|These ‘really confident’ Bruins know they have to re-capture road warrior mentality||06.21.13 at 9:09 pm ET|
Perhaps the lasting legacy of the 2011 Stanley Cup champion Bruins was their ability to win in a hostile environment when they had no other choice.
Game 7 in Vancouver was the ultimate testament to that quality.
Now, these Bruins have a chance to repeat that accomplishment, and must, if they are to achieve their ultimate goal. Already, the Bruins have proven they can win in Chicago. But after losing Game 4 in overtime, they must find a way again.
“It’s tough, but we know we can do it,” captain Zdeno Chara said Friday. “We have a good enough team. We just have to be ready. It’s going to be a battle.”
“I guess it helps some kind of confidence there, but it’s still going to be a tough one,” Tuukka Rask said of winning Game 2 last Saturday.
Chara knows the value of the experience of Game 7 in 2011 – and Game 2 this year – in Boston’s quest.
“It’s huge,” Chara said. “You need to be able to win games on the road. It’s something that good teams go to do, and certainly we’ve done it once, so we’ve got to do our best to do it again.”
Added Tyler Seguin: “I think it helps a ton. We know what to expect a bit more and that being said Chicago’s been in this series just as much as we have. You know, it’s going to be a long series still and it’s one we’re enjoying.”
All eyes will be on Rask to see how he handles the “bounce back” game.
“Yeah, we’ve got to focus on [Game 5], hopefully get the win and have a chance to finish it at home,” Rask said. “[We’re] really confident. I think that’s one of our good qualities as a team. We never let things bother us.”
Maybe Johnny Boychuk had the best take of all on the road factor.
“It doesn’t really matter at this point where we’re playing,” Boychuk said. “I think both teams are just trying to worry about what they’re doing and trying to just battle as hard as you can to win a Cup.”
|Barry Pederson on D&C: Tuukka Rask ‘making it look easy’||06.18.13 at 11:33 am ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Barry Pederson joined the Dennis & Callahan show Tuesday morning to talk about the Bruins’ win in Game 3, the value of team defense and Tuukka Rask‘s technically sound play in goal.
Pederson said that the Bruins team defense has played consistently well throughout the playoffs and has been key in winning not only the physical battle but the mental battle.
‘We have seen it whether it was Toronto, the Rangers, Chicago in here or Pittsburgh,’ Pederson said. ‘It is the fact that they’re breaking the will of the opponent. It is so frustrating to go out there and every time you get the puck, [Zdeno] Chara is taking away your space, he is running you through the boards, you think you’ve got an open lane and you go to throw it across and all of a sudden [Dennis] Seidenberg is in there with his stick, with his feet. They just don’t give you an inch.
‘After a while it is almost like when you have a horse and you saddle-break him. Once his shoulders roll on you, you know you have the horse’s spirit broken and you have a chance of breaking him and getting him saddle-broken. Here’s the situation to me where you can see it on the ice where guys are going, ‘OK, we are ready, Chicago. Here comes our energy.’ And it’s like, ‘Oh, this just ain’t happening.’ They’re just frustrating them.’
That strong team defense is a testament to Claude Julien sticking with his defensive system and having his players buy into it. It is also the result of general manager Peter Chiarelli bringing in players that fit Julien’s system well and are willing to play hard on the defensive end every night.
Pederson said that one thing that makes Chiarelli successful is that he is willing to pay players for their contributions on the defensive end — not just the offensive end.
‘What happens a lot of times is somebody says, ‘OK, we want to play a certain style and we want to reward these guys for being successful, but yet they’re playing team defense,’ ‘ Pederson said. ‘A lot of times throughout the season when things aren’t going well it’s like, ‘We just don’t have enough offense. We don’t have those stars like [Evgeni] Malkin and [Sidney] Crosby who can generate a lot of goals.’ But champions, as we know, are known for both sides of the puck. Not only the offense, but it’s that great, smothering team defense and the structure and the layers they have defensively.
‘It has been very important also for Peter Chiarelli to reward these players for not only their offense that they show us by being maybe a point-a-game guy, but they are capable on other teams of probably being 80- or 90-point seasons, but they’re not. They are giving it up for the team and they are doing it the right way.’
Tuukka Rask was the beneficiary of the strong team defense in the Bruins’ win in Game 3, as he was protected well in his 28-save shutout Monday. However, Pederson said he thinks Rask may not be getting the credit he deserves because he is making it look easier than it is.
‘I think one of the things that we are getting ourselves maybe into a bad habit of, is because Tuukka is so sound technically and is so much in control of his emotions right now, he is making it look easy,’ Pederson said. ‘It’s not as easy as it looks. He is just attacking the shooters correctly. When he goes down he is taking up space, his belly is not touching the ice, he is standing up straight with his chest, he is controlling his rebounds.
‘A couple of times last night you could see the shifts were getting long and the Bruins needed a whistle. They are coming down the right side and they shoot the puck. He is able to control the rebound and throw it outside of the rink to get yourself a stop or a whistle. He has done a great job. He will be the first to tell you that his team in front of him is playing very well defensively, but I also think his teammates will tell you, ‘Hey, listen, he is playing so well right now and he is so locked in, he is making it look easier than it actually is.’ ‘
No more Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from these Bruins, at least not in the eyes of their coach.
After the Bruins dominated Game 3 in nearly every aspect, including a 40-16 edge on faceoffs, Claude Julien heaped praise on the effort level of his team after the 2-0 win that leaves them two victories shy of their second Stanley Cup in three years and seventh in franchise history.
“I think it’s the energy in the game, the effort,” Julien said. “You see our guys, like I said, they’re backchecking, having layers, so when somebody makes a mistake, you have somebody covering up.”
Even several stitches above the eye of Zdeno Chara wasn’t going to keep the commitment level down for the Bruins. Chara said he “lost an edge” during pregame skate Monday night.
“All he did is he slipped, had a little gash over his eye,” Julien said. “I haven’t even seen it. Just by slipping, he got hit just above the eye. Nothing serious.”
The Bruins blocked another 17 shots Monday — to seven for Chicago. Dennis Seidenberg had six by himself.
“We’re blocking a lot of shots,” Julien continued. “The commitment is totally there. Throughout a whole season, it’s not easy to have that full commitment. But I think when you get to this stage, players start feeling it. They go above and beyond. That’s what you’re seeing from our team right now.”
Julien famously lashed out at his team in the first-round series with Toronto, calling the B’s a “Jekyll and Hyde” team when they blew a 3-1 series lead only to grab a dramatic Game 7 win to extend their playoff season.
But that certainly hasn’t been the case since. After the Game 6 loss to the Leafs, the Bruins are 11-2 in these playoffs. And the penalty kill — another area of effort and execution — is a big reason why. With five more kills on Monday, the Bruins have killed off 27 straight penalties.
“It’s our backcheck,” Julien explained. “Our guys are understanding one thing: This is a team, when it attacks, it attacks with four, never three. They’ve got such great skaters back there on the fence that if we don’t do what we’re doing right now, we don’t stand a chance. Our guys, like I’ve said, they’ve committed to that. They realize how important it is to come back. We’re trying to support each other that way and trying to keep it as tight as possible.”
|Tuukka Rask, Zdeno Chara finish fifth in respective awards||06.15.13 at 7:54 pm ET|
CHICAGO — Everyone knew Tuukka Rask and Zdeno Chara weren’t going to win their positions’ awards this season when neither of them were announced as finalists after the regular season, but it was interesting to see where they finished.
Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban was the winner of the Norris Trophy for the league’s top defenseman, getting 66 first-place votes (one more than runner-up Ryan Suter) from the Pro Hockey Writers Association and finishing with 1266 points to Suter’s 1230. Kris Letang (914) and Francois Beauchemin (290) also finished ahead of Chara, who was fifth with 289 points. Chara, who won the Norris in 2009, received 10 first-place votes. Also represented in Norris voting was Dennis Seidenberg, who was 21st in voting with four points (one fourth-place vote and a fifth-place vote).
Rask, meanwhile, was a rather surprising fifth-place finisher for the Vezina Trophy, which is voted on by general managers and given to the league’s top goalie. Rask received no first-place votes, getting three second place votes and three third-place votes. Blue Jackets’ net minder Sergei Bobrovsky won the Vezina with 110 points. Hernik Lundqvist, Antti Niemi and Craig Anderson also finished ahead for Rask.
Alexander Ovechkin took home the Hart Trophy for the most valuable player. Patrice Bergeron was the only Bruin to receive a vote, as he got a fourth-place vote and finished 17th in voting. Bergeron was named the winner of the King Clancy Trophy as the player who “best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and who has made a significant humanitarian contribution to his community.”
|Doc Emrick on M&M: Tuukka Rask gives Bruins ‘check mark’ over Blackhawks||06.12.13 at 12:34 pm ET|
NBC Sports play-by-play caller Mike “Doc” Emrick joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday morning to break down the Stanley Cup finals between the Bruins and Blackhawks.
Emrick said he expects the series to be almost dead even, and he did not offer a prediction for who would raise the Stanley Cup in the end. However, he drew a comparison between this series and the 1995 finals between the Devils and Red Wings.
‘The edge is very difficult to call,’ Emrick said. ‘I know there have been various surveys done and I think one very extensive one in Canada came out 50 percent to 49.2 percent, and at that point I didn’t even ask who had the 50 percent because it becomes ‘ it is pretty much the way that everyone here is thinking. It is just too tough to call.
‘I remember a similar thing that happened when we had a 48-game season in 1995 and we went into the final with a favorite team and a non-favorite one because the New Jersey Devils were not a good scoring team. They had a good goaltender and they played good defense. And the Red Wings were lights out. I mean, they were the biggest offensive juggernaut going and they banged their way through Chicago to get to the final and then New Jersey shut them down in four straight games with a defensive scheme.’
Emrick continued that comparison between the current series and the 1995 finals while discussing Zdeno Chara‘s impact on Tuukka Rask‘s play. Emrick compared Chara’s dominance to that of hall-of-fame defenseman Scott Stevens.
‘I think if you were to ask that question to Marty Brodeur, he would say that Scott Stevens‘ years were some of his best, because when you have somebody out there that is a presence that takes care of business as well as Scott did and as well as Zdeno Chara does and covers even more distance than Scott would ever hope to just because of his raw size.’ Emrick said. ‘I think you’re making a very good comparison there and I think you’re also giving appropriate credit to the defense in front of [Rask].’
While he praised Chara for his defense, Emrick was sure to give credit to Rask, saying that he gave the Bruins an advantage between the pipes over Corey Crawford.
‘If you want to put a check mark in one particular category that I think solidly goes to Boston, it is goaltending,’ Emrick said. ‘And again, we have the leading goals-against average is one guy and the other is second. And the leading save percentage is the other guy and the one guy is second. So you can waffle back and forth. It seems to me the way that Rask has been playing, that is a check mark to the Bruins.
‘As [NBC Sports color commentator] Eddie Olczyk always says, ‘Without goaltending you have got no shot.’ And they’ve sure got goaltending.’
|Bruins insist the Blackhawks aren’t the Penguins||06.11.13 at 7:08 pm ET|
CHICAGO — The Bruins didn’t see the Blackhawks in the regular season this year because of the lockout, but did facing the Penguins prepare the B’s for Chicago?
“It’s hard to really compare them to someone when you haven’t faced them, but if you look at them on paper, their lineup, a lot of people like to compare them to Pittsburgh,” Zdeno Chara said.
That’s right. A lot of people do compare them to Pittsburgh, and it’s probably why many assumed that the Penguins and Blackhawks would meet in the Cup finals. There is a difference between the teams though, most notably that Chicago is a much stronger team defensively. Their defensemen are good in their own end and move the puck exceptionally well, plus they have stronger goaltending.
Yet the team’s high offensive output has led to comparisons to Pittsburgh. Brad Marchand even made the comparison, but like Chara noted that the similarities are in the rosters, not the styles of play.
“The closest team to what they would do would be Pittsburgh just because of the talent and skill they have, but they don’t really play a similar game,” he said. “Pittsburgh was more keen on chipping pucks in and going after it. I don’t know if Chicago’s like that, but there’s not really any other team that plays like they do. They play a different game and I think that’s why their so tough to stop.”
Marchand was then asked if the Bruins would take the same approach to the Blackhawks as they did against the Penguins.
“That’s a sneaky question right there,” Marchand said with a grin. “It’s a completely different team. I just said that they’re not the same team. They’re similar in skill and talent, so very sneaky question by you. Trying to get me in trouble over here, but they play a different game and it won’t at all be like the Pittsburgh series.”
There is one Bruin who faced the Blackhawks this year: Jaromir Jagr, who played them twice as a member of the Stars and had no points, four shots on goal and a minus-1 rating in two meetings against Chicago.
“I know everything about them,” Jagr said with a laugh, as questions about the teams’ unfamiliarity with one another were aplenty given that teams only played conference opponents this season.
The Blackhawks won both games Jagr played against them, one of which was an 8-1 blowout, so it’s no surprise that Jagr respects their talent.
“When we played them in Dallas, I thought they were in the best team in that conference for sure,” Jagr said. “They played different hockey than any other team in that conference. They’re quick, so talented up front, but they’re quick on defense. I think that’s a huge difference compared to other teams. They’re so fast and everybody can move the puck on their defense, so we have to be careful of that.”
|Pierre McGuire on M&M: Zdeno Chara’s presence ‘mammoth in a series like this’||06.10.13 at 1:38 pm ET|
NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Monday to preview the Stanley Cup finals between the Bruins and Blackhawks.
The B’s and Blackhawks have a number of similarities, but McGuire said no other team has someone who can compare to Zdeno Chara.
“They’re similar in a lot of different respects,” McGuire said. “They’re similar in terms of their star power through the middle. They’re similar in terms of their size and their speed on the wings. They’re similar in terms of veteran experience in goal — or lack thereof. They’re similar in terms of their depth on defense. Chicago’s left defense [Duncan Keith, Johnny Oduya and Nick Leddy] is much faster than Boston’s left defense. That’s a key part of the Chicago team. But nobody outside of Boston has Chara. That is mammoth in a series like this.”
Added McGuire: “Chara’s made a huge impact on these playoffs, as he usually does, and he’s made a huge impact especially in the last series.”
Another similarity is the fact that both teams have an agitator who has some talent: Brad Marchand and Andrew Shaw. Of Shaw, McGuire joked that Bruins fans “are going to learn to love him quick.”
“Like Marchand, Shaw has tremendous offensive skill. ‘¦ He’s not a guy that’s just a super pest. He’s a player. He’s a real player,” McGuire said. “He’s very similar to Marchand. I don’t know if his top-end skill is as good as Marchand; in fact, I would say it’s not. But his pest factor is as high if not higher. He’s fearless, absolutely fearless. Tremendous player. There’s not a team in the league that wouldn’t want this player.”