|Steven Kampfer still coming along, Adam McQuaid getting better for Bruins||05.05.11 at 1:21 pm ET|
Bruins defenseman Steven Kampfer, who began skating this week for the first time since sustaining a knee injury on April 9 in an AHL game, still isn’t ready to return to the lineup. At any rate, he’s just happy to be back on the ice. On Thursday he practiced with the team for the first time since the injury.
“It’s good to get back out there. It’s been long couple of weeks sitting by and watching, but it’s good to get back out there skating and skating with the guys especially,” Kampfer said Thursday. “It’s definitely a perk. It’s moving ahead, but it’s always slow [progression] at this time.
“I’ve still go to talk to the doctors and everything. I’m just kind of cleared just to skate around to test and see how everything is. The flow drills are I’ve been cleared for, so I’ve got to see the doctors again before we make any decisions.”
As for how he feels out on the ice, Kampfer said that he still feels “the occasional pull,” but that he “wouldn’t be out there if everything wasn’t OK.”
Kampfer spent about a day and a half on crutches after a knee-on-knee collision with a Springfield Falcons player while on an assignment to Providence to get some playing time. General manager Peter Chiarelli figured at the time that the rookie defenseman would be out for “at least two weeks,” and just less than a month later, he remains out. Coach Claude Julien likes the progress he’s seen, but doesn’t expect to see Kampfer being in a position to jump in the lineup if need be just yet.
“We had no contact in our drills, so [Thursday] was a very good skate for him. We’re moving forward as we’re being told by our medical staff,” Julien said after the practice. “He’s looking better every day, so we just have to stay with it, but he’s not ready.”
Had Kampfer been healthy, it’s possible he could have played in a pair of playoff games to this point. He was going to be healthy scratch for the start of the playoffs, but with Zdeno Chara missing Game 2 of the quarterfinals vs. the Canadiens and Adam McQuaid out with a sprained neck, Shane Hnidy has gotten the call to fill in twice. Kampfer, who played in 38 regular season games, isn’t trying to think about what could have been.
“You can think about it, but at the same time, we have eight capable guys who can play. I thought Hnidy did a great job. That’s why we have depth and why this team is so strong. We have guys who can fill in at any time. It’s a good situation that we have eight D that are ready to go. Obviously it was an unfortunate incident that happened to Adam, but it looks like everything’s going to be OK.”
As for McQuaid,the 24-year-old defenseman did not skate Thursday and remains day-to-day. Julien noted that he has been encouraged by how he’s come along since leaving Game 2 after spraining his neck trying to hit Mike Richards.
“He is definitely getting better,” Julien said. “I know we are still saying day-to-day, but there is improvement in him and we are getting very optimistic that things are going to happen quicker than later. Right now we are just keeping our fingers crossed. He seems to be doing well, and hopefully we will have better news here in the next few days.”
ESPN NHL analyst Matthew Barnaby joined the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning to talk about the Bruins’ success in the Eastern Conference semifinals. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Boston took a 3-0 series lead on the Flyers with Wednesday night’s 5-1 victory and can close out the series Friday night at TD Garden.
“They’re playing at full tilt and they really aren’t making that many mistakes,” Barnaby said of the B’s. “When you look at the Philadelphia side, they just can’t seem to get anything going. ‘¦ It’s a different team than we saw all year long, very suspect goaltending and Chris Pronger not being in that lineup really changes the dynamic of that team.”
Tim Thomas has been stellar in the Boston goal and drawn comparisons to one of Barnaby’s former teammates. “Tim Thomas is to me right now what I played with in Dominik Hasek when I was with Buffalo,” Barnaby said. “He gets into guys’ heads. He makes you pass when you think you should shoot and shoot when you think you should pass. That plays into guys’ minds.
“Sometimes he has you beat [mentally]. He has shooters passing when they should be shooting, and it’s a tough thing to not think you can score. Because I saw it time in and time out, frustrating other teams, night after night, shift after shift. And that’s what Tim Thomas is doing. You expect him to make that big save, and it plays mind games with you.”
The Lightning swept the top-seeded Capitals in the other Eastern Conference semifinal, and that has Barnaby anticipating an exciting Bruins-Lightning series.
“I love this series,” Barnaby said. “You look at goaltending. Dwayne Roloson and Tim Thomas have been the two best goalies in the postseason so far and would be candidates for the Conn Smythe, early running. You look at power plays. Well, you have to give it to Tampa Bay. They’ve been incredible. I think they have 11 or 12 power-play goals already [12 for a 26.7 percent success rate]. Both with some dynamic forwards. The defensive side, I’d give it to Boston. I think Zdeno Chara, he’s logged so many minutes, he’s such a big man.
“I really think it will be an incredible series and could go seven games.”
Asked who he’d predict to win the series, Barnaby said: “I would take Boston.”
|Numbers don’t lie: David Krejci continues to crush the Flyers||05.04.11 at 11:49 pm ET|
After Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals a season ago, the questions surrounding the Bruins weren’t about whether they could close out a 3-0 series. They were about how the Bruins could potentially reach their ultimate goal without David Krejci, who had left the game with what would later be diagnosed as a broken wrist. This time around, there’s a storyline with Krejci, but it’s far different. With Boston’s first-line center healthy, he’s shown just how much of a factor he can be, and the Flyers have been the biggest victim.
That isn’t news for Krejci. For one reason or another, the 25-year-old center has been an absolute force vs. Philadelphia, and it continued Wednesday night with his fourth goal in three games, as well as an assist on Zdeno Chara‘s power play goal in the third period.
Dating back to last year’s Winter Classic, and including the playoffs, Krejci now has 17 points (five goals and 12 assists) in his last 12 games vs. the Flyers. The B’s have won 11 of those 12 games, with the one loss coming this season in overtime.
“One thing is that my shots are finding the back of the net, and that’s a good thing,” Krejci said after Game 3. “Hopefully it’s going to keep coming. I don’t think it’s anything different from other teams. I’m just trying to play the same way as I always do, and I guess I just hope that it’s going to keep going well.”
The Flyers have certainly made it a point to limit Krejci’s chances, but the first line has continued to click. He ended Game 2 in overtime with a goal off Brian Boucher, and his tally in the first period Wednesday also proved to be a game-winner. Try as the Flyers might, there’s been no silencing Krejci this time around, and the Bruins, with a healthy Krejci, have a far better 3-0 lead than they did a series ago.
“They’re playing me hard, that’s for sure,” Krejci said. “They’re all letting me know that it’s going to be tough, but the puck’s going in for me right now.”
Krejci isn’t one to boast about personal achievements, so you won’t catch him reflecting too much on his dominance vs. the Flyers, or even admitting it exists. The mere acknowledgement of it Wednesday was enough from a guy who certainly knows he’s in a groove.
“I know I was doing well last year before I got hurt, and obviously this year I know how I’m doing,” he said. “I just hope I can keep going.”
Given that he had just one point in the first round against the Canadiens and already has seven points through three games vs. Philadelphia, it’s clear that Krejci just steps it up against Philadelphia, and that the Flyers have had no fun when he’s been in the lineup. Krejci said Wednesday that he “didn’t plan” to get hurt last year, but he isn’t thinking about it. With the way he’s going, he might not even have to think about Philadelphia much longer, as his play could put them in the Bruins’ rear view mirror.
|Bruins/Flyers Game 3 live blog: B’s lead, 4-1, in third||at 6:54 pm ET|
Join DJ Bean, Mike Petraglia and others from TD Garden as the Bruins and Flyers square off in Game 3 ofthe Eastern Conference semifinals. Boston has a 2-0 series lead.
|Bruins looking for positives as results continue to escape power play||05.01.11 at 6:09 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — The Bruins’ power play struggles have gone from concerning, to laughable, to just being a sensitive subject. An 0-for-26 showing in the playoffs will do that, but right now the B’s are simply looking for signs of progress.
“We’re just trying,” Zdeno Chara said after Sunday’s practice at Wells Fargo Center. “We’re always trying to get better. We’re still working on it, and I thought we created some better scoring opportunities yesterday. Hopefully it happens sooner rather than later.
“We controlled the puck pretty well, made some plays, had some quality shots. We had some power plays where we got in really easily, and we had some of them where we couldn’t really get past the blue line. It’s just a little inconsistent on that part.”
The Flyers, who killed off all five of the Bruins’ power plays in Boston’s 7-3 Game 1 victory Saturday, boasted a middle-of-the-pack penalty kill unit in the regular season. Their 82.7 penalty kill percentage was 15th in the NHL, though in the first round against the Sabres, they gave up seven goals on 31 Buffalo power plays, meaning they were successful only 77 percent of the time. Against a team that’s struggled as much on the man advantage, it doesn’t seem to matter how the Flyers’ PK operates.
“No results,” Claude Julien said Sunday of the team’s power play. “That’s one thing, but I thought there was a few things better. Hopefully it continues to get that way, but we just need it going.”
The Bruins will make their latest attempt at breaking the unflattering streak Monday night in Game 2.
PHILADELPHIA — Flyers forward Danny Briere isn’t about to put up a stink over a missed call in the Bruins’ 7-3 Game 1 victory over Philadelphia Saturday. Speaking with reporters after Sunday’s practice, Briere said he didn’t think Zdeno Chara meant any harm when he got him with a stick to the face in front of the net during the third period, but that it could have been avoided.
‘I don’t think it was intentional,” Briere told reporters Sunday. “He was battling with someone else in front of the net, but the thing with him is that every time he battles he always has his stick is always in the air. At the size he has, I don’t think he needs to do that. You are supposed to be in control of your stick. But it happened, [and] like I said, it wasn’t intentional on his part.’
Briere said Chara’s stick got him on the right side of his head. No penalty was called on the play, though the Bruins did take five penalties in the third period.
The 33-year-old Briere had the Flyers’ first goal of the game Saturday, beating Tim Thomas to tie the game at a goal apiece in the first period. He leads all postseason skaters with seven goals in the playoffs thus far.
|Hockey writers realize Zdeno Chara is still one of the best in the game||04.25.11 at 1:27 pm ET|
On Monday, Chara was named one of three finalists for the Norris Trophy, given annually to the top defenseman in the NHL – the third time in four seasons that the Bruins captain has been so recognized.
Chara, who won the award in 2009, led the league with a plus-33 rating and recorded 44 points, including 14 goals and 30 assists.
“I think, obviously, he’s a well-deserving player,” Julien said. “There are a lot of reasons. I think everyone who knows him here knows he plays a lot of minutes. He also always plays against other team’s top lines. He’s utilized as a shutdown D against the top players on other teams. The stats at the end of the year, I think he’s a plus-30 something, plus-33, and I think that speaks for itself. And double digits in goals, and certainly, offensively, he’s contributed well.
“So, if you’re talking about the Norris and talking about a defenseman that brings a lot, he’s certainly. And I don’t think there are many players in this league who will raise their hand and say they really enjoy playing against him.”
Chara has bigger concerns on his plate right now, like closing out the Canadiens in Game 6 Tuesday night, but he did show sincere appreciation after Monday’s practice at TD Garden for being recognized.
“It’s obviously a big honor and I’m very humbled and very thankful, especially after you consider how many guys had such a great season – breakout seasons.” Chara said. “I’m just very thankful that people who did vote recognize the definition of the Norris Trophy award. And obviously, a big thank you goes to all the people who helped me get there, especially my teammates, all those in the organization, and obviously, my family and fans.
Chara consistently faces the opposing team’s top offensive line, something that makes him one of the most reliable players in black and gold.
“That’s something I take a lot of pride in,” Chara said. “I’m very competitive when it comes to defending the top lines and playing top lines. I know that it’s not an easy job, but I get up to it every night. You can’t think that it’s just you. Yeah, it’s a big motivation for me every night to face such skill and great players.”
Chara – who has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro for fun – takes as much pride as anyone in his off-season training that year-in, year-out puts him among the finest conditioned athletes in not only hockey but the world. Monday, in the wake of another Norris nomination, he pointed to that training regiment as a big reason for his continued success.
“To me, the first priority is hard work,” Chara said. “I always like to work extremely hard on and off the ice. I’m very competitive, I’m very motivated to play against top lines and the best players every night. I take a lot of pride in that, and I just want to help the team as much as I can to win. That was always my first thing. I always want to put the team in front of egos or individual goals.
“To me, that’s the most important thing, and everything else will fall into place. I know I’m not the extremely skilled defenseman who’s going to put probably 70 points on the board every year. But I know that if I play my game, I give my team a good chance to win hockey games. That’s all I can do.”
Joining Chara as finalists are Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom and Nashville’s Shea Weber. The three were voted as finalists by the Professional Hockey Writers Association, and the names were released Monday by the league.
The winner will be announced June 22 during the 2011 NHL awards ceremony in Las Vegas.