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Bear Essentials: Game Six

Saturday, 04.19.2008 / 10:02 AM / Bish's Blog
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Bear Essentials: Game Six
9:23 a.m.
John Bishop is the beat writer for BostonBruins.com. He covers the Black & Gold hoping to offer a positive look at the team, not only from the stands and the press box, but also from inside the locker room.
Gotta be honest here: I left most of my material on the computer screen yesterday.

And let's face it. A Game Six in Boston tends not to need too much external hype. However, judging from the number of stories written about tonight's game (29 articles at last count), people are expecting big things from the Bruins and the Canadiens this evening.

Thankfully, we have a full docket of press conferences and skates and the like lined up to make fruitful fodder for The Bear Essentials. You might throw in the possibility of Saku Koivu taking the ice for Montreal and the remote possibility of a Patrice Bergeron appearance for flavor, too.

The way I see it, the pressure is mostly on the visitors this evening. Our Boys have already surpassed most expert opinion in terms of their regular season standing and have also made (easily) more than half of the playoff prognosticators blush by making this series go six.

Ergo, the B's are playing with a (disciplined) reckless abandon and will have the benefit of home cooking (albeit with some Montreal spice) tonight.

At it's core, however, this series has been about goaltending.

While Tim Thomas has not received the spotlight (nor the criticism) of his counterpart down the ice, The Tank has been downright solid in all five games. In the end, Timmay and Carey Price might be the pieces of the equation that will be most responsible for a Game Seven in Montreal -- or a lack thereof.


12:55 p.m.
Here is a quick update: For the Canadiens, Saku Koivu is in. Francis Bouillon is in. Mark Streit is a game time decision.

For the Bruins, Aaron Ward is a game time decision.

"More than likely he will play," said Julien. "He felt a lot better this morning.

"But we'll make that decision tonight.

"We have that luxury," he said.

There was no change in Patrice Bergeron's status, so he is NOT expected to play this evening.

And one more thing...
To our favorite reader in Laval, Quebec, Mireille Lavoie, <<Bonjour!>>

Mireille is the grandmother of NESN intern, and local college hockey writer, McKenzie Lavoie. McKenzie says her gram was a big Quebec Nordiques fan, and since her granddaughter has been working with NESN, has been reading and enjoying our coverage of the Bruins, too.

Keep reading Mrs. Lavoie! <<Merci!>>


2:36 p.m.
TSN.ca is reporting:
Defenceman Mark Streit is day-to-day with a hip injury that he suffered in the second period of Game 4. If Streit can play, he will likely take the 4th line RW spot. If he doesn't, then Dandenault or Ryder will play.

Projected lines vs. Boston
Forwards
A. Kostitsyn - Plekanec - Kovalev
Higgins - Koivu - S. Kostitsyn
Begin - Smolinski - Kostopoulos
Latendresse - Lapierre - Streit/Ryder/Dandenault
Defence
Markov - Komisarek
Hamrlik - Brisebois
Gorges - Bouillon
Goaltender
Price
Scratches: Grabovski, O'Byrne


3:20 p.m.
Asked about the return of his captain, Montreal head coach Guy Carbonneau could not keep a smile from pulling at the corners of his out.

"I think it’s great news, him and Francis Bouillon, and I think they’ve been a huge part of this team in the past." He said.  "They’re one reason why we went and finished first.

"To have them back...[and their] experience, you can’t buy it. Those two guys have 'been there, done that' and that’s really going to help."

Koivu has been the backbone of the Canadiens for many years.

"He’s always been the kind of guy, or kind of player, that when games were important…you always can count on him," said Carbonneau. "You know he’s going to show up and play hard…and he’s one of those guys that will definitely help our club."

One thing that Koivu might do is slide them back into the groove the Canadiens displayed in Game Four.

"That’s the kind of game you want to play every game," added the Habs bench boss. "I thought we played well defensively [and] the hits were there." 

Another player who might make an appearance tonight is Mark Streit.

"Mark skated today and said he felt okay, but it was the first time since three days," said Carbonneau.  "We’ll see in the afternoon how he feels.

"He’s going to come back for the warm-up and we’ll make a decision then, after warm-up."

Carbonneau expected one other person to be back to form tonight -- Carey Price.

"When he has a bad game he’s always able to come back and close it off and that’s what we expect him to do," said the CHC coach.

"He’s been there before.

"He knows what to do," he said.


3:33 p.m.
Angela Stefano took care of Coach Julien's presser. Her stuff follows. JB

A Coach’s Experience
A team is only as good as the coach behind them – or something like that.

When it comes to hockey, Coach Julien’s got a lot of knowledge about both playing and coaching.  Although this was his first season in Boston, he’s been coaching at various levels for 10 years, and he also spent 12 years as a player.

“Hopefully, I can use a little bit [from] both,” said Julien.  “You’ve been there as a player, you’ve been there as a coach.  You share things with your players but just the things that you [would] share as a coach.

“That really isn’t about me [and my experiences].”

However, one particular experience of Coach Julien’s – coaching the Canadiens in an eerily similar playoff series against the Bruins – might come in handy, although, because it’s a different series, Coach isn’t so sure.

“You have the same hurdles.  Those don’t change,” he said.  “Sometimes you succeed, and sometimes you fail.”

It’s Just Emotions Taking Over
There’s been a change in how the Bruins have played against the Habs during the post-season, compared to their regular season winless record, but the team hasn’t done anything out of the ordinary or fancy to make that happen.

“We didn’t even play our game against the Montreal Canadiens all year, and that’s the answer I can give you,” said Coach Julien simply.  “Every time we finished a game, somehow we were obviously disappointed in the way we played.”

Perhaps it’s the heated rivalry that had the B’s on edge all season, but they’ve found a way to put their emotions aside and play like the Canadiens are just another beatable team.

“We tried to settle our team down,” said Julien.  “I thought the last couple games we just got better in the regular season, and we carried that into the playoffs.”

Keeping emotions in check can be hard when a playoff spot or a team’s season is on the line, but, Coach said, players have to remember not to let those issues get the better of them.

“When you step on the ice, and you get the kind of noise that we’ve seen in both rinks, it’s normal that they adjust, and they adapt to it,” he said.  “I think both teams are focusing more on what needs to be done on the ice than letting other things throw them off their game.”

A Couple Pointers
Looking back at the past few games, certain tactics have proven effective in helping the B’s play a good game and, while they may not have won every time, come close to victory.

Defense has been solid throughout the series, and Coach Julien is proud of his players for stepping up during the post-season.

“Shane Hnidy has played probably his best hockey,” he said.  “Zdeno is Zdeno. I mean, you can name them all.

“I can’t even remember coming in after a game and saying our defense was poor.”

Up front, until last game, the players were having trouble getting more than one or two goals in a game, often having to fight back from a deficit.  Fortunately, adversity sits well with the Black & Gold, and they’ve been able to respond, even forcing overtime.

“It didn’t matter,” said Coach of scoring first in the games, “I’d be lying if I tell you it’s not important because every team wants to play with the lead, but what I’m telling you is that it hasn’t rattled us.”

A Spotlight On…
Coach Julien got a chance to sound off on certain players during this morning’s press conference.

First up: Vladimir Sobotka, a rookie who outdid even Coach’s expectations.  At the start of the season, the coaching staff figured that Sobotka would spend the year in Providence because “he could develop better there,” said Coach Julien.

But when multiple Bruins players found themselves sidelined with injuries, Sobotka got the call up to the big leagues.

“What’s impressive about him is that he has continued to develop extremely well at this level,” Julien said.  “I think his grit and his maturity have helped him obviously get better quicker.”

Even now, in his first NHL playoffs, Sobotka still shows those characteristics.

“He doesn’t show signs of nervousness,” Coach continued.  “He seems to want to be part of the group that’s going to compete hard every night.”

Also earning a quick focus was Aaron Ward, mostly because of his absence from Thursday night’s game with a leg injury.

When asked if the defenseman would be back in the lineup tonight, Coach Julien kept with his mantra from the past few games: game-time decision.

“More than likely he will play,” he said.  “He felt a lot better this morning, [but] we’ll make that decision tonight because we have that luxury.”


5:54 p.m.
Almost time for warmups.  The mood in the building is hopeful, and, as a change of pace, I have not seen one Habs jersey yet. Previously, there had been many, many sets of jerseys even before the building opened.

We'll see what it looks like when the doors open officially.


6:09 p.m.
Just had a nice email forwarded over from Fan Relations. Its content speaks volumes:


We wanted to wish our favorite team good luck this weekend...
 
GO BRUINS!!!

From,
Mrs. Ward's First Grade Class
Oakdale School
Dedham 


6:26 p.m.

Just a few moments before warmups. There are some Habs fans here. Not as many as we've seen, but vocal.

Timmy, of course led his Bruins out of the locker room.

This is what the rest looks like:
Sturm-Krejci-Murray
Lucic-Savard-Kessel
Axelsson-Metropolit-Nokelainen
Schaefer-Sobotka-Thornton
Chara-Ward(sg)Thomas
Ference-Hnidy(bg)Auld
Stuart-Wideman


Funny how, by now, most of the B's have full beards. Strange sight for a generally clean-shaven club.


6:49 p.m.
I gotta be honest again, True Believers -- I have a stomach ache.

I've been through a lot of situations like this, but man, if this isn't the most intense rivalry I've ever been a party to. BU vs. BC was amazing. Harvard vs. Yale was interesting. The Beanpot is a blast.

But this takes the cake.

7:05 p.m.
That was the loudest I have heard yet. Strong work New England!

Anthems.

First Period
0:00 Here we go!

2:02 Exciting first minute-plus. Timmy with three saves. Kess almost scored and P.J. got tangled with a Hab.

3:28 B's are a little bit erratic. Need to settle down.

5:27 Big Luch just played meat tenderizer on Gorges. And Zee and got into the act against one of the Kotstitsyn's.

7:04 I didn't see it, but a B is in the box. Montreal PP.

9:09 Axie almost put it by Price on a shortie. Nice kill, too.

9:30 Begin in the box. Diving. Kess was in there for a slash.

9:44 Montreal scores. Higgins got loose off a face off and went to the front of the net. Goal. Koivu, of course, gets an assist.

13:03 The return of Koivu has really helped Montreal. He is really pesky, tonight.

15:25 Shots are even, 6-6.

19:47 Boston has killed off another penalty and is really pressing in the Habs zone.

20:00 Scrum at the end. Penalites? Begin and Chara, 2-minutes each for roughing.

Second Period
0:00 The B's need the next goal.

1:54 HOLY MOLY! Kess just weaved through the entire Canadiens team to score. I'll post the video later. You MUST see this goal! 1-1!

2:56 I still can't believe that goal. Wow.

4:20 Huge hit by Stuart.

5:35 Big MO on the B's side right now. Tripping call on Plenkanec puts Boston on the PP.

6:43 Horror. Plekanec comes out of the box at the exact right time to gather the puck at mid ice and get a penalty shot on Tim. Nice goal for the Canadiens forward who put his club up 2-1.

8:49 Penalty to Montreal. Boston back on the PP. The need this, folks.

9:50 Penalty Boston. Even up for a minute. Then a one minute PP for the CHC.

12:24 Our Boys are hanging in there, but the momentum resides on the Montreal bench right now.

14:48 Somethin' is wrong with Timmy's helmet. He just tried on Auld's. Chin strap? Equipment guys keep running to the room.

18:10 Shots are 19-18 Montreal.

18:52 Four on Four again.

20:00 It was just bum luck on the B's PP that turned into the Plekanec goal. Just bad luck.

Third Period
0:00 Journey is playing on the PA: "Don't stop, believin'!"

2:22 One heck of a save by Price.

3:13 Sobotka scores. A crazy play. He ended up in front, grabbed a pass from Schaef and tied the game.

4:00 Interference call on Boston. Canadiens PP.

6:29 Nice save Timmay!

8:20 As close as you can make it, folks. Very even series & game.

10:04 Bouillon scores. The puck pinballed several times. Nothing Timmy could do. 3-2, Montreal.

12:13 Turnabout is fair play. And Milan Lucic just deflected a shot by Price. 3-3.

13:57 Both teams are leaving everything out there. You can see the fatigue.

15:45 KESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS. Scores. 4-3. Brilliant pass from Sturm. Kessel was on the right post and tipped it over Price.

15:56 Hate to tell you this. Higgins scores. 4-4. I was looking down, and missed the actual play. I still can't believe it.

16:33 Kessel and Komisarek jawing at each other. Nothing to it. Shots tied 32-32.

17:23 STUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUURM. B's lead 5-4. Unbelievable.

18:00 Not exactly a defensive gem. But hey, this is one heck of a hockey game.

20:00 B's win. I'll write you from MONTREAL!

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