Boston Bruins

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

Marchand stepping up his twitter game to hilarious effect

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Marchand stepping up his twitter game to hilarious effect

BOSTON – It was probably only a matter of time before it happened, but it looks like Boston’s favorite Little Ball of Hate is stepping up his game on social media.

Brad Marchand is known as much for his rabble-rousing and trash-talking on the ice as he is for massive offensive production while serving as Boston’s top scorer in each of the last few seasons. So Marchand has the perfect mixture of good humor and clout as a star NHL player, and that usually combines for a pretty powerful voice on Twitter.

Marchand has been noticeably more active on Twitter in recent days with a wide-ranging group of tweets, and the big winner is the hockey fan that gets a little more exposure to some classic Nose Face Killah wit. Some of the tweets have been as a Bruins team leader where he’s praising the talented young crop of B’s prospects that he’s watching during training camp:

Some have been about chirping the NHL for their decision to skip the Olympics this winter where Marchand most certainly would have been primed for a chance at a Gold Medal:

Some have been engaging with “fans” and dropping classic pop culture references from children’s books while showing the nasty edge that routinely drives opponents up a wall:

The Charlotte’s Web reference is a devastating classic from Marchand, a noted longtime fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Sometimes it’s just telling a quick story in a tweet that gives you an inside look at the kind of chirping that goes on when Marchand is on the ice:

A social media platform like Twitter was made for a personality like Marchand, and a stepped-up presence is good for him and good for hockey fans. So why all of a sudden is No. 63 tweeting with greater frequency over the last few days?

It sounds like it’s a combination of training camp boredom and a genuine interest in amplifying his voice on all manner of subjects.

“I’ve just been kind of lying around with nothing to do and I jumped on [twitter]…thought it was kind of funny,” said Marchand. “I thought I’d get a little more involved. I don’t know if I’m going to have enough time to do it every day, but it’s fun.”

As fun as it’s been for Marchand, it’s no doubt even more fun for the fans that might get a chance to interact with him even if it’s as the unwitting foil for one of his well-placed chirps. 

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Cassidy: Khudobin 'has a leg up' on backup competition in Bruins camp

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Cassidy: Khudobin 'has a leg up' on backup competition in Bruins camp

BOSTON – Fresh off a strong performance allowing just a single goal on 31 shots in his preseason debut, Tuukka Rask looked close to the top of his game and exactly where he needs to be with the regular season a couple of weeks away. Nearly as important as Rask’s state as the regular season nears, the Bruins coaching staff has been keeping a keen eye through camp on the all-important backup goaltender position as well. 

It’s important that the Bruins have a quality backup goalie in place as they hope to start Rask in just 55-60 games this season, and manage the slender puck-stopper in a way where they can get the best out of him from beginning to end. Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy indicated Anton Khudobin has the inside track on the backup job after finding his groove in the second half of last season, and it would appear he’s well on his way to retaining his job with a Malcolm Subban/Zane McIntyre tandem in Providence.

“Tuukka looks good, and looks good in practice and healthy. So that’s reassuring,” said Cassidy. “[Anton Khudobin] I thought played very well in his game. He had the one unfortunate goal, but I thought he was rock-solid the rest of the game. He’s in very good shape and he’s practiced well, so he’s got a leg up on the other [goalies] based on his experience.

“We know that going in, but he’s going to get pushed. Zane [McIntyre] was good in a game, and Malcolm let in a couple where he could have been more aggressive. But it was a first game, so right now they all look good. That’s a good problem to have if they all push each other, but to get direct to the point Anton has done nothing to lose that backup spot.”

At this point, it would likely be McIntyre rather than Subban that would challenge for the NHL backup job if Khudobin did stumble at all in training camp or early in the regular season as he did last year. There will be no backup controversy, however, if the 31-year-old plays like he did in stopping 20-of-22 shots in Tuesday night’s win vs. the Red Wings or as he did going 6-1-0 with a .922 save percentage after the All-Star break last season.  

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