Thursday, May 8, 2014

Eastern Conference Semifinals (Games 3 and 4) - The Series Shifts North

The Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens each had an extra day off between games, which has turned into a rarity in today's NHL. 

Both teams used that time to practice, rest, and mentally restart themselves before a pivotal game three up in Montreal on Tuesday night. So far, the series has been everything as previously advertised. Both Carey Price and Tuukka Rask have been solid, the blue liners have had their bright spots, and the offensive stars certainly have produced. 

More importantly, we were tied 1-1 coming into game three. For the next two games, the teams skated on Bell Centre ice in Montreal. This is always a dangerous place to play, but the B's have had success in this building. Unfortunately, this is a "what have you done for me lately" type of feel when it comes to the postseason. The Bruins would love to prevent that annoying goal horn from going off, but they would also thrive at the opportunity to take that crowd out of the games early. 

Easier said than done, but the B's were eager to give it a shot. 

Over the weekend, the team announced that Adam McQuaid underwent successful ankle surgery. He is expected to miss eight weeks, thereby ending his season. He has been battling quad injuries all throughout the year, so this news was a bit puzzling.  

The Bruins trotted out the same lineup for Tuesday night as they did in game two. 

In the first game, the Bruins tried to weather the storm out of the gate. Naturally, the Habs controlled the early going in their building by jumping out to a 2-0 lead. P.K. Subban factored in on both of those goals; he is progressively becoming the new "Bruins Killer" during the postseason (no offense to his teammate, Thomas Vanek). 

The Canadiens carried a 3-1 lead into the third period of this fairly-quiet game (by B's/Habs standards). Sure, there was physical play, but not too many whistles. Boston made a resilient effort to mount a comeback, but fell short this time around. Montreal took this game by a score of 4-2. Hopefully, the Bruins will not make a habit of playing from behind-this is not good for the blood pressure! 

Game four took place on Thursday night with Montreal leading the series. Matt Fraser was recalled from Providence and joined the Bruins up in Canada prior to puck drop. Also, Matt Bartkowski made his return to the lineup. Let's see if this shakeup paid off. 

After a scoreless 60 minutes, overtime was the stage for one of these teams to capitalize. The Canadiens dictated the pace in the third period after getting outworked and outplayed by the Bruins during the first two periods. With some luck and some assistance from the post, Price saved the Habs on several times in this game. 

Early in overtime, the B's ended the game when Fraser jammed at the puck in front of the net and slid it over the crease. This was his first-career playoff game, and what a way for it to conclude. He was on the third line with Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson, which was the best line going for the Bruins. Rask played great, stopping all 33 shots he faced. 

We have a tied series on our hands yet again. The teams will head back to Boston for game five on Saturday night. 

Gold Star: Patrice Bergeron...He had a five-game point streak heading into game four, and his usual consistent effort is enough to get his team going. 

Black Star: Matt Bartkowski...He was a scratch for game three and when he did play on Thursday, there was obvious rust. He is struggling right now.

Game three box score.....

Game four box score.....

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