Bruins: 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Bruins want to win it for Campbell

June, 6, 2013

BOSTON -- While there was plenty of buzz over the Bruins' 2-1 double-overtime win against the Penguins in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals, the real story at Thursday's optional skate was news that one of their heart-and-soul players, Gregory Campbell, will be out for the rest of the playoffs. Campbell broke his leg blocking an Evgeni Malkin shot in the second period.

The guts the gritty center showed in staying on the ice even after the injury to help his team kill a power play and keep the game tied at 1 was on everyone's mind.

“You get that from him every game. That's the kind of player he is,” coach Claude Julien said in his daily media briefing. “He's a real dedicated individual to his work and to his game, from off ice, to on ice, to taking care of himself, demeanor, everything else. What he did [in Game 3] surprised a lot of people but it didn't surprise us because that's just who he is, stay in there and make sure he finishes his shift. As a coach you probably wish he would have stayed down, but that's not his job.”

As Campbell remained on the ice, he actually tried to block another shot and helped chip the puck out of the zone. The capacity crowd at TD Garden began chanting, “Campbell! Campbell!” and continued as Campbell headed toward the dressing room.

Campbell's teammates appreciated his efforts and the recognition from the fans.

“It’s a thankless job and I don’t know how many people have broken a leg, but it’s not easy to stand on let alone skate around on it,” linemate Shawn Thornton said. “It takes a lot of heart to skate off on your own, and he even tried to block another one after that. So we’re blessed to have knowledgeable fans, and that’s a situation where they let it be known how they felt.”

In Game 3 of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals, Nathan Horton suffered a severe concussion from an Aaron Rome head shot and missed the rest of the series -- which the Bruins won in seven games, earning their first Stanley Cup in 39 years. The team used the Horton injury as a rallying call and plans to do the same with Campbell's injury.

“I think our team wants to do it for all the right reasons, and that's one of them,” Julien said of his squad rallying around Campbell. “When you see a guy go down like that and the way he went down and what he did -- what he's done for the team and what he did last night to block that shot -- the guys are going to want to rally around that. It's also got to be more than that, but he's certainly part of that equation.”

As for who will replace Campbell in the lineup and help the Bruins keep pushing toward their second Stanley Cup in three seasons, Julien wasn’t giving any hints Thursday.

“Well, we've got lots of options,” Julien said. “We'll look at it closer today and make a decision tomorrow.”

Regardless of who it might be that steps in for Campbell, the Bruins' bench boss is still confident the team can roll four lines.

“We've just got to make sure we get something out of all of our lines right now,” Julien said. “I think that's the most important thing for us, and that's where decisions are going to have to be made and how do we make it work so that we continue to have four lines.”

Thornton sees enough depth on the "taxi squad" -- or the group of reserves on call for situations such as this. As he pointed out, the Bruins have a variety of options -- from young Swedish import Carl Soderberg, who joined the team late in the season, to Kaspars Daugavins, whom the Bruins claimed off waivers near the trade deadline, to 38-year-old veteran Jay Pandolfo, who owns two Stanley Cup rings and has 131 playoff games under his belt.

“We have a lot of extra guys here,” Thornton said. “I’m not sure who’s going in, but if it happens to be 'Pando' [Pandolfo], I mean the guy has 130 playoff games and two rings. But ‘Doggy’ [Daugavins] has proven that he can play here and ‘Soder’ [Soderberg], even though he just got here, he looked good in those six or seven games that he played here. I don’t know the combinations and I’m sure I’ll find out tomorrow right around the same time you do, but it won’t change my game too much.”

Thornton knows that whoever is brought into the lineup will be physically and mentally ready. Two seasons ago, Thornton spent plenty of time on the "taxi squad."

"A couple of years ago I was with them for a few weeks, and it’s not an easy job to keep yourself game-ready just in case," Thornton said. "But they all know the playoffs is a long grind and they could be called upon anytime. I know they’ve been working hard on and off the ice, and whoever steps in, conditioning will not be an issue, that’s for sure.”

BOSTON -- There is nowhere quite like the dressing room of a team that has gone down 3-0 in a best-of-seven playoff series.

There is especially nothing like the dressing room of a team that has lost an epic double-overtime battle like the one the Pittsburgh Penguins lost by a 2-1 count in the early-morning hours of Thursday to fall behind the Boston Bruins 3-0 in their Eastern Conference finals.

A dressing room like this is a gloomy place, balanced somewhere between the dead and living.

With any realistic chance of getting back in this series hanging in the balance, the Penguins rebounded after two home losses, the last a 6-1 shellacking in Game 2, to produce a dramatically different effort in Game 3.

Even when they gave up a goal on the first shot of the game when David Krejci’s shot caromed off Pittsburgh defenseman Matt Niskanen’s stick and past netminder Tomas Vokoun, the Penguins did as they promised.

They stayed patient.

They forechecked with a purpose.

They created chances from a strong defensive position.

And as time went on and the Bruins could not crack the Penguins as they had in the first two games, something special began to unfold.

Starting in the second period, the kind of series most had imagined when these two deep, experience, talented teams faced off in Game 1 emerged.

It’s easy to toss out terms such as "classic" or "titanic," but as this game moved through Wednesday evening and into Thursday, it was hard not to think of it anything but those terms.

It was part the relentless to-and-fro nature of the action and part what was at stake, the reality of what the outcome meant to both teams.

The Bruins did not nurse the lead but forced Vokoun, named the starter after being yanked after allowing three first-period goals in Game 2, into making key saves to keep his team in the game.

But the Penguins began to carry the balance of the play. They earned three second-period power plays and finally tied it midway through the period on an even-strength Chris Kunitz goal.

That it came off a face-off, another element the Penguins had been miserable at in the first two games, was further illustration that the Penguins had brought something different to the table.

Back and forth this game went, each missed chance for the Penguins a missed chance at a new lease on their playoff lives.

Each missed Bruin chance was a missed chance at pushing the Penguins to the edge of the abyss.

Each post rattled was a mournful lament at what might have been.

Crosby hit one on a blind backhand as Tuukka Rask scrambled across the crease in the third.

Nathan Horton hit one in the first overtime.

The Penguins were given a power play in the first overtime when Chris Kelly was whistled for tripping and then the Bruins got a chance when Brooks Orpik high-sticked Brad Marchand.

Late in the first overtime, Evgeni Malkin flipped the puck over the glass for a delay-of-game penalty and still the Bruins could not finish it. Early in the second overtime, the Penguins got a second chance when the Bruins were called for too many men for the second time in the game.

In all, the teams combined to go a shocking 0-for-11 with the man advantage and each time those opportunities ticked away on the giant score clock hanging over center ice, it was greeted with equal parts sigh of relief from one side and rueful grimace on the other.

Rask would not yield, in the end stopping 53 of 54 shots.

Vokoun matched him virtually stop for stop, allowing just the first-shot deflection and then, in the end, the final shot of the night, the Bruins’ 40th.

It came with 4:41 left in the second overtime. After Deryk Engelland could not clear the puck through the neutral zone and Evgeni Malkin was knocked off the puck by a rejuvenated Jaromir Jagr, the Bruins’ resident hero Patrice Bergeron redirected a Marchand pass past Vokoun and abruptly, as all overtime games end, it was over.

It was Bergeron who tied Game 7 of the Bruins’ opening-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the final minute after the Bruins had been down 4-1 and then went on to score the overtime winner.

The Bruins have been so steady, so near perfect since then in going 7-1 in in beating the New York Rangers in five and now three straight against the Penguins, that it’s hard to recall they were that close to being one round and done.

Now they are one win from sweeping the Eastern Conference’s best regular-season team and a team built to succeed in the postseason.

"I think it's a little bit of everything," a weary Bergeron said after reinforcing his status as one of the game’s clutch players. "It's also mental. You've got to stay sharp and find a way, but I think it's all in your head. As long as you don't feel tired in your head, your legs are fine. But you're right, your body is cramping up and you've just got to find a way, just keep battling, because I think everyone is in the same situation."

Well, everyone was in the same position until that final moment, the denouement.

From the moment Bergeron’s shot found the corner of the net, it was as though a great chasm opened between the two teams that had battled in such close quarters throughout the evening.

In the Boston dressing room, relief and cautious talk about not looking too far ahead, taking nothing for granted.

"That’s a game that could go either way," Boston defenseman Andrew Ference said. "It’s overtime. Double overtime. There’s posts, there’s big saves. That’s the type of game you clash and you bang heads.

"Win or lose, you come out and you say, 'You know what? We gave it our hardest.' So, like I said, we’re obviously happy to come out on the right side of it but I don’t think anybody is kidding themselves. You know that it can go either way in a game like that."

But it didn’t go either way. It went their way. And, oh, isn’t that a world away from what might have been for the Penguins?

In that room, hushed and humid, the familiar predictable words of hope and defiance were emitted but history and, perhaps more important, reality serves to crush the words like dry leaves the moment they are spoken.

"It was obviously a large improvement from the first two games," Orpik said.

Then he paused, and you wondered if it was from the tremendous hit he took from Milan Lucic that left him stunned during the second overtime or just the reality of the situation.

"We’re here for results, so there’s no real moral victories at this point in the season," Orpik said.

Crosby echoed those sentiments, saying this game looked so much better because the Penguins were so much better than in Game 2. But that, in the end, meant nothing.

"Did a lot better job tonight but that doesn’t guarantee anything," Crosby said. "So, we do a lot of these same things and I think we all trust and believe we can get this back to Pittsburgh."

Crosby was one of many Penguins who had a terrific bounce-back effort in Game 3 after two miserable outings in Pittsburgh. He went 21-17 on draws and won the one that led to the Pens’ only goal.

Evgeni Malkin was a beast and led all players with 10 shots.

James Neal had seven shots and was a different player. His pass to Craig Adams in the second overtime nearly sent the game and the series onto a different path.

But it didn’t.

They could not, with all their star power and determination, find that second goal that would have changed everything.

"It’s obviously frustrating but at the same time it’s a positive, too," Neal offered, still sitting in his stall with most of his gear on. "We did a lot of good things and stuck with it throughout the whole game.

"We think we deserved a little better tonight but that’s what playoffs are. One bounce can go either way. They got that there. So, obviously, tough to come back from three (games down), you know. We’re going to start with one period and one game because there’s no give-up in this room."

Vokoun expects to start Game 2

June, 3, 2013
PITTSBURGH -- After the Boston Bruins scored a 3-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals Saturday at Consol Energy Center, there’s been some speculation the Penguins would make a goalie change for Game 2.

After the team’s game-day skate Monday, Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma wouldn’t say whether he would replace Tomas Vokoun with Marc-Andre Fleury.

“Coaches think about a lot of things -- lineup, players, schemes -- so like I said, I heard people talk about an advantage, how that works, so it did cross my mind,” Bylsma said.

However, Vokoun said he was preparing to start Game 2.

"Dan just said I’m playing the next game and that was it,” Vokoun said. “Those decisions are for the coaches and they’ll do what they think is best for the team.”

Vokoun is 6-2 with a 1.98 goals-against average and a .937 save percentage in eight playoff games. Fleury is 2-2 with a 3.40 GAA and a .891 save percentage in four playoff games.

Seguin focuses on being a role player

June, 3, 2013
PITTSBURGH -- The Bruins’ third line of Rich Peverley, Chris Kelly and Tyler Seguin has contributed in the defensive zone, but the trio would like to add more offensive production in the Eastern Conference finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Bruins hold an early series lead after a 3-0 victory in Game 1 on Saturday at Consol Energy Center. Boston’s top line provided all three goals, two by David Krejci and the other by Nathan Horton, but the rest of the lineup will need to chip in offensively, too.

“Game 2 is always a tougher game than Game 1,” Seguin said. “Sometimes you find yourself, the two teams, checking each other out in the first game. It was a good first game, but we’re expecting a lot harder, better game from both sides tonight.”

Seguin’s offensive production from the regular season hasn't translated to the playoffs. He has only one goal and three assists, while posting a minus-2 rating, in 13 games. Bruins coach Claude Julien has praised Seguin’s defensive work but would like to see more offense.

“I thought our third line played by far their best game of the [playoffs],” Julien said of Game 1. “So hopefully they can muster some goals here because that would certainly help.”

“I’m competing well and working hard out there,” Seguin said. “I’m playing my role on the team. I’m here to win games, not to want to score every single shift. It’s frustrating at times, but we’re winning games and that definitely makes you happy and it’s fun right now.”

Since he’s been lacking the offensive surge, Seguin says he’s making sure he's contributing and improving in other areas.

“That’s what I’m focusing on right now since the goals aren’t coming,” Seguin said. “As a line, we’re gaining better chemistry out there and we’re working hard to help us win games.”

Ference, Redden practice with team

May, 28, 2013
WILMINGTON, Mass -- Injured Bruins defensemen Andrew Ference (lower body) and Wade Redden (lower body) continued to make progress and are closer to playing. Both skated with the team at practice Tuesday.

For Ference, who has skated for the last four days on his own, it was a "good sign," but it doesn't necessarily mean he'll be ready for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Penguins, according to coach Claude Julien.

The series is expected to begin Saturday night in Pittsburgh.

“It’s a good sign that he’s practicing with us,” Julien said. “I don’t know. Again, it’s a medical issue that unless the trainers say it’s a go -- sometimes he may be ready, but could be a risky kind of ready. We’ll wait and see what our trainers say and how Andrew feels, as well, before we make any decision on him.”

As for Redden, he has been skating with the team during the last few practices and game-day skates, and Julien said if the team really needs him, Redden could play.

“I think to answer that, in a pinch if we needed him, I’m sure we could use him,” Julien said.

After practice, Redden told that he’s ready to go whenever the team decides to put him back in the lineup.

“I’m doing everything I need to now, so I’m good,” he said.

Ference was happy to be practicing again, but also happy that he got some solo work done the last four days.

“I’m skating really well,” Ference said. “It’s nice to get back on the ice and get back into a practice. The last few days on my own, it was good to get those kinds of days under my belt. The last couple of days I had great skates and today was my fifth day on the ice. So it’s been really good. It’s different when you get other guys on the ice and can actually practice, but to have four days completely on your own like a hockey school, it was really nice, and it’s rare to get that kind of ice time to do exactly what you need as an individual. So it was beneficial.”

B's look on bright side of layoff

May, 28, 2013
WILMINGTON, Mass. -- The Boston Bruins have experience when it comes to extended time off between series in the Stanley Cup playoffs, and coach Claude Julien hopes it will serve them well as they wait for the puck to drop on the Eastern Conference finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The schedule has not been made official, as the league is waiting for the Western Conference series to conclude. But according to reports, Game 1 between the Bruins and the Penguins could be Saturday at CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh. If that’s the case, it would be a full week between games for the Bruins, who dispatched the New York Rangers with a 3-1 win in Game 5 of the conference semifinals this past Saturday at TD Garden.

[+] EnlargeNathan Horton
Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe/Getty ImagesClaude Julien said his team had a lively, productive practice today and he's not worried about his players getting rusty. Above, Nathan Horton stretches before practice last week.
The Bruins have seen positives and negatives when dealing with long playoff waits in the past.

In 2011, the Bruins swept the Philadelphia Flyers in the semifinals and had to wait seven days before facing the Tampa Bay Lightning in the conference finals. Of course, Boston went on to win the Stanley Cup.

“Our team has matured a lot more in regards to that,” Julien said. “We had a long break, too, when we swept Philly in four straight a few years ago and we handled it well. Based on today’s practice, I thought we practiced really well; we had lots of energy and worked hard. The focus is still there."

During the 2009 season, the Bruins swept the Montreal Canadiens in the quarterfinals but had to wait nine days before facing the Carolina Hurricanes in the second round. Boston eventually lost that series in seven games.

“That was a lot and somehow we slipped out of it, and by the time we got back into it we were in deep trouble against Carolina. That was something hopefully we learned from,” Julien said. “But right now I don’t sense that, to be honest with you. I think our guys are pretty focused right now. I liked our intensity and our focus and our jump in practice today.”

After Julien gave his players the last two days off, Tuesday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena was a quick and intense one-hour session. When the players came off the ice, they were all dripping with sweat.

“Any playoffs, you don’t have control when you’re playing, so I think it’s about making the most of it, and the last two days have been good for us to rest, not only physically but mentally. And now it’s about getting back at it and making sure we’re sharp for Game 1,” said Bruins assistant captain Patrice Bergeron.

Since the Bruins and Penguins have been two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference in the last six years, it’s amazing they haven’t played in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The fact that this series won’t start probably until Saturday gives the players on both teams time to rest and recuperate. So players can see the advantages from both sides.

“It is and it isn’t,” said Bruins forward Milan Lucic. “It was kind of nice to have a couple of days off here and kind of sit back and enjoy what you’ve accomplished, but also look forward to what you need to do in this next series. It’s something to look forward to, and I think the anticipation is going to build as the week goes along. I think the emotions are going to get higher and higher as the week goes along just because of the anticipation of getting this series started.”

The Penguins actually have a longer break between games since their series against the Ottawa Senators concluded on Friday.

“You have to practice hard,” said Bruins veteran forward Jaromir Jagr. “You want to rest, but on the other side you have to work really hard during the practices, almost as hard as you’re going to play, so it won’t be any different during the games. That’s very important to be able to do it. It’s not easy because it’s practice, but somehow you have to push yourself to do the best in practice.”

Jagr, who has 192 games of Stanley Cup playoff experience, went through a similar break between games last spring when he played for the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers beat the Penguins in the quarterfinals in six games and had to wait for their next opponent, the New Jersey Devils, to outlast the Florida Panthers in seven games.

“I remember last year we had the same thing, but New Jersey played seven games and I thought that was the reason they beat us,” recalled Jagr. “We had one week off and we weren’t ready for them, so sometimes, and I’m not saying all the time, but sometimes it’s better when you play because you’ve got the rhythm of games. But this is different because both teams are in the same situation.”

Three takeaways from Game 4

May, 23, 2013

The Bruins blew two leads and allowed the Rangers to live another day with a 4-3 overtime loss in Game 4 on Thursday night. Here are three takeaways from what could have been a sweeping success for the Bruins had they put away the Rangers.

Bruins never make it easy -- In their past 17 chances to close out a series, the Bruins have won just six. In the opening round of the playoffs, the Bruins had a 3-1 series lead over the Maple Leafs and allowed them to not only force a Game 7 but also take a 4-1 lead in the third period of the decisive game before finally waking up and pulling off their amazing comeback, winning 5-4 in overtime. One would have thought the Bruins had learned a lesson to never underestimate their opponent or get comfortable. They didn't exactly show it in this game, again failing to put away a down-and-out opponent. The Bruins outshot the Rangers 12-4 in the first period but the game was still scoreless. They then blew a 2-0 lead and a 3-2 lead before Chris Kreider's overtime goal. Are we in for another nerve-wracking series, or will this Bruins squad wake up earlier than it did in Round 1? We'll find out Saturday.

Seguin's hard work finally pays off -- Tyler Seguin scored his first goal of the playoffs in Game 4 and added an assist. His celebration after the third-period goal was a sign of his throwing that proverbial monkey off his back and, he hopes, of things to come. Seguin entered Game 4 with just one assist in 10 playoff games. The assist came on Patrice Bergeron's overtime winner in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, and although he had not registered a point since, he had been doing everything but getting on the score sheet. He has played among the most physical hockey of his career and is doing the little things that should lead to goals. In Game 4, his hard work finally paid off, but he also should be applauded for his persistence and determination.

Power play keeps improving -- Power-play goals by Torey Krug and Nathan Horton in the second period were the latest examples of how much better the Bruins are moving the puck and creating chances on the man-advantage. That momentum has carried into 5-on-5 play as well. In Game 1, a solid performance on the man-advantage that didn't yield a goal led to better 5-on-5 play and eventually Brad Marchand's game winner. Now the improved power play not only is generating momentum, but is generating goals, which could be a huge factor going forward.

Game 4 Reaction: Rangers 4, Bruins 3

May, 23, 2013

NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers staved off elimination with a 4-3 overtime win over the Boston Bruins in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.

The Rangers’ Chris Kreider scored the winning goal at 7:03 of the extra period.

The Bruins had an excellent chance to close out the series but surrendered a two-goal lead and could not recover from a few mental miscues. The Bruins are 3-1 in OT this postseason and the Rangers are 1-3 in the extra period.

The Rangers got goals from Carl Hagelin, Derek Stepan, Brian Boyle and Kreider while goaltender Henrik Lundqvist made 37 saves.

Boston’s power play delivered its offensive production as Nathan Horton and Torey Krug scored on the man advantage. The Bruins’ Tyler Seguin also tallied his first goal of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Boston netminder Tuukka Rask made 28 saves.

During a scoreless first period, it took the Rangers the first 6:36 before they registered a shot.

The Bruins, who entered the second period 4-for-26 on the power play during the playoffs, capitalized on the man advantage twice in the second period. First, Horton’s shot found its way through the five-hole on Lundqvist for a 1-0 lead at 4:39.

The Bruins again took advantage of the power play when Krug’s sniper-like slap shot from the point picked the top right corner for a 2-0 lead at 7:41.

With the Bruins holding a two-goal lead, MSG was a quiet building. That changed when Hagelin scored at 8:39 as the puck trickled past a sprawling Rask, who tried to recover after tripping over his own feet.

Numerous Bruins players were complaining about the ice after Game 3 and that could have been a factor as Rask appeared to catch a rut when he fell, allowing the puck to roll past him. Either way, the MSG crowd and the Rangers were given life on the goal.

But Rask remained calm and the second period ended with Boston clinging to a 2-1 lead.

Rask didn’t help his cause as the Rangers tied it at 2-2 only 1:15 into the third period. Boston’s goalie went behind the net to control the puck for defenseman Zdeno Chara, but Rask was slow in getting back into his crease and setting himself as Stepan stole the puck from Chara and scored with a wrap-around.

Seguin scored his first of the playoffs at 8:06 of the third period by not giving up on his shot. He was rewarded for his secondary effort to give the Bruins a 3-2 lead.

It didn’t last, however, as the Rangers capitalized on a Bruins too-many-men penalty when Boyle beat Rask with a shot from the slot to tie the game 3-3 at 10:00.

Kreider’s overtime tally at 7:03 forced Game 5, which will be played Saturday at 5:30 p.m. ET at TD Garden.

Three takeaways from Game 3

May, 21, 2013

The Bruins took a commanding 3-0 lead in their Eastern Conference semifinals series with the Rangers, winning Game 3 at Madison Square Garden 2-1 Tuesday night. Here are three thoughts on why the Bruins are suddenly on the verge of sweeping the Rangers and advancing to the Eastern Conference finals for the second time in three seasons:

Bruins' fourth line is a third line on most teams. Many fans and NHL media questioned when Bruins coach Claude Julien decided to sit then-rookie Tyler Seguin for Game 3 of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals in favor of veteran winger Shawn Thornton. But after Thornton went out and played a momentum-changing shift to start that game -- even challenging the Canucks' bench -- and the Bruins went on to win that game convincingly en route to their first Stanley Cup in 39 seasons, there hasn't been much second-guessing.

[+] EnlargeBoston Bruins
Bruce Bennett/Getty ImagesJohnny Boychuk (center) celebrates with Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille after scoring a big third-period goal to tie the game.
The trio of Thornton, Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille has become the best fourth line -- or energy line, as these guys like to be called -- in the NHL. And these three are a major reason the Bruins are in position to sweep the Rangers, who were preseason favorites to win the 2013 Stanley Cup.

This line helped produce Johnny Boychuk's game-winning goal in Game 2 with another high-energy shift that kept the Rangers pinned in their own zone. In Game 3, the line did it again on Boychuk's game-tying goal and then Paille lit the lamp, scoring what proved to be the game winner 16:29 into the third period. This line continues to reward Julien's faith and reward their teammates with another chance to win the Cup.

Rask helps turn momentum again. While he didn't face many shots after the first period or even after the Rangers scored their first goal, Tuukka Rask was a main reason the Bruins were trailing only 1-0 early in the second period. Rask stopped all 11 shots by the Rangers in that opening frame, with many of them coming off odd-man rushes or prime scoring chances in front. The Bruins seemed to be on their heels a bit in the opening frame as they tried to withstand the Rangers' initial surge. But Rask, as he has so many times in the playoffs and the regular season, stemmed the momentum and set up the Bruins for a chance to change the pace of the game. Rask faced only 13 shots in the final two periods, but his first-period performance helped the Bruins find their stride.

Johnny Rocket firing on all cylinders. After scoring just one goal in 44 regular-season games, Boychuk is finding the twine in the playoffs with his rocket shot. After scoring the game winner in Game 2, Boychuk tied Game 3 at one goal apiece 3:10 into the third period and now has two goals in as many games and four in the playoffs.

After Game 2, Boychuk was asked what the difference is in the playoffs and why he's starting to score more. "I'm hitting the net," the rugged defenseman said with a smile. But all kidding aside, Boychuk is reading the play and picking his spots better when he shoots. There's no doubt that, next to Zdeno Chara, he has the hardest shot on the team, but now that shot is smarter and it's paying big dividends for him and the Bruins.

Game 3 Reaction: Bruins 2, Rangers 1

May, 21, 2013
NEW YORK -- The Boston Bruins took a commanding 3-0 series lead with a 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.

The Bruins erased a 1-0 deficit and scored two unanswered goals en route to the win. Boston’s Daniel Paille scored the game-winning goal at 16:29 of the third period. In fact, the Bruins’ energy line of Paille, Shawn Thornton and Gregory Paille produced both goals for Boston in Game 3.

Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk also scored for Boston, while goaltender Tuukka Rask made 23 saves.

Taylor Pyatt scored for the Rangers, and goaltender Henrik Lundqvist made 32 saves.

[+] EnlargeHenrik Lundqvist
Bruce Bennett/Getty ImagesRangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist shut down the Bruins for more than two periods before a Johnny Boychuk wrister slipped through at 3:10 of the third.
Both teams knew a strong start would be key, and the Bruins were able to create that early pressure. In fact, it took the Rangers a minute and a half to get the puck in the Bruins’ zone.

It was also evident early that Lundqvist returned to form. The Bruins had two quality chances in the first period, but Lundqvist made two big saves. First, he stoned Boston’s Tyler Seguin on a breakaway at 11:15, and then closed the door on Jaromir Jagr on the next scoring chance. Lundqvist made a total of nine saves in the first period and kept the Rangers in the game.

While Lundqvist remained locked in, the Rangers gained a 1-0 lead in the second period when Pyatt redirected a shot past Rask at 3:53. New York capitalized on a rare miscue by Patrice Bergeron. After he first lost the draw to the right of Rask, he had an opportunity to clear the puck but handed the puck right to New York defenseman Ryan McDonagh, whose wrister from the point was redirected by Pyatt.

After the Rangers’ tally, the Bruins began a strong push but every opportunity they created Lundqvist was there to make the save.

The Bruins’ Gregory Campbell had a slap shot from point-blank range when he teed one up from the left faceoff circle, but Lundqvist snared it with a tremendous glove save at 11:36 of the period.

Two minutes later, the Bruins created sustained pressure with the help of a solid forecheck by Milan Lucic. Linemate Nathan Horton collected the puck and rang a shot off the right post at 13:26.

The second period ended with New York clinging to a one-goal lead thanks Lundqvist, but Boston outshot New York 14-6 in second.

The Bruins kept their push on and were rewarded for their efforts. Boston’s energy line was able to sustain a tight forecheck when rookie defenseman Matt Bartkowski pinched to keep the puck in the Rangers’ zone. Bruins forward Daniel Paille fed the puck back to the point for Boychuk. With Campbell and Shawn Thornton creating traffic in front of Lundqvist, Boychuk’s wrister from the left point found its way through to tie the game at 3:10 of the third. The tally was Boychuk’s fourth of the playoffs.

Boston’s energy line created another relentless forecheck that resulted in Paille’s game-winning goal.

UP NEXT: The Bruins have a chance to end this series with a victory in Game 4 Thursday night at 7 at MSG.

Fourth line happy to chip in

May, 19, 2013
BOSTON -- Bruins veteran winger Shawn Thornton predicted it. He said that he and his linemates -- Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell -- had been creating plenty of chances lately and it would pay off in this series.

“We’re due. I’m telling you, we’ve been getting lots of chances and we’re gonna get one soon,” Thornton said Saturday after practice.

He repeated his prediction to the media just prior to Game 2 on Sunday, and he turned out to be quite prophetic. Gregory Campbell roofed a backhander past Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist 2:24 into the second period of the Bruins’ 5-2 win that gave them a 2-0 series lead. The Bruins head to New York for Games 3 and 4 Tuesday and Thursday.

Of course, anyone that follows the Bruins knows just how valuable their fourth line is, and that Thornton's prediction wasn't so bold.

“Well, they create them so they know eventually they will go in,” head coach Claude Julien pointed out following the game. “When you look at last game, it’s the same thing. They didn’t necessarily score but they created a lot of chances. They’re not afraid to throw pucks at the net, they always have somebody there, and there’s loose pucks that they bang away. Their goals aren’t necessarily highlight goals, but they’re important goals as you saw tonight. And ‘Soupy’ [Campbell] did a great job there off the rebound and putting that in. So that line continues to give us some important minutes in the game. And you know, as a coaching staff we trust that line a lot, and we put them in different situations that we know they’re going to get the job done.”

For Campbell and his linemates, it was a welcome relief to finally chip in offensively and help their team. The top two lines anchored by centers David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron have been carrying the team the last two games, with Krejci’s line also doing so pretty much for all nine games in the playoffs thus far. Campbell, Thornton and Paille know they can contribute, so they were happy to light the lamp in Game 2.

“It’s a really good feeling,” Campbell said. “Krejci’s line, and Bergeron’s line of late have been relied upon heavily to produce. Those guys are filled with talent and the ability to score goals at big times, but it’s a tough job, especially when you’re playing against a real sound defensive team, and a real good goaltender, to really rely on those guys every night. Our line put some pressure on ourselves to help out in that aspect. As we get further into the playoffs, teams get better defensively, and games get closer, sometimes it’s not the usual suspects that chip in, and it has to be the other guys.”

Campbell and his linemates also appreciate the faith Julien and his staff have in them. Julien hasn’t hesitated to put them in pressure situations in past playoff seasons, and that faith hasn’t wavered.

“It’s important for the coaching staff to have confidence in us, and it goes a long way,” Campbell said. “Obviously, he reads the game, and it’s up to him whether or not he wants to put us out there against different lines, and certain matchups, and whatnot. That’s really a game within a game, the matchups the coaches are looking for. For us, it’s really important to be ready when we’re called upon, and for some guys it’s not the easiest job to sit there, and then go out, and really have to be sound defensively, and responsible. But that’s the hand that we’re dealt, and the job that we have to play. It’s nice for him to show that confidence in us, and I guess it gives us a little boost to be able to play against top guys.”

Redden, Seidenberg out for Game 2

May, 19, 2013
BOSTON -- In probably the briefest press conference of his coaching career, Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien said that injured defensemen Wade Redden (undisclosed) and Dennis Seidenberg (knee) would not play in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Sunday against the New York Rangers.

"Both of them skated this morning," Julien said Sunday. "Redds [Redden] and Seidenberg, But both won't be available today."

Expect the Bruins to use the same lineup as they did in Game 1, with the rookie blue line trio of Dougie Hamilton (assist), Torey Krug (goal) and Matt Bartkowski.

Here are the expected lines for the Bruins:

Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Jaromir Jagr
Rich Peverley-Chris Kelly-Tyler Seguin
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara-Dougie Hamilton
Matt Bartkowski-Johnny Boychuk
Torey Krug-Adam McQuaid
Tuukka Rask
Anton Khudobin

Video: Bruins vs. Rangers preview

May, 16, 2013

Joe McDonald and Katie Strang preview the Eastern Conference semifinal showdown between the Bruins and the Rangers, which kicks off tonight at 7:30 in Boston.

B's may be without key defensemen

May, 14, 2013
BOSTON -- It appears that the Bruins could be without some key veteran defensemen when they begin their Eastern Conference semifinals series with the New York Rangers on Thursday at TD Garden.

Andrew Ference (lower body) and Wade Redden (lower body) missed the Bruins' epic 5-4 overtime win over the Maple Leafs in Game 7, and Dennis Seidenberg (undisclosed injury) was only able to play 37 seconds.

On Tuesday, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli indicated to the media that the Bruins may be without Ference, Seidenberg and Redden and could have a “different look” for Thursday's game. Later in the day, the team recalled defenseman Torey Krug from Providence.

“Maybe we have a different look than we’re used to, as far as puck transporting,” Chiarelli said. “Maybe that’s a good thing, but that’s what we’re going to be. We’re calling up Torey Krug today to come along for the ride, so you may see him at a point. Those three D, if they’re in the lineup, give us a little different complexion back there.”

Chiarelli had no updates on the injured defensemen but he seemed very impressed with the progression that rookies Matt Bartkowski and Dougie Hamilton made in the Toronto series. Chiarelli also praised head coach Claude Julien for how he handled Bartkowski, who played 24:51, and Hamilton, who logged 21:08 on ice.

“I don’t have any updates. ‘Seides’ [Seidenberg], as you know, played 37 seconds last night and, obviously, is injured,” Chiarelli said. “He’s been a playoff warrior for us, so if he’s not in we’ll miss him. But I saw two really good performances in those young players, the two rookie players; that’s another testament to coaching, that they were able to integrate these two guys amongst the five D core, in ‘Bart’ [Bartkowski] and Dougie [Hamilton].”

But while Bartkowski, Hamilton and possibly Krug can bring some offense and more puck-moving skills to the Bruins' blue line, the veteran presence of Redden, Seidenberg and Ference will be sorely missed, as will the physicality that Ference and Seidenberg bring. Seidenberg has repeatedly upped the intensity in his game come playoff time and become one of the premiere shutdown defensemen in the league at this time of year. Ference, who has missed three games in the playoffs now, also becomes more physical in the playoffs.

Meanwhile, Redden has proven to be a calming influence on the younger rearguards like Hamilton and Bartkowski. But now the young core of this Bruins defense will need to step up. Captain Zdeno Chara can be counted on to eat minutes and will surely step up as he did in Game 7, but these youngsters are about to be baptized by fire against a very physical Rangers forward group.

“They play like us, these guys,” Chiarelli said of the Rangers. “Maybe a little different now that they don’t have [Marian] Gaborik. They might be a little bit deeper, but not as dynamic. They play a heavy game like us.”

Defenseman Redden out tonight

May, 10, 2013
BOSTON -- Bruins coach Claude Julien will need to tweak his defensive pairings (again) for tonight's possible series-clinching Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the Toronto Maple Leafs at TD Garden. Veteran defenseman Wade Redden will not be in the lineup due to an undisclosed injury, and he's listed as day-to-day.

Boston recalled defenseman Matt Bartkowski on Sunday night from the Providence Bruins and he participated in the Bruins' game-day skate.

Even though the Bruins have veteran Aaron Johnson available, Julien said it will either be Bartkowksi or Dougie Hamilton in the lineup tonight. Julien is trying to figure out his pairings, with Bartkowski being a left shot and Hamilton a right shot.

"We have to decide what we want to do with our pairing here," Julien said. "Once we decide that we'll know who to put in, and they've both been told that, so it'll be one of those two guys."

It's unlikely Julien would separate his top pairing of Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, which would have to happen if Hamilton is inserted. If Bartkowski plays, he could be paired with Adam McQuaid.

At the time of his recall, Bartkowski and the P-Bruins were preparing for the second round of the Calder Cup playoffs against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Providence erased a two-game deficit for a 3-2 series win against the Hershey Bears in the quarterfinals.

"After Game 4, we won in the last four minutes, that was a great feeling," explained Bartkowski. "Then winning [Game 5] was pretty special. Being down 2-0 is like being down 0-3 in a seven-game series and having to win four, so I feel pretty good right now."

Bartkowski registered five assists in the playoffs for the P-Bruins, and because he was focused on his job, he wasn't expecting a call from Boston.

"It was kind of unexpected," Bartkowski said. "I figured I'd be down there playing [in Providence]. I don't know anything about tonight yet, so I'll find out when we show up for the game."

Bartkowski spent the majority of the regular season in Providence, but played 11 regular-season games for the Bruins before he was sent back in order to get some playing time.

"It's good he's been playing and that's why we sent him down there," Julien said. "At one point, we knew what we were going to start with in the playoffs, so because we had the ability to send him down we wanted him playing for that reason, so if we needed him he wouldn't be sitting for a long time. We've got a chance to bring him in now."

Bartkowski said he glad he's been playing instead of watching from press level as a healthy scratch, something Hamilton has done in all but one game of this series.

"I think it makes a world of a difference, compared to if I was just sitting around riding the bike and bag skating, and stuff like that, so I definitely think it helps a lot," Bartkowski said.

If he does get in the lineup, Bartkowski said he won't be nervous.

"No, I don't think so," he said. "I've been playing playoff hockey down there, it's not the NHL, but it's still playoff hockey. It's still the same mentality, same style of play, and I played against Toronto in the regular season, so I'll be alright."