Bruins

Bruins need to play with a chip on their shoulder

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Bruins need to play with a chip on their shoulder

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

VANCOUVER Milan Lucic cant decide if hes trying to silence the media critics doubting his Bruins, or just ignoring them completely.

For the second straight time big No. 17 addressed the media in his home city with the first coming in the postgame locker room after a 1-0 loss to the Canucks in Game One and pulled a page out of Rodney Harrisons book of disrespect with the Patriots.

The Bruins have been labeled underdogs, they havent been given a chance by most in the hockey world including this humble hockey writer and theyve taken on an Us against the World mentality that the New England Patriots used to execute as part of their regular playbook in the playoffs.

Whatever works for the Bs is advisable as long as it helps them create more scoring chances and keeps Tim Thomas locked in just as he was for the first 60 minutes of the Stanley Cup Finals.

The peeved Lucic said the players in the Bs dressing room arent buying into the Canucks as heavy favorites with a slim 1-0 lead in the series, and proving people wrong has become an item on Loochs to do list along with scoring goals, avoiding rabid French-Canadian forwards and handing out knuckle sandwiches when deemed appropriate.

That's not the way we feel. We have confidence in each other, said Lucic. We feel like we deserve to be here and there's a reason why we made it to the Stanley Cup final.

There were times where we were the better team in Game One, and there were times obviously they were the better team last game. It's clear that you guys in the media aren't giving us much of a chance. Weve just got to do whatever we can to prove people wrong.

The Bruins can take solace in a couple of things. First of all, theyre in the same position that they found themselves in eventual seven game victories over both the Canadiens and the Lightning in their current playoff run so its not exactly daunting.

We dont want to lose the first game, you know? But the good thing is that weve been there before. We dont panic or anything, said Krejci. We just go out and play the game. We know weve been there before and maybe thats a good thing. You dont want to lose it, but if it happens then it happens.

The Bruins have overcome adversity and hurdled over troublesome patches all year long, and it became something of a calling card for the Black and Gold during the playoffs. If Zdeno Chara being the prime suspect in a farcical Montreal Police investigation didnt daunt the Bruins players, then theres no reason to believe being down early in a seven game series would suddenly activate the panic button.

I expect our team to respond, you know. When we lose a game, we've always taken the next game as a challenge of getting ourselves back in it, said Lucic. I think that's the maturity in the team that we've been able to create this year from the playoff losses in years past. We were able to deal well with that pressure and make plays under pressure. Were able to step up to play in big games.

Game Two is definitely a big game for us. We want to do what we did in the last couple series.

If the Bruins want to find the perfect mindset for the next series of games, they need only turn back the clock to a couple of years ago when they were the heavily-favored juggernaut against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Boston managed to flex their muscles and win that first game against a dog-tired Canes team, and that young team of Bs began to believe things would come just as easily for the rest of the series.

It was a hard lesson for the Bruins as the underdog Canes stunned the Bruins in three straight games before the overconfident bunch of Bs finally gathered themselves off the mat. The Bruins fought back hard in that series to push it to seven games, but ultimately couldnt overcome their power nap in the middle of the series.

Maybe, just maybe, the Bruins can catch Vancouver buying a little too much into their own hype with a 1-0 lead in the series and another home game on tap. Perhaps the Canucks have bought into the notion theyve seen the best from a Boston team that knows they can play better.

Maybe the Bruins can pull their own little Carolina caper before the powerfully built Canucks know what hit them.

The Canucks are just as new to the Stanley Cup Finals as the Bruins, so just about anything is possible.

Theres nothing wrong with Milan Lucic and the Bruins lugging around a chip on their shoulder gathered all of the non-believers.

But its more important that the Bruins come out playing like teed off hockey players with a chance to knock the Canucks back on their heels. Thats the exact kind of attitude that was missing in the first game of this rapidly escalating hockey series.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Bruins demoralize Habs in three game set

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Bruins demoralize Habs in three game set

MONTREAL – The Boston Bruins weren’t about to dance on any Montreal Canadiens’ graves after it was over and done with, but they effectively closed the door on any flickering playoff hopes for the Habs this week. It all ended with Saturday night’s 4-1 win over the Canadiens at the Bell Centre that finished off the sweep of all three meetings between the two arch-rivals over an eight day span, and with the reeling Montreal a stunning 13 points out of a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division.

It was a close game nearly all the way through in Montreal until David Pastrnak and Riley Nash scored in the final few minutes of the third period, but the Bruins outscored the Habs by an 11-5 margin while clearly establishing they were the better team in all three contests. It all makes sense given the opposite directions that the two hockey clubs are headed at this point in the season, and because of that the Bruins were playing it pretty cool after burying the Habs.

“It was kind of a crazy week because we were playing them three times, so we obviously wanted to play good hockey,” said Tuukka Rask, who won all three games vs. the Habs while improving his lifetime record vs. the Habs to 10-15-3 in the process. “[We wanted to] get as many points as possible, and won all of those games along with the one on Long Island. So it was a great week for us.”

Certainly it seemed like there was more genuine emotion from the Bruins in Claude Julien’s return to Boston midweek, and perhaps a little more adrenaline in last weekend’s first game at the Bell Centre where rookies like Jake DeBrusk, Charlie McAvoy and Danton Heinen were dipping their toes into the storied rivalry for the first time.

But on this Saturday night it was more about a complete dismantling of the Bleu, Blanc and Rouge even as the Bruins initially fell down by a goal after a bad McAvoy turnover. Instead it was Boston’s Perfection Line that went to work with an efficient, dominant performance as David Pastrnak scored the game’s first goal and insurance third goal in the third period. They also accounted for the game-winner when Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak hemmed Montreal’s fourth line in the defensive zone, and Torey Krug eventually stepped up and rifled one short side on Carey Price.

Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak combined for two goals, six assists and a plus-8 in the resounding victory over the Habs, and had a dominant 12 of Boston’s 31 shots on net when the final horn had sounded. They simply overwhelmed Montreal with their depth, the high end quality of their lineup and the fact that Boston was rested while the Habs had to play in Washington DC on Friday night in a three games in four days stretch.

All of that allowed the Bruins to drive the final nail into Montreal’s coffin when the game was over, and it furthermore allowed Boston to keep worrying about the teams they’re trying to catch (ahem…Tampa Bay Lightning) rather than Eastern Conference bottom-feeders like the Canadiens.

“We talked about doing the job against them and finding a ways to push teams down while gaining ground on the teams above us,” said Patrice Bergeron. “I thought it was a great effort again. We knew that they would be ready for us, but we also knew that they had played last night. So maybe if we had a good start we could jump on them. I thought we had a good game.”

Clearly there have been ebbs and flows to the Bruins/Habs rivalry over their long history together, and both Boston and Montreal have been in the catbird at different times even in the recent editions of their history. But right now Boston is beating the Canadiens badly at their own skill and speed game and dominating thing with pure hockey rather than bullying, and that’s got to sting for a Habs group that simply couldn’t compete with the Bruins in three different chances to do so this week. 

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David Pastrnak dominates third straight win against Canadiens

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David Pastrnak dominates third straight win against Canadiens

GOLD STAR: David Pastrnak had been a little quiet offensively, but that all changed on Saturday night against Montreal. It was the 21-year-old that answered with a bad angle goal in the second period after Montreal had taken the first lead in the game, and it was Pastrnak again in the third period crashing the net and scoring his second goal to finally give Boston the breathing room that they needed. Pastrnak thoroughly dominated the game, scored two goals and three points along with a plus-3 rating, and led all players with a game-high eight shots on net while playing with energy and intensity in all three zones. It is nights like Saturday night in Montreal when you see just how good Pastrnak could still be a few years down the road.

BLACK EYE: Carey Price wasn’t terrible in the game, but he gave up the wrong goal at the wrong time to the Bruins in the second period. David Pastrnak surprised him with a bad angle shot by the goal line aimed at his skates, and Price couldn’t recover quickly enough to keep the puck from squirting into the net for the game-tying goal. Given how much better the Bruins are than the Canadiens this season, Price was going to be have to letter-perfect in order to beat the Black and Gold. Instead he gave up a bad goal just minutes after Montreal had finally scored, and completely sucked all of the momentum out of the Habs. A few minutes later Torey Krug beat Carey Price with a sniped shot for the go-ahead goal and that was it for the night. In all Price allowed three goals on 30 shots and had one of his weaker games against the Bruins in recent memory.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins appeared to score the insurance goal in the third period when Patrice Bergeron jumped on the rebound of a shot attempt where David Pastrnak’s stick had shattered on the initial shot. But a coach’s challenge ruled that the play was off-sides and the goal was overturned leaving it at a one-goal game in the third period. Montreal was given second life to scratch for one goal to at least push things in overtime, but instead that line was at it again and Pastrnak scored on a rebound in front directly from a Torey Krug point shot. That was the goal that officially broke Montreal’s spirit and allowed the Bruins to sweep all three games over the Habs in an eight day span.

HONORABLE MENTION: Torey Krug hasn’t exactly been a scoring machine lately, but he stepped up and had one of his best games against Montreal on Saturday. It was Krug that ended up with the game-winning goal on a sniper shot over Price’s shoulder in the second period when he jumped into the play with the Perfection Line dominating, and it was Krug that finished with a goal, three points and a plus-three rating in 17:24 of ice time. He finished with five shot attempts, a hit and a blocked shot as well, and was truly making things happen offensively as he did with a point shot in the third period that turned into a Pastrnak rebound goal for the insurance marker.

BY THE NUMBERS: 25 – the number of goals for the Perfection Line (Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak) over the 16-game point streak that the Bruins have been riding on for over a month.

QUOTE TO NOTE:  “I think at the end of the day if I knew that I would have to face them now, I probably would’ve kept them separate for all those years.” –A joking Claude Julien when asked postgame what it feels like to have Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand doing so much damage against his new team during the three games played in eight days. 

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