Haggerty: B's prove they've got the right plan

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Haggerty: B's prove they've got the right plan

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

VANCOUVER Its a sobering dose of reality when a team plays the game according to the exact blueprint it's mapped out for itself to win a playoff series . . . and then loses.

Or is it?

The Canucks got the only goal, and the last laugh, in the closing 18 seconds and captured Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals, 1-0, Wednesday night at Rogers Arena.

Still, the Bruins checked off many of the things they hoped to achieve against the seemingly invincible Canucks.

I think we played a real good road game, to be honest with you. To be in the situation we were after two periods" -- a 0-0 tie -- "I didn't mind it, especially against this hockey club, said coach Claude Julien. I thought our penalty kill did a great job against their power-play. Timmy Thomas made the big saves when he had to. For two periods I was pretty pleased.

Obviously, in the third period they were the better team and they ended up scoring that goal. It got away from us, but we still got an opportunity here in the next game to hopefully get . . . the home-ice advantage.

Thomas had a magnificent game and gave Vancouver something to think about over the course of the next few days.

He finished with 33 saves and was at his athletic best in the first period when the Canucks sent a flurry of shots his way. He impressed again in the third period when he made 13 stops as Vancouver carried the play in Bostons zone.

And that -- outstanding goaltending from Thomas -- is part of the B's blueprint for the series.

Canucks players were getting behind the Bruins defensive layers, but Thomas stoned Jannik Hansen cold on a breakaway and turned away Maxim Lapierres quick redirect from the slot.

Thomas also had some good fortune, of course. Alex Edler rang the crossbar on a shot fired from the high slot area that rocketed past the goalie's shoulders on its way to smacking the pipe.

But all crossbars aside, Thomas had the Canucks shaking their heads and murmuring to themselves more than a little bit headed into the final minutes of the third period.

Thats exactly where the Bs need to have Vancouver's heads -- simultaneously amazed and frustrated -- if theyre going to bring the Cup back to Boston.

Thomas' performance in Game 1 is a good indication that it can be done. After all, if Thomas and the Bs can hold back the mighty Canucks offense for 59-plus minutes of an adrenaline-juiced playoff game once, they can certainly do it again.

The Bruins need their goaltender to again be the superhuman force he was on Wednesday night, and theyll need even more of the gutsy play around him in their own zone.

But was more than just Thomas on Wednesday night:

Containing the Sedin twins and holding the rugged Ryan Kesler off the board was the result of pure Bruins hockey for the better part of three periods.

The Bruins handed Vancouver six man advantages in Game 1, but somehow kept the Canucks' vaunted power play off the board. Dan Hamhuis and Sami Salo were able to fire away from the point positions, but there wasnt much there for the Sedin twins or Kesler once the game turned to special teams.

Most surprisingly (and something the Bruins may not have planned for), the Canucks were willing to mix it up and engage in plenty of scrums after whistles. They were happy to poke the bear in the cage, just as they did against the Blackhawks and Sharks in earlier rounds.

Hamhuis upended Milan Lucic with a hip check in front of the benches in the second period that sent Lucics legs square over his head. It was a signature hit during an intense playoff game, but it also resulted in the Vancouver defenseman limping off the ice in pain, never to return.

Lucic and Kevin Bieksa tangled in front of the net on several occasions, and Alexandre Burrows even somehow enraged the normally serene Patrice Bergeron by biting through his glove and bloodying the centers finger.

Though they didn't expect it, the Bruins took Vancouver's grit as a good sign of things, since they like that kind of scrappy game.

Theyre a good team and so are we, said Bruinsdefenseman Johnny Boychuk. It was more physical than we expected, butthats our style of hockey. Its fine.

The Bruins demonstrated they could hang with the Canucks, and they proved they're capable of beating them. Now they have to prove they can actually do it.

We played hard. All you guys in the media are doubting us and I think we showed today that we could play with the Canucks, said Milan Lucic. We worked hard. We played hard. But in order to get a win in this building were going to have to work a little harder.

Weve watched them play as many games as we could. Theyve always played a physical game. Just look at the last series against San Jose. They went right after Douglas Murray, and Joe Thornton and Ryan Clowe and all those guys. We knew it would be the same, and its going to be a hard-fought series.

Theres no doubt its going to be a hard-fought series after witnessing how things went down in Game 1.

The question now becomes: Can the Bruins be better?

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

Don Sweeney: Bruins 'lost a good player' in Colin Miller

Don Sweeney: Bruins 'lost a good player' in Colin Miller

CHICAGO – Don Sweeney said the Bruins knew and expected they were going to lose one of three players in the NHL expansion draft, and it’s pretty clear it was going to be Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller or Colin Miller leaving the team. The B’s took Kevan Miller out of the equation by leaving him on the protection list after a strong season while also playing some of his best hockey in the playoffs.

That left McQuaid and Miller with each of the two D-men standing an equal chance of getting selected by the Vegas Golden Knights, and the 24-year-old puck-moving Miller going to Vegas for the time being. It remains to be seen if Miller sticks with the Golden Knights, or if there is an eventual plan to flip him elsewhere like perhaps an interested party in Toronto.

Sweeney said the Bruins didn’t want to lose a player with potential like Miller, but it’s also true that he would have been stuck behind younger, better D-men on the depth chart with Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo as better right-handed options.

“It was an interesting process to go through. It was hard at times because you felt like other teams were able to find deals to keep their team together while you felt vulnerable in that regard,” said Sweeney at the B’s team hotel in Chicago during a Thursday availability with the media. “You knew you were going to lose a good player. You knew they had targeted three players on our team that we felt they would target, and unfortunately we’re losing a good, young player.

“We thought highly of Colin. He was part of a big trade for us and we wish him well moving forward. We thank for him doing his part with the organization. We lost a good player.”

Clearly, the Bruins lost a defenseman with skills and youth on his side, but it’s also a young guy that hasn’t put it all together yet while never posting more than 16 points in each of his two seasons with the Black and Gold. Perhaps he will put together the offensive package at his next landing spot after showing flashes in Boston over the last two years, but that unknown factor while no longer being considered a prospect is the reason he didn’t find himself on the protected D list along with Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug.  

Bruins' 2017-18 schedule has three Habs games in eight days

Bruins' 2017-18 schedule has three Habs games in eight days


The Bruins released their schedule for the 2017-18 season Thursday, with their campaign beginning at TD Garden on Oct. 5 against the Predators. 

Two things stand out in Boston’s schedule. Eleven of their final 15 games are on the road, and they don’t play the Canadiens until mid-January.  

Then, when the B’s and Habs do finally meet, they play three times in an eight-day span. The rivals face each other Jan. 13 in Montreal, Jan. 17 in Boston and Jan. 20 in Montreal. The Bruins’ final regular-season meeting with the Habs is March 3. 

To see the full schedule, click here.