Bruins versus Pens

Bruins have struggled in ‘closeout’ opportunities


For all the good things the Boston Bruins have done in the playoffs in recent years — and there are many — one thing they’ve struggled with is closing out an opponent.

In fact, in the last four years, the Bruins are 7-11 with an opportunity to win a round, as they can tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins at TD Garden.

Granted, four of those 11 losses came in one series against the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010, and the Bruins exorcised those demons the next year by winning it all.

This year, though, they very nearly blew a 3-1 series lead versus the Maple Leafs in the first round, and, while this may fall under the category of nitpicking, they couldn’t complete the sweep of the Rangers in the second round.

Naturally, Bruins coach Claude Julien was asked this morning about “another closeout opportunity” and how his team needs to play against a Pens side that will be fighting for its survival.

“I think we know how we need to play,” said Julien. “It’s about bringing it tonight.

“This is about one game. It’s nothing more than about one game, what we need to do here. So we try and minimize all the hoopla around everything and keep it to the one game, how we need to play.

“I mentioned yesterday that we didn’t play our best game last game. They played better. So we need to be a better team tonight.”

For what it’s worth, the last time the Penguins found themselves in an 0-3 hole with Game 4 on the road — in the first round of last year’s playoffs — they hammered the Flyers, 10-3, then went home and won Game 5.

Yes, they still lost the series, but they sure made it interesting.

Blues’ Shattenkirk suffers lower-body injury

Kevin Shattenkirk
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This hasn’t been the best night for St. Louis sports fans.

Obviously, the MLB’s Cardinals getting bounced from the playoffs is a bigger deal, but the Blues face bad news, too.

While they’re currently leading the Calgary Flames by a score of 4-3, they’ll need to hang on without Kevin Shattenkirk, whose night is over thanks to a lower-body injury.

There’s no word yet on how severe the issue might be.

Naturally, the Blues must hope that it’s minor, as Shattenkirk is one of the NHL’s truly underrated assets on the blueline.

Stephanie (@MyRegularFace) tracked down a moment when the injury may have happened:

It’s not all rosy for the Flames, either, as Lance Bouma suffered an injury as well.

Measure of revenge? Red Wings bottle Lightning


In some ways, it really felt like their first-round series.

For all the talent on both ends of the rink with the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning, each squad can really smother opponents defensively when things go that way.

Through two periods, the two teams were very quiet. Things really picked up when Justin Abdelkader unleashed a big hit, a moment that injected enough life into the proceedings for the Red Wings to eventually build a 3-1 win.

Maybe they’re slipping under the radar a bit compared to previous iterations of the team, but it’s interesting that the Red Wings are now undefeated in three games.

They’ve been impressive at times, too, outscoring opponents by a combined score of 11-4.

Call it a refreshing time after Mike Babcock or merely carryover from a subtly solid run last season, but either way, the Red Wings may just be able to keep up their end of a brewing rivalry.