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Pregame Notebook: Game 1 @ Philadelphia

by Hannah Becker / Boston Bruins

BOSTON – Welcome to Round 2.

The Bruins took care of business defeating the Montreal Canadiens in seven games in Round 1 and are now prepared to face of the Broad Street Bullies of Philadelphia.

The Flyers watched Wednesday night’s Game 7 match-up between the Bruins and Canadiens, waiting to learn who their next opponent would be. Nathan Horton’s second overtime game-winner of the first round propelled the Bruins to Philadelphia where they flew yesterday afternoon following a morning practice at TD Garden.

The two teams are no strangers to each other, having met four times in the regular season and playing a seven-game Round 2 series last season.

While the Flyers took that series in seven games, coming back from a 0-3 series deficit and a three-goal deficit in Game 7, the Bruins bested Philadelphia in the regular season series winning three of four contests.

Despite the history between these teams, it’s a consensus in Boston’s dressing room that last year’s results, along with this season's, can be thrown out.

The playoffs, and Round 2, are a whole new ballgame.

Bruins look for man-advantage answers
The Bruins are the first team to  win a postseason series without scoring a power play goal, since Anaheim swept Detroit in the first round in 2003. Boston was 0-21 on the man-advantage in their seven game series with Montreal.

While the B’s escaped the first series without a power play tally in sight—in fact Montreal scored short-handed to put the Bruins minus-1 on the man-advantage—the team knows they can’t expect the same to happen against Philadelphia.

“We’ve been on them so much to succeed and have different looks. And you reach a point where you are diminishing returns as far as trying to make changes so it’s been a frustrating exercise,” Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli said in a press conference on Thursday.

“It’s frustrating for me to watch, I know these guys want to succeed at it, I know the coaching staff, that’s been at the top of their list…everyone’s list. And we’re going to figure it out.”

The Bruins spent the first portion of Friday’s get-away-day practice trying to figure it out.

The power play units were the first one the ice, working with no defense against goalie Anton Khudobin.

But the B's know the power play is an issue, and Chiarelli pointed to the anxiety of the team as one of the possible reasons the man-advantage continues to disappoint.

“Part of it I think is nerves. Part of it is maybe, this is an extension of nerves, they are squeezing their sticks too much. It’s not fluid and these players have, if you go player to player they have some fluidity to their game. As far as making plays,” said Chiarelli.

“So we have to figure it out and it’s going to be an important component again in this next series.”

Important component is right. Even if the Bruins don’t score on the power play, they still have to stop Philadelphia from taking advantage of Boston’s man-advantage.

The Canadiens were the only team to score on the Bruins power play in the first round, and although Philly didn’t score a shorthanded goal in their first round series with Buffalo, they finished the regular season with 13 shorthanded tallys, good for second in the league.

“There’s no doubt when they scored the amount of shorthanded goals that they’ve scored, certainly it has been addressed, it will continue to be addressed,” said Bruins head coach Claude Julien.

“So we’re going to have to be aware of that, but again we’re confident that we’re going to get our power play going and we need to find solutions. We need our guys to step it up and we all need to be part of the solution.”

Krejci the Key?
As Boston’s top-line center, Krejci feels a lot of responsibility fall on his shoulders. He plays the pivot man between hulks Lucic and Horton, and for a solid portion of the regular season, he quietly carried them on his back, thus leading the entire team to the Northeast Division title.

Instead of being quietly productive in the first round, Krejci was loudly unproductive. It’s a sentiment many Bruins followers are unfamiliar with and a bit worrisome, especially considering the impact of Krejci’s presence in the line-up and the gaping hole left when he’s missing. 

Last season, after Krejci opened the postseason with 4-4-8 totals in nine games, the center suffered a broken wrist in Game 3 of the second round, sidelining him for the remainder of the season. The Bruins never recovered from Krejci’s injury.

“I’m going to tell you is that I believe in David Krejci. I think David Krejci is going to get better and I think his line’s going to be better in this series. Maybe this series here will be better suited for that line as well,” Julien said of Krejci’s first-round production along with linemates Lucic and Horton.

As for Krejci being the key to the series, as many believed he was last year, Julien isn’t convinced.

“I think this year we’ve got enough depth that I think the responsibility is shared. Last year obviously when he went down, I felt it really created a big hole,” Julien said.

“So that’s where David Krejci’s presence, or lack of presence, really hurt us once he went down. And we lost Marco Sturm before too. So you lose two guys from your top two lines and our scoring was a little thin last year. So it really affected our team a lot. And David Krejci was having a tremendous playoffs.

“I think this year is a different situation,” Julien continued.

“There is some depth there and we feel a lot better about that this year. So hopefully we are able to overcome the challenges we had last year.”

Pronger Back on Philly’s Blueline
The 6-foot-6, 210-pound Chris Pronger—Philadelphia’s version of Zdeno Chara— is back in action on the Flyers’ blueline.

Philadelphia Flyers' defenseman Chris Pronger, right, works on stopping Buffalo Sabres' Tyler Ennis in the third period in Game 7 of a first-round NHL Stanley Cup playoffs hockey series, Tuesday, April 26, 2011, in Philadelphia. The Flyers won 5-2. (AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)
Pronger missed about six weeks of Philly’s regular season after suffering a broken right hand, but was back in action during Philadelphia’s first round series with Buffalo.

Pronger skated in two games in the Buffalo series, recording an assist and two penalty minutes while averaging 11 minutes on ice per game.

Although he’s fresh off the injury, it’s likely Pronger will square up against Boston’s top line of Lucic, Krejci and Horton, a force the big forwards will have to face.

“Well [he's] an experienced guy, a guy who has got good size as well and has got a good shot,” Julien said of Pronger.

“But he’s been a big part of their power play and when you get a guy like that back it’s not doubt that it’s a boost for their hockey club and certainly helps…Playoffs is a different situation than the regular season, but again as I mentioned it’s just one of those things that we feel that we don’t have to change a ton of things.

“And if there’s adjustments to make along the way, we just have to be prepared to make them.”

Pronger, much like Chara, often averages much more time on ice per game than the rest of his teammates, but Coach Julien isn’t looking at the limited 11 minutes of Pronger’s ice time as a sign of the big blueliner’s health.

“Whether he’s a hundred percent, we don’t know,” Julien said.

“And it really shouldn’t matter to us.”

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