Friday, May 01, 2009
B'S TAKE THEIR FIRST STEP OF THE NEXT STEP
I hope the committees/voters of all the NHL awards were watching this game. They would have seen why Tim Thomas deserves the Vezina (best goalie), why Zdeno Chara deserves the Norris (best defenseman), and why Claude Julien deserves the Adams (best coach).
Tim Thomas made 26 saves, and 3 or 4 of them were game changers. 18:10 into the 2nd, he stopped a breakaway opportunity from Ryan Bayda, that would've made it a 3-2 game, and given Carolina some momentum going into the 3rd. He made two more ridiculous stops in the final period, protecting a 2 goal, then a 3 goal lead.
Nicklas Lidstrom and Mike Greene have the scoring stats covered in the Norris Trophy race, but Zdeno Chara puts the defense in defenseman. He uses his unprecedented reach and unbelievable leverage to make plays. Eric Staal was a non-factor tonight, thanks to Chara's blanket coverage.
And props to Claude Julien. After a mediocre 1st period, he shuffled some lines, and the Bruins adjusted their approach. They were more aggressive against Cam Ward, taking more "bad" shots. They spent more time near the net (Lucic owned the crease tonight), hit harder, forechecked more aggressively, and clamped down in the neutral zone.
And maybe there should be a Ryder Trophy for best quiet free agent acquisition that turns out to be fucking amazing. Or something. Because Michael Ryder has been nothing short of amazing, in all three zones. His unassisted goal in the 2nd was the game clincher. 5th goal in 5 playoff games this year. He also got an assist on Krejci's 1st period score.
I loved how opportunistic the Bruins were in this game, moving players in and around the low slot and the crease. Lucic screened on Krejci's 1st period goal. Marc Savard's first goal was a product of him being in the right place near the net. And if a puck bounces here or there, the Bruins could have easily scored 5, 6, or 7 goals tonight.
But it's not all sunshine and flowers from Game 1. There was some rust, and some poor play. Steve Montador had a forgettable game. He struggled getting the puck out of the zone, which had been his greatest strength, so probably just some rust.
The power play was confused. The Bruins didn't seem to know what exactly they were trying to do. But I think they're simply testing different things, sniffing around for weaknesses, not allowing Carolina to become used to one way of doing things. The power play will improve as the series progresses.
Marc Savard's goal in the 3rd period came after a sequence of Hurricane and Bruins turnovers. And although the goal was terrific, and the shot was of Navy SEAL vs. Somali pirate quality, the play leading up to it was sloppy.
The B's were sometimes too fancy on their multitude of breakaway opportunities. They seemed to respect Cam Ward too much, trying to create the perfect shot instead of simply letting loose and seeing what happened. An several odd man rushes, the Bruins didn't even get a shot off. That's inexcusable.
But, all the problems displayed by the Bruins were quite fixable. And I think they will be remedied. And even with those problems, the Bruins were clearly the superior team. The Hurricanes shied from 1-on-1 battles, and struggled mightily to pass the puck out of their own zone.
Game 2 is Sunday night at 7:30 and it's ONLY on Versus. If you don't get Versus, the radio guys do an excellent job describing the action on WBZ 1030 AM in the Boston area.
Yeah, I have Versus and I'm fucking pissed that the game is not available in New England households. Fuck that shit.
But on the bright side, first 5 game playoff winning streak for the Bruins since 1992.
AP Photo/Winslow Townson
AP Photo/Charles Krupa