The Bruins had a tremendous outing in game 1 vs the Flyers, wining 7-3 in Philadelphia. The top line of Horton-Kreci-Lucic was very impressive. Kreic had 2 goals and 1 assist on the night. The Flyers looked awful all night. Boucher started the game in net, but ended his night on the bench. After giving up his 5th goal of the night, he was pulled for Sergie Bobrofski. The Flyers defense had problems all night, and the offense couldn’t sustain any pressure. Let’s get on to the game!
The game started out very physical. The Flyers were doing all of the hitting though. Boston dumped the puck into the Flyers zone, and it was fetched by Lucic. He sent the puck back to the point to Chara, who sent a one-timer wide. The puck came around the boards to Horton at the near point. He passed to Kreci, who had snuck into the slot through the Flyers defense. He shot a backhand right under Boucher’s blocker, and it resulted in a goal just 1:52 into the game. Boston was up 1-0 very early in the game. The Flyers were controlling the puck early, but the Boston defense was not allowing them to get any sustained pressure. Off a blocker save by Thomas, Boston suddenly had a 3-on-2 up ice. Lucic passed to Horton in the middle, and he passed to the near circle to Kreci, who just missed a shot high. Boston was playing with tons of energy, even though it was Philadelphia who was controlling the puck. Philly looked very sluggish to start the game. At the midway point int the period, Philly had a chance of some good checking, and Boston was forced to ice the puck. Daniele Pialle was chasing after the puck behind Chris Pronger. Pronger went to touch the puck, and appeared to miss it. Pialle crashed into him trying to de-ice the puck. Pronger didn’t like the check, and took a two-handed swing at Pialle. They both received matching minors at 9:36. Pronger received an obvious slash, but Pialle received a tripping call. That I don’t understand, because Pronger never stumbled or hit the ice. It seemed like they shouldn’t have given Pialle anything, and Pronger is lucky he only got two. He swung his stick like a bat, very dangerous. They played 4-on-4 for 2 minutes now. And 1:26 into the 4-on-4, the Flyers scored to tie the game at 1. Coburn took a shot from the point that was knocked down by Danny Breire. Breire picked up the puck in the slot, and roofed it over Tim Thomas at 11:02. The Flyers fans decided to heckle Thomas, by shouting his name as the Flyers came up ice. Well, it appeared to work, but not in their favor. Zherdev came through the far circle, and had both defencemen behind him. He passed across ice to van Riemsdyk, but Tim Thomas made a spectacular right-to-left blocker save, absolutely robbing the Flyers of another goal. Philly had another good chance off the rush. Powe came through far circle, and passed to the center slot looking for a tip-in by Zach Rinaldo. He and Seidenberg collided with Thomas, and the refs felt that was enough for a goaltender-interference call. Boston was now on the powerplay at 14:06. As much as I like taking a player away from an opposing team, I don not want to watch the B’s on the powerplay! They suck, and they sucked again, not scoring on the man advantage. As the 1st period came to a close, Boston got some pressure on the Flyers net. Again, it was the 1st line creating the havoc. Seidenberg pinched on down the boards, taking the puck behind the net. He passed to Horton in the slot, who took a shot at Boucher. He stopped the initial, but the puck rebounded right back to Horton. He took another shot on net, and the puck hit Boucher and bounced just over his shoulder. It was not 2-1 Boston, 17:39 into the game. Boston headed into the 2nd period with a 2-1 lead, and that is huge.
The Flyers came out shooting at Thomas, but he made a couple great saves in a row. The Bruins ran a counter-attack, with Bergeron coming through the far circle. He passed to a wide-open Mark Recchi in the slot. His initial shot was stopped, but the puck rebounded right back to him. He got a second shot off, and it bounced off of Boucher’s glove and just snuck in. Boston now had a 3-1 lead at 2:34 into the 2nd period. The Flyers defense looked bad, and Boston was now surging just 5:00 into the 2nd. Philly had the brought the puck behind the back of the Boston net. Versteeg would have the puck stolen by Ryder, and he took a slash at the back of his skates. Ryder went down, perhaps embellishing the hit a bit, and would get a penalty called at 5:11. Carcillo then makes a gutless move, and takes a hard shot at the back of Ryder’s head when he was on the ice. He’s lucky they didn’t see or call that, and I hope he hears from the league. As Boston went on the powerplay, 2 minutes were up in no time. No goal for the B’s. Just as the penalty ended, Philly would commit another penalty when Breire tripped up Marchand behind the Philly net at 7:42. The powerplay was ineffective yet again. It seemed like Chara was the only player taking shots on that man advantage. And the Bruins would go on the pk right after their penalty ended. Brad Marchand would inadvertently knock the stick out of Ville Leino’s hands, and received a slashing call at 9:58. Tim Thomas came up huge just 19 seconds into the penalty, as he stuffed Breire on a wraparound at the far post, and then made a stick save on the near post against Richards. Boston cleared the puck out, and Pronger made a long pass to van Riemsdyk behind the Bruins defense. He now had a semi-breakaway, but good stick play by Chara, and a good save by Thomas kept the puck out of the net. With about 10 seconds left in the penalty, Boston would commit another penalty when the stick of Johnny Boychuk inadvertently hit Zherdev in the face as he tried to clear the puck. The first penalty would end, and Philly would go on the man advantage again at 12:37. It shouldn’t have been a penalty, as Boychuck was just following through with his clearing, and he didn’t even know Zherdev was behind him. But, Boston went on the powerplay in the 1st when Rinaldo inadvertently collided with Thomas, and that shouldn’t have been a penalty. The refs were calling this game very tight, trying to keep things from getting out of control. The Philly powerplay looked very good, doing everything the Bruins can’t. But the Boston pk kept them off the board, and the game still 3-1. Boston cleared the puck into the Flyers zone, and Lucic pressured the puck, causing a deflection to go into the seats. There was now a face-off in the Flyers zone, and Kreci won it back to McQuaid. He took a shot from the point, which was deflected by Kreci over a surprised Boucher. Boston suddenly had a 4-1 lead 15:26 into the 2nd. Boston was pressuring the puck now, controlling it in the Flyers zone. Ference got a shot off from the point, and Marchand got the rebound. He put the puck under the bar, and Boston now had a 5-1 lead 17:14 into the 2nd. Boucher would be pulled for Bobrovsky, but it was the Philly D that was costing the Flyers all those goals. Philly wouldn’t quit though, as they won a face-off in the Boston zone and van Riemsdyk surprised Thomas high glove side. Boston was now up 5-2, 17:30 into the 2nd. Philly was playing on edge, and Giroux would get called for a slash on Kreci at 18:12. The Flyers would get more shorthanded chances than the Bruins with the man advantage. Philly cleared the puck, and Versteeg flew down the ice to pressure Thomas. Thomas couldn’t play the puck, and was forced back to the net. Versteeg threw the puck to the high slot for Richards, but it exploded on him. He regrouped with the puck in the near circle, but Thomas got a piece of his glove on the puck. The puck was picked up by Kreci, but Versteeg poked the puck away, and had a chance in the slot on Thomas. Thomas made a diving poke-check, forcing Versteeg to drag the puck away. Kreci mad a great check to separate Versteeg from the puck, and the puck was stuffed under Thomas’s pads. Boston would go into the 2nd with 12 seconds of powerplay left, and had a 5-2 lead.
The Bruins powerplay ended at the start of the 3rd, another excuse of a man advantage. The Flyers had tons of energy to start the 3rd. They looked like they wanted to win this game, and the Boston D could not keep up. It would result in offsetting minors at 1:55. Peverley would give a hard shove to Hartnell, which would give him a cross-checking penalty. Hartnell took exception to this, and got up and took a shove at Peverley. Peverley shoved back, so Hartnell took a whack at Peverley’s legs. Hartnell would then receive a slashing penalty. Which, that was a stupid penalty by Hartnell. All he had to do was keep skating. He got his shove in, and Peverley shoved back, so he decided to be a thug and swipe at his legs to eliminate a Flyer powerplay. It was now 4-on-4 for 2 minutes. There was just one good scoring chance the whole 4-on-4, and it was by Philadelphia. Richards brought the puck into the near circle, and faked a slap shot before getting a wrist shot off. I was blocked by Seidenberg, and then bounced off of Thomas’s glove and by the far post. Boston followed that up with a point shot by Seidenberg right into the glove of Bobrovsky for a freeze. Philly won the puck back behind the net, but it was stolen from Meszaros by Marchand. He passed in front to Bergeron in the slot, but his shot appeared to have been tipped by Coburn and went high as the 4-on-4 ended. The Bruins started playing a much better game, and were controlling the tempo as the 5 minute mark approached. Philadelphia was trying to clear the puck out of their own zone, but the puck was picked up by Peverley at the point. He wheeled around a shot on net that was blocked, but the puck rebounded right to Marchand in the slot. He had a chance for a backhand shot, but he couldn’t settle the puck. The Flyers came back with pressure. Claude Giroux skated thorough the high slot, and got a shot off. His shot went wide though, as Andrew Ference had gotten his stick in-between Giroux’s legs. Boston would go on the pk at 8:30 for hooking. Philly did nothing on the powerplay though, and the game remained 5-2. Right after the penalty ended, van Riemsdyk would get a stick up high on Lucic, and then ran him shoulder first into the stanchion. Lucic wanted a penalty, but no call. Then, Boston would go back on the pk for a slash by Kreci at 10:57. Very bad officiating throughout this game, and one can only hope it improves in game 2. The Flyers had an early chance by Breire in the near slot, but he shot it right into the chest of Tim Thomas. The Bruins killed off the first minute, and Marchand was bringing the puck into the Flyer zone. He tried to deke around Pronger, and inadvertently tripped him. Philadelphia was now 5-on-3 for 56 seconds. The Boston pk unit played tremendous, and killed off the 5-on-3. But, Philly still had 1:04 remaining on the Marchand penalty. Mike Richards would make that count, as he dragged the puck from the corner into the bottom of the far circle, and roofed the puck over Thomas’s left shoulder. It looked like Thomas never even saw the puck, and it was now a 5-3 game 13:02 into the 3rd. Boston would attack back quickly, with the 1st line getting tons of pressure again. The Bergeron line came out, and kept the pressure on. Marchand had the puck in the corner, and he sent it behind the Philly net to Bergeron. He passed to the point to Chara, who passed around the boards to Recchi. He took it from behind the net up the near boards, and threw the puck into the crease. The puck was picked up by Pronger, who tried to clear it. The puck was poked away from Carle by Bergeron, and went right to Marchand in the crease. He snuck it by Bobrovsky, and Boston now had a 6-3 lead at 14:59 in the 3rd. Seconds later, Andrj Meszaros would get called for slashing Kreci at 15:29. Lucic was having a conversation with O’Donnell, when Rinaldo came in and gave him a good bump from behind. In fact, he knocked Lucic into a referee separating Lucic and O’Donnell. Lucic didn’t like that, and turned around and gave Rinaldo a left jab to the face. Rinaldo and Lucic would both receive 10 minute misconduct, effectively taking them out of the rest of the game. Boston would go on the powerplay, but wasn’t very effective. However, seconds after the penalty expired, Campbell would receive a pass in the slot from Kreci behind the net. He put it above the blocker side, and Boston now had a 7-3 lead at 17:39 in the 3rd. The game came to a close, and Boston had won game 1 in Philly, 7-3.
This was as much a great effort by the Bruins, as it was a terrible effort by the Flyers. I said that the 1st line had to build on a good game in game 7 against Montreal, and they did. Kreci had 2 goals and 2 assists. Horton had a goal and an assist. Lucic had what was probably his best game of the postseason, even though he didn’t have any points. The Bergeron line was spectacular again, scoring 3 goals, 2 of them by Marchand. It as a great game for Marchand, The Bruins 7th player winner. He played with great energy and tenacity. The Bruins defense was very solid, especially while in the Philadelphia zone. Their defencemen were possessing the puck, and choosing the right times to pinch in. Dennis Seidenberg had a great game, picking up 2 assists and leading the team at +4. Philly on the other hand, looked dreadful.
Their offense was inept for most of the night. They had one good 5-on-5 goal, van Riemsdyk snuck one by Thomas for the 2nd goal, and Richards had a powerplay goal. The defense was dreadful all night for Philly. Their best defenseman in Pronger, finished the night at -3. Ouch! Besides the Richards powerplay goal, they looked almost as bad as the Bruins on the man advantage. I have never seen 2 teams suck so bad on the powerplay in one game. It was quite pathetic. Boston did give Philly it’s fair share of chances though. The Flyers ended up with 4 shorthanded shots on goal. That is just unacceptable. The Bruins need to do something drastic with the powerplay, and they have to do it now. No more waiting around, I’m getting sick of watching the opposing team dump the puck to Tim Thomas to kill 10 seconds of the penalty.
Heading into game 2, I feel very confident about the Bruins chances. They played a great game all around. Thomas was great in net, just was surprised by that van Riemsdyk goal off the face-off. Defense was shaky at times, but otherwise very solid. The offense obviously looked amazing. The 1st line was spectacular, and they are going to need more games like that if the B’s want to win this series. Expect a very physical Flyers team to start the game, and expect to see Kreci getting smashed all night. He tore up the Flyers in the playoffs last year (before Mike Richards broke his wrist on an open ice hit), and he’s off to another hot start. I expect Philadelphia to win game 2. It would be very tough for the Bruins to win both games in Philly. But, if the Bruins play like they did in game 1, they should win. And, if the Flyers play like they did in game 1, then the Bruins won’t need to play as good as they did in game 1.
In a thrilling finish, the Boston Celtics were able to take game 1 against the New York Knicks, 87-85. The dramatic finish came as a result of very poor play from the C’s in the first half. The Knicks dominated the 1st half. Amare Stoudemire really dominated the C’s all game, and scored 12 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter. That should raise some questions about Perk. If he was in this game, would Amare have been so dominate? I digress. Boston looked flat, and unaware that they were in a playoff game to start. In fact Doc Rivers even said that the team played like the playoffs started in the second half. New York went on a 23-9 run to end the 1st half. But Boston hung in there, and battled back.
Jermaine O’Neal made some huge blocks in the third quarter including one on Carmello with about 7:44 to go in the quarter. That really started to swing momentum towards Boston. It was a back and forth battle for most of the second half. The C’s kept chipping away at the Knicks lead, until they were able to take the lead early in the fourth quarter. With the game tied at 82 late in the fourth, Tony Douglas hit a huge 3-pointer to put the Knicks by three with just 38 seconds remaining. Boston called timeout, and KG received an alley-oop on an inbound from Rondo, to make the game 84-85. The Knicks looked very surprised by the play call. The Knicks then set up their offense in the Boston zone. Chauncey Billups attempted a lay-up, and landed awkwardly on his left knee (his status is uncertain going into the next game). His lay-up didn’t fall, and the rebound was passed back out. Carmello was trying to set up and bumped into Paul Pierce. Pierce did embellish a bit, and was able to get an offensive foul. Rondo took the ball for the inbound, and called a time out. On the ensuing play, Allen passed to Pierce from just in front of the half court marker, drove to the left side, where Pierce got it back to him. Garnett got away with a bit of an elbow on a pick, and Allen dropped the three. Boston took an 87-85 lead. New York still had 11 seconds on the clock. The ball was brought up court, and Carmello called for it. He shouldn’t have. Instead of trying to drive through the lane for a basket and possible foul, he threw up a lame duck 3 that missed badly off the front of the rim. The game ended, and Boston had won 87-85. The Knicks were outscored 48-34 in the second half.
This was a great game for the Celtics. It looked like the Knicks threw everything they had at them, and the C’s came out on top. Boston had 15 offensive rebounds, which they have not done all year. Boston is now 17-2 against Knicks in their last 19 meetings, including 5-0 this season. The C’s have also won 10 straight against New York. Getting worse, the Knicks have now gone 10 years without a playoff win. Boston should win game 2. It won’t be easy, but it shouldn’t be too difficult for such a seasoned team. I would look for a tough game from New York once they get back to MSG, but I do expect Boston to win this series.