On a night in which the Rangers biggest star needed to shine the brightest, and Henrik Lundqvist did indeed shine, it was the Bruins’ splendid fourth line that stole the show. Despite a return to All-Star form by the Swede, the hustle and perseverance of Dan Paille, Greg Campbell, and Shawn Thornton made the difference last night on Manhattan. The trio combined for five of the six Boston points (1-4–5) in the Bruins 2-1 win that allowed them to grab the series by the balls as they’ll have a chance to sweep the Rags tomorrow night.
After Hank and Tuukka Rask traded killer saves in the scoreless first, the Bs took command of the game in the latter half of the second despite being behind 1-0 after Taylor Pyatt’s tip past a screened Rask. They outshot New York 14-5 in the period and had several more chances but Lundqvist turned everything aside. That is until 3:10 into the third when Johnny Boychuk’s fluttering shot found its way through a sea of bodies and past the weary Ranger netminder. The goal came thanks to the simple grinding and hustling game of the NHL’s best fourth line and Paille’s sweet look to Boychuk.
As each goalie did his part in keeping it a 1-1 game for the next 13 minutes, it looked like the teams might be heading for their second OT in three games. But then Thornton’s tip of Campbell’s fling from the boards produced a funky bounce of a rebound with some sick English on it that landed right in front of Hank’s left pad yet stayed just out of his sight. Paille pounced on the loose puck, knocking it off the right post and past Lundqvist for the eventual game-winner. Pure hustle.
So now the Bs hold a vice-like 3-0 series lead against a Rangers team that appeared, by game’s end, to finally grow tired of its coach’s fiery intensity. There’s blood in the water so the Bs can, and should, finish New York off tomorrow night to a) snuff any hope and talk of a comeback and, b) give themselves ample rest to heal and recharge while the Pens and Sens continue to pound the piss out of each other for hopefully four more games.
The Bruins are firing on all cylinders right now and may just be playing the best hockey of the remaining eight teams. They’ve been a match-up nightmare for the Rangers. In the Battle of Scandinavian Netminders, the Finn holds a distinct advantage over the Swede. If you’re a Rangers fan, it’s near impossible to find any positives to cling to today. The Big, Bad Bruins are owning the Blueshirts this series and the conclusion feels only a matter of ‘when’, not ‘if’. We’ll see if the Bs pull off the surprising sweep tomorrow at 7.
A few more buds for your “Happy 54th, Morrissey” bowl…
*Thornton assisted on both goals and looked as though he (or his uni) may have gotten a piece of Boychuk’s shot en route to the net. It was his first multi-point playoff game in his 77th game and also doubled his career total.
*Make of this what you will but the Rangers were last short-handed at home during Game Four of the first round vs. Washington. Here’s a more detailed take on the awful reffing from Mike Hurley. Even former ref Kerry Fraser lobbed criticism at the ref for shitting the bed when Chara got cut from a high-stick and cost the Bs a four minute power play.
*The Bs dominated at the dot, 62%-38%. Bergeron won 14 of his 20 draws. Brian Boyle had a brutal night going losing 17 of his 21 draws. A South Shore kid getting lumped by a Boston guy? Get outta Dodge!
*It’s been quite a drop for Brad Richards, who had 8:10 of ice time in what was a career low in a playoff game for the 2004 Conn Smythe Trophy winner. How much of his decline was from the hard miles prior to donning the Blueshirt and how much was from the way John Tortorella has, um, utilized him? That’s the big question for NYR management as they’ll no doubt contemplate buying him out of his 9 year/$60M deal that saw him collect $24M in just two years. Either way, he may have had the best-timed free agency of the last 20 years.
*In his post-game scrum, Tuukka warned some media folks about leaning on the nearby iPod but somebody wasn’t listening as they caused the volume to increase and pissed off Tuukka. He gave a couple of death stares and then a “fucking serious?” before leaning over to adjust the iPod.
*Despite not tallying a point last night, David Krejci still leads the NHL in post-season scoring with 5-11–16 totals in 10 games. Chara leads all D-men with a 2-8–10 line. Horton (+14), Krejci (+11), and Lucic (+10) are the top three in +/-
*Toronto’s farm team is apparently playing the same system as the parent club. In the AHL quarterfinals, Grand Rapids scored three goals in the final 9:56 of the 3rd to beat the Marlies in Game Six to end their season.
*Torey Krug had 18:08 of ice time in another impressive outing. The Bs outshot the Rangers 10-4 when he was on the ice. Krug had four shots on net.
*If you missed this a few days ago, take a watch now. It’s Round 1 video of miked-up players. I’ve always said I’d pay $10 a game to have unedited audio of miked-up guys. Highlights include Lucic telling Kessel he played well in handshake line, Karlsson telling PK he should win the Norris, and one Senator’s advice to another on what not to do :44 in. Great stuff that makes you wish the handshake lines were covered a little bit more.
*Former player-turned-analyst says something dumb? No way.