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Bobby Orr on D&C: Bruins ‘a better team than they were in ’11′ 06.06.13 at 9:11 am ET
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Bobby Orr

Bruins legend Bobby Orr joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday after watching Wednesday night’s thrilling Game 3 at TD Garden, a 2-1 double-overtime victory for the Bruins over the Penguins.

“This team, you go back to the Toronto series, is this the same team? What did they do? Absolutely amazing,” Orr said. “They didn’t play great against Toronto. The 10 minutes of the last game, an unbelievable comeback. They played a little better against the Rangers. But in this series, they’re playing as well now as they did in ’11. They’ve completely dominated Pittsburgh. … They’re playing their big guys against their big guys, and the Bruin guys that are supposed to score are scoring, Tuukka [Rask] has been unbelievable. I don’t know what happened. But Claude [Julien] and the coaching staff got them playing great. Very impressive. Very impressive.”

Added Orr: “This is team is playing unbelievable hockey. And people are going to say, ‘Well, Pittsburgh’s not playing very well.’ Well, the Bruins aren’t letting them play. They’re all over them, they’re not giving them any room. And when they get those chances, Tuukka’s coming up huge for that team. It’s a team effort.”

Sidney Crosby has been criticized for his lack of production in this series, but Orr said the focus instead should be on how well the Bruins are playing to shut down all the Penguins’ stars.

“I don’t agree with that at all, about him being overrated and this guy not doing da-da-da-da,” Orr said. “Let’s look at what the Bruins are doing. they’re not giving them one inch. You want to play tough? The Bruins are there. Finesse? Every player that’s supposed to — whatever the players’ strength is, that player is playing to his full strength. It’s wonderful to watch. And they’re defense, wow. Defensively they’re very, very strong.”

Gregory Campbell took a slap shot off his leg late in the second period but showed toughness by getting back to his feet and struggling to help the B’s penalty kill for almost a minute until the puck was cleared and he had a chance to get to the bench.

“What that kid did last night — I mean, they’re reporting he may have a broken leg. He obviously he was in pain, and he hung in there,” Orr said. “That’s the team. That’s the team right there. That’s what they are right now. We saw what they’re made of. This team has a ton of character. A ton of character.”

Added Orr: “What he did was incredible. Certainly it gave the team a great lift. Certainly the fans appreciated what Gregory did.”

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Tuukka Rask: ‘It was definitely a grind’ at 2:53 am ET
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Tuukka Rask was again on top of his game Wednesday night. (AP)

Of all the great performances Tuukka Rask has had in these 2013 playoffs, Wednesday night was certainly the most grueling.

He stopped 53 shots in 95 minutes and 19 seconds, allowing only a Chris Kunitz goal in the second period as the Bruins prevailed, 2-1, in double-overtime in Game 3 of the Eastern finals at TD Garden.

“Yeah, it was definitely a grind,” Rask said. “Both teams played pretty good. That second period was the worst one for us, but we battled and going into double overtime it’s anybody’s game.

“It’s five periods. So I imagine everybody gets tired. It’s more of a mental challenge I think. I wasn’t cramping up today or anything. So that was positive.”

Is he wiped out?

“Yeah, a little bit. I mean, it’s I don’t know 12:30 or something, five periods of hockey. Not the freshest feeling, but I think the win makes it a little easier,” he said with a smile. “I don’t think you feel that physical fatigue-ness at that point. It’s just trying to keep your head, and not thinking that you’re tired. It’s just a nice little challenge – you know if you think you’re tired you’re tired, and if you don’t you don’t.”

Tired or not, the numbers don’t lie. Rask is putting up even better stats to this point of the playoffs than Tim Thomas – the Conn Smythe winner – did in 2011 on the way to the Cup.

Thomas was 11-4 through 15 games with a goals against of 2.28. He had two shutouts, facing 521 shots with a save percentage of .931. Rask is also 11-4 through 15 games, with a 1.85 goals against, one shutout, facing 501 shots and a .940 save percentage.

“I feel good. I mean, I don’t feel any better than I’ve felt throughout the playoffs,” Rask said. “I think our team is helping me out a lot. Although obviously you let in two goals in three games you’re making some good saves too. But we’re blocking shots and taking care of those rebounds pretty well. So they’re helping my job a lot.”

Rask made several big saves and was helped out by a pair of posts, including a shot by Sidney Crosby in the first period. But the biggest save may have come from Gregory Campbell, who blocked a slap shot from Evgeni Malkin in the second period during a Penguins power play.

“I saw it, yeah. A guy had a lane and he sacrificed his body,” Rask said. “It was a great thing, just bad thing he got hurt. He blocks a lot of shots, he took one for the team there, and we really wanted to win this for him.”

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A fired-up and not-so ‘normal’ Tuukka Rask leads Bruins into Game 3 06.05.13 at 1:49 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask stops Chris Kelly in Wednesday morning skate while Adam McQuaid watches. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Tuukka Rask was on a razor’s edge Wednesday morning before Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals.

The mild-mannered “normal” goalie who can turn on a dime if he doesn’t play well or someone ticks him off on the ice, reached that boiling point Wednesday.

First came an innocent enough flick of a rebound into the net when Rask wasn’t ready from a teammate near the corner boards. Rask was focusing on 2-on-1 drills and had the puck stopped but the teammate just figured he’d fire it into the empty net.

As the video below shows, Rask angrily turned around reached into the net and faked firing it back but thought better of it.

But that was nothing compared to what happened about 15 minutes later. Shawn Thornton came in and snapped a shot that appeared to catch Rask in the right collarbone area. He fell to the ice in obvious pain and then yelled. He skated past Thornton who appeared to want to see if he was OK.

Rask stormed to the bench area and slammed his stick against the boards in front of the Bruins bench. He rested and recovered for less than a minute before returning to drills.

Coach Claude Julien‘s reaction?

“He’s fine,” Julien said. “Just didn’t want him falling in front of that door when he went out of his crease. I told him, ‘You’re making me look bad.’ I said, ‘I told everybody you were normal.’ But I said, ‘I did tell them you had a temper.’ So I said, ‘You’re okay.’ No issues.”

Whatever has motivated Rask so far in the series has certainly worked. He has stopped 55-of-56 shots and has allowed only a Brandon Sutter perfectly placed wrist shot to beat him in the first period of Game 2. Rask is 10-4 in these playoffs so far with a 1.99 goals against and a .935 save percentage.

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Claude Julien: Bruins ‘built’ for defensive success in playoffs at 1:24 pm ET
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Claude Julien speaks to reporters Wednesday morning at TD Garden before Game 3. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Defense wins championships. It’s a cliche nearly as old as the Stanley Cup. But it’s true. Keep your opponent from scoring and your chances of winning in the playoffs increases dramatically. And, according to Claude Julien, it’s been the secret to success for the Bruins in the first two games against the Penguins as the Boston forwards have shown a commitment to coming back and playing defense while the Penguins, not so much.

“It’s been good for us,” Julien said Wednesday morning before Game 3. “I think, when you look at our team, it’s built that way. We take pride in that part of our game, and that part of our game’s also given us the opportunity to be better offensively; turn that puck over quick and then everybody comes back, then we go back up the ice as a unit. That’s been a big part of our game and when it’s good, it provides us with some good offense.”

Julien was told that some in the Bruins dressing room Wednesday – like Daniel Paille – said that’s it’s not as simple as it looks to play a defensive system like the Bruins employ. Julien begged to differ.

“It’s not complicated, so I’m going to have to have a talk with Dan,” Julien said half-jokingly. “It really isn’t. What we try and do is eliminate the gray areas, make it black and white. It really is easy. He probably said complicated because he doesn’t want to tell you what it is. But it isn’t. This game shouldn’t be a complicated one.

“Guys have skills, you try to put some structure together, but the one thing you don’t take away is their ability to use their imagination and their skill and their hockey sense to make plays. Defensively, is where you’re extremely structured, and you want to make sure that you have layers and guys come back to where they should be positionally. When it comes to offense, a couple of rules, but the rest is about letting them do their job and letting them use their creativity.”

Julien again reminded everyone that his team is taking a level-headed approach in the hours before Game 3, knowing the Penguins figure to be hungry after losing Games 1 and 2 on home ice.

“It doesn’t matter what situation it is, I think our guys our mature enough to understand that whatever we went through, whatever the situation is right now, we have to be a good team in order to win at this stage of the season,” Julien said. “We can’t afford to let our guard down, whether it’s the respect for a team you’re playing, and the ability of that team to take advantage of you if you’re not ready, or whether it’s just from within our group to want to be a good team every night. That’s what’s important right now, thats we stay focused on the present and don’t live in the past, don’t look in the future. I’ve said that before, we’ve been good when we’ve kept our eye on what’s going on right now. That’s what we’ve got to do.”

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Barry Pederson on D&C: Penguins ‘forgot to play their game and work hard’ 06.04.13 at 10:17 am ET
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Patrice Bergeron reaches around Sidney Crosby for the puck during the Bruins' Game 2 rout Monday night. (AP)

NESN Bruins analyst Barry Pederson joined Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday morning to offer his opinion of the B’s 6-1 rout of the Penguins in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.

“I’m a little bit shocked at what I just witnessed last night. … How ill-prepared the Pittsburgh Penguins looked right from the opening faceoff of not only Game 2 but Game 1,” Pederson said. “It’s as if when they had their eight days off to prepare, they watched the Vancouver series the year the Bruins won the Cup and they said to themselves, ‘Listen, we’re not going to let them out-hit us, out-physical us. Let’s make sure that we start running around and be physical to show that we’re not going to be pushed around.’ But they completely forgot to play their game and work hard and do the little things.

“And then of course when you have bad goaltending that also breaks the spirit. They are not heading in the right direction, to say the least.”

Added Pederson: “I also think they got off to the wrong start in Game 1 where they looked rattled, they looked like they were very fragile, whining and complaining about calls. Even yesterday you could see that when things were offside they were jumping all over the linesman as if the linesman made mistakes. They look like they’re not focused, and they’re looking at the wrong things instead of themselves.”

Most of the criticism is being heaped upon stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

“When you’re talking about these two, to me, you’re talking about the two best players in the National Hockey League — not even the National Hockey League, in the world,” Pederson said. “When you sit there and you look now, you’re talking about two players that have lost their direction. They look like they’re unfocused. They’re I think setting bad examples for their teammates in the sense that they’re not working hard enough. You saw last night a number of fly-by situations where they had chances to stop, do the little things that you need to do to win championships.

“So, they’ve lost their focus and their direction, and they’ve got to get that back. Because they’re the ones that the team is going to be looking to here in Game 3 to kind of help them turn things around.”

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Bruins light up Penguins in Game 2 06.03.13 at 10:36 pm ET
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Brad Marchand (middle) celebrates his first of two goals with Patrice Bergeron (37) and Johnny Boychuk (55). (AP)

PITTSBURGH — The Bruins offense has been the only one to show up offensively, and it led them to a 6-1 victory over the Penguins in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals Monday. The B’s now hold a 2-0 series lead after taking both games in Pittsburgh.

Tuukka Rask and the B’s once again kept the Penguins quiet, as the league’s top offense has managed just one goal through two games. Rask made 26 saves in the win.

Brad Marchand, who had just two goals in the Bruins’ first 13 playoff games, turned in a big night with two goals, which came in the first and final minutes of the first period.

Sidney Crosby gave the puck away at the blue line on the first shift of the game, with Marchand racing his way to a breakaway and beating Tomas Vokoun with a wrist shot glove side. Goals from Nathan Horton and David Krejci in a two-minute span later in the period prompted Dan Bylsma to replace Vokoun with Marc-Andre Fleury.

Less than three minutes after the change, Brandon Sutter scored the Penguins’ first goal of the series with 34 seconds left in the first, but Patrice Bergeron‘s line negated any optimism the Penguins could have brought into the intermission by turning some good neutral zone work into a rush that resuled in Marchand’s second of the night with nine seconds left in the period.

The teams skated to a scoreless second period before Bergeron took a feed from Jaromir Jagr in the offensive zone with plenty of open net and made it 5-1. Johnny Boychuk poured salt on the wound with a slap shot goal from the point with just over a minute to play.

Interestingly enough, the last team to come back from an 0-2 deficit in the conference finals and win was the 1991 Penguins, who came back against the Bruins en route to winning the Stanley Cup. The series will head to Boston, with Game 3 being played Wednesday and Game 4 Friday.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

– The Penguins’ offensive stars have been duds through two games. Crosby had two bad turnovers, one of which led to a goal in the first minute of the game, and none of the Penguins’ top six forwards have managed a point through 120 minutes this series. Jarome Iginla got behind Zdeno Chara to set himself up for a good opportunity on a rebound from an Evgeni Malkin shot in the first period off a rush, but he fanned on it. Bylsma switched James Neal and Pascal Dupuis late in the second period.

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Tuukka Rask, Bruins blank Penguins in Game 1 06.01.13 at 10:46 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask

PITTSBURGH — Tuukka Rask’s first career playoff shutout came against the toughest offense he’s ever faced in the playoffs, as Rask blanked the Penguins in a 3-0 Bruins victory in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.

Rask stood tall for the B’s shutting down the Penguins’ high powered offense and keeping them quiet through four power plays, while Krejci scored in the first and third periods to give him seven goals this postseason and an NHL-leading 19 points.

Krejci’s first tally came a slapshot that went off of Paul Martin’s skate and past Tomas Vokoun, and he increased Boston’s lead by knocking in his own rebound in front in the third. Shortly after, Nathan Horton picked up his sixth of the playoffs to make it 3-0.

The game was by no means a clean contest, and the foul play was highlighted by a Matt Cooke hit from behind on Adam McQuaid in the second period. Cooke, who infamously elbowed Marc Savard in 2011 and gave him concussion issues that have since ended his career, came in with speed and shoved McQuaid from behind, with the Boston defenseman going into the end boards head first. McQuaid left the game but eventually returned. Cooke was given a game misconduct for the hit and figures to face additional discipline.

Brad Marchand also turned in a rather dirty hit in the second period, shoving James Neal into the boards in front of the Pittsburgh bench. Marchand was given a two-minute minor for boarding, but given what a dangerous hit it was, Penguins fans were justified in wanting more punishment for Marchand.

The second period ended with a fracas that followed Sidney Crosby bumping Rask, with the situation culminating in Patrice Bergeron fighting Malkin in a heated bout.

The teams will next play Monday for Game 2 before the series returns to Boston.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- Rask entered this series with mediocre numbers this postseason, but the B’s get past the Penguins it will likely be because he vaults himself into Conn Smythe consideration. Rask made 29 saves in the shutout, and while the Bruins definitely shouldn’t expect

- The B’s were saved by the bell in the first period, as the Penguins got big chances late. Their best chance came when an intentionally wide shot off the endboards yielded a rebound to Malkin in front, with Malkin’s bid going through the crease with just two seconds left. Furthermore, Johnny Boychuk appeared to hook Malkin in the chest in front on the play and got away with it.

- It was definitely a surprise to see Andrew Ference back in the lineup, but he made a positive impact in his return. Ference picked up the secondary assist on Krejci’s goal and also made it possible by driving to the net and bringing Martin with him. Without Martin there attempting to block the shot, Vokoun likely would have seen it cleanly and stopped it. Instead, it went off Martin’s foot and past the Pittsburgh netminder.

- It’s kind of an obvious note, but it’s big that the Bruins were able to get one of the first two games in Pittsburgh. At worst, they’ll head home split.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- Matt Cooke strikes again. The funny thing is that because his last suspension came in March of 2011, Cooke actually doesn’t qualify for repeat offender status. In order to be considered a repeat offender, one’s last suspension has to have occurred within the last 18 months, which in this case it did not. Of course, there’s no way Brendan Shanahan won’t consider the whole package with Cooke when deciding on his punishment.

Cooke would be a rather big loss for the Penguins, as he’s played well this postseason and is a big part of Pittsburgh’s bottom-six depth.

- It’s a method that worked, but it was interesting to see how sparingly Claude Julien used his fourth line early on. Daniel Paille played less than three minutes in the first period and a half, but he should be of more use in this series given his speed and defensive prowess. If Tyler Seguin really isn’t going to do anything (he had a pretty bad giveaway in the first period), it wouldn’t be crazy for Julien to consider putting Paille on the left wing of Chris Kelly’s line and move Rich Peverley back to right wing. Normally you wouldn’t want to mess with the Merlot Line, but if they aren’t going to play much, why not?

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