BOSTON, MA - The Bruins hit the ice for pregame skate today back at TD Garden this morning, as they prepare to face off against the Penguins in Game Three tonight, with a possible 3-0 series lead on the line.
All members of the Black & Gold were on the ice for the morning practice, and, as expected, the line rushes showed the same lineup from Games One and Two. (Providence call-up Niklas Svedberg is still with the team, but only hits the ice when Tuukka Rask stays off to rest).
As such, here's what you can expect to see on the ice tonight, at least to start...
BostonBruins.com - When the Boston Bruins arrived at Hansom Air Force Base Tuesday morning, fresh off a flight from Pittsburgh, they descended the plane with a two-game series lead over the Penguins.
"Any time you can come back from a road trip like that, having won both games, it’s encouraging. Our team is really playing good hockey right now, without a doubt the best we’ve had this year," Bruins' Head Coach Claude Julien told media gathered around just outside the airport tarmac.
"That has to continue to beat these guys. Like I said last night, we were in the same position as Pittsburgh a few years ago and we worked our way back into it. I think we understand the situation here. We’re not going to get ahead of ourselves here. We need to understand that these next games are crucial for us, just as much as it is for them."
It's too soon to call any such lead "commanding" from the Bruins' point of view.
BostonBruins.com - Brad Marchand had three assists in the Bruins' first-round seven-game series against Toronto, before finding the back of the net on an overtime winner in Game One against New York.
After adding two opportunistic tallies in the B's 6-1 victory over the Penguins in Pittsburgh Monday night, the winger now has four goals and four assists in his next set of seven games.
"He’s been better since the New York series. This series he seemed to fight the puck a little bit, but it’s all about confidence," Coach Julien told media Tuesday afternoon, right after the Bruins had descended their plane at Hanscom Air Force Base, after making the trip from Pittsburgh, carrying a 2-0 series lead in tow.
"I think he’s got that confidence right now."
His first tally of the night was - to put it simply - huge for the Bruins. It came only 28 seconds into the game, in front of Pittsburgh's home crowd at the CONSOL Energy Center, when the hockey world was expecting a much better effort right off the hop from the Penguins.
PITTSBURGH, PA - Jaromir Jagr walked from the back of the Bruins' visiting team locker room at the CONSOL Energy Center, and into the main dressing room on Monday night. Reporters flooded.
The 41-year-old future Hall of Famer swaggered in wearing the B's specialized Army Rangers camouflage jacket, and his now signature Black & Gold winter tuque with "Stanley Cup Champions" around the brim. His "Wolverine" trimmed playoff beard, as his teammates refer to it, was looking more grizzled than ever.
He had just finished up a two-assist performance, setting up his linemates Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron for two important goals in a Game Two, 6-1, win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, to bring the series back to Boston with the Black & Gold holding the two-game upper hand.
PITTSBURGH, PA - Game Two awaits tonight at the CONSOL Energy Center as the Bruins look to take a 2-0 series lead from the Penguins. Boston took Game One by shutting out Pittsburgh, 3-0, marking the first time it had been shut out in 97 games.
All Bruins, except for Jaromir Jagr, hit the ice for the team's pregame skate. Jagr also stayed off a morning in New York City, when the Bruins were facing the Rangers, so it's not uncommon. He most likely did off-ice work or may have skated earlier. The vet took part in Sunday's optional practice.
"It's just that we've played together for a while. It's just being comfortable with each other, not that I'm not comfortable with Matt [Bartkowski], because we played well together as well," said Boychuk following the skate, of being alongside Ference.
"But we've played together, me and Andy, for the last three, four playoffs. We kind of know what to expect from each other."
BostonBruins.com - Patrice Bergeron had only dropped the gloves once in an NHL game.
It came in 2009, during the postseason, against Montreal's Josh Gorges. He earned the takedown.
On Sunday afternoon at CONSOL Energy Center as the B's held an optional skate, Bergeron had the markings of a bout - a gash on the bridge of his nose, marks above and below his right eye.
It was the result of a brief tangle with Evgeni Malkin towards at the second period of the Bruins' eventual Game One win. After a scuffle at center ice (Sidney Crosby had given a drive-by tap to Tuukka Rask as he skated to the bench), Malkin got the center to drop his gloves and the two quickly went at it. The Pens' forward got the takedown as the two tumbled to the ice, but I'd like to believe Bergeron would have given his due, had he been able to get in a punch.
Alas, it's never the easiest sight to see two of the games' top players in an exchange, especially Bergeron, but it certainly excited the fans and ramped the emotions up a notch.
PITTSBURGH, PA - It was just over a minute into the second period of Saturday night's Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals, when Penguins forward Matt Cooke put a hit on the numbers of Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid in behind Tuukka Rask along the boards.
McQuaid went into the glass and down along the boards before he could get his bearings, and then skate to the bench under his own will. Cooke was given five minutes for checking from behind and a game misconduct. There is no further supplemental discipline expected to come his way.
As such, after the B's and Penguins held optional skates at the CONSOL Energy Center Sunday afternoon in between Games One and Two, Cooke, McQuaid, and both teams' bench bosses answered questions from the media regarding the hit.
First up, Matt Cooke…
"I chipped the puck in early, just after the red line. I had quite a bit of interference from [Torey] Krug, which pushed me inside. After I got around him, I look up, I see his right shoulder, he looks me right in the eyes. I think at the last minute he goes to make a reverse with the puck, but I've committed to hit him. I don't drive him through the boards, I make contact. I think it's a penalty, but I don't think it's an ejection or a suspension, but that's my opinion."
PITTSBURGH, PA - It had been 96 days since the Pittsburgh Penguins were shut out.
Ninety-six games without the likes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Kris Letang - and their long list of offensive capabilities - not at least hitting the back of the net once in a game.
And then, to the surprise of many, in Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals, Tuukka Rask and the Bruins stoned the Penguins, 3-0, to take the one-game lead on the series.
Rask made 29 saves. The Bruins' defensive layers in front of him blocked 11 more shots and cleared away any loose pucks. The B's scored three goals, two off the stick of David Krejci, one from Nathan Horton that saw Boston keep pressing, pressing, and not holding back.
PITTSBURGH, PA - Finally. Gameday is upon us, and the puck is set to drop on the Eastern Conference Finals tonight at 8:20 p.m. In making their final preparations, both teams hit the ice at the CONSOL Energy Center this morning for their respective pregame skates.
All of the Bruins took to the ice, and there were no lineup changes up front during line rushes.
On the back end, Coach Julien has said that he's not going to "tip his hand" in regards to pairings. Obviously, he has plenty of options to work with, especially if Andrew Ference is fully cleared and available for game action.
To start the skate, the other defensemen (besides the aforementioned two pairings) rotated amongst each other. As it progressed, Johnny Boychuk and Matt Bartkowski (or, 'Boykowski' as they have been labeled) stayed as a pair. As always, the best lineup indication will be in pregame warm-ups tonight at 7:30 p.m.
WILMINGTON, MA - As the week ticks down on the Bruins, puck drop on the Eastern Conference Finals against the Pens is now only two days away.
As such, practice still had the same focus, but the intensity was dialed down a notch as they B's held about a half-hour practice, before separating into work on the details of the game for the next 20 or so minutes.
"That’s why we just did a couple drills and we just wanted to work on our power play and our penalty kill. Basically, the bulk of the practice was 20 minutes," said Coach, of the tapered skate. "Power play stuff and the other stuff was more to warm the guys up before we did that drill. So that was dialing down, and tomorrow let’s have a good quick paced practice and then head to Pittsburgh."
Instead of wearing their normal practice jerseys today designating lines, the B's were split up into white and black jerseys for the skate (you know when Zdeno Chara hits the ice in a white top-line jersey and not his normal black, that scrimmaging will be in the practice mix).