What was thought to be World Series favorites, has turned out to be a team of frauds. After missing the postseason for just the 2nd time in 7 years, and with doubts about the heart of their order, Sox General Manager Theo Epstein went out and acquired left-handed slugger Adrian Gonzalez from the San Diego Padres. Then, in a stunning move, he acquired hot Free Agent commodity Carl Crawford. It looked like the Sox would have a dominant lineup in 2011, and they would have arguably the best pitching staff in the AL with Lester, Beckett, Buchholz, Lackey, Daisuke, Bard, and Papelbon. The team was poised to make the postseason, having a half game lead over the Yankees for the division, and a 9 game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays for the Wild Card on September 1st. No team in Major League history has ever blown a 9 game lead with just the final month left to play. That was until, this Boston Red Sox team hit the field.
This Boston Red Sox team did the impossible, they whittled away a 9 game lead from September 1st, all the way down to a tie for the Wild Card lead on September 28. On the last game of the year though, it looked like the Sox would make up for everything that happened. The Red Sox entered the 7th inning with a 3-2 lead over the Baltimore Orioles. A rain delay though would force the game to come to a pause. While the Sox watched the Tampa Bay Rays battle the Yankees in their clubhouse, they saw the un-probable happening. Entering the 8th inning, the Yankees had a 7-0 lead over the Rays. Things started going south from here for the Sox. Tampa Bay miraculously pulled the game to within 1, and in the bottom of the 9th inning, with 2 outs and 2 strikes, pinch hitter Dan Johnson pulled a ball down the right field wall, and out of the ballpark. It was a tie game out in Tampa. The Red Sox went back to work just moments before this, and worked their way to the 9th inning. And with 2 outs, and 2 strikes of their own, closer Jonathan Papelbon allowed the game tying RBI double to Mark Reynolds. It was just his 3rd blown save in 34 opportunities this season. The very next batter was Robert Andino. With a 1-1 count, Andino hit a fastball down the middle of the plate on a line into left field. Carl Crawford came rushing in, went to the slide, and the ball hit the very tip of his glove but stayed out. Reynolds scored from 2nd on the play, and the Red Sox, in stunning fashion, had just lost to the Baltimore Orioles, 4-3. Not even 5 minutes later, Evan Longoria would hit a walk off homerun down the left field line, to give his Tampa Bay Rays an 8-7 win, and the Wild Card. Thus ended the greatest collapse in MLB regular season history. This puts the Sox, and their record payroll, in a bit of a bind now.
Ortiz, Papelbon, J.D. Drew, Scutaro, Varitek, Bedard, and Wakefield are all free agents going into this offseason. The big question becomes, who do you keep, and who do you let go? Ortiz, Varitek, and Wakefield all need to be let go. These 3 guys have done great things for the franchise in their time here, but they don’t have anything left to contribute. What it would cost to retain these players just wouldn’t be worth the money, or the years that they most likely will want. I think it also will help give the franchise a new look, and let them start fresh with some younger talent. Drew appears as if he’ll retire, and that’s besides the fact that there is no way the Sox bring him back when they have Ryan Kalish and Josh Redick they can put out in Right. Papelbon, Scutaro, and Bedard I think all have to come back. Papelbon is still an elite closer, and he showed that this year. He came back from a bad 2010 performance, and had just 3 blown saves all year. While he did blow the most important game of the year, he’s one of the only guys you can say that truly helped them get to that point with his consistency. Scutaro is another guy who provided consistent output throughout the season. Also, there is no one who the Sox can really bring in or call up that will replace him. Bedard is a question mark this offseason. He’s very injury prone, and a guy who has to be limited when he pitches. But who can the Sox go out and get to replace him? Roy Oswalt, C.J. Wilson even C.C Sabathia perhaps? While all will be free agents, I really don’t see any of them leaving their current teams. Bedard is a solid starter, and if monitored will produce for the Sox. There is already one person though we all know won’t be returning next season.
Heartbreakingly, Terry Francona has not had his option picked up by Red Sox management. Sad to see Francona go, especially with the way it happened. Sounds like he was tired of this team though, and wanted to go just as much as management wanted to get rid of him. These players let him down, and there needs to be a big change with the environment. According to reports by the likes of Sean McAdams and Dan Shaughnessy, the players weren’t listening to Tito anymore. There were cliques in the clubhouse, players were drinking beer in the middle of games. They flat-out didn’t care, and didn’t want to hear his message anymore. Terry can’t make them care if they don’t want to, and it showed on the field when the going got tough. This team showed their true colors as Francona said in his press conference on Friday. He didn’t like what he saw, and neither did I. You could say it’s his fault because he lost the clubhouse, but the collapse is all about how the players performed down the stretch. It’s all on the players. Epstein made some bad moves in Free Agency, but he also put together a team that was on pace for 100 wins at the beginning of September. And because of the way the players acted in this final month, Terry Francona has to lose his job.
He leaves Boston with a 744-552 record, 2nd most wins among Red Sox managers. He was 28-17 in the postseason, having a .622 winning percentage. That is the 2nd best all time in Major League history, with a minimum of 25 starts. He also became just the 2nd Red Sox manager ever to win 2 World Series. His greatest feat by far, was amounting the greatest comeback in Baseball history, by coming back from a 0-3 deficit in the 2004 ALCS against the rival Yankees. The Sox became the only team in Baseball history to come back down 0-3 to win a series 4-3. That led Boston to its first World Series appearance since 1986, and their first World Series Championship since 1918 after sweeping the best team in the Major Leagues that year, the St. Louis Cardinals. He was the best manager in Red Sox history. I don’t think anybody can really say otherwise. Now the question becomes, who are you going to find that can replace Terry Francona? Big shoes to fill for whoever it is, and they will be expected to take this team to the World Series.
In a hard-fought game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals, the Boston Bruins lost 1-0. Boston played a very solid game all night, but Vancouver looked like the better team all night. Tim Thomas gave the Bruins an opportunity to win last night, stopping 33 of 34 shots. But it was not enough, as the Bruins just couldn’t put the puck in the back of the net. This came down to the Bruins have the will to fight, but they just didn’t have the talent to win. During the 2nd period, there was a play which Dan Hamhuis hip checked Lucic into the centerboards. During the play, he appeared to have hurt himself. He also received a whack to the head from David Kreci, which may have hurt him as well. Hamhuis left the game, and did not return. There was also a play in which Alex Burrows took a bite of Patrice Bergeron’s right forefinger. An extremely classless move, and just downright silly. Expect the league to take some action, and expect him to be out for game 2.
The game is on, and Tim Thomas made a great save on Daniel Sedin already. Sedin had a chance at the near post, but Thomas made a kick save. Roberto Luongo caught a break early, off a turnover by Kevin Bieksa. Kreci picked the puck up in the far circle, and passed across the slot for Lucic. He had his stick clamped down on, and could not get a shot off at the open net. As the Canucks sent the puck in deep to the Boston zone, Daniel Sedin hit Zdeno Chara with his stick up high, drawing some blood. That resulted in an automatic double minor for high sticking, and Boston was on the powerplay at 4:03. The Boston powerplay had some good chances. Chara was stationed right in front of Lunogo, and was creating plenty of problems. Boston was getting off point shots and jamming at the net. Alas, the penalty ended without a goal, and they were back to 5-on-5. The Canucks came up with a huge chance right after the penalty ended, as Sedin came out of the box the Canucks had a 4-on-2 up ice. Thomas made a great blocker save though to keep Vancouver off the board. The Canucks got the puck back in their own zone, and started back up ice. Chris Kelly tried to swat the puck away as it was dumped in, but he inadvertently hit a Canuck up high. So the Canucks were on the powerplay now at 8:47 for high sticking. Vancouver looked very good early, but the Canucks ended the powerplay when Alex Burrows grabbed Andrew Ference behind the Boston net. Burrows received a holding penalty at 10:18, and the played 4-on-4 for 28 seconds. The penalty ended, and the Bruins had 1:32 of powerplay remaining. But nothing would happen, as the Canucks were able to clear the puck consistently. The Bruins would get caught soon after the penalty ended, trying to make a change. Brad Marchand would grab a hold of a Canuck so the Bruins could make a clean change, and he got caught. Boston was on the powerplay at 13:25 for holding the stick. The Canucks had a very dangerous powerplay, as they were getting tons of pressure on Thomas. But the goaltender stood tall, and kept the Canucks off the board. Both teams had plenty of offense, but the goaltenders looked great early. The period would come to an end, but a scrum would ensue afterwards as some players ran into the Boston net and knocked it off its bearings. The big matchup was between Patrice Bergeron and Burrows. Burrows tried taking on Rich Peverley, who was already busy with another Canuck. Bergeron came in to separate them so it wouldn’t become a 2-on-1. Burrows didn’t like that, and started taking jabs at Bergeron’s face. It was classless, and Bergeron wasn’t having any of it. Bergeron started getting some of his own jabs in, before the refs broke them up. There would be penalties served to each player at 20:00. Bergeron received a roughing penalty, and Burrows received a roughing penalty, and an extra roughing served by Raffi Torres. When you watch the replays, you can see Burrows bite Bergeron during the scrum. Bergeron came up bleeding a bit from his right forefinger, but he was ok. Expect the league to take action against this clown, and I don’t expect to see him in game 2. Nonetheless, the period came to a close, still scoreless.
The 2nd period started with a powerplay for Boston, and then Vancouver would be called for another penalty. Kevin Beiksa would hit Chara up high behind the Vancouver net, resulting in a high sticking call just 28 seconds into the period. So the Canucks had to kill off 1:32 of a 5-on-3. The Bruins had a great chance by Mark Recchi at the far post, off a pass from Kreci in the near slot. Recchi took a shot, but appeared to hit the post. The Bruins wouldn’t get anymore good scoring chances, and the penalty ended. Boston had 23 seconds left on the 2nd penalty. But the Bruins couldn’t even get the puck into the Vancouver zone, and the penalty ended. Lucic was heading up the far boards with the puck, attempting to get into the attacking zone. Hamhuis sent Lucic flipping into the air, after he hip checked him into the center boards. Kreci would come over and give Hamhuis a whack to the head, and that would result in a cross-checking penalty at 4:00. There was a small scrum that ensued, but no other penalties were issued. Hamhuis went into the Vancouver dressing room after the play, and did not return to the game. The Boston pk was terrific though, denying the Canucks so much as a shot on goal. The penalty ended with ease, and they were back to 5-on-5. Boston would go back on the pk, after Dennis Seidenberg stepped up on Ryan Kessler to make a hit entering the Boston zone. Seidenberg would be called for kneeing at 9:28. As the puck was touched up by Boston, there was a small scrum at the Boston endboards. Raffi Torres took a shot to the face of Kelly, but nothing was called for that. As Daniel Sedin tried to take the puck up center ice, Rich Peverley came over to challenge him. Peverley was battling down center ice, and stole it away from Sedin. He now had a breakaway chance, but the play would be blown dead. Peverley was called for hooking at 9:54, so the Bruins now had a 5-on-3 to kill. The Canucks would cancel their powerplay right away, as Burrows took out Thomas with his left leg following a point shot. Burrows went to the box for tripping at 10:02, so they skated 4-on-3 for 1:27. The penalty ended without any good scoring chances, and they now skated 4-on-4 for 33 seconds. Boston would take advantage of the 4-on-4. Campbell came sprinting up ice, and stole the puck away from a Canuck. He skated into the near slot, and centered a pass for Bergeron in the crease. But Luongo made a terrific left pad save to keep the game scoreless. The 4-on-4 ended, and the Bruins had 8 seconds of powerplay now. Nothing happened, and they were finally back to 5-on-5. LaPierre came back with a chance of his own for Vancouver, as he tried a wraparound at the far post. But Thomas made a great move with his right leg, and covered up all the space on the ice to make the save. The offenses looked great, but these goaltenders looked much better in net. After a face-off win at the Vancouver attacking zone circle, Boston turned the puck right over to the Canucks. Hansen took the puck, and went behind the Vancouver net. He lost control of the puck as Bergeron pressured him, and as he turned to get the puck back he stepped on the stick of Bergeron. So Bergeron was sent to the box for tripping at 17:50, and the Bruins had a very important powerplay to kill off late in the period. The Canucks powerplay looked very strong again, but the Boston pk was a little better. Boston killed off the penalty, and the period came to an end. The game was now scoreless after 2 periods of play. Sounds like another game I watched last week.
The 3rd period started with a huge chance for Vancouver early. The Canucks came up ice 2-on-2, with Daniel Sedin trailing. He had the puck passed back to him, and he took a shot from the high slot. It was tipped in front by Burrows, who was left all alone in the slot. Thomas stayed tall, and made the chest save. Boston just missed a chance of their own coming up ice, when Ference skated through the far circle. He passed across ice to Lucic, and his pass popped up into the air, and bounced off the top of the net into the crease. But Lucic could not jam the puck in, and the game remained scoreless. Quick ups by both offenses, but these goaltenders looked too good. Vancouver had a huge chance off a Boston change, and it provided a breakaway chance for Jannik Hansen. Boston tried clearing the puck out of their own zone, and Kaberle went for a change. The puck was picked off by Vancouver though at center ice, and was passed to Hansen at the point. Thomas made a spectacular save 5-hole, and he covered up the puck with his glove as he fell backwards into the net. We were now midway through the 3rd period, and it was still scoreless. Andrew Ference tried making another change for Boston, but the puck was turned over at center ice. The Canucks now had a 2-on-1 up ice, and LaPierre had a chance off a centering pass in the slot. But Thomas made another spectacular save 5-hole, and he covered the puck up. The Canucks offense was controlling the puck, and just missed the 1st goal of the game off a post hit. Boston had nothing going on offense, and could not get the puck out of the neutral zone. We approached 2 minutes to play now without a goal. 1 minute remaining in the period, and still scoreless. But finally the Vancouver Canucks broke through. Johnny Boychuk stepped up at the Boston blue line to make a play, but Ryan Kessler knocked the puck away. He picked up the puck, and passed across ice to Hansen. Hansen skated into the far circle. Thomas came out to attack Hansen, and Hansen passed to the slot to Raffi Torres. He knocked the puck into the net, despite Thomas’s diving efforts. Vancouver was up 1-0 19:41 into the game, and the game ended that way. The Vancouver Canucks took game 1 of the Stanley Cup Championship.
A tough game for Boston to lose, but Vancouver was clearly was the better team. The Canucks played much better in every way. Their offense was faster than the Bruins defense, their defense was able to control the puck more as the game went on, and Luongo was obviously perfect in net. Tim Thomas was equally as good, and it was very sad to watch that goal go in with just 18.5 seconds remaining in the game. But the Bruins have to feel encouraged after their performance in tonight’s game. The offense had plenty of scoring chances, and should have put 1 of those pucks in the net. Especially since the Bruins had a 5-on-3 chance. But that’s a different discussion for later. The Bruins defense was solid all night, save for the 2 line change mistakes they made. I felt very confident in the defense all night. The Boston powerplay did miss on some key chances, but they were able to set up some good scoring chances. Still, they were 0-6 on the night. I feel that they will break through sometime soon, if not next game. The pk for Boston was stellar, killing off all 7 of the Canucks penalties. It’s not often that Vancouver goes 0-7 on the powerplay, so the Bruins will need to get their discipline back for game 2. It was the 3rd period that killed the Bruins.
In the 3rd, the Canucks really took advantage of this game. Vancouver outshot Boston 14-10 in the 3rd, and controlled the puck for most of the period. The entire 2nd half of the period was completely dominated by the Vancouver offense. Boston could not move the puck into the attacking zone, and the Canucks really started to build momentum at that time. Bostons only chance to win this game was to make it to overtime, and even still I wasn’t that sure about their chances. The Canucks were playing so well in the 3rd, I don’t know if Thomas could have kept Boston in it for much longer. But, one never knows what would have happened during the intermission. Heading into game 2, I feel very confident about the Bruins chances. They played a terrific game, and Thomas was perfect. The goal he allowed was unstoppable. It would have taken just a little more luck to get the paddle save. So I feel confident that he will have a repeat performance in game 2. I’m a little nervous about the pk unit though. The Bruins have a great penalty kill, and looked great in game 1. But the Vancouver powerplay is too good for the Bruins to give them 7 more chances in game 2. They can not rely on them in game 2 as much as they did in game 1. So the Bruins will need to buckle down on defense, and stay out of the box. The powerplay needs to improve obviously. They looked good at times in the game, but they still were not able to put the puck in the net. They just need to get a goal scorer out there, and they don’t have one. The 1st line for Boston was great all night. The Bergeron line was very quiet, and has been since the Philly series. They need to start getting some production from that line to help their chances of winning. Seguin hasn’t been much of a factor either since game 2 in the Lightning series. But, that might just be because of teams now game-planing for him. If he has another huge game in this series, I think it will show just how much he really is affecting these games. Like I said earlier, I feel very confident heading into game 2 of this series. I think the Bruins will win game 2, in another low scoring affair. I expect another great game from Thomas, and I think Boston gets a couple bounces to go their way in game 2. Usually, when a goaltender has a shutout in one game, he has a bad next game because of how much energy he exhumed. I do expect to see something like that from Luongo, and I look for the Bruins to win 3-2 in game 2.
The Celtics have brought this series back to within 1, as they won game 3, 97-81. Shaquille O’Neal made his much-anticipated return, but the Celtics may have lost Rajon Rondo. Late in the 3rd quarter, Rondo suffered a dislocated elbow. He would return to the game, but his left arm hung limp for the rest of the game. The Celtics started and ended this game strong. Garnett and Pierce really dominated Miami all night, and did not allow the Big 3 of Miami to get going. D-Wade was the only 1 of the Big 3 to have a good night. LeBron was pedestrian, and Bosh was invisible. The only reason the Heat were in this game, is because their bench came alive, scoring 35 points. If the Celtics can repeat this performance on Monday night, look for the C’s to head back to Miami with the series tied at 2.
Boston started strong, showing the Heat that there was still a lot left to this series. They were really dominating early, they just need to sustain this for the entire game. Pierce was leading the C’s early, scoring 10 points midway through the 1st. Boston had the lead out to 11 at one point. The Heat fought back though. Bosh was giving the team nothing, with Wade and LeBron barely contributing. Joel Anthony was the one leading the Heat back. He was the leading scorer with 6 for the Heat. The end of the 1st quarter saw the return of Shaquille O’Neal. He was in for about 2 minutes, and looked very slow and old. Hopefully his body clogs up some space, so that the Heat can’t drive inside as hard as they would like. The Celtics lead the 1st quarter, 27-21. The Heat started the 2nd strong, going on a 5-0 run. The Heat were succeeding because of their bench. The Boston D had shut down Miami’s big 3, so the bench had to step up. Boston extended their lead momentarily, before Miami went on an 10-0 run. The bench for Miami had 21 points. Miami was now up 40-34 midway through the 2nd quarter. The Celtics scorers had gone cold, before Garnett finally hit a jump shot. That jump started something in the Celtics, as the scoring touch came back. Wade missed a 3, and Boston follows that up with a 3 by West. Boston had come right back with a 7-0 run of their own to reclaim the lead, 41-40. Pierce follows that up with a hard foul on a dunk attempt by Wade, with no extracurricular activity. That’s good basketball, and something the Celtics need to do more of to assert themselves in this series. Wade wouldn’t be discouraged though, as he hit a bad angle jumper to bet the lead back for Miami. West drives for a lay-up, and gets slammed down by James. He came up holding his left shoulder. It didn’t affect his shot though, as he hit a 3 following a Boston defensive rebound. The Celtics had the ball with under 15 seconds left, and Rondo held the ball near mid-court. He finally ran up inside the 3 point line, looking for a play. He had a wide open lane to shoot, but instead made a jump pass to no one. He was looking for Jeff Green, but he ran right by the ball. Miami would get the ball for about 5 seconds, but would not make their final shot. The 2nd quarter ended with the Heat up, 46-44.
Garnett started thing for the Celtics, hitting a jump-shot to tie the game. The Heat follow that up with an embarrassing shot by Bosh that hit the side of the backboard. Rondo again tried to get a pass to an unsuspecting O’Neal, and turned the ball over. He now has 5 turnovers in the game. Not a great game for him so far. Rondo needs to drive to the basket more, and get points. He has not scored thus far in the game. And right on cue, Rondo drives to the basket for a lay-up. Boston went on a 9-1 run to start the 3rd. Rondo drives for another lay-up, but is stuffed by James. Garnett the rebound, back to Rondo, who gets it to Pierce for the 3. I know he got stuffed, but that’s the kind of game that Rondo needs to play. The Celtics have a chance to run away with this game if Rondo could start scoring. Boston had the lead up to 10, when Miami brought the ball up court. Wade was working on Rondo, and turned his back into Rondo. Rondo poked the ball away from Wade, and Wade tangled up with Rondo. Wade grabbed onto Rondo, and took him down to the court. Rondo landed awkwardly on his arm, with his left elbow bending backwards. He had to be helped off the court. Very classless and disturbing move by Wade. Wade received a flagrant foul. Wade then received another foul by knocking down Ray Allen, who was trying to get a rebound. Wade had quickly become a villain at TD Garden. Another scare for the Celtics, as Pierce hits a lay-up, and then backs into the cameras. He came up limping, but would come back into the game. Pierce and Garnett are leading the charge for the Celtics, so they can’t afford to lose Pierce. The lead is back up to 11 for the Celtics, tying their largest of the night. Garnett hits a 2, and the lead is 15 for the C’s. That gives him 24 points, 12 in the 3rd alone. Rondo has returned, and is back on the Boston bench. Rondo suffered a dislocated left elbow, but the docs popped it back in. The 3rd quarter ended, with the Celtics up 72-61. The Celtics started the 4th with a lay-up by Jeff Green. Bosh came back by getting on the board for the 1st time since the 1st quarter. He hit 2 free-throws, giving him 6 points on the night (4-4 FT). Allen knocks down a 3, and Boston takes a 16 point lead. Rondo injects some life into the crowd, after a deflection by Green, Rondo grabbed the ball and took the ball down the court for a half-dunk. I say half-dunk, because Rondo got to the rim and just laid the ball in. The lead was now out to 18 for the Celtics. Midway through the 4th, it is all Celtics. Garnett hits his 28 point, and the Celtics are maintaining a 15 point lead. Pierce hits a 3, and that should do it for the Heat. We are now under 2 minutes to play, and the Celtics are up by 15. The Celtics are right back in this series, winning game 3, 97-81.
This was the game I was expecting from the Celtics. The fought hard, shut down Miami’s big 3, and dominated this game. Garnett was the leading scorer in the game with 28 point, and 18 rebounds. Pierce had 27 points including 5 3-pointers, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists. Allen quietly had a good night, scoring 15 points. Rondo had a quiet 1st half, but really energized the team late in the 3rd. Coming back after dislocating his left elbow gave the rest of the C’s lots of energy. You could see the Boston players feeding off of him. Rondo ended the night with 6 points, and 11 assists. The bench provided some help, with West getting 11, and Green getting 6. But overall, the bench was non-existent, providing 19 points. Compare that to the Heat’s bench scoring 35. Although, the reason the Heat bench scored so much, was because they had to.
The Heat starters were pathetic. LeBron had 15 points, 5 assists, and 7 rebounds. He was only 3-7 from the free-throw line. Bosh was invisible all night. He was just 1-6 in over 30 minutes on court time. He ended the night with 6 points, and a very pathetic showing. Dwayne Wade was the best amongst the starters. He led the Heat with 23 points and 7 assists, but was just 1-5 from 3-point range. That’s where the difference was in the game. The Celtics Big 3 outperformed the Heat’s Big 3. The Celtics defense shut down Bosh and LeBron. They need to continue to play that type of defense if they want to come back in this series. I still feel good about the Celtics in this series. As I stated in my game 1 post heading into game 2, I would feel more confident if the Celtics lost game 2, but won game 3, than the other way around. I say that because the only thing the Celtics have going for them is their home court. I do not think the Heat can win a game in Boston, and I do think that the Celtics can win at least 1 game in Miami. I look for the Heat to come out strong in game 3, and push hard for a win. I just think that the Celtics know what’s at stake, and will put away the Heat in game 3.
The Bruins are moving on the Eastern Conference Finals for the 1st time in 19 years! They have exacted revenge, and swept the Philadelphia Flyers, winning game 4, 5-1. The Bruins fought hard, and the Flyers looked like a team that just wanted to skate around for 60 minutes. Sergei Bobrovsky was in net for the Flyers, but it didn’t matter. The game was kept close by Bobrovsky until the 3rd, when the Bruins notched 4 goals (2 EN). The Bruins took the jabs that Philly dealt, and gave them a knockout blow in return. That about sums up this series. The Flyers fought hard sometimes, but most times they were just bodies on the ice. And the Bruins knocked those bodies out with hard play, and determination. Nothing will ever heal the scars from last year. But this sweep sure does feel good.
Game 4 is on. The Flyers looked conservative to start, almost afraid to make a mistake. The Kelly line started very strong for the Bruins, controlling the puck in the Flyers zone. The puck was tipped at the Flyers point, and tumbled into the neutral zone. Coburn jumped on it, and was able to pick the puck up in the Boston zone. He had a semi-breakaway, and got a shot off on Thomas. But it was an easy save, and the puck went behind the net. Shelley went back to get the puck, but had his stick chopped in 2. Shane Hnidy would go to the penalty box at 3:10 for slashing. The Boston pk looked great. Philly didn’t get any good chances on Thomas, and Kelly had a shorthanded bid. But Bobrovsky made a good blocker save. Right after the penalty ended, Philly got pressure on Thomas. A shot was taken from the near circle, and kicked out by Thomas. The puck came to Leino in the slot, and he took a blind shot that hit the post. Thomas had flopped onto the ice to make the save, and the puck bounced off the post right into his gut. Boston had just escaped with the game still scoreless. Boston took the puck off the ensuing face-off into the attacking zone. Lucic had a good scoring chance up the far slot, but he was blanketed by van Riemsdyk. Lucic would hit the ice, and van Riemsdyk went to the box for hooking at 5:44. The Boston powerplay looked great, getting tons of pressure on Bobrovsky. That 1st line again was the catalyst, with Horton and Lucic both just missing chances in the slot. Horton was clamped down on by Richards, and could not get a shot off. While Lucic had a puck bounce off of Bobrovsky, and went right by his stick. So the game remained scoreless, approaching midway through the 1st. Then there was a moment between Marchand and Versteeg. Marchand passed the puck from the Philly point across ice. Versteeg came over, and gave Marchand a bump into the boards. Marchand hit the boards, and then fell on the ice. Versteeg would receive an interference minor, and Marchand a diving minor. Now, I don’t mind the refs calling diving when it happens, but where was this in the Montreal series?! How about when Subban grabbed onto Campbell’s stick, and fell to the ice? These refs seem to need a lesson on calling diving penalties. So they skated 4-on-4 for 2 minutes. Boston was controlling the puck in the Philly zone. Carcillo would cripple his team though, as he took a shot at Campbell, busting his head open. Boston would go on the powerplay now for cross-checking at 11:35. The Boston powerplay looked very quick, setting up good shots on net. David Kreci took the puck through the far circle, and passed to Horton in the far slot. He threw the puck over to Lucic in the near slot, and he buried the puck in the net. Lucic had finally gotten off the snide, scoring his 1st of the postseason at 12:02. Boston had a 1-0 lead, and that would be huge if they wanted to sweep the Flyers. The Bruins started to dominate the game. Their offense was hot, and they got off 8 straight shots on Bobrovsky. Then, Giroux tripped up Kaberle with his knee. The Bruins would go right back on the powerplay at 15:03. The powerplay looked good, but remained off the board. As the period was coming to an end, things got very interesting. The Flyers were skating up ice on the rush. A shot was taken from the point, but it went wide. Scott Hartnell was jamming in front, and made some contact with Thomas. Then he took a hack at Chara with his stick, and then gave him a jab. Chara had enough, and laid 3 good whacks on Hartnell’s face, and he hit the ice. Hartnell gave up, and just laid on the ice till the official broke it up. Coburn tried getting into Chara’s face, but the refs wouldn’t allow it. Hartnell would receive a roughing minor, and Chara received a double minor for roughing. Just another terrible call by the refs, and Recchi let them know it. As the refs told the alternate captain how the penalties would shake out, Recchi just blew up. He was hollering at the refs. Hopefully they pay more attention to those type of degenerate acts that Hartnell was doing. The game was 1-0 Boston, as they exited the 1st period.
Philly started the 2nd period with 1:54 left on the powerplay. The powerplay was terrible for Philly. They didn’t get a shot on Thomas, and the game remained 1-0. Boston brought the puck into the offensive zone. Recchi brought the puck behind the net, and up to the point. He passed across ice to Kaberle in the near circle, all alone. He took a big slap-shot, but it went right into the left pad of Bobrovsky. The puck was recovered by Calre, who tried to clear it. Recchi batted the puck out of mid-air to Pialle, who was now 1-on-1 with Bobrovsky, but his shot went wide. A huge miss for the Bruins to extend their lead. Boston remained in the attacking zone, and Bergeron tried to get a pass to Boychuck at the point. The puck hit a Flyer skate, and popped up in the air. Boychuck tried to glove it down, but it was picked up by Richards. Philly now had a 2-on-1 up ice, and Richards fired a shot in on Thomas, and he made the save. The Bruins had another great chance to extend their lead, when Kelly checked Meszaros off the puck behind the net. Ryder went in and picked up the puck. He then passed right to the crease for a shot by Peverley, who deked to the backhand, but his shot hit the side of the net. Peverley picked the puck back up, and tried to wrap it around the post. Bobrovsky went down to his side and laid his stick on the ice to make the save. The Bruins were attempting to bring the puck up ice, and Kreci dumped the puck into the Flyers zone from the Boston bench. Hartnell took a run at Kreci, and put him into the Boston bench with his elbow. Lucic didn’t like that, and took would shot at him. Hartnell would end up receiving a charging penalty, and Lucic would receive a cross-checking penalty at 11:39. So they skated 4-on-4 for 2 minutes. And this is where Philly would make their move. With under 30 seconds remaining, Marchand tried to make a blind pass in the Philly zone. It was picked off by Richards, and Philly now had 2 man breakaway. He passed to Versteeg, who deked to the backhand and scored. The Flyers had tied the game 13:22 into the 2nd. It was a huge goal, as the Bruins had been controlling the game. Philly had another quick chance off a takeaway. Leino brought the puck into the far circle, and passed to Breire. But he was held down by Horton, and the Flyers would go on the powerplay at 13:54. The Flyers had a huge chance to take the lead now, seconds after tying the game. The Bruins pk held though, and Thomas kept every shot out of the net. Boston took the puck and held it in the attacking zone late in the 2nd. Recchi was pinned against the boards fighting for the puck. Bergeron came in to help out, and the puck did squirt free. Bergeron turned to get the puck, but his stick was held in the pile by Powe. Bergeron fell, but there was no call for some reason. Philly got the puck, and took it up ice. It was then that the whistle would be blown, but not for holding. Carcillo would be called for cross-checking at 16:55, when he gave Marchand an extra bump after the puck was taken away from him. After the hit, Carcillo came up limping, and Ville Leino would serve his penalty instead. The Boston powerplay started looking like its old self. The were passing way too much, and not getting enough shots on net. The penalty ended without any goals scored. Philly would go back on the pk not long after though. The Bruins had a 3-on-2 up ice. Kelley had the puck on his backhand in the slot, and tried to get back to the forehand. Breire was blanketing him, and took him down. He would receive a holding penalty at 19:36.
The Bruins started the 3rd period with 1:36 remaining in their powerplay. They looked a little better than their last time out, but still remained off the board. Bergeron had gone back in the Boston zone to retrieve the puck. He passed over to Chara, and was hammered by Claude Giroux. Bergeron would head straight down the tunnel, and would not return to the game. Not a good sign for the Bruins. The Bruins would capitalize on the ensuing face-off. Off a face-off win in the Philly zone, the puck would be sent out to the near point to Johnny Boychuck. And at 2:42 in the 3rd, he sent a rocket over the glove of Bobrovsky. Boston was now up 2-1, early in the 3rd. The Bruins then seemed contempt to just dump the puck in, and force Philly to make plays. The Flyers were playing physical, but without a purpose. They didn’t appear to have any motivation to keep playing. It was starting to look like game 3, where the Bruins would just get the puck out of their zone, and keep on skating. And the Flyers looked like mindless zombies out their, with no direction. Finally mid-way through the 3rd, the Philly offense started to show some life. But some was not enough. The Flyers looked lackadaisical, and unconcerned by their impending doom. As the Flyers dumped the puck behind the Boston net, Thomas went out to play it. He had a little bit of trouble with it, but Boychuck was able to knock it to Ference. He got it to Lucic, but he couldn’t clear the puck. Giroux had it at the point, and just flicked it up the boards. Lucic knocked it to the slot, where Boychuck knocked it up to the red line. It was recovered by Carle at the Philly blue line, and he tried to chip it past Horton. Horton stopped the puck though, and passed to Lucic flying up the ice. The Bruins now had a 2 man Breakaway, with Lucic and Kelley. Lucic shot it 5-hole, and scored. The Bruins took a commanding 3-1 lead now, 15:03 into the 3rd. Philly didn’t change their game plan one bit. The Bruins continued to get the puck, and clear it out of the zone. So with under 2:30 to go, Peter Laviolette decided to pull the goalie. Not a smart move, as Brad Marchand buried a shot from the point. It was now 4-1 Boston at 18:04. This once close game was now a route. Laviolette again emptied the Philadelphia net, and again the Bruins put the puck in the back of the net. This time it was Daniel Paille, who tipped-in a shot by Campbell at 19:35. It was 5-1 Boston, and that is how the game would end. They have exercised their demons from a year ago, and have swept the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Bruins have moved on to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in 19 years! And they did it by sweeping the Philadelphia Flyers, winning game 4, 5-1. This is just sweet justice, based on the way last year ended. The score is a bit deceiving though, as the Flyers had this game close until just under 5 minutes to play in the 3rd period.The Philly defense put out a much better performance. The Flyers offense looked pathetic again, showing no urgency in their play. Bobrovsky wasn’t great, but was still good enough to win. Tim Thomas was just much better, and the 1st line was dominant again. Finally, Milan Lucic scored a goal! That’s his first of the playoffs. Horton now has 8 points in the last 5 games, and Kreci has 9. I said that if the 1st line for the Bruins got hot, then their offense would get better as a result. Boy, did that ever happen. The Bruins scored 7, 3, 5, and 5 in their 4 games against the Flyers. Compare that to the Bruins 17 combined goals in 7 games against Montreal. Yes the Canadians have a better goaltender, but the point remains the same. The Bruins scored more goals in fewer games against the Flyers. So now we look ahead to the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Tampa Bay Lightning will come to Boston This is a series that the Bruins could, and should win. They are a better team than the Lightning. Yes Tampa beat the Penguins after being down 3-1. But, they were without their top 2 players, in Crosby and Malkin. Yes they swept the Capitals. But the Caps are notorious chokers. The type of hockey they play just doesn’t translate to the postseason. So, you could argue (and I intend to) that the Lightning are a bit lucky to be in this position. The lightning are an offensively focused team, and their 41-year-old starting goaltender was acquired via trade. Head-to-head, the Bruins won 3 out of 4 games against the Lightning. They lost the 1st meeting 3-1, but won the next 3 by scores of 8-1, 4-3, and 2-1. So, how do these teams match up?
The Bruins have the edge in net. There is no better goalie in the playoffs than Tim Thomas. Shockingly, he’s younger than Roloson, Tampa’s stop-gap goalie. The Bruins also have a better defense, and are playing great defensively. Chara has been good, and Seidenberg has been playing outstanding. The one place that the Lightning have a clear-cut advantage is on offense. Steven Stamkos is a beast, and St. Louis has been very clutch this postseason. The Bruins will have to blanket 1 of the 2 every game with Chara. What Boston needs to do to win though is simple. Score. I know it sounds obvious, but they need to score to beat the Lightning. Tampa has to potent an offense to sit back and let them attack. The Bruins must attack relentlessly, and keep that electric Lightning offense out of the attacking zone. The Lightning just don’t have all the pieces in my opinion. Teams that are all offense tend to fall in the postseason to teams that can grind it out. I look for the Bruins to win this series in 6 (possibly 7), and head to the Stanley Cup Finals for the 1st time in 21 years.
The Bruins stole a game in Philadelphia on Monday night, winning 3-2 in overtime. The game was stolen by Tim Thomas, who made 52 saves on the night. It was capped of by David Kreci, who, after review, had scored the game winning goal at 14:00 in OT. The Bruins were very fortunate to win this game, and are going to have to improve their play in order to win game 3. Chris Pronger was out with an undisclosed injury, taking away a huge presence on the ice for the Flyers. Philadelphia missed his play, as their defense allowed the Bruins to have more scoring chances, even though they outshot Boston 54-41. It was a very thrilling game, so lets see how we got there.
The game is on, and Philly scored. Philly had a 2-on-1 after a bad pinch by the Boston defense. Claude Giroux passed across the ice for van Riemsdyk who just got it into the net off the post. It was 1-0 Philadelphia, 29 seconds into the game. Another quick goal allowed by the Bruins. This is not going to bode well. Seconds later, Thomas would make a save, and he batted the puck out of the air. The puck went over the glass though, and it was a delay of game call at 0:48. The Flyers didn’t get a lot of chances, and Boston killed the penalty off. Philly dumped the puck into the Boston zone, when McQuaid was setting up in the corner boards. He stopped, anticipating pressure from Jordan Shelly. He hit him a little too hard into the boards, and Boston was now on the powerplay at 3:37 for boarding. Another powerplay without a goal for Boston. the number is now 0-27 for Boston. Boston was sustaining pressure though, and Kelly just missed a chance in the near slot. Boucher made the save with his glove and pad, and found the rebound right in front of his left pad. Boston would go back on the pk at 8:49, after Campbell was called for holding. Philly did a much better job controlling the puck this time around, and got pucks to Thomas. After a point shot by Timonen, there was a scramble at the net, and van Riemsdyk put the puck in the net again. It appeared to go in off the shin pads of Chara. A bad break early for Boston, but it was caused by relentless pressure by Philly. The Flyers had a 2-0 lead 9:31 into the 1st. Boston wasn’t playing great, but they were getting chances. The 3rd line of Kelly-Peverley-Ryder was getting plenty of chances. Peverley was coming through the Flyers zone, and Ryder had stationed himself right in front of Boucher. Peverley took a shot, and Boucher just got a right pad save. Ryder tried to jam the puck, and the puck trickled out into the crease. A charging Kelly tipped in the puck for a goal. Boston had closed the lead to 2-1 at 12:50. And another quick rush by the Bruins and Bergerons line created more trouble. Bergeron was set up in the low near circle, and he passed to Marchand high in the center slot. Marchand got a wrist shot off, and beat Boucher low glove side. Suddenly, Boston had tied the game at 2, just 1:25 in between both goals. Philly decided to shake things up. As Kreci and Versteeg were heading to their benches, Versteeg grabbed a hold of Kreci as he tried to get into the Boston bench. Versteeg proceeded to pull Kreci into the Philly bench, so Kreci took a few jabs at him trying to get him to let go. The refs would break it up, and both players would receive offsetting minors. It was now 4-on-4 for 2 minutes, at 15:04. Both teams had great chances late in the 4-on-4. The Bruins were caught in the middle of a change, and Timonen got a shot off in the slot. Thomas came out to attack the puck, and made a great save. The puck rebounded all the way to the blue line, and was picked up by Paille. He now had a breakaway, but Boucher made a kick pad save with his right pad. Philly brought the puck back into the Bruins zone. Adam McQuaid attempted to make a hit on Mike Richards at the near post. Richards sidestepped the hit, and McQuaid fell very awkwardly, face first into the boards. He laid on the ice for several minutes, but he would stand up, and skate off with some help. He would not return to the game. There was still 2:30 to play in the 1st, so on the game went. Philly was getting pressure back on the Bruins net. It was a very physical 1st, and the game was tied at 2 heading into the 2nd period.
The 2nd period started with pressure from Boston’s 1st line. Kreci missed a shot high glove side, and Boucher made a great glove save off a near circle shot by Seidenberg. The Bruins had a much better start to this period, controlling the puck in the Flyers zone. It was all Boston in the first 5 minutes, with the Bruins getting 5 shots on goal to Philly’s 1. But the Flyers were ever opportunistic, and created another 2-on-1 chance. This time though, a diving Boychuck stopped the puck during a centering attempt. Thomas jumped on the puck, and covered up. van Riemsdyk had a chance off the rush, trying to stuff the puck near post. Thomas tried to cover up, but the puck bounced into the crease. Andrew Ference acted as a second goaltender, taking up space in the crease. Zherdev had a chance on the rebounding puck, but Ference stopped the puck from going in. Boston’s 1st line brought the puck up ice, and got a shot on Boucher. Philly would get the puck back, and brought it into the Boston zone. There was a battle behind the Boston net against the boards, and the play would be whistled dead. Boucher apparently hurt himself on that last Boston chance, and would skate to the bench. Bobrovsky would come in at 11:01 in the 2nd, to replace an injured Boucher. Andrew Ference brought the puck into the Flyers zone, and went behind the net. He tried to get a centering pass out, but it would be turned over to Philly. Philly had a 2-on-2 up ice, and van Riemsdyk had another chance, centering a pass to Zherdev, but Thomas made a spectacular left to right leg save. Boston had their own numbers up ice, and Horton brought the puck into the far slot. He tried to center to Kreci, but the puck bounced off of Versteeg. The puck came right to Kreci, as Versteeg had run into Bobrovsky. Kreci had a wide open net, but his spin around backhand hit the near post. A huge break for the Flyers, and depressing miss by Kreci. van Riemsdyk had a semi-breakaway chance, and deked to the forehand, but his shot went wide. The tempo was up, late in the 2nd period. The 1st line of Boston was dominating the Richards line of Philly. They controlled the puck for over 30 seconds in the Flyers zone, but Bobrovsky made some terrific saves. A terrific check by Boychuck pinching in behind the Flyers net, and Philly retaliated. Scott Hartnell would receive a slashing call at 18:27. The powerplay looked good, but it was all by the Bruins 1st line. That 1st line of Horton-Kreci-Lucic was flat-out killing the Flyers. The period ended, and the Bruins had not scored. They would have 27 seconds of powerplay left when the 3rd started. We entered the 3rd, tied at 2.
Boucher was back in the game to start the 3rd, and the Bruins powerplay was up. Philadelphia came out firing, getting plenty of chances on Thomas early. Philly had a 3-on-2 coming through the neutral zone. As they entered the Boston zone, Giroux skated outside, and passed back inside to van Riemsdyk. It was now a 1-on-1 against Thomas, and Thomas closed up the 5-hole to make the save, and Seidenberg swept the puck away. Philly was setting up the puck behind Thomas. Marchand would hit Versteeg, and get called for cross-checking at 3:21. Philadelphia now had an early chance to take the lead with the man advantage. The Bruins pk was solid, not allowing any good scoring chances. But, right as the penalty was about to end, Claude Giroux took away a Boston pass. He passed behind the Boston defense to Briere, who had a breakaway. He made a head fake to the backhand, and tried to get a forehand shot off, but Thomas stuffed him to make a spectacular save. The Bruins were just able to avoid another powerplay goal. Philadelphia was maintaing puck control midway through the 3rd. van Riemsdyk was getting a ton of chances on Thomas, just tearing up the Bruins D. Philly almost had a goal on a wraparound chance. Thomas was looking one way, and the puck came the other. It was centered in the crease, but stayed out of the net. Some great pressure by Lucic though, and he poked the puck away from Zherdev. Lucic slowly skated into the far circle, and centered to Horton. But a spectacular right to left leg save by Boucher kept the Bruins off the board. That seemed to spark some life in the Bruins, and they sustained some pressure in the Flyers zone off the face-off. Chara had a one-timer opportunity, but he broke his stick on the shot attempt. Philly dumped the puck into the Bruins zone. Boychuck went behind the Boston net, and the puck bounced off of his skates right into the slot. Mike Richards was right there, and got a shot off, but Thomas made a great save and paddled the puck away. Then, as Philly was trying to bring the puck into the Bruins zone, Briere took a forearm shiver from Chara to the face. He would receive a roughing call at 17:19, and the Flyers had a big chance late on the powerplay. Tim Thomas was spectacular in net, and the Flyers were kept off the board. Boston would ice the puck with :04.2 remaning in the 3rd, forcing a key face-off in their own zone. It was a stalemate at center ice, when van Riemsdyk came in and wheeled around a shot on net. The puck bounced off of Thomas, and came right to Briere in the slot. He had a wide open net to shoot at, but just fanned on the shot. He had a follow-up shot, but it went right into the now prone Seidenberg. Boston escaped the 3rd period, still tied at 2. And boy, did they escape. Besides that last second chance, Thomas had made 22 saves in the 3rd period alone, for a total of 41 through the first 3 periods. Boston meanwhile, had just 7 shots on Boucher in the period. It was on to another overtime game for the Bruins.
The overtime started with some safe play by both teams, not wanting to allow any funny goals. The 1st line of the Bruins started getting pressure in the Flyers zone. Then the 1st line of Philly got pressure of their own. Giroux had a couple good opportunities, but Thomas made the saves. You could feel the momentum shifting towards Philly. Shawn O’Donnell took a shot from the point, that was knocked down by some bodies. Richards found the puck in the low circle, and got a backhand off. It hit the skates of Chara, and hit the crossbar and stayed out of the net. After getting off the ice, Chara headed down the tunnel. He would return momentarily though, which was a big sigh of relief for the Bruins. They could not afford to lose another defenceman, especially one that takes up as much space and minutes as Chara. Midway through the OT, the Flyers had 9 shots on goal, and Boston had just 2. Peverley stole a puck in the neutral zone, and skated right into the high slot. He got a wrist shot off, and hit the near post. The Flyers now caught a break in this OT, and the game remained tied. Philly took the puck right back into the Boston zone. The game narrowly ended off a deflection by Leino from a point shot, but the puck hit the side of the net. Boston would send the puck up ice, and on Boucher from their defensive zone. Boucher paddled the puck to the near side to Coburn. He passed around the boards, but the puck skipped by to Horton at the point. Horton skated to the far circle, and passed to David Kreci in the near slot. He got a wrist shot off, and beat Boucher for the game-winning goal. Or did he? The puck bounced back into play, and the referee signaled no goal. Now me, sitting in my chair in front of my computer, watching the game live, could tell that it was a goal. Play went on, but nothing serious happened. After the play was whistled dead, the refs reviewed Kreci’s shot. It became official, at 14:00 into overtime, the Boston Bruins had stolen one in Philadelphia, 3-2. (I saw a similar play live as well. On December 7, 2010, the Bruins beat the Sabers off a tip in by Recchi from a Seidenberg point shot. The goal hit the same exact spot, and bounced out of the goal. The refs looked at it, and finally called it a goal.) Anyways, the game was now over, and the Bruins now had a 2-0 lead in the series.
What a crazy game for the Bruins. This was a straight steal, they should not have won this game. The Bruins defense made turnovers constantly throughout the game. Most of them came after McQuaid was injured, which tells me that they were exhausted as the night wore on. The Bruins offense was only provided by the 1st line. A big change from what we saw against the Canadians. The Bergeron and Peverley line had some good chances, and the Campbell line provided little. It was the domination by the bruins 1st line that helped them win this game. But, above and beyond everyone else, Tim Thomas was the best player on the ice. Thomas stopped 52 of 54 shots, with 46 shots in a row including 22 in the 3rd period alone. He made one spectacular save after another, due to the bad turnovers by the Boston defense late in the game. And obviously, the Bruins powerplay needs to be fixed. 0-28, and counting. The Bruins have shown that they can win without the powerplay, so the real question is, how good would they be if the powerplay was working? I think they would be quite scary if they could get that man advantage going.
The Flyers played a great game offensively, but had another shotty game on defense. Boston controlled the 2nd period, and didn’t get a lot of chances in the 3rd or overtime. Even though, they had more scoring chances then the Flyers. That just shows how poor the Flyers D played. Philadelphia had plenty of scoring chances, but Thomas was just a brick wall. Going into game 3, the Bruins obviously have an advantage. They are up 2 games to none, and are heading back to Boston. The Bruins don’t play well on home ice, but they have they advantage of winning both games in Philly. I expect the Flyers to come out with a lot of energy in game 3, and be very physical like they were in game 2. I wouldn’t be surprised if Philly came out and won game 3 in Boston, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Boston wins game 3 either. After stealing game 2, Boston should be flying high. They are playing great, and Thomas is playing out of this world. With the struggles in Philly’s net, Boston could come out with the win if they are prepared. Philly just as easily could win this game. They lost the first 2 games on their own home ice. If Philly goes down 3-0 in this series, I don’t think they will make another miraculous comeback. Thomas is playing too good to allow that type of collapse. So it is significant that Philly wins game 3. If Philly splits in Boston, they can’t feel too confident going home, where the Bruins already won 2. So the Flyers desperately need to sweep in Boston to have a good chance to come back in this series. I said that the Bruins would win this series in 6, and I still see that happening. Of course though, I would love to see a sweep this year.
Game 2 is in the books, and the Bruins are exactly where they don’t want to be. They now are down 2-0 to the Canadians, and have to go to the Bell Center for 2 games in Montreal. They quite possibly could get swept up in Montreal. Carey Price was spectacular again, and the B’s made mistakes just seconds into the game. So how exactly did we get to this point?
Just 43 seconds into the game, the Habs took a 1-0 lead again, this time thanks to Greg Cammalleri. At 2:14 into the game, Seidenberg received a terrible interference call and the Habs cashed in 6 seconds later to take a 2-0 lead just 2:20 into the game on a Matt Darche goal. Montreal had the tempo of this game going very fast, very quickly. Boston would move the puck up the ice, and try to counter-attack just as quick. Carey Price made the save of the game, making a right-to-left glove save on a great feed by Horton to Lucic about 4 minutes into the game. Kreci made some nice quick moves to get through the neutral zone and threw a shot on goal at 5:50, but the Bruins weren’t able to sustain anything for the start of the game. Marchand had a good chance off a Karble rebound at 8:00, but couldn’t find the back of the net. Not long after, Hamerlick took a nice shot at Horton with his elbow at 8:44 for a roughing penalty after Horton fired a shot on goal after a very subtle whistle. And then, Hall Gill gets a bump from Horton and falls down. Horton even tried to hold Gill up, that’s how bad of a flop it was! Subban also grabbed a hold of Kreci’s stick, and refused to let go. The Canadians were just playing despicable hockey from the get-go. Horton would receive a roughing penalty for the hit at 10:24. The Boston PK kept Montreal out of the net though, and they kept themselves in the game. Boychuck took out two Canadians around 13:00 into the game, and then Horton laid into someone. Trying to up the physical play, and get some life into this team. But Boston could not get by Carey Price. At 19:27 Hal Gill received a cross-checking penalty, giving the B’s a penalty to end the first. It was a very fast-paced first period. Something that works to the Canadians advantage.
The Bruins started the second period with 1:28 left in their powerplay, but remained ineffective. The Canadians controlled the next four minutes of the second, getting shots on net, and keeping the puck in the offensive zone. Lucic had a chance entering the offensive zone, but Subban knocked the puck away from him. Both headed for the boards to get the puck, Lucic got his stick up into Subban’s face at 4:34 for a high sticking penalty. The Canadians weren’t able to get a shot on net in that power play, however, Plekanec would get a clean breakaway off a Boston line change immediately following the end of the penalty. Tim Thomas made one of his biggest saves to this point in the series, stuffing him 5 hole. Boston would take the momentum from the Thomas stop, and at 7:38 off the rush, Patrice Bergeron would score in the slot off a slap-pass from Marchand. At 8:06 Kreci just missed a wide-open net to tie the game. He received a pass from the high sideboards, and just fanned on the shot. It was painful watching the replays. Montreal would storm back following the whiff, but Thomas was up to the challenge. Boston would send the puck back into the offensive zone, and start peppering Price with shots. It became a back-and-forth battle from about 8:00-12:00 into the game. At 12:23, Wisniewskitook out Peverly on the boards (a very dangerous and deplorable hit that at a glance, is worse than the Chara-Pacioretty hit), and Hnidy took great exception to that. He immediately went after Wisniewsik. They exchanged in a good bout, that gave the B’s some momentum. Boston went on the powerplay as Hnidy and Wisniewski both received fighting majors, and a charging penalty for Wisniewski. The powerplay looked energized, getting lots of traffic and shots on Price. With about 5 seconds left in the penalty, Boston got a point shot off that was deflected onto the post. Still, the B’s powerplay remained without a goal. Montreal just kept holding on, and attacking the Boston net. At 17:21, Dennis Seidenberg tried to get a pass from the defensive zone all the way to the attacking zone. The pass was intercepted by Hamrlik, and passed to Eller, who got off a point shot that Webber buried in the net off the rebound. The Habs took a 3-1 lead. Coming off an icing call, Boston would get a face-off win and shot off the point that hit the post. The puck went into Carey Prices back, and remained out of the goal. No matter what Boston did, Price and the post weren’t letting pucks in. The game was now 3-1 in favor of the Habs heading into the third.
Early in the third, it looked like a repeat of Thursday night. Montreal would collapse around the puck, and just dump it into the defensive zone. The Bruins would get a good shift from the fourth line, pressuring the puck, getting shots on goal, and keeping it in the offensive zone. The pressure would result in a tripping call on P.K. Subban at 3:20. So with the B’s on the powerplay, they again remained ineffective. They controlled the puck in the offensive zone for virtually the whole penalty, but only got 2 shots on net. Boston is now 0-6 on the man advantage. They spent the early half of the third period in the attacking zone. The B’s kept the pressure on, but still had nothing to show for it. At about 13:00 into the third, Kreci skated into te offensive zone with a 3-on-2, and tried to get a pass to Peverly on his right. The puck went airborne, and into the boards. Peverly went into the boards and threw it on net. Kreci tried to jam it in, but was unsuccessful. Montreal followed that up by taking the puck into Boston’s defensive zone, and controlled it the for the next 2 minutes. There was now just 5:45 between the Bruins, and what would be an almost inescapable 0-2 hole. Boston moved the puck up to the offensive zone, and Horton fanned on a wrist shot attempt at 14:55. Kreci then missed a rebound chance off a point shot at 15:46. The Canadians were being spent, and iced the puck at 18:02. Thomas went to the Boston bench, but the B’s were unable to do anything with the man advantage. Montreal was called for offsides at 18:34. Boston took a timeout, and had to put Thomas back in net. The face-off was won back by Montreal, and brought up the sideboards where it was flipped into the bench area. Thomas was again on the bench. Seidenberg got a point shot off, but it stuck in Price’s gut. The seconds ticked down, and the Montreal Canadians won game 2, 3-1.
This was a very tough game for the Bruins. They turned the puck over early and allowed a first period goal not just once, but twice in this game. It was pathetic to see the B’s make the same mistake in back-to-back games! Zedno Chara was out of this game due to dehydration. He spent Friday night in the hospital. The B’s defense didn’t look any different though, as they made the same mistakes as in game 1. There is no way you can blame this loss on Chara being out. The B’s have played decent hockey thus far. Take away that 1st period turn over, and this is a completely different game. Then, Boston can play more relaxed, and get the game more towards their style of offense. They keep getting pucks on Price, but he’s stopping everything. There’s no doubt that he’s very hot to start. The only way to beat a hot goaltender is to get bodies in his face. Stick Lucic, Horton, Thornton, and other big guys in his way. If they can create havoc in front of Price, then maybe they can knock him off his game.
I said it in my last post after the game 1 loss, and I’m sticking by it. I don’t see any way the B’s can win this series. They would have to win both games in Montreal in my opinion, because they will not come home down 3-1 and win in TD Garden. This team is not a good home team, for whatever reason. If the B’s have any hope of winning this series, they must win the next two game in Montreal. And that my friends, might just be impossible.
As the final buzzer sounds on the regular season, the Celtics have a lot of questions as to whether or not this is a Championship caliber team. Many people are still worried about this team heading into the postseason, and with good reason. This is a team that went just 16-12 since the All-Star break, and coasted into the postseason. This team had a chance to grab the number one seed if they had played better, and just two more wins would have got them the number two seed. Especially if one of those wins was against Miami on Apr. 9. But, let’s not forget what his team did last year. They were only the number four seed last year, coasted well into the playoffs, told everybody not to panic and that they would turn it on in the postseason, and they did. All this team had to do was win one out of two games and they would have been NBA champs again. But still, something feels different about this year.
Perkins was traded, and they have huge question marks at center. Do you really expect Shaq and Jermaine to be game changers? Rondo has turned into a puddle of mush. Whether it’s his finger, or that he’s upset about the Perk trade, he’s not the same guy he was a year ago or even just three months ago for that matter. He’s not being the playmaker that they need. And KG seems to have lost that fire. He comes out in a post game press conference and says Doc called the team soft, and then comes out the next night, and plays soft. This team seems to lack that fire it had last year, when they wanted to prove that they were better than getting bounced by Orlando in ’08-’09. This team doesn’t even compare to the ’07-’08 team. The big three, in their first year together, each seeking their first title. There was a fire inside those three that could have burned down the old Boston Garden. This year just doesn’t feel like either of those years.
But, why can’t the C’s win it this year? Kendirk Perkins? Please. If you’re one of those people who thinks that the reason the Celtics lost the NBA Finals was because they didn’t have Perkins, you are out of your mind. That is so asinine. Those same people will tell you that Andrew Bynum being out in ’07-’08 had no affect on the NBA Finals. You gotta roll with the punches, and if your team is that good, then losing your starting center who doesn’t contribute offensively shouldn’t affect you. Their defense was just fine in that series. They only allowed 83 points in the final game. So without their starting center, who is supposed to be such a force on defense, they were in a great position to win the Finals. Rondo hasn’t been the same, but one would think he’s adult enough to turn it up in the postseason. If not, then his finger must really be hurt, or he’s just a very petty man about the Perk trade. The big three, they’ll be ready. I’m not worried about those guys. They just get it, they know this is it. They sat the last two games of the year, and they might as well have been on the bench in the Heat game. They should be fully rested, and ready to compete. And yes, this team did coast into the postseason. But, they did this to us last year, and made it to the Finals. It seems like the only thing to do is believe that the C’s know what they’re doing. So, is this year really so much different from last year? Maybe with the Perk trade, they will be better offensively when it counts, and that could be te deciding factor in Game 7 of the 2011 NBA Finals.