Thursday, April 24, 2014

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals (Games 3 and 4)

Welcome to the Motor City!

This highly-anticipated, first-round matchup between the Boston Bruins and the Detroit Red Wings certainly has not disappointed thus far. In fact, it may not be a stretch to say that we have been pleasantly surprised with the physical nature of the series.

When we think of the Red Wings, some adjectives that come to mind are finesse, speed, skill, and smart. Hard-hitting and physical? Not so much. Detroit has opened some eyes, and they are proving that they will give the Bruins a competitive series. 

Hey, the B's know exactly how to respond. 

For games three and four, both teams headed to "Hockeytown" this week. The "spoked B" and the "winged wheel" are two of the greatest logos in all of sports, and they were about to clash for the right to take control of this tied series. 

Matt Bartkowski made his return to the Bruins lineup for game three. Everything else remained at the status quo. 

Tuesday night produced the best first period played by the Bruins so far in the playoffs. Whether it was Detroit giving them ample space or the B's establishing an early forecheck to force turnovers, the Black and Gold were relentless. 

Even though both teams spent most of the second period killing penalties, the Bruins held a 2-0 lead heading into the third period. We all knew that the surge from Detroit was coming, and it was intense due to their apparent desperation. However, the playoffs can set the stage for your best player to take over, which is where Tuukka Rask came in. He made four big saves down the stretch to preserve the 3-0 road victory for Boston. Detroit was just over-matched in this game. 

Dougie Hamilton, Jordan Caron, and Patrice Bergeron were the goal scorers that gave the Bruins the 2-1 series lead for two days. 

Prior to Thursdays game, it was announced that Daniel Paille has returned to practice. His timetable for a return to action is still unknown. Slowly, but surely for the veteran winger. For Detroit, they activated their captain, Henrik Zetterberg, for game four. He missed the last 30 games with a back injury, and he is a massive upgrade at the forward position.

As it turned out, this one was a game where the Bruins were victims of some "hometown calls" that went against them. However, they battled through the adversity to tie the game in the third period and sent the game into overtime. They dominated the entire extra period, which led to the game-winning goal that sneaked past Jonas Gustavsson (backup netminder for Detroit) from Jarome Iginla. Boston outshot Detroit 12-3 in overtime, so it was inevitable that the puck would end up in the back of the net. 

Game five will be played on Saturday afternoon back in Boston. The Bruins lead the series 3-1, and will hope to close things out this weekend. 

Gold Star: Tuukka Rask (58 saves on 60 shots, two goals allowed combined)...When you feel as if you are a wall between the pipes, then that is evident when you are locked in like Tuuuuuuuukka is right now. 

Black Star: Brad Marchand...This has been a tough week for the kid so far. He has been criticized of embellishing, lack of production, and missing golden opportunities. Anything else?

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