|Bruins know what to expect from the Flyers||04.30.10 at 2:32 pm ET|
The Bruins are in for a physical series. It’s just the nature of Philadelphia sports — if you play there, you have to bring an edge. This group of Flyers is no exception, with bruising bodies including Chris Pronger and Braydon Coburn on the blue line and pesky, instigator forwards Daniel Carcillo and Scott Hartnell up front. Carcillo put up an impressive 207 penalty minutes during the regular season and then another 18 in five games against the Devils in the quarterfinals. A big part of the how the series swings will be how Boston manages the physical game and how well the B’s keep their tempers when the Flyers inevitably get under their its skin.
An interesting situation pops up with the Bruins as the return of Marc Savard from concussion causes a player to get bumped from the lineup. Indications from the last three days of practice are that nominal enforcer Shawn Thornton will sit, as Blake Wheeler may take his spot on the checking line. Coach Claude Julien warned not to assume that a decision had been made, but often this season what we have seen in practice is what we see come game time. Either way, Julien does not seem to see the loss of Thornton on the ice as a major concern.
“We are, I guess I would consider us ‘team tough.’ I don’t see any issues any way we go, and if there is, they will be addressed. It is as simple as that,” Julien said.
Thornton does not see himself as only a tough guy, to his credit because he does do other things well on the checking line. At the same time, he is always willing to ring the bell when his particular services are called upon.
“To tell the truth, I think I can play the game besides for that and be a factor in anything, not just the tough man. If that stuff happens, I am more than willing to take care of it. I think it is more that I play with a chip on my shoulder and don’t back down and showing through the last few that I don’t just want to play against the tough team but that I try to contribute in every game,” Thornton said.
Boston did well against the Sabres when it came to keeping net-crashers out of the way of Tuukka Rask, and the team is going to have to keep cutting the timber again to make sure that the goaltender can see where would-be goal-scorers are coming from.
“The less time you spend in the D-zone is for the best, but they are going to get their cracks and you just have to stay composed and stay where you are supposed to stay and just work in front of Tuukka, because if you let him see the puck he is going to stop the majority of things,” Wheeler said.
Rask, as per his normal demeanor, did not seem too concerned about the Flyers’ style of play. The Bruins have seen it before and they know what to expect.
“We know them and we played against them and their style. They like to get pucks in and crash the net. That is what a lot of teams do, but they have big forwards and really that is their style of play to get in front of the net and get pucks in,” Rask said. “I mean, guys block shots and get me a lane to see shots, and in the last series we did a great job with that. As a goalie it really helps when you can see the shooter and maybe one more thing and when you see the puck it becomes much easier.”
The Bruins also need to be aware that the Flyers have a history of the quick strike while on the penalty kill. They had just six short-handed strikes (same as the Bruins) in the 2009-10 regular season but led the league with 16 in 2008-09 and were near the top with 13 in 2007-08. Granted, without Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne for the series because of toe injuries (Gagne may return if the series goes the distance but Carter definitely is out), the Flyers’ short-handed capabilities are hindered, but that does not mean the Bruins should take the possibility lightly.
“Definitely, you have to be smart with the puck, even on the power play. You can’t make lazy passes, and if you find yourself turning the puck over it is going to be going the other way pretty quick,” Wheeler said. “Eliminate turnovers is probably first and foremost. I think they live on turning the puck over and going the other way, and if we eliminate those things I think we will give ourselves a great chance.”
|Bruins slam the door on the Sabres||04.26.10 at 9:40 pm ET|
Summary — For the second straight season the Boston Bruins are headed to the Eastern Conference semifinals as they closed out their series against the Sabres with a 4-3 win at TD Garden on Monday night. Tuukka Rask earned the first series-clinching victory of his young career with 27 of saves while Ryan Miller was the loser, allowing four goals on 32 Boston shots.
The Bruins got on the board first with their fifth power play strike of the series. Mark Recchi shot from the right wing with David Krejci in the slot, slightly off-center from Miller. Krejci got enough stick on the puck to change its direction ever so slightly but enough to get it into the net for his second of the series at 13:39. It was the first time in the series that Boston scored the first goal of the game and entered the second period with a lead.
The Bruins took a two-goal lead early in the second period, again on the power play, this time a 4-on-3 with Zdeno Chara, Tim Connolly and Henrik Tallinder in the box. Krejci and Recchi were the culprits again, this time switched around as Krejci used the extra space to pick apart the Sabres triangle defense with a cross through the slot to Recchi on Miller’s doorstep for the pop in goal at 1:01.
The Sabres got one back in second period when an aggressive forecheck led to a couple snap passes to Patrick Kaleta wide open in front of Rask. Kaleta flipped it up and Rask had no chance to make it a 2-1 game at 6:34. The strike was Kaleta’s first of the series.
The teams traded goals within a minute of each other midway through the third period. The first was scored by Krejci on a snap shot to the side of Miller’s crease after receiving the puck from behind the goal line at 7:18. Former Boston College product Nathan Gerbe kept Buffalo’s playoff dream alive by bringing the Sabres back within a goal at 7:40 for his first career playoff strike.
Miroslav Satan got the goal back at 14:49 with his second of the playoffs when he beat Miller off a centering pass from Dennis Wideman that deflected off Milan Lucic as he passed through the crease. Thomas Vanek then brought the Sabres back yet again as Buffalo operated for the last two minutes with an empty net. He beat Rask at 18:47 to push the action to the final seconds of the game.
David Krejci — Opened the scoring with a tip goal passed Miller and put the helped on the second with a zip pass to set up Recchi. He added the game-winner in the third to cap his three-point night.
Mark Recchi — The veteran forward registered his 75th career postseason assist in the first period and scored his third goal of the series in the second. The strike was the 53rd of his playoff career.
Milan Lucic — Got two big assists in the third period for his first playoff points of the year in the Bruins biggest game of the year.
Turning Point — Krejci’s second goal of the game gave the Bruins a cushion that would prove essential as Gerbe brought the Sabres back within a goal 22-seconds later. The puck was pushed from behind the goal line by Milan Lucic to Krejci on the elbow of Miller’s crease for the snap shot goal at 7:18. Gerbe’s goal was unassisted after taking the puck off the half wall and turning with a whipcord to go far side on Rask to keep the Sabres playoff hopes alive.
Key Play — Satan’s goal sealed it as he crashed the net to put a Dennis Wideman centering pass into the net at 14:41 of the third. Lucic had cleared the way for the puck as he passed through the crease moments before and deflected the pass slightly to earn the primary assist on the play, his second of the period.
|Sabres strike back, take Game 5||04.23.10 at 9:38 pm ET|
Summary — Buffalo cut into the Bruins series lead by taking Game 5 with a desperation effort 3-0 at HSBC Arena on Friday night. Ryan Miller took the win with 34 saves to keep the Sabres hopes alive while Tuukka Rask let in three goals on 32 shots in taking his second loss of his young playoff career.
For the fifth straight game in the series the Sabres scored the first goal within the first ten minutes of the first period. Adam Mair was the culprit this time when he took the puck behind Rask’s crease, turned and fired a whipcord wraparound that went to the far side of the net at 1:54 for the early lead.
Buffalo, desperate from the start, put up a two-goal advantage at 18:54 of the first when the Bruins could not clear the puck from their zone. Andrew Ference tried to skip it up the wall but hit Blake Wheeler with the puck instead. It bounced off Wheeler and Vladimir Sobotka could not track it down as it travelled to the high slot where Derek Roy rejoined the play and put the puck on Rask. Jason Pominville, in on the initial giveaway, beat Ference down the slot and scored on the rebound by putting the puck around Rask’s pads.
The Sabres ballooned their lead to three goals at 9:22 in the second when Paul Gaustad when a quick-snap face off on the right circle that went straight to the stick of Michael Grier who took a slap shot the beat Rask to the right side of his crease. It was the first three goal lead by either team in the series and Grier’s second of the playoffs.
Johnny Boychuk scored the Bruins lone goal with a power play slap shot at 17:30 in the third period to make it 3-1. Boston emptied Rask from the net immediately thereafter and the Sabres cleared the puck from their zone, bouncing at the wall at center ice and sliding to the Boston net. Rookie Tyler Ennis won race to the puck, dove and swept it in for the empty-netter to account for the final score.
Ryan Miller — He would not get burnt in the third period for the third time against Boston and was able to bring Buffalo back to within a game of the Bruins.
Adam Mair — The fourth line center had his first of the series to give the Sabres quick confidence with a lightning strike early in the first period.
Michael Grier — Not only did he score the third goal of the game, he threw his body around to the tune of five hits and three blocked shots including one that put him out of the game for a bit in the third period.
Turning Point — Pominville’s goal. The giveaway was the essence of the Bruins night at HSBC Arena. Wheeler could not get out the way of a clearing puck, Sobotka cannot track it down as it slides to the slot and Ference gets burned by Pominville as he crashes the net. The two-goal advantage would be all that Miller would need to put the Bruins away.
Key Play — All of the goals that Rask let in could have been avoided one way or another but the one that gave the Sabres the first three goal lead by either team in the series was more of the net minder’s fault than the first two. Gaustad won the face off and Grier shot. Simple enough. It was the type of goal that the Bruins hardly ever allow and could not afford to do so when trying to put the series away.
|Second Period Summary: Bruins vs. Sabres – Game 5||at 8:41 pm ET|
In classic hockey statistics (no advanced metrics here) the blocked shot could be considered the “desperation meter” stat.
In that regard, the Sabres are all over Boston through the first two periods. The actual shot total (those that got all the way to the goaltender or net) is 27 to 13, indicating the Sabres total dominance of the first 40 minutes but Buffalo also leads in blocked shots by a double digit margin. Boston has gone to their desperation mode as they try to climb back into the contest. The Sabres have been throwing themselves around everywhere, much like they did in taking a 2-0 lead in the first two periods Game 4 at TD Garden before the Bruins came back to tie it in the third and win it in double overtime.
It has added up to some prime time frustration for the Bruins attack and some extra time with the puck for the Sabres. The Boston defensive corps is not having its best effort of the series with turnovers and bad exit passes from its own zone and Buffalo has capitalized all game. The first three goal lead that has been seen at anytime in this series came at 9:22 in the second when Michael Grier scored his second of the series with a slap shot off a face off won by Paul Gaustad on the circle to the left of Rask.
The Sabres are 31-2-0 this season, including playoffs, when taking a lead into the third period. The only positive thing for Boston? Those two Sabres’ losses came Game 2 and Game 4 of this series.
|First period summary: Bruins vs. Sabres – Game 5||at 7:48 pm ET|
The Bruins have to be thinking this a positive trend at this point in the series.
For the fifth straight game the Sabres scored the first goal of the game within the first ten minutes of the first period. The goals have been getting gradually earlier with Tim Kennedy’s opener in Game 4 at 2:12 and now Game 5 Adam Mair’s at 1:54.
Buffalo worked hard on the half-wall and Mair won the puck and skated hard around the back of Tuukka Rask’s net and emerged a couple feet out of the goal line. He turned with a whipcord and fired the puck across Rask to the far side of the net for the 1-0 lead.
The Sabres got the first chance on the power play but it was the same result as it has been all series – futility and frustration setting up the offense because the Bruins will not allow a clean entry into the zone. The kill make it 15 consecutive scoreless chances for Buffalo on the man-advantage through the series.
Boston has faired better when a man up, converting 25 percent of its chances in the series which has more or less proved the be the difference between the teams. It got a chance to tie the game when the Sabres top blue liner, rookie Tyler Myers, took a cross-checking penalty at 11:23. The difference between the Bruins and Buffalo’s power play is that Boston has been able to set up its system in the zone with Patrice Bergeron winning face offs and getting the puck to the triangle on the blue line to set up either a shot from the point or high slot or get it to the corners where Berergon or David Krejci can operate off the half walls.
The Bruins did just that and put pressure on Ryan Miller but a few shots were blocked before they ever got to the goaltender and ultimately the penalty was killed.
Boston’s best chance of the period came when Krejci rushed down the right wing and centered through the crease to a crashing Marco Sturm. The German forward was now able to get enough stick nor skate on it to push it into the open net with Miller out of position and it bounced harmlessly to the left of the crease.
Buffalo would make it 2-0 for the second straight game at 18:54. Boston could not clear the puck and essentially added a couple of assists to Jason Pominville in the process as Vladimir Sobotka and Andrew Ference could not get untangled from the puck on the point coming out of the zone. Sobotka had the giveaway to Derek Roy on the blue line and he shot with Pominville crashing for the rebound around Rask’s pads for the two-goal advantage.
As expected, the Sabres have come out with desperation and are putting the Bruins in their place, up by two goals and outshooting Boston 12 to 5 heading into the second period.
|Claude Julien press conference||04.22.10 at 1:22 am ET|
Bruins coach Claude Julien speaks to the media following his team’s 3-2 overtime victory over the Sabres. The Bruins have a 3-1 series lead heading into Buffalo for Game 5 on Friday night. Julien spoke on a variety of subjects, including Miroslav Satan, Tuukka Rask, what he told his team going into the second overtime period, and how difficult the next game will be.
|Inside the B’s locker room||at 1:15 am ET|