BOSTON -- Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero and agent Kent Hughes, who reps star blue-liner Kris Letang, are slated to meet here in Boston on Wednesday, a source told ESPN.com.
It only makes sense because Hughes lives in Boston and Shero is in town for the NHL's general managers meeting.
It could potentially be a pivotal meeting in terms of what transpires on the Letang front. The blue-liner has one year left on his deal, but Shero’s usual M.O. is not to wait it out. Just look at the Jordan Staal situation a year ago. Once Staal, who had one year left on his deal, rejected a contract extension from the Penguins, and Shero dealt him quickly thereafter.
It could be that Shero could get the ball rolling on trade talks if Letang rejects whatever offer might be coming from the Penguins' GM.
And know this, I don’t think Letang signs for any less than $7 million a year.
Wednesday’s meeting, therefore, will be a compelling discussion either way.
Daniel Briere will be an unrestricted free agent soon, with the Philadelphia Flyers deciding to buy him out.
A source told ESPN.com that Briere and Paul Holmgren met last week, at which time the Flyers' GM informed the veteran center of the team’s decision. No bitter feelings, though, as I’m told Briere feels Holmgren handled it with class.
The buyout will wipe out Briere’s $6.5 million cap hit for the next two seasons.
What remains to be seen is whether the Flyers will buy out goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, a decision that has been met with mixed opinions within the Flyers front office.
The decision is whether to do it now or wait one more year, when they can still get a cap-friendly buyout.
Perhaps what might push the Flyers into buying out Bryz now is the availability of young netminder Jonathan Bernier from the Los Angeles Kings.
My TSN colleague, Bob McKenzie, reported during our Insider Trading segment Tuesday night that the Flyers, Maple Leafs and Islanders were among the most interested teams that coveted Bernier.
One source told ESPN.com Tuesday that there are five teams now with serious interest in Bernier, the list cut down from the nearly dozen clubs that poked around about him.
Could the New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks simply swap coaches this offseason?
We know Alain Vigneault will be the new Rangers bench boss, the official announcement imminent. But what about John Tortorella?
He has interviewed in Vancouver, and a source told ESPN.com that the Canucks were impressed with Torts. He is among the final four candidates for the Canucks' coach gig vacated by Vigneault. The others are John Stevens, Scott Arniel and Lindy Ruff.
The intensity that Torts brings and the accountability he would demand from players are elements that has impressed Canucks brass.
Stevens would be a more cerebral coach, his defensive work on the 2012 Stanley Cup champion Kings certainly not to be overlooked. Ruff is a stud candidate, of course, and Arniel is viewed by some in the industry as a guy that deserves another shot after what happened in Columbus.
Another potential candidate is Dave Tippett (whose deal is up), depending on what transpires with the Phoenix Coyotes' ownership front. If Tippett were to ever become available, my guess is both Vancouver and the Dallas Stars would want to talk to him.
Give agent Bill Zito a lot of credit. When he signed his client Tuukka Rask to just a one-year deal a year ago, some people criticized him. The gamble, though, was that Rask would excel in his first full season as Boston Bruins starter with Tim Thomas gone -- and boy, oh boy has that been an incredible decision by Zito.
Zito and Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli talked about an extension back when the lockout-shortened season began in January, but then mutually decided it would be better to wait until after the season was over to pick it up again regarding the star netminder, a restricted free agent.
On the heals of the Penguins locking up star center Evgeni Malkin a year before he was due to become a free agent, the Detroit Red Wings and Pavel Datsyuk, while the Sharks have agreed to a five-year extension with Logan Couture worth $6 million a year.
A couple of thoughts on each deal: First in Detroit, where I wonder what the Datsyuk signing means for pending UFA center Valtteri Filppula. In a weak UFA class, Filppula can likely fetch north of $5 million on the open market, and I think that coin is too rich for Detroit. Expect the Wings and Zito, also Filppula’s agent, to meet next week at the draft though.
As for Couture, the term (five years) is reflective of how San Jose has managed to keep its top players from signing those lifetime deals that other stars get around the league, which allows GM Doug Wilson to not ever get in a payroll/cap jam. Other than Couture now, not a single player on the Sharks roster has a deal that extends past five years from now, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau both signing shorter-term deals a few years ago.
Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray held a brief discussion with Jack Adams Award winner Paul MacLean about a contract extension last weekend and is expected to sit down with his coach next week at the draft. MacLean has one year left on his deal.
Murray has chatted briefly with captain Daniel Alfredsson, who is an UFA and undecided on whether to keep playing or not. In a perfect world, Murray would get an answer before Alfredsson goes back to Sweden for the summer next week, which would give the Sens the ability to hit trade talks/free agency with the knowledge of whether or not he’s back.
But if Alfredsson needs more time to think about it, Murray said it would be no problem at all. Meanwhile, other UFAs on the Ottawa roster include Guillaume Latendresse, Peter Regin and Mike Lundin, none of whom likely will get a contract offer from the Senators.
THIS AND THAT
Veteran agent Don Meehan expects to meet with Rangers GM Glen Sather in New York/New Jersey the week of the draft to talk extension on star goalie Henrik Lundqvist. That’s going to be an expensive re-sign.
The Carolina Hurricanes offered pending UFA Dan Ellis a new deal, but the veteran backup netminder informed them he was headed to market.
Speaking of the Hurricanes, they’ve gotten calls from other teams on their No. 5 overall pick for the June 30 draft, but the intention right now is to keep the pick.
Contract talks have been ongoing since the end of their season between the Kings and pending UFA blue-liner Rob Scuderi. The expectation is that veteran agent Steve Bartlett will meet in person with Kings GM Dean Lombardi on draft week. With Slava Voynov signing a six-year, $25 million deal Tuesday, Scuderi is now clearly the top priority.
No surprise at all but the expectation is that pending UFA center Derek Roy is headed to market.
The NHL’s 30 GMs meet here Wednesday before Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals, and while Patrick Roy will be handling trade discussions for the Colorado Avalanche, Greg Sherman will represent the franchise at the meeting.
The timing of Marian Hossa's injury remains uncertain, but Ed Olczyk doesn't believe the Chicago Blackhawks knew all day Monday that Hossa might not play in Game 3.
Olczyk said during Monday's broadcast that Hossa was hit by a puck in pregame warmups, but Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said nothing happened during warmups. Hawks captain Jonathan Toews added to the confusion after the game when he said the team wasn't surprised to learn just before game time that Hossa wouldn't play.
The Hawks turned to Ben Smith, who didn't warm up, to take Hossa's spot just minutes before game time.
"There's all this speculation, the quotes that guys knew there was a chance he wasn't going to play, but I've been around the block a few times, I don't know how you can buy into that with the aspect of knowing that if there was a chance that (Hossa) wasn't going to play you had Sheldon Brookbank and Brandon Bollig taking warmups and then neither one of those guys dresses for the game," Olczyk said Tuesday on "The Carmen & Jurko Show" on ESPN Chicago 1000.
"To me it was one of those 'OK, we've got to do something right now. We've got to figure this thing out now.' We're not going to find out a lot. Players on both teams right now are taped together just getting out there to play and with Hossa being out, taking warmup and then not playing the game ... to think that the Blackhawks had an idea that he might not play and then all of a sudden play a guy who didn't take warmups that just doesn't make a whole heck of a lot of sense."
Toews said playing without Hossa was "something we were prepared for all day, that he might not play."
"It happens sometimes. You're missing one of your best players and you've got to find a way to play without him. We always say it's an opportunity for the guys to step up. The guys that got more ice time (Monday night) played well. We've just got to find a way to win."
Quenneville said after the game that Hossa has an upper-body injury, and he is hopeful Hossa will be able to play in Game 4 on Wednesday.
Considering the circumstances, Olczyk believes Smith, who finished with a plus/minus rating of minus-1 and had just one shot, played well in Game 3.
"I thought the kid played a good game for a kid that worked his rear end off in practice in the morning, goes back to the hotel like he's done for every single playoff game and the next thing you know at about 7:55 local time he's tapped on the shoulder and told 'You're playing tonight' and he's had no warmup. I thought he played a good game. Did he make some mistakes? Absolutely, but I thought he was one of the top six forwards for the Blackhawks (Monday night)."
The Blackhawks wasted all five of their power-play chances in Game 3 and extended their goal-less streak to 20 consecutive power plays, including all 11 in the finals.
Game 3 Report Card: Boston Bruins 2, Chicago Blackhawks 0
Since the power play includes offense, the grade fits. You could count on one hand the dangerous chances the Hawks had. Duncan Keith probably had one of the best of the night, moving in close on Tuukka Rask early in the game but he chose to pass instead of shoot. It was that kind of night for the Hawks, who seemingly never overcame the loss of Marian Hossa. The offensive lines looked out of sync all night and Hawks coach Joel Quenneville will undoubtedly go back to the drawing board between games, especially if Hossa is out for Game 4. Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp missed the net one too many times.
The defense played fine, neither distinguishing itself in a good or bad way. Michal Rozsival threw a blind pass around the boards in the Hawks' zone, which led to the scoring sequence on the Bruins' first goal, but it wasn't an awful turnover. The second goal came on the continuation of a five-on-three power play and there wasn't much Brent Seabrook could do after Jaromir Jagr made a perfect door-step pass to Patrice Bergeron. But that's all the Bruins would get on the night as the Hawks limited Boston to a manageable amount of good scoring chances, at least during five-on-five play.
Corey Crawford did all that he could, once again getting little help in front of him. The power-play goal came after a picture-perfect pass from Jagr, and Daniel Paille's tally to open the scoring was a good shot off a broken play by the Hawks as they tried to clear the zone. Crawford stopped 33, playing an overall decent game.
The Hawks' power play was brutal once again, getting just four shots on net in 8:11 of man-advantage time. The Bruins added insult to injury getting a power play goal of their own, making it 2-0. The Hawks have had no answers this entire series or postseason when on the power play. In fact it has taken momentum away more than it has given them a boost. Boston had better scoring chances on the Hawks' power play than the Hawks did. That says it all.
BOSTON -- Listen to Patrice Bergeron and Jonathan Toews for any amount of time, and there is an almost perpetual calm about them.
Win or lose, up in a playoff series or down, struggling to find the back of the net or operating at an almost otherworldly level, it would be difficult to tell which player represented which state.
Maybe that’s why both have won the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the NHL’s best two-way forward the past two seasons.
Maybe that’s why both represent both the heartbeat of their respective teams, their teams' conscience, as it were.
For instance, anyone imagining that Toews, the Chicago Blackhawks' captain, might have been rattled or visibly disappointed at the team’s 2-0 loss to the Boston Bruins in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals Monday night would have been disappointed.
"We know we’ve got to be better in the next one,” Toews told a gaggle of reporters gathered around his stall in the Blackhawks’ sweltering postgame dressing room. "And find ways to score, get that confidence in that game back. I don’t think we’re discouraged or frustrated at all having said that."
Anyone looking for self-loathing from a man who has scored but one goal in the postseason would likewise be disappointed despite the fact it must be eating away at Toews not to be doing more offensively to help his team.
Regardless of his struggles offensively, Toews remains the kind of player who does not cheat, does not take shortcuts.
On Monday, with Marian Hossa unable to play thanks to an upper-body injury, Chicago coach Joel Quenneville juggled his lines and moved Toews onto a line with Michael Frolik and Marcus Kruger, who normally fulfill fourth-line duties for the Blackhawks, for the early part of the game.
Was the captain surprised that he did not warrant more skilled linemates?
"No. It’s always good to shake things up a little bit,” Toews said. "You might get a little chemistry. And for myself playing against [David] Krejci’s line for the most part with Kruger and Frolik at the start of the game, I think we did a good job and kept them in their end for the most part. We just got to find a way to score."
He certainly did his part.
He led all Blackhawks with five shots on goal. He made offensive plays that could not be finished by teammates. And he kept his talented Bruins counterparts off the scoresheet.
"Part of your job is to keep them off the scoresheet and the other half of your job is to find ways to score big goals for your team. Did one thing, got to do the other," Toews said.
Down the hallway, in a similarly overheated Bruins room, Bergeron’s calmness in the face of a crucial final-series victory belied his significant role in his team’s success.
Where Toews has yet to be rewarded for his diligence, Bergeron’s diligence continues to be a catalyst to the Bruins’ methodical, and what now seems inexorable, march to a second Stanley Cup win in three years.
Bergeron won an incredible 24 of 28 faceoffs Monday night while Toews won only eight of 19.
Bergeron also led all skaters on either team with seven shots.
"Especially against a team like Chicago, you’ve got to go hard every shift,” Bergeron said. "You can’t take a shift off. Our start was something we talked about, and carried that on into the second and third periods as well. I thought we did a decent job. Obviously, it wasn’t perfect by any means, but at this point of the year you’ve got to take the wins and move on and focus on the next game."
Bergeron was, as always, a key defender both five-on-five and on the penalty kill. On this night, the Bruins killed off all five Chicago power plays and now have denied the Blackhawks on 11 straight man-advantage opportunities in the finals. Throw in the 15 straight against Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference finals and one late in the second round, and the Bruins have denied opponents on 27 straight power plays.
When the game was over, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville pointed to the power play and the lopsided losses in the faceoff circle (they won only 16 of 56 draws) as the key moments in the loss.
"Those were basically the differentials in the game," Quenneville said.
In the second period, with the Bruins holding a 1-0 lead, it was Bergeron who delivered the knockout blow by snapping home a delightful Jaromir Jagr feed on the power play.
Still, Bergeron is one of those rare players -- like any Selke winner, frankly -- who thrives on either side of the puck, relishes the moments of defensive strength as much as offensive prowess.
"I take pride in it. I take pride in both sides,” Bergeron said. "Don’t get me wrong here, I love to be in the offensive zone, but yeah, it is about doing the job there and don’t spend too much time [so] we go on the attack."
On the eve of these Stanley Cup finals, Toews denied Bergeron what would have been his second straight Selke Trophy, edging him out by a scant 10 voting points.
It was an award that quickly became swallowed by the drama that has been this final series.
But as the Bruins look to extend their domination at home in the playoffs -- they have now won seven straight at home -- the battle between these two great players and leaders has become at the moment distinctly one-sided.
If the Blackhawks are going to get back in this series, it seems undeniable that Toews will have to alter that equation.
Given the way Bergeron is playing, we’re not entirely sure it can be done.
Less than a week later, Game 3 may have been his worst.
Bolland was whistled for a game-high three penalties, was robbed of the puck in the Hawks' zone to set up Boston's first goal, won 1-of-8 faceoffs, had one just hit and had a minus-2 rating in the Blackhawks' 2-0 loss.
Bolland's first penalty, a cross-checking call, gave the Bruins their first power play of the game at 12:00 of the second period. With 11 seconds left on Bolland's penalty, Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson was sent to the box for tripping. The Blackhawks killed off the 5-on-3 opportunity, but Bolland was unable to return to the defensive zone before the Bruins' Patrice Bergeron scored to put the Bruins ahead 2-0.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville wouldn't comment on Bolland specifically after the loss, but he thought the power-play goal was costly.
"Haven't talked to him yet," Quenneville said of Bolland. "We'll reassess and reevaluate the game. Certainly I liked our first [period.] Didn't mind our third [period.] Lost a lot of momentum on their first goal. Five-on-three situation was something, that was the game. We got to make sure that every play is critical, every shift is important, value being out there and doing the right thing. Managing the puck is kind of what we're talking about on those situations."
Bolland had accumulated a number of penalties early in the playoffs, but he had done a better job in that area as of late. Monday marked his first multi-penalty games since compiling three multi-penalty games against the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference semifinals. He has nine penalties and 18 penalty minutes in 14 playoff games.
Bolland missed the opening round due to a lower-body injury.
Quenneville had praised Bolland's play after Game 1 when Bolland had a goal and an assist in the Blackhawks' 4-3 triple-overtime win. It was Bolland's first goal and his first multi-point game of the playoffs. Bolland was also a factor late in the Western Conference finals against the Los Angeles Kings with a few key hits.
Bolland was requested by the media after the game, but he was not made available before the locker room was closed.
BOSTON -- The preamble to this year’s Stanley Cup finals was about two contrasting styles: the heavy, punishing Boston Bruins versus the speedy Chicago Blackhawks.
Both teams have loads of skill, but there’s no denying how differently they play the game.
And so the question was whether the Blackhawks’ more aesthetically pleasing brand of hockey would be able to overcome what is clearly the recipe of success in the NHL in the past few years (Boston in 2011, L.A. in 2012), Boston’s disciplined, grinding, physical two-way hockey that is rolling into high gear through three games of the Cup finals.
The score was only 2-0 Monday night in Game 3 at a rocking TD Garden, but the ice was way more tilted than that, with the Bruins owning the puck, forcing turnovers and looking like a team that has created a bit of separation in what otherwise had been such a close series in Chicago in the opening two games.
Don’t fool yourself, this was a no-doubt Bruins victory Monday night.
It might not have been the 8-1 drubbing Boston dropped on Vancouver when the series shifted here in 2011 for Game 3, but there was that similar feeling at TD Garden, the feeling that the visiting team was hanging on all night.
It certainly didn’t help that the Hawks were without star winger Marian Hossa, who took warm-up but then surprised everyone when he was pulled out before game time with an upper-body injury.
"It’s something we were prepared for all day that he might not play," Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "It happens sometimes: You’re missing one of your best players, and you’ve got to find a way to play without him. We always say it’s an opportunity for the guys to step up. The guys that got more ice time tonight played well. We’ve just got to find a way to win."
Nobody in the Blackhawks' dressing room was using Hossa’s absence as an excuse, but the reality is that, especially when it comes to road games, Chicago desperately missed the Slovak star’s ability to protect the puck and force offensive chances with the strength he has going to the net.
"We were prepared," Blackhawks winger Patrick Sharp said of playing without Hossa. "We have a good, deep team in here. It’s tough when you lose a top guy like that, but we have plenty of guys to fill in. We’re not going to worry about it."
Was it really just a game ago that the Hawks blitzed the Bruins in the opening period of Game 2 with a speed game that left Boston dazed and confused -- and outshot 19-4?
Since then, none of that.
"I thought our third period tonight was pretty strong," Sharp said. "We started getting back to our speed and attack game. We had plenty of chances. They protect their net well. They scored a power-play goal, and we didn’t."
Oy, the power play. Just when you think the Hawks have hit the bottom of the barrel with a power play that doesn’t seem to have a clue, Monday night provides more wreckage.
Chicago went 0-for-5 and rarely looked dangerous, and the Hawks looked confused on zone entries and, once in the Bruins’ zone, were too stationary.
Roughing penalties to Bruins wingers Kaspars Daugavins and later Shawn Thornton, both in the opening period, provided Chicago the golden opportunity to open the scoring, a first goal that would have done so much for the visitors' confidence while also taking the crowd out of the game for a bit.
Instead, the fans got even louder as the Bruins got the best scoring chances on those Hawks power plays, as deflating a feeling as can be for Chicago.
You don’t need to score a lot of power-play goals to win a Cup, as I documented last week. But you do need to score the odd goal and create at least some chances on your man advantage when you don’t score. None of that is happening for the Hawks right now.
Sharp was asked whether he could put his finger on the power-play issues.
"If I could, we’d probably be scoring," Sharp said. "We didn’t score, but we had a few chances. We’re in the Stanley Cup finals. We’re not going to hang our heads about it. We’re going to continue to work and find a way to make it productive."
And it just so happens that Patrice Bergeron’s power-play goal 14:05 into the second period was the dagger, capping a 2-0 win that now pushes Chicago into a must win Wednesday night to avoid a 3-1 deficit.
For that W to happen, Chicago’s big boys have to step up. Toews worked his butt off Monday night and created a number of decent chances, but the bottom line is that he remains without a goal in the series. He needs to find the score sheet. Patrick Kane was nearly invisible, unable (unwilling?) to break through Boston’s physical coverage to create space for himself. Sharp had his moments but looked frustrated at other times. Bryan Bickell, who rocked the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference finals, has gone completely silent in the Cup series.
The Hawks are a dangerous team when they have the puck. Losing a whopping 71 percent of the faceoffs to Boston on Monday night is one way to make sure you never start a shift with the puck.
"You can talk about that and our power play," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said when asked about his team’s 29 percent faceoff success. "Those were basically the differentials in the game."
We’ll find out a lot about these Blackhawks in Game 4. Just like we did about the Canucks two years ago, with Vancouver responding to an 8-1 loss with a listless 4-0 defeat in Game 4.
Chicago’s season is essentially on the line Wednesday.
Will that speed game and swagger return?
"The series isn’t over, but we have to be better for Game 4," Sharp said. "I don’t doubt the character of our team. We’ll bounce back and be better."
Coming back from a 3-1 series deficit versus Detroit in the second round hardened the Hawks. Now they have to tap into that experience.
"We’ve been through some tough situations," star blueliner Duncan Keith said. "But we know we have to have our best game of the year next game."
Blackhawks at Bruins, 8 ET (Series tied, 1-1)
* When Stanley Cup finals is tied 1-1, Game 3 winners have won 21 of 25 series since 1939 (1st year of best-of-7 format)
* 1st Cup finals to be 1-1 after 2 games since 2004 (Lightning vs Flames – Lightning won series in 7 games)
* 1st 2 games of this series have gone to overtime; only Cup Final series to begin with 3 or more OT games – 1951 (Maple Leafs vs Canadiens, all 5 games of that series went to OT)
* Bruins: 21-21 on penalty kill in last 6 games (since start of Conf. Finals)
* Bruins: 10-2 in last 12 playoff games going back to Game 7 of Conference Quarterfinals vs Maple Leafs
* Bruins: 7-2 at home in 2013 playoffs (won last 6)
* Tuukka Rask (BOS): stopped 254 of 262 shots over last 7 games (.969 save pct)
* David Krejci (BOS): leads 2013 postseason with 23 points; equals his career-high for a playoff year (also had 23 pts in 2011)
* Blackhawks: last 4 playoff games have been decided by 1 goal (3 decided in OT); are 3-1 in those games
* Blackhawks: 3-4 on road in 2013 playoffs (won last)
* Patrick Sharp (CHI): 9 goals in 2013 playoffs (tied for playoff lead with David Krejci)
OT in 1st 2 Games of Stanley Cup finals
Since Series Went to Best-of-7 in 1939
2013 Bruins-Blackhawks Split
2012 Kings-Devils Kings both
1951<< Canadiens-Maple Leafs Split
1946 Bruins-Canadiens Canadiens both
>>All 5 games of series went to OT
BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins were still contemplating Monday what to do about a fourth line that has been lost in the shuffle during the Stanley Cup finals.
For the most part, the fourth unit in the morning skate was Kaspars Daugavins, Rich Peverley and Shawn Thornton, the three guys who ended up there late in Game 2. But I’m not sure Bruins coach Claude Julien is married to it. Carl Soderberg may also be an option on that line.
Julien said he was still considering his options and wasn’t 100 percent sure. I suspect he’s contemplating the possibility of Soderberg as a countermeasure to the Chicago Blackhawks deciding to bring back Viktor Stalberg for Game 3. Stalberg was scratched the opening two games in favor of Brandon Bollig.
Stalberg, who brings more skill but less physicality than Bollig, skated on the fourth line with Marcus Kruger and Michael Frolik at the Hawks’ morning skate.
If Soderberg does come in, I’m guessing it’s for Daugavins.
What’s been interesting in this series is that the Blackhawks have rolled four lines more consistently than the Bruins, and that's usually a staple for Boston. But since a season-ending injury to valuable checking center Gregory Campbell in the last round, the Bruins’ bottom six has been a bit in flux.
Julien found some gold midway through Game 2 when he put Chris Kelly between Daniel Paille and Tyler Seguin, with the newly formed third line scoring the tying and overtime goals. That unit stayed together at the morning skate Monday.
Clearly, there wasn’t much confidence in what became a new fourth line during Game 2, Daugavins-Peverley-Thornton, as each played sparingly. Some of that was because the Hawks had the last line change and coach Joel Quenneville often tried to put out his second line, centered by Michal Handzus (between Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane), whenever Julien had his fourth line on the ice. It’s a matchup the Bruins' coach obviously wanted no part of.
The reason the Hawks could afford to try to get that matchup is that Quenneville has no problem using Frolik and Kruger on a fourth line against Boston’s top lines.
Now that the series has shifted to Boston, however, it’s Julien who is armed with the last line changes for Games 3 and 4, and that will afford him chances to better control the matchups and perhaps get his fourth line out there a bit more with more protection.
“There's no doubt it makes it a little bit easier,” Julien said. “Doesn't mean it's going to happen all the time, but it certainly is a lot easier. Joel's a pretty good coach, smart coach. When he senses something, he'll take advantage of it.
“I had to be extra careful in Chicago with that. But, again, tonight hopefully it's a little easier. Nonetheless, we're in the finals here, you got to do what you got to do. Sometimes you may play guys a little bit more, but they're capable of handling the ice time.”
He was asked Sunday if there was some ego that lurked somewhere deep inside that craved attention.
"No," he said.
"Because I don't care about that part of it. I enjoy my work. If I could come to work every day, do this stuff, then walk out of the rink and nobody knew who I was, I'd be the happiest guy in the world. That's just the way I am. It's my personality," Julien said.
"I love my job. I love what I do. I hate coming up here every day," he said from his perch at a podium in front of several dozen journalists.
"But, no, it's just the way I am. I enjoy the job. I enjoy being around players. I enjoy the whole process of this work. Love my job. Just don't like the limelight that comes with it. I'm low-profile. That's just the way I am."
Campbell along for the rideGregory Campbell, who suffered a broken right fibula while blocking a shot against Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference finals, had surgery to repair the injury and so did not travel to Chicago for the first two games of the Stanley Cup finals. That will change this week and as the series goes along, Julien said.
"I think had it not been for the surgery that close to the start of the finals, he would have been with us. He's going to be with us from here on in. You're going to see him around here," Julien said.
"He wants to be around the team. We want him around the team. He's part of our family. You'll get to see him. When we go back to Chicago, it will be the same thing."
Essensa a crease character
The Bruins are one of those teams in the NHL that does not allow its assistant coaches to comment on players. But Julien had high praise for longtime goaltending coach and former NHLer Bob Essensa for his work with the Bruins’ goaltenders and specifically Tuukka Rask.
Well, sort of high praise.
"Well, he's annoying to us coaches. That's why we don't have him here all the time. He's quite a character," Julien joked of Essensa.
"They're like goalies, right? He's a funny individual," Julien quipped.
On a serious note, though, Julien said Essensa’s approach, which is to teach to a goalie’s individual strengths as opposed to trying to impose a specific style, has served the team well.
"Having said that, he has that personality as a coach that he does keep the players loose," Julien said. "He is a funny guy. At the same time, he does a real outstanding job with our goaltenders and with dissecting obviously every other teams' goaltenders when it comes to that stuff. He spends a lot of time doing that.
"What I like about Bob the most is he can work with any kind of the goaltenders," the Bruins coach said. "When you look at Tim Thomas, you look at Tuukka Rask, you have two great goaltenders with two obviously different styles. He doesn't mold the goaltender into his style; he strengthens that goaltender into his style. That's where Bob excels. He worked with Tim. Tim is a competitor. Basically Tim, all he wanted to do was stop the puck. He had a style, but a lot of times you saw him, even when he got out of position, he was a great battler. You don't take that stuff away from him.
"[Essensa has] been a real good asset. Again, he's well-liked by everybody. When I say that, players love him, and so do we in the coaching room. But he does get annoying sometimes."
Gasp for Rask
Speaking of Rask, when the former Toronto Maple Leaf prospect was traded to the Boston Bruins for netminder Andrew Raycroft in June 2006, former netminder Glenn Healy, now a national broadcast analyst, was on the draft room floor.
He said there was an audible gasp from at least three clubs when the trade was announced.
"Probably one of the worst trades the Leafs have made in the last 20 years," Healy told ESPN.com. "It was like, 'What?' That kind of 'wow' moment."
Bruins 2, Blackhawks 1 (OT) (Series tied, 1-1)
Daniel Paille's first career playoff overtime goal gave the Bruins a 2-1 win over the Blackhawks in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals. It's the second straight year that games 1 & 2 of the Cup finals went to OT, but just the fourth time since 1939: 2012 Kings-Devils, 1951 Canadiens-Maple Leafs, 1946 Bruins-Canadiens. The only time the first three games of the Cup finals went to OT was the 1951 Canadiens-Maple Leafs series (all 5 games in that series went to OT).
* Daniel Paille (BOS): 1st career playoff OT goal (also had assist); had just 1 point in previous 7 games
* 2nd straight year that Games 1 & 2 of Cup finals went to OT (4th time since 1939 first 2 games of a Cup finals went to OT)
* 1st Cup Final to be tied after 2 games since 2004 (Lightning vs Flames - Lightning won Game 2 and won series)
* 26th overtime game of 2013 playoffs (tied for 2nd-most OT games in one postseason in NHL history)
* Bruins: 21-21 on penalty kill over last 6 games; now 10-2 in last 12 playoff games going back to Game 7 of Conference Quarterfinals vs Maple Leafs
* Chris Kelly (BOS): Goal in 2nd period - 1st point of 2013 playoffs & 1st playoff goal since Game 1 of 2012 Conference Quarterfinals vs Capitals (snapped streak of 21 games without a point in playoffs)
* Tuukka Rask (BOS): 33 saves; stopped 254 of 262 shots over last 7 games (.969 save percent)
* Blackhawks: 1st loss in last 7 home playoff games
* Patrick Sharp (CHI): goal in 1st period (9 - now tied for playoff goal lead)
* FROM ELIAS: Tuukka Rask made 33 saves as he led the Boston to a 2–1 overtime win over the Blackhawks in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals. Rask has allowed no more than one goal in each of the Bruins’ last seven wins (two shutouts and five one-goal games), dating back to Game 3 in the second round against the Rangers. His save percentage in those seven games is .978 (only five goals allowed on 223 shots).
OT in 1st 2 Games of Stanley Cup finals Since 1939
2013 Bruins-Blackhawks Split
2012 Kings-Devils Kings both
1951 Canadiens-Maple Leafs Split
1946 Bruins-Canadiens Canadiens both
Most Overtime Games In A Single Postseason, NHL History
Alex Ovechkin Wins Hart Trophy (NHL MVP)
Most Hart Trophies, NHL's Most Valuable Player
Wayne Gretzky 9
Gordie Howe 6
Eddie Shore 4
Alex Ovechkin 3 <<
Bobby Clarke 3
Mario Lemieux 3
Howie Morenz 3
Bobby Orr 3
>> 2007-08, 2008-09, 2012-13
Calder Memorial Trophy (Rookie of the Year) - Jonathan Huberdeau, Panthers
* Huberdeau is the first Florida Panther to win the Calder Trophy as the NHL's Rookie of the Year
Jonathan Huberdeau Rookie Ranks This Season
Goals 14 3rd
Assists 17 T-4th
Points 31 T-1st
Shots 112 3rd
Norris Memorial Trophy (Best Defenseman)- P.K. Subban, Canadiens
Vezina Trophy (Best Goaltender) - Sergei Bobrovsky, Blue Jackets
Ted Lindsay Award (Most Outstanding Player as voted by NHLPA) - Sidney Crosby, Penguins
CHICAGO -- First the Chicago Blackhawks lost momentum, then they lost the lead and finally the game, falling 2-1 in overtime to the Boston Bruins in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals on Saturday.
Tuukka Rask, though. That came back to haunt them.
"When you score a goal and are playing the way we were playing in the first period, you need to find a way to sustain that, and we didn't quite do that tonight," Jonathan Toews said.
Nineteen shots in the first period were more than the Hawks had the rest of the game. They finished with just 34 on the night. The shots dried up and so did the scoring chances. Slowly, Boston took the momentum away.
"The message was basically to wake up," Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said. "We really slept through the first period and didn't play very well."
CHICAGO -- Another officiating controversy has found the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Blackhawks had a goal disallowed due to an early whistle during the first period of their 2-1 overtime loss to the Boston Bruins in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals.
On the play, Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews skated behind the net and attempted a wraparound. Toews was stuffed in the net's corner by Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask's left leg. Rask quickly readjusted himself and laid his entire body the length of the net to cover the puck. As Rask was on the ice, Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa saw the puck under Rask's pads, jabbed at it with his stick and the puck crossed the line.
Behind the net, referee Wes McCauley was said to have blown his whistle to end the play. The play was reviewed and was ruled not a goal.
CHICAGO -- For much of the early part of Game 2 of these achingly close Stanley Cup finals, it appeared as though the Boston Bruins had spoken the right words but were going to be unable to summon the will to move on from an emotional triple-overtime loss in Game 1.
Oh, they had talked the talk, all right. They had talked about their experience and their belief in themselves.
And then they came out and played a first period that suggested the complete opposite, that they were in fact crippled by their 4-3 loss in Game 1.
But slowly, inch by inch, minute by minute, the Bruins made good on those words and became the kind of team they insisted they were.
They started hitting everything that moved in a Chicago Blackhawks jersey, and by the time overtime rolled around, they had tilted the entire ice surface to their side, capping off a dramatic 2-1 come-from-behind victory with Daniel Paille's goal with 6:12 left in the first overtime.
"It's great and exciting for the fans who watch the hockey games," offered Boston winger Jaromir Jagr, who had a strong game for the Bruins and narrowly missed ending the game himself, ringing one off the crossbar earlier in overtime. "If you have a bad heart, you might not watch the game because you might get a heart attack. For young people, it's pretty exciting to watch. Old people don't watch it because you might die just watching."
Now, the pressure shifts to a Chicago team that must come to grips with its failure to bury the Bruins in a first period in which they dominated Boston, outshooting them 19-4.
"It's like the second period; I thought we lost the pace of the game on that end of the rink. We had the perfect start to the game, then we stopped doing what made us successful," Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville said. "We stood around. They countered."
"We’ve got to swallow this one and move on," said Patrick Sharp, the Blackhawks’ lone goal scorer. "They’re a good team. They’re tough to play against. They protect their net well, and for all the talk about how big tough and physical they are, they move well, too."
As this series moves along, one wonders if the Blackhawks will think back to the first period of Game 2 as the moment when this series got away from them.
Were it not for Tuukka Rask’s continued brilliance in the Boston goal, Game 2 would have been over early and perhaps the series as well.
But that’s not how it played out.
"Well, we definitely were in survival mode there for a bit. It looked like they had more guys out there than we did," said Rask, who has now allowed two or fewer goals 13 times in this playoff year.
In the Bruins' room after that period, there was a lot of soul-searching.
"We told ourselves we have to wake up. It’s the Stanley Cup finals,” defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said. "You don’t get here too many times in your life. It’s now or never and we started playing better slowly, and finally found our gear towards the end of the second."
Although the Bruins lost the first two games of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals on the road in Vancouver and came back to win four of the next five and the Cup, the odds of repeating that feat this year against a team as deep and talented as Chicago would have been remote.
"It was a dirty road win, I would say," Seidenberg said. "I mean, we didn’t deserve to only be down one after the first but we ground it out somehow and again Tuukka saved us. But it’s huge going back home and I don’t know if it’s momentum but we can certainly build off that."
Although this game lacked the spark and sizzle of Game 1, in which the Bruins built a 3-1 lead and then traded chances for 112:08 before Andrew Shaw gave the Blackhawks the victory, it was dynamic in its own way.
In the two off days between games, Bruins head coach Claude Julien talked about the team’s poise and how not much rattles his troops. That was borne out Saturday, as the Bruins survived the first period and then allowed just 15 shots the rest of the way.
On a night when neither team’s big guns were particularly visible -- Sharp scored the lone goal for the Blackhawks during that dominating first -- the Bruins got two goals from a revamped third line and it happened to be enough to redefine the narrative of this series.
"I think we stopped thinking and started playing and realized we had to help the team. That helps your game when you stop thinking and using your natural ability," Paille explained.
Paille, Chris Kelly and Tyler Seguin were thrown together midway through the game and were the best unit on the ice for either team, tying the game on a hard-working shift in the second period and then winning it on a nice pass from Seguin to Paille in the slot.
"It was awesome. I know being on the bench for that one, playing 10 periods in two games, it was nice to see that one go in and not have to go to double overtime and to get us back in the series," Milan Lucic said. "It was a big goal. Two big goals by that line. Another great game by Tuukka. We definitely had to earn this one."
While that unit provided the scoring heroics, the rest of the Bruins' lineup provided moments that facilitated the comeback.
The big line of Nathan Horton, Lucic and David Krejci struggled mightily in the first period and it appeared as though the injury that saw Horton miss most of the overtime sessions in Game 1 was prohibiting him from playing with the same abandon we had seen earlier in the playoff year.
But as the game progressed, Lucic was a force, plastering Blackhawk players to the boards all over the ice.
"When things aren’t going your way, you try to get yourself into it any way you can," Lucic said. "For myself, that’s what I was trying to do was be physical and get in on the forecheck, and it seemed like things started to happen for us after that. So we talked about it before the series that our forecheck is going to be key for us and we have to keep it up for us."
The line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Jagr likewise looked out of sync in the first but was among the most dangerous units late in the game and in overtime, when the Bruins dominated. Along with his crossbar, Jagr led all Bruins with five shots.
"Like I told our guys, we got to show up on time for these kind of games. It could have cost us tonight," Julien said. "Again, we got rewarded because I thought from the second period on, we were a good team, a better team, and by the end I thought we had more chances."