NEW YORK, NY - MAY 21: Derek Stepan #21 of the New York Rangers and Jaromir Jagr #68 of the Boston Bruins fight for the puck in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on May 21, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Playoffs Tonight: Bruins know series vs Rangers isn’t over

20 Comments

We got a full night of NHL hockey ahead of us and the Boston Bruins might even secure a spot in the Eastern Conference finals.

Please keep in mind that all of tonight’s games can be watched online in addition to the channels listed below.

New York Rangers host Boston Bruins (7:00 p.m. ET, CNBC)
Boston leads series 3-0

No one understands better than the Boston Bruins that a series isn’t over until it’s over.

“It would be nice,” David Krejci told the Boston Globe when asked about the possibility of avoiding a Game 5. “But we know and we learned as a team that the last one is the hardest from past years and even in the last series. We’ve just got to get ready for tomorrow and play just like it’s Game 1.”

The Bruins have managed to get by without defensemen Dennis Seidenberg, Wade Redden, and Andrew Ference thanks in part to the rise of young and relatively inexperienced blueliners like Matt Bartkowski. Bartkowski’s success in particular has to be gratifying to Bruins fans, given that he was linked to Boston’s ultimately failed bid to acquire Jarome Iginla.

The New York Rangers might need boost from their depth blueliners as well. Marc Staal has only played once since March 5 due to his eye injury and now they might be forced to continue without defenseman Anton Stralman.

Needless to say, the Rangers situation looks bleak, but right now, they just have to focus on getting one win.

Detroit Red Wings host Chicago Blackhawks (8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN)
Detroit leads series 2-1

Chicago hasn’t lost three games in a row since the season started, but the Blackhawks are in danger of doing so now. That speaks to how consistently good they’ve been, but it also highlights just how little adversity they’ve faced this year.

They’ve come from behind in games and won close contests, but they got ahead of the league so quickly that many of those impressive victories were achieved in low pressure situations. Still, that doesn’t mean they’ll buckle under the pressure.

“Just because we haven’t faced a whole lot of adversity this year doesn’t mean we’ve never faced it in our lives before,” Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith argued, according to Chicago Sun-Times writer Mark Lazerus. “Let’s face it: Winning in the playoffs isn’t easy. It’s not always going to go your way.”

Perhaps the biggest x-factor in this game is Chicago captain Jonathan Toews. He called Chicago’s 3-1 loss on Monday a slap in the face.

He hasn’t scored a goal in the playoffs and this is the kind of situation that the Blackhawks look to their captain to step up.

Los Angeles hosts San Jose (10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN)
Series tied at 2-2

The Sharks and Kings had two of the NHL’s best home records in the regular season and neither team has lost a game in their arena during the 2013 playoffs. That’s good news for Los Angeles, even if they have squandered a 2-0 series lead.

If Sharks captain Joe Thornton manages to replicate his success in from Game 4 on Tuesday, then San Jose might break that trend and earn its third consecutive win tonight.

“That was vintage Joe Thornton right there,” Logan Couture told CSN Bay Area after the Sharks’ 2-1 win. “Unbelievable. Creating turnovers, making passes, skating like a young guy. He was flying, and I know me personally, it got me going. We need Joe to play like that for the rest of the playoffs.”

Whatever happens, it’s likely that this game will come down to the final minutes of action. The last three contests in this series have been determined by just one goal and even Game 1 was a close 2-0 affair.

AHL Bruins blow 3-0 series lead against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins

Michael Leighton #49 of the Philadelphia Flyers stops Trent Whitfield #42 of the Boston Bruins in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Finals at the Wachovia Center on May 12, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
(May 11, 2010 - Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)
20 Comments

The Pittsburgh Penguins earned a 7-3 victory against Ottawa tonight, but it was their AHL-affiliates that made history.

Boston’s farm team, the Providence Bruins, took a 3-0 series lead against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the Eastern Conference semifinals. However, the Penguins earned four straight wins including a 5-0 victory on Wednesday to become just the third team in the league’s 77-year history to overcome that kind of a deficit, according to AHL.com.

Of course, this will no doubt bring up memories of Boston’s collapse from a 3-0 series lead against the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2010 NHL Eastern Conference semifinals.

In fact, 35-year-old forward Trent Whitfield has now had the misfortune of being on the wrong end of history twice, as The Hockey Writers’ Wayne Whittaker pointed out.

Of course, the Boston Bruins bounced back from their humiliation and won the Stanley Cup in 2011. Perhaps that will comfort Providence as they reflect on this series.

It’s also worth adding that Providence was without defenseman Matt Bartkowski and Torey Krug for most of this series. Bartkowski played in five postseason contests with Providence, but didn’t play at all against the Penguins. Krug participated in the first two games before also being summoned by Boston.

Meanwhile, Boston has a 3-0 lead on the New York Rangers going into Game 4 on Thursday.

Suddenly a scorer, Bruins’ Boychuk wants to meet The Great One

Boston Bruins v Toronto Maple Leafs - Game Four
2 Comments

Johnny Boychuk has suddenly found his scoring touch.

Boychuk has four goals in these Stanley Cup playoffs, including the tying goal in what turned into a 2-1 Boston Bruins victory over the New York Rangers in Game 3 of that Eastern Conference semifinal.

The Bruins are one win away from sweeping the Rangers and returning to the Eastern Conference final for the second time in the last three years.

Now the 29-year-old defenseman, who had all of one goal in 44 games during the regular season, wants to meet hockey’s greatest all-time scorer, Wayne Gretzky.

Dan Rosen, a senior writer for NHL.com, documented on Twitter an interesting post-game exchange between Boychuk and teammate Jaromir Jagr. The discussion revolved around Gretzky, The Great One, who was in attendance at Madison Square Garden.

As per a tweet from Rosen, this is what Boychuk had to say: “Jags, did you see Gretzky is here, think I can meet him, shake his hand?”

Discuss: Bruins rally in third, take 3-0 series lead

New York Rangers vs. Boston Bruins -- Game 3
99 Comments

The Boston Bruins are one win away from the Eastern Conference finals after coming back in the third period to take out the New York Rangers 2-1 in Game 3 and they’ve got their fourth line to thank for it.

Daniel Paille set up Johnny Boychuk’s third period goal and scored the game-winner with just 3:31 left to play to take out a sluggish Rangers team. Tuukka Rask was again outstanding in goal for Boston stopping 23 shots in the win. Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist was his typical outstanding self in a losing effort stopping 32 shots.

Game 4 of the series is Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.

Here are your talking points:

— The Bruins’ fourth line wore out the Rangers all game long. With home ice and your pick of who to lineup against them, how is that allowed to happen from the New York perspective?

— If there’s anything Bruins fans will grump about it’ll be the distinct lack of power plays as the Rangers were not assessed a penalty in this game. It seems the Rangers are nothing but angels at home. We’re sure some of you have the tinfoil hats firmly planted on your head.

— Case in point to the previous statement: Ryan Callahan getting away with what would’ve been a double-minor for high-sticking on Zdeno Chara.

— The Rangers were able to get away with going down 0-2 to Washington in the previous round. Doing that against Boston this time around has proved to be a very bad plan. Unless their offense picks up and the defense tightens up, this series is just about over with.

— What more can you say about how bad the Rangers’ power play has been? Pierre McGuire ripped the Rangers “attack” during the second period saying it was disorganized. That’s just one word for it but a better one would be “abysmal.” They were 0-2 on the man advantage tonight.

Here are the highlights from Game 3:

Marchand wants Bruins to show ‘killer instinct’ tonight at MSG

Brad Marchand
5 Comments

Trailing the Bruins, 2-0, the New York Rangers should be the more desperate team tonight at Madison Square Garden.

Just don’t tell Brad Marchand that Boston can afford to let up a bit. Not after what happened against the Maple Leafs.

“We try to learn from every situation,” said the Bruins’ forward, per CSN New England. “Being up against Toronto, we realize that let them back into it. We didn’t have the killer instinct. Whether it’s the power play or the penalty kill, we want to kill their momentum to kill their game. We want to make sure we step up and do the job. We did that last game, and we want to make sure we bring out best. They’re going to come out hard, and if we’re not prepared they’ll roll over us.”

The Bruins had a golden opportunity to make short work of the Leafs in the first round (and get some much-needed rest), but we all know how that series went.

Boston may also have noted Pittsburgh’s failure to step on Ottawa’s throat on Sunday.

The Rangers, meanwhile, are 3-0 at home during the playoffs, plus they finished the regular season with six straight wins at MSG.