Turtle Wax Weekend Recap: Bruins frustrate Pens, ‘Hawks chase Quick

Saturday and Sunday proved to be very interesting in terms of opening up the Eastern and Western Conference finals.

In the East, the underdog Bruins jumped out to a 1-0 series lead and stole home ice advantage thanks to a 3-0 win over Pittsburgh at Consol Energy Center on Saturday.

The Bruins did it in their usual fashion — hard checking, asserting physicality — a strategy that really seemed to work.

The Penguins hadn’t been shutout in 96 games since the Toronto Maple Leafs did it on Feb. 1, 2012, and hadn’t been blanked in a playoff game since a 1-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of their first-round series in 2011.

The Bruins also managed to goad the Penguins in 28 total penalty minutes on the night, including a second period that ended with the unlikeliest of players — Evgeni Malkin — engaging in a fight with Boston’s Patrice Bergeron.

Out West, the ‘Hawks took a commanding 2-0 series lead over the Kings with back-to-back wins at the United Center.

In doing so, Chicago may have figured out the key to this entire playoff: How to beat Jonathan Quick. The Kings goalie, who has been virtually unbeatable this postseason, looked flat in allowing six goals on 47 shots before being yanked in favor of Jonathan Bernier in Game 2.

Quick allowed four total goals in Game 2, which was a rarity — the last time he had allowed four goals in a postseason affair was April 25, 2011, when the San Jose Sharks needed overtime in Game 6 of the conference quarterfinals to eliminate the Kings.

“Whoever is shooting the puck, we feel as a team that we have the confidence that it’s going to go in at some point,” Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. “So we’ll keep shooting the puck, creating those chances and trying to take his [Quick’s] confidence away.”

The Morning Skate: Will Vokoun, Penguins rebound vs. Bruins?

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 14: Tomas Vokoun #92 of the Pittsburgh Penguins makes a save in the second period against the Ottawa Senators in Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Consol Energy Center on May 14, 2013 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Penguins defeated the Senators 4-1. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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A quick look at the Eastern Conference finals and notes from Chicago’s impressive win against L.A., including Corey Crawford’s NHL first.

Game 2: No. 4 Boston Bruins at No. 1 Pittsburgh, 8 p.m. ET (on NBCSN and live online) – Bruins lead series, 1-0

After a surprisingly dominant performance in Game 1, the Bruins will look to take a firm grip of their Eastern Conference Final series when they meet the Penguins tonight at Consol Energy Center.

In the series opener, David Krejci scored two goals (his first two since posting a hat trick in Game 4 of the Bruins’ Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series vs. the Maple Leafs), linemate Nathan Horton added another, and Tuukka Rask stopped all 29 Penguins shots for his first-career postseason shutout. The Penguins got nine shots on goal combined from top centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but the team as a whole appeared unfocused and largely frustrated by the Bruins for the last two periods. The captain told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the gameplan shouldn’t change too much in Game 2: “We have to do a lot of the same things. If anything, just eliminate a couple of mistakes and make sure our focus is in the right place.”

Coach Dan Bylsma was coy in his off-day press conference yesterday when referencing his starting goaltender. Tomas Vokoun was shaky at times in Game 1, allowing three goals on 30 shots, but there is no indication that Marc-Andre Fleury (the backup since Game 5 of the first round) will step in. Vokoun won two of the three regular-season meetings vs. the Bruins.

Despite not getting a goal from a defenseman for the first time in seven games, the performance of the Bruins’ defensive unit was exceptional in Game 1. The blueline corps, already boasting depth, was bolstered by the return of veteran Andrew Ference, who logged 17:27 after missing seven games with a foot injury.

DID YOU KNOW?

Only one team, the 1944-45 Detroit Red Wings, have lost Games 1 & 2 at home in a NHL semifinal or conference final, and gone on to win the series. The Wings’ opponent that postseason was the Boston Bruins.

WHO ON EARTH IS … TUUKKA RASK?

Mention Bruins trade acquisitions from Toronto, and most people will think of the first-round draft picks that became Tyler Seguin (2010) and Dougie Hamilton (2011), in exchange for Phil Kessel. Even more valuable during the Bruins’ 2013 playoff run, however, has been #1 goaltender Tuukka Rask, who was acquired from Leafs Nation in 2006 for fellow goalie Andrew Raycroft. This postseason, Rask is 9-4, with a 2.06 GAA, .933 save % and his first-ever playoff shutout in the Eastern Conference Final opener.

Rask served as the Bruins’ backup to Tim Thomas in 2011, and got his “Day with the Cup” in his hometown of Savonlinna, Finland, a town best known regionally for its abundance of lakes and annual summer opera festival. The 26-year-old netminder assumed the starting gig in 2012 when Thomas decided to take a leave of absence. During the lockout, he went to the Czech Republic and suited up for eventual Extraliga champions HC Plzeň, making it a possibility that he plays for two champions in one season.

In his off-day press conference yesterday, Bruins coach Claude Julien used the words “stable” and “normal” to describe Rask, as opposed to Thomas the “battler.” Judging by the meaning of his last name in the official languages of his home country, the 6’3”, 169-lb. goalie can be characterized in other ways. Rask means “quick” in Swedish, and raskas means “heavy” in Finnish. He has done some heavy lifting this postseason.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Chicago 4, Los Angeles 2 (Blackhawks lead series, 2-0)

The Blackhawks jumped out to a 4-0 lead on goals by Andrew Shaw, Brent Seabrook, Bryan Bickell and Michal Handzus, and cruised to a 4-2 win over the Kings in Game 2 to take a two-games-to-none series lead. Defending Conn Smythe Trophy winner Jonathan Quick was pulled for only the second time in 47 career postseason appearances after giving up all four goals in the first 29:20 of the game. Quick had gone an NHL-record 34 straight playoff games (since April 25, 2011) without allowing more than three goals before tonight. On the other side of the ice, Corey Crawford made 29 saves to become this postseason’s first 10-game winner.

The Kings’ leading scorer, Mike Richards (10 points), was scratched after pregame warmups with an upper-body injury sustained late in Game 1 on a hit by the Blackhawks’ Dave Bolland. Richards was replaced by rookie Tyler Toffoli, who contributed with a goal and an assist in the loss.

The series moves to Los Angeles for Game 3 on Tuesday evening, on NBCSN. The Kings are a perfect 7-0 at Staples Center this postseason, outscoring their opponents, 18-8.

Player Team

Games

Last goal

Rob Scuderi Penguins/Kings

68

2009 ECQF, Game 3 (April 19, 2009) w/PIT
Shawn Thornton Bruins

55

2009 ECQF, Game 3 (April 20, 2009)
Michal Rozsival Rangers/Coyotes/Blackhawks

45

2008 ECQF, Game 5 (April 18, 2008) w/NYR
Niklas Hjalmarsson Blackhawks

44

2010 WCQF, Game 5 (April 24, 2010)
Mark Eaton Penguins

33

2009 ECSF, Game 6 (May 11, 2009)
Jarret Stoll Kings

24

2012 WCQF, Game 5 (April 22, 2012)
Matt Cooke Penguins

23

2010 ECSF, Game 2 (May 2, 2010)
Viktor Stalberg Blackhawks

22

2011 WCQF, Game 2 (April 15, 2011)

LINKS

  • Matt Cooke faces the music for his hit on Adam McQuaid [CBC]
  • Angry birds crash in series opener [Postmedia News]
  • Penguins need to control emotions, faceoffs [Globe and Mail]
  • Corey Crawford adds new role in Game 2 win [CSN Chicago]

Bruins coach Julien wants to see players avoid vulnerable positions

McQuaid
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We’re used to coaches passionately defending their players following controversial hits. Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien didn’t do that after Penguins forward Matt Cooke knocked defenseman Adam McQuaid into the boards from behind.

In fact, before Julien seemed to be more focused on what the victims of such hits can do to avoid being hurt in the future.

“And I’ve said it before, and I’m certainly not going to change my mind because it happened to one of our players, but I’ve always said that we have to educate our players to not put themselves in vulnerable positions,” Julien told the Boston Globe. “And I’m not talking necessarily about last night, I’m talking about those kind of things that are happening and right now.

“Because the rule says you can’t hit somebody from behind. Sometimes we take advantage of that rule, and it’s dangerous.

“And in order to make our game better, I think it’s gotta come from both sides. Players gotta understand that there’s somebody coming and don’t put yourself in vulnerable position. But the player hitting, have to be aware of it. And I’ve been an advocate of that a long time and I still believe in it.”

Julien added that he wasn’t “convinced [Cooke’s hit was] a suspendable thing.”

The question of whether or not McQuaid specifically put himself in a vulnerable position was raised with the blueliner.

“I don’t know why anybody would want to put themselves in a [vulnerable] position, or would want [to get hit from behind],” McQuaid said, according to CSN New England. “If that’s the way people saw it, then they’re entitled to their own opinion.”

Furthermore, McQuaid just wants to put this incident behind him going into Game 2 tonight.

“There’s so many things to focus on and get ready for and we just get ready for the next game and that’s it,” he said.

Related:

Playoffs Tonight: Penguins look to even series vs Bruins

Matt Cooke explains his hit on McQuaid

No discipline for Cooke or Bolland after iffy Game 1 hits

Bylsma doesn’t think Cooke deserved major penalty

Playoffs Tonight: Penguins look to even series vs Bruins

PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 01: Evgeni Malkin #71 of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Patrice Bergeron #37 of the Boston Bruins fight towards the end of the second period during Game One of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Consol Energy Center on June 1, 2013 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Chicago has taken a 2-0 series lead against the Los Angeles Kings. Will the Bruins be able to do the same tonight?

Pittsburgh Penguins host Boston Bruins (8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN/Live Extra)
Boston leads 1-0

Going into the Eastern Conference finals, the Pittsburgh Penguins hadn’t been shutout in the 2013 playoffs. They hadn’t even been held to less than three goals on more than one occasion. For at least one night though, the Boston Bruins were able to neutralize all of Pittsburgh’s offensive weapons.

With the Penguins unable to score, things got heated in the second period. Pittsburgh forward Matt Cooke was ejected from the game for slamming Boston’s Adam McQuaid into the boards from behind, although it was decided that his actions weren’t worthy of a suspension, so he’ll be back tonight.

That period ended chaotically with Evgeni Malkin and Patrice Bergeron dropping the gloves and Sidney Crosby losing his cool.

Afterwards, Crosby blamed the referees for what transpired.

“They’re letting a lot go out there, and the more it gets like that, the more it’s going to escalate,” Crosby said. “You can only control and channel that stuff so much. You keep letting guys do that stuff, you’re just going to push the envelope. That’s something we obviously want to stay away from, but it’s kind of a natural thing when it gets like that.”

Regardless, the result is that for the first time in the 2013 playoffs, the Pittsburgh Penguins are trailing in a series.

“It’s one game,” Penguins defenseman Douglas Murray told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “If it keeps going, I think you could [label it] a trend. But you have to play right on the edge.

“You have to be competitive out there and play hard, and sometimes it goes overboard. It did a little bit [in Game 1]. We’ll learn from it, and move on.”

Pittsburgh’s Brandon Sutter added that the third line can’t be satisfied with just playing defense, according to the McKeesport Daily News. If the Bruins continue to do an effective job of stopping the Crosby and Malkin lines, then Sutter’s line needs to step up.

Boston has already taken the Penguins’ home ice advantage. If they beat them again then the pressure will be on Pittsburgh just to survive heading into Boston.

Bruins coach fears run-and-gun games vs. Pens

juliengetty
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After avoiding questions about controversial hits, Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien gave the talk about all the rough stuff in Game 1 a big whatever, pointing to it merely being playoff hockey.* The pace of the play wasn’t to his liking, though.

While Boston survived runs of end-to-end hockey, Julien indicated that he wants his team to stick with its traditional, tighter defensive style.

“We got caught into a run-and-gun type of game.  I think we all know we’re not a team that does well in those run-and-gun games,” Julien said. ” … Luckily, whatever little mistakes we made, Tukka was up to the task.”

There’s no doubt that the Bruins coach would prefer to take it slow, but Boston has shown an ability to light up the scoreboard on occasion. They scored a respectable 131 goals this season, memorably scored 20 goals in four games against the Philadelphia Flyers in a pretty wide-open 2011 playoff series and possess this postseason’s leading scorer in David Krejci.

Still, Julien would prefer this series to be a grinding, defensive struggle. Looking at the talent at the other end, it’s easy to see why.

* – Go ahead, imagine Julien doing the hand signal. It’s a fun mental image.