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

Blidh plans to bring some energy to Bruins after call-up

Blidh plans to bring some energy to Bruins after call-up

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Anton Blidh plans on keeping things pretty straightforward on his first call-up to the NHL. 

The former sixth-round pick of the Bruins has earned his stripes at the AHL level with Providence over the last couple of seasons, and comes to Boston as a gritty, energy forward capable of stirring things up in otherwise sleepy games. There’s also a bit of offensive upside for a fourth line-type player with five goals and nine points with 22 penalty minutes and a plus-eight rating in 19 games for the P-Bruins this season. 

It remains to be seen if the Blidh call-up means that the Bruins intend to scratch a player or that somebody is questionable for Saturday afternoon’s game in Buffalo, but Patrice Bergeron did miss Friday’s practice without any real defined reason for his absence. The 21-year-old Swede said he plans to play to his strengths if he gets into the lineup for the Black and Gold, and that could mean getting under the skin of his Sabres opponents. 

“It’s my first time called up, so I’m happy,” said Blidh, who was asked what he'll bring if he gets into the lineup. “I’ll just play simple and play my own game: be hard on the puck and play with some energy. I worked hard [in Providence] and then I got some confidence. I’m not a goal-scorer, but I scored a couple of goals and got some confidence.”

Claude Julien hasn’t been able to catch up Blidh’s work since the season got started, but was pleased by the youngster’s progress in training camp, where he earned notice for his feisty, physical play on a line with Noel Acciari. 

“They said he’s playing well, so they brought him up. We’ll get to see him, hopefully tomorrow,” said Julien. “I didn’t hear a ton of fine details aside from him being a guy that was certainly playing with a lot of energy. I didn’t mind him in training camp either. He works really hard and competes hard, and we could use that.”

That would certainly be the case after watching the Bruins go through the motions for long stretches Thursday night against Carolina before essentially stealing a game that they didn’t deserve to win. 

Friday, Dec. 2: Toews vs. Matthews

Friday, Dec. 2: Toews vs. Matthews

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading, while everybody in New England is in mourning over the latest Gronk booboo. 

*A pretty neat sharpshooting video with Jonathan Toews and that young whippersnapper Auston Matthews squaring off against each other. 

*Craig Custance looks a little deeper into the situation with the Florida Panthers and how things are stabilizing after the rough firing of Gerard Gallant last week. 

*Now. let’s get to the real important stuff: the San Jose Sharks website has put together their Movember rankings for the player’s mustaches. 

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Bruce Garrioch says that the plans for an outdoor game in Ottawa are again back on the NHL’s agenda. 

*Erik Erlendsson has put together a “Lightning Insider” website where you can find all the latest news about the Tampa Bay franchise. Check it out. 

*As guys such as Anton Khudobin prove when they’re thrust into the starting spot, backup goalies matter in today’s NHL. 

*For something completely different: a mash-up of Kylo Ren and “Girls” from the mad mind of Adam Driver is exactly just that.