Notes: Bruins turn around their overtime luck

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Notes: Bruins turn around their overtime luck

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

PHILADELPHIA The Bruins were an horrendous overtime and shootout team during the regular season, but its amazing what happens in the playoffs when the extra session moves from four-on-four to five-on-five play.

The Bruins have now won four overtime games during their current playoff run, and are showing the kind of mettle, poise and willingness to win that many accused them of lacking after last years postseason collapse to the Flyers.

The overtime game-winner by Michael Ryder kicked things off at the Bell Centre in Game 4 of the first round, and Nathan Horton scored the other two OT game-winners against the Habs. Then, on Monday night against the Flyers, it was David Krejcis turn with a one-timer from the high slot off a Horton pass a play that means Horton, the playoff newbie, now has had a hand in three of Bostons four OT winners during the postseason.

The Bs were 0-5 in games decided in the overtime session during the regular season, and were 1-6 in shootouts during the season, with rookie Tyler Seguin as their only legitimate shootout weapon. But their 4-0 overtime record thus far in the playoffs is building a growing belief that the Black and Gold will simply find a way to win when they get to that point.

When you get the first couple of overtime wins, it helps, said Mark Recchi. We know what to do and we know how to play . . .

Were in our little bubble right now and thats where our focus is. Whatever is going on on the outside is stuff were not paying attention to. We all believe in each other and we all trust in each other, and weve worked really hard to get to this point. Weve worked at hard at believing and trusting each other and weve been rewarded because of it. A lot of people doubted we could come back from being down 2-0 to Montreal, but we always believed that we could. And we did it.

One of the biggest reasons for the overtime dominance, aside from Bostons real strength playing five-on-five: the goaltending from Tim Thomas.

Were obviously resilient. In a win like tonight we were outplayed in the latter portion of the game, said Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli. We looked tired, but all of the guys focused when they were tired. Four overtime wins isnt an accident. I know theres some luck involved, but theres also a lot of poise and composure.

Thomas is a perfect 8-0-0 against the Flyers in Philadelphia and now holds a 12-2-2 career mark against the Broad Street Bullies.

The Flyers hadn't lost a Game 2 at home since 2001-02, when they were beaten by Ottawa.

Patrice Bergeron notched an assist on Brad Marchand's first-period goal with a great individual shift that included physically overpowering Scott Hartnell for a loose puck in front of the Boston net and then starting the break, eventually leading to Marchand's score. The assist leaves Bergeron with 11 points (2 goals, 9 assists) in nine playoff games this season, and a legit chance at a Conn Smythe level award if he and the Bruins can continue their postseason roll.

After Monday night's loss, Flyers coach Peter Laviolette was doing everything he could to take pressure off his team, which is sitting in an 0-2 hole and facing two games at TD Garden. The Philly coach said the pressure is squarely on the Bruins heading into their home games, and he all but guaranteed a Philadelphia victory in Game 3.

"I think we're going to go into Boston, we're going to play a strong hockey game and we're going to win the game, said Laviolette, a Massachusetts native who is a former Bruins assistant and one-time head coach of the Providence Bruins.

The Flyers made their fifth in-game goaltending change in nine playoff games, though this one was due to injury. Laviolette pulled Brian Boucher when it appeared hed hurt his right hand on a Johnny Boychuk shot. But Boucher returned to action despite Sergei Bobrovskys solid play in the second period.

Being a relief goaltender certainly has a bit more activity to it when youre cashing NHL checks with a team like the Flyers.

The juiced-up Philly crowd was into the game from the opening puck drop, and got whipped up into a patriotic frenzy with the pregame rendition of "God Bless America," live by Lauren Hart sung in tandem with a video of the late Kate Smith. Flyers fans were decked out in orange T-shirts and chanting "U-S-A! U-S-A!" after lineups were introduced.

The chanting and reverence continued after Hart had completed her nightly song, displaying the national pride that swelled after news that Osama bin Laden had been killed on Sunday.

The Flyers' James Van Riemsdyk, an American native, finished with a pair of goals along with a couple of very near misses and said that the backdrop of a spirited, patriotic crowd was everything he could have hoped for.

"That was pretty cool, as an American," van Riemsdyk said. "And the fans are pretty passionate about sports and our country. That was pretty cool to be a part of."

The Flyers set a team record for shots in a period in a home playoff game with 22 in the third. The overall record is 28 set in 1997 against Pittsburgh.

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

Coyotes hire Craig Cunningham as scout

Coyotes hire Craig Cunningham as scout

The Coyotes have hired former player Craig Cunningham as a pro scout, keeping the 26-year-old in hockey after a cardiac episode ended his playing career this season. 

Drafted by the Bruins in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, Cunningham played 34 games for Boston over parts of two seasons before he was waived and claimed by Arizona. He totaled 19 games for the Coyotes, but served as captain of the Tucson Roadrunners, the team’s AHL affiliate. 

Cunningham was hospitalized after he collapsed during pregame warmups on Nov. 19. He was kept alive by continual CPR, but had his lower left leg amputated the next months due to an infection from the episode. 

Known as a high-character player who was popular with his teammates, Cunningham’s transition to scouting lets him further his career after a scary break. 

"I'm very excited to begin the next chapter of my life with the Coyotes," Cunningham said in a statement released by the team. "I'm very grateful to John Chayka, Dave Tippett, the Coyotes and Roadrunners organizations, and all of the great fans across Arizona for the incredible support I've received over the past year. I'm looking forward to helping the Coyotes and I can't wait to get started in my new role."

Said Chayka, the team’s general manager: ”We're thrilled to have Craig join our hockey operations department as a pro scout. Craig was a smart, hard-working player with an incredible passion for the game. We're confident that he will bring those same qualities to the Coyotes in his new role and that he will be an invaluable asset to our organization. We look forward to Craig helping us in several areas and are excited that he is staying with the club."
 

Morning Skate: Overreacting to the Oilers' window

Morning Skate: Overreacting to the Oilers' window

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading while really enjoying what the CW does season in and season out with the Flash.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Don Brennan says that the Senators fans not showing up for Game 6 is their way of sticking it to Sens owner Eugene Melnyk.

*The talk is turning to the next captain of the Buffalo Sabres, and what they can do to help open up communication up and down the roster.  

*A guy that wore a Habs toque on his twitter avatar writes a glowing, praise-filled article about the performance of PK Subban during these Stanley Cup playoffs. He’s undoubtedly been good, but he just might have been wearing his Montreal Canadiens footie pajamas when he wrote this one, and rattling his fist at Habs management all the while.

*Interesting piece by Jason Gregor about the “window to win” for the Edmonton Oilers, and an odd notion that the window will close when Connor McDavid has moved out of his entry level contract. I’d say that’s kind of ludicrous.

*The Colorado Avalanche coaching staff has been let go after last year’s dreadful season, and that’s too bad for a really good guy in former Providence College head coach Tim Army. I’m sure he won’t be out of work long.

*Colin White made his Stanley Cup playoff and NHL debut for the Ottawa Senators in Game 6, and helped push Ottawa to a Game 7. It will be interesting to watch the Massachusetts native and former Boston College standout develop with the Senators as White was one of the players that the Bruins skipped over to instead draft Jake DeBrusk and Zach Senyshyn in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft. The others, Mathew Barzal, Travis Konecny and Kyle Connor, are all either in the NHL or knocking on the door as well, and it’s going to be a challenging road for both of Boston’s forward prospects to live up the justification of the B’s drafting them first. Granted DeBrusk and Senyshyn are also both doing their thing for the P-Bruins as they push into the conference finals of the Calder Cup playoffs, and they’re both bright prospects in their own right. It’s going to take years to determine the rights and wrongs of that first round, but White getting into the lineup for the Senators is proof of just how high that organization is on him.

*Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan says that Sidney Crosby handled the targeted abuse well from the Senators in a Game 6 loss that will push to a Game 7 between the Penguins and the Senators.

*For something completely different: A great message from Brookline homey and former Sox GM wonder boy Theo Epstein in his commencement address to Yale University.