Well, we have finally made it to the pinnacle of the NHL season; the playoffs have arrived. Arguably, these are the greatest two months in all of sports.
If you are not pulling for a particular team when you watch the sport, that's how you know that you are satisfied with the product. It definitely helps when your team is still competing for the ultimate prize, though.
With that being said, the Boston Bruins were geared and prepared for a deep playoff run this year. Since they were the Presidents' Trophy winners, they had the luxury of getting another two days off. They finally took the TD Garden ice for game one on Friday night. Their opponent? The Detroit Red Wings.
Now, there is no need to go over all of the little details of the individual matchups within the series; that was taken care of with the latest Inside Hockey piece--cheap plug. But the Red Wings will be a stiff test for the B's. They are the only team this year to defeat the Bruins three times in regulation, and they are getting back two of their veterans in Pavel Datsyuk and Daniel Alfredsson.
For the Bruins, Chris Kelly remained out of the lineup after missing the last couple of weeks of action (practice included) with a lower-back injury. Justin Florek was recalled from Providence to take the place of Kelly on the third line because he closely replicates the offensive production that would benefit playing along side Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson. Also, Daniel Paille (concussion) did not play. Of course, Tuukka Rask opposed Jimmy Howard in net. Lastly, Andrej Meszaros and Corey Potter got the nod on the blue line due to the absence of Matt Bartkowski and Kevan Miller.
Without further ado, it is time for playoff hockey.
In a game that was scoreless for most of it, we witnessed an entertaining duel between two of the league's best. The Bruins failed to capitalize on golden opportunities with the puck in this up-and-down-the-ice affair. In the end, a late tally from Datsyuk propelled the Wings to a 1-0 victory and silenced the Garden crowd. Honestly, this was a very shocking result despite the lackluster effort by Boston early on.
Game two took place on Sunday afternoon with Detroit leading the series. The only lineup change for the Bruins was that Miller returned to the defensive rotation after missing the last game with the flu.
After a sloppy start by the Bruins, they cleaned up the turnovers and started playing physical. They opened up a 2-0 lead on goals by Florek (his first-career playoff goal) and Reilly Smith. The biggest difference early on in this one was that Boston actually started going hard to the net, putting some pressure on Howard. Oh yeah, the Garden crowd was letting him have it.
Detroit matched the physical play, though. In the second period, the Bruins did end up playing shorthanded for quite some time after numerous minor penalties. Yet, both goalies were good enough to allow only goal apiece to keep this a two-goal game.
Rask was huge for the Bruins in the final 20 minutes, so that made it easier for his team in front of him to keep the onslaught coming. The B's added another goal on the power play to wrap up the 4-1 victory. Happy Easter to the fans of the Black and Gold.
The series will shift to Detroit for games three and four, which will be played on Tuesday and Thursday night, respectively.
Gold Star: Tuukka Rask (57 saves on 59 shots, 2 goals allowed combined)...He has had a pretty solid start to the series, but he needs to be great the rest of the way through.
Black Star: Shawn Thornton...Considering how physical the first two games were, it was surprising that he did not make an impact.