|Video game simulator picks Canucks||06.01.11 at 2:21 pm ET|
Later Wednesday afternoon, a list of Stanley Cup finals predictions from members of the media in Boston, Vancouver and the rest of the United States and Canada will be posted. However, the most telling pick may come from a machine.
The EA Sports NHL ’11 simulation engine has correctly predicted 13 of the 14 series this postseason. However, those picks were not the engine’s first. It did not pick just a Vancouver-Boston Stanley Cup finals matchup in April. In fact, it picked it before either of these teams even touched the ice for the 2010-11 campaign. This matchup was predicted all the way back in October.
In that simulation, the Canucks took the cup in seven games. Now, EA Sports has predicted results for each game in the series. The Bruins will win Game 3, Game 4 and Game 6 in overtime to send the series back to Vancouver for the decisive finale. Unfortunately for B’s fans, the Canucks are predicted to take Game 7 in 3-1 fashion.
Here is the full Stanley Cup finals prediction:
Game 1: Canucks 2, Bruins 1 (OT)
Game 2: Canucks 4, Bruins 2
Game 3: Bruins 1, Canucks 0
Game 4: Bruins 3, Canucks 2
Game 5: Canucks 4, Bruins 2
Game 6: Bruins 3, Canucks 2 (OT)
Game 7: Canucks 3, Bruins 1
If the simulator continues to see such dramatic success, maybe EA Sports will decide to switch from the video game industry to the gambling industry.
|Bruins notes Monday: Claude Julien pumps up the volume and Rich Peverley gets the gold||05.30.11 at 4:55 pm ET|
The Bruins held their final practice before departing for Vancouver in preparation for Wednesday’s opening game of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals at Rogers Arena.
Every player was on the ice – with the exception of defenseman Shane Hnidy – for the 45-minute skate that began at 11:35 and ended with several laps of hard skating around the rink, which was covered in a thin haze of fog by the end of the session. It was the first day back on the ice for several players since winning Game 7 Friday night against Tampa Bay.
“Conditioning doesn’t go bad,” coach Claude Julien said. “We came back on the ice, and then as a whole team, it was obviously a little warm out there today. So, the ice was probably not at its best and it was a tough grind to push through this practice today, which I think is not a bad thing because we might as well get used to it.
“That’s what the buildings are like on game nights. I thought we pushed ourselves pretty good today and did a little bit of sprints at the end to make sure we raise the volume, if you want, and [Tuesday] hopefully, we’ll be really good and flying out there in Vancouver and getting ready for Wednesday.”
Shawn Thornton took shifts on the fourth line with Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell, otherwise known as the “Merlot” line.
“They don’t get the same amount of ice time those others do,” Julien said. “And with Thorty not having played, I think it was important for them to get a regular turn at practice. And those other guys play a lot. Whether it’s Mark who we like to give a rest at times, or Bergy, who plays a lot, we kind of rotate through that. I wouldn’t read more into it than it was.”
Wearing a gold sweater, Rich Peverley skated with the regular second-line unit of Patrice Bergeron, Mark Recchi and Brad Marchand.
Julien moved Peverley up to the second shift during Friday’s Game 7 against Tampa Bay, replacing Recchi at times to give the line added speed with Bergeron.
Peverley told WEEI.com’s Scott McLaughlin he’s totally fine with moving from line to line, especially at this time of year.
Bruins coach Claude Julien admitted Monday to one of the long-standing traditions of NHL coaches and players who compete in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Julien said he has avoided coming in direct contact with the oldest trophy in North American professional sports and will keep from having his picture taken with it until he’s earned that privilege by winning it.
“I have [avoided the Stanley Cup],” Julien said following the Bruins final skate before departing for Vancouver and Game 1 of the finals on Wednesday. “I’ve seen it in the Hall of Fame in Toronto. I have stayed away from it. And all I said is the day that I even get a picture or touch it will be the day that I’ve earned it. And that’s been my philosophy throughout my career as a coach.”
Julien is coaching in his first Stanley Cup finals in eight seasons as a coach, and fourth in Boston.
|Bruins fans agree: ‘We want the Cup!’||at 2:12 pm ET|
Approximately 2,000 raucous fans attended a rally outside TD Garden to send off the Bruins as they left for Vancouver and the opening of the Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday night in British Columbia.
Fans chanted “We want the Cup!” over and over as players and coaches signed autographs before hopping on charter buses for Logan Airport and a cross-continent, six-hour flight to Vancouver.
“I just wanted to support the team,” said Mike Cifrino of Hingham. “Bring back the Cup.”
Reminded that Vancouver won the President’s Trophy for posting the best record in the regular season, Cifrino said that doesn’t change his expectations for a close series.
“Some hard-fought games,” he added. “It’s going to be a defensive game, I think.”
Autographs weren’t the main priority for his son but rather getting multi-media opportunities.
“My son got a lot of videos of his favorite players,” Cifrino said. “We just can’t wait to have them back in Boston.”
The Bruins play Games 1 and 2 Wednesday and Saturday in Vancouver before returning to Boston for Games 3 and 4 next Monday and Wednesday.
The team held its final skate in Boston at the Garden amidst light fog on the ice before leaving for Vancouver. The team will take part in media day in Vancouver Tuesday, with Game 1 set for Wednesday night at 8 p.m. ET.
WEEI.com’s Scott McLaughlin contributed to this report.
Former Boston College standout and current Canucks goaltender Cory Schneider joined the Mut & Merloni show Monday morning to talk about the upcoming Stanley Cup finals. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
Schneider said that although the Canucks didn’t learn all that much about the Bruins from their 3-1 loss in February, what he’s noticed most from watching the playoffs is Boston’s depth.
“They have three deep lines, and offensively even their fourth line is effective in what they do,” Schneider said. “On any given night for them a different guy can step up and be the difference.”
Schneider also said the Canucks would need to keep track of Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron in particular. He called Lucic a “big guy who can disrupt a lot of plays and go to the net and create problems.” He compared Bergeron with Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler: a multi-talented player who contributes on offense, defense, faceoffs and special teams.
“He [Bergeron] can really burn you if you’re not paying attention,” Schneider said.
Schneider also complimented Zdeno Chara’s defense, calling him a “No. 1 guy”.
“He’s got such a long reach that it doesn’t matter who you put out against him, he’s going to try and find a way to shut them down,” Schneider said. He added that the Canucks’ Swedish twins, Daniel and Henrik Sedin, might be able to beat Chara.
“You probably haven’t seen anything like them when they’re playing down low,” Schneider said. “They’re cycling the puck and they make these soft passes to each other, you have no idea how they made it. It’s pretty incredible to watch. That will be a great matchup.”
|Julien: Ference ‘hopefully back soon’||02.06.10 at 1:22 pm ET|
Bruins coach Claude Julien knows a little experience could go a long way to restoring some order his blue line.
On Saturday, Andrew Ference, who’s been out since Jan. 5 with a groin injury, skated with the team in warmups prior to the tilt with Vancouver. He was scratched and missed his 14th straight game.
“He’s coming along and I think he’s getting better and hopefully we’ll see him back soon,” Julien said “There’s no doubt, I think there’s some experience missing back there and when you don’t have that, to me, a defenseman is like a quarterback on a football team. If you get guys moving the puck well, your offense benefits from it as well.”
The Bruins have lost Ference and fellow veteran defenseman Mark Stuart with a broken pinkie finger. That doesn’t include Zdeno Chara, who is playing with a bad pinkie himself that will likely require surgery after the season.
“We’ve got Hunwick, who’s in his second year, and then we’ve got two guys who are in their first year, so we’re lacking a little bit of experience back there, there’s no doubt,” Julien added. “But that’s not to take away anything from the guys who are in their first year. They’ve done a great job for us.”
So what the Bruins didn’t need was another injury to a defenseman – and a scary one at that. A bloodied Boychuk took a shot to the left side of his face from Mikael Samuelsson midway through the first and had to be helped off the ice by Blake Wheeler and Chara.
|A few minutes with Jarome Iginla||10.29.08 at 10:47 am ET|
The Bruins have a well-deserved day off after taking a second straight 1-0 win along their Western Canada road odyssey, so there isn’t a ton to report on the Spoked B’s other than the notion that Tim Thomas finally seems to have gained the upper hand in goaltending situation. After last night’s second straight shutout, Thomas is leading the NHL with a .943 save percentage and is second in the league after six games with a 1.77 goals against average.
Thomas became the first B’s netminder since Byron Dafoe in 1999 to register back-to-back shutouts after Tuesday night’s 1-0 win in Vancouver. It was also the first time in nine games this season that B’s coach Claude Julien has given the same goaltender the starting nod in two consecutive games.
With the Calgary Flames on the schedule for Thursday night, here’s a few minutes Flames right winger Jarome Iginla courtesy of an NHL conference call from Monday. The rugged, skilled Iginla exploded for 5 goals and 2 assists over three three games before getting shut out against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night.
Iginla is also one of the few elite scoring players in the NHL that’s also willing to drop the gloves, as he’s done numerous times in his career — including this haymaker-throwing donnybrook with Vancouver’s Willie Mitchell.
Containing Iginla will be a large part of the B’s dousing the Flames and going a perfect 3-0 in the Great White Western North of Canada, so here’s a few thoughts with the 31-year-old winger with 6 goals and 4 assists this season:
Q. Fighting is up significantly in the NHL this season. Do you have any theories on why that is?
JAROME IGINLA:No, I don’t. I don’t have any theories. I think it’s definitely still part of the game. I guess the numbers would show it, but I think it’s still part of the game and part of the team and as far as momentum, and also making sure you don’t get intimidated or vice versa. No, I wasn’t aware that it was up or not, but definitely when you play, you know, there’s always that chance you never know if it’s going to be a fight. It’s not out of it, as people are talking.
You guys added a couple of new people in the off-season, and maybe that was part of the reason for the slow start. How hard has it been working in a couple of these new guys this year?
JAROME IGINLA: It’s been great. I think that we made changes in the off-season, as most teams do, and up front I think we’ve gotten a lot quicker. I think that [Todd] Bertuzzi has come in and played really, really well for us, and that’s been a big part of our power play.
[Mike] Cammalleri has fit in really nicely, and we added [Rene] Bourque and [Curtis] Glencross with their speed. I wouldn’t say that the start that we had was slow. We had a good preseason. We were playing pretty well and things were going good, and we just got off to a tough start. We had a bad first game against Vancouver, and then we lost a few one-goal games in a row where defensively our game wasn’t very sharp, and we were still right there in the one-goal games and we were having terrible second periods.
So I wouldn’t say it was like getting used to everyone. It didn’t really feel like that. It was just that we kind of just went into a little bit of a funk and got a little bit away from what we wanted to do and weren’t moving the puck very well or playing very strong defensively. We tried to change those things. It’s all the things you talk about. And fortunately this last week was a lot better for us.
Q. And looking at your team, you mentioned Todd Bertuzzi. Can you talk about how he fit in and the strong start he’s gotten off to for you guys?
JAROME IGINLA: Yeah, he’s been really, really good for us. He’s come in and he’s playing really hard. He’s having a lot of fun. Talking to him, he’s really enjoying himself. He’s one of the older guys on the team, so he’s been a leader in our dressing room.
He’s come in on the power play. I think our power play has been really coming on, and he’s a big part of that. He grabs a lot of attention in front of the net. He moves the puck well still. So on the power play, we wanted to win, we want to be a better team in the league and we’ve got to get our power play up there, too, and he’s been a big reason why it’s been improving.
Q. This is sort of a league issue. I was going to talk about the new injury disclosure policy in which the league has really tightened what the teams can release publicly about injuries. I wanted to just talk a little bit about the rationale. Have you ever been targeted by an opponent who may have known you were injured any time in your career? Did you ever feel that that was a threat?
JAROME IGINLA: I personally haven’t been. You know, I can see the one side where it sounds like you don’t want anyone to know if a guy has maybe a bad hand and you’re going to start slashing his hand. But I don’t think that’s going to happen regularly.
I know when we hear a guy with an injury, we just played [Jason] Arnott. We knew he came back in Nashville, and we knew he came back from a finger injury. We’re trying to be hard on him obviously because it’s his first game back and he plays so well against us, but no one made one comment about let’s go slash his hands or anything like that. I mean, maybe playoff time things heat up even more. But no, we’ve never really talked like that at all.
Q. And just one quick follow-up. There’s been some comparisons drawn with the NFL only because it’s a pretty physical sport, as well, and guys try to take advantage of every piece of intelligence that they have. They have the most transparent policy, in which every Wednesday and Friday there’s a report that comes out on each injured player, where he’s hurt, what he’s been able to do. There’s a big reason for that, and that’s in Las Vegas with the wagering and whatnot. But I’m just curious, if the NFL can be that transparent, why can’t the NHL?
JAROME IGINLA: Well, yeah, I think it’s obviously a very physical sport, too. I mean, we’re trying to not say a guy has a shoulder injury. Say we’re playing another team and one of their top guys has a shoulder injury. Well, we’re probably trying to hit him anyway, but we’re trying to hit him as much as we can.
And if it’s an ankle injury, there’s nothing a guy is really doing to another guy’s ankle. I guess it would be a hand would come to mind that you might see more, but refs are on that and see that anyway. So yeah, most of them are like yeah, I’m not that personally, obviously, I’m not that worried about it because usually I feel like they’re trying to hit me anyway, or playing against another team’s defensemen and they’re trying to run me into a corner whether my shoulder is good or not. No, I could see why it could be more transparent.
Q. I want to ask you, you’ve been captain in Calgary for five years. Did you feel any more pressure to put the team up on your shoulders? You had such a great week this week. Since you’re the captain and the leader, did you maybe send out the message to the rest of the guys about how everybody needs to pick up their play a little bit more and if they see the captain doing it they’ll try to do what they can to try to follow your lead?
JAROME IGINLA: Well, I mean, we had a lot of talk before this week about the fact that we definitely want to turn it around, but that’s something that happens when you’re not winning as a team. Yeah, I personally want to be better, but every guy wants to be better in the room.
I think if you went around and you asked Dion [Phaneuf] and Kipper and Bertuzzi, and you went to our young guys, [Dustin] Boydie, it’s something that it’s every single guy. There’s not many that feel good and they just want to keep going. Every guy thinks when you’re not winning that you can do just a bit more and you want to be a little bit sharper. I don’t think it’s because I’m a captain or anything. I think partly I’m a veteran and have been here, and I thankfully play a good amount of minutes and I’m out there, but I think it’s just something that’s part of a team that every guy does look at himself and see how he can contribute and collectively be better as a group.