Sunday, March 29, 2015

Games 75-76: This Is More Like It

Thank goodness for the New York Rangers. If it were not for them, the Boston Bruins would still be out of the playoff picture.

Due to a very debatable non-call on Thursday night, the B's blew a late third period lead and eventually fell to the Anaheim Ducks. Meanwhile, the Rangers blew out the Ottawa Senators a couple of hundred miles across the country on that same night. Therefore, the B's and Sens were tied for eighth place in the Eastern Conference heading into the weekend.  

That would be the only time that Boston fans would be cheering for the Rangers down the stretch because the Bruins faced that very team on Saturday afternoon to begin a back-to-back set. 

New York is chasing the very overrated Presents' Trophy for best team in the NHL. Remember that feeling, B's fans? Our team won the thing last year....and look where that got them. Either way, both sides had something to play for on this day. The importance of each end goal lies with the fans of the respective teams. This vital third meeting of the year would determine the season series. 

The lineup remained the same for Boston, but New York got goaltender Henrik Lundqvist back from if things did not get any more challenging. 

The Bruins, however, did not let that stop them. They jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, two of those goals came from Milan Lucic. They were also battling hard in every zone and along the boards. It seems that when they do get out to an early lead, they play with a chip on their shoulder. Man, if they only possessed that mentality at all times. The Rangers were looking for answers very often because Tuukka Rask kept them stymied.

The Rangers got on the board in the second period, but it was on Niklas Svedberg in relief. Rask left 10 seconds into the period for possible dehydration, leaving everyone at the TD Garden scratching their heads. With that said, Boston still was one relentless team. The B's out-shot the Rangers 13-7 in the period and totaled 24 hits through 40 minutes on the opposition. Heck, even Reilly Smith netted a goal. Everything was clicking for this team on Saturday afternoon. New York did get a late goal in the third period, but the B's knew they needed this one and did not lose sight of the two points. The final score was 4-2 in favor of Boston. 

The Bruins ended the weekend by traveling to Raleigh to take on the Carolina Hurricanes.

With the lineup remaining the same as the previous game (Rask back between the pipes included), the Black and Gold picked up right where they left off. Ryan Spooner opened the scoring by blasting a shot home off a nifty pass from David Pastrnak. As the game went along, the Hurricanes forced the Bruins to chase the puck a lot more than they would have liked. It got to a point where the B's were so sloppy that Rask had to save their skin and make some big stops on key scoring chances by the Hurricanes. However, he was not invincible. Nathan Gerbe put Carolina on the board with 20 seconds left in the second period.  

In the third period, the Canes again put lots of pressure on the Boston blue liners. Rask ended up making 28 saves in regulation to keep his team in the race for two points. The game ended up going into overtime, a spot where Pastrnak slapped the game winner into the net with seconds left in overtime. The youth movement continues in Boston as the B's won this game by a final score of 2-1.

Out of 16 back-to-backs this season, the Bruins (so far) have five wins in the second game of back-to-backs. With the two points, they now lead the Senators by three points for eighth place in the Eastern Conference. 

The Bruins will play their next game on Tuesday night at home against the Florida Panthers. 

Gold Star (combined): Milan Lucic...He was the offensive production leader in the first game and the tone setter for the second game. That line is clicking right now and he is one of the main reasons why that is the case.

Black Star (combined): David Krejci...The experiment with him playing at wing has not really worked. He should move back to his natural position sooner than later.

Game Seventy-Five Box Score

Game Seventy-Six Box Score

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