Tag Archives: NHL Playoffs

Bruins-Canadiens: Here we go Again

By Tim Langlois

Not that hockey fans in town need any reminder, but after a long and painful end to the 2009-2010 Boston Bruins season, there is no better way to start the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a matchup against the archrival Montreal Canadiens. Last year’s blown lead in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against Philadelphia was heartbreaking to city and Bruins fans, but that can be erased with success this postseason. The Bruins enter these playoffs as the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference, up three seeds from last year when the B’s had the No. 6 seed in the East and took on the Buffalo Sabres and were victorious in the 1st round.

Although the Habs won 4 of 6 from Boston during the regular season, the last time these two squads met in the playoffs, the Bruins took care of Montreal easily with a 4-0 sweep. This season, however, is a totally different animal. Two years ago Montreal was the 8th seed in the East, whereas the Bruins were a force in the conference as far as points were concerned. This year has been as much about fighting and controversy as it has been about large amounts of goal scoring and strong goaltending on both sides. The record posted by Bruins netminder Tim Thomas stands for itself. His Goals Against Average is just 2.00 and his save percentage is record-worthy at .9382. That percentage is the highest ever by an NHL goaltender in a single season. In his spectacular year, Thomas has recorded 9 shutouts on the year, including the last time these two teams met on March 24 in a 7-0 Boston victory.
The schedule is as follows: *if necessary
Game 1 Thursday, April 14 at Boston, 7:00 p.m. NESN
Game 2 Saturday, April 16 at Boston, 7:00 p.m. NESN
Game 3 Monday, April 18 at Montreal, 7:30 p.m. NESN
Game 4 Thursday, April 21 at Montreal, 7:00 p.m. NESN
Game 5 *Saturday, April 23 at Boston, 7:00 p.m. NESN
Game 6 *Tuesday, April 26 at Montreal, TBD NESN
Game 7 *Wednesday, April 27 at Boston, TBD NESN
An very interesting sidenote at first glance at the schedule is how games 6 and 7 would be on back-to-back nights should the series go to a 7th game. With all the energy the team and the Boston crowd will have on Thursday night for the series opener, the B’s should be able to pounce on the Habs early. The ideal situation would be to win both games at home for Boston, which is how they went on to beat Montreal when the teams met in the 2009 playoffs. A split in games 1 and 2 (or worse) would play right in to the hands of Montreal, heading into the extremely hostile environment of the Bell Centre. There are still many there who want Zdeno Chara arrested for his hit on Max Pacioretty earlier in the season. No matter what the record are when these teams meet, the Bruins have a hard time winning in that locale as it is, as Boston is 0-2-1 there this season.

This Boston team can put much of the criticism to rest with good postseason results this Spring, as is the case with many other NHL teams with much to prove. The NHL Playoffs are an event where anything can happen. Not winning this series against Montreal would be terribly disappointing, but as hopefully Claude Julien tells his team for motivation, that watching Montreal play on would be even.

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Keene: Bruins put forth embarrassing effort

Boston's Mark Stuart, Michael Ryder, Johnny Boychuk and Daniel Paille (left to right) congratulate Philadelphia's Danny Briere after the Flyers 4-3 victory over the Bruins in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at TD Garden on Friday night. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Boston's Mark Stuart, Michael Ryder, Johnny Boychuk and Daniel Paille (left to right) congratulate Philadelphia's Danny Briere after the Flyers 4-3 victory over the Bruins in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at TD Garden on Friday night. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

By Jared Keene

Let’s get one thing straight. The Bruins failure is undoubtedly one of the most all-time epic fails in the history of sports.

I would probably even put it ahead of the great Yankee failure of 2004 that eventually led to the Sox capturing their first World Series since 1918.

The fact that they became just the third NHL team and fourth MLB, NBA, or NHL team to ever blow 3-0 series lead is bad enough in itself.

But the fact that they blew a 3-goal lead in the most important game of their season just makes it that much worse.

Like, seriously Bruins? Did that really just happen?

Ummm, apparently so. Lame. No, wait, Super Lame! That’s more like it.

An early goal from Michael Ryder and two stellar goals from Milan Lucic had the B’s in the drivers seat less than 15 minutes into the game. Even at that point, though, I turned to one of my friends and, no joke, said I’m not going to be fully satisfied until it’s like 4 or 5-0. Now you can see why I said that.

One thing became apparent after Lucic found the net for the second time: The Bruins just flat out stopped hustling, fighting for the puck, and playing attacking hockey, all of which really earned them their aforementioned lead. They probably started looking ahead to what would’ve been an epic showdown with Montreal. You can’t do that against this Philly team, they’ll make you pay, just as they made us pay on Friday.

After James van Riemsdyk scored a fluke goal (deflected off Mark Stuart, wrong-footing Tuuka) to cut it to 3-1 late in the first, I again turned to this same friend and said this: The next goal in this game is huge. If Philly scores it, I’m going to be ridiculously nervous. Sure enough, one of my least favorite players in the NHL, Scott Hartnell, tallied early in the second to make it 3-2.

Enter my state of being ridiculously nervous.

For the remainder of the second period, the B’s just looked flat out awful. No good puck movement like they had in the first and still no hustling or fighting for the puck. And then, nearly midway through the second, another one of my least favorite players in the NHL, Daniel Briere, tied it up when his wraparound chance hit off Matt Hunwick and popped over Tuukka’s shoulder.

At that point, all I could do was just watch in agony, hoping that the Bruins get the next one.

Headed into the third period, it was virtually back to being 0-0, but the B’s somehow managed to play worse in the most important frame of their season than they did in the second. O yeah, in the second half of the period came the same call that cost Don Cherry’s 1979 Bruins a chance to play for Lord Stanley’s Cup: too many men on the ice. THEY SCREWED UP A SIMPLE LINE CHANGE! NOT COOL!

The resulting power play, of course, led to Simon Gagne, who has given the Flyers a huge emotional lift ever since his return from injury, picking the top corner. That’s when the hearts of every B’s fan dropped and you knew, at that point, that it was all over. The Bruins had a few late chances, but couldn’t send it into OT. Fail.

I know people are going to try and make up excuses, like the injuries to David Krejci and Marco Sturm, but this failure is simply inexcusable. They became self-satisfied, as is often the case, with a 3-0 lead and it cost them in a big big way. Philly deserves tons of props because in games 4, 5, and 6 and the second and third periods of game 7, they just wanted it more. The B’s couldn’t match their effort, aggression, and intensity. This loss will forever sting worse than being stung by a jellyfish or a swarm of angry wasps. Wow.

Jared Keene is a Blogger for Boston Sports U18. He is also a Sports Correspondent for The MetroWest Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected]

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