1;52 into the game, Bruins grab their first lead and would never trail. Krejci pots his first. Despite the relative balance of the regular season series, the Bruins had as much as a four goal lead. The scoring however wasn’t the story, nor the fun smashmouth physical play.

The biggest story was a continuation of the utter lack of officiating competence. Of all the penalties called there were probably three a side that were legitimate penalties. The Marchand tripping call on Pronger was almost as egregious a dive as PK Subbans trust fall in game seven. Paille was penalized for ‘contact’ on an icing against Pronger who promptly slashed him, Pronger probably deserved an intent to injure on that as it was in no way a hockey play. Going the other way, the call of goaltender interference on Rinaldo was just silly. It not only wasn’t goaltender interference, it wasn’t anything like goaltender interference.

From rule 69 of the NHL Rulebook:

If an attacking player has been pushed, shoved, or fouled by a defending player so as to cause him to come into contact with the goalkeeper, such contact will not be deemed contact initiated by the attacking player for purposes of this rule, provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such contact.

Rinaldo and Seidenberg were lockedup when they went into  Thomas, Ronaldo made no effort to enhance the contact with Thomas, this was such a bad, bad call and it was early enough in the game to set the tone. Just horrific officiating from the word go.

The next leading storyline was the spastic play of the Flyers defense. Mark Recchi’s goal was the result of his tenacity, and the Flyers defense standing around waiting for the next bus to come by. This again was typical of the Flyers defense which aided the Bruins by standing around in their own zone or being wildly out of position on a goal. The opening goal of the game was Krejci’s and made me wonder if anyone told the Flyers that Czech center could actually score and they might wanna cover him. Campbell’s goal was possibly the only one in which the Flyers looked like they were in position.

Game two is Monday night.

 

It’s that time again, the most important post of any series, particularly two cities so in love with the suds.

 

Take One Drink:

If either teams power play is mentioned.

If “The Pronger effect” is mentioned.

Mark Recchi throws a bigger check than the two hundred pound defenseman running at him.

Danny Carcillo and or Brad Marchand are seen chirping after a whistle or from the bench.

Take Two Drinks

Each time last years series is mentioned.

Anyone on either fourth line finishes a game with more than 9 minutes.

One or more commentators mentions cheesesteak or chowder.

 

Take Three Drinks

Every time someone mentions award nomination.

When the clip of Lucic checking van Reimsdyk through the glass is shown.

The Richards on Krejci hit is shown.

A coach or player says “we just need to be better in our own end” after a bad period or game.

 

Take Four Drinks

When the starting goaltender for Philadephia is not announced before game time.

A pinkhat asks about the shootout.

A lineup change on the fourth line is talked about for more than thirty seconds.

There is a “History” ad for the last game shown before the start of the current one.

 

Skip your next drink:

If you find yourself getting hopeful that either team might have a great chance on a powerplay.

You find yourself unable to scream coherently at a pinkhat.

You start explaining a simple rule like “icing” and take longer than two minutes.

 

The series is guaranteed to be very different for both teams than than their first round matches. Both teams are physical, both reply on their physicality, and their opponents to key their emotions, and sharpen their play.  Here are the key story lines to series.

Missing in action:

Milan Lucic and Chris Pronger will each be looked to for greater input on this series than the last. While its unlikely we’ll see the two of them throwing the body at each other, neither will pass up the opportunity to make an impact on the scoreboard or someoness body.

Net math 3 != 1

Tim Thomas is not Tukka Rask, nor is he one of the three goalies to start for the Flyers in the first round, or the fourth guy who got dressed. Tim Thomas will need to match or better his first round .926 2.25 numbers to get to the conference finals. The platoon of goalies in Philadelphia will have to step up just to compete.

A-wristed-development

Neither Mike Richards, nor David Krejci has had the impact of the formers hit on the latter in the playoffs thus far. Krejci has more goals, with just one, and Richards has more points. With depth being what separates contenders from champions, these two will need to kick the dust of the spurs and get into it this round.

After the giants

Pronger and Chara are two of the most imposing and impressive men ever to play their position. But this series will not be decided by them, it will be Seidenberg, Ference, and Mcquaid dueling with Timonnen, Mezaros, Coburn. How these guys stand up to their opponents is probably the single most interestting subplot of the series.

Is it really a power play?

Neither team had a useful power play in the first round, if either team can ignite theirs this could be a tipping point in the series.

 

We’ll go into the success of my first round picks in a bit, but here goes.

 

Nashville vs Vancouver. Should be an intense series, but after after the seven game slug fest with the Blackhawks I’m not sure the Canucks can pull it off over the long haul. Predators for three reasons; 1: Weber 2: Rinne 3: Suter.

Washington vs Tampa Bay. The two southeast division rivals had a couple nice throwdowns during the season, even though the Lightning shut out the Capitals more than once during the season, I think think the Capitals still standing at the end. Why: Ovechkin is scoring, and better defense in Washington.

San Jose vs Detroit. What a boring series. There is so little that excites me about this matchup that I’m glad I’m not a beat writer for either team. The Sharks got scoring, finally, from Joe Thornton in overtime, Couture, Pavelski and others contributed as well. I still don’t see that being enough to overcome the veteran and healthy Red Wings. Pick Wings. Why: Better playoff machine.

Philadelphia vs Boston. Rematch. With a pair of underwhelming powerplays in the mix five on five play is going to be where this series is decided. A look at the season series says this one goes Boston’s way. Pronger is injured, Chara, Thomas, Bergeron are not.  Bruins win.  Better goaltending, and more heart.

Today is the day. By the time the last and most enduring hockey fan has wound down and gone to bed, we’ll know who managed cowboy up and get’erdone, and who more greatly resembles the Joe Thornton of Playoffs Past. The three different series will be played in two nations but the lingua franca of the street is success at any cost.

In the Bell Centre, we’ll see the Boston Bruins face down their rivals and personal demons when they take on the Montreal Canadiens. The Habs jumped out to a two game lead in this series and looked like they would dominate it the way they did the regular season series. Then came game three right in the Bell Centre where tonights game will be played. The Bruins took a 2-0 lead in the first, and maintained their lead the rest of the night for a 4-2 win. The next game was a much closer affair that featured both amazingly good, and amazingly bad goaltending in each cage.  Michael Ryder opened and closed the scoring with the type of goals that will always make highlight reels.

Then the teams returned to the Garden. Boston has had a well covered weak performance at home all season. Despite the momentum of two wins up north, no one was certain what would happen.  It took almost three quarter of regulation for someone to find the back of the net as both Thomas and Price shined in net and performed at the level their fans hoped they would. Halpern would tie the score ten minutes later. What followed capped off the best game of hockey I’ve seen since the first match between the USA and Canada at the Vancouver Olympics. Regulation was not enough. A single overtime, was not enough. The game took over Twitter, Facebook and other social media. In double overtime in front of millions of fans, Nathan Horton proved he had the chops to get it done in the playoffs.

 

Vancouver is the Presidents Trophy winner, The Chicago Blackhawks, despite being the defending champions squeaked into the playoffs when the Minnesota Wild failed to qualify on the last day. The Canucks started the playoffs out with a blast, shutting out the Blackhawks in game one, and winning games two and three without the need for overtime. No one has seen that team since. In game four Chicago would fill the score sheet with seven goals and six different goal scorers. Game five was as five nothing pasting that saw Hossa and Keith draw blood twice and Kane light the lamp. Game six was at least a better showing, the game went to overtime, but they coughed up a lead after the first period.

 

The two versus seven matchup in the east couldn’t have greater contrasts if you’d designed them in from the ground up. While both teams have their superstar leaders, Miller and Pronger, that’s about all they have in common. The Sabres are as blue collar as teams get in the current NHL.The well traveled Mike Greier is just as heavily relied upon as rising defenseman Tyler Myers. The Flyers were among the elite in scoring with six players who had twenty or more goals. The Sabres were more towards the middle of the pack with just four. Pronger is known as an abrasive, sometimes dirty and physically imposing figure. Miller has always been more contained, cool and focused.

The series has swung back and forth between the two teams with Philadelphia picking up games two and three between to 1-0 shutouts, games five and six were both split in overtime and tonight we find out which team has the stones to advance.

While the Boston-Montreal series is only at game six, in this case momentum wears a spoked-B. The Bruins will need leading scorer Patrice Bergeron to continue his dominance, and the Canadiens will need Mike Cammalleri to assert himself and be accountable defensively in order to succeed. The Buffalo-Philadelphia series will be won by whichever team puts in a complete game effort tonight. The question in the Vancouver-Chicago matchup is if the Wonder Twins and Ryan Kesler can snap out of their funks and rise to the occasion or if they will continue to be out scored by the likes of David Bolland and Corey Crawford. Whichever way each game goes, there is zero chance of it being boring.

 

I wss listening to the local sports radio show today. One of the hosts said that a large part of the reason P.K. Subban is booed so much here in Boston is because of his skin color. The other hosts didn’t agree.

What’s your take?

Jack Edwards on Diving

Click on the link go watch the video. Jack is right. Hockey is a sport where integrity and team work are the cornerstones. You can’t help your team if you’re flopping around on the ice like someone cut off a leg. You can’t score a goal or block a shot while moaning pitifully from light contact and acting like someone has dropped an anvil on your head. To the various divers, and worse those who don’t see a problem or penalize them, shame on you. Shame on you and go watch soccer, you’ll get all the diving you want.

Honestly, I don’t want to, I’m not really looking forward to putting away my jerseys, but it may become reality. It isn’t a statement about the player who’s jersey I was wearing yesterday, or even the play of the team as a whole. My problem is two fold and at least one of them is an issue we all face to one degree or another.

I’ve noticed the last three or four times I’ve gone out in a Bruins jersey that I just can’t get anything done. Yesteday while helping an elderly relation run errands I couldn’t get anywhere without someone stopping me. This person regularly takes forty plus minutes to buy just enough to squeak through the express lane. I was slowing her down. Well, the people who stopped in front of me for some impromptu puck talk did. Off the top of my head I’d say in once grocery store in one of the North Shore’s medium sized towns I was stopped by no less than six or seven people. Two of them seemed ready to talk until game time today. One or two just wanted to hear what I thought of the last game or the next.

We had to stop at another small store on the way home. Yep. Same story. What should have been a five minute excursion turned into fifteen. The elder I was escorting said they were going to to get a Bruins jersey just so people would talk to her. I have less than zero idea why people would stop me to talk to. It’s not like I wear a big sign that says: I’m bored, say something tweetable. I’m certainly not anyones idea of good looking and being about as far from a morning person as can be got, it wasn’t the ear to ear grin I was wearing at times I consider perfectly reasonable to be considering my breakfast options in the early double digit hours of the day.

The obvious answers to the question of how the Bruins beat the Canadiens are pretty straight forward: They scored, they scored more.  The less obvious answers require a bit more parsing.

First and most obvious was Bergeron attacking the puck and setting up Krejci’s layup. Getting the first goal when you are the more offensively adept team puts the other team in a more defensive posture. They know they can’t give up too many more opportunities, and it showed. When Horton added his goal, the Canadiens were in a distinctly different posture on the ice than they had been before in the series. They spent far more time drawing and attempting to draw penalties than they had in the first two games through out the course of the last forty-five minutes.

Second, the defensive shuffle allowed several players to do what they do best. McQuaid was paired with Kaberle, and Chara and Seidenberg were paired. As pairings Kaberle with either Seidenberg or Chara are less than the sum of their parts. In Chara’s case he ends up spending far more time concentrating on defense than he should because no one believes that is Kaberles strong point, which saps his offensive energy and opportunities. With Seidenberg who is more a defensive defenseman who is offensive opportunistically rather than as a  constant throws Kaberle into assuming full defensive responsibility when Seidenberg pinches in trying to create or exploit an opportunity. While Kaberle is physically quick. I haven’t seen anything to suggest he processes the defensive portion of the game well enough to react and arrive in the right place, at the right time often enough.

With McQuaid knowing his job is first, second, and third to make life tough on anyone going to the net with the puck paired with Kaberle each of them is allowed to use their best tools. Seidenberg and Chara together are more of a two man two way threat. Each is capable of contributing offensively with solid numbers, Seidenbergs skating makes him the faster of the two, but both hit and block shots for a total in excess of 100 in each category in the regular season. With no defenseman having been a minus player in the game, despite having given up both goals at even strength I suspect we’ll see these pairings again.

Another change was the powerplay units. While the Bruins were again dismal on the powerplay, with Bergeron on the second powerplay unit it leaves the teams best two way presence on the ice when the opposing player comes out of the box, which is what led to Bergeron and Krejci connecting for the first assist of Bergeron’s night. I liked the purposeful movement of both the puck and the players on this unit a lot more than the endless dangling of the Kaberle-Krejci unit.

The last thing that can’t be overlooked that led to the Bruins win was simple. Price was fallible. More explicitly, Price was fallible and the Bruins were in good position to exploit it. Peverley got a goal for being in the right place. Hortong got a goal for being in a high probability rebound lane, Krejci got a goal for getting open and being in “the dirty areas”. The only Bruin to score before tonight also had two assists tonight. In the first game, Price was in the zone, period. In game two he had chinks which only Bergeron managed to exploit.  In this game the Bruins pressed, did all the important little things, and did them consistently.