|Video: Inside the Bruins locker Room, Game 1||04.14.11 at 11:02 pm ET|
By DJ Bean and Scott McLaughlin
The Canadiens took a 1-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals Thursday, defeating the Bruins, 2-0, at TD Garden.
Scott Gomez hit Brian Gionta in front of Tim Thomas following a first-period Tomas Kaberle turnover, with the Habs’ captain cashing in at 2:44 for the game’s first goal. Gionta beat Thomas again on a slapshot with 3:18 remaining in the third.
The Bruins would pick up the pace in the second and third periods, but ultimately were doomed by a combination of solid play from Montreal goaltender Carey Price and a tendency for the B’s to shoot it right into the chest of Price, limiting their second-chance opportunities.
On the night Price stopped all 31 shots he saw en route to the shutout. Tim Thomas made 18 saves on the night.
The two teams will square off Saturday for Game 2. From there, they will play Monday and Thursday in Montreal before returning to Boston, if necessary.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– Kaberle had a rough night for the Bruins. His turnover in the first period led to Gomez’ pass to set up Gionta’s goal, and he also took a first-period hooking penalty in the first. Furthermore, in order for anyone to buy his fake shots, he’ll have to actually shoot the puck more often. Defensively, he was suspect, and he isn’t bringing enough to the power play/offense to make up for it.
– The top line was ineffective for the majority of the night. The Milan Lucic – David Krejci – Nathan Horton trio totaled just one shot (from Horton) through the first two periods. Though they improved in the third, one period isn’t enough. Lucic has been big for the Bruins in the playoffs before, and Horton’s skill set suggests he can make an impact in the playoffs. They can’t just assume it will happen.
– Special teams are always crucial in the playoffs, and Thursday night, the Bruins just couldn’t get it done on the power play. It would have been one thing if they created a ton of chances and Price stood on his head, but that wasn’t the case.
The B’s struggled all night to set up on the man advantage and looked hesitant to shoot the few times they did. Brad Marchand had a breakaway chance on the first power play of the night and some good puck movement near the end of Boston’s third power play led to a few quality chances on the first shift after the penalty expired, but for the most part, the B’s did not make good use of their time on the man advantage.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– After a first period in which the Bruins looked a bit tentative, they stepped up and took control of the game in the second. The B’s outshot Montreal 18-6 in middle frame and had a number of strong offensive zone possessions result in scoring chances. Unfortunately for Boston, Price was always in perfect position to make the save. At the other end of the ice, the Canadiens rarely mustered any sort of attack on the Boston net. The Bruins did pretty much everything you could ask for in the second’¦ except put the puck in the net.
– Thomas and the Bruins dodged a real bullet in the second period. With Thomas way out of his net with the B’s on the power play, Tomas Plekanec had an open net to work with but rushed en route to missing the net.
– Zdeno Chara got five shots through to Price, but B’s fans seemed to take just as much joy in seeing the captain’s slap shots hobble Habs players. Both Andrei Kostitsyn and Travis Moen were slowed after blocking shots from Chara. The B’s captain took a roughing penalty with 2:42 remaining in the third.
|The legend of the Bruins jacket and Darth Quaider||at 12:38 pm ET|
When Milan Lucic scored his 30th goal of the season last month, he shocked many, and it had nothing to do with the fact that nobody expected him to reach the 30-goal mark.
Instead, it was his wardrobe choice that came off as perplexing. It was March 22, and it was the debut of the now famous Bruins jacket.
The jacket, a worn-out windbreaker seemingly from the late 80’s or early 90’s, was brought into the Bruins’ dressing room by Andrew Ference. Since Lucic debuted the windbreaker, it has been worn by a variety of differnt players in post-game interviews, with it signifying that the player wearing it was crucial to the team’s success. The list has included Daniel Paille and Zdeno Chara, and though it’s a bit snug on the 6-foot-9 captain, Ference isn’t concerned.
“Tough luck for him,” Ference said of Chara with a laugh. “He shouldn’t be so big. It’s not our fault.”
Ference said Thursday morning that he bought the jacket on eBay. He frequents the auction site, and was happy to pick up the jacket for the B’s room to keep the players loose. He did note that the jacket may not be worn by the best player every night, noting that “Timmy [Thomas] would hog it all the time.”
To those seeing the players interviewed the disgusting threads, the purpose of jacket may be confusing, but Ference sees it as just another sign of how close-knit a group this Bruins team is.
“You’ll drive yourself crazy if you don’t have fun,” Ference said. “It’s not just this time of year. This time of year is intense, so you need a release, but it’s a long year. When people talk about camaradie and a good dressing room, I think the value of a good dressing room comes at this time of year.
“At the end of 82 games, you’ve spent a lot of time together. If you don’t have camaraderie and a good vibe in the room, you’re sick of each other. I’ve been on teams where you are kind of sick of each other. ‘¦Chemistry is a very important thing.”
Now in his 11th season, Ference has been around a few locker rooms in his time. The former Penguin and Flame knows what it takes to cultivate the right chemistry, and he feels the Bruins are doing it right.
“It’s been good here for years, but I think it’s like a marriage. It takes work,” he said. “You have to make sure that theirs a certain attitude. The biggest thing we’ve done in this locker room is just the inclusion of everybody, whether it’s the rookies or the older guys, or the Europeans or the Canadians.
“Everybody goes out together. The benchmark is you can literally see any person in the room and go out with them for dinner on the road, and it wouldn’t be weird. That’s not normal. I’ve been on teams where there was a cliquiness with certain groups. Literally, around the room, everybody’s been out for dinner with each other and hangs out together. It’s not forced. It’s really good. It’s really nice.”
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Ference found the jacket on eBay, as he certainly has a history of getting his clothing online. Back in February, Ference strutted through the B’s dressing room at Ristuccia Arena rocking a “Darth Quaider” shirt that he customized online. The shirt, an homage to fellow defenseman Adam McQuaid, was certainly clever, but he can’t take credit for it.
Turns out the inspiration for the shirt came from his daughter. Prior to the season, she called Milan Lucic “Looch Skywalker.” From there, a Stars Wars-themed nicknaming frenzy began, with “Darth Quaider” sticking for McQuaid.
|Zdeno Chara talks to Max Pacioretty||04.12.11 at 2:10 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said after Tuesday’s practice that he reached out to injured Canadiens winger Max Pacioretty recently. Chara’s hit along the center boards late in the second period of a game on March 8 caused the rookie Canadiens forward to lose balance and crash face-first into the turnbuckle, landing Pacioretty on the ice with a severe concussion and cracked verterbrae.
“Yes, Yes I did. We talked,” is all Chara would say Tuesday as the Bruins prepare to battle their archrivals again in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs beginning Thursday at TD Garden.
Chara was not penalized by the NHL during the game or after review by the league but Montreal police indicated initially they would investigate the hit and subsequent injury as a criminal matter. But on Monday, Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli indicated that the police would not question or arrest Chara when the Bruins return to Montreal for Game 3 on Monday night, the first visit to the Bell Centre since the hit.
The Montreal Gazette reported Tuesday that while hopeful for a return during the playoffs, the Canadiens have ruled Pacioretty out for the first round series against the Bruins.
|Zdeno Chara, Mark Recchi to take Staycation as Tuukka Rask gets start vs. Devils||04.09.11 at 5:15 pm ET|
And then there were zero.
On Friday, the Bruins had three players who had played in each of the team’s games on the season: Zdeno Chara, Mark Recchi and Dennis Seidenberg. Claude Julien elected to give Seidenberg a day of rest on Saturday, and following the team’s 3-1 win over the Senators, announced that he’ll do the same for the other two.
Tim Thomas finally admitted after Saturday’s game that he had been thinking about the numbers, but with numbers like his, how could you blame him? Making his final start of the season Saturday, Thomas stopped 31 of 32 shots faced en route to breaking Dominik Hasek‘s single-season record for save percentage.
“To be completely honest, I had a hard time getting it off my mind over the past week or so,” Thomas said after the game. “Actually, I mentally prepared myself yesterday not to think about that and to play [so much], that I think I’m still in that mode a little bit. It hasn’t affected me. It hasn’t set in yet.”
It’s been a career year for the 36-year-old netminder, and to cap the regular season by surpassing Hasek’s mark from 1998-99 Vezina-winning campaign is only fitting. The two reckless goaltenders play similar styles, and Thomas remembers being inspired by Hasek.
Back when Hasek was racking up his .9366 mark, the best since the stat began being recorded in 1982-83, Thomas was spending his time both in Hamilton (AHL) and Finland. It was only a few years prior that the Michigan native was playing college hockey at Vermont.
“I certainly watched him when I was in college and was trying to pick things up off of him,” he said. “I didn’t try to emulate my style after him. I still have my own style. But I didn’t see some of the things that he does that I thought I could apply to my game and probably over the years it became part of my game too.
“I’ll be honest, Dominik Hasek was a hero of mine back when I was in college. A guy who played unconventional and had a ton of success. And even at college age I was already labeled as somebody with my style that I couldn’t do it at the next level. And so he was an inspiration. Actually, still seeing him, knowing that he’s playing, he won the Czech League, not this year, but the season before… I’m still impressed with what he’s been able to accomplish.”
Thomas knows his statistics like the back of his hand. He knows where he stands (upon being showed his .938155715074544 mark as a joke following the game, he responded by saying, “that’s what it went up to? Okay, because was it .9376 before. Yeah, well that’s great. That’s awesome.”) but he doesn’t feel he stands alone. He gave credit to his teammates, and more notably, captain Zdeno Chara.
“That number is a testament to the team in front of me and the way that they battled for me all year long, defensemen and forwards,” Thomas said. “It also reflects probably one of the best, if not the best defenseman in our world out there in front of me that I think should be getting a little bit more Norris talk than at least I’ve heard. Maybe he is, I don’t know. I don’t hear that much. He’s been stellar for us all year playing against the top players on every team, night in and night our and just doing a great job. So that number is the team number.”
|Claude Julien says Zdeno Chara will play against Thrashers||04.01.11 at 1:50 pm ET|
Bruins coach Claude Julien said Thursday that there was “nothing to report” after Zdeno Chara was absent from the game 17:14 of the second period to 3:05 of the third period against the Maple Leafs, but eyebrows were once again raised when the captain did not take the ice in Friday’s practice at TD Garden.
After the skate, Julien reassured reporters that there isn’t any reason for concern with the captain, and that he will be in the lineup when the B’s host the Thrashers at TD Garden Saturday.
“There’s nothing,” Julien said. “He had the day off today, and he’ll be in tomorrow.