Game Day: Hurricanes vs. Bruins, Game 7
Thursday, 05.14.2009 / 9:03 AM / Bish's Blog
By John Bishop - BostonBruins.com
Okay folks, I am heading over to the live blog.
Scratches: Ference, Hunwick, Wheeler
TSN.ca predicts the Carolina lines:
Press Box Notes
The starting goaltenders tonight are expected to be Tim Thomas for Boston and Cam Ward for Carolina. Thomas leads all NHL goaltenders this postseason with a 1.80 Goals Against Average and ranks second in Save Percentage with .937%. Ward meanwhile ranks fourth in both Goals Against Average (2.29) and Save Percentage (.926).
- Bruins center Stephane Yelle is expected to play in his 12th career NHL game seven tonight. That is the most among active players and is tied for second in NHL history with Glenn Anderson and Ken Daneyko. Patrick Roy and Scott Stevens have played the most games in league history with 13 each.
- The Bruins have played in just three Game Sevens in the past 15 years, all of which came against Montreal. In their team history, they have played 17 Game Sevens before tonight and have posted a 9-8 record.
- The Bruins are looking for their first franchise series win when trailing a series 3-1. They are 0-20 in club history.
- For the Bruins, forward Marc Savard and Mark Recchi each have four game point streaks in progress with 2-3-5 totals and 3-2-5 totals, respectively, during this span.
- Milan Lucic leads all skaters this postseason with a +11 plus/minus rating.
- For Carolina, goaltender Cam Ward is 3-0 in his career in Game Sevens with a .927 Save Percentage.
- The Carolina franchise (including the Hartford Whalers) is 3-3 all-time in Game Sevens. The franchise has won their last three however, including one this postseason after defeating the New Jersey Devils 4-3 on April 28, 2009.
2009 Playoffs Special Team Ranks (out of 16 teams)
Power Play: Penalty Kill:
Boston, 7th (17.9%) Carolina, 2nd (90.0%)
Carolina, 11th (13.2%) Boston, 3rd (88.0%)
Ice and Dice
The Second annual “Ice and Dice” Casino Night to benefit the Boston Bruins Foundation will be held on Friday, May 15 at the Abington VFW Hall (30 Central Street, Abington, MA 02351). The “Ice and Dice” Casino night will be a fun-filled evening providing Bruins fans the chance to go home with one-of-a-kind sports memorabilia, raffle and silent auction items and to mix and mingle with Bruins alumni. Tickets to the event cost $25 and include $1000 worth of chips to casino games such as blackjack, craps, poker and roulette. Only 400 tickets are available. A special prize will be awarded to the participant with the most chips at the end of the evening. Tickets to the “Ice and Dice” Casino Night are available on bostonbruins.com.
A big part of Tuesday night’s win was the Bruins strong start, scoring two goals off only nine shots in the first period.
“Energy is what’s needed from the collective, regardless of who you are in this dressing room, and certain guys bring it in different ways,” said Steve Montador, who, despite having only one assist during his 13 regular-season games with the Bruins, has tallied two assists during the playoffs and scored his first playoff goal of this year during the game.
“I was going to shoot it right away, thinking the player that was on [David Krecji] was going to come to me, but when I realized I had more time, there wasn’t anybody in front immediately, and I figured, oh, I’m going to walk it,” Montador said of his goal, the second of the night and that second goal in the first period. “I think it worked out well where, by the time [Byron Bitz] got in front of [Cam] Ward, I think [Ward] looked around him one way, maybe thinking he had short-side covered, and it went in.”
Montador, for one, was impressed with, but wasn’t surprised by, the pass from Krecji that gave him the puck.
“I was calling for a puck,” Montador said. “He’s not the flashiest guy, and he made a tough play look very, very easy.”
He also praised Bitz, who had the foresight to get to the net and screen Ward.
“H wasn’t there right at the beginning, and it worked out well, because the puck hadn’t settled on my stick, and I was going to take a wrist shot originally, but then I decided, well, I have the space where I’m going to hold onto it and walk it in and see what happens,” Montador said. “He his butt off to get there, and it worked out.”
From the Eyes of the Storm
Make it or Break it
|Boston Bruins' Zdeno Chara (33), of Slovakia, squares off against Carolina Hurricanes' Eric Staal (12) during the second period of Game 4 of an NHL hockey Eastern Conference semifinal series in Raleigh, N.C., Friday, May 8, 2009. The Hurricanes won 4-1. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)|
“We were up 3-1 and we would’ve been excited to win it in any of the games, but this is Game 7 and this is what hockey’s all about,” ’Canes forward Scott Walker said earlier today. “We’re coming down here to play and play hard and we’re just hoping to have a great effort and see where it all comes out.”
“It doesn’t matter,” forward Eric Staal said about how he felt that the series is tied up. “It’s game 7, do-or-die for both teams.
“We’re here now and we’re going to make the best of it and get it done.”
Though they might not be happy about having to return to Boston for one more run at the series win, there is certainly a feeling of excitement about playing in front of a Garden crowd one more time this year.
“This is playoff hockey -- anywhere you go the buildings are exciting and rocking and it’s fun to play – regardless of if you’re the home team or the away team, it’s fun,” Walker said.
Patrolling Between the Pipes
The past six games have seen tremendous scoring opportunities for both hockey clubs, but, in the same vein, most of those shots have been denied by the stellar performances in the crease – by both goaltenders.
“[Thomas is] a great goaltender, you can’t deny that,” Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward said. “There’s a reason why he’s a Vezina candidate this year -- he’s had a tremendous year and that comes with the position.
“We’re in that position being a goaltender just being a difference maker, that’s, like I said, why I signed up to be a goaltender in the first place: I like the mental makeup; I like the pressure and hopefully tonight works out well for us.”
Staal echoed those sentiments about his backstop.
“Certainly, if you have a good goaltender, you have a chance to win every game and we have that in him and we expect a big game out of him,” the Hurricanes forward said. “He’ll be ready to go as well as the rest of us.”
The Law of Conservation of Momentum
For the Bruins-’Canes series, shifts in momentum have been a given. Both teams have seen the surge of a win wane into the lull of a loss -- and both teams are equally aware of how important it is to capitalize on any and all energy of tonight’s contest.
“We had a very strong start – they’ve had the second half of the series, they’ve played strong,” Ward said. “It’s shifted both ways: two very good teams competing very hard and [who] really want it. That’s what it boils down to tonight, who wants it most and who executes the best.”
Who executes best overall might be evident within the opening minutes of tonight’s faceoff.
“The first 10 minutes of the game is very important and if you give opportunities like that to this team, they’re going to bury them, so the first 10 minutes tonight will be important,” forward Chad LaRose said. “It’s Game 7 and we’re excited about it.”
Krejci is Ready
|Krejci. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Ryan Remiorz)|
“No, it’s boring," he said this morning. "Next."
Just like he has in the past, Krejci deadpanned the answer and then broke into a big smile.
Clearly, tonight is huge for everyone.
“I think we have to play the same game as the last two games," said Krejci. "We’re in the same situation – if we lose, we’re done – so nothing changes for us.
"We have to come out the same as we did the last two games, and, you know, be ready from opening faceoff to the last second."
And if the Bruins could grab the lead early, that's even better.
“We’ve always gotten the lead the last two games in the first period," said Krejci. "We controlled the game from there.
"We didn’t sit back and kept pushing and pushing, and I think that was the key."
What has the attitude in the locker room been like?
“We talked to each other before those games, and we said, there’s no point to be nervous," he said. "Because if we do, we’re not good.
"So even if we lost three games in the row, we came for the fifth game, and we were confident, and we made the right decisions with the puck.
"And we got some scoring chanes, and at least some of them went in, so we’ve got to play the same way today."
Oh and BTW...
Providence Defeats Worcester, 5-1
From ProvidenceBruins.com -- The Providence Bruins are Atlantic Division champions after defeating the Worcester Sharks 5-1 Wednesday evening at the DCU Center. The P-Bruins got their goals from Brad Marchand, Jamie Arniel, Kirk MacDonald, Jordan Knackstedt and Martin St. Pierre. The P-Bruins win the best of seven series 4 games to 2. The P-Bruins return to the Dunkin' Donuts Center on Friday, May 22 at 7:05 p.m. for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals...Tuukka Rask stopped 34 of 35 shots for the P-Bruins.
|Maurice. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)|
"Regardless of how you got here, it's 3-3 and we earned all three of the ones that we won," he said. "And, you know what, they did on the ones they one.
"They were better than us. Game 7 is not by default and we don't feel 'lucky' to be here. We feel excited to be here."
Maurice explained that his club, which has several players left from their Stanley Cup, is not confident because of their experience.
"I think there is an air of excitement," he said. "I think that in 3-3 series there's not going to be an overconfident team out there.
"[there is] an excitement going into a Game 7 because recent memory has been that those are the great games for our team."
However, in terms of history, those game sevens are just that -- history.
"You [can] stretch the number of game sevens the organizations have played since 1990," said Maurice. "But we've got some guys who were playing pee wee hockey at that time.
"They have no idea and it has no ramifications to what's gone on [this year]."
That said, Carolina has already taken out the New Jersey Devils in a seventh game.
"Game 7 is not something new to us, we've played one already. And we've had some players who have played big game sevens over the last few years, too," reiterated Maurice. "So, there's an excitement to it, but I wouldn't use the word confidence in terms of this is somehow going to be easy because we played one before."
|Julien. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)|
"I think it’s being composed," he said. "You’ve really got to be composed, and you saw it last night.
"Pittsburgh came out, played their game, and they were successful. You’ve got to be composed, and I thought, even last year, our team in the first period in Montreal, game seven, we were composed, we were the better team," he said.
Unfortunately, the B's were not able to pull last year's Game 7 out.
"As I mentioned the other day, sometimes you also need the breaks," explained Julien. "As well as we played in that first period, we were down 1-0, and it just went from there.
"They got another goal, and, again, had we stayed probably a little more composed, we could have maybe battled ourselves back into the game, but we were a young team last year, learning, and you hope that what we learned last year, the guys are going to be able to handle the pressure situation of a game seven much better."
TSN.ca gave a "By the Numbers" rundown of tonight's contest:
Hurricanes @ Bruins 8pm et - Series tied 3-3
- BOS has played in just 3, game 7’s in the past 15 years, all against MTL
- BOS has failed to score in their last 2, game 7’s, losing 5-0 in 2008 and 2-0 in 2004
- CAR is 3-0 all-time in game 7’s, HFD was 0-3
- BOS is looking for their first franchise series win, when trailing a series 3-1 (0-20)
- This is just the second time that BOS has forced a game 7 when trailing a series 3-1 (2008 vs MTL)
- BOS has gone 2 for 31 on the PP over their past 8 games
- CAR has scored just 2G in their last 2 games, going 0 for 8 on the PP
- Cam Ward is 3-0 in game 7’s, .927sv%
- Notable Player Record’s In a Game 7: Yelle 5-6, Recchi 4-2, Whitney 5-1, Brind’Amour 4-1
- Staal has 9G, 3A in CAR’s 7 playoff wins and 0G, 1A in their 6 playoff losses
- Savard 2G, 3A and Recchi 3G, 2A both have 4 game point streaks
There were NO missing faces on the ice this morning.
Injured players Matt Hunwick and Marco Sturm skated prior to the regular session. Then, Marc Savard and the rest of the Bruins took the ice.
The only player who did not skate was defenseman Andrew Ference, who continues to recuperate from his injury.
After skate, Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien said that he did not anticipate any changes to the lineup.
“Every play is important, from the opening faceoff to the last buzzer, the last goal,” he said. “In a seven-game series, there’s ups and downs and wins and losses at times, but [in game seven] everything’s just pretty much in a microscope, down to one game, and it starts first shift, and it will continue on, and it’s the team that pushes and pushes and doesn’t let up that will win.”
Montador’s record is 1-1 in game sevens – during his time with the Flames, they won a first-round game seven in triple overtime, but then lost their second game seven in the finals, 2-1, to Tampa Bay.
“They’re intense,” Montador said. “You kind of look back and the first one I was in, we won, and that was pretty special.
“The second one…we don’t need to talk about.”
Montador is hoping that this Bruins team’s mix of young players and veterans allows them to fare well in this game – and, hopefully, deeper into the playoffs.
“We’re mature to the point where hopefully…we don’t get too high [or] too low,” he said. “Maybe [the mix of players] makes us not smart enough to ever realize that we’re out of it.
“We didn’t give up, and that’s why we came back in game five, and we didn’t do it in game six, and you could say that’s leadership – it was leadership – I think it was, like you mentioned before, energy that maybe a different club wouldn’t have been able to muster up to get those two wins.”
Add a Sgt. Rock crewcut and a full beard and the Bruins forward has the visage of the old school hockey players whose attitude he honors with his play.
As such, Kobasew generally does his talking on the ice, but yesterday he talked about Game 7 and the B's game plan going into (the most recent) "biggest-game-of-the-season."
"I think we continue to build on what we've done the last couple of games," said Kobasew. "But it is Game 7. [Carolina's] going to be playing with the same intensity.
"It's do or die for both teams and there will be another level of expectations for everyone."
But there will be a high level of fun, too. Right?
"For sure," said Kobasew. "We worked hard to get ourselves back in this position and we've got to go out and enjoy it.
"When you are not having fun, you don't play well.
"This is what we grew up, as kids, dreaming of and it's a good challenge for our team," he said.
What about nerves -- will they be there, too?
"Definitely, the nerves are there -- I'm sure they are there on both sides -- but at the same time you've got to control your emotions. We can't come out over aggressive. We have to be composed and play with intensity, but be smart," said Kobasew.
Like many of his teammates, Kobasew, a former Boston College forward, looks forward to hearing the Garden crowd welcome the Bruins to the ice.
"That's a boost," he said. "We played all year long to get home-ice advantage, so now we have a Game 7 and that's what it is all.
"We have to take advantage of it."
|Sturm. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)|
"I'm doing really good," said Sturm before taking the ice at Ristuccia Memorial Arena on Wednesday. "I'm really excited that I am back on the ice for a week now.
"It's doing really well."
But let's not get ahead of ourselves -- Sturm explained that there is little chance he can return this postseason if the B's should advance.
"Probably not," said Sturm. "I can feel that there is still a ways to go."
Like the rest of us, Sturm is having trouble sitting through the second round. And, perhaps remembering some of his dramatic goals during his time as a Bruin, he certainly misses not being on the ice.
"It is [difficult to watch]," said Sturm. "Especially games like that.
"You always want to be part of it, but you're not.
"And there is always kind of a feeling that you are really not part of team."
But looking on the bright side -- there IS a bright side.
"That's just the way it is," said Sturm. "I am going to get better and I hope the team is going to do well, too."
"I'll be fine."
Wow. Only a "little bit" longer to go -- just under 12 hours. Today should go pretty fast. Ugh.
Angela Stefano and Angela Latona both contributed to today's blog.
Here is your quick hockey update...
- The Bruins did not skate on Wednesday afternoon. Instead, they worked off ice before meeting with the press.
- Coach Julien spoke as well, and uttered the following news about Marc Savard: "He is still the same as last night. I don't anticipate any reason why he shouldn't play."
- Julien also explained that pulling Savard from the game was the Bruins being cautious and that "we would benefit more from sending him off."
Practice is scheduled to start at noon, however the lights are still off at Ristuccia.
Luch on the Loose
|Boston Bruins' Chuck Kobasew, second from left, is congratulated on his goal against the Carolina Hurricanes by teammates Dennis Wideman (6) Milan Lucic (17) and Patrice Bergeron, during the second period of Game 6 of the NHL hockey Eastern Conference semi final series in Raleigh, N.C., on Tuesday, May 12, 2009. Bruins 4-2 to force a game 7. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)|
"We've put ourselves in a good position," said Lucic. "But we know Thursday night is going to be the toughest game of the series."
Lucic agreed with a media member that the game will come down to individual battles.
"They won more of them at the start," said Lucic. "We are starting to win more puck battles.
"No matter what team you play on and no matter what team you are playing, if you are going to win puck battles it's going to give your team success."
Speaking of battles, Marc Savard, who scored the Bruins winning goal, has a bit of a battle on his hands.
Hobbled after a collision, Savard left the B's bench in the third.
Lucic implied that there should be no worries.
"He's doing okay. He's a warrior and he'll battle back," said Lucic of Savard.
Lucic set up Savard on the B's game-winner at 8:53 of the second period and described the play.
"Dennis [Wideman] did a good job pinching and keeping the puck in," said Lucic. "I think he and Savvy were playing pass for a little bit down there, so it eventually found its way out to me.
"I just saw a lane to the net."
Lucic has a unique way to dish the puck.
"I just kind of closed my eyes and passed and it ended up in the net."
|Carolina Hurricanes' Matt Cullen (8) tries to score as Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas along with Dennis Wideman (6) and Zdeno Chara, from Slovakia, defend during the third period of Game 6 of the NHL hockey Eastern Conference semifinal series in Raleigh, N.C., Tuesday, May 12, 2009. Boston won 4-2 to tie the series at three games each. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)|
Tim Thomas was every bit the Vezina Trophy avatar last night during the B’s 4-2 Game 6 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes.
But don’t throw too much praise his way – he has other recipients in mind.
“Goaltending is such a team position and over the past two games we’ve really stepped up our game,” said Thomas. “That makes my job easier.
But with 31 saves, Thomas was certainly busy."
“Yeah, I had to hold up my end of the bargain more tonight than, say, last game at home [but] I’m just trying to do my job,” he said.
And a little luck goes a long way – particularly on a pivotal shot by Eric Staal.
“Yeah, I’ll admit it, I got lucky a little bit on that one,” said Thomas of his sprawling save. “It’s just pure battle and throwing everything I could at it.
“[In any] playoff series, but this series also, the momentum swings have just been so important, so I mean I’d never really bought into the old adage of big saves at big times, but that’s kind of the way it has to be.”
“The momentum has been so huge,” continued Thomas. “So I was basically trying not to let them get anything to feed off of.”
Now, all the focus turns to Thursday and a game seven in the Garden – the first since 2004.
“We have 48 hours [to regroup and get ready] to bring the same effort we brought the last two games and that’s what we plan on doing,” said Thomas. “We knew that they were going to push, especially on home ice and with the crowd behind them, and our idea was to push back even harder.
“Fortunately we were able to get it done.”
Fortunately, they get a chance to move on to the third round on Thursday night.