Thursday, April 21, 2011

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals - Game Four

We all can understand that trailing in a playoff series can bring out the best or the worst in a team. For the Bruins, no one would expect people calling out individual players about their lack of determination on the ice. Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli told 98.5 The Sports Hub radio station that defenseman Tomas Kaberle has "not played at the level the Bruins expected."

Was this not the guy that Chiarelli was eager to trade for? Even dating back to last season, he wanted Kaberle on the team. Although the numbers do not show it, Kaberle still has been a factor. The type of style of hockey that Boston and Montreal play when they face each other is not Kaberle's strong point, which is fast and aggressive. Just wait until the series progresses because he should be able to adjust.

Bruins forward Chris Kelly returned to the team today after suffering a facial fracture in game three. He flew back to Boston to get examined and he was later cleared to play as of this afternoon. He met up with the team after they spent the last two days in Lake Placid, New York to get away from Montreal and prepare for tonight's game.

In the first period, Montreal came out hitting often and early. A new energy was among the four Canadiens lines since they made some changes to their roster. Just like the first two games of the series, Montreal grabbed the early lead as Brent Sopel scored a goal that was assisted by Mike Cammalleri and Dave Desharnais. The entire Bruins team played as if they were afraid especially the David Krejci-Nathan Horton-Milan Lucic line. Boston trailed 1-0 at the end of the first period.

Where do I even start with the second period? 29 total shots and five goals were scored in the second 20 minutes. Michael Ryder (BOS) tied the game on one of his signature slap shots. Tomas Kaberle had the assist on a beautiful length-of-the-ice pass (how about that for a zing Chiarelli). Montreal scored the next two goals in 55 seconds as Mike Cammalleri and Andrei Kostitsyn each scored their second playoff goal. Boston came right back with two goals of their own. Andrew Ference took two big hits in order to move the puck, yet he still got back into the play and scored on a great shot from the top of the zone. Patrice Bergeron tied the game at three with a nice pass from Brad Marchand. There was still one more period to be played.

The third period was all about the defense. Both teams held their own blue line very tight and did not break too often. Tim Thomas (BOS) and Carey Price (MTL) were outstanding in the final 20 minutes. The game ended in a tie, but both teams each added a goal. P.K. Subban (MTL) scored on the power play (Patrice Bergeron got called for a horrible hooking call) and Chris Kelly (BOS) scored on a deflected shot in front of the net. The Bruins did a great job of killing a power play at the end of the period and they were able to send the game into sudden death overtime.

The sudden death overtime lasted only 1:59. The Bruins third line (Rich Peverley, Chris Kelly, Michael Ryder) had a three-on-one advantage on a break away. After a shot by Peverley that was deflected wide, Kelly grabbed the rebound and passed across to Ryder as he shot the dagger into the Montreal crowd scoring his second goal of the game. Thomas stopped 34 shots on 38 attempts. The Bruins won the game 5-4 in overtime and tie the series at 2-2. Game five will be on Saturday at the TD Garden.

Gold Star: Chris Kelly (1 goal, 2 assists, +2 rating,)...he played with a broken bone in his face and he still played at the top of his game. Whether it was making great passes or killing penalties, Kelly had a career night under difficult circumstances.

Black Star: Milan Lucic...something needs to be done with the first line. The Canadiens are clearly planning their defense scheme around Lucic. What is sad about it is that he will not change his game. He freezes on the left side of the ice and hopes the puck will find his stick. Not the way to play in the playoffs.

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