Monday, May 11, 2009
SHOW OF FORCE
"When torrential water tosses boulders, it is because of its momentum"
-Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Last year, the Bruins demonstrated they are not an easy team to knock out. And hockey teams in general usually put up a good fight when facing elimination. Except, of course, the Canadiens, which is merely a testament to the Habs' lack of class and character.
Apparently, Carolina forgot this was a best of 7 series, because they did not show up for this game at all. The Hurricanes didn't get their first shot on goal until 11:03 into the 1st.
The only spark Carolina was when they decided to be cheap.
Jussi Jokinen slashed Zdeno Chara in the ankle. The dirty hit went unnoticed by the refs, but it felled the 6' 9" Chara for several minutes. The Garden went nuts when the big man climbed over the boards and returned to the ice in the 3rd.
Scott Walker sucker punched Aaron Ward in a 3rd period post-whistle confrontation. The unofficial word from the Bruins is that Ward has a broken orbital bone. He's to be reexamined today. Walker received a 2 minute penalty, a 5 minute major, and a 10 minute misconduct. Considering the nature of the punch, the apparent severity of Ward's injury, and the NHL's anti "message sending" crusade, it's safe to say Walker's series is done.
But it's no coincidence that the Canes went after the Bruins' top two defenseman. And if the Bruins lose Ward, or even have to reduce his playing time, it will test an already thin D-corps. And losing Scott Walker is hardly a big loss for Carolina. He only had 5 goals and 10 assists this year.
Hopefully Big Z and A-Ward will be fine for Game 6. And hopefully Carolina's Montrealesque attempt to get under the Bruins' collective skins was in vein.
Back to the hockey in Game 5...
Timmy Thomas continues to prove to any and all doubters why he will be the Vezina winner. He only had to stop 19 shots, but some of his saves, and clears, were simply stunning. He utilized his athleticism, and his ability to remain balanced in every position. And these kinds of games can be tough on goalies. Like I mentioned above, no Carolina shots for the first 11 minutes. Goalies don't like to be peppered with shots, but they like to build a rhythm.
First career playoff shutout for Thomas.
Phil Kessel was Phil Kessel again. After only getting 12 shots on goal in Games 1 thru 4, Phil fired 6 on Cam Ward. And 2 of those went in.
Kessel was keyed by Marc Savard, who was the Marc Savard we've all come to know and love over the past 3 years: The Assist Monster.
Zdeno Chara was the 1st Star, and he earned it. He was +3 with 2 assists, 5 massive hits, and still managed 24:34 of ice time, despite Jokinen's slash.
Milan Lucic continues to shine in postseason hockey. His 3rd period goal eliminated any chance of a Carolina comeback. He was also +3, with a goal, an assists, and 2 arena shaking hits. He gave energy to the crowd, to his teammates, and took energy from the Canes.
Blake Wheeler was a healthy scratch, a la Phil Kessel in 2008. Byron Bitz took his place in the lineup, and had a solid 10 minutes of 4th line grinding. Hopefully we'll see more Bitz in Game 6.
Bad news: the Bruins failed to score on 9 power plays
Good news: they had 10 power plays
The power play actually looked very good. Excellent puck-cycling, and they got some nice shots on goal. Cam Ward is a good goalie. He's not god, as some douchebags think he is. Cam Ward is quite mortal.
We're still waiting to see David Krejci and the 2nd line come up with another big game. They all had solid nights in Game 5, but nothing extraordinary. Since Game 1, Ryder and Krejci have been quiet, but I think if given enough time, that line will have a multiple goal night.
Shawn Thornton was back in the lineup. 4 minutes, 25 seconds on the ice. 6 minutes in the penalty box. And he was the one to respond to Carolina's cheapness, so he did his job, and the Bruins don't lose Lucic via suspension again.
Steve Montador once again had a failure of a game. He made one or two good plays, but he couldn't keep the puck in the offensive zone, struggled to get it out of the defensive zone, and I didn't notice him much in the neutral zone. He's not a good puck handling defenseman, at all. He's a liability with the puck.
And that sucks. Because if Aaron Ward goes down, thats 20+ minutes of ice time that has to be eaten by lesser defenseman, including Steve Montador. And that's penalty killing ice time, power play ice time, crunch time ice time.
I don't know what to expect in Game 6. But I'm glad the Bruins didn't go out with a whimper in Game 5. It was the best Bruins game I've ever been to, in terms of the building's intensity, and the players' intensities. They flat-out rolled over Carolina.
Game 6, Tuesday night, 7 PM, in Raleigh, NC, and it's on NESN.
AP Photo/Charles Krupa
AP Photo/Winslow Townson