At the conclusion of the first period during Boston’s 4-1 win over Detroit in Game 2, a scrum broke out behind the Bruins’ net. Away from the play, Brendan Smith got in the face of Chara and attempted to draw the Bruins defenseman into dropping the gloves.
Chara didn’t bite and Smith should be thankful.
“He wouldn’t be the first guy I’d choose in the NHL to go against,” Reilly Smith said. “He should probably think twice next time.”
When asked if he was worried for his brother’s safety, Reilly said, “No, not too much. That’s the least of my worries right now.”
Brendan Smith did not speak with the media after the game, and Chara downplayed the situation as part of the game.
“Nothing really, it’s just playoff hockey,” Chara said.
Rookie forward Justin Florek scored the Bruins’ first goal, which gave Boston the momentum it desperately needed after suffering a 1-0 loss in Game 1.
The puck came to Florek, who was in the right place at the right time, took a shot from the left faceoff circle and scored with Howard out of position.
“It felt great,” Florek said. “Just great to get the fans into it and get everyone going, especially the team. So I think it was a good start for us, and hopefully, we can carry that out through the rest of the series.”
Since Bruins forwards Daniel Paille (head) and Chris Kelly (back) were both questionable earlier in the week, Boston recalled Florek from Providence of the AHL. The 23-year-old forward has been promoted three times this season, and this time Bruins coach Claude Julien showed trust and placed Florek on the team’s third line with Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson.
Florek was solid in Boston’s Game 1 loss, and even saw time on the penalty kill. In Game 2, his goal provided a major boost.
“It was great for him,” Julien said. “It was also great for the team, I think, to give us that early lead and really get that confidence going, that energy that we were looking for. That was a big goal for us, so it was great to see him stay on it and react well and quick enough so that it ended up being a good goal for us.”
After the game, teammates around the room understood just how important Florek’s contributions have been in Kelly’s absence.
“Getting that first one was huge, especially after not being able to get one past [Howard] last game,” Bruins forward Milan Lucic said. “Sometimes all it takes is a lucky bounce like that to kind of turn the tide and get some confidence and momentum in the goal-scoring department. It was a great job by [Florek] pouncing on the puck and getting that first goal.”
During his time with the P-Bruins this season, Florek posted 19 goals and 19 assists for 38 points in 69 games.
In Game 1, Florek logged 13:08 of ice time. In Game 2, he played 10:08.
“You’ve got to always be ready,” he said. “So you’re sitting on the bench, you’ve just got to keep your legs loose and everything, and when you get the chance you’ve just got to be ready, so that was a big part of it.”
After Boston’s win, Julien said he’s still not sure when Paille or Kelly will be back in the lineup. They will travel to Detroit, but if neither are cleared to play Florek has proven reliable.
BOSTON -- If the Boston Bruins hadn't lowered the boom on their first-round Stanley Cup playoff opponent in Game 2, this series could have taken an ugly turn for the team with the best record in the NHL.
Fortunately for the Bruins, they played with more bite and more fight, and that physical presence led them to a 4-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday at TD Garden.
In Game 1 on Friday, the Bruins were hesitant with their physical game. They lost puck battles and were outworked in the corners and along the walls for the majority of the game, and it resulted in Detroit beating Boston, 1-0.
The Bruins wouldn't use their four-day layoff as an excuse for their inability to create that physical style of play in Game 1, but they stressed the need to emphasize their physicality prior to Game 2 and it was much more noticeable as they evened the series at one game apiece.
"It's important for us to really grasp what we did tonight and really bottle that up and know that's what it's going to take to beat this team," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "They're labeled an eighth seed, but let's not kid ourselves."
With the reputation as a speedy, crafty and finesse team, the Red Wings entered the series knowing they couldn't match Boston's size and strength. Detroit's calm mentality worked to its advantage in Game 1.
The rookie blueliner missed Game 1 with an undisclosed issue. During pregame warmups Sunday, he was paired with Andrej Meszaros. With Miller back, Corey Potter was a healthy scratch.
"Millsy right from the start I thought helped set the tone with a couple of big hits, and I think they were within the first five minutes," Bruins forward Jarome Iginla said. "I mean, he looks like he’s about to get hit and he still hits the other way, so he reverses and he brings a lot of energy, but he still moves the puck well and he’s a tough guy to beat. He’s a very strong competitor and it was great to have him back in the lineup and set that tone early."
Like many on the team, Miller has been dealing with the flu bug all week. He was only able to practice twice during the week, but showed no ill effects in Game 2. Miller logged 19:52 of ice time and was paired with Torey Krug.
"It’s nice to have him back. It probably wasn’t fun for him the last few days, but I thought he handled it really well and he played a strong game," Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said.
Fellow defenseman Matt Bartkowski (flu) remains sidelined. He participated in the team's full practice on Saturday, but was not in the lineup for Game 2.
Bruins forwards Daniel Paille (head) and Chris Kelly (back) also remained sidelined.
BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins played more of their typical, physical style of game and defeated the Detroit Red Wings 4-1 in Game 2 of the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs Sunday afternoon at TD Garden.
With the series now even at a game apiece, Games 3 and 4 will be played Tuesday and Thursday at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.
Bruins forwards Justin Florek and Reilly Smith each scored his first Stanley Cup playoff goal, while Milan Lucic and Zdeno Chara also tallied en route to victory. Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask finished with 34 saves.
The Red Wings' Luke Glendening scored the lone goal for Detroit, while goaltender Jimmy Howard made 25 saves.
The Bruins took advantage of a Detroit miscue to gain a 1-0 lead at 7:28 of the first period. Howard came out to play the puck and attempted to move it to Brendan Smith, but the puck ricocheted off the defenseman's leg. Florek, who was in the right place at the right time, took a shot from the left faceoff circle and scored with Howard out of position. The goal came on Boston's first shot of the game and was its first goal of the series.
The Bruins finally had momentum and continued their strong forecheck, which resulted in Boston drawing a couple of penalties in the opening period. Boston took advantage and scored a power-play goal at 10:35 for a 2-0 lead.
Bruins forward Loui Eriksson did all the grunt work in front of Howard. As a scramble ensued, Eriksson took out three Detroit defenders, including Howard, as Smith crashed the net and pumped in the loose puck.
As well as the Bruins played in the first period, they had a bit of a hiccup in the second period and Detroit capitalized with its first goal of the game. The Red Wings gained control in the offensive zone when Detroit's Darren Helm skated around Boston's Jarome Iginla before taking a shot on net. Glendening, who was camped out in front of Rask, redirected the shot off his stick and glove for the tally at 13:20 of the second period to cut Detroit's deficit to 2-1.
Boston responded and finished the period better than it started it, regaining its two-goal lead when Lucic scored at 18:16. On the breakout, Bruins defenseman Torey Krug gained the neutral zone and showed patience with the puck before making a cross-ice pass to Lucic, who crossed the blue line and left a drop pass from Iginla. Lucic broke to the net as Iginla made the return pass. Howard got a stick on Lucic's shot, but the puck trickled in to give Boston a 3-1 lead.
The Bruins quickly added to their lead in the third period when Chara scored on the power play at 2:27. On their fourth power play of the game, the Bruins controlled the puck at the point as Chara was screening Howard. Iginla took a shot from the right faceoff circle and Howard made the initial save, but Chara pumped in the rebound through the 5-hole to give Boston a 4-1 lead.
With the game in hand for the Bruins, the 17,565 in attendance began to chant, "We want the Cup. We want the Cup. We want the Cup."
There's a long way to go before that happens.
Special teams: Entering this series, it was expected to be a disciplined matchup. Game 1 featured a total of three power plays between the teams, but Game 2 was a bit different and it went in Boston's favor. The Bruins went 2-for-4 on the power play, while they were a perfect 4-for-4 on the penalty kill.
“We’re fine,” Julien said. “It’s a seven-game series. You certainly don’t get down on yourself because of a 1-0 loss; it could have gone either way. It just shows you how close and tight it is. We just have to be better in certain areas that we talked about this morning and hopefully we’ll be able to bring it to the game tomorrow, and if we do that hopefully the outcome will change.”
Boston held a full practice Saturday afternoon at TD Garden in preparation for Game 2 on Sunday.
The last thing the Bruins want is to trail by two games when this series shifts to Detroit for Games 3 and 4 on Tuesday and Thursday. Of course, the B's have dealt with a similar situation during the playoffs in the past and were able survive. They erased an 0-2 deficit and beat the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals en route to a Cup championship in 2011.
“We’ve got to do a better job of playing our game, establishing more time in the offensive zone,” Milan Lucic said Saturday. “A lot of the times, what we talk about throughout the season that has made us successful is puck management and obviously that’s going to be an important part of this series for both teams, and that needs to get better heading into tomorrow.”
Prior to Saturday’s practice, the Bruins spent time going over video from Game 1 and discussed how to generate more quality scoring chances against a stingy Detroit defense. Too many times in Game 1 the Bruins lost the race to the puck, especially in the offensive zone, so it’s a safe bet they’ll try to be a bit more physical on Sunday.
“I think we were physical enough [Friday],” said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “We still had a lot of good hits, but they do a good job when it comes to our forecheck. They get there and like to have bodies in front of us on the forecheck to kind of slow us down, and we’ve got to find ways to get through that. There’s no question about that.
“That’s one of the reasons that we weren’t as effective on our forecheck [Friday] as we have in the past, so we’ve got to find ways to get through that," he added. "And if they’re going to slow us down, if we’re skating hopefully they’ll end up taking penalties. But we’ve got to work through those kinds of things and establish the forecheck that we feel is an important part of our game.”
Both teams expected this series to be a disciplined one. There were only three total power plays in Game 1.
In order to win those critical puck battles in the offensive zone, Boston needs to be more consistent with its physical play.
Boston’s top line excelled during the regular season. Lucic, David Krejci and Iginla were consistent for the majority of the season and combined for 189 total points. On Friday, that trio had only a combined four shots on net.
In past postseasons, it took a few games for Lucic and Krejci to start generating quality scoring chances, but this year with Iginla in the mix that production should come soon.
“Obviously, you want to figure it out sooner than later,” Lucic said. “That’s a part of a playoff series, is making adjustments and trying to figure out the other team’s system. We’re going to have to figure out, as a line, how to be better. We can’t get frustrated. We have to stick to the basics and what makes us successful as a line.”
Prior to the team’s full practice Saturday afternoon at TD Garden, forward Daniel Paille (head), defensemen Adam McQuaid (quad) and Dennis Seidenberg (knee) all skated with the team’s strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides.
Also, defensemen Matt Bartkowski and Kevan Miller, who have both been battling the flu, practiced with the team.
Forward Chris Kelly, who has been sidelined with what is being described as back spasms, did not skate.
Bruins coach Claude Julien said he is not sure whether Bartkowski or Miller will be available for Game 2 against the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday.
“Don’t know, yet,” Julien said. “This is Bartkowski’s first day practicing this week, and for Miller it’s his second, so it’ll depend how they feel tomorrow. We’ve got contingency plans here whether they play or not. Confirmation I can’t give you today.”
Both players were not made available to speak with the media after practice.
BOSTON -- The NHL has fined Bruins forward Milan Lucic $5,000 for spearing Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser during Detroit's 1-0 Game 1 victory in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs Friday night at TD Garden.
The incident occurred at 19:55 of the second period, but no penalty was assessed on the play. In the closing seconds of the period, Lucic was skating behind DeKeyser when he speared him in the groin area.
"Obviously, it was kind of the heat-of-the-moment thing when you're not thinking when you do something like that," Lucic said after the team's practice Saturday afternoon. "I've been in the league for seven years now and I think I've only done that three times. I don't know why I did it, but it was the heat-of-the-moment things that unfortunately I did. I believe in playing within the rules and, for me, I definitely won't be heading down that road again."
"It's just funny, I never do that. I mean, I haven't done that but unfortunately I've done it twice in the last little bit here," he said. "I'm not going to make it a habit. I don't know why I did it both times, but it's not going to be a habit of mine. I believe in playing within the rules the right way and that's what I'll continue to do moving forward."
Lucic said he's been on the receiving end of something similar during his career, and it's a practice that occurs often.
BOSTON -- Hours before puck drop of Game 1 between the Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings, Bruins defenseman Torey Krug said it felt like Christmas Day because the Stanley Cup playoffs had finally arrived.
Well, the Red Wings played the role of the Grinch and ruined the night with a 1-0 victory over the Bruins on Friday at TD Garden. In an extremely tight defensive game, Pavel Datsyuk notched the lone goal with 3:01 remaining in the third period to give Detroit the early series lead.
The Bruins knew their first-round opponent was a strong adversary. The NHL-best Bruins learned first-hand this is not going to be an easy series.
The Red Wings know they'll return to Detroit with at least a split in the first two games in Boston.
"Obviously, you want to get in and you want to establish yourself in the series, especially when you're the lower seed," said Detroit coach Mike Babcock. "Sometimes the upper seed gets the upper hand right away, you start questioning whether you're good enough. We know we're good enough, but it's one thing to know you're good enough and one thing to show you're good enough. It was important for us to get started in the series so we can continue to get better as a group."
A win in Game 1 against the best regular-season team in the league seems to be a major confidence boost for the Red Wings. In the locker room after the game, the Bruins players were already looking ahead to Game 2.
BOSTON -- Three days into the Stanley Cup playoffs, the postseason hockey hasn't disappointed.
The Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings continued the excitement in Game 1 of their first-round series. The game remained scoreless until Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk scored at 16:59 of the third period to give the Red Wings a 1-0 win to take a 1-0 series lead.
The lone goal of the game came in the ensuing action after the Bruins' Milan Lucic nearly redirected a shot past Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard, but Howard was able to get a glove on it. Datsyuk's shot from the high slot beat Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask to the glove side.
The game was back and forth with both teams playing well defensively, limiting shots and scoring chances early.
Rask finished with 23 saves, while Howard had 25 to earn the shutout.
The Bruins entered the playoffs with a different lineup than they've had for the majority of the season. With forwards Daniel Paille and Chris Kelly and defensemen Matt Bartkowski and Kevan Miller sidelined, reinforcements were needed. On the defensive end, Andrej Meszaros and Corey Potter were inserted. Justin Florek and Jordan Caron played on the third and fourth lines, respectively. It was the first career playoff game for Potter and Florek.
The Red Wings gained early control of the series, but the rest of it should be a tough test.
Save of the game: With the game scoreless after two periods, the Red Wings had a golden opportunity to score early in the third period. Less than three minutes into the third, Detroit's Darren Helm collected a loose puck in front of Rask and nearly stuffed it in, but Boston's netminder sprawled out and made a critical right-pad save to keep the game scoreless.
All four players did not participate in pregame warm-ups before the Bruins faced the Detroit Red Wings in Game 1 on Friday night.
Paille, who appeared to have suffered a head injury against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday, skated on his own for the first time Friday morning at TD Garden. Kelly missed the final three regular-season games with back spasms, while Miller and Bartkowski are out with undisclosed issues.
Corey Potter added support on defense.
The Detroit Red Wings veteran centerman has won two Stanley Cups (2002, 2008), three Selke Awards, four Lady Bying Trophies and he’s a four-time All-Star. The 35-year-old Russian has compiled 804 points in 824 career games in the NHL.
Safe to say he’s one of the best players in the world.
In 13 career games against the Boston Bruins, Datsyuk has three goals and eight assists for 11 points. When the puck drops for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs Friday night at TD Garden, he will be a focal point for the Bruins.
When his line is on the ice, it’s a safe bet Bruins coach Claude Julien will send his top two-way player, Patrice Bergeron and his linemates, along with defenseman Zdeno Chara out against Datsyuk.
Chara has always had great respect for Datsyuk and Boston’s captain knows what he needs to do.
“There’s no secret,” Chara said. “You always have to be aware of him. He’s one of the best players in the league, in the world and anytime you give a guy like that time and space he’s going to make something happen, so you just have to make sure you take as much as possible away from him.”
“It’s always a great challenge,” Bergeron said. “He’s a terrific player and he’s won before, so he’s really a great player and he’s tough to play against. It’s a great challenge for everyone. He doesn’t quit on any plays or any pucks,” Bergeron said. “You just need to be aware of that when you’re playing against him.”
In 2011, Boston defeated Montreal 4-3 in overtime. In 2012, the Washington Capitals beat the Bruins 201. In 2013, the Bruins defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-4.
Bruins forward Milan Lucic can’t explain why they’ve had so much trouble in the first round each year, but he’s hoping that changes against the Red Wings.
“I don’t know,” Lucic said. “It just seems to be the biggest battle for us and the hardest one to get through. I don’t think it’s going to be any different heading into this series, so we’ve got to be prepared to bring our best because you talk about the last three years, the other team hasn’t taken us lightly and they’ve given us their best. Maybe we kind of overlooked the other teams a little too much where we kind of got ourselves in holes and got into a Game 7 overtime situation in the last three years, so hopefully our mindset is where it needs to be in order for us to bring our best.”
Earlier this week, Bruins coach Claude Julien was doing his homework and found a stat that he found interesting, saying that 40 percent of the so-called underdog teams have won the first round.
“That’s a pretty high number in the first round,” Julien said. “So that means there’s a lot of upsets going on, so it’s not just us. It just means that when you get into the playoffs, you’ve got sometimes one of the top teams playing against a team that has nothing to lose, and it just goes to show you what pressure does versus we have nothing to lose and everything to gain.”
The Bruins played their best hockey in the month of March, posting a 15-1-1 record. In April, however, Boston went 2-2-3 down the stretch and let their guard down a little after they clinched the Presidents’ Trophy.
“Just because we had a couple of iffy games there at the end in Minnesota, Winnipeg, doesn’t mean we feel like we’re limping into the playoffs, or maybe not going at full tilt and let our guard down. I think this year, we’ve played pretty consistent and we hope that’s going to be helpful for us here in the first round,” Julien said.
Paille and ailing defenseman Adam McQuaid both skated on their own Friday morning before the team’s optional morning skate. It was the first time Paille took the ice since suffering what appeared to be a head injury Saturday against the Buffalo Sabres. McQuaid has been sidelined since Jan. 19 with a quadriceps injury.
Kelly missed the final three regular-season games due to back spasms.
Julien would not elaborate on his possible lineup for Game 1 against the Red Wings, but it appears Justin Florek could be in the lineup. He was recalled from Providence earlier in the week, and during practice he has been playing on Boston’s third line, along with Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson.
Without Paille, Jordan Caron would play on the team’s energy line with Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton.
He was an 18-year-old rookie during the 2003-2004 season when the Bruins faced the Montreal Canadiens in the first round. At the time, the Quebec native had played 71 regular-season games and was about to face his hometown team.
Bruins veteran Marty Lapointe pulled Bergeron aside to help the rookie calm his nerves.
“It was a great moment for me playing Montreal and all the family watching,” Bergeron said. “I remember the nerves were there but Marty calmed me down by saying that and he was right. I was there all year, so it was just about keeping that going.”
Now it’s time for Bergeron to play the role of veteran. The Bruins’ Reilly Smith just completed his first full season in the NHL and Friday will be his first taste of the Stanley Cup playoffs, so Bergeron’s advice to Smith, and other less-experienced Bruins players, will be simple.
“Just play their game and there’s a reason why they’re here. It comes down to playing hockey,” Bergeron said. “You can’t think too much out there. It’s about following your instincts and that’s what I’ll tell them. They’ve been great all year and just keep doing what they’ve been doing.”
As Bergeron’s linemate, Smith played well this season. He experienced the normal ups and downs of the season. When puck drops against the Red Wings, Smith said he hopes his nerves will be in check.
“We’ll see, I guess,” he said. “Having the guys around me and playing with Bergeron will help a lot because having leadership around you tends seep off them and you kind of pick it up.”
Another aspect Smith will deal with this series is playing against his older brother, Brendan, who is a defenseman for the Red Wings.
“I don’t think we’re going to talk much throughout the series, though,” Smith said with a laugh.
The Smith family will be attending each game, so which one will they be rooting for?
“They’ll probably be wearing the jersey sewed down the middle with Boston and Detroit,” Smith said. “They’re just really excited both of us have this opportunity.”