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Pregame Notebook: Game 3 vs. Philadelphia

by Hannah Becker / Boston Bruins

BOSTON – After opening up a 2-0 series lead by taking the first two games of their Eastern Conference semifinal series in Philadelphia, the Bruins return home tonight to TD Garden where they will look to take advantage of home-ice and pick up another game in on the Flyers.

Boston and Philadelphia skated into overtime in Game 2, a contest the Bruins eventually won with a David Krejci snipe from between the circles 14 minutes into the overtime. The Bruins returned to Boston following the victory and had a full team off-ice workout on Tuesday.

While the Bruins look to open the three game lead tonight, Philadelphia is looking for their first win of the series. Boston knows the Flyers are capable of overcoming a deficit as they did in their first round series against Buffalo, and is not making light of the Philadelphia squad.

While Boston took a convincing 7-3 victory in Game 1, they were outplayed for most of Game 2 despite picking up the win. The Bruins know they have to improve, cut down on mistakes and control Philadelphia’s speedy forwards if they want to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Thomas steals Game 2 for Boston
Despite being admittedly outplayed for the majority of Monday’s Game 2, the Bruins still found a way to win—thanks in large part to goalie Tim Thomas.

Thomas dives to cover the loose puck while James van Riemsdyk, left, and Johnny Boychuk, right, battle in the third period in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinal NHL Stanley Cup playoffs series, Monday, May 2, 2011, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)
“Tim was awesome. He stole the game for us last night. That’s what we said, we had to go get that goal for him because he kept us in the game all night,” forward Patrice Bergeron said.

Thomas’ 52 saves led Boston to the 3-2 overtime victory, and the Vezina candidate never gave up on his team -- or the puck.

“You can sit there and jam away at the net there a couple times and he’s still battling to make saves even while the other guys are coming down on him,” Bruins forward Gregory Campbell said of Thomas.

“We made some mistakes and when you have Timmy playing as well as he has been, those mistakes aren’t so noticeable. There are a lot of mistakes that happen in the games but if your goalie’s covering up for you, obviously it helps at the end of the day.”

Although no team is ever going to play a completely perfect game, the Bruins are confident that if they do make a mistake, a bad pass or pinch, they can count on Thomas being there to back them up.

“It gives you a little more confidence,” said defenseman Johnny Boychuk of Thomas’ stellar play.

“You have a guy back there who stops almost everything and obviously you saw that last night. It gives the team more confidence in ourselves to make plays and have the confidence in our goalie to make those stops too.”

While Thomas’ heroics came out in full force Monday night, it’s nothing new to the Bruins squad to see Thomas make those acrobatic stops that kept Boston in the game Monday night.

“For Timmy, I think he’s really methodical, he thinks the game extremely well. He works extremely hard on the ice, in practice. I think you notice his style on the ice, he never gives up on a play. But I think that’s the same way he is in practice as well,” said Campbell.

“So obviously you get a sense of why he’s so relentless in the net there and off the ice he thinks the game well, he’s always learning and he’s a smart guy.”

Seidenberg a big game player
After missing the postseason last year due to injury and with increased time on ice of late, Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg has stepped into his new role as a big-game player for Boston.

Philadelphia Flyers' Mike Richards, left, collides with Seidenberg during the first period in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinal NHL Stanley Cup playoffs series, Monday, May 2, 2011, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Bruins head coach Claude Julien has repeatedly credited Seidenberg’s ability to play his best games in Boston’s biggest games, and says his ‘big-game player’ status is one of the attributes that originally attracted the Bruins to the blueliner.

“I would say he’s a horse. He’s strong and you look at the minutes he’s been logging as well. He doesn’t get tired, he can take it. He’s a big strong individual, he competes well,” Julien said Tuesday.

“When you look at he way he’s performed you can see how much we missed him last year in the playoffs and how better we would have been a team with him in it. He’s been good, like I said, he competes well and the bigger the game, the better he gets.”

Julien also called Seidenberg an “unsung hero,” as the D-man doesn’t always get the same attention given to Boston’s other clutch players such as snipers Nathan Horton and Michael Ryder.

As for Julien’s comment that he is “a horse,” Seidenberg isn’t sure what to think.

“I guess it’s a good thing, but I haven’t really thought about that,” said Seidenberg.

His increased minutes and recent pairing with Zdeno Chara has given Seidenberg more responsibility on the ice. While the increased minutes would take any player time to get used to, Seidenberg is relishing in the opportunity to have a more of an impact.

“At some point it gets obviously too much. But for the most part the more you play the more comfortable you get,” Seidenberg said of the increased minutes.

McQuaid day-to-day
After missing a check intended for Philadelphia’s Mike Richards and slamming head first into the boards in Game 2 on Monday, Coach Julien has said that defenseman Adam McQuaid is in a “day-to-day” situation regarding his availability to play.

McQuaid, second from left, is helped up by Milan Lucic (17) and Zdeno Chara (33) as Nathan Horton (18) looks on after McQuaid was injured during the first period in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinal NHL Stanley Cup playoffs series, Monday, May 2, 2011, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
“He suffered a sprained neck. Everything so far has come out negative, so far he’s a day-to-day player right now,” Julien said Tuesday.

If McQuaid can’t go for Game 3 tonight, the Bruins have a few options on their back end. While defenseman Steven Kampfer, who has the most NHL experience this season among Boston’s scratches in the defense corps, remains sidelined, but Boston could also insert Shane Hnidy or Matt Bartkowski into the lineup.

Kampfer started skating for the first time since the injury yesterday.

Bartkowski made his NHL debut with the Bruins this season, but the veteran Hnidy would be a more likely choice for Boston’s coaching staff.

Although he only played in three games for Boston this season and ended with a minus-2 rating, the blueliner says he is ready to go if called upon.

“Mentally I kind of know what to expect and then your game just takes over from there. Mentally I just have to go out there doing a lot of little things and making sure I’m consistent,” Hnidy said.

Hnidy has been consistently practicing with the team and continuing to work on his skills and Seidenberg believes Shane could be a solid fill-in, should McQuaid be unable to go.

“You’ve seen him play in the last regular season game, and the game before he looked solid and he’s an experienced D-man and he knows what to do,” said Seidenberg.

Hnidy added, “Guys are here working kind of behind the scenes for that situation.

"If a guy goes down you have to be ready to play.

"It’s unfortunate that’s where we’re at, but at the same time it’s up to me to make sure I’m ready to go.”

As for coach Julien, he’s not giving away any answers.

“We’ll see,” he said. “We’ve got some options, and those decisions will be made [today].”

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