What a sight the opening ceremony was. Great job by the Bruins video staff to put together a great playoff montage. The whole thing was very emotional, and it was great to re-live the majesty that was, the Bruins 2010-2011 Stanley Cup run. Raising the banner, getting to see Mark Recchi raise the cup again, it was all quite a wonderful spectacle at the TD Garden Thursday night. Among all of this Stanley Cup hoopla, we actually had a game to play. Sadly, the Bruins dropped their season opener to the Philadelphia Flyers, 2-1. It ended up being an impressive performance by both goaltenders, with Bryzgalov stopping 21 of 22 shots, and Thomas stopping 27 of 29 shots. The Bruins had the better scoring chances, and had a lot of shots go wide, with a post hit or two in there. There is much room for improvement for the Bruins, and I think they have a very good-looking team as this season starts.
The Bruins came out ready to play, and controlled the puck in the offensive zone from the get go. Good chances by the 1st line and the 2nd line, with Rich Peverley looking good taking over for the now retired Mark Recchi. It was a fast paced start by both teams. A huge rush attempt made by the Bruins, with Jordan Coran making a play on the puck in the defensive zone. He was able to get the puck up ahead to Chris Kelly, and the Bruins had a 2-on-1 with Kelly and Seguin. Kelly passed near side to Seguin, who skated into the slot before passing back across ice to Kelly for the tip in attempt, but it went just wide. Just around midway through the 1st period, we would have the 1st penalty of the 2011 NHL season. Zac Rinaldo would be called for holding the stick at 9:00, and the Bruins dismal powerplay was on the ice. The Bruins got to work quick, with new defenseman Joe Corvo picking the puck up in the defensive zone. He passed to Seguin still in the defensive zone, who made a terrific long ice pass to Brad Marchand. Marchand used his speed to get behind the Flyers defense, he set the edge skating into the slot, deked, and scored. A backhand shot sneaked low by the blocker of Bryzgalov, and Boston was up 1-0, 9:42 into the game, on a powerplay goal nonetheless. Seguin came right back with a terrific shot from the near circle, and he just rang the post. The Bruins 1st overall pick last year was off to an impressive start for the 2011 season. The 1st line for Philly started to come alive though, with great play by the 18 year veteran Jamir Jagar. The Flyers offense wasn’t getting good scoring chances against Thomas, even though they were now out shooting the B’s 9-6. There hard work down low would pay off, as they would draw a slashing penalty from Nathan Horton at 18:43. The Flyers made quick work on their powerplay, as Jaromir Jager found Claude Giroux on a pass up center ice. He skated through center ice, deked right past Zdeno Chara, and deked Tim Thomas in the slot putting the puck in the back of the net. Both powerplays were working tonight, as Philadelphia had tied the game 1-1 at 19:10. The Flyers weren’t done, as they came back with more pressure on Thomas. The puck was sent around the Bruins netminder, and to the high circle far side. A snap shot taken by Jakub Voracek made it through the screen of Tim Thomas. Philadelphia went up 2-1 with just 3 seconds left in the period. The Flyers didn’t score a goal in the final minute at all last year, and they had done it twice already tonight. A stunning turn of events in Boston, as the Bruins went into the 1st intermission down 2-1, after dominating for most of the period.
Boston came out fast to start again, with a great chance by Marchand in the high slot. His shot went into the pads of Bryzgalov. Marchand created another spectacular chance, by taking the puck at center ice. He deked Chris Pronger right out of his skates, dragged the puck into the slot, and tried to drag it across for the back hand shot. Bryzgalov made a tremendous poke check though, denying Marchand of even getting a chance on net. The Bruins were doing a good job of getting shots, but none of them were getting on net. Philly was out shooting Boston 7-1, nearing the midway point in the period. Philly dumped the puck into the Bruins defensive zone, and Chara laid a big hit on Claude Giroux in the Boston corner. Giroux appeared to back into Chara, bracing himself for the hit, and Chara used his big body to push him into the boards. It didn’t look like an illegal hit, as Chara did not drive him into the boards. James van Riemsdyk took it upon himself to start shoving Chara. The big man didn’t like that, and the two grappled briefly. Both players would receive offsetting minors for roughing at 7:26, and they skated 4-on-4 for 2 minutes. It was an uneventful 4-on-4, and they were right back to 5-on-5 hockey. Boston was being outshot 20-7 midway through the 2nd period, and Marchand again tried to get Boston some momentum. A nice feed from Kreci at the point to Marchand in the far slot, allowed Marchand to get off a great backhand shot. But Bryzgalov made a terrific glove save to keep Marchand and the B’s off the board. The Bruins would kill any momentum Marchand might have created, when Dennis Seidenberg would be called for holding on Wade Simmons at 13:11. The Giroux-Jagar combination almost scored again on the Bruins, as Jagar had a tip in the slot that just went wide near side. Good defense by Boston though didn’t allow for another good chance, and Boston would go back on the powerplay right as their penalty ended. Danny Briere would be called for tripping on Rich Peverley at 15:29. This is the powerplay we’re used to seeing, as Philly had better chances on the Bruins powerplay then the B’s did themselves. The penalty was up, with a very weak performance by the Bruins powerplay. Another penalty would follow at 18:41, as Wade Simmons was called for holding on David Kreci. So the Bruins had a chance to strike in the final minute of the 2nd period, just as the Flyers had done in the 1st. Again though, we saw the Flyers getting better scoring chances on the penalty kill then the Bruins could on the powerplay. The 2nd period came to a close, with the game still 2-1 Flyers.
The Bruins began the 3rd period with 41 seconds left on the powerplay. They would not be able to muster anything though, as Philly would come back with good pressure on Thomas. Then a blatant holding of the stick by a Flyer grabbing onto Ference’s stick and would not let go of it near the Boston crease. There then was a big pileup at the net, as Hartnall drove hard to the net for a tip in. Tim Thomas made a great save 5-hole though, as there was no penalty against Philadelphia. The Bruins were having a tough time getting anything going, nearing the midway point of the 3rd period. They would be helped out by another Philly penalty, as Coburn was called for slashing on Marchand at 7:24. Bergeron had a great chance on the powerplay, as he intercepted a Flyers pass in the high slot, and got a wrist shot off on Bryzgalov. But a blocker save by Bryzgalov kept Boston down by 1. The penalty ended without a goal, and we were now midway through the 3rd period with the Bruins still down 2-1. Seconds later, Wade Simmons would again be called for a penalty, this time it was hooking at 10:13. So the Bruins had their 5th powerplay of the night, and a must score at this point. Great set up by Kreci in the far slot, as he found Horton across ice. Bryzgalov couldn’t see anything on a screen by Lucic, and Horton had a wide open net to shoot at. Timonen spun around in the crease, and stopped the puck with his stick to keep it out of the net. Then, Tyler Seguin had a wide open chance to score, but the puck was knocked away by the Flyers defense. A great looking powerplay for the Bruins, which would have had 2 goals if not for the great play by the Flyers defense. The Flyers came back with a chance of their own, as Giroux passed the puck from behind the Boston net to the slot for van Riemsdyk. Thomas made a spectacular left pad save on van Riemsdyk. With under 5 minutes to play, Chris Pronger lost the puck in his own zone to Milan Lucic. He made a quick pass to Kreci into the slot, who took a snap shot on Bryzgalov. The puck hit off the glove of Bryzgalov, and trickled into the crease. Kreci couldn’t reach it though, as Bryzgalov sprang to cover the puck, The Flyers would take the puck back up ice, with Jagr skating up the far side. Johnny Boychuck tried to get in his way, and would be called for holding at 15:39 . A good Bruins penalty kill though would keep the Flyers out of the net, and the game was still 2-1, with 2 minutes to play now. Boston couldn’t get good possession of the puck until the final minute of play, when Thomas would empty the net for the extra attacker. Chara had the puck behind the Flyers net, but had too much pressure and tried to pass it to the slot for a shot attempt. The puck was picked off by Philly, and Brad Marchand made an obvious slash at 19:40, trying to get the puck away. So the Bruins would go on the penalty kill with just 19.9 seconds left in the game, down 2-1. The Bruins were battling hard on the boards to get the puck, when Claude Giroux stepped right in front of Tyler Seguin and reached out with his arm to knock him to the ice. So an interference call with 2.7 seconds left, gave the Bruins one last hope for a goal in a 4-on-4 situation. A pileup on the faceoff, and the puck was somehow shot down the ice by a Flyer as time expired. The Bruins dropped the 1st game of the year to the Philadelphia Flyers, 2-1.
Well, let’s all just hope that this season ends up just like last year did. An opening night loss with Ilya Bryzgalov in net for the opponents to start the year, and a Stanley Cup Championship to end it. That would be quite the coincidence. As for the game that was, the Bruins suffered a tough loss to the Flyers Thursday night. They got on the board 1st, with the goal by Marchand midway through the 1st period. But some defensive breakdowns late in the 1st allowed the Flyers to take a 2-1 lead. The rest of the game the Bruins looked a little sluggish. They weren’t getting shots on net, even though they were out-chancing the Flyers. The Bruins powerplay was also terrible, as usual. They were just 1-5 on the night, although they should have scored a 2nd powerplay goal in the 3rd period. Alas though, they didn’t get many shots on net, and couldn’t sustain any pressure. Besides the powerplay, (which may never be fixed, and they won the Stanley Cup without one), I think those missed opportunities will be fixed as the year goes on. It’s tough to evaluate a team after just 1 game, but I think this Bruins team will have another great season.
We have a possible World Series preview tonight, as the Boston Red Sox start a 3 game series with Philadelphia Philies. Entering this season, after all the off-season moves made by both teams, most everyone felt a Red Sox-Philies World Series was inevitable. A slow start by the Red Sox though put those discussions on ice. The Sox have climbed their way back to the top, and somehow find themselves half a game behind the AL East leading Yankees. The Philies meanwhile have been dominating this season from the get go. They have the best record in the big leagues at 49-30. They have arguably the best pitching rotation in baseball, with 2 Cy Young winners in Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, a NLCS MVP in Roy Oswalt, and a World Series MVP in Cole Hamels. Oswalt though is on the DL, and likely won’t return until August. Where the Red Sox might be able to capitalize on is the Philies hitting.
Philadelphia has struggled this season with the bats. Not having Chase Utley to start the season hurt them, but they also are not getting contributions from other stars. Philadelphia only has 1 hitter with an average above .300. That would be Ross Gload, who only has 50 at-bats. The Red Sox have 3 players batting over .300 with at least 250 at bats. Lead off hitter, and former NL MVP Jimmy Rollins is batting a measly .260 with a .332 On Base Percentage. Compare that to Red Sox leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury, who’s hitting .303 with a .365 OBP. The Philies have 1 hitter with 10+ homeruns, while the Red Sox have 3 (and 1 player with 9). The Red Sox have superior hitting, and when you combine that with great pitching they should have the advantage. But, the Sox have not played that way recently. Two of the worst teams in the Majors, the San Diego Padres and Pittsburgh Pirates, almost swept the Sox recently. If the Sox want to win, they need to capitalize on their offensive chances. They won’t have many of them, but hopefully the Sox pitching staff can keep the weak Philly offense off the board.
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.
This was a beating. The Bruins destroyed the Flyers, 5-1 in game 3. Boston even scored on the powerplay, that’s how badly they beat the Flyers. A big piece was off the ice for the Flyers, as Pronger was out again for game 3. Jeff Carter was on the ice though for the first time since April 20. He appeared to have no impact on the game whatsoever. McQuaid was out, and is listed as day-to-day with a neck sprain. Shane Hnidy played in his place. Something that people need to consider, is how important David Kreci is to this team. Last year, Boston was up 3-0 on the Flyers when Kreci got knocked out by Mike Richards. They then went on to lose the next 4. In now 12 games against the Flyers, Kreci has 18 points, and the Bruins are 11-0-1. In fact, Boston has not lost a playoff game against Philly with Kreci in the lineup. This team will go as he goes. So how did we get back to a 3-0 lead?
The game is on, and Boston scored. Feels nice to say that doesn’t it? Well, the game was started by Bergeron taking the puck into the attacking zone. He passed to the slot to Marchand, looking for a tip-in. But Boucher made a great left to right pad save. Marchand went and got the puck behind the net. He passed to the high slot to Chara, and he hammered a shot above Boucher’s glove. Boston was up 1-0 just 30 seconds into the game. The Bruins came right back on the attack. It was another great shift by the 1st line. Kreci passed down the sideboards to Lucic. Lucic turned around and found Kreci right in the slot. Kreci snuck a quick shot off, and Boston had a 2-0 lead just 1:03 into the game. Boston was controlling the first 5 minutes of the game. Philadelphia had just 2 shots on net. Lucic would block a shot, and take the puck up ice. He went to the Philly corner boards, and passed the puck to Kreci. He got the puck to Seidenberg at the point. Lucic was skating by Boucher, who was well out of his crease. Lucic tried to avoid him, but got bumped into him by the Philly D. Boucher was now knocked out of position as Seidenberg got a shot off. The puck was knocked down, and Kreci and Horton were in the crease battling to get the puck in the net. But a whistle was blown, and a penalty was coming up. A bad call by the officials, calling Lucic for goaltender interference at 9:00. There was nothing he could do about it, he was knocked into Boucher! Anyways, the Boston pk was phenomenal, getting the puck out of their zone and banging bodies. Marchand had 2 great hits to energize the crowd. Philly was abused on the powerplay, and didn’t score. A good surge by the 1st line gave Boston control. Then, as Kreci went to the Boston bench for a change, Philly took the opportunity to again, try to get under his skin. Ville Leino was the culprit this time, as he jawed with Kreci, and the 2 came eye to eye. Nothing happened, as Kreci just wanted to get to the bench. But Leino made sure to follow him and continued to yell at him for a second. It was a very physical game to start, and made for some great TV. Lucic and Horton banged into a few bodies, keeping the Flyers on their heels. Pialle knocked out Versteeg on one hit. Philadelphia had a couple of chances on Thomas, but he has been great to start. He looked very fast, and had great lateral movement. With under 30 seconds left in the 1st, Bergeron got his stick in an awkward place, between a Flyers skates. He would be called for hooking at 19:44. The period would end, so Philly will have almost the full 2 minutes on the powerplay to start the 2nd. Boston dominated the 1st period. They out-hit the Flyers, and out-skated them. But, it’s always nervous to start a period on the pk.
The 2nd period started with 1:45 of powerplay time for the Flyers. Philly controlled the puck in the Boston zone, but was only able to get 1 shot on Thomas. Boston cleared the puck, and Mike Richards tried to bring the puck up ice. Chara stole it away, and had a breakaway. He just took a shot from the high slot, and it went right into the gut of Boucher. The penalty ended with no goal for the Flyers. The 1st line of Boston was still destroying the Flyers. Chara had the puck at the point, and sent it around the boards. Lucic went behind the net to get the puck, but instead left it. The puck went around, and Horton had retrieved it in the corner. He picked up the puck, and got a bad angle shot off on Boucher. The puck hit his stick, and stayed out. Off a point shot, Boucher would freeze the puck. Horton was skating towards Boucher in case of a rebound. After the whistle, O’Donnell gave Horton a little poke around the groin. Horton didn’t like that, and gave him a shove. O’Donnell shoved back, and Horton had lost his footing a bit. Lucic came over to protect Horton, while he regained his footing. Horton grabbed O’Donnell, and they started fighting. O’Donnell started by getting in some shots on Horton’s head, before he got away from O’Donnell’s chest. Horton had a few jabs, before they fell to the ice. Both players would receive 5 for fighting at 3:31. Philly had the puck in the Boston zone. A shot was blocked by Thomas, and went over the net. van Riemsdyk went in to retrieve the puck, and checked a Bruin the boards. His stick rode up into the face. van Riemsdyk received a high-sticking, and Boston was on the powerplay at 7:05. Boston was ineffective, and went another powerplay without a goal. Kreci brought the puck up ice for the Bruins. He passed across ice to Horton, who passed to Ference driving to the slot. He was wide-open, and got a backhand shot off, but it went wide. Boston was all over the ice, and even though Philly was getting shots off, they weren’t very good chances. The Flyers were in the Boston zone, and Syvret tried to get a pass across ice. The puck was picked off, and sent up ice by Boychuck. Boston had a 3-on-2 up ice. Campbell and Thornton skated to the far circle, drawing both defenders. Campbell passed to the near circle to Paille, who had an open shot, and put it in the back of the net. Boston was up 3-0, 13:39 into the 2nd. Boston had another chance produced by the 1st line. Kreci brought the puck into the neutral zone, and took a hit to get it up to Horton. Horton was 1-on-1 with Timonen. Horton dragged the puck around Timonen through the high slot to the far circle. Boucher went to the butterfly, preparing for a shot attempt. He went to get back up when Horton didn’t shoot. Horton took that chance to get it through the 5-hole, and Boston was now up 4-0, 15:14 into the 2nd. And it was at that moment, that Boucher would be pulled for Sergie Bobrovsky. That marks 6 out of the 10 games a Flyer goalie has been pulled. Philly stayed resilient, and finally got on the board. They had a 3-on-2 up ice. Powe passed from the near circle to Meszaros in the far slot. Somehow, Mezsaros found space above the blocker, and scored. The game was 4-1, 16:26 into the 2nd. Boston followed that with another 3-on-2 of their own. However, Timonen hooked down a Bruin, and that would result in a penalty at 17:29. And the drought nearly ended, when Chara found Peverley in the near slot with a wide-open net. But Bobrovsky made an incredible left to right pad save, and then the puck hit the post. Then, Bergeron had a chance and hit the post. So, the Bruins are now 0-30 on the powerplay. This is just getting stupid. The period ended, and Boston was up 4-1. The Bruins played a little loose once they got the 4th goal. They had to tighten up to avoid a comeback. They should win this game no problem, and a loss would be tortures to my eyes and spirit.
The 3rd period started out with the Bruins controlling the tempo. They didn’t let Philly get any fast breaks out early. Hartnell tried mixing things up with Thornton, but he didn’t want any part of a useless fight, and the ref came in to separate them. 5 minutes were up, and it was exactly the kind of period the Bruins wanted. They were clogging up the neutral zone, getting pucks in on Bobrovsky, and keeping the puck away from Thomas. Philly had the puck for most of the period, maintaining it in the Boston zone. But the Bruins defense was poking the puck away, and taking away scoring chances. Midway through the 3rd, the Flyers had 3 shots on net, and Boston had 1. Boston was just playing very safe, conservative hockey. Their defense looked great, and Thomas had been sharp from the word go. Philly had one good rush chance, when a shot from the circle rebounded right to Hartnell in the near circle. Thomas was now out of position, but a great stick play by Paille kept Hartnell from getting a shot off. The puck was picked up by Richards, who got a shot off and scored. But, before the shot, Hartnell got turned around, and went sliding into the post and took the goal off its bearing. The goal was disallowed, and the game remained 4-1. The Flyers finally seemed to feel a sense of urgency, with just 5 minutes remaning in the game. The offense was taking every shot they could get at Thomas, but he was stopping them all. The Flyers decided to empty the net 18:00 into the game, with a face-off in the Bruins zone. The Flyers won the face-off, but Recchi picked off the puck, and brought it up ice. Boston now had a 3-on-2 up ice. He tried to get the puck to Bergeron, but Bergeron was hooked down by Richards, and could not receive the pass. It would not be a free goal though, so Boston was on the powerplay. Just into 8 seconds into the penalty, Marchand would be cross-checked by Coburn. It was now 5-on-3 for 1:52. And finally, the Bruins had scored on the powerplay! Chara passed to Seidenberg at the point. He passed to Kreci next to the net. He passed to Chara in the high slot, and he fired a bullet into the back of the net at 18:38. The seconds ticked down, and the Bruins won game 3, 5-1, and took a 3-0 lead again against the Flyers
The Bruins flat-out dominated this game. It wasn’t even close. The Flyers were lucky not to be shut-out. It took an amazing goal by Meszaros to give the Flyers their only goal of the night. The Bruins scored early, twice. They then played great defensive hockey, and Thomas was very sharp all night. The 1st line has been amazing in this series. Kreci ended the night with a goal and 2 assist, Horton had a Gordie Howe hat-trick, and Lucic had an assist. Chara was amazing in the game as well. He ended the night with 2 goals, an assist, and was at +4. He actually ended up being on the ice for all 5 of the Bruins goals. This was exactly the type of game the Bruins wanted to, and in fact need to play every night. This was their best game of the postseason. For the Flyers meanwhile, it was a train wreck of a game.
The Flyers played awful all night. They were not physical at all. The Bruins were faster, and much more physical all night. The defense allowed 2 goals in the first 1:03 of the game. Boucher was not at fault for those goals. You can argue that he should have had the other 2, but the Flyers were already out of it. Philadelphia just was not ready to play tonight. There was no way they were coming back once the Bruins scored 2 in 1:03. The offense looked terrible, the defense was full of holes, and Boucher was 50-50 when he was in net. Bobrovsky only faced 8 shots in nearly 25 minutes of ice time. Philadelphia looked flat all night, and had no urgency in their play. The Bruins are now up 3-0 for the second year in a row on the Flyers. But will this year be different?
Yes, it will. The Bruins have proved, to me at least, that they are different this year. They came back from down 0-2 to Montreal, and won in 7. They now have the 1st line clicking, and look unstoppable against this Flyers team. I said that the Bruins would win in 6, but they may even sweep this series. I thought the Flyers would win game 2 after that game 1 drumming. They didn’t. I thought the Flyers would win game 3 after a heartbreaking letdown in game 2. They didn’t. I think the Flyers will come out much stronger in game 4. I think that they will be flying on the ice, and hitting everything in sight. But will they? Well, if Philly come out and plays in game 4 like they did tonight, then the Bruins will sweep the Flyers.
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.
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.