Monday, May 2, 2011

Eastern Conference Semifinals - Game Two

It is hard to imagine that Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas did not see action in last year's Stanley Cup Playoffs. What a difference a year could make. During this season, he led the league in goals against average en route to another Vezina Trophy (knock on wood). What is even more impressive is that Thomas is 7-0-0 in his career when playing in Philadelphia. Could all signs point to a 2-0 series lead for Boston tonight?

Before the game, the Philadelphia Flyers announced that defenseman Chris Pronger would miss tonight's game. Pronger has been battling a broken hand for the past six weeks. The injury that made him miss tonight's game was undisclosed. Also, Flyers goaltender Brian Boucher got the start in goal. Boucher was chased out of game one after allowing five goals in the first two periods. The Bruins needed to take advantage of this opportunity before Boucher gets his confidence back.

The first period was one of the best periods of hockey thus far in the playoffs. Unfortunately, it did not start out great for Boston. Less than 30 seconds into the game, the Flyers beat Thomas on a two-on-one breakaway. James van Riemsdyk scored his sixth goal of the playoffs. The goal was assisted by Claude Giroux and Nikolay Zherdev. The Flyers jumped out to a two goal lead as van Riemsdyk scored his second of the game.

The next two goals were scored by the Bruins. Chris Kelly cleaned up a rebound off of a shot by Michael Ryder and Brad Marchand scored on a slap shot due to a great pass by Patrice Bergeron. Late in the period, Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid went head first into the boards after failing to deliver a hit on Flyers center Mike Richards. McQuaid had to be helped off the ice. Even before that incident things started to get chippy, specifically with David Krejci (BOS) and Kris Versteeg (PHI). After an exciting first period, the score was tied at two.

Brian Boucher (PHI) left the game in the second period after injuring his lower body. Sergei Bobrovsky came into the game to take over goalie duties. Both teams had great rushes up the ice and both teams made some great shots. Thomas and Bobrovsky kept the puck out of the net by making key saves. The Bruins out shot the Flyers 29-22 through the first two periods, yet the score remained tied at two. What stood out at this point of the game was how great the Bruins top line was playing. David Krejci, Milan Lucic, and Nathan Horton had the best scoring opportunities of the night. Also, the Bruins fourth line (Gregory Campbell, Shawn Thornton, Daniel Paille) got some ice time in key situations. It was great to see the balance from all of the Bruins forwards. It was reported during the second period that Boston had to continue the game with only five defensemen as McQuaid was taken to a local hospital. However, he was responsive and that was a great sign because that collision into the boards did not look good at all.

Throughout the playoffs thus far, Dennis Seidenberg has been the Bruins best defenseman. He is contributing on the offensive end and he is acting like a second goaltender on the ice. In the third period, he continued his stellar play. He stopped a goal from being scored by stretching out his leg when the Flyers shot the puck at a wide open net. Seidenberg, along with Thomas, kept the Bruins in this game. In the closing minutes, Zdeno Chara (BOS) got called for a roughing penalty. The Bruins penalty kill was solid once again. The game ended in a 2-2 tie and overtime was needed to decide this one. On a side note, Flyers goaltender Brian Boucher returned to the game at the beginning of the third period.

The overtime period was completely controlled by Philadelphia. They had possession of the puck more often than Boston. The funny part about that though is that you do not win a game based on possession. You win when your team scores more goals than the other team. When the Flyers were in the middle of a change, Nathan Horton came off the bench to set up David Krejci for a one-time shot that went over Brian Boucher's shoulder into the goal. At first it was not ruled a goal, but after a quick review the goal counted and the Bruins now have a 2-0 series lead. They improve to 4-0 in overtime in the playoffs. On the other hand, they fall to 0 for 28 on the power play. I guarantee that they will not be able to win it all if that continues. As of now, that is the only flaw in their game. Game three will be Wednesday night at the TD Garden.

Gold Star: Tim Thomas (52 saves on 54 shots, 2 goals allowed, 46 consecutive saved shots, .963 save percentage).

Black Star: Tomas Kaberle...the power play is not working in part because he is not bringing the puck up into the offensive zone. Recently, he chooses to pass it off the boards or he will just shoot it in. If he moves the puck more, the power play will come through.

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