing,” Boychuk said. “I think both teams are just trying to worry about what they’re doing and trying to just battle as hard as you can to win a Cup.”
|Tuukka Rask on defensive corrections: ‘It’s not rocket science at this point’||06.20.13 at 9:31 pm ET|
Sometimes it just takes simplifying things to their most basic form.
That’s the way Tuukka Rask feels about the defense in front of him in Game 4 and what he expects for Game 5 Saturday in Chicago.
“We talked about it and moved on,” Rask said. “New game Saturday.”
Was Wednesday’s six-goal implosion on defense the result of Chicago’s skill or Boston’s breakdowns?
“I think it was both,” Rask said. “I think they played a good game. They had, as I said yesterday, legs right off the bat. We didn’t, and we had some mental mistakes. The layers weren’t there and we kind of got caught standing still a lot of times. So, I think it was both.”
Can Boston’s defensive issues from Game 4 be resolved by Saturday?
“Yeah. I think it’s not rocket science at this point,” Rask said. “I think they played good, as I said. We didn’t play our game for the most part. We were standing still and not doing the things we were supposed to do in order to have a chance to win hockey games. We have to adapt that.”
“I mean, a lot of occasions, these finals especially, the momentum shifts and both teams have their moments. We just try to recognize what the situation is and not get too much carried away about the losses or wins and just try to stay even-keel and try to play our game as good as we can and hope that the result will be good.”
There’s little doubt in Rask’s mind that the Bruins will find their game again.
“I don’t think it should be an issue,” Rask said. “I don’t think, for us, it matters whether we are at home or away we always play good games at either places, but I feel confident we can respond.
“That’s something we definitely can do. We can’t just rely on the fact that we have done it in the past. We have to go out there and make it happen again. We feel confident that we have it in us, but we have to be better.”
When you give up six goals in a Stanley Cup finals game, you’re not going to feel real good about your performance. But Tuukka Rask knows enough that when the Bruins allow six goals, it’s more of a defensive breakdown than anything else.
Rask allowed a playoff-high six goals Wednesday night, including the overtime game-winner by Brent Seabrook 10 minutes into the extra period as the Bruins lost Game 4, 6-5, and watched as the Blackhawks won back home ice advantage in the series.
“It’s not fun, but we battled back many times, didn’t make it easy on ourselves,” Rask said. “At the end of the day, it’s a one-goal game. They get it. We just made it too tough on ourselves. Not our best night.”
Rask faced several odd-man rushes that led to scoring chances or loose rebounds, like the one that Patrick Kane finished in the second period on a backhander that left Rask sprawling across his crease, trying to stop the shot in vain.
“The got a lot of shots through and a lot of second opportunities,” Rask said. “You know, you let six goals as a goalie, you can’t be satisfied, but as a team I thought it wasn’t our best defensive game.”
As for the Seabrook winner from the right point, Rask was fighting through traffic provided by Jonathan Toews in front. By the time he saw the puck, it was ticketed far side and Rask had no chance of stopping it.
“I saw it at the last second,” Rask said. “There was some traffic in front, just couldn’t make a stretch.”
It wasn’t just the fact the Bruins were outshot 47-33. The Blackhawks made good on their promise to make it harder on Rask, who was on pace to set a new Bruins postseason record for fewest goals against and save percentage.
“They just got shots through,” Rask said. “I wasn’t able to make saves or we weren’t able to block shots. They got those rebounds, that makes the difference.”
|Pierre McGuire on M&M: Bruins ‘a very, very difficult team to play against’||06.18.13 at 1:14 pm ET|
NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire checked in with Mut & Merloni on Tuesday to dissect the Bruins’ 2-0 victory in Monday’s Game 3.
The B’s frustrated the Blackhawks by limiting Chicago’s scoring opportunities.
“First of all, [the Bruins] were really doing a good job controlling the puck and controlling the neutral zone and dictating the terms of the game, that’s No. 1 and 2,” McGuire said. “I think the third thing they did, obviously, is they were able to get last change, so they had the matchups they wanted. Not having Marian Hossa in the lineup for Chicago really hurt them in terms of manufacturing offense. ‘¦ That’s a big loss for Chicago; that’s not Boston’s fault.
“And then for both teams, the ice conditions. Tuukka Rask alluded to it when I interviewed him, and Dennis Seidenberg and I talked about it after the game. The ice conditions were not good. I could tell in the morning they weren’t going to be good because of the humidity in the city of Boston yesterday. There’s not a building in the league that would have had good ice yesterday, just because of the humidity. You’ve got to hope it cools off.
“But Boston’s doing exactly what they did to Pittsburgh: They’re killing the stars. Look at the hits on Jonathan Toews. They’re just crushing him. Hey, that’s all fair game in hockey. That’s part of the sport.”
McGuire also praised the Bruins defense and noted: “You add in the Patrice Bergeron factor and the faceoff-winning factor for the Bruins, and they’re a very, very difficult team to play against.”
McGuire noted that the Blackhawks’ comeback in Game 1 might have come at a cost.
“The one thing I’ll you that I don’t think is getting talked about enough: The wear and tear of Game 1, the three overtimes, I think it took a lot more out of Chicago, even though they won, compared to what it took out of Boston. I really do,” he said.
|Barry Pederson on D&C: Tuukka Rask ‘making it look easy’||at 11:33 am ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Barry Pederson joined the Dennis & Callahan show Tuesday morning to talk about the Bruins’ win in Game 3, the value of team defense and Tuukka Rask‘s technically sound play in goal.
Pederson said that the Bruins team defense has played consistently well throughout the playoffs and has been key in winning not only the physical battle but the mental battle.
‘We have seen it whether it was Toronto, the Rangers, Chicago in here or Pittsburgh,’ Pederson said. ‘It is the fact that they’re breaking the will of the opponent. It is so frustrating to go out there and every time you get the puck, [Zdeno] Chara is taking away your space, he is running you through the boards, you think you’ve got an open lane and you go to throw it across and all of a sudden [Dennis] Seidenberg is in there with his stick, with his feet. They just don’t give you an inch.
‘After a while it is almost like when you have a horse and you saddle-break him. Once his shoulders roll on you, you know you have the horse’s spirit broken and you have a chance of breaking him and getting him saddle-broken. Here’s the situation to me where you can see it on the ice where guys are going, ‘OK, we are ready, Chicago. Here comes our energy.’ And it’s like, ‘Oh, this just ain’t happening.’ They’re just frustrating them.’
That strong team defense is a testament to Claude Julien sticking with his defensive system and having his players buy into it. It is also the result of general manager Peter Chiarelli bringing in players that fit Julien’s system well and are willing to play hard on the defensive end every night.
Pederson said that one thing that makes Chiarelli successful is that he is willing to pay players for their contributions on the defensive end — not just the offensive end.
‘What happens a lot of times is somebody says, ‘OK, we want to play a certain style and we want to reward these guys for being successful, but yet they’re playing team defense,’ ‘ Pederson said. ‘A lot of times throughout the season when things aren’t going well it’s like, ‘We just don’t have enough offense. We don’t have those stars like [Evgeni] Malkin and [Sidney] Crosby who can generate a lot of goals.’ But champions, as we know, are known for both sides of the puck. Not only the offense, but it’s that great, smothering team defense and the structure and the layers they have defensively.
‘It has been very important also for Peter Chiarelli to reward these players for not only their offense that they show us by being maybe a point-a-game guy, but they are capable on other teams of probably being 80- or 90-point seasons, but they’re not. They are giving it up for the team and they are doing it the right way.’
Tuukka Rask was the beneficiary of the strong team defense in the Bruins’ win in Game 3, as he was protected well in his 28-save shutout Monday. However, Pederson said he thinks Rask may not be getting the credit he deserves because he is making it look easier than it is.
‘I think one of the things that we are getting ourselves maybe into a bad habit of, is because Tuukka is so sound technically and is so much in control of his emotions right now, he is making it look easy,’ Pederson said. ‘It’s not as easy as it looks. He is just attacking the shooters correctly. When he goes down he is taking up space, his belly is not touching the ice, he is standing up straight with his chest, he is controlling his rebounds.
‘A couple of times last night you could see the shifts were getting long and the Bruins needed a whistle. They are coming down the right side and they shoot the puck. He is able to control the rebound and throw it outside of the rink to get yourself a stop or a whistle. He has done a great job. He will be the first to tell you that his team in front of him is playing very well defensively, but I also think his teammates will tell you, ‘Hey, listen, he is playing so well right now and he is so locked in, he is making it look easier than it actually is.’ ‘
As hard as the crew inside TD Garden tried Monday, the ice was hardly suitable for two of the best hockey teams in the world to do battle. But battle they did.
There were bouncing pucks all night. There were players like Brad Marchand losing control on what appeared to be a certain shorthanded breakaway. There were pucks jumping over defensemen’s sticks as they tried to keep the puck in the offensive zone.
In short, this is what happens when you play on a humid 80-degree day in mid-June in Boston. The Garden is typically an ice-box in the winter because there is no in-house dehumidifier in the building. As they did in 2011, TD Garden tried to fix the humidity issue by bringing in high-tech dehumidifiers beginning with the Penguins series. On Monday, they didn’t do much good as far as the ice was concerned.
Asked if he thought the conditions were “crappy,” Dennis Seidenberg tried to be as kind as possible but couldn’t help but state the obvious.
“It is pretty bad,” Seidenberg said. “When you try to shoot, try to swing your blade on the ice, it feels like it’s sandpaper. It’s really rough. When you try to pass, the puck bounces. That’s why you have to keep the game simple, like I said. If there’s a play to be made, you have to make sure it’s an easy one. If not, you rather choose to go over the wall and out.
“Again, there was breakdowns today, but we seemed to cover them up a little bit better than the other side.”
It’s similar to when infielders complain about the dirt at Fenway Park, a common occurrence in the 1960s and 70s and, to a lesser degree, today.
Then there’s the perspective of the goalie. Tuukka Rask has already had one episode on the sketchy ice of Madison Square Garden – leading to the “butt stumble” in Game 4 of the Eastern semis that the Rangers won in overtime. Monday, Rask avoided an embarrassing repeat, no thanks to the ice conditions.
“The ice was pretty good in the start of the periods,” Rask said. “Then pretty quickly it got really chippy. It’s tough to get the read off of shots when it’s really a mess out there with the ice. You just got to be extra careful with the crazy bounces and stuff. You don’t want to make any stupid mistakes playing the puck either. You just got to be extra careful.”