One Game 7 was played, another was "created." One half of Pennsylvania rejoiced, another half mourned.
MONTREAL 5, PITTSBURGH 2 (Canadiens win series 4-3)
The 8th seeded Canadiens have proven that the NHL regular season is essentially meaningless. The Habs only won 39 games, and made the playoffs by 1 point over the Rangers. Now they're in the Eastern Conference Finals. They got big games from Jaroslav Halak, Brian Gionta and Mike Cammalleri. Meanwhile, the Penguins got air from Crosby and Malkin. In this series, the Penguins' two All-Stars combined for 2 goals (1 each) and 6 assists.
PHILADELPHIA 2, BOSTON 1 (Series tied 3-3)
The Bruins offense continued to struggle. They scored with 1 minute left, ending a 134 minute goalless drought. But it was too little, too late. In order to win, the Bruins need to have long possessions, grinding out offense, getting rebounds, putting the puck in the crease, hoping good things happen. They've allowed the Flyers to dominate the opening 5-10 minutes of the last 3 games, and that has to stop. Unfortunately for the B's, Claude Julien has never won a Game 7 behind the Bruins bench.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Under Claude Julien, the Bruins are 2-6 in games in which their opponent is facing elimination. Think about that. Against teams that the B's have already beaten 3 times, the B's have only managed to finish them off twice in eight attempts. That's just pathetic.
Once again, the Flyers came out strong and pro-active, while the Bruins were passive and reactive. Philly scored about 7 minutes in when Chara gaveaway the puck on the offensive blue-line. The Flyers rushed, then repeatedly harassed Rask. They got off 4 shots in 13 seconds, with Richards' finally going in.
The Bruins played a better 2nd period, but were still being frustrated on offense. That frustration turned into inexcusable penalties, which turned into a power play goal.
But the problem wasn't allowing goals, it was failing to score them. Michael Leighton will be praised as a hero for his 30 save performance, but the Bruins made it easier on him than that figure suggests. Whitfield had a breakaway and seemingly aimed right at the P on Leighton's sweater. Bergeron had nearly a foot of open, ice-level goal to shoot at, but he hit the post. The B's didn't have enough presence in the crease.
But there were some positives in this game. As technically meaningless as Lucic's goal with 1 minute turned out to be, it did end a few streaks. Until that score, the Flyers had scored 7 straight unanswered goals. Until that score, Leighton had yet to be beat. Until that score, the Bruins had been held goalless for 134 minutes and 12 seconds.
And the manner of the score was just important. Leighton gave up rebounds, and his 5-hole was noticeably vulnerable all game. His legs were as wide open as Nicole Ritchie's in the LA Lakers' locker room. Lucic knocked in his own rebound, between Leighton's legs. Hopefully his teammates were watching.
So now it comes down to Game 7. The fact that there is even going to be a Game 7 is a Bruins failure. But what's important is that they can forget that failure with a win. Lose Game 7, and the stench of that failure will fester in the nostrils of Bruins fans for decades.
Game 7 Friday night.