Bruins get a boisterous send-off


Bruins get a boisterous send-off

By Mary Paoletti Staff Reporter Follow @mary_paoletti
BOSTON -- For the second time this series, the Bruins are Vancouver-bound.

The B's left Boston Thursday morning, sent off on the well-wishes of hundreds of fans who gathered at the TD Garden.

This trip may be different from their first. Instead of entering enemy territory to chart the unknown, at least one question has been answered: The Bruins can, in fact, compete with the Canucks. After dropping the first two games in Vancouver -- losing one in the final 20 seconds of regulation, the other in overtime -- Boston responded with two dominant home wins, outscoring the Canucks 12-1.

So while the series is tied 2-2, the Bruins are hoping to take their momentum on the road and turn the finals in their favor.

"Last week we were going into the situation blind," said Tyler Seguin. "A lot of us players -- myself included -- haven't been in the Cup finals before so I think now everyone definitely feels more confident, more used to the situation. Hopefully we get a different result tomorrow night."

"We need to cancel all the noise around us. Their rink is pretty loud, just like the Garden. Home ice can be an advantage and we need to take that away."

Stealing Game 5 will take the utmost mental toughness. It helps that a few guys have taken these flights before.

Shawn Thornton was on Anaheim's championship team in 2007 and Mark Recchi hoisted Lord Stanley's Mug with Pittsburgh in 1991 and Carolina in 2006. The pair is happy to provide prospective to their teammates.

"The number one thing is, we've got to keep the same focus and be ready for the start. That's the most important thing," Recchi said. "The Canucks are going to go home and they're going to try to rally around their crowd. If we can hold them for the first 5, 10 minutes and get in their face -- get pucks deep and play physical hockey -- it'll play dividends in the end."

Thornton admitted that it's "exciting" any time the Cup is nearby (it'll be in the building starting with Game 6), but was quick to point out that the team isn't there yet.

"It's not so much different from the last trip," he said. "The series is evened up -- it's best out of three instead of best of seven. We've got to get through this first."

Andrew Ference also has experience to draw on. The defenseman played for Calgary during the 2003-04 Finals and was visibly thoughtful in considering the seasons side by side. In the end, he said the resolve of this Bruins team is different. And that's a good thing.

"We aren't getting ahead of ourselves," he said. "We truly aren't. I've never been on a team that's as focused as this one . . . that never got ahead of itself. I've never really thought about the scale of what we're doing right now. It's special. We're not taking anything for granted."

Especially not Roberto Luongo's breakdown.

After limiting Boston to just two goals in the first two games, the Vancouver netminder fell apart on the road. Letting up eight goals in Game 3 earned him cheers and ridicule from Hub hockey fans; giving up four more in the next outing earned him the derision of Canucks fans at home. Vancouver's coaching staff signaled the end of its patience by pulling the starter Wednesday night.

But the Bruins aren't dwelling on it.

"He's an unbelievable goaltender," Thornton said. "And it kind of scares me that he's had a couple off-nights, because I know he'll bounce back and have an unbelievable one."

"The Canucks know Luongo is one of the best goalies in the league, so they aren't too worried about it," Seguin agreed. "I'm sure they're still confident. Luongo is known to bounce back, so we need to be ready and stay sharp for that."

They're probably thinking of Vancouver's first-round series with Chicago.

Luongo was stellar in the first three games, allowing just five goals, before allowing 11 in a trio of ugly losses, including two on the road. He bounced back in the series finale, stopping 31 of 32 shots to secure Vancouver's advance.

This resilience is what the Bruins are expecting. But they also have expectations for their own keeper.

Tim Thomas has been Boston's trump card all season and his teammates continued to sing his praises as they boarded the bus.

"I'm so happy that we have our goalie," Ference laughed. "He's the best, he really is. As a defensemen, it's a special treat to play in front of Timmy. That's all I know."

Thomas -- with his league-leading .936 save percentage and 2.11 goals-against average duing the playoffs -- is a big piece of what sounds to be a pretty simple plan. The Bruins hope to keep doing what they're doing in the return to Rogers Arena. Why mess with a good thing?

"It's our physical play," said Recchi. "We skated very well. We played our system very well and obviously Timmy's been great. We came back home and were confident we could do this. We've got a long ways to go still, but it was a step. Now we've got to go and steal home ice from them."

Though it must pass through Vancouver, the Bruins know if they stay the course it will lead them back home. They're just hoping it's the last trip they make.

Mary Paoletti can be reached at Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

David Backes out at least 2 more games (and likely longer) after elbow procedure


David Backes out at least 2 more games (and likely longer) after elbow procedure

The Bruins look like they’ll be without gritty veteran forward David Backes for at least the next couple of games, and probably more like the next couple of weeks.

It was announced that the gritty Bruins forward underwent a procedure on Monday remove the olecranon bursa from his elbow, and that “his condition will be updated after the weekend.” The procedure is commonly performed when bursitis in the elbow becomes an untenable, and seems more like an injury that worsens over time rather than anything that happened in a particular game this season.

Backes’ effectiveness did seem to be impacted after he got into a fight with Nazem Kadri in the second game of the season in Toronto, but it’s unknown if there’s any connection between that sequence and the forward’s elbow issues. According to the AAOS (American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons) website, it may take “10-14 days” for the skin to heal following the procedure, and three-to-four weeks before a doctor would clear the average person to resume normal activity.

The 32-year-old Backes is off to a good start for the Bruins with two goals and four points in five games prior to missing Tuesday night’s loss to the Minnesota Wild, and his absence makes an already-thin Bruins forward group smaller, softer and much less dangerous. With Backes on the shelf for at least the next two games against the Rangers and Detroit Red Wings, the Bruins have recalled young center Austin Czarnik after his short stint with the Providence Bruins.

Julien: Defensive mistakes 'doing a lot of damage to our game'

Julien: Defensive mistakes 'doing a lot of damage to our game'

BOSTON – The fact that the Bruins goaltending wasn’t up to snuff was well-documented in Tuesday night’s 5-0 home loss to the Minnesota Wild.

But the Bruins are also experiencing some major defensive problems along with injuries to Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin, and that has been a major factor in things suddenly taking a turn for the Black and Gold. Perhaps it’s also a byproduct of playing higher quality NHL teams that can exploit some of those issues, and that’s exactly what the Canadiens and Wild have done in scoring eight mostly easy goals against the B’s in the last two games.

“We give up two quick goals in that [second] period that just deflated us at that point. But you know, our game right now has to be better without the puck and the kind of goals we’re giving up are killing us. They’re taking momentum out of our hockey club. We’ve had some decent starts we haven’t been rewarded for,” said Claude Julien. “We haven’t scored first now in six games, so you’re playing that kind of a game and the minute you give up a goal you’re playing from behind.

“You’ve got to find a way to score that first goal but at the same time I think we need to be much better without the puck and respecting that part of our game a little bit better. Mistakes, or lack of coverage and not being in the right place [in the D-zone] right now, are doing a lot of damage to our game. It’s hurtful at the end because you end up with this kind of a result.”

The first goal allowed by Subban was a lost battle in front of the net as Charlie Coyle took the puck from Danton Heinen in a 50/50 battle, and then the B’s rookie goaltender allowed a fluttering puck to get through his pads on his glove side. Then 12 seconds later a really big breakdown by the Bergeron line and John-Michael Liles/Colin Miller pair left Chris Stewart all alone in front with a point blank chance in the slot.

That was a defensive punch to the gut that knocked all of the wind out of the Black and Gold, and they were never recovered. It was also an inexcusable mistake in a Julien-coached system that is supposed to suffocate any attempts by attackers to get into the slot area for scoring chances.

“It’s really, you know, getting away from playing the way we know how to. We talked about not cheating on the offense, not giving up the slot, and you know giving them the outside as much as possible. When you don’t do that obviously it’s going to be hard on the goalies,” said Patrice Bergeron. “You know obviously it’s a team game, it’s about everyone and [the young goalies] are definitely not to blame tonight. We talked about being a strong, defensive team and being tight in our zone. We did that in the first, I thought, and the second was ugly.”

Give Subban credit for making a stop on Marco Scandella after giving up the two goals in 12 seconds, but a soft power play score allowed to Ryan Suter resulted in the rookie getting pulled from the game despite whatever was happening defensively in front of him. For good measure, an Adam McQuaid turnover in the B’s defensive zone quickly turned into a Jason Tucker goal through traffic to make it 4-0, and the Bruins were well on their way to their worst loss of the season.