NEW YORK – You could see it coming, but it’s still a shock when it happens.
Forward Brad Richards, two years into a nine-year, $60 million deal, will be a healthy scratch for the New York Rangers elimination game against the Boston Bruins tonight at Madison Square Garden.
Richards, who played less than six minutes of even-strength hockey on the fourth line in Game 3 Tuesday as the Rangers fell behind 3-0 in their Eastern Conference semifinal, said he got a call from Rangers coach John Tortorella this morning with the news.
“I don’t know if ‘surprised’ is the right word, just disappointed,” said Richards, whose skating just hasn’t allowed him to be a factor in the playoffs.
He has one goal in 10 playoff games and is -3.
His play and his contract make him a candidate for the Rangers’ remaining amnesty buyout under the new CBA (they exercised one on defenceman Wade Redden already), but Richards said he hopes it won’t come to that.
“Nothing’s over,” he said. “(I’ll) work harder and try my best to never let it happen again.”
It looked like Arron Asham could be a scratch for tonight, too, with Kris Newbury, Micheal Haley and Ryane Clowe all coming off the ice early from the Rangers morning skate.
Veteran defenceman Roman Hamrlik is likely to replace the injured Anton Stralman on the Rangers blue line.
Despite being up 3-0, the Bruins aren’t taking anything for granted. They blew a 3-0 series lead against the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010 in the second round – just the third time in NHL history that’s happened – and were up 3-1 on the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round this year only to see the Leafs force a seventh game.
“If you give the other team life, you saw what happened with the Leafs and with the Flyers three years ago,” said Bruins forward Milan Lucic. “A lot of our focus is on not being complacent.”
NEW YORK – You could see it coming, but it’s still a shock when it happens.
NEW YORK – It’s gotten late early for the New York Rangers in their Eastern Conference semifinal against the Boston Bruins.
The Rangers are down 2-0 going into tonight’s game at Madison Square Garden. If they are going to win to make this a series – they faced the same situation against the Washington Capitals in the opening round – they are going to have to tidy up a few areas that let caused them trouble in Boston.
Their play away from the puck wasn’t good in the latter half of Game 2 and the Bruins were able to generate a lot off the rush.
But Rangers coach John Tortorella, while giving the Bruins their due, said his team helped make the Bruins look good.
“I’ve been surprised when we made some glaring mistakes,” said Tortorella. “I’ll just go to Game 2 where we’re usually very good away from the puck. That’s surprising. Hopefully they’ll rectify that tonight.”
Rangers shutdown D Dan Girardi had a rough game in Game 2, going -4, but Tortorella said he didn’t feel the need to speak to the veteran.
“I didn’t even talk to him. He’s going to play his best game,” said Tortorella. “With Danny, he’s one of the better defencemen in the National Hockey League that had a tough night. He knows it. He doesn’t need to hear it from any coach at all as far as what needs to be done.”
Based on the morning skates, it looks like both teams will stick with the same lineups. Veteran Bruins defenceeman Wade Redden and Dennis Seidenberg, coming off injuries, both skated, but are not expected to play tonight.
BOSTON – Bruins coach Claude Julien might have found a way to buy his team a few more seconds to rest after an icing call without having to burn a timeout.
A couple of times in Game 1, Bruins winger Milan Lucic stepped in to take the draw in the Boston zone on the left side and then just blatantly moved prematurely, stepping into the the Ranger taking the faceoff.
He got waved out, everybody stood around for a few more seconds and Boston’s David Krejci stepped in to take the draw.
If Krejci was to get kicked out of the face-off circle for whatever reason at that point, the Bruins would receive a minor penalty.
It will be interesting to watch in Game 2 to see if Julien uses the tactic again.
Lucic took 35 face-offs during the regular season and was 17-18.
BOSTON – It didn’t take long for the off-ice back-and-forth to start between the Boston Bruins and the New York Rangers.
Bruins coach Claude Julien was to be the first to go to the podium after the morning skate in preparation for Game 1 of their second-round series.
When he was delayed, Rangers coach John Tortorella wanted to get to the podium and get it over with.
Julien wound up appearing first.
One of the questions he was asked was if he had any advice for the media in coming up with questions Tortorella, you know, would actually answer.
“Well, he wanted to come here before me, so I don’t know what to tell you. I’m sure he’s excited about answering your questions. Good luck, guys,” said Julien before executing the equivalent of dropping the mic and walking off the podium.
The first question Tortorella was asked was about being back in Boston and what that was like for him.
“Don’t ask any questions about me. Ask me about the team … please,” replied Tortorella.
Thanks for nothing, Claude.
INJURY UPDATE: Bruins forward Brad Marchand left the ice after pulling up lame at the morning skate, but Julien said he would be on the for Game 1. That led to a bunch of jokes about Marchand just practising faking an injury … Bruins defencemen Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ference and Wade Redden did not participate in the morning skate. When asked about their availablity for Game 1, Julien replied: “Doesn’t look good.” … The B’s defensive pairs at the morning skate looked like this: Hamilton-Chara; Bartkowski-Boychuk; Krug-McQuaid.
BOSTON – A couple of Game 7 victories by the Boston Bruins and the New York Rangers boosted my first-round record to 6-2.
I was right on the Bruins, Rangers, Penguins, Chicago, Kings and Sharks coming through in the first round. Didn’t see the Senators taking out the Habs and had the Ducks over the Wings.
Here’s a quick look at how I think the second round goes down:
Pittsburgh vs. Ottawa
The Penguins were outplayed by the Islanders in the first round at even-strength. Their power-play and some less-than-ordinary goaltending by New York’s Evgeni Nabokov opened the door for them to win. The Senators will be a lot more stingy with Craig Anderson in net and if they get front-line centre Jason Spezza back at some point in this round, their offence will get a boost.
This might be the closest of the second-round matchups.
Penguins look like they found their mojo.
Penguins in seven.
Boston vs. New York Rangers
It will be interesting to see what kind of emotional level the Bruins can bring to this series after the way they finished against the Leafs with that incredible comeback. The Bruins secondary scoring is showing some signs of awakening. The Rangers top guys struggled in the opening round against the Caps and it won’t get any easier for them against the Bruins.
The Bruins are going to hit the Rangers in a way the Caps didn’t.
Bruins in six.
Chicago vs Detroit
The Blackhawks made short work of the Minnesota Wild in the first round and the Wings went seven games to upset the second-seeded Anaheim Ducks. The Wings might not be what they used to be, but they know how to close the deal when they have the chance. The ’Hawks just don’t look like they will give the Wings the chance. The ’Hawks are getting great goaltending and they have great depth up front, too much for the Wings.
Hawks in six.
Los Angeles vs San Jose
The Kings took a while to get going against the Blues, but goaltender Jonathan Quick started to look like the MVP from last year’s playoffs. They have a hard group up front and play punishing hockey. Just ask the Blues (again).
The Sharks have never been the grittiest bunch.
The Vancouver Canucks curled up into the fetal position against the Sharks.
The Kings might make the Sharks do the same thing.
Kings in six.