|Forechecking is part of Zdeno Chara’s new power-play duties||05.26.11 at 5:07 pm ET|
BEDFORD — Much has been made of the fact that the Bruins’ power play has looked better with Zdeno Chara set up in front. It has appeared to frustrate whoever the Lightning have had in net, it resulted in Chara drawing a penalty in Game 5, and it finally paid off with a goal in Game 6 when Matthias Ohlund stuck to Chara, freeing up David Krejci to tip home a pass from Nathan Horton.
Something that has gotten lost in the shuffle, though, is the job Chara has done forechecking on entries into the zone while playing forward. He has consistently either been the first to the puck or been right on the Lightning player who retrieves it.
As a defenseman — and one who doesn’t jump into the rush all that much — Chara doesn’t get too many chances to be one of the first guys in on the forecheck. He said he understands exactly what he has to do, though.
“Obviously when you’re up front, you have to get to the pucks and win the battles and races and get the puck to our guys,” Chara said Thursday. “It’s not really that big of an adjustment. You just have to time the speed going into the zone and kind of predict where the puck’s going to be.”
Once he helps the Bruins get possession, Chara knows his assignment is to park his 6-foot-9 frame right at the top of the crease.
“I try to just create some more traffic in front, some room for other guys, and do whatever I can to help the power play,” Chara said.
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 can’t close out Lightning despite David Krejci hat trick||05.25.11 at 10:46 pm ET|
TAMPA — The Bruins and Lightning are heading back to Boston to decide the Eastern Conference finals, as a hat trick from David Krejci was not enough to propel the B’s into the Stanley Cup Finals — instead, it was a 5-4 loss in Game 6 Wednesday night.
After the Bruins erased an early 1-0 Bolts lead with goals from Milan Lucic and Krejci. Tampa would come back with three unanswered goals before a back-and-forth third period left the B’s down by one following Krejci’s third goal.
Teddy Purcell did most of the Lightning’s damage to Tim Thomas, opening the scoring just 36 into the contest and giving Tampa a 3-2 lead 13:35 into the second period. Purcell now has six goals this postseason, three of which have come this round.
Thomas made 21 saves for the Bruins, while Dwayne Roloson stopped 15 of the Bruins’ 19 shots.
Game 7 will be played at TD Garden on Friday.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR BRUINS
- Another goal allowed very early for the Bruins. Krejci was set to take the face-off against Vincent Lecavalier and was tossed from the dot, allowing Lecavalier to go against Chris Kelly. The Tampa center won it cleanly, allowing for Purcell to blast one past Thomas. It was the Lightning’s second goal in the first minute of a game this series, and third goal in the first 1:09. Amazingly, it was the only game in the aforementioned three that the Lightning won.
- Yes, Eric Furlatt was officiating and the Lightning were penalized more than the B’s, but it was Tampa that won out when it came to actually capitalizing. The Bruins’ power play looked improved with Zdeno Chara in front, and Krejci scored his second of the game with the B’s on the man advantage in the third, but the Lightning went 3-for-4 as opposed to Boston’s 1-for-5.
- Once again, the Bruins simply couldn’t build momentum at St. Pete Times Forum. After blowing a 3-0 lead in Game 4, the B’s blew a 2-1 lead in the second and got no boost from Krejci’s goal that brought them within one in the third. Martin St. Louis scored 29 seconds after Krejci’s tally.
- Taking an interference penalty with 13:02 remaining in a game in which your team is trying to make a two-goal comeback probably isn’t what you want to do if you’re Tomas Kaberle. The polarizing defenseman did just that in the corner on a play that left Ryan Malone bloodied. Kaberle actually had a good night defensively, but the penalty won’t help his reputation around Boston as a bust of an acquisition.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- Krejci’s hat trick gives him five goals in six Eastern Conference finals games. The dominance from the second round hasn’t been there, but the numbers have been.
- Say what you want about Lucic disappearing this postseason, but he always smells blood when his team has a chance of ending a series. Lucic had a pair of tallies in Game 4 against the Flyers in the second round last year, and had three goals in Games 6 and 7 combined against Philly last year. Taking Games 6 and 7 against the Habs this year into consideration, Lucic now has 6 goals in the last six games in which the Bruins could eliminate an opponent.
- Dennis Seidenberg had a big play for the Bruins on a play in which the Lightning could have made it 4-2 late in the second. A Marc-Andre Bergeron shot yielded a rebound that Steven Stamkos tapped toward the net with Thomas out of position. Seidenberg literally put his foot down, stepping in front of the puck before it could hurt the B’s and starting a circus that landed Andrew Ference in the box for cross-checking Stamkos. The Lightning would score on the power play early in the second period on a goal from Stamkos, thus making the transaction a wash.
NESN hockey analyst Andy Brickley joined the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning to offer his views on the Eastern Conference finals. The Bruins are in Tampa for Game 6 Wednesday night, holding a 3-2 series lead. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
“I think the Bruins have the edge,” Brickley said. “I guess there’s a piece of them that says, ‘Look, even if we don’t win this game, we still have Game 7. We play it on home ice. We know that we’ve beaten this team three times. We’re confident. We’re coming off a victory. We’ve shown that we’re a bigger, more physical, stronger team when we execute the way we’re supposed to play. We felt that we were a deeper more balanced team coming into this playoff series.’
“So, I think the advantage goes to Boston. They feel they have another level to their game that they haven’t reached yet. They really haven’t put together that proverbial, perfect 60 minutes. They feel that if they do that, there won’t be a Game 7.”
However, Brickley predicts there will be another game in this series Friday night. “I originally said it was going to be Boston in seven … and I’m going to stand by that,” he said. “I like Boston tonight, I think they’re going to play well. But I expect to get Tampa’s best game of this series.”
Lightning coach Guy Boucher will return Dwayne Roloson to goal after giving him a break in Game 5. Brickley said he agrees with Roloson starting. “I was more surprised that he actually played Mike Smith, to be honest with you,” Brickley said. “As well as Smith has played in this series, I felt that that trust between GM, coach and goaltender when they acquired Roloson was for this purpose, was to play the biggest games, the biggest moments. I thought last game was one, and certainly tonight is another.”
Legendary Bruins defenseman Ray Bourque stopped by for a chat with Dennis & Callahan Wednesday morning during a charity benefit for the Massachusetts Soldiers Legacy Fund at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Boston. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Asked if the Lightning have a psychological edge over the Bruins in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday night because they are the more desperate team, Bourque said: “I think it brings the best out of you, so I’d say yes. But the flip side of that, the Bruins are kind of a good counter-puncher kind of a team.
“Sometimes when you come out with that kind of energy or intensity, you might try to do too much and make mistakes and counter and maybe take advantage of those mistakes and go down early in the game, like you saw in Game 4 in Tampa. That’s what happened. It’s not that the Bruins played an incredible first period and came out of that period up 3-0. It’s Tampa that made some mistakes, and the Bruins capitalized on it. So, a game like tonight, you could see that happening again.”
Should the Bruins finish off the Lightning, the challenge in the Stanley Cup finals would be enormous. “Vancouver’s going to be very tough,” Bourque said. “That’s going to be by far their toughest series.”
Bourque said no matter how the season ends this year, the future looks bright for this Bruins team. “I think it’s a very good team with a great goalie, and a team that’s only going to get better, I think, in years to come,” he said. “And experiencing what they’re experiencing this year in the playoffs, the growth of some of these players is going to be tremendous.”
Asked where Zdeno Chara rates among the best Bruins defensemen ever — a list that includes Bourque and Bobby Orr — Bourque was highly complimentary of the Czech standout.
“I think defensively he’s better than both of us,” Bourque said. “He’s a shutdown D that is like no other in the league. I’ll tell you that any player playing against him — you’re not hearing much about [Martin] St. Louis or [Vincent] Lecavalier because of Zdeno. That’s why.
“Defensively, he’s the best, and one of the best that’s ever been because of his size and his strength and his reach. I mean, this guy’s 7 foot on skates and his reach is incredible. You just watch him, like Inspector Gadget all of a sudden — bang, that stick comes out, and it’s amazing.”
|Mike Keenan on D&C: Dwayne Roloson ‘a calming influence’ for Lightning||05.23.11 at 9:15 am ET|
Former Bruins coach Mike Keenan joined the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to talk about the Eastern Conference finals, which resume Monday night at TD Garden with the tiebreaking Game 5. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Keenan, who coached the Bruins in the 2000-01 season, one of eight NHL teams he helmed, said the B’s have to be hurting after blowing a big lead in Saturday’s Game 4 loss to the Lightning.
“How many times do you have a 3-0 lead in a series? And Boston knows this from Philadelphia [last year], it was 3-0, I hope it doesn’t end up the same result. But you have a chance to take the other team out. Then you have to look at yourself and say, ‘What happened?’ ”
Lightning backup goalie Mike Smith came off the bench and did not allow a goal Saturday, but Keenan said he would go back to Dwyane Roloson for Game 5. “He’s a calming influence for this group,” Keenan said of Roloson. “He’s got good leadership skills.”
Keenan said another reason to return to Roloson is to inspire the rest of the team. “There’s a great deal of respect, the players really like Roloson,” Keenan said. “And to show that they do, they’re going to come out and play really hard for him. And that’s part of what you take into account as well.”
|Claude Julien isn’t about to let his team think Stanley Cup finals yet||05.20.11 at 2:55 pm ET|
TAMPA — Despite a dominating defensive perfomance in Game 3 and watching his team record its first shutout of the playoffs, Bruins coach Claude Julien isn’t letting his team think about what could be if they win their next two games. Julien was asked Friday if being two wins away from the team’s first Stanley Cup finals appearance in 21 years provides motivation.
“We don’t even talk about that, honestly,” Julien said. “Right now, all we’ve talked about is how important a game tomorrow is for us. We don’t want to live in the past. Yesterday was yesterday. [Saturday] is what we want to talk about. We want to live in the present. And today is about getting some good rest and making sure that tomorrow we’re well rested, we’ve got the energy and the focus to do a job. That’s what we’ve been doing since the start.
“And that’s what’s helped us get through it. The same thing in Montreal. We lost the first two games. We went to Montreal not thinking about the two losses but what we had to do that night. It’s really helped us get through things, and that’s what our guys are all about right now. So I don’t have to worry about what you just asked, because we’re not thinking that way.”
The players would certainly appear to be heeding the message.
“You can’t take any situation for granted,” Milan Lucic said after Friday’s mainly optional skate at St. Pete Times Forum. “You can’t take any team for granted, and that’s what we’ve done so well. We’ve got to keep being determined to push for more.”
Lucic says there no need for reinforcement of Julien’s message from veterans like Zdeno Chara, Mark Recchi or Tim Thomas.
“At this point, there’s not much you can say,” Lucic added. “You’ve got to know what needs to be done, and when they speak, you can learn a lot from them. They’ve done a great job leading the way so far, and hopefully they keep leading the way and staying vocal and getting us ready for every situation.”
The Bruins play Game 4 against the Lightning Saturday afternoon at 1:30 at St. Pete Times Forum before returning to Boston for Game 5 Monday night in Boston.
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