Friday, May 6, 2011

Eastern Conference Semifinals - Game Four

There is no need to state the obvious. The world knows that the Boston Bruins had a 3-0 series advantage over the Philadelphia Flyers last year in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The world knows that the Bruins had a three goal lead in game seven. The world knows how that series turned out. That was last year and this was this year. Give it a rest.

With that being said, the Bruins had a chance to sweep the Flyers tonight in game four of THIS YEAR'S (as in the 2010-2011 season) Eastern Conference semifinals. Did the players feel like they were out to avenge some sort of loss, even though they had complete control over it and they just collapsed? To an extent, yes. Did the media over-hype the situation? Without a doubt. The team had a different look this year with new faces and a clean slate. Also, goaltender Tim Thomas was not in net for the Bruins last postseason and he gives the team a better chance to win.

Thomas was on his game again tonight, stopping 22 shots and only allowing one goal. On the offensive side of things, the Bruins came out looking very timid. They did not have the energy to begin the game like they had the previous game. Leave it to the first line to get things going once again. When the Bruins went on the power play, Milan Lucic scored his first goal of the postseason and it was assisted by Nathan Horton and David Krejci. Lucic would also add another goal later on in this game.

As the game unfolded, the physicality picked up which was to be expected. Flyers forward Scott Hartnell mixed it up with Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara. Hartnell took a shot at Chara and when Chara went to retaliate, Hartnell dropped to the ice instantly. That was not a surprise. He has a reputation of picking his spots. It happened again when he charged David Krejci, a player who is not known for his physical play.

In the third period, Johnny Boychuk blasted a shot into the net for his second goal of the postseason. That turned out to be the decisive goal even though the Bruins added two empty net goals to close out the game. The Bruins won the game by a score of 5-1. They will play the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference finals, a spot they have not been in 19 seasons. Since the Bruins are the higher seed, they will have home ice advantage for the series. However, the Bruins have a better road record this season.

During this game, Bruins center Patrice Bergeron left the game after receiving an open-ice hit. He did not return to the bench and his status for the next series is unknown. If he cannot be ready by the start of the conference finals, Boston will be in trouble.

Gold Star: Daniel Paille ( 1 goal, +1 rating, 2 hits)...I will be the first to admit that I was not a huge fan of Paille. Personally, I thought Tyler Seguin should be in his spot. But after thinking about it I realized that he is one of the best penalty killers on the team and that is so important. His goals come in spurts, but having an effective penalty kill is key for going deep into the playoffs.

Black Star: Shane Hnidy...the rest of the team played solid tonight. He just did not see enough ice time to factor into the game plan whatsoever. Hopefully Adam McQuaid will return at some point in the next round because having six defensemen is necessary. With Hnidy in the line up, Boston is essentially playing five defensemen.

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