|Dare to dream: Bruins hope to keep things 5-on-5 at Bell Centre||05.06.14 at 1:57 pm ET|
MONTREAL — The Bell Centre can be a tough place to play, especially in the postseason.
The fans are crazy and the pregame presentation is second to none, but home ice calls overshadow everything. The Canadiens get their power plays one way or another, and if their power play is anything like it’s been the last two games, they score.
Yet with nine power plays in the first two games of the series in Boston, the Canadiens proved something that was proven throughout the regular season: They get calls anywhere. Montreal had 140 power plays at home this season and 139 on the road.
As such, it’s safe to assume the Habs will get something like nine power plays over the next two games. Whether it’s the same way they got them in Boston — with some diving, some should-be matching minors that weren’t matching and the Bruins losing their cool — remains to be seen. Either way, the B’s have to know the power plays for Montreal are coming.
When they do, the Bruins have to look more like the group that held the Red Wings to two power play goals and less like the group that has allowed four goals to Montreal through two games.
The biggest issue has been stopping P.K. Subban, who has been able to get too many pucks to the net. Only one of the four goals he’s created (two scored, two assisted) has come off a one-timer, with the others being a normal slap shot, a wrist shot and a pass.
The solution there is getting in the shooting lanes and stopping those bids, which for whatever reason the B’s haven’t done. Zdeno Chara, Gregory Campbell and Brad Marchand have all been guilty parties in that regard.
‘That’s one of the areas we have to be better at,” Chara said Tuesday morning. “He’s putting those shots really quickly through our players and we’ve got to make sure we do a better job.’
It goes without saying, but if the Bruins can stay out of the box, they’ll be in tremendous shape. The B’s were the best five-on-five team in the NHL this season and have outscored the Canadiens, 7-2 in the second round.
“Five-on-five I thought we’ve played very well. Carey Price is a good goalie and he’s made some big saves, but I think that we’ve had enough chances that we can win games five-on-five,” Reilly Smith said. “We’ve been the stronger team five-on-five for sure.”
Perhaps the most notable penalty thus far wasn’t given to a player at all, but rather Claude Julien. The Bruins were given a bench minor late in the second period of Game 2 when Claude Julien cussed out an official.
The B’s don’t want that to happen again, but Julien said Tuesday that he isn’t ashamed of the penalty.
“I don’t regret doing what I did,” Julien said. “I thought I stood up for my team at the time. But the biggest thing there is is you turn around and you tell your team to turn the page and go out there in the third and play the way they can. That’s part of the message that our team has to take from the last game. When we focus on the things we can control, it’s a lot more beneficial than not.”
|Speed kills: Why the Bruins are annoyed with what you think of the Canadiens matchup||04.28.14 at 1:35 pm ET|
Bruins coach Claude Julien gets visibly annoyed when people talk about other teams’ speed being an issue for the Bruins, or the Bruins being too big and slow to hang with any squad with zip.
Turns out Peter Chiarelli does too.
After eliminating a fast team in five games, the Bruins once again face a speedy opponent in the Canadiens, and they’d like to be given a little more credit.
“It’s too [much of a] stereotype, and we’ve improved our speed,” Chiarelli said Monday. “I just hear about it all year, too, and obviously Claude and I talk, and we get tired of it. We have speed and we have heaviness and we have a little bit of a chip on our shoulder because of that, because of this label that we have. But fair enough. I understand where it’s coming from, I understand when you bring it up in the context of the Wings and now the Canadiens because they are — they’re both fast teams.”
Chiarelli traded away a lot of speed last summer when he shipped Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley to Dallas, but the team has hardly turned into a bunch of cavemen on skates. The development of strong skaters on the back end in Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski has actually made the Bruins a faster team in getting out of their zone and getting through the neutral zone.
Montreal is faster, to be sure, but the Bruins have quickness of their own to go with their physicality, which was seen throughout Boston’s five-game elimination of the Wings.
“It’s about closing gaps more quickly. It’s about establishing a forecheck and leaning on guys. It’s about our special teams,” Chiarelli said. “Both our PK and PP has been outstanding. We maintain that and we’re going to have success.”
Indeed they have. The Bruins scored six power-play goals in a series for the first time since 2010 in going 6-for-15 on the power play while holding the Red Wings to two goals on 20 Detroit power plays.
The biggest victim of the “Bruins are slow” narrative is Zdeno Chara, both literally and otherwise. The 6-foot-9 Norris finalist has never been a great skater, and the fact that he’s gotten up there in age and got injured late last postseason has painted the picture in some minds that he can be exposed. That’s yet to really happen though.
“We can’t really control what’s being said about us or maybe other teams, when they play us,” Chara said. “It’s more how we’re going to play and how we do things on the ice. I don’t think we are a slow team. Obviously we are built a certain way and we want to thrive on the way we’re built and excel in areas that we are good at, but I don’t think we are necessarily a slow team.
“I think we are able to skate and make quick transitions as well as any other team. I know what we can do it, and I believe that we can play with anybody.”
Said Chiarelli: “Despite the common belief that speed kills, I think we’ve shown that we have some speed and we have some size and we have experience. So it will be a challenge, but I think we’ll overcome that challenge.”
|Zdeno Chara proves again why he’s captain of the Bruins, and owner of the hardest shot on the team||04.26.14 at 10:10 pm ET|
Apparently Zdeno Chara believes in speaking softly and carrying a big stick, and an even bigger shot.
In the moments after he helped the Bruins eliminate the Red Wings with 100 MPH power play rocket at the end of the second period, Chara didn’t want to look ahead to Montreal.
Instead, he wanted to focus only on the effort of his teammates and how much he appreciated advancing to the second round in a series win that was much tougher than a 4-1 outcome in favor of the Bruins.
“Well, that series was much tougher than maybe the results showed,” Chara said. “Detroit is a really good team with a great system, great players. We were just able to play our game and stay on top of it. It wasn’t a one-sided series; it was much closer, like I said than 4-1 showed. I think that we handled it well, we came into this series ready and we got the job done.”
The key moment of the game came when Brendan Smith, Reilly’s brother, took a bad cross checking penalty in the final 15 seconds of the second period, creating a 4-on-3 power play chance for the Bruins. The Bruins did what Cup contenders do, they took advantage as Patrice Bergeron won a battle near the far boards and fed Chara, who was all alone in the high slot. With 3.8 seconds left in the period, Chara let fly with a laser.
“Well we had only a few seconds left and [it was] kind of a 50-50 puck down low,” Chara said. “We won the battle for the puck and Bergy just showed how quickly he can see the opening and made a really great pass to me. I mean – I was emotional. It was a big game and a big goal. So, I’m not afraid to show it.”
|Shawn Thornton on D&C: Bruins had ‘a little extra giddy-up’ in Game 2||04.21.14 at 12:51 pm ET|
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday to talk about the 2014 Boston Marathon and the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Nine runners are participating in the Boston Marathon for the Shawn Thornton Foundation.
“They were very fired up to be running,” Thornton said. “There’s a reason they gave 10,000 more numbers this year. A lot of people want to be involved in this for the right reasons. I talked to them and it was just, ‘Good luck, have fun and enjoy it. And thank you. Thank you for everything you’ve done.’ I think they’ve raised $70,000 for my foundation.”
Thornton added: “[Running the marathon is] one of my goals when I’m done. I don’t know if my body would let me, to be completely honest, but I’d like to try a year or two after I’m retired.”
Thornton is on his way to Detroit for Games 3 and 4 of the first round of the playoffs. The Bruins are now 1-1 in the series after defeating the Red Wings 4-1 on Sunday.
“I think the first game, for whatever reason, we didn’t have that extra little hop in our step,” Thornton said. “I don’t know if that was from having a weekend between games. I’m not making excuses whatsoever. I’m just saying that last night we seemed to have a little extra giddy-up, I suppose.
“We got to the puck a little bit quicker. We were able to be a little more physical as a whole. We definitely played more our style of game in Game 2, and we’ve got to continue to try to play that way.”
Following are more highlights from the interview. For more team news, visit weei.com/bruins.
On Zdeno Chara: “He’s fought all the big boys coming up. He’s definitely not afraid to do it. He’s way more valuable to us on the ice. Arguably him, [Patrice Bergeron], Tuukka [Rask], and maybe [Milan Lucic] are arguably the most important players on our team. Him sitting in the box for five minutes isn’t helping us. We really would miss him out there.”
On Kevan Miller: “He’s a big, tough guy. He was, I think, he was fairly amped to play in the first playoff game and he definitely set the physical tone early, which was nice. That’s what he does. I think he’s underrated as a puck handler, but he’s definitely not underrated with how physical he can be.”
|Reilly Smith stops cold streak ‘burden’ from leaking into playoffs||04.20.14 at 7:46 pm ET|
The first half of Reilly Smith‘s season was great. The second wasn’t. In the Bruins’ Game 2 win over the Red Wings, he made the start to his playoff career a bit more encouraging than the previous three months.
With the Bruins on a first-period power play and Loui Eriksson providing his signature brand of finesse netfront work, Patrice Bergeron threw a puck on net from high in the zone. Jimmy Howard made the save but left the rebound in front with bodies galore and Smith raced through the crease and put the puck in the net to make it 2-0. The goal went on to be the game-winner, as the B’s allowed just a Luke Glendening tally in its 4-1 victory.
Bruins fans had gotten used to seeing Smith score, but needed their memory refreshed given that Smith had just two goals in the final 30 games of the season after putting up 18 in his first 52 games as a Bruin.
Smith never got ahead of himself when he was leading the Bruins in goals early in the season and was on pace to flirt with 30 goals, but his second-half struggles provided some frustration. As such, a goal in the second game of the playoffs was more than welcome.
“I was hoping it wasn’t going to take a long time in the playoffs, because it can be a little bit of a burden when you’re trying to help out the team,” Smith said after the game. “It was good to see it go in the back of the net and have that kind of opportunity early in the game.”
Smith even took it a step further, saying he didn’t want to become like Tyler Seguin and Jaromir Jagr, who scored one and no goals, respectively, last postseason for the B’s and caught some flack.
“It definitely gives you confidence, and I’m pretty sure the press in Boston, they can get on you if you’re not scoring. I’ve heard, even from Dallas, enough about Seguin and Jagr not scoring too much in the playoffs last year,” he joked. “It is good to get that one in the back of the net and kind of keep you guys off my back a little bit.”
Speaking of jokes, Smith’s brother, Brendan Smith, went after Zdeno Chara at the end of the first period Sunday. Considering that Chara is 6-foot-9 and Brendan Smith is listed at 6-foot-2 and isn’t known for being physical, the idea of a potential fight between the two players was amusing.
It turned out it was amusing for Chara as well, as the Bruins captain laughed and smiled even as the Detroit defenseman took a jab at his face.
Reilly said that he saw it from the bench and could observe that he didn’t look too worried. The Red Wings won in the exchange given that there was no fight and, with matching roughing minors, Chara missed the first two minutes of the second period, but it was still a pretty risky move on Brendan’s part.
“[Chara] wouldn’t be the first guy I’d choose in the NHL to go against,” Reilly said. “[Brendan] should probably think twice next time.”
|Claude Julien on Marathon bombings a year later: Way city came together is what I’m trying to remember most||04.15.14 at 3:46 pm ET|
Zdeno Chara spoke for an entire organization when he responded to the question Tuesday of what the one year anniversary of the most painful day in Boston history meant to him.
“I’m not born and raised but I feel a part of the city,” the Bruins captain from Slovakia said with pride. “I’m always going to call myself a Bostonian. It’s just one of those things that it feels like a home. You try to respect the city and what it represents.”
The Bruins held practice Tuesday morning at TD Garden, getting ready for their playoff opener on Friday against the Detroit Red Wings. But after practice, coach Claude Julien, Chara and Jarome Iginla all recalled what they were feeling one year ago to the day when Boston was terrorized and attacked by the bombings at the Boston Marathon and the weeklong manhunt that nearly shut down the city.
“Anybody who doesn’t know this is the anniversary isn’t paying attention,” Julien said. “But it’s got some good and it’s got some bad obviously. It’s sad what happened but for us, I look at how the city just came together and how everybody helped each other and did everything they could to help one another so that’s what kind of sticks in my mind.
“But at the same time it was a tough few days from the lockdowns and everything else, those are the things that are coming to mind and some games that were postponed, rightfully so. So some of it isn’t great memories but some of it ‘ certainly the way the city came together is what I’m trying to remember it the most for.
Julien and Chara were getting ready to play Iginla and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday, April 19 at TD Garden when a manhunt for the two bombers centered in Watertown shut down the entire city. The game between the Bruins and Penguins was eventually called off on that Friday night and rescheduled for the next day.
The Bruins had two games rescheduled due to the bombings and the manhunt. On April 15, the Bruins postponed their game against the Ottawa Senators to the last day of the season.
On Tuesday, the Bruins reflected on that day in 2013, and how sports and the Bruins helped the city heal.
|Shawn Thornton on D&C: ‘I always want to be out there’||04.02.14 at 12:27 pm ET|
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton talked with Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday about the end of the regular season, the physical nature of the playoffs and more. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
The Bruins have been on a hot streak lately, going 15-0-2 in the month of March. The run has secured a division title for the Bruins with seven games to go. It has come at a cost, however, as the players are a little sleep-deprived after all the traveling and back-to-backs.
“You get sore, you get tired,” Thornton said. “I think the change in time zones — last week or the week before we were in four different time zones in five days. It just screws up your sleep pattern.”
With Zdeno Chara now 37 years old, there has been speculation that the defenseman will be rested over the next few games.
“He’s one of the hardest-working guys I’ve ever met,” Thornton said. “He wants to win at the end of the day, though, and I think that’s the most important thing. I’m not sure what’s going to happen, whether he’s going to get some games off or some road trips off or what they’re going to do, but I’m sure it’ll be a civil conversation.’
Thornton enjoyed the extra playing time in March due to all the back-to-backs. It was not only helpful for him, but for his line as well.
“I always want to play,” Thornton said. “The month of March, actually, with so many games is pretty good, too. Our line got a fair amount of ice time through the whole thing as well with all the back-to-back stuff. The more I can play, the happier I am. I always want to be out there.”