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.