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Leafs force Game 7 with dramatic win over Bruins 05.12.13 at 10:37 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask delivered another strong performance, but his Bruins teammates couldn't generate enough offense at the other end in Boston's Game 6 loss. (AP)

TORONTO — It isn’t about eliminating the Leafs any more than it is staying alive now for the Bruins, as Toronto handed them a 2-1 loss in Game 6 Sunday to force a winner-take-all Game 7.

The Bruins, who had a 3-1 series lead, could not get to James Reimer again, as the Toronto goalie allowed just one goal for the second straight game, with the one Boston goal not coming until the final 30 seconds of the game on a Milan Lucic tally.

After the teams skated to a scoreless first two periods, Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf tipped a Nazem Kadri shot past Tuukka Rask at 1:48 of the third period to give the Leafs the lead. Phil Kessel later beat Tyler Seguin to a rebound to extend the lead to two goals, which was too much for the Bruins to overcome given the performance of Reimer.

Game 7 will be played Monday at TD Garden, with the winner facing the victor of the Capitals-Rangers series, which also is tied at three games apiece.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

• Any hockey fan had to smirk at the sound of the “Thank You, Seguin” chants that rang throughout Air Canada Centre following the Kessel goal. With another night without a point, Seguin has now put up a goose egg through the first six games of the playoffs while Kessel has three goals and one assist for four points. Seguin needs to rise to the occasion.

David Krejci had a rough go of it on the shift on which Phaneuf scored. A botched drop-pass in the Toronto zone left the B’s behind as the Leafs took the puck the other way. Furthermore, Krejci was gliding back into the zone and let Kadri get the shot off. Had he been hustling, Krejci likely could have broken up the play by knocking the puck away.

• The Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Tyler Seguin line had no shots on goal in the first period, with Seguin missing the net on a 3-on-2. Bergeron had a shot on goal late in the first, but it came on the power play and not with his line. Marchand played just 3:49 in the first and registered his first shot on goal in two games late in the second period.

The line came to life early in the second period and had a number of scoring chances, including on one shift in which Bergeron followed a Seguin bid by trying for a wraparound and being stopped by Reimer. On that same shift, a Bergeron slap shot yielded a rebound with lots of open net, but Marchand was battling in front and didn’t see it.

• With Andrew Ference out, Claude Julien inserted Dougie Hamilton into the lineup and broke up the Zdeno Chara-Dennis Seidenberg pairing in order to have a lefty and righty on each pairing. There was a lot of mixing and matching done on the blue line for the B’s, but Hamilton was used less as the game went on. After playing 4:49 on six shifts in the first period, Hamilton was given only three shifts for 1:31 in the second.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

• For the third straight game, Rask showed up big. Rask made a glove save on a Phaneuf slap shot in the final seconds of the second period to keep it scoreless after shining late in Game 4 and through Game 5. Yes, the Bruins gave up a big series lead against the Leafs, but don’t think this is 2010 all over again for Rask. He’s been one of the B’s most consistent players. The same can’t be said for a lot of guys on this team right now.

Read More: Brad Marchand, Claude Julien, Dougie Hamilton, James Reimer
Don Cherry on M&M: ‘You’re going to see a different Toronto Maple Leafs’ in Game 4 05.07.13 at 12:21 pm ET
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Don Cherry

Legendary Hockey Night in Canada commentator and former Bruins coach Don Cherry joined Mut & Merloni on Tuesday morning to talk about the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Bruins took a 2-1 lead on the Maple Leafs in their first-round series with a 5-2 victory in Toronto on Monday night, but Cherry said now that the Leafs have gotten past the first home game, they should be more comfortable.

“I think for the first half of the game they had the jitters,” Cherry said. “You couldn’t believe the crowd outside. There was about 10,000 people with a monstrous [TV] screen in a square here. It was unbelievable. This is the first time they’ve been in the playoffs in nine years. And what I think happened was they were very, very nervous. The kids were very, very nervous the first half of the game, anyhow. Then they said, Hey, what the heck, we’ve got to turn it on. And they did. So, I said the opening game [that] last night you’re going to see a different Bruins. I’m going to predict you’re going to see a different Toronto Maple Leafs tomorrow night.”

Tyler Seguin has no points in the Bruins’ three playoff games, but Cherry predicts the young forward will break through at some point.

“Maybe he’s just a little frustrated right now, but he’s going to come through,” Cherry said.

Cherry, no stranger to controversy, recently came under fire when he offered support for Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith after Keith made a condescending comment to a female reporter. Cherry, who is credited with being the first NHL coach to allow a female reporter in the locker room (while coaching the Bruins in 1975), explained his view.

Said Cherry: “It’s not that I don’t think they’re qualified, it’s not that I think they shouldn’t do the interviews. I just don’t think they should be subject to some of the guys, the way they act. The guys take advantage of it. That’s what I meant. Again, it was taken all out of context.”

Cherry also touched on his relationship with former Bruins general manager and president Harry Sinden. The two had a falling out after Cherry was not retained as B’s coach in 1979, but Cherry said they’re finally back on speaking terms.

“Harry and I have [made up],” Cherry said. “We’ve been awful enemies for some reason. I don’t know what happened — something. But in the last hurrah, Harry and I shook hands. It was me that started the whole thing, I think. I was a little vindictive, because I didn’t want to leave the Bruins and all that sort of stuff. But Harry and I have made up, and good for it, because life’s too short to go through with arguments all the time.”

To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page. For more Bruins news, visit the team page at weei.com/bruins.

Read More: Don Cherry, Harry Sinden, Tyler Seguin,
Phil Kessel not dwelling on past with Bruins 05.01.13 at 1:29 pm ET
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Phil Kessel has to put up with his old team for a series. (AP)

Phil Kessel is happy to be back in the playoffs, but the former Bruin would probably prefer a different opponent.

There are plenty of storylines in the Bruins-Maple Leafs series, the first one since 1974, and chief among them is that Kessel is facing his old team and the players (Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton, the latter of whom will be a healthy scratch) that were chosen with the first-round picks the Leafs traded to Boston in 2009 for the young scorer.

Kessel ducked the Toronto media on Monday because he didn’t want to face the inevitable questions of what it will be like to face a Boston team that includes a coach that put him in the doghouse, a defenseman who has made their meetings a nightmare and a flashy young Ontario native who could one day become a better scorer than him. After Wednesday’s morning skate, there was nowhere for the shy and oft-criticized Kessel to hide.

“It’s never been me to be much for attention,” Kessel explained. “I’ll talk when I have to talk and that’s about it.”

That is within Kessel’s rights, and he isn’t the first player to do it. Even Seguin, who is far more outgoing than the keep-to-himself Kessel and is more than accommodating of the media, left Edmonton reporters high and dry last year when Taylor Hall and the Oilers were in town. That isn’t the issue though. Bruins fans don’t like Kessel because he didn’t want to play in Boston and the Bruins didn’t want to give him a ridiculous contract. That combination, plus the package Brian Burke and the Leafs were willing to send Boston’s way (two first-round picks, both of which became top-10 picks, as well as a second-rounder), led to Kessel’s exit from the team that drafted him fifth overall in 2006 and saw him become a 36-goal-scorer.

Since then, Kessel, despite continuing his ascent to becoming one of the best scorers in the league (an average of 33 goals over his first three seasons with Toronto and 20 goals in 48 games this season), Kessel has notably disappeared against the Bruins. In 22 career games against the B’s, he has just three goals and six assists for nine points with a woeful minus-22 rating. Fans have gotten on him, at first chanting “Thank You, Kessel” when Seguin (10 goals, six assists for 16 points and a plus-8 vs. his hometown team) has scored against the Leafs, but now just frequently chanting it anyway.

“I had three great years here,” Kessel said Wednesday. “Some great memories. They were great to me when I was here. I figure when you leave, you’re always going to get the grief, right? So it’s OK, but I enjoy playing here. They have great fans and I think it’s going to be a good atmosphere tonight.”

Though Kessel has obviously been silenced on the ice by Zdeno Chara when he has faced the B’s, but it will be interesting to see if he elevates his play in the postseason. After being a healthy scratch for the first three games against the Canadiens in 2008, he had four points (three goals and an assist) in four games. The next postseason, his last one in Boston, he had 11 points (six goals, five assists) in 11 games.

Kessel’s clearly done thinking about that, though, just as he is with his whole Boston experience. He’s back in the playoffs as a Maple Leaf and is more focused on beating his former team than thinking about his days with them.

“That’s four years ago, right?” Kessel said. “I don’t think it matters that much anymore.”

Read More: Phil Kessel, Tyler Seguin,
Patrice Bergeron takes home the hardware in regular season finale 04.28.13 at 7:59 pm ET
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Patrice Bergeron. (AP)

The Bruins announced their regular season award winners before the regular season finale with the Senators Sunday night. Patrice Bergeron was the recipient of the Eddie Shore Award (exceptional hustle and determination, chosen by the “Gallery Gods”) as well as the Elizabeth Dufresne Trophy (outstanding performance during home games, determined by the Boston Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association).

Gregory Campbell was selected for the John P. Bucyk Award (greatest off-ice charitable contributions, chosen by John Bucyk); and Tuukka Rask (First Star), Bergeron (Second Star) and Tyler Seguin (Third Star) were named the Bruins Three Stars (top performers at home over the course of the season).

Eddie Shore Award and Elizabeth Dufresne Trophy

Bergeron, the team’s alternate captain to Zdeno Chara, was also selected by the “Gallery Gods” as the Eddie Shore Award winner for demonstrating exceptional hustle and determination throughout the 2013 campaign. The reining Selke Trophy winner currently leads the Bruins with a +25 rating (5th NHL), is second in assists (22) and is tied for fourth in points with 32 (10-22). The Bruins centerman also leads the NHL in faceoff percentage, winning puck drops at a 61.9-percent clip.

In addition to the Eddie Shore Award, the BPHWA has selected Bergeron as the Elizabeth Dufresne Trophy recipient for his outstanding performance during Bruins home games this season. At TD Garden this year, Bergeron has notched eight goals and 13 assists for 21 points. The forward’s +20 rating and 66.8% (280/419) faceoff percentage in Boston, leads all Bruins players.

John P. Bucyk Award

Gregory Campbell has been an active participant in the Boston Bruins off-ice charitable events in this years condensed NHL season. Campbell has spent many of his rare off days making community visits throughout the Greater Boston area, including visits to the Charlestown Boys & Girls Club, Home for Little Wanderers and was a one of the team’s participants in their annual “Cuts for a Cause” event. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Bruins, Boston Bruins Foundation, Gallery gods, Gregory Campbell
Canadiens hold moment of silence for Boston, Bruins express condolences 04.15.13 at 7:57 pm ET
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Bruins past and present expressed their condolences in the aftermath of Monday’s bombings at the Boston Marathon. The Bruins weren’t the only ones in the hockey world concerned, as the rival Canadiens held a moment of silence prior to their game against the Flyers Monday.

The Canadiens held a moment of silence for the Bruins Monday. (Dave Stubbs Twitter photo)

Read More: Andrew Ference, Tyler Seguin,
Opinion: Claude Julien needs to schedule rest time for weary Bruins 04.12.13 at 1:34 pm ET
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I’m sick of hearing that the Bruins are tired.

“We ran out of gas,” Claude Julien claimed after Thursday night’s loss to Islanders. “The effort and will was there. They were obviously a little fresher than we were.”

If Tyler Seguin and the Bruins have tired legs, it's up to coach Claude Julien to give them time to get back to full strength before the playoffs. (AP)

Maybe.

That quote came just two days after he said, “The schedule has been as tough as it could ever be on an athlete. We’ve got to be careful of how hard we push those guys, because they are tired.”

I don’t disagree.

The schedule obviously has been brutal. Yes, the Bruins face the same difficulties as every other team in the league, but they currently are in the worst of the gauntlet. Whereas they started the season with more days off than most other teams, they are paying the price for that now.

So I’m happy to concede that exhaustion is playing a role in their recent string of uninspired performances.

Normally, this is the time where I would remind athletes and coaches that if they avoid making an excuse out loud, someone will make it for them. We all know the schedule is tough; let us remind people and it will sound more like an explanation and less like an excuse.

And for Tyler Seguin, who said Thursday night that while he wasn’t making excuses, “we ran out of gas after three games in four nights,” I would repeat that message.

But to Julien, I would offer some additional advice.

If your team is so tired, do something about it!

Look, we all know the Bruins are going to make the playoffs and it’s a virtual certainty that they will fill either the second or fourth seed. So, what would be the harm in resting a few exhausted players for a game or two? If they are so desperate for some fresh legs, why not create them?

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Claude Julien, Dougie Hamilton, Tyler Seguin, Zdeno Chara
How will Tyler Seguin respond to demotion? 04.08.13 at 1:38 pm ET
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Tyler Seguin

With Claude Julien shuffling the lines Saturday and again on Sunday, no player has gotten more attention than Tyler Seguin. The third-year player began Saturday’s game at center in place of the concussed Patrice Bergeron, was moved back to wing after a rocky start against the Canadiens and then demoted from the second line to the third line Sunday.

Saturday’s game was Seguin’s second of the season at center, as he centered Brad Marchand and Jaromir Jagr Thursday night, but he was 3-for-12 on faceoffs and was a far cry from Bergeron defensively. The line was on the ice for the Canadiens’ first goal Saturday night, and Seguin was replaced in the middle by Rich Peverley midway through the first period. In Seguin’s defense, the expectation should have been that Seguin would struggle at center early on in the experiment, which makes it rather puzzling that Julien would try it in the first place if he was going to pull the plug so quickly.

“I figured it would take a little while,” Seguin said after Monday’s morning skate. “I wasn’t expecting to snap right back into it right away. Obviously, that would have been nice, but I knew it was going to take a bit to adjust. I think when you’re going into a game like Montreal, it’s a big game. I guess there shouldn’t be any time for adjusting. You just have to go out there and do it, and I wasn’t doing it.”

Seguin, who was drafted as a center after playing center in the OHL, said that he wasn’t surprised that Julien broke up the line and moved him back to wing.

“Well, it wasn’t working,” he said. “We were out there for the first goal there and it just wasn’t good work in our own zone. We were kind of running around a bit, and I can’t say I was shocked that it got changed.”

Whenever Julien does anything involving Seguin, there seems to be some level of outrage on the part of the fans. It dates back to Julien limiting his ice time when Seguin was timid as a rookie, and it’s continued up to Saturday with Julien not putting Seguin, who led the Bruins with 29 goals last season, out on the ice at the end of a one-goal game with the B’s on a 6-on-4.

While coaches will be scrutinized no matter what, why isn’t there any finger-pointing being done at the player? People love railing against Milan Lucic whenever anything goes wrong, but is criticism of Seguin not allowed?

Seguin had no shots on goal Saturday, marking the second time in a seven-game span that he’s failed to get a puck on net. Seguin’s the fastest player on the ice almost at all times, yet he still loses races for pucks if there’s a chance getting there first also means getting hit. Is he Boston’s most talented player? Sure, but at age 21 he is not without his faults. Maybe Julien bumping Seguin out of the top six is his way of making the former second overall pick work his way out of some bad habits.

Seguin, who did not speak to the media Sunday, didn’t make any complaints about the situation Monday. He can’t be happy with being taken off the second line, but if he’s mad, he’s keeping it to himself.

“I think we’re mixing things up,” he said. “I’ve played third line before, I guess my first year and not so much last year. I’m just going to go out there. Obviously Kells is a playmaking player to play with as well.”

Read More: Tyler Seguin,
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