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Posted On Friday, 05.27.2011 / 1:17 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke - Senior Managing Editor / - 2011 Eastern Conf. Final: Bruins-Lightning Blog

Recchi looking for a strong Game 7

Mark Recchi has had an Eastern Conference Finals to forget.

The 42-year-old winger does not have a point in the first six games of this series. He is also a minus-5. He's not even getting many chances. He has just six shots in the series, but three of them came in Game 2. He has just two shots in the past four games.

His goal drought actually stretches back nine games, to Game 1 of the second-round series against the Philadelphia Flyers. But he did deliver in other areas in those first two rounds. In fact, in 17 games, he has 2 goals, 5 assists and a plus-4 rating.

Recchi has been around enough to understand that his fortunes could again change on a dime in this Game 7. And, facing what could be his final game in the NHL, the veteran forward plans to bring his best effort in Friday's do-or-die game.

"I think the first game (against Tampa Bay) I wasn't good," Recchi said. "I think after that I've been OK. I haven't been good, I haven't been bad. 

"You know what? That's all washed away in one game now tonight. You lay it out on the line and go out and have fun with this and get back to the Stanley Cup Final. We've been together all year. And, obviously, you would like to have an impact. But at the same time, teammates, that's why we're here for each other."

Recchi has won two Stanley Cup titles in his career and he knows they are products of 20 players -- or more -- contributing to the cause. So, while he is not happy with his play in the round, he knows he has done his part to deliver his team to the point where it needs just one win to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 21 years.

"I think earlier in the playoffs our line was terrific and carried a lot of the burden of the team," Recchi said. "Other guys have stepped up and been terrific now. Now it's one game and let's all do it together. That's the important thing is we all have one opportunity to get to the Stanley Cup Final and we'll do it together."
Posted On Saturday, 05.21.2011 / 7:35 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke - Senior Managing Editor / - 2011 Eastern Conf. Final: Bruins-Lightning Blog

Thomas confident that Bruins will prevail

Boston goalie Tim Thomas certainly has a short memory.

Just minutes after giving up four straight goals to allow Tampa Bay to become just the third team in these playoffs to erase a three-goal deficit and win (the final goal of the 5-3 victory in Game 4 was scored into an empty net), Thomas was able to crack a few smiles as he started the process of looking ahead to Game 5.

Thomas, who finished with 33 saves Saturday, also flashed some of that legendary self-belief that helped him make the journey from potential career journeyman to perennial Vezina Trophy finalist.

Asked if he knew how this series would turn out after Tampa Bay became just the fourth team in Bruins' playoff history to beat Boston after the B's had taken a three-goal lead in a game, Thomas didn't even hesitate.

"Yeah, we are going to win," Thomas said. "I don't how it's going to be at any one time or one game. What's important is we come back in Game 5 and win that game."

If the Bruins can do that after Saturday's heartbreak, Thomas will play a big role. At times Saturday, he was fighting the puck. He did not get much help in the second period, but he also did not exude the same type of confidence he had in Thursday's Game 3, a 31-save shutout against the high-powered Lightning.
Posted On Saturday, 05.21.2011 / 7:03 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke - Senior Managing Editor / - 2011 Eastern Conf. Final: Bruins-Lightning Blog

Bad day for Bruins' Krejci

On an afternoon filled with difficult performances, perhaps nobody suffered more for the Bruins in Saturday's 5-3 loss than first-line center David Krejci.

Absolutely nothing went right for Krejci in Game 4.

He was on the ice for Tampa Bay's final three goals of the game, including the game-winner by Simon Gagne just 6:54 into the third period. His poor effort at a poke check as Sean Bergenheim came out of the corner after gobbling up a Tomas Kaberle turnover behind the Boston net was a huge part of Bergenheim's tying goal as well.

Krejci didn't manage a shot in the entire game and his wingers – Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton -- each had just one.

Perhaps, most tellingly, Krejci was just 3-for-12 in the faceoff circle, the poster boy for Boston's struggles at the dot. The B's won just 40 percent of Saturday's 65 draws.

Krejci's struggles did not go unnoticed by his coach.

"David had a tough night in the faceoff circle, and I think that kind of identified the type of game he had tonight," Claude Julien said. "It wasn't the type of game we're used to seeing David play."

But Julien was also quick to admit that quite a few more of his players struggled mightily in the final two periods.

"I didn't feel our players -- a lot of our players did not play their best game tonight," Julien said. "We are a team that when we're at our best, we win battles, and we win races and we're strong on the puck.

And from the second period on, I don't think we spent that much time in our own end compared to what we're used to."

-- Shawn P. Roarke
Posted On Friday, 05.20.2011 / 4:38 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke - Senior Managing Editor / - 2011 Eastern Conf. Final: Bruins-Lightning Blog

Julien: Krejci fine despite not practicing

When Boston center David Krejci was walloped with a clean open-ice hit by Marc-Andre Bergeron in the dying minutes of the first period, there was concern that he may have suffered a head injury, fears that were exacerbated by the fact that Krejci took a while to get up from his knees and did not play on the ensuing power play.

When Krejci played the final two periods of the game and pronounced himself fit afterward, those fears subsided.

Well, they gained life again Friday afternoon when Krejci was one of several Boston players missing from the team’s optional practice.

No need to worry, though, said Boston coach Claude Julien.

"David is fine," Julien said Friday. "We had a bunch of guys stay off today. It's more of an optional and short skate. So there's no issues with David. He's playing tomorrow with no issues at all."

Game 4 is Saturday at 1:30 p.m. here at St. Pete Times Forum. 
Posted On Thursday, 05.19.2011 / 4:21 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke - Senior Managing Editor / - 2011 Eastern Conf. Final: Bruins-Lightning Blog

Julien fires back

It appears that Boston coach Claude Julien has had enough of Guy Boucher's commentary on the Bruins.

The Lightning coach has spent the better part of two weeks now pumping up the Bruins in his public comments.

Already, Boucher has said he expects goalie Tim Thomas to perform miracles and has suggested that injured center Patrice Bergeron would play in each of the first two games of this series. Bergeron, out with a concussion for almost two weeks, may play in Game 3.

Thursday morning, Boucher spent part of his presser talking about the speed possessed by Boston rookie Tyler Seguin, who has 3 goals and 3 assists in the first two games of this series.

"I think the players and everybody underestimated his speed," Boucher said Thursday morning. "That's the main thing. His speed is obviously a weapon for him and for his team. And being a young guy, having success right away certainly takes a lot of nervousness away. For us, we know that he's going to be on the ice. We have to be able to keep on him."

Julien, speaking about an hour later, was apprised of Boucher's comments and decided he had just about enough of the Lightning coach trying to build the Bruins into world-beaters, the same tactic Boucher so successfully employed in the second-round sweep of top-seeded Washington.

"Well, Tampa has been very good at complimenting our team," Julien said, an edge seemingly in his voice. "They do a really good job of that. I think Tampa has got some pretty good speed themselves, (Marty) St. Louis and those kind of guys, Stamkos. They've got the same kind of players.

"So my answer to that would be I think they're pretty well served on their side. I don't think they're worried so much about Tyler more than they want to flatter him, and we know that there are the mind games that teams play, and right now we're just focusing on what we have to do here. And, if anything, I would be more tempted to compliment my own players such as St. Louis and those guys that are just as good as Seguin when it comes to speed."
Posted On Tuesday, 05.17.2011 / 8:03 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke - Senior Managing Editor / - 2011 Eastern Conf. Final: Bruins-Lightning Blog

Savard in Boston for Game 2

The Bruins received a welcome visitor before Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday night at TD Garden.

Injured center Marc Savard, sidelined since suffering a concussion in January, made the trip down to Boston for Game 2, according to the Bruins.

Savard suffered his season-ending concussion – the latest in a series of serious concussions – in Denver in a game against the Avalanche on Jan. 25. He returned home to Ontario and has not been around the Bruins since.

Well, that all changed Tuesday night as Boston prepared for Game 2, hoping to even this series at one game apiece before it heads to Tampa Bay for Thursday's Game 3.

Throughout the week, Boston coach Claude Julien has said Savard is welcome to visit any time he feels willing and able.

"He's part of our hockey club and he's always welcomed here," Julien said earlier this week. "He wants to come down and he's trying to get over a concussion that's really set him back. We've given him that space and being around family is a good thing to help yourself through that. We'll be happy to see him."

Posted On Sunday, 05.15.2011 / 5:16 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke - Senior Managing Editor / - 2011 Eastern Conf. Final: Bruins-Lightning Blog

Despite success, Seguin sees no Game 1 PP time

Sunday, Claude Julien reaffirmed that rookie Tyler Seguin was one of the best players on the ice for Boston in Saturday's Game 1 loss.

Seguin had a goal and an assist in the 5-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning and displayed his world-class skills on the first-period goal. He used an absolutely sick move to beat Tampa defenseman Mike Lundin and then used a quick shot to beat Dwayne Roloson to the far post.

Sounds like just the type of skill set that could help out a Boston power play that finished 0-for-4 in Game 1 and is now just 2-for-41 in the postseason, doesn't it?

Well, Julien said he had no real inclination Saturday night to include Seguin on either man-advantage unit, not even after Boston failed to gain the offensive zone on the first power-play opportunity of the night.
Posted On Sunday, 05.15.2011 / 3:19 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke - Senior Managing Editor / - 2011 Eastern Conf. Final: Bruins-Lightning Blog

Julien admits Kaberle feeling pressure to perform

Sunday, Claude Julien admitted what has been painfully obvious to most observers of the Bruins this postseason: Defenseman Tomas Kaberle is struggling.

Kaberle, obtained from Toronto near this year's trade deadline to help Boston with its power play and its transition game, has done precious little of either this postseason.

Boston's power play is historically bad, going just 2-for-41 in the first dozen games of this postseason. Kaberle has been a huge part of that downfall, making some questionable decisions at the point and often refusing to shoot when the opportunity presents itself. Saturday night, in the game 1 loss, he did take two shots from the point on the power play and each was well wide.

Earlier in the game, Kaberle made an egregious turnover behind his own net which led to Teddy Purcell's goal, the last in a game-changing run of three goals in 85 seconds by the Lightning.

After the game, Kaberle insisted he was not gripping his stick extra hard or feeling the pressure of being expected to perform better. But, on Sunday, Julien suggested otherwise about the veteran defenseman.

"There is no doubt he is pressing a little bit," Julien said. "I would say that because he knows what is expected of him and he knows what is being said about him; he knows all that stuff. At one point, you hope that he is capable of focusing on just doing the job, and we have confidence in him and we are going to work with him for him to get better, because we are going to need him to play at his best if we plan on moving on here and winning some hockey games."
Posted On Sunday, 05.15.2011 / 3:17 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke - Senior Managing Editor / - 2011 Eastern Conf. Final: Bruins-Lightning Blog

Marchand vows to avoid selfish behavior in future

The Boston Bruins were clearly frustrated by Tampa Bay's ability to shackle their offense Saturday in the 5-2 loss in game 1 of the eastern Conference Finals at TD Garden.

Nobody, however, wore his anger more openly than the always combustible Brad Marchand.

In the second period, Marchand exploded in rage for everyone to see. In the midst of a frustrating evening that would see him finish with no shots and a minus-2 rating, Marchand shattered his stick, taking to healthy whacks to make the stick finally crack.

"It wasn't good enough the first time I did it, so I had to do it again," he said of his stick-swinging exploits. "I had a lot of frustration built up. I wanted to be a factor out there and it wasn't happen and it just got to me."

That, however, can't happen at this stage of the playoffs. You can't give another team the satisfaction of seeing frustration take hold. It is a sight that will merely embolden the opponent to do more of the same, knowing that it has tangible results.

According to coach Claude Julien, the outburst has already been addressed.

"That's something we don't like to see and we don't want to see; but he is a first-year player, he is a rookie and he is certainly learning," Julien said. He is going to be the first one to tell you that he is learning as he goes along here. And you can't allow yourself to get frustrated; you have to battle through things. We just showed a little bit of frustration and I'm sure you are not going to see that again.

Julien was not the only one delivering that message. Many of Boston's vets were doing the same, talking to some of the younger Bruins during and after the game.

"It's pretty early to be frustrated," Boston defenseman Andrew Ference said Sunday. "It's just wasted energy. It's addressed right away by whoever is sitting beside them, definitely in the lockerroom afterwards. It's not about showing emotion. You can have emotion, have fire and be mad about things; but in the playoffs – especially this far in – you have to know how to direct your energy and use it wisely. If you are yelling at Refs or slapping things around, you're not using your resources wisely."

Marchand, for one says he got the message loud and clear.

"I was a little frustrated there, and I reacted in a way that I shouldn't have," Marchand said Sunday "It was selfish and it brought a lot of negative energy to the team at the wrong point. (Claude) recognized that. He's upset about that because he knows I'm better than that. He knows that I can control my emotions better than that. I can't be getting off my game. I need to be getting teams off their games."
Posted On Saturday, 05.14.2011 / 12:09 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke - Senior Managing Editor / - 2011 Eastern Conf. Final: Bruins-Lightning Blog

Boston's Bergeron back on the ice

Boston forward Patrice Bergeron, sidelined for the past eight days with a concussion, was on the ice on his own Saturday morning at TD Garden in what coach Claude Julien described as a light skate.

Bergeron is not expected back soon -- he will almost assuredly miss both Saturday night's Game 1 and Tuesday's Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals against Tampa Bay here at the Garden. Bergeron suffered the concussion, the third of his career, during Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Flyers.
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— Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock on rookie goaltender Garret Sparks, who made 24 saves in his first NHL start, a 3-0 win vs. Oilers
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