The Capitals were beaten tonight by the B’s rivals, the Montreal Canadians. Game 7 proved to be nothing short of a Jarislav Halak target in a Caps shooting range, and the only one that hit was a mere flesh wound. Halak made 131 saves out of the last 134 shots he faced in the final 3 games of the series. The Habs blocked over 40 shots in Game 7, and played what they called a four defenseman system. As shocking as this series was, it is no shock that a first place team went down, as the hockey world has been graced with the likes of the San Jose Sharks for the past two years, not to mention the Bruins injury ridden collapse last season. This year, both the Sharks and the B’s have advanced, which means Pennsylvania will have to wait for the B’s until Game 3, because versus the Flyers, the will have home ice advantage. I made a claim that the B’s would need to secure 6th place to properly set a path to the Cup. This has remained the one aspect not to go completely over my head so far in the playoffs, and I believe home ice will be an epic intensity booster and physical advantage for the Bruins. The number one key to beating the Flyers will be the physicality and Tuukka being able to man the five foot radius in front of his net.
The Flyers bring with them a couple of the biggest assholes in the NHL, and if you do not know them yet, or hate them with a furious passion, you will immediately, after Game 1. (May 1st, 12:30 PM, NBC) Daniel Carcillo and Chris Pronger. I would list one more, but Ian Laperriere is out. I would also elaborate, but they do not deserve my attention. Just watch and wait.
The Flyers also bring more talent, goal scoring, skating and forechecking than the Sabres, in the form of Daniel Briere, the former Sabre great, Captain Mike Richards, and currently on fire, Claude Giroux. Both Simon Gagne and Jeff Carter are declared injured and out indefinitely. Trust me that this is a very good thing. Jeff Carter was an on the fence alternate for Team Canada, and Gagne is a sleeping Giant. They will both remain sleeping throughout this series. The last notable mention is a man Rask will never invite over for Christmas dinner, or whatever the equivalent is in Finland, and that is Scott Hartnell. Hartnell can be remembered best from this past season as being the reason Thomas was out of position when the Flyers scored in the Winter Classic. Hartnell is the Lion King of the physical jungle war played out by the Philadelphia Flyers, however the Bruins are a close second to this physicality, and proved themselves worthy enough to skate and hit with any team left in the playoffs. There will be many blocked shots, many after whistle scrums, punches thrown, plenty of tip in goals, plenty of powerplay opportunities and penalty kills, and we will all have to “bear” witness to yet another goaltenders duel. Rask has proven that he can carry the B’s on his dainty, 6′ 3″ high shoulders, so who will he be going eye to eye with, staring down 178′ feet away, game by game, period by period, starting in goal for the Flyers? Woonsocket, RI native Brian Boucher. Some Boston and RI natives may remember Boucher as a Mount Saint Charles Mountie, leading them to one of their many championships over the past couple of decades. The NHL remembers him as the man who stole the starting position from one of my favorites, John Vanbeisbrouk in 2000 for the Flyers, and after 8 years away from Philly, he makes his epic comeback and “gets hot in goal, at just the right time” earning the starting job yet again. The season series between these two teams is 2-2 with Boston outscoring Philly 11-9, winning the last two games, including a 5-1 blowout where Boucher got kicked in the second, and the game of the year, the OT winner Winter Classic at Fenway. This season has been defined by that Jan. 1st game, as it was their final January accomplishment before their “season ending” 11 game win-less streak. Their season however, continues, and even I chewed many criticisms and doubts throughout the past month and a half, as a result. Boucher is, in leimens terms, a journeyman. Boucher has not established dominance, like Rask has, and did not have to fight as hard through the 2010 playoffs, yet, as Rask has. I give Rask a heavy advantage, and if Miller can be beaten, and the Sabres can be humbled, the B’s have the best chance they have had in the past decade, where a second round victory has eluded them so successfully, to advance to the third round.
Obvious Key Players for the Bruins:
Satan and Ryder: These two gentleman must continue offensively.
Sturm: He has to show up. If he does not, Julien will sit him. Remember I said that.
Bergeron, Kreijci, Savard: Centers must touch the puck before the above scorers can score. Powerplays will define this series, and these men will define these powerplays.
Boychuck and Chara: They need to own the defense, and continue to block shots. Blocked shots will block goals. Hockey is very easy. No other defenseman in these playoffs for the B’s, has shown me anything. I am worried about the integrity of our defense. I have always been worried about this. I want to be proven wrong.
Lucic: Fight everyone, hit everyone, and put at least one player on IR. Do not get suspended!…but do not let up.
Rask: He will not fail, contrary to my own prior beliefs. Rask is not Carey Price.
I look past the Flyers for a second, not to “jinx” the B’s, but to express a slight disappointment towards the draw. If and absolutely when the B’s finish the Flyers in 5, the Penguins or the Canadiens wait. Fading chants of “We Want Cooke..”, ringing still in TD Banknorth, will be answered, and if they aren’t, the second greatest rivalry left in sports will be revisited. Throughout this series, and beyond there will be plenty to discuss. Julien will prepare his boys physically, and mentally, and upon Savard’s return, the offense will be primed and ready to send Boucher back home, to see the team he followed as a kid, parading the Cup up and down the streets of Boston.
Bruins in 5, Savard returns to Boston
Penguins in 6, Cooke returns to Boston
Playoff Hockey starts up again tomorrow.
Do not ignore the West.
Filed under: Bruins | Tagged: Boston Bruins, Brian Boucher, Montreal Canadians, Philladelphia Flyers, Tuukka Rask, Washington Capitals | 4 Comments »