Boston came up huge again last night, dominating game 4 with a 4-0 win. Thomas should have had a shutout in game 3, and had one last night. He has been absolutely stellar all Finals long. Thomas has allowed 5 goals in 4 games, with 3 coming in the game 2 loss. On the contrary, Luongo has been Jekyll and Hyde. In game 1 he had a shutout, and in game 2 allowed 2 goals. But these 2 games in Boston, he’s allowed 12 goals in 5+ periods. There have only been 3 other goaltenders to allow 12 goals in a 2 game span, and they all lost the Cup Finals. With Nathan Horton out for the remainder of the playoffs, Tyler Seguin and Shawn Thornton both saw ice time last night. I assume that is the way it will be for the rest of the postseason. Horton was in the locker room after the game to meet with his teammates. The Bruins played with lots of heart and tenacity, and it was a great game for them all around.
The game started with a false start for the opening face-off. Kessler actually cross checked Bergeron to the ice at the center dot. Bergeron won the next face-off back for Boston, and the game was on. The game is already being played with some nastiness by both teams. A couple extra shoves here and there, and I wonder how long the refs will let them go. The 1st line for Boston had Peverley replacing Horton, and they didn’t appear to skip a beat. The 1st line still provided great pressure on Luongo early on. Vancouver had a huge chance off a puck deflected in the neutral zone. Vancouver had a 3-on-2 up ice, and a shot was taken from the far circle. The puck deflected to the near boards, but Thomas had no idea where it was. He laid down in the crease to stop the puck from squirting in, meanwhile the Canucks picked the puck up at the point. He finally saw the puck, and scurried back up. A shot taken from the point was blocked in front, but picked back up by Vancouver in the near slot, and passed across ice. One of the Sedin twins tried to get a one-timer off, and Thomas dove across the crease to make a stop, but the puck went wide. Boston came back off a face-off win in their own zone, with Bergeron and Marchand were 2-on-2 in the attacking zone. Bergeron passed back to Marchand in the center slot, but his backhand went wide. Vancouver came back up ice, after the puck bounced off a referee’s skates in the neutral zone. Kessler picked the puck up, and Ryder took a swipe at him. His stick grazed off Kessler’s leg, but then Kessler’s skate went right over the stick, and he tripped over the blade. Ryder was called for a trip at 6:58, and the Canucks had a great chance to score 1st. The Canucks were doing a great job controlling the puck. They had good movement along the boards, and were very physical trying to screen in front of Thomas. But the Bruins defenders were just too good. They collapsed around the puck very well, and denied the Canucks even a shot on net. The penalty ended for Vancouver, and Boston came back with a huge burst of energy. Michael Ryder was now on the 1st line, and they were creating plenty of chances on Luongo. Kreci had a puck bounce on him in the slot, and later Ryder had a shot blocked down in the slot. Vancouver didn’t play great defense, but they played well enough to survive with Luongo bailing them out. Off a face-off win by Vancouver in the Boston zone, Tim Thomas was inadvertently knocked down by Seidenberg. Vancouver had a huge chance to score, but the Bruins defense collapsed around the puck. Boston got the puck into the neutral zone, and the puck was chipped from the center boards by Kreci to a speeding Peverley. Peverley skated right by the unaware defense, and now had a semi-breakaway. He deked to the forehand, and snuck it right through Luongo’s 5-hole. Boston had taken a very important lead at 11:59, 1-0. Vancouver came back with huge pressure, feeling the need to respond. But Thomas was up to the challenge, even making a save through about 4 people screening. Boston fought right back with good pressure of their own, but Marchand would be called for cross-checking at 16:10. Vancouver now had a great chance to tie the game on the powerplay late in the 1st. Kessler had a good chance early for a one-timer near post. The puck was deflected by the stick of Seidenberg though, and went wide. That would be the only good look for Vancouver, as the Bruins penalty killers were suffocating. Vancouver finally got 1 shot off, and it was just a puck fired in from the center dot. The powerplay ended without a goal, and there was just a minute and a half remaining in the 1st period. Off a face-off win in their own zone, Vancouver sent the puck up ice. The puck was tipped, and bounced into the Boston zone. Manny Malhotra skated by McQuaid, and took a shot at Thomas from the slot. Thomas made the save, and their was a pile up of racing Canucks and Bruins. Thomas fell to the ice to cover up the puck, and he somehow did. Another huge save for Thomas, and the game was still 1-0. Boston came back with a great scoring chance by Ryder in the slot. He was able to get behind the Vancouver defense, and received a pass to get 1-on-1 with Luongo in the near slot. He took a hard wrist shot, that hit the jersey of Luongo, and then bounced off the post and out to the far boards. Ryder just missed making this a 2-0 game with seconds remaining in the period. That would be the last play of the 1st, and Boston exited with a 1-0 lead. Vancouver outshot Boston 12-6, and Tim Thomas was again magical in net. If he was anything less than perfect, Vancouver could have had the lead.
The 2nd period is on, and some more chippy play all around. Boston had pressure on early, with the 1st line with Peverley doing the damage. The Bruins were controlling the puck for the first 4 minutes of the period. Vancouver was not to be denied though, as they came back with some heat of their own. working the puck in the Boston corner, the puck was tipped or passed out to the slot. Raffi Torres was waiting right there, and got a laser beam one-timer off. Thomas was again solid in net, blocking the puck away. As the Canucks sent the puck into the Boston zone, it was picked up by Ference behind the net. As he came around, he was whacked in the face by Raymond. That would result in a high sticking call at 7:41. The Bruins were stifled all powerplay. The Bruins had just 1 good chance, when Lucic took the puck into the far slot. He skated towards the boards, and passed back to Bergeron in the far slot. He got a one-timer off, but the shot went wide. The powerplay ended without a goal, so the game remained 1-0 midway through the 2nd period. The Bruins ran a breakout play from their own zone. The puck was passed up to Seguin at the far center boards. He passed across ice to Ryder, who skated methodically to the top of the near circle. He just fired a wrist shot off, and beat Luongo between his glove and pad. Luongo thought it was going higher, and he was wrong. Boston took a 2-0 lead at 11:11. Less than a minute later, Boston had a face-off in the attacking zone. The face-off was won back by Kreci, and Lucic would be found all alone in the slot. But the play was blown dead, as Andrew Alberts and Peverley were issued matching minor penalties. Alberts received a slashing call, and Peverley a cross check at 12:05. So they skated 4-on-4 for 2 minutes. Late in the matching penalties, Boston sent the puck in deep to the attacking zone. Vancouver picked it up, and tried to clear up the near boards. Chara pinched in the zone and sent the puck around behind the net. Vancouver tried to clear the puck again, but Chara picked up the puck at the point. He sent the puck to the corner and around the net. Bergeron and Marchand went behind the net, with Marchand’s leg inadvertently taking out Ballard. Henrik Sedin picked up the puck, and Bergeron battled along the boards with him. Sedin passed to Ballard, but he couldn’t handle the puck in tight next to the near post. Bergeron tried to jam the loose puck in, but Luongo had his pad down. The puck bounced out to the slot, and Marchand was right there to pick the puck up. He had it on his backhand, and just roofed the puck into the back of the net. Boston had now taken a 3-0 lead at 13:29. The last 2 shots for Boston had found the back of the net. The 4-on-4 would end, with Boston taking the lead off of it. Boston had some more trouble handling the puck in their zone, and again it was Kaberle. Kaberle was being pushed around in the slot, but he just passed it behind himself to Kelly. Kelly was pressured, and just muscled the puck to Boychuk at the far boards. But Boychuk tried to clear the zone, and he sent the puck clear over the glass. So Boston would go on the pk at 18:49, leaving Vancouver carryover time to the 3rd. The Canucks had nothing going, and the period came to a close. Boston had a 3-0 lead, and Tim Thomas was playing out of this world. He stopped all 25 shots he’s faced, while Luongo was just 15 of 18.
The Canucks started the 3rd period with 51 seconds of powerplay time. Vancouver didn’t even muster a shot on net, and the Bruins had a 3-on-2 up ice as the penalty ended. Rich Peverley was skating through the high slot, when he lost an edge. After he fell, Henrik Sedin took a slash at him trying to get the puck. Sedin would be called for slashing at :52, and the Bruins were on the powerplay. The Bruins just looked atrocious, and the powerplay ended with just 1 shot on goal. Vancouver had more shorthanded bids than Boston did shots, both coming by Mason Raymond. His biggest chance came when he took the puck at the Boston point, and Andrew Ference pinched in on him. Raymond deked right around him, and now had a semi-breakaway. But Ryder came streaking down, and lifted Raymond’s stick as he went for the shot. A huge play by Ryder as the powerplay ended. Boston came back though, after a huge hit turned the puck over in their own zone. Kreci picked up the puck, and passed ahead to Lucic. Lucic skated up the side boards entering the attacking zone, with Kevin Beiksa going for the hip check. Lucic stopped, and skated right around the hip check, and Boston now had a 2-on-1 in the slot. Lucic centered a pass for Peverley, but Luongo poked the puck away. Kessler clamped down on Peverley as the 2 went towards the net, and the puck bounced up into their bodies. The puck was lost for a moment, and then appeared in the back of the Vancouver net. Boston had surprisingly taken a 4-0 lead, with Rich Peverley being awarded the goal at 3:39. That was it for Roberto Luongo, as Corey Schneider substituted him in net. Boston came right back with pressure on Schneider, testing him early. He appeared up to the challenge, and Vancouver took the puck into the Boston zone. The Canucks weren’t going to lie down like they did Monday night. As the puck was sent up the far boards, Mark Recchi checked a Canuck into the boards. His stick was up high, and the shaft inadvertently hit him the eye. Boston would go on the pk at 9:14, and Vancouver had a chance to break into this lead. The Canucks would kill their own powerplay though when Ryan Kessler decided to take a whack at the back of the legs of McQuaid. He received a slashing call at 10:25, so they skated 4-on-4 for 48 seconds. Surprise, Kessler continues to play dirty, and I would like to add that McQuaid didn’t even flinch when he was hit. If that was a Canuck, he would have hit the ice whining like a baby. We’ve seen it all series, and it just shows what these 2 teams are really made of. Vancouver had the better scoring chances during the 4-on-4, but Thomas continued to make every save. The 4-on-4 ended, and the Bruins had 1:12 of powerplay time. Boston couldn’t do anything with the puck, and the powerplay ended without a goal. The Bruins were playing a bit sloppy, and they had a tough time getting the puck out of their own zone. But Boston would go back on the powerplay, after LaPierre broke Shawn Thornton’s stick. LaPierre would receive a slashing call at 14:36, and the Bruins had a chance to embarrass the Canucks with a goal off the man advantage. The Bruins again looked pathetic, having trouble even entering the attacking zone. We were now down to under 3 and a half to play, and the only thing the Bruins were playing for now was the shutout. Brad Marchand was skating into the attacking zone, when he stopped and skated around Erhinhoff. While he went by, he grabbed the head of Ehrhoff and threw him down. As he went to the corner, Daniel Sedin came charging at Marchad. He ducked under Sedin’s check, and Sedin tumbled over him. Ballard came in and grabbed Marchand, and the 2 tussled down to the ice. The best part was when McQuaid came over to back up his foreword, and he grabbed Ehrhoff. McQuaid had his helmet off, and his gloves down. He was ready to fight. Ehrhoff threw his gloves down, saw McQuaid, and went right to the turtle. He wanted no part of this fight once he saw he couldn’t match up. The commentator said that was a bad matchup, and McQuaid would wreck Ehrhoff. He added that people don’t seem to know how tough Adam McQuaid is. That just had me laughing in my chair. It is absolutely true. All of us in Boston have seen McQuaid beat the life out of some people, and know exactly what he was talking about. As for the game, there were some penalties issued at 17:33. Marchand received a roughing minor served by Seguin, as well as holding and tripping minors. Ballard received a roughing minor, and McQuaid received a game misconduct. So the Canucks had 4 minutes of powerplay time, and even decided to empty their net. Vancouver was desperate for a goal, which is not a sign of faith in your team when you already have a 4 minute powerplay if you ask me. During the powerplay, Burrows chopped the stick out of Tim Thomas’s hand. A little later, Thomas slashed the back of Burrows leg, and Burrows turned around and cross-checked him. Thomas smacked at Burrows, and Seidenberg threw him down to the ice. A small scrum ensued, with more penalties being assessed at 18:09. Burrows received a cross checking minor, Kessler received a roughing minor and a game misconduct. Chara received a roughing minor and a game misconduct, and Kelly received a slashing minor. So it remained an extended powerplay for the Canucks. Schneider was put back in goal for the final minute and a half. The Canucks did a good job of holding the puck in the Boston zone, getting some point shots off. Boston would clear the zone though, and the puck skated down the ice as the period ended. The Boston Bruins had fought hard, and come away with 2 wins at home to even the Stanley Cup Finals. Game 4 was over, with the Bruins winning 4-0.
Another great win for the Bruins, and a terrible loss for the Canucks. Boston dominated all facets of the game again last night, and Tim Thomas was his usual self. For the Bruins, it has been the mark of consistency in net, with timely goal scoring. For the Canucks, it’s been a tale of 2 teams. In Vancouver, the Canucks scored 4 goals, with Luongo allowing just 2. Luongo even shutout the Bruins for the first 4 periods of these Cup Finals. But once they got to Boston, they became a different team, as did the Bruins. Boston has upped the physicality, and has really worked over the Vancouver star players. Luongo has turned into a puddle these 2 games in Boston, allowing 12 goals in the 2 games here. Meanwhile, the Bruins were very unfortunate to lose both games in Vancouver. Considering that Tim Thomas was stellar in both games, it came down to not enough offense and bad turnovers for the Bruins. The 1st line for each team really set the tone in this game. Lucic had an assist with 5 shots on net. Kreci had 2 assists with 3 shots on net. He also leads all skaters in points and goals in these playoffs. Peverley had 2 shots and 2 goals. The 1st line for Vancouver meanwhile did nothing. The Bruins pk has also been tremendous, with the Bruins powerplay actually being better than Vancouver’s these Cup Finals. Vancouver is just 1 for 22 on the powerplay, while the Bruins have 3 goals on their chances. When the game is even strength at 5-on-5, the Bruins are +24, and the Canucks are -2. The Bruins are 10-1 scoring 1st, and 8-1 when leading after 2 periods. Kreci becomes just the 6th Bruin with 10 goals and 10 assists in the postseason. This is also the 1st shutout win in the Stanley Cup Finals for Boston since game 3 of the 1978 Finals against Montreal. Marchand tied a Bruins rookie record with 8 playoff goals in a single postseason. Claude Julien has now tied Don Cherry for the most playoff wins by a Bruin coach with 31. It was quite a historic night in Boston. Heading into game 5, Boston has all the momentum. The Bruins seem to be inside Luongo’s head, and their coach now faces a big decision. Does he start Luongo or Schneider in game 5?
The Bruins are coming off 2 devastating wins in Boston, and now know what they must do. If the Bruins are going to win the Cup Finals, they must win 1 game in Vancouver. Preferably game 5, as it sets up perfectly for the Bruins to win the Cup in game 6 at home. And I’m starting to believe that is going to happen. But it’s been a tale of 2 cities, as each home team has dominated these games. I feel good about the Bruins in game 5, and I think they will win. With all the troubles Luongo is having, and the 1st line for Vancouver, it just seems like the Bruins have everything going their way. If Boston wins game 5, they will have the perfect chance to win the Stanley Cup in game 6. Losing game 5 would mean more pressure to win 2 straight games, including game 7 in Vancouver. You can’t give the Canucks a chance if you’re Boston, and they need to step on the throat of Vancouver Friday night.
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.
Boston swept their first round playoff matchup against the New York Knicks, by the game 4 final score of 101-89. Boston dominated most of the game, except for the final 6 in the 3rd, and opening 6 in the 4th. Boston had a 22 point lead at one point, and the game was never really in jeopardy. Chauncey Billups was out again due to injury, and Amare Stoudemire was a pathetic 5-20 from the field. The Knicks only offense was, again, Carmelo Anthony. Boston had contributions from every one of the “Big 4”, and the bench provided 25 points. It was a good game for Boston, but another terrible game for New York. So how exactly did this game play out?
The game started with a charging penalty against Stoudemire. New York had a much better tempo to start this game. The Knicks were battling early, and the game was tied 10-10 just 4 minutes into the game. In those 4 minutes, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo came up limping after being tripped up. Both players would be fine though, which is a huge sigh of relief for this team. They can’t afford to lose anybody with the way the bench has played. Another scary thing for Boston, is that Amare looked good early. He started looking like himself, and like his back wasn’t going to hinder him. He wasn’t scoring, but he was at least playing more physical. This game looked like it would be a tough one for the Celtics to steal at MSG. Rajon Rondo has been pretty dominant in the 1st quarter, scoring 9 points and getting 5 assists. Carmelo was carrying the Knicks, scoring 15 of the Knicks 23 points. The 1st quarter ended with a slim 29-23 Boston lead. Glen Davis was hot to start the 2nd quarter, hitting his 4th of 5 shot attempts. If he can get going, then Boston might have a man on the bench to provide some life. This would be huge going forward for the C’s. Amare was 0-7 to through the 2nd quarter, which is not good if the Knicks are going to extend this series. Then, off a break, Larry Fields had a chance for a bucket. He was fouled hard by Delonte West, and then he stood over him for a moment underneath the bucket. Stoudemire came in and gave him a shove, and double technicals were issued. Hard fouls are a part of playoff games, but please, don’t stand over the guy like your such a bad man. Just pathetic Delonte. He needs to start scoring some more, and then I won’t care if he decides to take a picture over the next guy he fouls hard. Halfway through the 2nd, Boston went on a 9-1 run, and had a 42-28 lead. The Knicks went around 5 minutes without scoring a bucket. The Knicks look terrible, and Carmelo is the only Knick doing anything. He has 19 points and 5 rebounds, and Amare is just 1-10. Rajon Rondo is leading the Celtics with 13 points and six assists, while Big Baby Davis is providing points off the bench,with 12 points and five rebounds. The 2nd quarter ends, and Boston has a commanding 55-38 lead.
The Celtics started fast in the 3rd quarter, going on a 7-3 run. Boston pushed their lead to 21. KG was looking great, going 5-6 in the game. The Celtics were cruising in the 3rd, maintaing a 20 point lead midway through the quarter. Carmelo also had 21 points at the midway point. New York got a couple fast breaks off of Boston miscues, and went on a 6-0 run. The Knicks were able to close the lead to 10. New York was able to end the 3rd quarter on a 31-18 run. The Boston lead was 82-72 heading into the 4th, and possibly the final quarter in this series. The Knicks continued their hot play in the 4th, and closed the lead to just 4 points. What was once a forgone conclusion, is now turning into a possible collapse by the C’s. Midway through the 4th, Boston started to get its lead back up. After a 3-pointer from Anthony Carter, Ray Allen hit a 3 of his own. Boston was feeling it, and looked like they might close this game out. Rondo goes up for an around the basket lay-up, and instead passes out to Garnett, who drained the jumper. Garnett hit a couple nice baskets, and Boston didn’t let this one slip away. They finished the game (and the series) 101-89.
This was a good, and bad game for the Celtics. Boston looked dominant at some points in this game, but in the 4th, New York looked much better. If the Knicks played as hard all game as they did in the 4th, I’m not so sure Boston would have won this game. And if they did win, it would have been by 2, not 12 points. KG and Rondo dominated the game. Garnett had 26 points and 10 rebounds. Rondo had 21 points with 12 assists. Carmelo had a great night, scoring 32 points and 3 assists. Stoudemire had 19 points and 12 rebounds. However, Amare was only 5-20 from the field. If he could have hit more shots, the Knicks would have had a much better chance to win (especially with their 4th quarter surge). The bench ended with a pretty good game for the Celtics. They still have much room for improvement, but it was good to see some production. Especially when that production comes from Glen “Big Baby” Davis, who had 14 points. Following the sweep, Boston is now 20-2 against the Knicks in their last 22 meetings, including 8-0 this season. The C’s have also won 13 straight against New York. The Knicks will have to wait an 11th year to see if they can get a playoff win.
Boston has now set themselves up for a likely duel with the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Semi Finals. This would be a very interesting series, and I think this is a series everyone wants to see. All the people in Boston want to see LeBron James take a giant face-plant with his “Super Team” in Miami, and prove that experience and heart beat pure talent alone. Meanwhile, the people in Miami want to prove that LeBron is the greatest player in league history, and is a part of the greatest team money can buy. I personally am looking forward to watching LeBron take a giant dump in his pants when the going gets tough it that series. If that is the series we see, I predict that Boston wins it in 6, possibly 7 games. Boston should have swept the season series, and with the extra rest for their stars, I feel very confident heading into the potential series.
In a stunning turn of events, the Boston Bruins took game 4 in Montreal, 5-4 in overtime. This was an incredible game to watch. It was very dramatic, and will be an instant classic in the storied rivalry of these two original 6 teams. Of all people, I never expected Michael Ryder to score 2 goals, and be the reason the Bruins won. He has been terrible in the first 3 games of this series. But, he turned it on tonight. Hopefully he looks this good for the rest of the postseason. Now, on to the game that was.
This was a fast and furious game from the get-go. Montreal was applying a ton of pressure early. Just 3:00 into the game, they were already diving. Desharnais embellished a stick up high by Chara. Desharnais brought his own stick up to get around Chara, and in effect he lifted Chara’s stick right into his face. Very comical. He did not get the call, much to the displeasure of the booing Canadian’s fans. And of course, Desharnais was fine. Boston tried to bring the puck up ice, but it was taken away along the sideboards. The puck was sent back to Hamerlik who passed up to Moen. The puck came off his stick and into Boston’s possession. Boston brought the puck up ice, and had a huge chance to score first. Bergeron passed from the neutral zone to Recchi, who tried to pass back to Bergeron. Wisniewski couldn’t handle the interception, and Bergeron took it back. He then took a shot at the net, that bounced up high off of Price. Recchi caught it and gloved it down right in-front of Price, but shot a backhand wide. Just after 5 minutes into the game, Montreal started setting up camp in Boston’s zone. Montreal had a great chance off a rush. Gionta found the puck behind Thomas and made a turn-around pass to Moen right on the doorstep of the crease. Thomas held the post, and covered up the puck. Seconds later, Montreal had another great rush up ice. A shot came from the circle by Hamerlik and Thomas thought he caught the puck. It actually squirted out right to a Moen, but Thomas robbed him of a goal. Both teams were unable to get the offenses going midway through this game. But then, Montreal started bringing lots of pressure. Montreal dumped the puck in, and Thomas couldn’t slow it down in the trapezoid. It was picked up by Desharnais, who brought it behind the net. He passed to Cammalleri in the crease, but his shot was blocked. The puck bounced all the way to the point, and was found by Sopel. His shot hit Thomas in the right arm, and just snuck through for the first goal of the night at 8:13. The first team to score is 25-5 in this Stanley Cup Playoffs. So it is not looking good for the B’s. After that goal, Montreal really started to feel it. They brought tons of pressure, and the Boston offense looked very weak. Around the 11:30 mark, Boston started getting some sustained pressure in the attacking zone. They weren’t getting any shots on Price, but they were at least controlling the puck, which was better than letting the Canadians skate all over them. But, it eventually happened. Around the 13:00 mark, Montreal got some shots on Thomas. Gomez found Gionta who had a chance in the middle of the slot, but Thomas stuffed him. The rebound came right back to him on the blocker side of Thomas, but he made a great move to close the space and deny Gionta a goal. Montreal was hounding the puck, and getting shots all over Thomas. But the Canadians hurt themselves by getting an interference penalty by Lars Ellers at the 14:24 mark. Again, a pathetic Boston powerplay, and the game remained 1-0. The only thing it did do, was slow down Montreal’s momentum for a couple of minutes. Boston had some sustained pressure in the final 2 minutes of the period, but remained goalless. It was a crazy first period for Tim Thomas, but he was up to the challenge. He allowed just 1 goal on 15 shots. Meanwhile Care Price was barely challenged, stopping all 8 shots he faced. It was 1-0 heading into the 2nd period.
The second started like the first period, with tons of pressure from Montreal. Boston ran a great counter-attack, and a minute and a half into the period Chara shot a missile from the point. It hit Price in the left shoulder, tumbled over him into the crease. It looked like a sure goal, but Hall Gil found the puck and swatted it away from the goal line. Boston then had a chance off a Montreal change, and Michael Ryder was found up ice behind the Montreal defense by Kaberle. Ryder had a breakaway, and beat Carey Price high glove side at 2:13. It was now 1-1 in Montreal. Montreal ran a great counter-attack of their own. Tim Thomas made one incredible save after another. Boston came right back, but Price stonewalled ’em. It was a furious flurry of shots from either team. Cammalleri just missed on a chance all alone in the slot. The puck trickled wide, but was found by Gionta behind Thomas. He passed to Gomez who shot on Thomas in the slot. The puck hit Thomas in the gut, and bounced right to Gionta. He passed through the crease to Cammalleri who had a wide open net and scored at 6:52. Montreal went back on top 2-1. Just 55 seconds later on a 2-on-1 rush Kostitsan slips a puck in 5-hole against a spread eagle Thomas. It was now 3-1, and looking bad for Boston. Claude Julien decided to call a time-out to regroup his team. It seemed to have worked, as Boston upped the pressure. Peverley tried singlehandedly to get the B’s back into the game. Around 9:20 he skated up ice, deking out the Canadians defense and getting a shot on goal, but Price made a stop with the glove. Boston kept fighting though. Ference took a big hit to move the puck up to Bergeron. He skated into the Montreal zone, and passed to Marchand. Marchand had the puck knocked away, but a sprinting Ference shot a bomb on the loose puck and beat Price high glove side at 9:59. Great retribution for getting hit hard. Boston was now back in it at 3-2. Boston had a great surge, and started controlling the puck. As the 5 minute mark approached Montreal started getting control of the puck back. The game became a back-and-forth battle once more. Around the 16:50 mark Boston won a face-off in Montreal’s zone. They were able to control the puck by some great play by their defencemen. A shot by Seidenberg bounced off of Price. Marchand found it behind him, and passed through the crease to Bergeron, and Patrice buried it in the net at 17:04. It was now a 3-3 game. Boston controlled the puck in Montreal’s zone as the seconds ticked down. It was 3-3 heading into the 3rd.
As the third period started, Boston took the puck into the Montreal offensive zone. Just 37 seconds into the period Bergeron took a hooking penalty. Montreal had just their first powerplay of the evening. Montreal won the opening face-off, and took it to the point. Gionta had an opening in the slot, but his stick broke on his slap-shot attempt. Subban had the puck down low, and brought it to the circle. He surprised Thomas with a shot just above the blocker that hit the crossbar and went in. It was the first goal for Montreal on the powerplay, and it gave them a 4-3 lead just 1:39 into the 3rd. Boston finally was able to get a counter-attack started around the 7 minute mark. Brad Marchand tried a wraparound chance. The puck went by Price, and Bergeron found it. Price made the move and stuffed him. Suddenly, there was a pileup of red jerseys around Price. Marchand took a shot at the puck into the pile, but it stayed out. Then the puck was lost amongst all the bodies crashing around the net. Johnny Boychuck found the puck, and skated back just a little to improve his angle on Price. He took his time, and shot at the net. Carey Price somehow made the save with his glove hovering above the ice. Around the 8:30 mark, Boston had a great rush coming up ice. Horton came through the middle and passed to Lucic on his left. He passed from the circle across ice to Kreci. Kreci beat his man and deked Price to his forehand. He had a wide-open net for a backhand shot, but could not find the puck. Price found it and covered up. On the ensuing face-off, Lucic had the puck come back to him. It was in around his skates, and he tried to make a pass across ice. The pass was picked off by Cammalleri who now had a breakaway. But Thomas came out to take away his angle, and caught the puck in his gut. Montreal started playing very conservative hockey. The pace of the game slowed down very much. Boston started getting good looks at Price. Ryder brought the puck up ice, and sent it into the corner. Peverley picked it up, and passed back to Ryder. He went behind the net, and passed back to Peverley in the slot. He took a shot that rebounded in the crease. Kelly found the puck and jammed it through the 5-hole, and it was now a tie game at 13:42, 4-4. Ryder had another great shift, bringing the puck up ice. Going towards the back of the net, he passed back to Kelly who had another chance to score. Kelly hit Price in the chest, and the puck bounced away. Montreal brought the puck up ice, trying to get back into the game. The puck was brought down towards Tim Thomas, and passed through the crease. But no one was there to put it home. Boston held the puck in Montreal’s zone, and Seidenberg took a shot from the point. The puck hit Plekanec and he tried to make a self-pass up the boards. Seidenberg tried to make a check, and found himself in no-mans land. He locked up with and would get called for interference at . P.K. Subban took the puck off the face-off win. He went down to the corner-boards, and blew a tire. Boston picked it up, and Peverley brought it up ice. He passed to Bergeron, who got a high shot off on Price. He lunged with his right shoulder, and appeared to have hurt himself. Montreal was attacking relentlessly at the Boston net, but Thomas and the rest of the PK unit looked great. Montreal was kept out of the net, and the third period came to a close. Time for some OT in Montreal.
Overtime started, and Montreal had a chance early. Less than a minute in, Chara had the puck right next to Tim Thomas. He fanned on the pass attempt, and two Canadians jammed for the puck. The puck was found by Cammalleri who passed to Plekanec who shot a bomb at the net from the high slot. Thomas jumped out of the crease and made the save. Boston took the puck up ice, and had numbers due to another bad change by the Canadians. It was a 3-on-1 for Boston, but we all know how they disappointed last game going 0-3 on 3-on-1 chances. Peverley took the puck up ice, and shot just wide of the net. The puck was picked up by Kelly in the corner who passed through the crease to Ryder in the slot. Ryder calmed the puck down, and roofed it for the game winning goal. Boston, after never leading in the game all night, had just stolen its second game in Montreal 5-4 in OT.
Wow, what a great game that was. It was fast paced, very thrilling, filled with tons of drama, and of course Boston coming out on top was just perfect. This was easily a classic game in this storied rivalry. It was a very even matched game the whole night. Montreal out shot Boston 38-35, and out chanced them 17-16. Coming into this series, I wasn’t too sure about Boston’s ability to finish. But after that game, I feel a little better. Michael Ryder was dynamite tonight, coming up with 2 goals. Most people around Boston wanted Ryder out for his ineffectiveness in the first three games, and instead wanted Seguin. I would put myself in that boat. But, Ryder knew the pressure was there and stepped his game up. The only problem is, will he do it next time out?
Boston played a very good game all around. Thomas was getting peppered all night. But he never lost his composure, and kept fighting through what was a very tough night in net for him. The defense made good passes for the second straight game. The first two games at home were littered with bad passing out of the defensive zone. They have cleaned that up, and are finding ways to get into the attacking zone. The offense has definitely improved. Although, it’s hard not to improve off of 1 goal in two games. In game 3, I said that this offense was lucky to have scored 2 of their 3 goals. But they really stepped it up tonight, and I was pleased by what I saw. Boston still has plenty of problems to worry about though. The top line of Lucic, Kreci and Horton is doing nothing. Kreci had a goal in Monday’s game, but he has also missed on two easy opportunities. Horton has not been able to get going. Subban has shut him down every time he’s on the ice. Luci has been invisible. It’s hard to say anything else about a guy when he doesn’t show up anywhere in a game. If that top line can get going, Boston could win Saturday night at the Garden. The powerplay has been pathetic all year. So why would that change in the postseason. Boston is 0-14 on the man advantage. Claude has to change something up, and take a different approach somewhere. I said that if Boston lost the first 2 at home, then they would lose the series. Well, they may have changed my mind. Boston isn’t in a must win situation on Saturday. Partially because they were able to win both games in Montreal. However, if they come out flat, and can’t muster anything in the game Saturday and lose, then I would not expect them to win when they go back to Montreal. If Boston wins the game Saturday night, then I would fully expect them to win the series. They then wouldn’t have to win the game in Montreal, but it wouldn’t hurt. Considering how bad this team is at home, and how nice it would be to rub it in those hypocritical disgraceful Canadian fans faces.