Andrew Ference

Bruins’ Ference wants to play, but it’s coach’s decision

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Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference is champing at the bit to get back into the team’s lineup. While he resumed skating with the team this week, he hasn’t officially been cleared to play. That isn’t slowing down his desire to play, however.

Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com hears from Ference about his desire to get in and help the team take on the Penguins.

“Everybody wants to be in the mix, and you can contribute in many different ways. You can be positive and supportive, and there’s more than what happens on the ice,” said Ference. “We’re a room that gets it, and that’s why we’ve had continued success. When you look at the playoffs, it’s more than what you do on the ice.”

When asked if he could play in Game 1, Ference told reporters, as ESPNBoston.com’s Joe McDonald shares, “I have no idea. That’s not my call.” Will Julien go with him? He wasn’t divulging that information.

“That’s the thing I’ll have to deal with when the time comes,” Julien said at today’s press conference. If Ference doesn’t go tonight, chances are good we’ll see him at some point before this series is over with.

Bruins’ Chara not giving away the ‘game plan’ against Penguins

Boston Bruins vs Pittsburgh Penguins
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Just how are the Boston Bruins going to slow down Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins?

It’s a really good question, and be sure the Bruins have formulated a plan.

Are they going to tell any of us what it is prior to its deployment? Apparently not.

“I’m not talking about what the game plan is. Sorry,” said Bruins’ captain Zdeno Chara, as he spoke to reporters Friday, prior to Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final against the Penguins.

The challenge facing the Bruins – the 2011 Stanley Cup champions – is shutting down the highest scoring team in these playoffs.

Two years ago, they kept the Vancouver Canucks in check on their way to the ultimate championship.

The Penguins are averaging 4.27 goals per game in these playoffs, and Crosby is atop at the top of the league in goals and not far off the league lead in points.

Perhaps the key to shutting down the Penguins will be the ability for Bruins’ coach Claude Julien to match lines, especially on the road.

That’s easier said than done.

“Sometimes you have to have trust in your lines that they can do the job and then we have seen that on our team where our fourth line has been paired up against the other team’s top line,” said Julien, “and they know who is out there when they are out there and they make sure that they do the job properly and don’t give them scoring chances.”

Eastern Conference final team capsules: Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins logo
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A rundown of the Bruins (28-14-6) , who entered the playoffs as the No. 4 seed.

68th appearance

6 Stanley Cup titles (1929, 1939, 1941, 1970, 1972, 2011)

Studs:

  • David Krejci: 17 points (leads NHL)
  • Nathan Horton: +14 (leads NHL)
  • Milan Lucic: 55 hits (5th in NHL)
  • “HuLK Line” (Horton – Lucic – Krejci): combined 13 goals, 26 assists, 39 points
  • Patrice Bergeron: 63.5% faceoffs (leads NHL)
  • Torey Krug: 4 goals (1st four NHL goals)
  • Johnny Boychuk: 4 goals, 45 blocked shots (leads NHL)
  • Zdeno Chara: 29:13 ice time per game (2nd in NHL)
  • “Merlot Line” (Daniel Paille – Gregory Campbell – Shawn Thornton): 5 goals, 8 assists, 13 points
  • Team: 57.5% on faceoffs (leads NHL)
  • Team: 474 hits (2nd in NHL)

Duds:

  • Chris Kelly: 0 points, -6 (worst on team)
  • Jaromir Jagr: 0 goals on 36 shots
  • Tyler Seguin: 1 goal on 45 shots
  • 3rd line (Rich Peverley – Kelly – Seguin): combined 2 goals, 3 assists, 5 points
  • Team: 81.1% on penalty kill, 30-for-37 (8th in NHL)
  • Team: 144 giveaways (most in NHL)

Stanley Cup winners with 2011 Bruins (17 players, 4 coaches):

  • Patrice Bergeron, Johnny Boychuk, Gregory Campbell, Zdeno Chara (captain), Andrew Ference, Nathan Horton, Chris Kelly, David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Adam McQuaid, Daniel Paille, Rich Peverley, Tuukka Rask, Dennis Seidenberg, Tyler Seguin, Shawn Thornton, Claude Julien (head coach), Doug Houda (asst), Doug Jarvis, Geoff Ward (asst), Bob Essensa (asst)

Cup winners with other franchises (4 players, 1 coach):

  • Jaromir Jagr (1991, 1992 Penguins), Jay Pandolfo (2000, 2003 Devils), Shawn Thornton (also with 2007 Ducks), Doug Jarvis (1976-79 Canadiens as player; 1999 Stars as asst coach)

Seeking first Cup, have played or coached one+ playoff game this postseason (6):

  • Matt Bartkowski, Kaspars Daugaviņš, Dougie Hamilton, Anton Khudobin (back-up goalie), Torey Krug, Wade Redden

Seeking 2013 postseason debut:

  • Anton Khudobin (14 regular-season games), Aaron Johnson (10), Carl Soderberg (6), Niklas Svedberg (0)

Most career playoff …

  • Games: Jaromir Jagr, 192 (22nd all-time, NHL) … with three more games, will move into 20th
  • Goals: Jaromir Jagr, 78 (11th all-time, NHL)
  • Points: Jaromir Jagr, 193 (6th all-time, NHL)

Last playoff …

  • Hat trick: David Krejci, May 8, 2013 (at Maple Leafs, Game 4, ECQF)
  • 4-point game: Zdeno Chara (4 assists), May 8, 2013 (at Maple Leafs, Game 4, ECQF)
  • Short-handed goal: Daniel Paille, May 6, 2013 (at Maple Leafs, Game 3, ECQF)
  • Fight: Shawn Thornton, May 25, 2013 (Derek Dorsett, vs. Rangers, Game 5, ECSF)
  • Shutout: Tim Thomas, April 12, 2012 (vs. Capitals, Game 1, ECQF)

Milestones:

  • With three games played, Jaromir Jagr (192) will move into the top-20 in NHL all-time playoff games (194, Paul Coffey) … with one goal, Jagr (78) will move into the NHL top-10 in all-time playoff goals (79, Jean Beliveau) … with four points, Jagr (193) will become fifth on the NHL all-time playoff scoring list (196, Paul Coffey)
  • Jaromir Jagr (41) could become the seventh player over the age of 40 to lift the Stanley Cup in the Post-Expansion Era (Raymond Bourque, 2001; Chris Chelios, 2002 & 2008; Igor Larionov, 2002; Dave Andreychuk, 2004; Dominik Hasek, 2008; Mark Recchi, 2011)
  • With one goal, David Krejci (25 career goals) will tie Bobby Orr and Robert Schmautz for the 11th most in Bruins franchise history
  • With three postseason wins, Tuukka Rask (15) will move past Gilles Gilbert for 5th in goaltending wins in Bruins franchise history
  • Wade Redden is one of two active players among the conference finalists’ rosters who have played 1,000+ regular-season games, but never won a Stanley Cup (Jarome Iginla, Penguins, 1,232)
  • Matt Bartkowski (22nd game) & Torey Krug (4th game) each scored their 1st career NHL goals in these playoffs … Krug scored four in total on Vezina finalist Henrik Lundqvist (NYR), only the second time a rookie defenseman has scored four or more times in a playoff series (Andy Delmore, 5, Flyers, 2000)

2012-13 season

  • Longest win streak: 6 (February 17 – March 2)
  • Longest winless streak: 4 (April 11 – 20)

Biggest storylines of season & postseason:

  • Tuukka Rask proves he’s a suitable #1 goaltender after the abrupt departure of 2-time Vezina Trophy and 2011 Conn Smythe Trophy winner, Tim Thomas
  • Bruins go the entire season without being shut out for only the fifth time in franchise history … they have not been shut out through the first two playoff rounds
  • April 17: Bruins host emotional game vs. Sabres following the tragic Boston Marathon bombings
  • May 13: Bruins come back from 4-1 deficit in final 10:42 to survive in overtime in Game 7 vs. Maple Leafs, 5-4

Award finalists:

  • Frank J. Selke Trophy (Top defensive forward): Patrice Bergeron

Despite missing six games with a concussion, Bergeron had 32 points (10 goals, 22 assists), was a +24 (6th in NHL), won 62.1% of his faceoffs (best in NHL) while taking 35.6% of his team’s faceoffs, and had 23 takeaways.

  • Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy (Perseverance and dedication to hockey): Adam McQuaid

McQuaid’s season was in serious doubt before it even started when he was diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, which causes blood clots in the body. He played in 32 games, registering 62 hits and 43 blocked shots.

European League champions (lockout)

  • Johnny Boychuk (EC Red Bull Salzburg – Austria), Tuukka Rask (HC Plzen – Czech Republic)

Five Q’s: Penguins-Bruins preview

Sidney Crosby and Patrice Bergeron
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How will the Bruins defend the Penguins?

Pittsburgh has been far and away the highest-scoring team in the 2013 playoffs. In 11 games, the Penguins have averaged 4.27 goals, more than a goal more than the sec0nd-best offensive team, Boston (3.17). Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin will be the two main areas of focus for the Bruins, with Patrice Bergeron, one of the best defensive forwards in the game, likely getting the Crosby assignment, and Zdeno Chara, one of the top shutdown defensemen, getting Malkin’s line (that also includes James Neal and Jarome Iginla). “You play this game to play against the best,” said Bergeron. “This is going to be a great challenge.”

Are the Penguins really the obvious favorites?

Boston forward Brad Marchand seems to think they are: “Obviously, they are the favorites. They have some guys that are very skilled and very talented, and they have the two best players in the world…and then you add Iginla.” But there are other areas where the Bruins may have an advantage. Despite all the goals the Penguins have scored in the playoffs, they’ve looked lost in their own end at times, particularly in the first round against the Islanders. The Bruins have big, powerful forwards that can make it tough on defenders to gain control and break the puck out, so that will be a challenge for Kris Letang and the rest of Pittsburgh’s blue-liners. Also, while Tomas Vokoun has played extremely well in relief of Marc-Andre Fleury in goal, nobody would be shocked if Boston’s Tuukka Rask outplayed his 36-year-old counterpart in this series.

Can the Bruins stay out of the box?

They’d be wise to try, given Pittsburgh’s power play has scored 13 times in the playoffs. Boston has been relatively disciplined through the first two rounds, but the skill and strength of the Pittsburgh forwards often leads teams to commit fouls against them. The Penguins may also try to goad the Bruins into retaliatory penalties. “Discipline is going to be a must in this series because they thrive on their power plays, and somehow they seem to get some every game,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “We know how things are with us as far as a team. It’s tough to get power plays and we end up killing more than we end up having, power plays. We’re going to have to be extremely disciplined.”

Which deadline addition will make the biggest difference — Jarome Iginla or Jaromir Jagr?

A storyline made even more interesting after Iginla chose Pittsburgh over Boston. (Oh, and didn’t Jagr play for the Penguins at one time?) Based purely on goals and assists, the former Calgary captain has been the better player in the postseason. Iginla has scored four times and added eight helpers, while Jagr is still waiting for his first tally and has just four assists. To be fair, though, Jagr has been skating with less offensively gifted linemates for much of the playoffs, and he hasn’t had the best of luck, failing to ripple the mesh despite 36 shots. “I think it’s unfortunate that his numbers don’t reflect his play,” Julien said.

Can Torey Krug keep doing what he did against the Rangers?

The AHL call-up extraordinaire scored four times in the second round, three of them on the power play, which had been an area of extreme concern for the Bruins. “We’ve watched him play, we’ve watched the tape,” said Pens coach Dan Bylsma, “but he adds an element to the team that really hasn’t been an element for the Boston Bruins over the last couple of years, even going back to their Stanley Cup year. The element for him, skating for his team in the neutral zone that he’s added the last series, him at the blue line, his mobility across the blue line, his shot, that’s something we haven’t quite seen.”

 

Penguins in five over the Bruins, predicts anonymous NHL coach

Pens-Bruins
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An anonymous Eastern Conference coach believes the Pittsburgh Penguins will beat the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference finals, thus advancing to the Stanley Cup Final, according to the Toronto Sun.

That coach – who could it be? – called the Penguins in five games, too.

Here’s a snippet of what the mystery bench boss told the Toronto Sun.

“I think both teams are very deep at forward and I think the Penguins have the scoring depth as far as the number of goals. That gives them a bit of an advantage.

“Where the Bruins are strong is in the number of guys who can play a 200-foot game. They are very good systemically. The big factor is going to be Pittsburgh’s ability to continue generating offence and who is going to be able to establish their game how often and for how long.”

Of course, the Bruins and their fans might think otherwise. And be sure to click here for a video preview of the Eastern final from ProHockeyTalk’s own Mike Halford and Jason Brough.

The Penguins, who also won out on the Jarome Iginla sweepstakes over Boston prior to the trade deadline, did sweep the season series, going 3-0-0 against the Bruins.

All three games, however, were decided by one goal, as pointed out by Tim Wharnsby of CBC in his Eastern Conference final preview.