Bruins Seek Sweep Against Rangers

The Boston Bruins have been in this position before; up three games with the chance to close out the series at four. They have won series’s after having such a lead and they have lost them. But we can only hope that the Bruins have learned from past mistakes and are fully prepared to end the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals against the New York Rangers tonight.

Will Johnny B continue his hot streak? (Credit: Flickr/ Slidingsideways)

Sealing the Sweep:
The Bruins have all the right pieces to end this series tonight if all goes the way it should. Tuukka Rask has been solid in net, the rookie defensemen have stepped up as necessary, and the PK has shut down the Rangers power play every chance (which is many). The only thing missing is the offense scoring. Most of the goals this series for the Bruins have been scored by the defense which is great but if the team wants to go for the cup, all of the offensive lines need to produce goals. And once again I’m looking at the third line when I say this. The Bruins lineup will most likely remain the same as the only injured player that is seemingly making a comeback is Dennis Seidenberg but there is no official word that he’ll be 100% ready for tonight. If I was Coach Julien, I would rest Seidenberg for the (hopefully) next series because he will be a valuable asset in the rest of the playoffs.

New York Needs a Win:
I’m not sure of any other way to phrase but if the Rangers want to stay alive in the playoffs then they NEED a win tonight. They currently have a three-game hole they need to climb out of and they’ll need to do it without one of their top d-men Anton Stralman who was hurt late in the second period of Game Three. He was not at the Rangers optional practice yesterday. However a few of their injured guys could be making a return tonight but that’ll be determined come warmups tonight. If New York wants to win they need Henrik Lundqvist to be the king of goalies that he normally is and they’ll need to cover him as I noticed a big part of the B’s goals was the lack of defense around the NY net.

Who’s Hot?
Defenseman Johnny Boychuk has had goals in back-to-back games and has scored four in the 10 playoffs games the Bruins have played in thus far. Boychuk is the first d-man since Ray Bourque to score four in the first 10 in 1991. And considering Boychuk only had one goal in 44 games in the regular season , I would say he came well prepared for the playoffs.

Puck drops tonight at 7 and you can check it out on NBCSN!
For the Rangers side of things check out Black and Blueshirts!!

BELIEVE IN BOSTON!

Bruins Look For Third Win in the Big Apple

With tonight being Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semi’s between the Boston Bruins, there are two possible outcomes of the game. The first (and obviously the best) is that the Bruins can go up three games to zero and have a chance to clinch the series on Thursday. The second is the Rangers get their long overdue second win and get their first win of the series, meaning there would definitely be a game five. So now you can see why I’m so pro option one!

Will Krug have another big game? (Credit: Flickr/ Slidingsideways)

Both teams started off today with an optional skate, with most of the Bruins taking part in the skate. Claude Julien had some time with the media this am and let it be known that though Wade Redden and Dennis Seidenberg have been skating with the team, they will not be in the lineup tonight. Seidenberg, on a positive note, seems like he’ll be ready to go soon enough.

Be Better Bruins (well some of you):
As we know there have been some stars of this series thus far cough cough Torey Krug, Brad Marchand, Tuukka Rask cough cough. But there’s been a few that just haven’t shined so bright and I’m looking at you Chris Kelly, Rich Peverley, and Tyler Seguin when I say that. The third line struggles seems to be a common theme this season for the Bruins but the playoffs are not the time for that.

On his line, Kelly said:

“We want to stay positive and stay up; obviously it’d be nice to contribute”  (Via Bruins Twitter)

Both Kelly and Peverley have continued to be great faceoff wise but are losing ice time due to every line being a little bit better. And then there’s Seguin. Seggy has had a lot of chances to score during these playoffs but has yet to hit the back of the net. A little more push from this line and I think we’ll see some scoring.

Digging out the Rangers:
When you’re down two games, the only way to go is up right? At least that’s what Coach John Tortorella thinks about his team. He notes that though they lost on Sunday, that they played a lot better from Game One. This is the second series in a row that the Rangers have gone down two. But they came from behind in the last series to beat the Washington Capitals so I expect us to see a new team tonight in New York.

Goalie Showdown:
Though he’s not a Vezina finalist, Rask has been the star for the Bruins thus far. While the team gave up turnover after turnover, Rask stood strong in his net stopping puck after puck. The reason the Bruins were able to hold onto to their lead is due to the tremendous effort in net from Rask. On the other side IS a Vezina finalist who’s finding himself in a strange position. Sunday was the first time in 151 games that Henrik Lundqvist gave up five goals. He also appeared to  have injured his shoulder but in the playoffs everyone gets bumped up. Lundqvist is a goalie goal there’s no disputing that so expect him to shake off Game Two and be back in fighting shape for tonight.

Rookies Rookies Rookies:
The odds are that once again the rookies will be getting the start for Game Three for the Bruins. But this is no longer something to be concerned about as these three rookies are outshining some of the vets. Krug as I mentioned before has scored two goals in two goals, and the only current B’s player to have done that in his rookie year was Seguin. Then there’s Matt Bartkowski and Dougie Hamilton. All three defensemen have contributed to scoring in some way in this series and as they get more comfortable on the playoff ice, so does their confidence.

Puck drops tonight at 7:30 and you can check out the action on NBCSN!
For the New York side of things check out Black and Blueshirts!

Gearing Up For Round Two

Tyler Seguin and Jaromir Jagr still struggle to find their niche in the playoffs. (Photo Credit: Steph Phillips)

Tyler Seguin and Jaromir Jagr still struggle to find their niche in the playoffs. (Photo Credit: Steph Phillips)

Today the Boston Bruins host a matinee game against the New York Rangers for the second game of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. Currently the Bruins hold a 1-0 series advantage after going into overtime for game 1.  Despite making 45 saves in net, Henrik Lundqvist gave up the one shot that mattered the most, allowing Boston to skate away with a 3-2 victory.

Today the Bruins are embarking on victory number two, only this time, they want to do so in regulation.  In order to do so, they’re going to have to come out of the locker rooms ready to ‘bear down’ (<see what I did there) and skate hard. While it is no question both teams play strong defensively and physically, they need to bring a hard forecheck and get the offensive plays generating from the get-go.

We can expect to see former Ranger Wade Redden back in the line up today, likely meaning rookie d-man Dougie Hamilton will reinsert himself into the stands with the likes of his injured mates Denis Seidenberg and Andrew Ference who remain injured. With Redden potentially back in, the Bruins gain veteran presence and a liable shot producer. Redden’s presence on the special teams unit have been one of the deciding factors of the Bruins advancing and should help against a struggling New York power play, or as the opposition calls it, power kill. Dennis Seidenberg is recovering, skating prior to the team practice Saturday morning.  According to Claude Julien:

“With [Dennis] Seidenberg, obviously doing better. I don’t anticipate him being ready for tomorrow, but with the injury he’s got, you never know. (via Bruins Official Website)

In the event of playoff hockey, a lot of players play through their injuries and focus more about rehabilitation and recovery during the postseason.

“Everybody wants to be out there, but it’s got to be the right way…If you go out there and you’re not able to do what you need to do you’re only hurting the team.”-Wade Redden on being a game-time decision.

The trio of rookies along with the likes of Zdeno Chara and Johnny Boychuk stepping up has seemingly helped the Bruins squad and should they still be in tact for today’s game, will likely continue to do so. However, the possibility of all three veterans still sitting out is borderline likely at this point.

Offensive lines looked the same as Jaromir Jagr was paired alongside Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron, with Seguin taking strides with Kelly and Peverley. Both forwards have struggled to find their niche in the postseason, registering no more than assists. Each man in his own has made improvements, but still tackles the obstacle of finding the back of the net.

“For me personally, it’s not the first time it’s happened to me, so you have to work hard,” said Jagr. “Most of the time, it’s about confidence, too. It doesn’t really matter how many goals you score, the confidence comes with any play. Any good play can give you the confidence, any good pass to score a goal can turn things around. You just have to work hard and go through it; I’m not going to give up. Of course I would like to help this team more than I do right now, but there’s nothing I can do about that – just work hard.” (via Bruins Official Site)

Tuukka Rask is earning his contract extension through the postseason, and has rightfully done so through the first 8 games. He has managed to stop 249 shots out of the 269 he has faced, earning him a .926 save percentage and 2.36 goals against average.  Meanwhile, at the opposing end of the rink, Henrik Lundqvist has made 259 saves out of 274 for a .945 save percentage and 1.76 goals against average.

The puck drops at 3PM, be sure to tune in to see who takes the cake for game 2. For the opponent’s side of things you can check out Black and Blueshirts, feel free to give us each a follow on Twitter too! (@ACupABruin and @BlknBlueshirts)

 

New Series, New Opportunities: Bruins/Rangers Game 1

The Boston Bruins Game 7 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Game against the Toronto Maple Leafs was a thing of history after the B’s overcame a 4-1 deficit to take the game in overtime. Anyone that follows Boston hockey knows never to stop believing in the team and it paid off.

Will Barkowski have another huge game tonight? (Credit: Flickr/ Slidingsideways)

 

Now we’re in the semifinals facing off against the New York Rangers in what is sure to be another spectacular series. With the Bruins having the higher seed in standings, they once again have home ice advantage and with that the fans of the TD Garden. Tonight is Game 1 in Boston.

It’s expected that it will be Tuukka Rask versus Henrik Lundqvist in net. Yes that means the B’s will have to get back Vezina winner and goalie god Lundqvist but it’s doable. King Henrik has a career 1.67 goals against average and .943 save percentage in 30 career games against the Bruins. Six of those games have been shutouts. He is also currently on a series shutout streak of 120 minutes because in the Rangers last series against the Washington Capitals he didn’t allow goals in either Game 6 or 7.

Noticeably absent from Bruins scoring during the first series was both Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin but it’s not for lack of shots on net. Out of all players in the NHL, Seguin had one of the most shots on net during round one. Unfortunately none of them were able to register for goals. If Seguin wants to score he’ll need to figure out how to get past defenders not relying on just speed because obviously he’s fast. For Marchy, he needs to get back to his “nose faced killah” agitator ways. In regular season the pair scored 34 goals in 48 games. Marchand left the ice this am with what looked like an injury but is expected to be in the lineup tonight.

The Bruins will be relying on younger d-men to carry to team thanks to slew of injuries to the veteran players. Dougie Hamilton and Matt Barkowski were huge in the Game 7 win, with Barkowski even scoring his first NHL goal. They will need to continue to bring that impact with this new series. New to the lineup is Torey Krug who is expected to play tonight. Krug has been a star for the Providence Bruins and tonight has the chance to prove himself in the NHL ranks.

This series isn’t going to be easy for either team. Both clubs are gritty and play a similiar style of hockey aka aggressive so needless to say I wouldn’t be surprised if it came down to a game 7.

With tonight being the first game, a tone will be set and at the end of 60 minutes (ideally) one team will have a game advantage. Puck drops tonight at 7:30 and you can check it out on NBCSN! Unfortunately this means no more commentary from the great Jack Edwards but you can follow his twitter for all his thoughts on the game (which are sure to be hilarious/amazing).

BELIEVE IN BOSTON!

Game 6:Confidence Leads to Domination

Tuukka Rask (Photo Credit: Steph Phillips)

Tuukka Rask (Photo Credit: Steph Phillips)

The Bruins had a golden opportunity to put away the Toronto Maple Leafs and become the first team in the Eastern Conference to advance into the Semi-Finals on Friday evening. Unfortunately, their momentum began to build a little too late and they wound up at the short end of the stick, losing 2-1.

The entire locker room knows what is at stake the second they set foot in the Air Canada Centre tonight for the opening face off.  They have to prepare to set the tone the second the blades make their first cut into the ice and build off of that momentum if they stand a chance at owning this game and ending the series.

In order to set the tone, there is going to have to be solid efforts from every player on the Boston Bruins bench. It is no question the Nathan Horton, David Krejci and Milan Lucic line have been carrying the team through the playoffs along with the Merlot line. Tonight, it is time for Bergeron and company to pick up the pace and find the back of the net. For Seguin, it means taking the time to slow things down and create the plays rather than try to finagle himself through the defense and losing the puck along the way. For Marchand, it means making smart, crisp passes and then rushing to the slot for the given rebounds Reimer is bound to allow.

Tonight the Bruins will have to adjust their defensive pairings once again in the absence of Andrew Ference. Post-skating Claude Julien told the media that Ference is ‘day-to-day’ and did not make the trip to Toronto. In his spot Aaron Johnson filled in while Matt Bartkowski paired up with Adam McQuaid.  Wade Redden skated with the team this morning and is listed as a game-time decision.

Expect Tuukka between the pipes once more as the Bruins try to seal the deal against Toronto once again, this time on their turf and advance to the next round. Face off is at 7:00PM ET and can be seen on NESN.

B’s Go For Three; Game Four Preview

Tonight the Boston Bruins have the chance to go up three games to one against the Toronto Maple Leafs and from that the chance to clinch the series Friday night back at the TD Garden. On the other hand, tonight the Leafs have the chance to yet again even out the series 2-2 and force a game six.

(Credit; Slidingsideways/Flickr)

Monday night was a big night for the Bruins having them not only take advantage of the series, but do it in front of a Toronto crowd that hadn’t seen a playoff game IN Toronto since 2004. Needless to say the crowd was pumped but unfortunately didn’t get the win they’d been looking for. Tonights game is also in Toronto so you can bet the crowd will be just as wild in pumping up the Leafs.

Bringing the Bruins Hockey
The Bruins were simply the better team on Monday night. They were winning faceoffs (45-of-75) and not giving up the puck as easily as they were for Game two. It helps that Tuukka Rask is in net because he shut the door on the Leafs Monday stopping 45-of-47 shots. The past two games, it was the defense coming in HUGE for the Bruins scoring wise but game three it was all about the offense. And particularly the line of Nathan Horton, David Krejci, and Milan Lucic, who combined for two goals and eight points in the game three victory. The line has now combined for five goals and 17 points in the series. The Bruins are one of the few teams that have stars on all four lines of their offense and Monday was a prime example of that. If the B’s can continue to work their offensive magic and get past James Reimer or any other Leaf backup, then they should be to pick up the win.

Toronto Can Talk but Can They Win?
It’s no secret that the Maple Leafs were the more dominant team in Game two but they seemed to have lost all of that momentum in Game 3. The Bruins lead the NHL in faceoffs all year so it’s no surprise going up against a mediocre faceoff team like Torono that the B’s would have the upper hand. However the Leafs are reasoning the B’s faceoff success with cheating something Claude Julien refers to as “crying wolf”.  When in all actuality the Leafs lost because of all their turnovers and the brick wall that is Rask. The Leafs had a season high 47 shots on net Monday night but only managed two past Rask. If Toronto want’s to win they’ll have to figure out what the spark was on Saturday that gave them the edge and use it. Otherwise the B’s offense will complete to run through their defense.

Who’s Hot?
For the Bruins, it’s David Krecji. Krecji right now is easily playing the best postseason of his career with two goals and seven points in just three games. Those stats lead all players in the postseason. Krecji’s liney Milan Lucic is also having a stellar performance thus far with a five-point scoring streak and six assists in the three playoff games. On Toronto’s end is Boston’s fave Phil Kessel who has registered a goal in each of the past two games.

The puck drops tonight at 7pm tonight and you can check it out on NESN!

BELIEVE IN BOSTON!

Trekking to Toronto for Game 3

Dougie Hamilton awaits the puck (Photo Credit: Steph Phillips)

Dougie Hamilton awaits the puck (Photo Credit: Steph Phillips)

Currently the series between the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs is tied at a game a piece, the Bruins winning Game 1 by a 4-1 margin and the Leafs taking Game 2, 4-2.  Tonight the Bruins look to take a series advantage in Toronto for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference QuarterFinals.

Tonight the Bruins lines will once again be shuffled around as Andrew Ference is eligible to return tonight after serving a one-game suspension. With the likely return of Ference to the lineup, rookie d-man Dougie Hamilton will likely be participating in tonight’s game from the stands, supporting his teammates. Aside from the defensemen switching places, there won’t likely be any more line changes.

The Leafs came out Saturday night at the Garden ready to play a strong, physical game. The Bruins unfortunately came up at the short end of the stick as they tried to match the intensity level.  Their first twenty minutes rang of opportunities (literally) with Tyler Seguin using his speed and agility to undress the Leafs defense single-handed.  If the Bruins stand a chance at owning the Maple Leafs through Game 3, they are going to have to be prepared for a fast-paced, strong physical game for the full sixty minutes. Their focus needs to be on breaking out in the neutral zone to create odd-man rushes that nine times out of ten will beat James Reimer.

Saturday’s game ended with Shawn Thornton sending a message to the Leafs, deciding to tango with Matt Fraser. Some may take it as overflowing emotions from a well-fought game, others may say it’s a message being sent for tonight. A message preparing the Leafs to be ready for the Bruins revenge.

The team looks to hit the reset button and own the next three games in order to advance into the next round of the playoffs and need to show the grit and determination that their minor league affiliate has shown against the Hershey Bears. Tonight’s game is being broadcast on NESN and can also be heard on 98.5 the Sports Hub, home of the Boston Bruins radio network.

Who’s Hot…

Johnny Boychuk has been able to record two goals in the past two games for the Bruins, despite a 24-game drought during the regular season. His blue line presence and heavy hitting have been a key factor for the Bruins so far and will continue to be as the series goes on.

Nathan Horton, David Krejci and Milan Lucic have flipped the switch just in time as their line has combined for 3 goals and 3 assists through 120 minutes of play.

Between the Pipes…

With Tuukka Rask getting the nod for the first two games of the series and proving himself as an elite top goaltender, it is most likely he will be between the pipes tonight as well. Through the regular season he sported a 1.97 goals against average, good for top 5 in the League. He will battle against James Reimer at the opposing end of the ice for Toronto.

 

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