Friday, May 15, 2009

And So It Ends

The Bruins lost in the second round to the Canes last night in game 7 in overtime. I am sure there are Boston sports fans who are angry and upset. But not me.

You see, I got a lesson in playoff perspective last week. I missed the critical game four and the first thing I did upon returning home was to see how the B's had done. It was a 4-1 drubbing! And from the articles I read it sounded like the Bruins played terribly and were never even in it. I wasn't just disappointed, I was angry! How could they come this far only to turn in a half effort? I started a post with the title, "Sharks in Bears Clothing" but was too angry to finish it. I even considered closing this blog. All seemed lost, and in the worst way.

But then I actually watched the game. They didn't play particularly well in game 4, but they hadn't played nearly as badly as had been reported. And then of course they came back with a roar in games 5 and 6, forcing game 7, where they took it to overtime. So in the end am I disappointed? Yes. Am I upset and angry? No.

The Bruins played a nearly flawless game 7. They controlled the puck, made smart breakouts for the most part, and forechecked very well. Tim Thomas was sharp and made some truly game-saving stops. But in the end my hockey instincts were right on this one. Hockey is a game of ebb and flow, of momentum shifts. And the team that storms back to force a game 7 usually seems to lose. Overtime is the same way: teams take turns dominiating the play. In the end the game is usually decided by the bounce of a puck, and so it was decided last night. Timmy went into his cocoon to smother the puck on a routine shot and it appeared to clip his stick on the way in. The puck deflected upward spinning end over end, and he wasn't able to contain it. As it fell in front of him Walker (of all players) tapped it into the net out of mid air.

So who do we blame for this loss? Timmy? The D-man who let Walker in front of the net? I say, nobody. The Bruins played their best, but in todays NHL it's not like the 70's and 80's. No team can dominate to the point where they can expect to win it all, no matter how good they are. It takes talent, hard play, great coaching, and yes--luck, to win a cup. It was the Hockey Gods who decided this one, and I am good with that.

Anybody who is angry about the way the Bruins played should stop and think about what it must feel like to be a Sharks fan right now.

On a final note, there was one player who I thought really stepped up in game seven: Lucic. People say he's no Cam Neely, but... what a force he was in that game! His stickhandling, the way he crashed the net protecting the puck, and his defensive play was outstanding! At one point he took on the role of the defenseman in his own corner and looked completely at home. He was a force on every shift, a one-man team. In short, his play was truly impressive! We are so lucky to have him in a spoked B!

Monday, May 11, 2009


If somehow the Bruins win in Carolina and take the series in seven, and if somehow they go on to eventually win the cup, there are some moments that should be remembered along the way. I think one of those happened in game five last night when Looch put on a big hit in the first period. With that hit the crowd came alive, his linemates suddenly remembered how to play hard and sharp at the same time, and the rest of the lines followed their example. The result was a 4-0 win.

Not to take anything away from the awesome play of Chara and Savard, but when people talk about leaders and leadership it comes in all forms. Milan Lucic for playoff MVP!

Can the B's win this series? After more seasons than I can recall I have developed a sort of hockey instinct. This instinct told me that after their loss in game four the B's would take it to seven games only to lose, perhaps in OT. But logic says otherwise. If the Bruins can find a way to win in Carolina then logic says they will win at home because in the end they are the more talented team overall. That, and Claude has pulled exactly this scenario off before (as we recall all too painfully).

But who knows? This is definitely not your classic playoff series. Usually both teams battle game in and game out. But this series has been marked by one team dominating the other (and then they switch roles). It's really difficult to tell if one team is making the other look bad, of if one just didn't show up to play. It's a weird series. So who knows what will happen? I guess that's why they play the games.

I just hope the Bruins give it their best effort tomorrow night.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Sneaky Canes

The Bruins lost to the Canes in game two of the series--their first loss of the playoffs.

I did some reading of the Carolina media prior to the game, taking note of what the press, coaches, and players were saying after their loss in game one. Some phrases kept appearing over and over. One in particular was that the Canes would need to play "mistake free hockey" in order to beat our B's. At the time it sounded sort of desperate, like they didn't really know how to beat the talented Bruins except to hope that they could play smarter. Now I see what they really meant, and I have a lot more respect. These Canes are a sneaky lot--they can play very good team defense and take advantage of the scoring opportunities that come their way.

I knew the B's were in trouble late in the first period. Although they carried the play for much of the period the Bruins were unable to score. Every time they got a scoring opportunity a Cane would be on their back or have their stick on theirs. In short, it was an impressive display of last line defense in front of the net. Hockey can sometimes be a game of frustration, and I felt the frustration level grow toward the end of the first. When a team gets frustrated sometimes they lose their jump and their edge. This is exactly what happened as the B's came out in the second and the Canes were ready to pounce.

In the third the Bruins once again carried the play, turning up the heat in the offensive zone. But they seemed unaccustomed to such intense play and several players made mistakes with the puck. It seemed they were thinking ahead to the next move and forgetting to take care of what they were doing at the moment. This, combined with the sound defense in front of the net and excellent goaltending led to their failure to score.

One thing for sure: the Bruins are going to need to work on their power play if they expect to win this series.

So now the playoffs start in earnest! The Canes are going to be a formidable opponent. Now we get to see what happens when they have to step it up. With all the talent the B's can bring to (ahem) bear, I still believe they have an excellent chance to win the series.