Saturday, April 23, 2011

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals - Game Five

$2,500. Why is that number significant? To us, it is a substantial amount of money that we would hate to lose. For professional athletes, that figure is simply pocket change. Well, that is the amount of money that Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference was fined by the NHL. This fine came about as a result of Ference "flipping off" the Montreal crowd after scoring his goal in game four.

After watching the video of the incident and reading his comments following game four, I was not surprised that this took place. Both teams hate each other and the fans know that. The Montreal fans let Zdeno Chara have it every time he touches the puck and the same can be said for P.K. Subban with the Boston fans. "It looks awful. I completely admit it and I apologize how it looks," said Ference. Come on. You flipped them off. Your glove did not get caught up. It would have been perfect timing if it was since you got leveled with two open-ice hits and the crowd cheered for it just seconds before you scored. Pay the fine and move on.

Oh yes, game five was tonight. There were no line up changes for Boston tonight. Why would they change anything now when they have the momentum? The first period was fast paced as usual. Both teams had great opportunities to score, but strong defenses and goaltending was the story of the period. Michael Ryder (BOS) made a smart play by diving into the net and saved a goal after Tim Thomas slipped. All four lines were playing tough hockey and the six defensemen were holding their own. There was no score after the first period.

The second period was just as chippy as the first one. Through the first 40 minutes, both teams each had 16 hits. Boston out shot the Canadiens 21-16. This has been the story of the entire series so it was not a surprise to see Boston out shoot the Canadiens and not hold a lead. Midway through the second period, Shawn Thornton (BOS) was begging to fight Ryan White (MTL). Not s shock, White skated away. Brad Marchand (BOS) did not skate away when Tomas Plekanec (MTL) roughed him in front of the Montreal net. Both men got roughing penalties and the teams skated 4-on-4 to begin the third period.

Nothing came for either team as a result of the 4-0n-4. Later on in the period, Brad Marchand put the Bruins on the board by scoring his first goal of the postseason. Patrice Bergeron and Tomas Kaberle has the assists. Montreal would not go down without a fight. Jeff Halpern tied the game at one goal a piece after both teams scrambled for a loose puck and he found it in front of the net for an uncontested shot. Lars Eller and Mathieu Darche had the assists for the Habs. For the second consecutive game, we needed sudden death overtime to determine a winner.

In the overtime, Patrice Bergeron was denied a straight scoring chance to the net by a foul committed on him by the last defender, which is the definition of a penalty shot. Shockingly, the Bruins were only awarded a two minute power play for a tripping call. They could not get off a great scoring chance with the man advantage. David Krejci had a great shot for Boston when Milan Lucic set him up with a great pass, but it was stopped by Carey Price (MTL). You can tell that Krejci is a passer and not a scorer because he froze when he had the clear shot. It was as if he did not know what to do. Either way, both teams remained tied after the first extra 20 minutes.

As the second overtime got under way, it was evident that players from both teams were showing signs of fatigue. Players started to make mistakes, more gaps existed on the ice, and both teams exchanged fast break chances. Tim Thomas robbed the Canadiens when he stopped Brian Gionta's shot that nearly rattled the inside of the cage. With a little over nine minutes elapsed from the second overtime, Nathan Horton (BOS) scored his second goal of the playoffs and gave the Bruins the win. They now have a three games to two series lead. This was the best defensive game the Bruins have played all season long. Game six will be Tuesday night back up in Montreal as they attempt to close out the series.

Gold Star: Tim Thomas (44 saves on 45 shots, 1 goal allowed, .978 save percentage)

Black Star: Johnny Boychuk...he swung and miss on a clear shot, he allowed the puck to escape the offensive zone too many times, and he lost a tire stumbling into the boards. It was a good thing that his defense was solid tonight because his offense was horrible.

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