Boston Bruins

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

Haggerty: Bjork looking like he's ready for his NHL shot

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Haggerty: Bjork looking like he's ready for his NHL shot

BOSTON – At this point in training camp with just a couple of preseason games to go, Monday night’s performance might have represented the exclamation point on Anders Bjork’s impressive drive to win an NHL roster spot. The 21-year-old Bjork has scored other goals during this preseason, but Monday night’s tally in Boston’s 4-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks was his first while skating with prospective linemates Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.

“I think we had more ice time together, which helped us get more comfortable and helped me kind of learn their chemistry a bit more,” said Bjork, who finished with 21 goals and 52 points in 29 games for Notre Dame last season. “Obviously, they have a ton of chemistry and they’re very easy to play with, of course, but you know, it’s nice to get more shifts with them and kind of pick up on their patterns and stuff like that.”

In fact, it’s become easy to see Bjork now winning the right wing spot with No. 37 and No. 63 after watching them work together in perfect concert for Boston’s third goal of the night.

Already up by a 2-0 score, Marchand turned over a puck in the Chicago defensive zone while on the forecheck hunt, and managed to work it over to Bergeron for a quick, backhanded saucer pass to the slot area. The alert Bjork stepped up into the high slot and one-timed the puck past Corey Crawford to give the Bruins a three-goal lead on Monday night, and allow all involved a sigh of heavy relief that Boston has found at least one rookie ready to hold down top-6 NHL job.

“He’s got that speed and the smarts to get open and then find the openings in the quiet ice. It was a great play by him just to get open, and for me to see him. He made it really easy,” said Patrice Bergeron. “He skates well, he made some great plays, we just need to keep talking and finding each other more and more on the ice.”

Given the overall scope of Bjork’s performance in camp, his steady presence on a line with Bergeron and Marchand during the preseason and his speedy skill set, the rookie is stating a strong case that he’s ready for NHL prime time. It would be a major training camp shocker to this humble hockey writer if Bjork is anywhere other than in the Bruins lineup when they drop the puck against the Nashville Predators on Oct. 5.  

“Yes, it does [look like Bjork is NHL ready]. The competition will stiffen for him and we’ll keep evaluating that. Still, he’s got skill, speed, and courage. He gets to the dirty areas. He’s hard to play against [and gives] second effort on pucks,” said Bruce Cassidy. “It’s not one-and-done with him. And for a young kid, that’s special, to be able to hang in and there and battle for those turnovers. That’s usually the part of the game they have to continue to grind on them.

“But he’s got a lot of that. Maybe that’s Bergy and March’s influence, I’d like to think they have some of that, because that’s their game. Marchy never quits. Bergy never quits. They’re going to be a hard line to play against if they are that dogged on the puck every shift.”

There are still two preseason games remaining before the real thing, so it makes little sense for the Bruins to pronounce Bjork ready for NHL duty until the time comes. Bjork’s combination of blazing skating speed, decision-making and confident swagger on the ice have pushed him to the top of Boston’s prospect list when it comes to being closest to play in the NHL. All were on display in his 12:48 of ice time with a goal and a plus-1 rating to go along with two shots on net, a hit and a takeaway while playing the fast, aggressive hockey that Boston prefers these days.

Bjork could have even had a second goal after he intercepted an Erik Gustafsson outlet pass, but missed the net high with a shot in close while going for his second goal of the game. All in all, it was another hurdle cleared by a talented Notre Dame standout that certainly feels like he’s destined to make the opening day roster, and equally ordained to start in a top-6 right wing role with arguably the best duo in the entire NHL.

It will be interesting to see just how good Bjork can be on a daily basis at the NHL level, and if he can get into becoming the 20 goals/50 points range player that should be in his future.  

Now it’s up simply up to Bjork to finish up strong in the preseason when he’s paired with Bergeron and Marchand, and continue on the straight-ahead path toward cracking the Bruins roster for years to come. It would appear he’s poised to “pop” in training camp just as Brandon Carlo did a year ago, and stand as one of those talented youngsters ready to help bridge the gap between talented rookies and established core veterans.

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