BostonBruins.com – Both the Bruins and New York Rangers are coming off of Game 7 victories in their first round series. The B’s, of course, needing a comeback for the ages to take down the Toronto Maple Leafs, while the Blue Shirts handled business on the road, blanking the Washington Capitals, 5-0.
The two Original Six rivals will meet in the Eastern Conference semifinals starting on Thursday night at TD Garden, marking their first playoff match-up since the 1973 NHL Quarterfinals (the Rangers won in five games), in a rematch coming after the Bruins took the 1972 Cup from New York. Now, it appears the rivalry might be renewed.
“It's the first time for me since I've been here,” said B’s assistant captain Patrice Bergeron. “I've been here for 10 years, so it's been a long time. It's going to be fun, it's going to be interesting, obviously, there's some big rivalries with football and baseball.
“In hockey, I don't think it's any different, it's always tough games against them. We're expecting the same thing. They're a good team, it's going to be tough, we're going to have to fight for every inch.”
BOSTON, MA – Just 37 seconds into Game 7 against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday night, the Bruins were down to five healthy defensemen. Dennis Seidenberg was injured after taking only two shifts, leaving the B’s defense corps in major trouble.
But the D group that remained stepped up, led by captain Zdeno Chara who logged almost 36 minutes of ice time in the Bruins epic comeback. Johnny Boychuk and Adam McQuaid also helped guide the way, but the most impressive performances may have come from the Bruins two youngest D-men.
Matt Bartkowski, playing in just his second career playoff game, tallied a career-high 24:51 (his next highest time on ice total was 16:36 on April 11 against the New York Islanders) and netted his first-ever NHL goal at 5:39 of the first period, to put the Bruins up, 1-0. Rookie Dougie Hamilton played 21:08 (his second highest minutes total of the season) in only the third playoff game of his young career.
“Sure it was,” said B’s Head Coach Claude Julien, when asked if playing so much in a Game 7 was beneficial for Hamilton and Bartkowski. “I think, again, we went down to five D’s in the first couple of minutes of the game. When you look at the ice time they got – they got quite a bit – and they did a great job. For them, it’s important that they build on that and take the confidence that they had in that game and carry it into the next series.”
BOSTON, MA – The B's held an optional skate on Thursday, not solely because they took a 3-1 series lead on the Toronto Maple Leafs Wednesday night, but they did some earn some R & R in the process.
In the Bruins 4-3 overtime victory in Game 4, do-anything-to-win mentality was on full display. Players were sacrificing, diving in front of shots, taking hits to make plays and draw penalties.
Why? Because they’re hockey players – and it’s the postseason.
“It’s playoffs,” said Rich Peverley, when asked what it was like to see his teammates blocking shots and getting stitches during Game 4. “Everyone’s been through it. There’s going to be different injuries and things happen.
“This is playoffs, you’ve got to do whatever it takes.”
BostonBruins.com – The physicality of both the Bruins and the Maple Leafs has been on display through the first three games of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series. The two squads have combined for 245 hits in the three games, with Toronto holding a 129-116 edge.
“I don't think it's pleasant, there's been lots of hits,” said Andrew Ference pregame, when asked if the playoff series seemed tame compared to the others in the league. “Lots of good, hard hockey, there's been a couple of fights. I don't think it's been tame, I know when they forecheck, they forecheck pretty hard and it still feels like a pretty real hit to me.”
For the Bruins, the physical play has been driven by the line of David Krejci, Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic. Lucic has found his game in the playoffs, following a tough regular season. The winger leads the B’s with six assists in the three games and has registered 11 hits.
Lucic, along with Horton, are using their size and strength to create room for Krejci (two goals, five assists), who leads the team with seven points in the series. The two 'bash brothers' are getting in on the forecheck and driving hard to the net to create goals, wreaking havoc on the Maple Leafs.
BOSTON, MA – While the Bruins did not skate Thursday and had the day off in preparation for Game 2, the Toronto Maple Leafs held practice at Boston University’s Walter Brown Arena, following their 4-1 loss to the Bruins in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at TD Garden on Wednesday night.
There were some changes to the lineup in practice, both up front, and on the back end, mostly due to occurrences from Game 1. Defensemen Cody Franson and Michael Kostka, along with forward Phil Kessel, were the only three players missing for Toronto.
Leafs Head Coach Randy Carlyle said following the practice that Franson had sustained a bruise after getting hit by a shot and Kessel was a “maintenance day.” Carlyle also said Kostka suffered a broken bone in one of his fingers.
“[Kostka’s] now out,” said Carlyle following the practice. “We have choices of [Ryan] O’Byrne and [Jake] Gardiner [to replace him]. I would suggest that one of them, or maybe both of them, are going to play.”