I really thought the Rangers were going to steal this game. Fans up here in Boston had been feeling cocky about the Bruins "beating" Lundqvist for 8 goals, when he actually hadn't played that bad. I thought maybe the players would feel a little too overconfident as well. Lundqvist came out and made some Vezinian saves, and this game looked like it would end as a 1-0 Tortorella special. It would have if not for the play of the Bruins' 4th line.
Some people, such as 98.5's Michael Felger, like to complain about the 4th line. And even I sometimes get annoyed when they're on the ice in a potential scoring situation. The fact is, they play their roles and occasionally add a little more. Thornton is the enforcer. Paille is a speedy penalty-killer. Campbell also kills penalties and is sort of a jack of all trades, master of none. Sometimes they go above and beyond their roles. Like last night when they generated 2 goals. Shawn Thornton's numbers speak volumes to their contribution...
6:42 time on ice, 11 shifts, 2 assists, +2, 2 shots on goal, 3 hits, 1 blocked shot
He only played in 11% of the game, and he did all that.
You never fail to notice that the 4th line is on the ice. Sometimes you don't notice Lucic or Horton or Peverley. But you never fail to notice the 4th line. And they won the game last night. So from me, and from the 4th line, suck it, Felger...
Tuukka Rask's play made it so the 4th line was in position to win the game. The goal Rask allowed in the 2nd possibly could have been saved, but apart from that he was flawless. His 3rd period right-pad stop on Rick Nash during a 4-on-2 breakaway when the game was 1-1 was the biggest save of the game. Bigger than any saves Lundqvist made. It was also a timely save. And it could prove to be the biggest save of the series. That save is probably the difference between a 3-0 series and a 2-1 series. And just like the ball-strike count in baseball, that's a huge difference. The Bruins now have a 3-0 count in their favor, and a green light to swing away.
Continuing the baseball comparison, Rask was like a pitcher who gave up a solo homerun in the 2nd inning, but retired the last 9 batters he faced, starting with striking out the side with the bases loaded in the 7th.
Rask was an Ace last night.
And let's not forget Johnny Boychuk, who scored his 4th postseason goal. That's second most on the Bruins (behind Krejci's 5 and tied with Horton), and the most of any defenseman in the playoffs. He has 10 career playoff goals in 55 games. That's not bad at all for a defenseman.
I do have a question to pose: if the Bruins get all their defensemen healthy, should they put Torey Krug on the 3rd line as a winger? Obviously this is not a serious question. Or is it? It isn't.
Or is it?
Game 4 Thursday night. Expect a desperate Rangers team to fight tooth and nail. It could be the hardest game of the series for the Bruins. Or maybe the Rangers will quit on their coach and get blown out 5-1.
AP Photo/Seth Wenig