|Ed Olczyk on M&M: Put Patrice Bergeron on top power play instead of Tomas Kaberle||05.27.11 at 1:05 pm ET|
Versus NHL analyst and former NHL center Ed Olczyk joined the Mut & Merloni show Friday to talk about the Eastern Conference finals Game 7 showdown between the Bruins and Lightning. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
Olczyk made a comment during the Game 6 broadcast on Versus about Bruins coach Claude Julien needing to mix up the lines to get more consistent offense. While he acknowledged Friday, “I think Claude has pushed a lot of the right buttons,” he stood by his analysis.
“If you look at the [David] Krejci line, with them having the majority of the success at even strength, I just kind of felt at that time, when you look up at the shot [totals] and there’s not a lot of generating going on, you look to try to change it up,” he said. “You look to add a little spark somewhere.”
Olczyk also suggested making a change on the Bruins’ power play, which has struggled all postseason.
“If you are struggling — and I think at times the Bruins have done all the right things, they just haven’t been able to score,” he said. “So, the issue is, the check and balance is, do you drastically change your personnel and load up? I think for me, I think at some point if you’re going to play Big Z [Zdeno Chara] in front of the net, I think you’ve got to put Patrice Bergeron on a point on the power play if you’re not going to play him down low because you’ve got Krejci and [Nathan] Horton and Chara down there and you’ve got [Dennis] Seidenberg and [Tomas] Kaberle. I think you load up. I think you put Patrice Bergeron on a point on the power play with Dennis Seidenberg — if that’s my first unit.”
Added Olczyk: “I would suggest loading up your first-power-play unit. And Patrice Bergeron’s got to be on that first power-play unit. I just think he has that ability. He had a quiet game [Wednesday]. I think he’s been terrific since he’s come back, but he was very quiet, probably a little too quiet in Game 6. But for me, I would put Bergeron on a point with Seidenberg. I would put Kaberle on the second unit. And I would load up with Chara, Krejci and Horton on that first power-play unit. If you’re going to go down, go down with your best guys. Go down swinging.
“But if the Bruins can play well defensively, and I think they will, I think they’ll take on the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup finals.”
|Bruins-Lightning Game 7: 7 things B’s must do||at 1:47 am ET|
The Bruins are hours away from either the Stanley Cup finals or the end of their season. Sticking with our “seven” theme, here are seven of the many things the B’s should do as they look to take Game 7 vs. the Lightning.
- Get the same first line they got in Game 6: The trio of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Nathan Horton were an absolute handful for the Lightning on Wednesday. Krejci had a hat trick, while a shift late in the third period had the line threatening to tie the game on great opportunities for Krejci and Horton. Lucic scored the Bruins’ first goal of the game, and all three members of the line had multi-point nights.
- Limit the penalties or stop Tampa’s power play: The Bruins shut down Tampa’s power play in three straight games (nine power plays), but the Lightning figured it out in Game 6 to the tune of three tallies on the man advantage. As a result, the B’s will look to stay out of the box to avoid giving guys like Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis those chances. A penalty like Tomas Kaberle’s interference of Ryan Malone in the third period is easily avoidable.
- Capitalize on Dwayne Roloson: The Bruins’ top line went hard after Tampa’s netminder in the shift that followed Krejci’s third goal, and on a night in which Roloson didn’t look very good, they probably wish they had a few more minutes to tie it up. Roloson entered the series with the best postseason save percentage and goals against average, but he has been yanked twice, sat once, and has an .851 save percentage in five games in the Conference Finals.
- Play Tyler Seguin on the second power play unit: If fans had their way, Tyler Seguin would center a line with Tyler Seguin and Tyler Seguin on the wings, and Tyler Seguin and Tyler Seguin playing defense in front of goaltender Tyler Seguin. People think he’s the magical solution to everything, and they overlook the fact that he still a work in progress with his overall game and the fact that he often will give up on a play before taking contact. With that being said, Seguin belongs on the power play. His offensive skill set and lack of everything else means his time is best spent on the man advantage.
- Get a lead and hold it. The Bruins have led in two of the three games they have lost this round.
- Get the Patrice Bergeron they are used to. Much was made prior to the series of how the B’s could play without Bergeron, and though they split the two games in which Bergeron was out with a concussion, he saw Wednesday that they lose without him. Bergeron had zero shots on the night and was a minus-1. Bergeron did have three points over the previous two games, but Wednesday was a forgettable night for the assistant captain.
- Make sure they know where Simon Gagne is: It’s a Game 7 against the Bruins and he’s playing in it… need we say more? Gagne has three goals this series against the B’s after racking up four in four games vs. Boston in the second round last year.
|Bruins-Lightning Game 7: 7 players to keep an eye on||at 1:23 am ET|
It’s only appropriate that we get carried away with the number seven with the Bruins and Lightning set to square off in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals Friday. Here are seven players to keep an eye on.
- Dwayne Roloson: Make no mistake about it – Roloson was bad in Game 6. So bad that the Bruins really have to be frustrated that Tampa limited them to only 19 shots. Asked after the game to assess his goaltender’s performance, Guy Boucher replied, “we won.”
- Tim Thomas: The Vezina favorite has allowed at least four goals in four of the series’ six games thus far, but his Game 5 performance was even more impressive than his Game 3 shutout. Thomas has been human too often in this series, and he’ll need to rise to the occasion with an otherworldly performance in Game 7.
- Steven Stamkos: Look who woke up. After being a ghost in Game 3 and going both Game 3 and 4 without a point, the Lightning’s leading goal-scorer in the regular season contributed a goal and a pair of assists in Game 6. It marked the second time this series that Stamkos has had three points in Game.
Here are the numbers for Stamkos in Games 2 and 6: 2 G, 4 A, 11 SOG.
And the his stats in Games 1, 3, 4 and 5: 0 G, 1 A, 7 SOG.
- Tyler Seguin: Remember him? Seguin scored his first postseason goal in Game 1, took over the second period in Game 2 and looked like a savvy veteran in Game 3. Since then, he’s done little and has been given the appropriate ice time as a result. He might be the most talented player in this series, but he needs to stop going out of his way to avoid contact. If Seguin’s gift can take over, he could be Boston’s secret weapon again. Otherwise, it could be back to the fourth line for the rookie.
- Johnny Boychuk: Oof. It’s been bad for Boychuk this series. The 27-year-old was on the ice for all five of Tampa’s goals in Game 6, and his shakey showing in the second round also led to a minus-3 rating in Boston’s 6-5 win in Game 2.
- Sean Bergenheim: Before leaving Game 5 with a lower-body injury, Bergenheim led all postseason players with nine goals in the playoffs. He missed Game 6 with the undisclosed injury, but skated earlier in the day on Wednesday. If he returns to Tampa’s lineup, the B’s would have to worry about a guy who’s already burned them twice this series. Boucher said Thursday that Bergenheim’s status “doesn’t necessarily look like something positive” for the Lightning.
- Mark Recchi: This could very well be Recchi’s last game should the Bruins lose and he opt to retire in the offseason, and it would be a tough way to go if he kept up his production-less streak. The second-line winger had zero points this series, is a minus-5 and has totaled just six shots on net in six games.
|Bruins can’t have one bad period in Game 7||05.26.11 at 11:35 pm ET|
BEDFORD — When it comes to cliches, a Game 7 brings no shortage. From “do or die,” to “most important game of the year,” to “this is why you play hockey,” they’re all hit on.
Another one you’ll hear is players talking of giving a “60 minute effort.” With the way the Eastern Conference finals has gone, maybe the Bruins should consider breaking it down even further. After winning Game 2 and losing Games 4 and 6 in the second period, perhaps they should view it more as bringing three 20-minute efforts. One period has made the difference too often in the series, and the Bruins know it.
“That’s been our biggest challenge all year, is to put three solid periods together each and every game,” Gregory Campbell said Thursday. “Tomorrow night is going to be no different. We have to take the first period and play well in that. Whether we’re up or down, the game is not won in one period. We have to make sure that we’re playing well in all three periods.
“If it goes extra time, that’s fine. We have the confidence that we can win those games, and we’ll just have to make sure that we’re executing and competing and working as hard as we can.”
The Bruins held a 3-0 lead in Game 4 and a 2-1 lead in Game 6, both of which were held after one and were erased after two. If you take away the second period of Game 2 in which Tyler Seguin had four points in a five-goal Bruins’ second period, the B’s would have just two second-period goals this series. That isn’t to say that the B’s have been dominated in second periods, as it speaks more to a point that applies to both teams. Leads aren’t safe, despite the fact that this was billed as being such a big goaltender’s duel. Any team can steal a game with one strong period, and the B’s see playing three good periods as a starting point for success.
“I think you want to play a consistent 60 minutes,” Chris Kelly said, “and maybe that will be our focus for tomorrow night — coming out and playing all three periods.”
NBC and Versus play-by-play man Mike “Doc” Emrick joined the Mut & Merloni show on Thursday to discuss the Lightning-Bruins series and preview Friday night’s Game 7 at TD Garden.
“The whole series has been [unusual], nothing [predictable] about what we’ll get tomorrow based on what we’ve seen so far,” Emrick said. “We know they are both good defensive teams, but try proving it.”
Emrick noted that Games 7′s are entirely unpredictable.
“Weird things that can happen in a seventh game we remember more because they were seventh games and not Games 4, 5 or 6’s,” he said. “Anybody can beat anybody in a Game 7. You get the right penalty call at the right time, you get a fluky bounce. …. If you care who wins you go, ‘Shoot, this is torture.’”
To hear the entire interview, visit the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
Here are more highlights from the interview:
On the Bruins’ struggles on the power play: “It’s a very unusual squad because its only happened a couple of times in history. It’s never happened before that a team didn’t get one power play goal and won a series, which they did in seven games against Montreal.
“The power play did strike late [in Game 6] and that certainly helped, but overall it was as flawed on the night as Tampa Bay’s was strong. Special teams made a big difference in this game, and they tend to make a big difference in games, but when you have a Bruins team that has got this far without much of a power play you have to say, ‘Well the ultimate seventh game might it not mean anything.’”
On the Bruins adjustments, including Zdeno Chara to the front of the net on the power play: “I think that confused [Dwayne Roloson], [Chara] had a deflection once, he got tangled with him once. Some of the things they were doing didn’t work but [Claude Julien] is more of a status quo coach than [Guy] Boucher is, but the thing is they have both had success they way that they do.”
On the Tampa Bay power play: We talked earlier in the series about how [David] Krejci, [Milan] Lucic and [Nathan] Horton had a lot of pressure because they weren’t producing well it was that same thing with the star power for Tampa Bay because [Vinny] Lecavalier and [Steve] Stamkos haven’t aligned in recent games. They came to the floor last night.
“It may have been not so much the Bruins penalty kill, but the fact there was heat on these guys, the ultimate heat on these guys, that if they don’t perform last night they aren’t performing anymore till October. They rose to the occasion.”
On Tyler Seguin’s ice time: “I am not sure what kind of difference he would have made. You have to remember that the game he had the four points in and tied a record, it wound up being a wacky wide open game that set up perfect for him.
“People say Seguin should get more time, and I understand that, but who will you take it away from? Maybe people would have people hand-picked to take time away from, but I can’t think of anyone. I know you mentioned [Mark] Recchi and thought he was out there too much, but there’s savvy and skill for a seventh game in particular that Mark Recchi has.”
On his Game 7 prediction: “This is going to be low scoring, and something bizarre will happen later on, but if I wake up two mornings from now and pick up the paper and realize the score was 7-6 I won’t be shocked.”
|Bruins-Lightning Game 5 preview: Five things, stats and players||05.23.11 at 1:12 am ET|
The Bruins learned the hard way Saturday that they need more than a strong start and a big day from Patrice Bergeron to get their third victory of the Eastern Conference finals. After blowing a 3-0 lead in Saturday’s Game 4, the Bruins will be back at home Monday to take on the Lightning in Game 5.
FIVE THINGS THE BRUINS NEED TO DO
- Take advantage of playing at home/score the first goal. The Bruins don’t want to find themselves a loss away from elimination when the teams head back to Tampa for Game 6, so taking care of business in their own building will be key.
The B’s weren’t able to score the first goal in Games 1 and 2, though they were able to head to Tampa with the series tied at a game apiece. The first goal hasn’t been everything this series, as the team to strike first has gone 2-2 thus far.
- The B’s must get the type of production from David Krejci’s line that made the second round such a walk in the park. Krejci was a minus-3 with zero shots on goal in Game 4, while Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic each had just one shot on goal in the loss.
- The Bruins’ second line probably would be a stinker as well if it weren’t for the redeeming qualities of Bergeron. If it weren’t for a Brad Marchand interference penalty in the second period, there would be minimal proof that the feisty rookie even played in Game 4. Marchand had no shots on goal for the second time this series. The B’s have lost both games in which the 23-year-old has failed to put a shot on net. Mark Recchi is a minus-4 this series and has just five shots on goal.
- Selective memory would probably serve the B’s best after their Game 4 collapse. Remember that it happened, but don’t think about just how much momentum the come-from-behind win could have given Tampa Bay.
- Not that they will, but the B’s should at least give consideration to playing Steven Kampfer. We said it last week, and Saturday’s soft showing behind the net on a costly turnover to Sean Bergenheim only confirms it: it’s worth seeing what Kampfer can do in place of Tomas Kaberle. Kaberle looked better in Games 2 and 3, but if you’re going to give him between 11 and 12 minutes a game and he still finds a way to make them costly minutes as he did Saturday, you’re better off easing Kampfer back in with an 11-or-12-minute night. Kampfer has as many goals this season against the Lightning (two) as Kaberle has had turnovers that resulted in Tampa goals this series.
FIVE CRAZY STATS
- Kaberle’s 11:35 of ice time in Game 4 isn’t just ridiculously low for someone the team invested so much in, but it’s the lowest total that Kaberle – two injury games aside — has played in his entire career. While with the Maple Leafs, he left the team’s March 2, 2007 game vs. the Devils after being blindsided in the second period by Cam Janssen, and he left a Jan. 6, 2004 game with a shoulder injury in the first period. Back then, injuries were all that could keep Kaberle from playing less than 12 minutes. Now, it’s just poor play.
- That stuff about Michael Ryder turning it on in the playoffs is true. Ryder has seven points (3 G, 4 A) in his last five games. He never amassed more than five points in any five-game stretch during the regular season, and this five-game stretch ties for Ryder’s second-best as a member of the Bruins. He had nine points over the Bruins’ first five games of the 2009 playoffs.
- Tim Thomas has allowed four goals four times this postseason, and the Bruins are 3-0 thus far in games that directly followed said performances. Thomas allowed one goal in 89 minutes in Game 5 of the first round after allowing four goals two nights earlier. He followed the team’s 5-2 loss in the conference finals opener by allowing five in Game 2, but the B’s came away with the win. It was after that contest that Thomas really bounced back, blanking the Lightning in Game 3.
- Neither the Bruins nor the Lightning have scored a power play goal since Game 2 of the series. This marks the first time this postseason that the Bruins and their opponent have put up a goose-egg on the man advantage in consecutive games.
- Steven Stamkos is a minus-2 this series, and has only had a positive rating in one game this postseason. The lone positive rating came in Game 5 of the quarterfinals when he had two goals, an assist and was a plus-1.
FIVE KEY PLAYERS
- Whichever Lightning goalie starts. Dwayne Roloson has been chased from two of the series’ first four games, and Guy Boucher has yet to reveal whether Roloson will be a go for Game 5. If Boucher makes a change, it will be Mike Smith, who has stopped all 20 shots he’s seen from the B’s in 60:51 this series.
- Simon Gagne: The veteran winger simply slays the Bruins, and he did it to the tune of three points and a plus-4 rating in Game 4.
- Ryder and Tyler Seguin: In the event that Lucic and Horton fail to step it up and Bergeron’s wingers continue to struggle, the B’s will need the magical Ryder/Seguin duo to light it up the way they did in Game 2. Seguin was on the ice for three of the Lightning’s five goals Saturday, but he’s been second to only Ryder this series as far as who the B’s best winger has been.
- Dennis Seidenberg: One last opportunity to point out that the B’s minute-eating defenseman had seven blocked shots in Game 4. He and Kaberle were out there for Gagne’s game-winner.
|Brad Marchand on M&M: Open-ice style ‘nerve-racking’||05.20.11 at 12:32 pm ET|
Rookie winger Brad Marchand joined the Mut & Merloni show Friday morning, hours after the Bruins took a 2-1 series lead over the Lightning in the Eastern Conference finals with a 2-0 Game 3 win. To hear the interview go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
Following the 6-5 win in Game 2, the Bruins delivered a dominating defensive effort Thursday night.
“We weren’t very happy with how we were playing defensively. We wanted to clean it up a bit,” Marchand said. “Obviously, Timmy [Thomas] helped that a bunch. He played a great game and really kept us in it there when they had any opportunities. We really played tight defensively. We were really happy with how we played last game.”
Marchand said the open-ice style is not good for his mental state. “It’s so nerve-racking when you play that style,” he said of Game 2. “We were up by three goals, I think it was, and then they started to come back. I’ve never so nervous in a game the last few minutes there. We’re not very good at playing that way. We always get in trouble when we do. We’re more comfortable playing the relaxed, defensive style. … I’m a lot more calm in that way. it’s tough to play like that, especially with a team with so much skill, you can’t really keep up with them in that style.”
The return of center Patrice Bergeron was a huge boost to the B’s.
“I think someone was telling me at one point in the game his faceoffs were 18-6. That’s outrageous,” Marchand said. “It just shows how important he is on the faceoff dot. When you have a guy that’s winning draws like that, you get so many more opportunities offensively and you’re not chasing the puck as much and you’re starting with it all the time. It makes it really easy to play out there. That’s why he’s so important to our team.”
Rookie Tyler Seguin has made a huge impact in this series. Marchand said he’s not surprised, based on what he’s seen from the teenager on non-game days.
“He’s playing unbelievable,” Marchand said. “I remember even thinking to myself before the series started, when we knew he was going to play, he was one of our best players in practice every day. He was dominating in practice. I was really excited to see him play. It’s obviously showed. He’s played unbelievable the last three games. He’s a big part of our team right now.”
Marchand said Seguin has been handling his sudden fame well, although there was at least one incident when the youngster proudly soaked it all in.
Said Marchand: “Me and him and [Gregory] Campbell and [Dennis] Seidenberg went out to dinner and there was like five different TV ons, all on different stations, and at one point they were all talking about Segs at the same time. It was hilarious. Segs was loving it. He was laughing and pointing at the TVs.
“Everyone’s chirping him pretty hard about it. They’re trying to keep him calm. Obviously, it’s a very exciting time for him. And we want him to enjoy it. But at the same time, we need to make sure he’s focused for every game. But he’s doing a good job with that. He knows he’s got to get ready for each and every game. And he was last night. He played another great game last night. So, he did a good job following that game up.”
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