After a weekend split in which the Bruins got better as the periods went by, the team would need to continue that progression in play going into loud and cozy Joe Louis Arena, as the series shifted to Detroit last night. And the Bs did exactly that in the opening stanza, smothering the Red [...]
After a weekend split in which the Bruins got better as the periods went by, the team would need to continue that progression in play going into loud and cozy Joe Louis Arena, as the series shifted to Detroit last night. And the Bs did exactly that in the opening stanza, smothering the Red Wings at every turn and picking their pockets like a Three-Card Monte dealer.
They were rewarded for their efforts and proved the old axiom about there being no bad shots in the playoffs. Goals by Dougie Hamilton and Jordan Caron, each scoring their first career playoff goal, staked the Bs to a 2-0 lead that they would never relinquish on their way to a 3-0 win to give them a 2-1 series lead.
“All Right” Hamilton’s power play rush seemed to catch the Detroit D by surprise and he found himself with a shooting lane. He beat Jimmy Howard on a shot the Wings goalie would no doubt like back. Less than seven minutes later, Caron pounced on the rebound of a Shawn Thornton shot and snapped the puck past a sprawling Howard to double the lead. The Bs much-maligned 2009 first rounder (25th overall) stepped up in Dan Paille’s absence and his first postseason tally couldn’t have come at a better time.
Whether it was the Bs’ complacency with a two-goal lead or the Wings’ desperation or some combo thereof, Detroit started to dictate play later in the second period and was knocking hard and often as it went on. But each time they were able to penetrate Boston’s layers and get a shot on goal, the inimitable Tuukka Rask turned them aside. Boston’s all-world netminder stopped all 23 shots in recording the shutout and has given up just two goals on 82 shots in three games. He has a .67 GAA and a .976 SP.
In the third, Howard made some big saves to keep his team within a pair as the Bs swarmed the Wings zone in search of an insurance goal (you can never have too many insurance goals in the playoffs, especially this year). Bruins bettors who laid the 1.5 goals (+240 return) were certainly hoping like hell they potted one. Or two. With 2:56 left, Mike Babcock pulled Howard for a sixth attacker. After 54 seconds in the Bruins’ zone, Patrice Bergeron picked off a Tomas Tatar pass and sealed the game (and wagers) with an empty-netter from his own end to make it 3-0.
The Bruins played a perfect road playoff game. They went into hostile territory but dominated play early to build a lead and put the home team behind the eight-ball. The team D was in sync, a cohesive unit picking up coverages when needed and seemingly always having their man. The goalie made saves when he was counted on to do so and kept the Wings completely off the board. Though their high-end offensive performers didn’t light it up (save for Bergy’s ENG), they’re also weren’t scored on either which is just as important this time of year. The Bs just needed to get a win and they got a win. They’ll look to extend their lead to three games to one tomorrow night in Motown as the two teams battle to see who benefits from the swing a Game Four always provides.
A few more buds for your mid-week bowl…
*Justin Florek once again acquitted himself quite nicely filling in for Chris Kelly, alongside Swedes Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson. The rookie logged 10:31 of ice time and didn’t look out of place. He made the most of his opportunity on Sunday when he took advantage of Howard’s stickhandling boner to score Boston’s first goal.
*The top line of Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Jarome Iginla has been held to just one goal (Lucic) and two assists (both Iginla). Playoff savant Krejci has yet to tally a point and is one of three -1s on the team (Marchand and Hamilton are the others). He has a team-high eight shots on goal and averages the most TOI for forwards (19:22/game) but has yet to crack the scoresheet. There’s certainly nothing to be alarmed about as it’s not unusual for each series to have one line suffer the brunt of the opposition’s game plan. This line will get going soon enough, whether it’s vs. Detroit or Montreal.
*Because, in case you missed it last night, the Habs reminded everybody how important goalies are as they swept the Lightning to become the first team to dole out ‘good series’ handshakes this spring. Tampa’s starting goalie Ben Bishop, who was a large part of their regular season success, was hurt late in the year so the team had to go with Anders Lindback. Lindback was named NHL First Star of the Week for the last week of the season in what seems, in hindsight, like a cruel joke on Tampa fans. Because he then went out and pissed down his leg, taking three of the four series’ losses and slapping up a 3.91 and .881. Goaltending like that doesn’t even give you a puncher’s chance.
*The Bruins penalty killing was perfect once again, making Detroit go 0-for-3 and holding them to 0-for-9 in the series. Bergeron and Eriksson led the way for forwards as Zdeno Chara and Johnny Boychuk did for the D-men. The Bs also have the best power play of the playoffs, currently clicking at a 37.5% clip (three goals in eight power plays).
*At the dot, the Bs held a 55-45 advantage. Bergeron went 14-11 for a 56% clip.
*Incredibly, the Bruins are now 14-1 in Game Threes under Claude. That’s a team answering the bell.
*San Jose has the Kings on the ropes after beating them in OT last night to take a 3-0 series lead. They’ll play the winner of Ducks/Stars provided they don’t gag.
*Can I get some action on Nathan MacKinnon to win the Conn Smythe? Frigging kid is unreal.