Brendan Gallagher

PHT Morning Skate: Bruins ready to fight back vs. Habs tonight


The Pittsburgh Penguins once again cleanly beat the Rangers to push New York to the brink of elimination. While the Rangers try to figure out how they can turn the tide, we have two more playoff games ahead of us tonight.

Game 4: Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens [Montreal leads series 2-1] (7:30 p.m. ET — NBCSN)

Boston scored seven goals in the third periods of their first two games versus Montreal. The Canadiens would not permit any late game heroics on Tuesday.

The Bruins were held to just seven shots on goal in the final 20 minutes and while Jarome Iginla did scored with 2:16 minutes remaining, Montreal still went on to earn a 4-2 victory.

Goaltender Tuukka Rask lamented after the game that the Bruins “made stupid mistakes” while coach Claude Julien felt their start wasn’t good enough to give them a chance to win.

The silver lining is that help might be on the way for the Bruins. Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg feels good enough to return from a torn ACL, although that doesn’t necessarily mean that he will play soon. As upbeat as he is, he reportedly hasn’t been cleared for contact yet.

On the other side, the Canadiens were angry that Milan Lucic appeared to spear defenseman Alexei Emelin.

Lucic and Emelin have a long-standing rivalry, so we’ll have to see if that battle escalates as we get deeper into the series.

Game 3: Anaheim Ducks vs. Los Angeles Kings [Los Angeles leads series 2-0] (10:00 p.m. ET — NBCSN)

The Kings have won six straight games, but they want to avoid getting too comfortable. After all, they know better than most just how quickly a series can turn.

“Coming home having that 2-0 lead, you want to have that killer instinct too, and that right attitude, that right mind-set to win in front of your own fans,” Kings forward Jarret Stoll told the Los Angeles Times.

The Ducks are going into this contest with a similar attitude and it obviously shouldn’t be hard for them to view this as a must-win game. In order for Anaheim to turn this series around though, the team needs to find a way to beat Jonathan Quick. So far the Kings goaltender has turned aside 69 of 72 shots.

“He’s seeing a lot of pucks. We need to get in his eyes, get in his head a bit,” forward Patrick Maroon said. “We need to crash and bang, go to the net. We need all 20 of us. It’s what we’ve been doing all year.”

If they fail to do that tonight, the Ducks will have no recourse but to try and give the Kings a taste of their own medicine by overcoming a 3-0 series deficit.

Bruins need more from ‘KIL Line,’ especially Krejci

Montreal Canadiens v Boston Bruins - Game Two

Boston Bruins center David Krejci was starting to develop a reputation for making significant leaps from nice regular season offensive production to elite work in the playoffs. If this postseason’s trends continue, his two breakout playoff runs may instead be branded as anomalies.

A Killer regular season

Oddly enough, Krejci is struggling to score – zero goals, just three assists in eight postseason games – after enjoying the best regular season of his NHL career. Krejci set a new career-high with 69 points in 2013-14 as his “KIL Line” with Jarome Iginla and Milan Lucic often terrorized opposing defenses.

Iginla had 30 goals and 61 points, Krejci generated 19 tallies among his 69 points and Lucic produced 24 goals and 59 points. While none of them were point-per-game players, the trio was a real handful to deal with and scored important goals; they combined for an impressive 19 game-winners this season.

You can quibble about Iginla, 36, and Lucic, 25, experiencing their ups and downs during this postseason, yet they’ve been productive. Lucic assisted on Iginla’s 3-2 goal from Game 3 that at least gave the Bruins a shot at tying things up and both power forwards already have a game-winner apiece in these playoffs.

One may even argue that Lucic has been as good as ever in the postseason, at least on paper; the forceful power forward is just a step short of a point-per-game with seven in eight.

The good and the bad for Krejci

So, really, it’s tough not to turn the focus toward Krejci.

While there are some signs that things are getting better, the Bruins would surely like to see more from him. The good news is that all three of the 28-year-old’s playoff points came in the last five games. He provided some optimistic words to before Game 3, too:

“I feel great,” Krejci said. “I feel like I’ve been skating well and controlling the game for the most part. The puck isn’t going in the net for me, but as long as my lineys are hot – or my teammates – it’s all good.”

As the piece notes, he’s also drawn the unenviable matchups of frequently facing off against strong centers in Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Plekanec.

So, long story short, there are reasons to believe that Krejci’s name will end up in the right spots on box scores more often going forward. Still, there’s little denying that his team expects as much and that his critics will only start to pile up if the points start to trickle in.

NBC’s Mike Milbury provided the “KIL Line” with a fair critique after Game 3, for one:

Krejci’s situation isn’t as dire as three points in eight games might indicate, but at some point, he’ll need to break through or face some serious heat … especially if Boston’s overall situation doesn’t improve.

Bruins ‘just made stupid mistakes’ in Game 3 loss to Habs

Boston Bruins v Montreal Canadiens - Game Three

Tuesday’s playoff game between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens proved an interesting case study on the topic of momentum in a series.

Based on their roaring comeback to win Game 2, you’d think the Bruins would start to roll on their Original Six adversaries. Didn’t happen that way, as the series shifted back to Montreal. The Habs built up a 2-0 lead after the first period – P.K. Subban scored a beautiful breakaway goal seconds after his penalty expired – and led by three goals at one point.

The Bruins did their best to come back, like they had done in the first two games of this series, with Jarome Iginla making it a one-goal game with just over two minutes remaining in regulation. But time ran out on them in a 4-2 loss. The Canadiens now lead the series 2-1.

“I don’t think we played bad; we just made stupid mistakes,” said Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, as per Chris Johnston of Sportsnet.

Bruins head coach Claude Julien wasn’t particularly happy with his team’s start on the road.

“Our team wasn’t good enough at the start to give ourselves a chance here,” said Julien, as per Conor McKenna of TSN 690.