These two teams come as billed. They have the best and second best goal differential, the third best road record against the best home record. Two top teams for goals against, and two top scoring teams. The only real edge on paper aside from the home record was special teams. But as we all know, hockey is played on the ice and not on paper and that’s where the Bruins had a special player as their ace in the skates. Milan Lucic. The man who may one day be both myth and legend.
The first period was mostly subtle fencing as two teams who know they were up against opponents who could eviscerate them with the flick of a wrist felt each other out. Marchand’s ill advised holding the stick penalty was killed off by a the Bruins who took being on the home ice of the NHL’s top powerplay team as a challenge. Late in the period after Kaberle coughed up the puck, and a Vancouver player bulldozed Tim Thomas, the Bruins would give up a goal to a team that had proven nearly invincible when scoring first.
In the second another Marchand penalty, another penalty killed. Kaberle bobbled the puck a few times and was less of a defensive and physical presence than Michael Ryder (who looked damn good even though he didn’t make the score sheet) and the Bruins bench was shortened to five defensemen as Andrew Ference did not return to the game. Marchand and Burrows moved their jaws at an impressive rate of speed in each others directions that may even have eclipsed their skating speed. Kaberle applied some reputation bondo by getting a pass through to the net front where Vancouver Giant alumnus Milan Lucic tapped a pass to the former Oshawa General Nathan Horton who tapped home his own rebound to tie the game.
The middle of the third saw Greg Campbell get an impressively bad holding call. For all the evidence I saw I think he may have been penalized for holding his own hockey stick. Disgusted, but undeterred the Bruins again shut down a the NHL’s most potent powerplay, and kept charging forward. On a break up the ice that was notable for Chara being tied up below the Bruins goal line with a member of the Canucks, David Krejci skated through and around the heart of the Vancouver roster while Lucic was being interfered with. Sliding wide he wrapped around the net, he shared the puck with a wide open Seidenberg who passed it to the local boy. Milan Lucic wasted no time and effort doing what he’d been dreaming of since long before he was drafted by the Boston Bruins and got a roar out of the home town crowd even while wearing the wrong uniform.
With just a few minutes left the game got tighter, passes were picked off and space was more available on the bench than the ice. When it came down to the final moments of the game, my first tweet of the showdown proved to be prophetic:
Lucic Chara & Bergeron vs Sedin Sedin & Kesler. Depth Grit & Balance vs Telepathy Polish & Speed.
Patrice Bergeron, Milan Lucic and Zdeno Chara were on the ice to defend Tim Thomas while Luongo retreated to the bench. Together with newcomer Chris Kelly, they dug the puck out and just after center ice Lucic passed the puck to Bergeron who feathered in the empty netter. On the night with all goals coming at even strength the Bruins trio was +4, their opposite number -5.
Next up for the Bruins the Edmonton Oilers in what some might call a trap game. With an effort like tonight’s the Bruins can just call it two points.