The most difficult thing about being a hockey fan is truly understanding what's happening on the ice. Sure, a lot of people think they know what's going on, and that includes me sometimes, but the truth is that sometimes truly understanding why things are happening requires NHL experience and a time consuming break down of post-game video. For that reason I'm not going to try to analyze why the Bruins are facing elimination against the Hawks. But I can make some observations based on what we've seen so far.
All season long the Bruins have had a "Jekyll and Hyde" personality, sometimes playing a strong defensive game that frustrates opponents, combined with a quick break out, razor sharp passing, and a deadly ability to cash in on mistakes.
At other times they have played like little old ladies. They turn the puck over in their zone, the forwards fail to get back quickly to back check, and their rushes come to nothing. This gets us back to why this happens. If your team plays badly, is it because they didn't show up to play or is it because the other team is taking away time and space? I don't think I'm going out on a limb to say that during the regular season much of the poor play of the Bruins was not the result of pressure from the opposing teams. The Bruins simply didn't play at their best. Whether or not the Bruins brought their best in game 5 is up for debate. My feeling is that they did not, but like I said, I can't be sure.
On a related note, for whatever reason the Bruins have not been able to shutdown the Hawks with their layered defense in the same way they did the Penguins. Whether that is due to the speed of the Hawks, the players not "playing their game," or as an intentional strategy of Julien's, I'm not going to pretend to know. It is entirely possible that we will see the Bruins shut the Hawks down in game 6. If so, then the Bruins have a very good chance of winning the series. Otherwise the Bruins will have to beat the Hawks at their own game, and while I believe they can, a Bruins Cup win is somewhat less assured.
I do know that the Bruins can play with much more desperation! Bruins fans can hope that game 5 was a momentary lapse of focus and determination in a long post season and the Bruins will be back in game 6, with or without Bergeron.
Sunday, June 9, 2013
First off... wow. I mean, wow. Who would have predicted that the Bruins would sweep the Penguins, outscoring them 12 to 2 over the series? In a word, it was impressive.
In a recent Boston.com Bruins Blog they asked, "When did you realize the series with the Penguins was over?" Well I knew the series was over at 1:32 of the second period of game 1. That was the moment when Matt Cooke checked Adam McQuaid on the numbers into the boards. I was so angry I had to leave the room to hit something. When I eventually returned I told my kids that the series was over, and the the Bruins would not only defeat the Penguins but they would humiliate them in the process.
When you've seen these guys play as many games as I have you start to see what makes them tick. The one thing that stands out above all else is that the Bruins will not be intimidated. All hockey players are proud, and for this bunch their pride is rooted in standing up for one another. Sure, McQuaid got back up. But don't think for a minute that they don't remember Cooke's dirty hit on Savard (that ended his career) -- even those guys who weren't part of the team yet. The boys were already primed for payback over the Iginla trade, regardless of what they may have said publicly, and that hit was exactly what they needed to bring out their very best, and there is no better. So thanks to you Jerome, and thanks to you Matt; our Bruins are in the Cup Final!