Bruins get a boisterous send-off

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Bruins get a boisterous send-off

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com Staff Reporter Follow @mary_paoletti
BOSTON -- For the second time this series, the Bruins are Vancouver-bound.

The B's left Boston Thursday morning, sent off on the well-wishes of hundreds of fans who gathered at the TD Garden.

This trip may be different from their first. Instead of entering enemy territory to chart the unknown, at least one question has been answered: The Bruins can, in fact, compete with the Canucks. After dropping the first two games in Vancouver -- losing one in the final 20 seconds of regulation, the other in overtime -- Boston responded with two dominant home wins, outscoring the Canucks 12-1.

So while the series is tied 2-2, the Bruins are hoping to take their momentum on the road and turn the finals in their favor.

"Last week we were going into the situation blind," said Tyler Seguin. "A lot of us players -- myself included -- haven't been in the Cup finals before so I think now everyone definitely feels more confident, more used to the situation. Hopefully we get a different result tomorrow night."

"We need to cancel all the noise around us. Their rink is pretty loud, just like the Garden. Home ice can be an advantage and we need to take that away."

Stealing Game 5 will take the utmost mental toughness. It helps that a few guys have taken these flights before.

Shawn Thornton was on Anaheim's championship team in 2007 and Mark Recchi hoisted Lord Stanley's Mug with Pittsburgh in 1991 and Carolina in 2006. The pair is happy to provide prospective to their teammates.

"The number one thing is, we've got to keep the same focus and be ready for the start. That's the most important thing," Recchi said. "The Canucks are going to go home and they're going to try to rally around their crowd. If we can hold them for the first 5, 10 minutes and get in their face -- get pucks deep and play physical hockey -- it'll play dividends in the end."

Thornton admitted that it's "exciting" any time the Cup is nearby (it'll be in the building starting with Game 6), but was quick to point out that the team isn't there yet.

"It's not so much different from the last trip," he said. "The series is evened up -- it's best out of three instead of best of seven. We've got to get through this first."

Andrew Ference also has experience to draw on. The defenseman played for Calgary during the 2003-04 Finals and was visibly thoughtful in considering the seasons side by side. In the end, he said the resolve of this Bruins team is different. And that's a good thing.

"We aren't getting ahead of ourselves," he said. "We truly aren't. I've never been on a team that's as focused as this one . . . that never got ahead of itself. I've never really thought about the scale of what we're doing right now. It's special. We're not taking anything for granted."

Especially not Roberto Luongo's breakdown.

After limiting Boston to just two goals in the first two games, the Vancouver netminder fell apart on the road. Letting up eight goals in Game 3 earned him cheers and ridicule from Hub hockey fans; giving up four more in the next outing earned him the derision of Canucks fans at home. Vancouver's coaching staff signaled the end of its patience by pulling the starter Wednesday night.

But the Bruins aren't dwelling on it.

"He's an unbelievable goaltender," Thornton said. "And it kind of scares me that he's had a couple off-nights, because I know he'll bounce back and have an unbelievable one."

"The Canucks know Luongo is one of the best goalies in the league, so they aren't too worried about it," Seguin agreed. "I'm sure they're still confident. Luongo is known to bounce back, so we need to be ready and stay sharp for that."

They're probably thinking of Vancouver's first-round series with Chicago.

Luongo was stellar in the first three games, allowing just five goals, before allowing 11 in a trio of ugly losses, including two on the road. He bounced back in the series finale, stopping 31 of 32 shots to secure Vancouver's advance.

This resilience is what the Bruins are expecting. But they also have expectations for their own keeper.

Tim Thomas has been Boston's trump card all season and his teammates continued to sing his praises as they boarded the bus.

"I'm so happy that we have our goalie," Ference laughed. "He's the best, he really is. As a defensemen, it's a special treat to play in front of Timmy. That's all I know."

Thomas -- with his league-leading .936 save percentage and 2.11 goals-against average duing the playoffs -- is a big piece of what sounds to be a pretty simple plan. The Bruins hope to keep doing what they're doing in the return to Rogers Arena. Why mess with a good thing?

"It's our physical play," said Recchi. "We skated very well. We played our system very well and obviously Timmy's been great. We came back home and were confident we could do this. We've got a long ways to go still, but it was a step. Now we've got to go and steal home ice from them."

Though it must pass through Vancouver, the Bruins know if they stay the course it will lead them back home. They're just hoping it's the last trip they make.

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Bean: The (incorrect) case for the Bruins signing Kevin Shattenkirk

Bean: The (incorrect) case for the Bruins signing Kevin Shattenkirk

The Bruins should not sign Kevin Shattenkirk. They really shouldn’t. 

Yet they might. Pierre McGuire said on TSN Radio Tuesday that his guess is that Shattenkirk, arguably the best free agent defenseman on the market, will end up in Boston.

It is remarkable how universally against a Shattenkirk megadeal B’s fans have seemingly been. A Twitter poll with over 3,600 votes this month had Bruins fans preferring Boston sign 40-year-old Zdeno Chara to a two-year, $8 million extension than the 28-year-old  Shattenkirk to a seven-year, $45.5 million deal. 

That is obviously the correct conclusion, but considering how hard the false “Chara is old and bad” garbage is pushed in this town, it’s telling that 64 percent would rather he stick around than the team build the defense around Shattenkirk. 

Of course, Shattenkirk is not a bad player just because he’s been overrated in recent seasons. He’s a decent second-pairing defender and strong power play asset who can be penciled in for 40 points a year. The Bruins already have that in Torey Krug, and he makes less than Shattenkirk figures to command. Shattenkirk is also a righty who plays on the right, which is not a need for the Bruins, whereas Krug is a left shot who plays both sides. 

Add in the Bruins’ cap situation due to some bad contracts and they why of Shattenkirk would be a bad signing doesn’t need to be re-hashed. By this point, the explanation’s been given a few times in a few different places. 

So what would the Bruins’ actual case for signing Shattenkirk be? 

TO KEEP IT MOVING 

Last season was encouraging for Bruins fans because it saw them reach the playoffs for the first time in three years while also seeing young talent emerge. Yet they still only made the playoffs by two points, something of which Don Sweeney and Cam Neely are undoubtedly aware. 

So for all the good signs, this could be a fringe playoff team again if more improvements aren’t made, and missing the playoffs for the second time in three years would mark a step back in the eyes of ownership, perhaps putting jobs in danger. It would be a shame if money were spent irresponsibly for the sake of saving jobs, but Shattenkirk would definitely make the Bruins better next season, even if it crippled them financially down the road. 

TO PULL A CHIARELLIAN FREE AGENT SWITCHEROO

With McAvoy set to be a top-pairing player and Brandon Carlo a good second-pairing option, the Bruins do not have a need for a highly paid right-shot defender. That doesn’t mean they don’t have needs elsewhere. 

Last offseason, Peter Chiarelli made the controversial move of trading Taylor Hall, one of the best left wings on the planet. He did it to get Adam Larsson to help build Edmonton’s blue line up, then he went out and signed Milan Lucic in free agency to replace Hall. 

If the Bruins truly have designs on adding Shattenkirk, perhaps they could have something similar in mind: Trade someone like Carlo for either a left-shot defenseman or a left wing, then replace Carlo with Shattenkirk. 

This would still not be financially palatable, however. When the Oilers traded Hall for Larsson, they swapped a player with a $6 million cap hit for a player with a $4.16 million cap hit and replaced the original player (Hall) with a player in Lucic who carried a $6 million cap hit. So essentially they netted one player for an additional $4.16 million. 

Carlo is on his entry level contract, so unless the Bruins traded him for a player on an entry-level deal, they’d be spending a lot of money in any maneuver that involved replacing him with Shattenkirk. 

TO GO ALL-IN ON POST-CLAUDE LIFE

Claude Julien’s detractors lamented his affinity for responsibility. They loved it when Bruce Cassidy was more open to trading chances. 

Well, you like trading chances? Shattenkirk’s your guy. He’s a good skater, a good offensive player and a sub-par defender. You put Krug, Shattenkirk and McAvoy as three of your four top-four defenseman and you’ll be a long way from the days of Chara, Seidenberg and Boychuk, for better or worse. 

BUT, KEEP IN MIND . . . 

They for sure should not sign Kevin Shattenkirk. 

Morning Skate: What does trading a first-rounder get you now?

Morning Skate: What does trading a first-rounder get you now?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading, while wishing that Gordon Hayward and Paul George were already in Boston, like, yesterday.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Elliotte Freidman gives his 30 thoughts for the week, including the trade value of a first-round pick right now.

*It could that non-unrestricted free agents steal all of the thunder on July 1 with massive contract extensions a la Connor McDavid.

*PHT writer James O’Brien has the Detroit Red Wings taking potential fliers on a number of veteran D-men that are out on the free market.

*With free agency right around the corner, the legendary Stan Fischler details the sad end to Bobby Orr’s career in Boston, where he was lied to about the offer extended to him and ended up playing things out with the Chicago Blackhawks in a way that it shouldn’t have gone. The sight of Orr in a Blackhawks sweater is one of the real all-time NHL oddities out there.

*The NCAA is eying college hockey expansion in NHL markets, including the University of Illinois and Pitt, and, from what I’ve been told, perhaps UNLV and maybe even Vanderbilt. This is a great thing for amateur hockey players and anybody that can’t get enough of the game.  

*Ex-Senators defenseman Marc Methot holds no ill will toward the Sens after being dealt from Vegas to the Dallas Stars following his selection in the expansion draft.

*Josh Ho-Sang shares his wisdom to Islanders prospects as a 21-year-old somebody that’s gone through the ups and downs of being in their shoes.

*As we referenced above, Connor McDavid is closing in on a massive contract extension with the Edmonton Oilers that will probably make him the highest paid player in the NHL.

*For something completely different: My heart goes out to this Roslindale family fighting through a situation with a child who has a life-threatening disorder. They have a Go-Fund-Me page, so please give if you can.