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

Bergeron and Marchand convinced Backes to join Bruins

Bergeron and Marchand convinced Backes to join Bruins

JAMAICA PLAIN -- For those excited about the idea of an intense, hard-hitting David Backes in a Bruins uniform for the next five years, you have Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand to partially thank.

Backes, 32, didn’t know either of them all that well prior to this summer, aside from his experiences on ice against them. But Bergeron and Marchand called Backes multiple times while recruiting him to Boston, and it was a major factor in the former Blues captain signing a five-year, $30 million deal with the B's.

“Being an outsider, we need to have a little bit of confession here that Marchand is the kind of guy that gets under everybody’s skin. I was no different,” said the 6-foot-3, 221-pound Backes, who has 206 goals and 460 points in 727 career NHL games, all with St. Louis. “But then talking to him a little bit in the interview process prior to July 1, I hung up the phone and had to take a deep breath and say to myself, ‘That little disturber, he’s actually a pretty good guy.’ Those guys end up being the best teammates.

“A guy like Bergeron, when you play against him [he's] always in the right spot, and is never making mistakes. Those types of guys, again, are guys you want on your team, and guys you want to go to war with. They’re All-World players, Bergeron is an All-World player. But he’s also a down-to-earth guy that puts his work boots on, takes his lunch pail and plays his butt off. He’s nice to the young kids, and he’s nurturing in helping them come along. I think you’ve seen in the NHL that you need a few guys on entry-level deals, or a few guys to outperform their contracts, in order to have success in the salary-cap era. That nurturing and mentorship can really foster those kinds of performances.”

While Backes went on to mention Zdeno Chara as another highly respected, formidable opponent with whom he’ll now share a dressing room, it was interesting to note that players who currently have letters on their sweaters, like Chara and David Krejci, didn’t play a part in the recruiting process. Instead it was the next captain of the team (Bergeron) and a player (Marchand) currently in the middle of negotiations entering the last year of his contract.

“I talked to both Bergeron and Marchand twice before July 1," said Backes. "Just the way that they spoke about their team mentality, and teaming up together and sharing the load of hard minutes that need to be played, and also sharing the load of the offensive necessities that a team has . . . those things just rang true to my beliefs of a team.

“You’re all equals whether you’re the top-paid guy, or the top-minute guy, or the low-minute guy, or the guy that’s playing every other game because you’re the healthy scratch in the other games.

“We all needed to be treated equal, and do whatever we can to support the next guy. When the next guy has success, we have to be just as happy as if we scored the goal. That’s the type of thing where, when you get that from the full 20 guys on the ice, it’s so tough to be beat. Those are the teams that win championships.”

It will be interesting to see just how much involvement Backes has with the Bergeron and Marchand combination. He could very easily be a right-wing fit with those two dynamic forwards next season, or he could be a third-line center behind Bergeron and Krejci and give the Bruins elite depth down the middle of the ice.

True to his team-oriented nature, Backes said he’ll be happy to play at either position and do whatever Claude Julien feels is best.

Backes introduces Bruins fans to his 'Athletes for Animals' charity

Backes introduces Bruins fans to his 'Athletes for Animals' charity

JAMAICA PLAIN -- David Backes probably could have opted to have his introductory press conference inside the Bruins dressing room at TD Garden, or maybe even in some finished part of the team's new practice facility in Brighton, which is set to open a couple of months from now.

Instead, the new Bruins forward met face-to-face with the media for the first time while taking a tour of the MSPCA and, in the process, introducing Bruins fans to his “Athletes for Animals” charity, a foundation that promotes rescuing -- and protecting the welfare of -- homeless pets nationwide.

Backes took pictures with a pit bull named Greta that’s been at the MSPCA Adoption Center for the last seven months looking for a “forever home”.

And as he spoke, it became abundantly clear that this is what the 32-year-old former St. Louis Blues captain is all about.

“[Taking a tour of the facility] gives you a warm feeling inside, and makes you feel like you’re already a part of the city while helping give some attention to the great work that they’re doing,” said Backes, the owner of four dogs (Maverick, Rosey, Marty, Bebe) and two cats (Sunny, Poly), who is house-hunting in Boston this week with his wife and 13-month-old daughter.

“Hopefully this will be just the beginning of our connecting with the community, and helping serve the people that are great fans of the Bruins and that will be watching us every night. [Hopefully] they’re watching us go on deep playoff runs year after year.”

Backes’ efforts with rescue animals gained national notoriety when he took time to help with the stray dog situation in Sochi, Russia during the last Winter Olympics. But the roots of his “Athletes for Animals” charity goes back to his college days at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

“The full story is that in college we wanted an animal or two, but it just wasn’t responsible because we were renting and the landlords didn’t approve," he said "We just didn’t really have the time or resources to support them, so we volunteered at the local shelter for the three years I was in school.

“When my wife [Kelly] and I moved to St. Louis, we wanted to connect with the community, be a part and use our voice to influence social change to do our part making the world a little bit of a better place. So we said ‘Why not connect with the animal welfare rescue community?’

“We absolutely love doing it: Walking dogs, scooping litter boxes and cleaning kennels. Let’s use our voice to kick this off and see what we can do, and it really just snowballed from that to then trying to tie other guys into it. It’s not limited to the animal stuff, but the animals that don’t have a voice, and the kids that don’t have a voice, really tug at our heart strings. We want to help them with this blessing of a great voice we’ve been given as professional athletes, and to really use that to give them some help.”

For these reasons alone, Backes is a great fit in Boston. The Bruins donate heavily to the MSPCA and were one of the first NHL organizations to come up with the Pucks ‘N Pups calendar, which each year features Bruins players and their dogs, or strays from the MSPCA, to raise money for the animal welfare organization.

To learn more about Backes’ organization, “Athletes for Animals,” visit http://athletesforanimals.org .