“Must win:” We tend to throw that term around pretty frequently in the playoffs. The “Best-of-7” format really lends itself to the cliché. Well, the Bruins were in a must-win situation. Winning 4 straight against the Canucks is as close to impossible as you get. The Bruins came out of the gate strong, lots of offensive pressure. They put it together in the second and overcame the dreaded 3-goal lead to take a 4-goal lead, then a 5-goal lead, then…etc. They killed penalties and they protected their net. That said, here are some reactions, or talking points if you prefer. If you want to have some fun you can guess which reviewer (Manny or Latona) is responsible for each.
• Man, the first period of this game was one of the best periods of the playoffs. Both teams were forechecking and playing an overall physically intimidating game. The Bruins looked doomed at first. Like it would be one of those games where they just can’t net anything despite pressure upon pressure. Boy…that changed in a hurry.
• Jimbo brought it up: what is with the flies buzzing around the Cameras up in the rafters? Any zoologists that specialize in insects around here? Is anyone here a marine biologist!?
• “Bobby” Luongo: Boy he gives them up in bunches, doesn’t he? To beat Luongo you have to get him off his game. He is fragile (French Canadian = EuroPansy). Once his emotional state is unstable he is in a physically vulnerable position. CTBlueshirt actually said it last night, “time to pull Luongo.” I agreed. I thought the Canucks would pull him. Goal 5 has got to be an absolute confidence killer for Luongo (as were 6 and 7 and 8 and…and pull him already!).
• “Timmy” Thomas: What can you say? To beat Tim Thomas you have to get him moving side-to-side. He isn’t technically the soundest goalie on the planet and because of that he makes a lot of spectacular saves. If you can get him flopping around you can start using his aggression against him. But man, he was technically sound in this game (until the last 8 or so minutes when the Canucks got him moving). His athleticism is his greatest strength. If he tweaks his positioning, he may feel the need to abandon that aspect of his play, which would only be more detrimental that his current style is and his current style is hardly detrimental at all. What a night for Timmy. Too bad he didn’t get the shutout but hey, worse things could have happened.
• Really nice to see Thomas channel Ron Hextall and level Henrik Sedin. I wish every goalie would do that nowadays, as the league has “EuroPansified” the back end’s crease clearing capabilities. Knowing a Ranger’s luck, however, it would result in Lunqhead getting slammed to the ice and concussed. Then the King would be given a penalty for delay of game due to his needing to be removed by gurney.
• We have to address the Aaron Rome hit on Nathan Horton: First off, all the best to Nate Horton and here’s to wishing him a speedy recovery from what looked like a very serious injury. That said, I think it’s a clear example of Rule 48. Blindside hit, to the head, to a player without the puck. Here is the quandary that defensemen are in: they have been taught to finish checks since they were first holding a stick. Hockey is a physical, and often violent, game. Defensemen now need to learn to make snap decisions about whether or not to finish a check based on how quickly the man got rid of the puck while flying down the ice. It isn’t going to be easy to learn, but it’s a necessity if the NHL is to cut down on brain injuries.
• Counter(ish) Point: I thought it was late, and high. But it was not blindsided at all. Pierre, I believe, said something along the lines of “It was the exact definition of Rule 48.” I don’t see it that way. I think there will be a suspension, but I don’t feel it should be more than two games.
• That second period really unraveled quickly for the Canucks, eh? A quick Bruins goal, a quick hooking penalty (drawn by Mr. Difference maker himself, Shawn Thornton) and a crucial PP goal by the Bruins. The Bruins really caught the Canucks sleeping high on the PK and finally worked a puck down low where they had a numerical advantage and banged one home. That had to feel great if you wear Black and Gold/Yellow.
• Canucks PP has not been a great strength for them in this series. Bruins PK has been strong but, more importantly, the Canucks have looked lost (compared to their old PP selves). They aren’t passing the puck like they were in previous series and they aren’t gaining entrance to the zone as easily as they were. The Canucks are putting too much pressure to one side (usually strong side) and, as a result, they are not forcing “Timmy” Thomas out of position (side-to-side) where he is vulnerable. Look at the goal the Canucks did score – they got Thomas moving side-to-side, becoming vulnerable. That is what you have to do against a goalie that plays that aggressively and that high in his crease.
• Can’t do a review of this game without reminding myself how awesome it is to see Manny Malhotra back on the ice. It’s really great that he is getting a chance to play in the Finals after the horrible injury he sustained this season. What a great guy. Consummate professional.
• I feel really bad for the closed captioner who has to cover Doc’s games. I discovered this while watching the game on mute in its early stages due to some obligations. I can picture the conversation between the two. Doc simply says, “Paraphernalia scrum waffleboarded away WIIIIIIIIIIIIIIDE! Try me.”
• Get excited guys, this series is getting physical and while momentum might not carry over from game to game, anger and vengefulness does.
• Music at hockey games is really a sore subject. From what bits and pieces I heard (mostly in the third period), I was rather satisfied with the Boston Garden’s choices. No good hearing pop music during a fight or shoving match and the Garden really delivered tonight.
• Finally, Lady Gaga = Monster (I couldn’t resist).
Do the Bruins have momentum going into game 4? Mike Milbury thinks so, but we all know better. They don’t have carry over momentum. What they do have, however, is confidence that they can bring it to the Canucks and effectively control the pace of the game as well as home ice advantage. I expect the Canucks to come back strong in Game 4. I expect Luongo to be better. I expect the Canucks to play a tighter, more controlled game and I don’t expect their PP struggles to continue. I guess we will have to see. We might be poised for another goalie situation for the Canucks.
Until then Boneheads…it’s been a great season, let’s play 7!