Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Stanley Cup Finals - Game Four

Although this will not come as a shock, Bruins forward Nathan Horton will miss the rest of the Stanley Cup Finals after being diagnosed with a severe concussion from a hit by Canucks defenseman Aaron Rome. There is a chance that he could miss the start of next season. Pittsburgh Penguins forward Sidney Crosby was also diagnosed with a severe concussion back in January. He was just recently cleared for light on-ice activities almost six months later. Next season begins in four months. It does not look good for Horton but we will see how he progresses.

With Horton being a key piece to the success of the Bruins, Rome was so far down the list of defenders for the Canucks that they were more than happy with the trade off. I say that because Rome will be suspended for four games. If the series ends before seven games, it will carry over to next season.

I was one of the few who felt that the hit was not that dirty. I have seen worse. We all have seen worse. Everyone is just upset at the result and rightfully so. The hit sparked a game that was a rarity in the playoffs with over 100 penalty minutes. Bruins head coach Claude Julien scolded at his players, specifically Mark Recchi and Milan Lucic, for the biting taunts that they displayed at Vancouver's expense. The Bruins had to put that aspect of the game behind them and focus on playing hockey.

Rich Peverley took the place of Nathan Horton on the first line and he immediately made an impact. The first period favored Vancouver as far as getting more shots on Tim Thomas, but Boston had more quality chances. In fact their hits outnumbered their shots on goal (13 to 6 respectively). The Bruins continued to send the message that the pressure was on the Canucks by establishing a solid forecheck on their home ice. As I mentioned earlier, Peverley made an impact as he scored the only goal of the first period on a shot he put right underneath the legs of Roberto Luongo (VAN). David Krejci had the assist on the goal. The Bruins led 1-0 at the end of the first period.

Prior to the game, the Vancouver Canucks were complaining about the ice surface for the game tonight. In the second period, the affects of the temperature outside today begun to show on the ice. The surface became hard and sloppy. The puck slowed down and bounced around significantly. It became more of a dump and chase game as opposed to a skill, play-making game and that favored the Bruins. I guarantee that the Canucks will use the ice condition as an excuse for not getting the goals they needed to tonight. Just watch the news or read the newspapers in the next couple of days. It will happen.

The Bruins established a great penalty killing unit against the Canucks, something that Chicago, Nashville, and San Jose could not do. Their solid defense led to explosive offensive rushes by the Bruins in the second period. Michael Ryder scored his seventh goal of the playoffs with one of his great slap shots. Later on in the period, Brad Marchand slid the puck past Roberto Luongo for his eighth goal of the playoffs. Luongo is very weak on his glove side and the Bruins have exposed that. The majority of the goals that Boston have put past the veteran have been on his glove side. The Bruins had a 3-0 lead heading into the third period.

Boston began the third period on the penalty kill after a delay of game penalty on Johnny Boychuk towards the end of the second period. It was killed off yet again by the Bruins and they even forced Canucks captain Henrik Sedin to take a slashing penalty. Vancouver killed off that penalty, but they were vulnerable even after the time was up on the penalty. David Krejci made a pass over to Milan Lucic and he made a move around the defender to shoot the puck on net. Rich Peverley charged the net and deflected the shot into the net for his second goal of the game. Luongo was pulled after allowing that goal. He allowed 12 goals in less than two full games. Boston College graduate Cory Schneider replaced him in net and stopped all nine shots that he faced.

Towards the end of the period, Brad Marchand took a low shot at Daniel Sedin and from that resulted a small scrum with himself and Kieth Ballard (VAN). Adam McQuaid (BOS) got a game misconduct for stepping in. Less than a minute later, Alexandre Burrows knocked Tim Thomas' stick out of his hands. Naturally, Thomas reacted by giving him a hard slash across the leg and that resulted in a small scrum. Ryan Kesler (VAN) and Zdeno Chara (BOS) got game misconducts. It was a good thing that nothing more occurred in this game and cooler heads prevailed....until game five. The Bruins won game four by a score of 4-0 and game five will be Friday night in Vancouver.

It was huge that the Bruins maintained a shutout. Not only does Boston have all of the momentum, but now Vancouver will have to second guess their goaltending situation with no momentum and no answer for Tim Thomas in the past two games. With that being said, Claude Julien was a very smart coach tonight. After every goal that was scored, he sent out the fourth line of Gregory Campbell, Shawn Thornton, and Daniel Paille to keep the energy on Boston's side. The Stanley Cup Finals is now a best-of-three series as the series is now tied at two games a piece.

Gold Star: Tim Thomas (37 saves on 37 shots, no goals allowed, 1.000 save percentage)...this is starting to be a routine thing for every game. However, one cannot argue that if Thomas was not in net for the Bruins, they would not be here. He stood up for himself tonight by slashing Burrows. All of the defenders in front of him played a solid game as well.

Black Star: Mark Recchi...he did not have an impact in tonight's game. Coming off of those two great games, he set the bar high for himself for the rest of the postseason and he did not live up to it tonight.

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