Bruins: 2014 NHL Playoffs

Seidenberg says he was ready to play

May, 16, 2014
May 16
BOSTON -- Had the Boston Bruins advanced to the Eastern Conference finals, defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said he expected to return to the lineup.

“It would’ve been a good chance if we had played next round,” Seidenberg said. “Too bad it didn’t happen. I think we did everything in our power to try to get back.”

[+] EnlargeDennis Seidenberg
AP Photo/Steven SenneDennis Seidenberg says he'll continue to rehab his knee after surgery in January.
Seidenberg tore both his MCL and ACL in his right knee on Dec. 27 and had surgery on Jan. 7, and was originally told he would miss the entire season. He said Friday morning during the team’s exit day that he knew he would be able to return had the Bruins advanced deep into the Stanley Cup playoffs.

“Right from the beginning I thought, even though they told me six to eight months, I know people who have come back in shorter periods of time, so I told myself, ‘Why not. I’ll try my best and see where it takes me,' " Seidenberg said.

Seidenberg began skating five weeks ago and was cleared for contact last week. If he returned to the lineup sooner than expected, he was not worried about long-term effects. He did admit Friday that he’s still feeling some discomfort.

“It was definitely strong enough,” Seidenberg said. “If something would have happened, it would’ve been another freak thing. Once you start playing you focus on the game and try not to think about it, which is a tough thing and in a situation like that it’s very doable and you just play.”

The Bruins struggled defensively against the Canadiens due to Boston’s inexperience on the blue line. Still, Seidenberg said he felt no pressure to return.

“There’s obviously pressure to perform because you don’t want to come back and be a liability, you want come back and try to be at your best, but there was no pressure whatsoever," he said. "It was all about being smart about returning and also being cautious in regards to my future.”

Watching the Bruins’ promising season come to a premature end was tough to watch for Seidenberg.

“It’s terrible,” he said. “It’s very annoying. You feel out of place. It’s uncomfortable and it’s not fun watching.”

He’ll continue his rehab throughout the summer and expects to be 100 percent once training camp arrives in September. He’s also confident that there won't be a drop-off in his play.

"I’ll be better,” he said.

Rapid Reaction: Canadiens 3, Bruins 1

May, 14, 2014
May 14

BOSTON -- The most promising season in recent history for the Boston Bruins came to a premature halt Wednesday night at TD Garden, as the Montreal Canadiens got a 3-1 victory in Game 7 of the second-round Stanley Cup playoff series.

The Canadiens now will face the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference finals.

The Bruins are known for dramatic postseason comebacks, but this time Boston couldn't erase a two-goal deficit, and the Canadiens celebrated on TD Garden ice.

Boston looked tired and couldn't keep up with Montreal. Defensively, the Bruins weren't at their best, and the Canadiens took advantage.

Montreal received goals from Dale Weise, Max Pacioretty and Daniel Briere, while goaltender Carey Price finished with 29 saves.

The Bruins' Jarome Iginla scored a power-play goal, and Tuukka Rask made 15 saves.

The Bruins played one of their worst periods of the playoffs in the first 20 minutes, and it didn't take Montreal long to capitalize. The Canadiens gained a 1-0 lead at 2:18 of the first period after a defensive breakdown by the Bruins. While Boston was attempting to play the physical game and set the tone early, the Canadiens used quick puck movement before Weise provided Montreal's first tally. The play started when the Bruins failed to get the puck deep off a neutral zone faceoff, and in transition the Canadiens dumped the puck in and won the puck battle. Bruins forward Gregory Campbell took the body instead of his man in the corner to Rask's right. Daniel Briere made a cross-crease pass to Weise, who netted the backdoor goal. Both Daniel Paille and Matt Bartkowski were stationary in front as Weise scored.

The Bruins couldn't generate much in the first period. Boston's Jarome Iginla had a decent scoring chance, but Price made the save. Then, at the 19-minute mark, the Bruins' Brad Marchand was on the doorstep, but his shot sailed over the net. What was worse for Boston was it committed seven turnovers in the first period.

The Canadiens continued to buzz and kept the pressure on in the second period. Rask was left to make a few timely saves in the first half of the second period, but Montreal once again capitalized on a failed breakout attempt by Boston and gained a 2-0 lead at 10:22. Montreal collected the loose puck and created a quick 2-on-1 that ended with Pacioretty's one-timer from the right faceoff dot that beat a sprawling Rask.

When things appeared bleak for the Bruins, Boston received a power play late in the second period and finally capitalized to cut its deficit by a goal. Bruins defenseman Torey Krug took a shot from the top of the left faceoff circle as Iginla quickly made it to the front of the net and redirected the puck past Price at 17:58.

After killing off the remaining 1:15 of a penalty to start the third period, the Bruins created better chances. During one surge four minutes into the period, Iginla's backhand attempt in the midst of a scramble hit the outside of the post.

The Bruins continued their charge, but an interference penalty on defenseman Johnny Boychuk allowed Montreal to score a power-play goal late in the third period when a shot redirected off Zdeno Chara's skate and past Rask for a 3-1 lead at 17:07.

Game 7 provided another example of how the Presidents' Trophy means nothing other than home-ice advantage.
BOSTON -- Last Wednesday, Matt Fraser was sitting at a Chipotle restaurant in Providence, R.I., when he received a phone call from Bruins assistant general manager Don Sweeney, who informed the 23-year-old forward he was being promoted to Boston. Fraser quickly put down his double-chicken burrito with guacamole and no cheese, and before packing his things for his flight to Montreal he still had time to grab a frozen yogurt.

The next night, Fraser provided the game-winning goal in overtime to help the Bruins to a 1-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens in Game 4 of this second-round Stanley Cup playoff series. Now, he’s preparing for his first career Game 7.

“You grow up watching games like this, you’re sitting at home on the couch and you’re watching it. Obviously, the difference now is you’re involved in it and it’s definitely exciting,” Fraser said. “It’s something that every kid probably dreams about to play, and this rivalry itself is pretty exciting.”

Fraser has given the Bruins a youthful spark in the last three games, playing on the third line along with Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson. Bruins coach Claude Julien has been impressed with the left-winger and believes Fraser will handle this Game 7 situation just fine.

“I mean, there’s players on all teams that can be facing [their first Game 7],” Julien said. “I’m sure [Montreal] have a few as well. If they put in [Nathan] Beaulieu, it will be his first time, too. So that is just the way it goes and you have to handle it the best way you can.”

Fraser has been trying to absorb all he can since his promotion. The thing that has stood out the most, he said, is the professionalism of the team’s veteran players, specifically Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara.

“You see Bergy and you see Zee, you see all these guys that carry themselves on a professional manner, not just at the rink but everywhere they go,” Fraser said. “That’s part of being a professional and that’s part of being a good person. To see them do it, and they’ve got all the accolades and they’ve done it all. Yet, they come to the rink and they’re the hardest-working guys.”

Seidenberg not expected for Game 7

May, 14, 2014
May 14
BOSTON -- For anyone wondering whether Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg would make a surprise appearance in Game 7 against the Montreal Canadiens, Bruins coach Claude Julien seemed to dismiss the idea Wednesday morning.

When he was asked after the team’s morning skate, Julien hesitated and smiled before answering the question.

“I don’t think so,” Julien said.

Reporter responded: “That’s not a no.”

Julien fired back: “I’d be very surprised.”

Seidenberg has been sidelined since Dec. 27 when he tore both his ACL and MCL in his right knee. He had surgery on Jan. 7 and has been skating for the last five weeks. He was cleared for contact drills on Monday in Montreal. If the Bruins advance to the Eastern Conference finals and beyond, it’s a strong possibility Seidenberg could return to the lineup.

5 Bruins who need to step up in Game 7

May, 14, 2014
May 14
BOSTON -- In order to beat the Montreal Canadiens in Game 7 on Wednesday night at TD Garden and advance to the Eastern Conference finals, the Bruins will need a 60-minute (maybe more) effort from the entire team.

The Bruins will need to rely on their experience, but certain leaders and veterans need to step up.

Here are five players to watch:


Which Bruin needs to step up most in Game 7?


Discuss (Total votes: 1,832)

1. Zdeno Chara: The captain needs to be a beast. He’ll need to empty the energy tank and completely shut down the opposition. He needs to be mean, physical and vocal.

2. David Krejci: The top-line center vowed to break out of his scoring slump prior to Game 6 in Montreal but didn’t stay true to this word. He has another shot in Game 7 and he needs to deliver.

3. Brad Marchand: Unless he’s injured, he’s another player whose lack of production has been baffling. In 11 playoff games, he has not registered a goal. In this series, especially in Game 7 at home, the Ball of Hate needs to rise to the occasion.

4. Tuukka Rask: He needs to prove why he's a Vezina Trophy finalist. If there was ever a game for him to steal, it’s tonight's. He needs to stand on his head and stifle the Habs.

5. Milan Lucic: He needs to bring the hurt, be the perfect power forward. He needs to be physical and productive. During his first shift, he should apply a bone-chilling hit on Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban. Plus, Lucic should look at linemate Jarome Iginla and use him as inspiration.

MONTREAL -- The Montreal Canadiens staved off elimination with a 4-0 victory over the Boston Bruins in Game 6 of their second-round Stanley Cup playoff series Monday night at Bell Centre.

Game 7 will be played Wednesday (7 p.m.) at TD Garden.

Once again, mental mistakes and unfortunate bounces cost the Bruins, and the Canadiens took advantage of the miscues. Montreal received a pair of goals from Thomas Vanek (one empty-netter), while Lars Eller and Max Pacioretty contributed a goal each. Montreal goalie Carey Price finished with 26 saves to post the shutout.

Game 6 opened as expected, with the Canadiens buzzing. They capitalized on a sloppy defensive play by the Bruins and gained a quick 1-0 lead at 2:11 of the first period. Boston had control of the puck behind its own net when defenseman Torey Krug made a backhand pass to partner Kevan Miller, who misplayed the puck off the boards, and it ricocheted out front. Eller collected the loose puck and beat a sprawling Tuukka Rask, who nearly made a spectacular save but the puck slipped under his paddle.

“It took the energy out of us when they got that goal in the first couple of minutes,” Rask said.

Montreal nearly gained a two-goal lead during a mad scramble a few minutes later, but this time Rask slammed the paddle across the goal line and denied the Canadiens’ Brendan Gallagher.

The Bruins have hit plenty of iron during this series, and it continued in Game 6. With Boston trailing to get the equalizer, forward Loui Eriksson’s point-blank attempt rang off the crossbar midway through the opening period.

Boston made a major push in the second period to no avail. The Bruins created sustained pressure early and often. On one shift, Boston was threatening and kept the puck in the offensive zone for more than a minute when Milan Lucic had a quality scoring chance to tie the game but missed an open net.

After the missed opportunity, the Bruins kept pushing but still couldn’t convert. Then Montreal took advantage of another defensive miscue by Boston that led to the Canadiens' second goal.

[+] EnlargeMax Pacioretty
Francois Laplante/Freestyle Photography/Getty ImagesTuukka Rask and Zdeno Chara got crossed up and Max Pacioretty took advantage for the Canadiens' second goal.
A loose puck was bouncing toward Rask, and he hesitated in deciding whether to play it and got caught flatfooted when Pacioretty beat Zdeno Chara to the puck. Pacioretty beat Rask 5-hole for a 2-0 lead at 15:24 of the period.

“I was trying to figure out where the puck was bouncing,” Chara said. “Obviously, he had position on me.”

The Canadiens gained a 3-0 lead when they scored on the power play at 17:39 of the second period. With the Bruins’ Gregory Campbell, one of the team’s best penalty killers, in the box for a high stick, Montreal created a scramble in front of Rask, and he couldn’t recover as Vanek pumped it in.

The bounces continued to go Montreal’s way in the third period. With 8:55 remaining in regulation, it appeared Boston finally scored when a Chara slap shot was blocked but went up and over Price and landed on the goal line. Montreal center David Desharnais swept the puck and kept it from trickling over the line.

“I’m not taking anything away from that team, they played well tonight,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “When you look at the first goal, they stole the puck. The second goal is a goal that probably hurt us the most because I thought we were spending a lot of time in their end and we had some great chances to tie the game, but that kind of turned the tide around. The third goal was a power-play goal.

“I didn’t like the way they got their goals tonight. We could have been better in regards to that, but from our end, I thought we had more lines going tonight than we’ve had this whole series. We spent a lot of offensive zone time, had some chances. Again, if you hit posts and miss open nets, you’ve got to bury those chances and tonight they came back to haunt us.”

Trailing by three, the Bruins pulled Rask with just less than four minutes to play, and Vanek scored an empty-netter at 16:04 for a 4-0 lead.

The Bruins fell to 0-5 in Game 6s on the road under Julien.

Krejci: 'My time is about to come'

May, 12, 2014
May 12
MONTREAL -- Bruins forward David Krejci was on the Bell Centre ice 20 minutes before the team’s morning skate Monday. He appeared focused while working on his shot. The Bruins' top-line center, who finished the regular season with 19 goals and 50 assists for 69 points in 80 games, has has been limited to only three assists in the playoffs, and he's clearly frustrated.

“When you’re not doing well you need different guys to step up and that’s what you need in the playoffs. I believe my time is about to come and I’m going to be big for my team. I owe it to these guys, so I’m going to do everything I can to start tonight,” Krejci said.

A win for Boston in Game 6 Monday night would eliminate the Montreal Canadiens, and the Bruins would advance to their third Eastern Conference final in four years. Krejci wants to make sure that happens.

After the morning skate, he sat at his locker and said he plans on changing his misfortunes in Game 6.

“I want to help the team as much as I can,” he said. “I’m going to do everything I can to put the puck in the net. But it’s a team sport and if we win this game we’re in the next round. All my focus is to just do the job. Whatever it takes -- faceoffs, block shots, whatever. I’ll do it but my focus is to put the puck in the net.”

During Boston’s Cup run in 2011, Krejci had 12 goals and 11 assists for 23 points in 25 games. In 2013, the Bruins reached the finals and Krejci had nine goals and 17 assists for 26 points in 22 games.

Bruins coach Claude Julien understands the centerman’s frustrations, but was glad to hear Krejci is focused on stepping up his game.

“He’s just a character guy,” Julien said. “He’s demanding of himself and you know he’s been a good player for us all year. Just because he hasn’t scored yet doesn’t mean he doesn’t care and he doesn’t try. So you’ve got to work with those guys and try to help them find solutions. But a lot of it has to come from them. And if he’s that focused, that’s a good sign for us.”

Krejci hasn’t played poorly. Despite the numbers, he’s been physical, he’s been solid defensively and he’s been winning faceoffs. There’s only one thing missing: “Just put the puck in the net,” he said.

He’s never faced this type of slump for this long in the playoffs, and the frustration has gotten to him at times.

“As a player, you have to realize that every single guy goes through stuff like that at one point," he said. "I believe I’ve been pretty good in the past. I know we don’t live in the past, but I’ve been in a position before and I know I can be the player, so I’m trying to stay positive, go out there, work hard. My teammates have been doing a pretty good job of winning the hockey games, so I believe my time is just around the corner.”

When Krejci is this confident to produce, he usually does.

Seidenberg in light contact drills

May, 12, 2014
May 12
MONTREAL -- Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg participated in light contact drills after the team’s morning skate Monday at Bell Centre.

He was working on one-on-one battle drills in the corner, along with forward Jordan Caron and Andrej Meszaros.

It’s the first time Seidenberg has been cleared for contact since he had surgery on Jan. 7 to repair the torn ACL and MCL in his right knee. He’s been skating for more than a month now, but he remains cautious because his knee is not completely healed.

Last week, Seidenberg helped fuel rumors about his potential return during these Stanley Cup playoffs when he told the Boston Globe he was not only “feeling better,” but that he could “probably play right now.”

The Bruins have been coy about his potential return. General manager Peter Chiarelli had a brief answer for a reporter asking about Seidenberg’s status earlier in the second-round series against the Canadiens.

“I’m not going to comment on that,” he said. “I haven’t last series, this series.”

Bruins taking nothing for granted

May, 11, 2014
May 11
BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins have a chance to close out their second-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Montreal Canadiens with a victory in Game 6 on Monday night at Bell Centre.

The Bruins lead the series 3-2, but they know it will be a challenge to enter a hostile environment and win.

“It’s going to be a tough one,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “We’ve got to rely on our experience and knowing that we haven’t won this series yet. We have to bring our best game next game because they will. They will bring their best game, and if we don’t bring ours, you’re looking at a Game 7. We can’t take those chances. We’ve got to come out and play the best hockey we can.”

It’s become cliché to say the Bruins have been in this situation before, but the fact of the matter is they have, winning more times than not during Julien’s tenure in Boston.

[+] EnlargeReilly Smith
Eric Canha/Cal Sport Media/AP ImagesReilly Smith said the Bruins' biggest focus is on closing out the Canadiens as quickly as possible.
In 2013, the Bruins held a 3-1 lead over the Toronto Maple Leafs in the quarterfinals, but Boston lost two in a row and needed a historic Game 7 comeback victory to advance. In 2011, the Bruins had a 3-2 lead over the Canadiens in the quarterfinals and lost Game 6 in Montreal 2-1 before winning Game 7 4-3 in overtime.

This spring, the Bruins had a 3-1 lead on the Detroit Red Wings and were able to close out the series on home ice.

“Our biggest focus right now is to close out the series as fast as we can,” Bruins forward Reilly Smith said. “You don’t want to give a team like Montreal time to linger around because anything can happen in games and their goalie’s been pretty hot. If you give them a chance to shut you out, he’ll definitely do that.”

For the majority of this series, the Bruins haven’t been at their best, but they showed a major turnaround in Saturday’s 4-2 win in Game 5. All four lines played well, goaltender Tuukka Rask was solid, the power play was effective, and the Bruins kept the pressure on en route to the victory.

“I like the way we’ve gotten better as a team. I like that we’ve progressively improved our game,” Bruins forward Gregory Campbell said. “We’ve been fairly strong mentally. Montreal’s a tough place to play, and we were down 2-1 but we fought our way back and put ourselves in a good position.”

They’ll need more of the same in Game 6.

“Obviously, we’re expecting another good game. Every game has been good so far, and it’s been competitive and both teams have played hard,” Campbell said. “It’s a fine line of learning from those experiences but also turning the page because it’s a new year.

“We were in a situation last round where we were up 3-1 and there were comparisons to the Toronto series. It’s something we have to take as a new opportunity and be prepared as a team. Everybody always says the fourth game is the toughest to win, but it’s a game we want to play our best.

“We’re happy about having the lead, but it’s behind us and [Game 6] is important. We’ve just got to keep playing, playing hard and playing well. That’s all we can do.”

Boston’s top line has been physical in this series, but its point production hasn’t been great. David Krejci has only three assists in the postseason. Linemate Jarome Iginla scored his fourth goal of the playoffs in Game 5, a power-play tally, and as a group there was improvement. Still, Julien is expecting a lot more from Krejci, Milan Lucic and Iginla in Game 6.

“When they play a straight line game and they play within their strengths, which is big, strong and managing the puck well and hanging onto it in the offensive zone, that is when they become good,” Julien said. “Although it wasn’t a 5-on-5 goal, it was nice to see Iggy score [in Game 5].

“That line, you can see, is starting to turn the corner. We need our best team to close out this series, and if those guys can find their rhythm, that’s going to be a big help to our team.”

B's score two PP goals in 32 seconds

May, 11, 2014
May 11

BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011 with a subpar power play. Actually, it was worse than subpar. It was essentially nonexistent.

That special-teams unit has been an area of focus for the Bruins, who have worked hard to improve their PP. That effort has been paying off in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Boston scored a pair of power-play goals in a span of 32 seconds early in the second period en route to a 4-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens in Game 5 of the second-round series Saturday night at TD Garden.

"I think our power play was due," said Bruins coach Claude Julien. "After the first period, our power play was just average so we had a little chat and talked about bringing the intensity up there on our power play and winning more battles and making stronger plays. And it gave us obviously those two goals, which were huge for us, but as always and as a normal situation will tell you, you always like to play for the lead, and it was nice for us to have it and be able to hang onto it."

Overall, the Bruins are 8-for-28 on the PP this postseason.

"We were able capitalize on our power-play opportunities," said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. "You know it's nice to see that we were creating some quality chances and were able to capitalize on that. It's always big to have strong specialty teams."

Boston had a 1-0 lead when it capitalized on the PP early in the second period.

The Bruins began the period with 1:44 remaining on a man-advantage and they converted when Reilly Smith scored at 1:04 to give Boston a 2-0 lead. Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton took a shot from the point, Smith redirected it and the puck trickled through the 5-hole on Montreal goalie Carey Price.

Only 26 seconds after Boston's second goal, Montreal's Tomas Plekanec was called for high-sticking. Boston needed only six seconds to score its second power-play goal for a 3-0 lead. The Bruins controlled the puck in the right corner when Torey Krug made a nifty backhand, cross-ice pass to Jarome Iginla, who beat Price at 1:46.

"Yeah it was a great pass," Iginla said. "I was just trying to sneak back and just hope that he would see me and I wasn't sure but he did and he threw it right on my tape."

The Bruins finished the regular season with the No. 3-ranked power play in the league, going 50-for-230.
BOSTON -- Spraygate has arrived.

Immediately following the Boston Bruins' 4-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens in Game 5 of the second-round Stanley Cup playoff series Saturday night at TD Garden, the Canadiens were upset that Bruins forward Shawn Thornton allegedly sprayed Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban in the face with a water bottle in the final minute of the game.

[+] EnlargeP.K. Subban, Eric Furlatt
Bruce Bennett/Getty ImagesP.K. Subban was none too pleased after a third-period incident involving the Bruins bench.
Subban had the puck and skated by the Bruins bench when it appeared he was sprayed in the face.

"Yeah, we saw that. I don't want to comment on that," Montreal coach Michel Therrien said.

Bruins coach Claude Julien also tried to downplay the controversy.

"No, I didn't see that," Julien said. "Again, I've heard the same thing about that. I certainly don't support those kind of things, but I didn't see it, so I can't comment more than that."

Subban expanded on the incident.

"With Thorty [Thornton], I don't know if it was him, but someone had squirted water twice at the end of the game in my visor, and I couldn't even see for a minute and a half. I was pretty upset about that, but that is part of the game."

Subban added, "I don't know if it is part of the game. I am sure if that was me that did it, it would be a different story. It would probably be on the news for the next three days. I don't expect that to be a story, but, listen, whatever it takes to win.

"I got hit in the visor twice with water. I don't know who it was. I mean, listen, I don't need you guys to make it a big deal out of it. It is one of those irritating things when you're down 4-2. Listen, they beat us. That's not the reason why we lost. It's just one of those things that frustrates you even more towards the end of the game. I don't want to take away anything from their team. They played well today. They executed. We have to be better. Now, it's do or die for us going back home. We have played well in our barn all year and in this playoffs, so we have to execute."

Thornton wasn't the only Bruins player to mix it up with Subban during Game 5.

With Montreal trailing 3-0, Milan Lucic and Subban were running at each other for an entire shift, and it was obvious the Montreal defenseman was attempting to bait Boston's hulking forward into a penalty.

"Lucic is a great player. He is big, and we were at that point where we were down 3-0, just trying to find everything that I can to try, maybe get him into taking a penalty or something," Subban said. "He's a pretty smart player. He has been around a while, so he really didn't fall into that. Just trying to battle him."

At one point, Lucic was flexing on the bench in Subban's direction.

"I think it's self-explanatory," Lucic said. "Just one of those battles within the game. And just having some fun within the game. You know, as serious as this game can be sometimes, it has to be fun as well. You know [Subban] likes to have fun, too. So, I mean, you turn the page and focus on the next game."
BOSTON -- It's no coincidence the Boston Bruins scored a pair of power-play goals in a span of 32 seconds after Montreal Canadiens' Tomas Plekanec took a run at Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask.

With Rask's sharp play from Game 4 carrying over into the first period of Game 5, the Canadiens attempted to get the Boston netminder off his game by crashing the net with reckless abandon. That tactic didn't work. In fact, it backfired on the Canadiens as the Bruins finished with a 4-2 win and now lead the series 3-2.

[+] EnlargeTuukka Rask, Max Pacioretty
Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY SportsBruins goalie Tuukka Rask makes a save against Canadiens left wing Max Pacioretty in Game 5.
Boston held a 1-0 lead late in the first period when Plekanec crashed the net and finished with a cross check to Rask's mask. Rask responded with a blocker punch to Plekanec's face, and the Montreal forward was given a two-minute penalty for goaltender interference. But before he skated off to the penalty box, he was surrounded by many of Rask's teammates and a scrum ensued.

The message was sent to not fraternize with the Finn.

It's standard hockey practice to protect your goalie at all costs, but during the Stanley Cup playoffs, when a team's chances at winning a championship are often determined by goaltending, a team needs to stick up for its masked man.

"Every hockey team expects that," Rask said after his 29-save performance. "We're a tight group and we stick up for each other and if something happens we do it, but nothing serious."

With Plekanec still in the box for 1:44 to start the second period, the Bruins' Reilly Smith scored a power-play goal at 1:04 to give Boston a 2-0 lead. No sooner was Plekanec out of the box than he was called for high-sticking and returned to the sin bin.

Again, the Bruins capitalized and scored their second power-play goal when Jarome Iginla scored at 1:36 to give Boston a 3-0 lead.

"That was key," Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk said about the pair of goals. "Usually our second periods aren't our best and we know that, so we came out, scored two goals and kept going."

There was also a motivational factor to respond after Rask was plowed over in his own crease.

"Tuukka can take a lot of things, too," Boychuk said. "If a guy taps him on the hand, it's not going to hurt Tuukka. If something drastic happens, I'm sure somebody's going to step in no matter what. You never want to see that."

Since becoming the Bruins' No. 1 goaltender, Rask has bailed out his teammates time and time again. He led them to the Stanley Cup finals last spring before losing to the Chicago Blackhawks, and once again this year Boston is a strong title contender because of his prowess between the pipes.

Basically, anytime Rask sees a Canadiens sweater up close and personal, the Bruins are making sure to clear out the bodies in front.

"It's pretty important," said Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller. "In the past maybe we went a little far and end up getting in the box. We just need to make sure we're disciplined and let [Montreal] know that's not going to happen, but just don't cross that line."

Added Miller, "Whoever is in the net, we don't want anybody messing with our guy. I'm sure they don't want the same thing for their guy. We try to walk that fine line, whether to stay out of the box but make sure those guys know that's not going to happen."

Rask responded with his second consecutive solid performance. At the start of this series, it was evident goaltending would be a crucial aspect. Montreal goalie Carey Price was outstanding in the first few games, but now Rask is finding his groove.

"It's a huge confidence booster and he makes our job real easy," Miller said. "He's been playing well, so it's easy to play in front of him. He's an unbelievable goalie."

Rask only gets better when he gets pushed around.

Rapid Reaction: Bruins 4, Canadiens 2

May, 10, 2014
May 10

BOSTON -- Led by their third line and the strength of their power play, the Boston Bruins defeated the Montreal Canadiens 4-2 in Game 5 of the second-round Stanley Cup playoff series Saturday night at TD Garden.

Reilly Smith and Jarome Iginla scored a goal each on the power play in a span of 32 seconds early in the second period en route to Boston's victory and a 3-2 series lead. The series shifts back to Montreal for Game 6 on Monday (7:30 p.m. ET) at Bell Centre.

The Bruins received even-strength goals from Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson. Goaltender Tuukka Rask finished with 29 saves.

For Montreal, Brendan Gallagher and P.K. Subban scored, while goalie Carey Price made 26 saves.

In Game 4 at Bell Centre, the Bruins hit two posts and one crossbar before eventually winning 1-0 in overtime. Only 2:15 into the first period of Game 5, the Smith rang a shot off the left post.

The Bruins would gain a 1-0 advantage at 13:20 of the opening period when Soderberg notched his first goal of the playoffs. The faceoff was to the left of Price and the Bruins won the drop. Defenseman Matt Bartkowski rimmed the puck around the boards before Eriksson gained control behind the net and moved the puck to Soderberg out front for the tally.

Montreal nearly responded just over a minute later when the Max Pacioretty skated around Bruins captain Zdeno Chara and almost tucked it home, but Rask made a timely left-pad save to secure Boston's one-goal lead at 14:45.

With Rask's sharp play from Game 4 carrying over into the first period of Game 5, the Canadiens' Tomas Plekanec crashed the net and decided to cross check Rask to the mask with 16.1 seconds remaining in the period. Rask responded with a blocker punch to Plekanec's face, and the Montreal forward was given a two-minute penalty for goaltending interference.

The Bruins began the second period with 1:44 remaining on that man-advantage and they capitalized when Smith scored at 1:04 to give Boston a 2-0 lead. Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton took a shot from the point, the Smith redirected it and the puck trickled through the 5-hole on Price.

The Bruins weren't done.

Plekanec was called for another penalty and Boston scored its second power-play goal 32 seconds later for a 3-0 lead. The Bruins controlled the puck in the right corner when Torey Krug made a nifty backhand, cross-ice pass to Iginla, who beat Price at 1:46.

Montreal responded late in the second period when Gallagher notched a power-play goal at 14:39 to cut the Canadiens' deficit to 3-1.

But Boston's third line struck again late in the third period when Eriksson scored at 14:12 for a 4-1 lead. Matt Fraser showed patience with the puck and fed Eriksson for the goal. Soderberg finished the night with three points.

Montreal scored on a late power play as Subban's slap shot from the point beat Rask to cut the Canadiens' deficit to 4-2 at 17:31. It was Subban's third power-play goal of the series.

Matt Fraser makes father, family proud

May, 10, 2014
May 10
BOSTON -- The first thing Matt Fraser wanted to do was call his parents.

The 23-year-old forward had just scored at 1:19 of overtime to help the Boston Bruins to a 1-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens in Game 4 of their second-round Stanley Cup playoff series Thursday night at Bell Centre in Montreal, and he couldn't wait to call his dad, Maurey.

"Hopefully my dad was impressed with this one," Fraser said after the game.

His parents were thrilled by their son's accomplishment.

[+] EnlargeMatt Fraser
AP Photo/The Canadian Press/Ryan RemiorzAfter scoring in OT to beat the Canadiens in Game 4, Matt Fraser celebrates with Bruins teammate Dougie Hamilton.
"I was so excited for him and for the team," Maurey Fraser told in a phone interview from his home in Red Deer, Alberta. "Obviously, it's a team game and to see the Bruins win and him get the overtime goal, and be successful, it was exciting. He played a strong game all night with his linemates. It was very nice to watch, quite exciting, very exciting."

As far as being impressed, Maurey Fraser said: "That was kind of a neat quote. I hope he didn't make me out as the grumpy old man, but I got a kick out of that, as well."

Matt Fraser became an instant sensation in Boston with his timely goal. Called up from the Providence Bruins of the AHL on Wednesday, he was thrust into the lineup Thursday for his first NHL playoff game.

After he scored the winner, Fraser stood in the lower concourse outside the Bruins' locker room and was surrounded by a media horde. His voice was cracking and his hands were shaking in a genuinely emotional moment.

His family felt the same way while watching his goal and ensuing celebration on television from their home in Western Canada.

"It's a fantastic opportunity for Matt," his father said. "For Boston to give him that opportunity, he just worked so hard and he's a dedicated individual and he puts the team first in all situations and for him to be given the opportunity to come up and play in that atmosphere of Montreal, in the Bell Centre with the storied rivalry between Montreal and Boston for all these years, the emotions involved in the rink, it is something to behold and I understand his emotions and how excited he was for everything. I was feeling that, every bit, at this end as well."

Maurey Fraser was watching Game 4 by himself, while his wife, Sharon, locked herself in the family's garage and listened to the game on the radio.

"She has a little superstition where she thinks things might go a little bit better for Matt and the hockey team if she's not watching it," Maurey Fraser said. "It's a superstition she has on her part, but she came bouncing in right after he scored the goal and saw all the celebrations on television."

It's a superstition she's had for quite a while, Fraser said.

"We've got two kids, Matt and his sister, Kelsey, and for important games where there's a lot riding on it, as an example [Thursday] night with NHL playoffs, [Sharon is] just up and down and moving around all the time, so it's a whole lot easier if she's in another building outside the house somewhere. She's done it for many, many years."

Even though it was last-minute, the Frasers looked into going to Montreal for Game 4, but it was unknown at the time whether Matt would actually be in the lineup.

"It would have been a long way to go to Montreal, sit in the stands and watch the game if he's in the press box, and then the [team] flight leaving Montreal an hour [after the game], I wouldn't even get a chance to see him," Maurey Fraser said. "I understand that it was coach's decision at game time, so it didn't make any sense to do that not knowing if he was going to be in or out."

Fraser's heroics have gained the attention of the entire hockey world. With Game 5 between the Bruins and Canadiens on Saturday night at TD Garden, the "Hockey Night in Canada" crew visited the Fraser family Friday night.

After Game 4, Matt Fraser spoke about playing in a friend's backyard rink as a boy and imaging what it would be like to score a goal in the Stanley Cup. His father explained that all of Matt's friends, both boys and girls, would play on the outdoor rinks, and when Matt would return from his junior team for Christmas break, all the friends would lace up their skates.

"He exactly did what he said he did, all the time pretending that he did what he did [Thursday] night," Maurey Fraser said.

Before his overtime goal against the Canadiens, Fraser was known as one of the prospects the Bruins acquired from the Dallas Stars last summer. On July 4, 2013, Boston sent forwards Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley along with prospect Ryan Button to the Stars in exchange for Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith, Fraser and Joe Morrow.

Fraser was undrafted before the Dallas signed him as a free agent on Nov. 18, 2010. He spent the majority of his time in the organization with its AHL affiliate, the Texas Stars, and played a total of 13 games for Dallas in the NHL.

"Dallas gave Matt an opportunity and that's something we'll always be thankful for, but being professional sports you're with somebody one day and you're gone the next for whatever reason," Maurey Fraser said. "It can be business reasons, playing reasons, salary cap and all that sort of stuff.

"I think Matt was happy when he was dealt to Boston. It's a cliché, but it's an Original Six team and everybody likes that who has grown up in the hockey world. The people of Boston, and the team there, the Providence team, he has nothing but respect for all of those folks involved there. They're treated like genuine pros there in Boston, from the trainers, to the coaching staff, to the media and most importantly the fans are very important.

"Boston is a tough lineup to crack and he might've had more opportunity to play in the NHL with the Dallas organization versus the Boston organization, but that's hindsight now. There's no hard feelings what Dallas did. It was a business move and you just move forward and hopefully Boston gives him an opportunity and he can play there as a full-time NHLer soon."

Matt Fraser was emotional after Game 4.

"Words can't even describe how I feel," he said. "I just watched the replay of it and I don't even want to begin to try to explain it because that's something I wish every kid could feel."

When his dad heard it, he was proud of his son.

"Isn't that a great line? I love that he said that," Maurey Fraser said. "And he means it, too. He really does when he says something like that. He thinks about it and it was very nice."
BOSTON -- Any Bruins fans who were calling for goaltender Tuukka Rask to turn in a truly dominant performance had to be satisfied by his 33-save gem in Game 4 of the B's Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Montreal Canadiens.

Rask collected his second shutout of the postseason, after allowing three or more goals in each of the first three games of the series against Montreal.

[+] EnlargeBrian Gionta
Francois Laplante/Freestyle Photography/Getty ImagesTuukka Rask shut out Montreal in Game 4 after giving up at least three goals in each of the first three games.
"I didn't think it was tighter, necessarily," Rask said after Friday's optional team skate at the TD Garden. "The goals have been scored on a lot of tips and stuff, and yesterday there wasn't too many tips either way."

Rask credited the defensive effort in front, which allowed him to see pucks clearly.

"It's always easier for a goalie when you can see the puck and there's no sticks around the net," Rask said. "That was a huge factor yesterday."

Entering Thursday's game, voices again began to conspire against Rask, asking whether pressure was getting to the goaltender, who holds a 3-10-3 career regular-season record against Montreal.

"I think a lot has been made of Tuukka, and I'm not on the same page as everyone else," Julien said Friday. "We gave up breakaways in that first game in Montreal; we were really sloppy."

Julien continued, "I thought he was really good last night. There is no issue with that. I said it [Thursday] morning: He has no confidence issues. He's hard on himself, but he never gets rattled that way."

Now, with the series shifting to Boston for Game 5, has the pressure shifted back to the Canadiens?

"I don't think anybody's got too much pressure," Rask said. "It's the playoffs and you just try to have fun out there, work hard and get the wins. We start 0-0 again, and it's a best-of-three series now. I don't think anybody has pressure, it's just who plays better at the end."