Monday, May 03, 2010
SAVARD SAVAGES FLYERS
In my preview of this series, I remember writing "do not expect many 5-4 games this series." Sometimes being wrong can still feel so right.
How fitting, how poetic. The only thing to make the end of Saturday's 5-4 OT win even more satisfying would have been if Matt Cooke had simultaneously suffered a heart attack while watching it. And Randy Jones fell off a 50 story building.
Now let's put this win in perspective. Philadelphia looks good. Very good. Brian Boucher was spot-on, and deserved the 2nd or 3rd star. 41 saves, including 14 in overtime until Savard broke through. Briere had an excellent game, considering he had to play center. Pronger was Pronger. And the Flyers won a majority of the faceoffs, which proved extremely critical.
That's sufficient praise of the Philly Phuckos, at least for now.
Back to Savard. With Sturm injured on the first shift of the game, and a rusty Savard, the B's were short of forwards all game long. Savard did log 15 minutes of ice time, but that was hardly according Claude Julien's pregame designs. He actually saw most of that time as a winger with Bergeron and Recchi.
Bergeron and Recchi seem to have been a part of every single Bruins goal this postseason. And Satan seems to be on the ice for most of them too. These three have 9 of the Bruins' 21 postseason goals.
Dennis Wideman had 3 assists in this game. How monstrous has he been for the B's both defensively and offensively? Although he and Hunwick could have done a much better job stopping Briere on the game-tying goal.
Tuukka Rask let in a somewhat soft goal in this game, but he absolutely robbed the Flyers of 8 or 9 more. That's excellent goaltending algebra. He's calm and poised as much as he is athletically primed to pounce. He doesn't allow a bad goal to phase him. And he seems to gain more confidence every game.
Now the Bruins had no business going into overtime in this game. But do give credit to the Flyers. It's not as if the B's "took their foot off the gas." Philly played well, and deserved to come from behind. The Bruins did miss their opportunity to win this game in regulation. Several opportunities. And they all came in the 1st period. The B's were up 2-0, utterly dominating the flow of the game, but whiffed on some big scoring chances. Instead of a 3-0 or 4-0 game going into the intermission, Philly still had a heartbeat, and a chance. And they knew it.
Michael Ryder is not a scorer. He didn't have a bad game. In fact, his neutral zone play was outstanding, evading multiple Flyers and triggering 2-on-1 opportunities for his teammates. But in the OT period, a beautiful centering pass found his stick. And he settled the puck. A puck which was already as settled and calm as a turtle on valium. Yet he still took time to settle the fucking puck. This allowed Boucher to swing himself across the crease, and stop Ryder at point blank range.
Did anyone notice how much time Savard took to settle a bouncing, rollicking puck?
No time whatsoever. Savard shot the puck right away. Because that's how you score. Don't give the goalie time. Surprise him. Make the game too fast for any human goalie to thrive in.
And to all you Timmy Thomas haters out there, watch that clip, and see who the first guy to congratulate Tuukka Rask is (at 0:22). Thomas has been ousted Drew Bledsoe style, but he's also shown the class of Drew Bledsoe in that unenjoyable backup position.
But let me once again implore that we all keep this in perspective. This was one game, and the Bruins barely won it, on home ice. Marco Sturm's status is a looming question mark. The Flyers cracked the B's vaunted Penalty Killing unit. There's a lot of hockey left.
But it's still very nice, isn't it?
Game 2, tonight on Versus.