Bruins look to pressure Luongo in Game 2

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Bruins look to pressure Luongo in Game 2

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

VANCOUVER There has been a similar refrain from the Bruins in both playoff series in which theyve fallen behind this spring. Not surprisingly, it came out again after dropping the B's dropped Game 1 to the Vancouver Canucks.

Just as the Bruins were hell-bent on getting more pressure and net-front presence to Montreal's Carey Price in the first round and to Tampa Bay's Dwayne Roloson in the conference finals, the task is now the same against Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo.

It won't be easy. Luongo is the first Vezina Trophy finalist the Bruins have faced during this years postseason run, and his numbers compare favorably to those of their own ace, Tim Thomas.

Luongo finished with 36 saves and was at his best early in the game as the Bruins managed to get a lot of traffic in front of the net during their four-minute power play. They nearly scored while Zdeno Chara was engaging in hand-to-hand combat with Kevin Bieksa and Dan Hamhuis directly in front of the net, but they couldn't crack Luongo.

For the rest of the game, however, there were little more than a handful of instances where the Bruins truly brought the heat to Luongo. Thats not nearly enough for coach Claude Julien and his Bruins if theyre hoping to coax a few pucks past the Vancouver goalie, and improve on the one goal theyve scored in their last two playoff games.

I don't think we made it as difficult as we should have or could have, said Julien. So it's something that has to be a little bit better in regards to that area. We might have outshot them, but they had the better quality scoring chances than we did. That's the reality.

I think we can improve that part of our game. We had some good shots, but not necessarily all from the dangerous area. We've got to improve that and make sure we fight our way close to the front of the net. They're doing a good job of boxing us out, but we have to do a better job.

The 6-foot-3, 208-pound Luongo is the prototypical goaltender and the anti-Tim Thomas in so many ways, but his weaknesses are just as clear as his many strengths.

As a big, calm, butterfly-style goaltender, Luongo wants everything in front of him while keeping his shoulders square to the shooter. He doesnt want to be forced to move around too much within the painted area.

Hes much less of a scrambler and improviser than Thomas but Luongo also can fall prey to the occasional bad-angle shot, as hes done several times already in the playoffs. Bad angles come from shooting the puck whenever possible and from getting the goaltender out of sorts within his crease and thats the first order of business on tap for the Bruins in Game 2 Saturday night.

Aside from one very good Michael Ryder rush down the left wing in the third period that managed to push through the Vancouver defense, there were very few challenges for Luongo. The Bruins know they must be better, and the Bs top line of David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton must find a way to get more bang out of the 15 shots they squeezed off.

Bostons big guns are getting room to operate around Vancouver's average-sized defense corps, and they know they need to exploit their physical advantage.

You always think you can be harder on a team. Youve got to make it tougher on every goalie . . . whether you think you played a perfect game or not, said Mark Recchi, who is chief among the players expected to start fighting with more ferocity in front of the blue paint. Hes a great goalie and youve got to make him work."

Recchi continued: "Obviously you always need to have traffic. Theyre going to try to get in front of Timmy, and thats what all of our jobs are as players is to get in front there to try and make it as hard as you can.

That's the Bruins' top priority going into Game 2.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Morning Skate: Do Caps have mental block come playoff time?

Morning Skate: Do Caps have mental block come playoff time?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while thinking about and praying for the people of Manchester, England. It’s obviously an evil, cowardly act to bomb any public place, but to do it at a concert filled with women and children is the lowest of the low.

*The Capitals players are acknowledging that there’s some kind of mental block with the Stanley Cup playoffs. CSN Mid-Atlantic has all the details.

*It’s been a very odd postseason for the NHL where there are so many non-traditional teams still alive with the Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup Fina, and the Ottawa Senators fighting for their lives in the Eastern Conference Final. On that note, there is a ton of disappointment at the empty seats at the Canadian Tire Centre for Ottawa’s home games in the playoffs. It sounds like there are going to be empty seats tonight for a do-or-die Game 6 in Ottawa. That is an embarrassment for a Canadian city that’s supposed to pride itself on their love of hockey. Let’s hope the Senators fans have a last-minute surge to buy tickets and show some appreciation for a Senators team that’s given the Ottawa fans a totally unexpected ride through the postseason this spring. I mean, Erik Karlsson at the top of his game is worth the price of admission all by himself.  

*The Pittsburgh Penguins have the Senators on the ropes, and it’s been an impressive showing given that they’re doing it without Kris Letang.

*Pro Hockey Talk has the ownership for the St. Louis Blues giving their GM Doug Armstrong a vote of confidence.

*Another early exit from the playoffs is going to start making some players expendable on the New York Rangers roster.

*Here’s a good piece on how David Poile built the Nashville Predators, who have reached the Stanley Cup Final for the first time. Give credit where it’s due: He manned up and made a big move dealing away Shea Weber straight up for PK Subban. It’s really worked for Music City as they’ve stepped to the next level.

*Speaking of Nashville’s rise this spring in a wide open Western Conference, Pekka Rinne has silenced the critics he might have had by carrying his team to the Cup Final.

*For something completely different: Boston law enforcement is on high alert after the bombing of the Ariana Grande concert in the UK.

 

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Hindsight is always 20/20, of course, but it appears the Bruins made a mistake buying out veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg from the final couple of years of his contract. 

Seidenberg just finished up a wildly successful stint with host Team Germany at the IIHF World Championships, where he was named Directorate Best Defenseman (the tournament’s best defenseman) after leading all D-men with a goal and eight points. This came after Seidenberg, at age 35, posted 5 goals and 22 points in 73 games for the Islanders, with whom he signed after being cut loose by the B's, while averaging a shade under 20 minutes per game.  Seidenberg also had an excellent World Cup of Hockey tournament for Team Europe last summer (where he was teamed once again with Zdeno Chara), thus managing to play at a high level from September all the way through May.

A faction of Bruins fans thought he was on the serious decline after the 2015-16 season and, clearly, the Bruins agreed, opting to buy him out with two more years still left on a sizable contract extension. (They owe him $2.16 million next season and then will be charged $1.16 million on their salary cap over the next two seasons.) But the B's could have used a durable, defensive warrior like Seidenberg in the playoffs, when they lost three of their top four defensemen against the Ottawa Senators. A rejuvenated Seidenberg, able to play both the left and right side, would have been a better option than Colin Miller.

The Bruins made a conscious decision to hand things over to younger defensemen like Miller, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo and Joe Morrow in cutting ties with Seidenberg. But they also perhaps miscalculated how much Seidenberg still had left in the tank after his best season in at least three years. 

“Well, at the time we felt like [Seidenberg's] game had really dropped off to where we thought he couldn’t contribute, and we wanted to see if some younger players could come in and help us out,” Bruins president Cam Neely said at the end-of-the-season press conference earlier this month. “I’ve got to say he played well this year for Long Island. But at the time we thought it was the right move. You can’t envision us having three of our top four D’s get hurt [in the playoffs]. We went through a lot of D’s in the postseason. You can’t predict that.”

Neely is referring to the decision made after Seidenberg’s second straight minus season in Boston, when back injuries and a major knee injury had seemed to slow him down a bit. It seemed the only way to properly evaluate some of their other, younger defenseman was to cut Seidenberg loose, but one has to wonder if the Bruins would have possibly done it had they known he was still capable of playing like he did this season for the Islanders. 

Either way, the buyout of Seidenberg is an extremely legitimate second guess of Bruins management in a year where they did a lot of things right.