New York Hockey: Zdeno Chara

Rapid Reaction: Bruins 5, Rangers 2

May, 19, 2013
What it means: The Rangers are now staring down the same series deficit they faced in Round 1 after a 5-2 loss to the Bruins in Game 2, though the Bruins exhibited a killer instinct Sunday that the Capitals never seemed to possess. It was the first time this playoffs that Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist gave up more than three goals, and he'll likely be kicking himself for the scoring play that opened up the game early in the third.

On a play that was eerily similar to Thursday's overtime game-winner for the Bruins in Game 1, Boston’s Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand connected for a back-breaking goal just 26 seconds into the third period. Bergeron hit Marchand on the rush for a backdoor goal that made it 4-2. Boston's Milan Lucic extended the Bruins' lead to three goals with a tap-in at the right post later in the period.

Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi was on the ice for all five Bruins goals.

Boy oh Boy: Snapping a 2-2 draw in the second period, Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk notched his third goal of the playoffs. Marchand picked up an assist on the play with a nice drop pass to set up Boychuk at 12:08. Four of seven Boston goals this series have been scored by Bruins defensemen.

Cough it up: Just as they did in the first period, the Bruins surrendered a one-goal lead again in the second as Rick Nash scored his first goal of the 2013 playoffs less than a minute after Gregory Campbell’s backhander beat Lundqvist for a 2-1 Bruins lead. Nash beat Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara along the walls, careening in to tie the game 2-2 just 56 seconds later.

Good and the bad: The Bruins used three rookie defensemen on their blue line for the second straight game, and witnessed both the good and the bad with their youth in the first period. Former MSU standout Torey Krug, who made his NHL playoffs debut in Game 1, tallied his second goal in as many games, passing the puck to himself between the legs before beating Lundqvist for a 1-0 Bruins lead. But 19-year-old Dougie Hamilton’s defensive miscue allowed the Rangers to tie it up later in the period. Callahan pounced on a Bruins turnover and beat Hamilton to the puck along the boards before deking Rask for the Rangers’ first goal of the game at 8:01. Hamilton, Krug and Matt Bartkowski are playing on the back end in place of injured veterans Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ference and Wade Redden. Krug is making a strong case to remain in the lineup, though. The 22-year-old Michigan State product has two goals and three points in the past two games.

Brief appearance: Although coach John Tortorella made his feelings clear about Carl Hagelin’s power-play ability on Saturday (Tortorella said he “stinks” multiple times), the speedy Swedish winger made a brief appearance on the Rangers’ third man-up opportunity of the game.

Up next: Rangers vs. Bruins, Game 3, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

Torts: 'We got spanked in overtime'

May, 17, 2013
BOSTON -- John Tortorella may not be the most diplomatic, charming or verbose -- especially come playoff time -- but he has a true knack for diagnosing the team’s shortcomings and he spelled it out after the New York Rangers' 3-2 overtime loss to the Boston Bruins in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Thursday night.

"We got spanked in overtime," he said.

He was right. For as much as the Rangers played a pretty well-rounded road game with the Bruins, they got absolutely pummeled in the overtime period.

[+] EnlargeJohn Tortorella
Patrick McDermott/Getty ImagesIt took only five words for John Tortorella to summarize the Rangers' overtime loss.
Well before Patrice Bergeron set up Brad Marchand on a rush for the game winner 15:40 into OT, the Bruins dominated the Rangers with an offensive onslaught that required goaltender Henrik Lundqvist to be nothing short of perfect.

An early power play that resulted from Derek Dorsett’s interference penalty 2:20 into play allowed the Bruins to pelt the reigning Vezina Trophy winner with five shots and a post.

A strikingly different power play than the Rangers' abysmal unit -- 0-for-3 on the game, 2-for-31 in the playoffs -- the Bruins moved the puck and created a flurry of glorious chances.

New York couldn’t recover.

"We never regrouped," Tortorella said.

Entering Thursday’s series opener with back-to-back shutouts against the Washington Capitals in Round 1, Lundqvist proved he was indeed fallible.

After the game, he was left second-guessing himself on Marchand’s winner.

"There was a 2-on-1 I guess and I thought I made a bad decision," Lundqvist said. "I mean it’s a tough play, but I could play it better."

With Bergeron carrying the puck down the right wing, Marchand managed to manhandle diminutive forward Mats Zuccarello out of the way to get in front of Bergeron’s pass and tip it in past Lundqvist for the win.

"I’ve got to see the guy in the middle. I was too focused on the puck," Lundqvist explained. "I kind of knew [Marchand] was coming in the middle, but I just was too locked in on the puck, and that’s why I made a stretch move instead of coming with my pads together.

"Sooner or later when you face a lot of chances like that, you’re going to make a mistake. It’s not a mistake I’m going to sleep less over. I thought we played a solid game, but we just came up short here, in overtime, again."

Lundqvist, who made 45 saves, shouldn’t be losing sleep. He shoulders the responsibility of the Rangers’ saving grace night in and night out, but he needs help.

Overwhelmed by a furious Bruins attack -- one that included two posts and one crossbar late in the game -- the Rangers didn’t do much to help stem Boston’s surge.

"It makes it tough on our [defense], tough on everyone when we can’t get it out of our zone," captain Ryan Callahan said.

Bruins captain Zdeno Chara was the first to find an opening against Lundqvist, who was an absolute wall in wrapping up the Rangers’ first-round series against the Capitals.

Lundqvist lost track of the puck after Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton’s drive in the first, but recovered to make up for the gaffe. He couldn’t do the same on Chara’s heavy blast the next period. Chara’s shot trickled through and Lundqvist inadvertently knocked in the puck himself, ending his shutout streak at 152:23.

The Rangers tied the game with less than two seconds left in the second period on Ryan McDonagh’s first career playoff marker, and tallied another quick one on Derek Stepan’s goal 14 seconds into the third.

But, the home team responded with a power-play goal minutes later to knot the score at 2. Recently recalled defenseman Torey Krug, who drew into the lineup with a banged-up Bruins defense, unleashed a shot from the left point for the tying goal in his NHL playoff debut at 2:55.

In fact, it’s worth mentioning that all three youngsters on the Bruins' back end -- Krug, Hamilton and Matt Bartkowski -- played well in filling in for injured veterans Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ference and Wade Redden.

"They did incredible tonight," said Marchand, who finished with a goal and an assist. "Obviously, we’re really depending on those guys to step up and play big minutes, and they all did a great job tonight. We’re very happy with them."

Bruins coach Claude Julien also praised Marchand for what he called "one of his better games so far in the playoffs."

"He skated well, made some great plays, he took pucks to the net and that’s the Brad Marchand we know,” Julien said. “It was nice to see him really bring his A-game to the table tonight."

Th Rangers needed a more stout defensive effort in their own end, but they couldn’t prevent the deluge against Lundqvist, which left the reigning Vezina Trophy winner to mull what has become a worrisome Achilles' heel.

Lundqvist is now 3-11 in overtime playoff games.

Can those overtime losses pile up and plant some doubt?

"I’ve got to be really careful to ask myself the right question there, because have I played bad in overtime? No. Can I score? No. Is it frustrating? Yes," Lundqvist said. "My record is terrible in overtime, but I’ve just got to stick with it, play my game and hopefully turn it around."

Rapid Reaction: Bruins 3, Rangers 2 (OT)

May, 16, 2013
What it means: Boston's Brad Marchand scored 15:40 into overtime as the Bruins took Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Bruins dominated the overtime period in their 3-2 win over the New York Rangers, hitting a post and a crossbar before Marchand's winner. Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was stellar in preserving the tie under tremendous pressure, but he gave up the deciding goal on the Bruins' late rush that had Patrice Bergeron set up Marchand for the win.

Tie game: After a goal in the waning seconds of the middle frame, the Rangers added another quick score with Derek Stepan’s third goal of the playoffs 14 seconds into the third. The Bruins erased the Rangers’ lead minutes later with recently-recalled defenseman Torey Krug’s shot from the left point, a power-play goal in his NHL playoffs debut. With the score tied 2-2, the Bruins had a few great chances on a power-play late in the period, but Lundqvist delivered a couple of big stops, while defenseman Dan Girardi also came up with a crucial shot block on the penalty kill. Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk hit the post with less than a second left.

Last-ditch effort: Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh capitalized on Tyler Seguin’s turnover, unleashing a blast from the left point that beat Tuukka Rask and knotted the score at 1 with just 1.3 seconds left in the second period. Center Derick Brassard earned an assist on the play; he now has 10 points in the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Trickle through: Lundqvist barely recovered in time after losing track of Dougie Hamilton’s drive in the first period, and he got burned when the same happened with Bruins captain Zdeno Chara at 12:23 of the second. Lundqvist couldn’t handle the shot and allowed the puck to trickle through before inadvertently knocking it in himself, ending his shutout streak at 152:23.

Scary sight: Boston defenseman Johnny Boychuk appeared down for the count after absorbing an awkward hit from Taylor Pyatt that sandwiched his head into the glass in the second period. Boychuk returned soon after, however, a relief to the Bruins considering the injuries sustained on their blue line.

Getting an ear-ful: Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto went down late in the first period after taking a puck to the left ear on Patrice Bergeron’s deflected shot. Del Zotto, who hit the crossbar midway through the first for the Rangers’ best scoring chance of the period, was able to skate off on his own but he headed straight for the trainer’s room. Del Zotto returned to start the second period, showing no ill effects after the intermission.

Banged-up blue line: The Bruins were without three veterans on their back end to start the series -- Dennis Seidenberg (lower-body), Andrew Ference (lower-body) and Wade Redden (undisclosed) -- as Boston deployed three youngsters on its blue line instead. Hamilton, Krug and Matt Bartkowski drew into the Bruins' lineup to replace the injured trio.

Up Next: Game 2, Rangers at Bruins, Sunday at 3 p.m.

Salvador, Kovalchuk day-to-day

April, 11, 2013
The New Jersey Devils received some good news Thursday, as it was announced that x-rays on captain Bryce Salvador's wrist turned out negative.

The veteran defenseman, who has been banged up recently, left Wednesday's 5-4 loss to Boston after being hit by a shot from Boston's Zdeno Chara in the second period. He did not return to the game.

According to coach Pete DeBoer, Salvador is day-to-day. That's a relief considering the Devils will be without fellow blue-liner Anton Volchenkov Friday when they host the Senators in a critical match.

Volchenkov earned a four-game suspension for his elbow on Boston's Brad Marchand Wednesday night. The 31-year-old, who was previously suspended for elbowing Carolina's Zach Boychuck back in February 2011, earned a five-minute major and game misconduct on the play. Marchand, who had to be helped off the ice, did not return to the game.

Ilya Kovalchuk, who has been out with a shoulder injury since last month, is also day-to-day, according to DeBoer though his return date remains unclear.

Kovalchuk said he experienced some discomfort when attempting one-timers for the first time in two-and-a-half weeks and sounded non-committal when asked about playing Friday.

"We'll see," he said. "I don't know."

The star winger will likely not be 100% when he comes back, but he said he does not want to take somebody else's spot in the lineup unless he feels he can contribute.

"I just don't want to be a passenger, just sitting on the bench," Kovalchuk said. "Just want to make sure, physically, I feel fine."

Kovalchuk admitted, however, that the team's eight-game winless streak does have an impact on how he feels about coming back.

"Yeah, obviously," he said. "Eight games left and we're four points behind, so it's not a situation where we want to be, but, like I said, I don't want to just go out there because of that. You want to go out there to help the team. If you're going too take somebody's spot that's 100% me that doesn't make any sense."

All throughout the lineup, the floundering Devils are hobbled. Backup netminder Johan Hedberg sat out Wednesday's game with "soreness." According to DeBoer, the team won't know until Friday morning whether Hedberg will be available to back up or whether they will use emergency recall Keith Kinkaid in that spot.

Second-year defenseman Adam Larsson took a hard shot off the right foot Wednesday, but said he is ready to go. Although his foot swelled up considerably Wednesday night, Larsson said he was feeling much better Friday.

"I'm ready to play, so hopefully I'll play tomorrow," he said.

Devils not going streaking

November, 16, 2010
The Devils managed to elude another opportunity to post their first winning streak of the season, getting smothered by the Bruins, 3-0, Monday night.

Game Story | Box Score

Martin Brodeur was not in his usual fine form, giving up a bad angle goal with the Devils down two men in the first, then beaten by two wrist shots from the tops of the circles. Not that it mattered, considering the Devils couldn’t mount a single goal against human wall Tim Thomas and a Boston blue line led by Zdeno Chara.

Here’s a glimpse of the Devils media landscape after the loss.

Morning Links

W2W4: Devils vs. Bruins

November, 15, 2010
The Devils try to turn their OT win over the Oilers into an honest-to-goodness winning streak Monday night in Boston as the Devils take on the Bruins.

The win over the Oil was a welcome sight, but now the Devils hit a tough patch in their schedule. A three-game roadie also takes them to Toronto and St. Louis this week, and is followed by a visit from the Washington Capitals. The hole New Jersey has put itself in means that the Devils will need to start beating some of the elite teams on the schedule from here on out; just topping the stragglers like Toronto won’t be good enough.

Fortunately for the Devils, the team’s offense has been clicking in the past two contests, with a combined eight goals. With Ilya Kovalchuk back in the goal column, perhaps the Devils are ready to turn the page. Here are three keys to track in Beantown tonight.

Breakout or Fake Out?
Has New Jersey’s goal-scoring finally come to life or were the past two games simply a function of playing two of the league’s worst defensive teams? The Oilers allow a league-high four goals per game, while the Sabres sit at 3.17. The Bru Crew will offer a much stiffer test with the second-best goals-allowed average in the NHL. If the Devils can light the lamp more than three times tonight it will be a great sign that the offense is finally clicking.

The Injury Bug
The Devils will skate without Jamie Langenbrunner who’s still sore after going headfirst into the boards against Buffalo. They’ll also miss Matt Taormina who hurt his ankle in practice over the weekend. The rookie has been one of the Devils’ best defensemen this season, capable of moving the puck out of the defensive zone. Matt Corrente could be ready to go tonight however after sustaining a non-displaced fracture in his left hand.

The blueline has been better but not great. Buffalo worked some prolonged cycles in the New Jersey zone and the Oilers snagged a 3-1 lead before the Devils rallied. Give up a quick goal or two to the Bruins and their staunch D and it could be over early.

Chara vs. Kovalchuk
In the “game within the game” department, it will be interesting to see how the Devils try to get Kovalchuk away from imposing hulk Zdeno Chara. You can expect the blue line behemoth will be matched up on the Devils' top offensive threat every shift, which should produce a very interesting battle between the players as well as the coaches.