Friday, April 25, 2014

Red Wings Hold Sticks, Can't Hold Lead

The 1st period and the overtime were mirror images of each other. The Bruins were outshot 15-5 in the 1st, and then outshot Detroit 12-3 in overtime. In the middle were a number of big saves by Tuukka Rask, two huge misses by Brad Marchand, and lots of Red Wings holding on to Bruins sticks.

The Bruins' first line showed up fashionably late in this game. Milan Lucic tied it in the 3rd and Jarome Iginla was credited with the game-winner. Patrice Bergeron also had an assist on Torey Krug's power play goal in the 2nd.

Dougie Hamilton added 2 assists. That's 3 points for Hamilton in the 2 games in Detroit. Hamilton did more than any other skater to help the Bruins win both games on the road.

Tuukka Rask was the #1 star of the game, at least in my book (the media named Iginla the #1 star). He only allowed 1 goal in the 1st period when Detroit was dominating play. He stopped 35 of 37 shots, and the 2 pucks that got past him were essentially unstoppable. On the first goal Todd Bertuzzi eclipsed Rask's entire field of vision, and the second goal was a result of poor defensive coverage (Bartkowski falling down). Rask had no chance to stop either shot. Throughout the game he made the standard saves as well as some very tough ones.

If the Bruins had lost this game, it would have been Brad Marchand's fault. He had two empty nets in front of him, with plenty of time, plenty of space, and he missed the net both times. Not even close. Imagine a basketball player going for an uncontested layup and not even hitting the backboard.

Marchand is a pest, but he's also a top-6 forward and he's paid to play like one. Pests come cheap. He makes $4.5 million per year, and that salary isn't to get under opponents' skin, it's to put pucks in their nets. He has 0 points in this series. Going back to the Cup Finals last year that's 10 straight playoff games without a goal or an assist, and 12 since his last goal. Do your job, Marchand.

The Red Wings did quite a bit of stick holding, or "chicken winging" as Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley repeatedly called it. The Bruins tried to lobby the refs to make a call, to no avail. In these circumstances, when officials aren't calling the game the way the Bruins want it to be called, the B's tend to have one reaction: hit the guy.

It's not smart. It's harmful to your cause. It can result in stupid penalties, and only makes the opponent want to do it even more. They know they've gotten into your head.

The proper response, after lobbying the refs and failing, is to do it yourself. If the refs are letting Detroit get away with it, then do it to them. Fight fire with fire, not with fists and shoves.

Game 5 is Saturday afternoon in Boston. The Bruins can't be complacent. The opening period of this game showed how dangerous Detroit could be, and Jonas Gustavsson looked strong in net. I'm hoping Mike Babcock goes back to Jimmy Howard.

Photo Credit:
Carlos Osorio/Associated Press