Tag:2011 Bruins-Canadiens
Posted on: April 28, 2011 12:51 am
Edited on: April 28, 2011 3:03 am

Horton delivering first time on biggest stage

It took seven seasons. Perhaps it took the bright lights of the big postseason stage. Or maybe it was just a better supporting cast.

Whatever the answer, the end result is that Nathan Horton has finally begun to show the promise and top-level potential that was seen in him. Because it was Horton, a newcomer to Boston this season, who finished the crazy best-of-7 series vs. the Canadiens with an overtime winner. It was also him who ended Game 5 in double overtime.

Yes, the winger is stepping into the spotlight in his first time on the stage. For years he was lost in hockey purgatory, a.k.a. Florida.

Only once did the Panthers come close to the playoffs, finishing in an eighth-place tie with the Canadiens but losing on a tie-breaker. So perhaps this was some sort of revenge. Doubtful. His memories from his cellar-dwelling days are likely gone. That tends to happen when you move on up to the penthouse that is Beantown for your hockey home.

And, perhaps unfairly, Horton was always seen as bit of an underachiever for the Panthers, somewhat a victim of the high expectations, somewhat of being seen as the most talented player on a constantly underachieving team. He had flashes in his time with the 'Cats, but most felt he was capable of so much more, that he just needed to get out of the losing environment and with some better teammates. Then, many said, he'd flourish.

Well, this is a start. Horton's numbers this season didn't surpass what he had put up in Florida. His 26 goals this season were five below his career high of 31 in 2006-2007. But the weight of his latest goals is something he's never put up before.

"It’s been good [to watch], obviously, when you score two overtime goals in the series. You understand how big a piece of the puzzle he’s been for this hockey club. He had a really good start in the first month [of the season], then he cooled down a little bit," Bruins coach Claude Julien said after Game 7. "But what I saw from Nathan from the half-point on until the end was a guy who became a lot more consistent in his game. His preparation was good, whether he scored or not, he was battling. He played hard. I think he’s really grown a lot in the second half."

I'd say so. And it can't be lost on the man coaching on the other bench, Jacques Martin. The Habs coach was behind the Panthers bench for much of Horton's time there before moving into the general manager's chair.

"Right now scoring those two big goals, [which] he’s been saving those for seven years, right?" Julien said. "He has a lot of winning goals in him."

Boston can only hope.

-- Brian Stubits

Posted on: April 27, 2011 2:26 pm

Report: Lucic not suspended for Game 7

After receiving a game misconduct and a five-minute major for boarding in Game 6, Milan Lucic will not be suspended for Game 7, Nick Kypreos of Rogers Sports net in Canada reports.

It answers a big question that was raised the instant Lucic was sent to the locker room early for his crushing hit on Jaroslav Spacek. Debate has raged since the hit of whether it was the right call or too severe. Either way, it's a moot point now as the series reaches the pinnacle, Game 7 tonight in Beantown.

Lucic was a key player for the Bruins' scoring punch this season, netting 30 goals to complement his 32 assists. But in this series the Habs have done a good job keeping him in check as Lucic has just one assist in the six games with a minus-1 rating and 17 penalty minutes (greatly assisted by the Game 6 misconduct).

The Bruins and Canadiens face off at 7 p.m. ET tonight for the eighth Game 7 in the storied rivalry's history, the most times of any two teams in NHL playoff history. For a breakdown of the game, click here . Watch the hit in question below.

-- Brian Stubits

Posted on: April 27, 2011 1:16 pm
Edited on: April 27, 2011 2:28 pm

Game 7 breakdown: Montreal at Boston

No. 6 Montreal Canadiens vs. No. 3 Boston Bruins

Time: 7 p.m.ET
TV: Versus

Road to Game 7

The Canadiens took the first two games of the series, stealing home-ice advantage and then some. Patrice Bergeron scored the only goal for the Bruins in those two losses, but the Bruins bounced back with 11 goals over the next three games to take a 3-2 series lead with two of the tilts going to OT. Brian Gionta, who had a goal disallowed via quick whistle earlier in the game, scored the winner in Game 6 as the Habs forced a decisive game with a 2-1 victory on Tuesday. He also leads the series in scoring with three goals and six assists.

In net

Carey Price (Montreal) vs. Tim Thomas (Boston): Two of the best goalies of the regular season haven’t disappointed. While they each have a 3-3 record, Price has the edge in the stats department. He has a .942 save percentage and a 1.85 GAA, while Thomas owns a .928 and a 2.16  GAA.

Injury report

The Habs were without defenseman James Wisniewski (apparent back injury) and forward David Desharnais (sprained knee) in Game 6 after each got hurt a game prior. Montreal forward Max Pacioretty remains out with a concussion. The Bruins' only noted injury remains Marc Savard (concussion).

Our picks

A.J. Perez: Take away the fact the Habs scored both their Game 6 goals on 5-on-3 power plays, this series would be over. (Of course, Gionta had a goal needlessly called back, so possibly we’d still be going.) I’m going to have to take Boston, especially if Milan Lucic doesn’t receive a suspension for his boarding of Habs defenseman Jaroslav Spacek.

Brian Stubits: I've been riding with the Bruins all postseason long, no point in jumping off now. This series has not been lacking in intensity, so when it ticks up a notch further, I'm going to like the home team with the raucous arena. It's worth noting that both Game 7s so far have gone to the home team -- also worth noting they were the expected winners, but still. Expect another very tight affair, can't see either team getting away from the other, with the Bruins emerging over the hated rivals from Montreal.
Posted on: April 12, 2011 3:49 pm
Edited on: April 12, 2011 7:36 pm

Preview: No. 3 Bruins vs. No. 6 Canadiens

It's a heated rivalry carrying over to the playoffs as Original Six teams Boston and Montreal face off. Of course the underlying current will surround Zdeno Chara returning to Montreal for the first time since his check sent Max Pacioretty into the partition by the benches and set off a national debate. The Canadiens got the better of the season series, winning three of four games. The Bruins seem to be better across the board, but that's why they play. The intensity of the rivalry can even the ice.

Here's the breakdown.

Forwards: There's a lot to like about the Bruins up front, but you can't really feel the same about the Habs. With David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton -- living up to his potential since moving to Boston -- the B's pack quite a punch. Don't forget about wily veteran (yes, he's earned that title) Mark Recchi, who has a knack for performing in the playoffs. And, for the most part, the Bruins are healthy. The Canadiens, meanwhile, can't match up with Boston's depth, but have capable-enough players. With Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta out front, Montreal can be dangerous. Then there's Scott Gomez, who has been booed by the Habs fans a good chunk of his time in Quebec, and for good reason. He just had the lowest-scoring season of his career and put up a team-worst minus-15.

Edge: Bruins

Defensemen: Boston has probably the game's best defenseman in Zdeno Chara. Not only did he provide 14 goals and 44 points this year, he also led league with a plus-33 rating. He's as fierce a defenseman as you'll find. Add in Dennis Seidenberg and Tomas Kaberle for some offensive prowess with Adam McQuaid, Johnny Boychuk and Andrew Ference for solid defense, and you have a nice corps. The Canadiens are about equally balanced after adding James Wisniewski to their blue line in the offseason. He joins Roman Hamrlik and rising star P.K. Subban for some offense in the back while Hal Gill helps anchor the defensive prowess.

Edge: Bruins, by the strength of having the best player among the group

Goalies: Tim Thomas had another stellar season, quietly setting the NHL record for highest save percentage in one season, breaking Dominik Hasek's mark with a .9381 mark (Hasek's record was .937 in 1998-99). While other goalies have had nice seasons, the Vezina should be locked up for Thomas. Backup Tuukka Rask had a fall-back season, going a disappointing 11-14-2 for Boston. Montreal no longer has last postseason's darling in Jaroslav Halak, and it made plenty nervous to turn the keys over full-time to Carey Price. But he alleviated many of the concerns by putting up the best season of his career while carrying the load with 72 games. It's been a pleasant surprise for a promising goalie that had been a bit underwhelming in his career up until this season.

Edge: Bruins

Special teams: Under Jacques Martin, the Canadiens have been a potent team on the power play. This year was no exception. The Habs were the seventh-best unit with a man up compared to Boston's 20th-ranked group. Likewise, they are the better team on the penalty kill, also coming in at seventh (Boston checks in at 16th). This could be a major key to the series. If penalties become a factor, the ice might tilt toward Montreal, because as good as the Bruins were this season (league-leading plus-58), they are susceptible in the special teams.

Edge: Canadiens

-- Brian Stubits

Photo: Getty Images
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