Sorry I haven’t posted in a few days guys, but I just worked a 14-hour day followed by two 12-hour days, so I literally have had no time. Now with that said, wow! What a series we are going to have here.
Some teams win with flare and offensive fluidity. The Bruins are not one of those teams; they simply aren’t capable of doing so. For them, physicality is a necessity and they showed Monday night that they are finally realizing this. A heavy dose of grit and toughness has translated into back-to-back wins and a 2-1 advantage for the B’s.
Three moments stand out from Monday night’s 2-1 win. All of which involved highly-physical plays. First, there was
Johnny Boychuk’s hit on Matt Ellis in the second period. It was one of the better (perfectly clean) open-ice hits you will see. Simply textbook. This not only elevated the game’s intensity, but it really put momentum in the Bruins corner, even if they didn’t score until more than a period later. Boychuk has been an absolute stud in this series, which is why we are seeing more and more of him. He recorded 26:22 of ice time on Monday night, a major increase over his 17:39 regular season average. The reason for the increase is that he knows how to make an impact. It might not be something that will jump out at you in the box score, but he’s going to make his presence felt. Listed at 6-foot-2, 225 pounds, he uses his size to his advantage. What makes this a more welcoming sign for Bruins fans is the history of other big defensemen who struggled to do so for the Black & Gold in years past (see Hal Gill and Andrew Alberts). Boychuk’s biggest impact though: taking out Buffalo’s Thomas Vanek in Game 2.
The second moment was Vladimir Sobotka dropping the mitts with Buffalo defenseman Andrej Sekera. Though much smaller than Boychuk, Sobotka has played equally as physical. The guy was throwing his body around last night like a human wrecking ball, which culminated with the fight late in the third period. Sobotka’s another classic example of a guy whose stats might not jump out at you in the box score night after night, but you can bet he’s going to make an impact on the game in one way or another.
Finally, 42-year-old Mark Recchi’s hit in the corner on 23-year-old Tim Kennedy was movie-esque; the old guy taking down the young stud. Recchi outmuscled Kennedy, which allowed him to gather the puck and deliver a strike right on the tape to Bergeron, who slapped it past Miller to give the Bruins the 2-1 advantage. The play could have easily been called interference. In that situation though, I like that the officials let them play on a pivotal loose puck in the corner.
Other things to like about Monday night from a Bruins standpoint include the play of Tuukka Rask (stopped 32 of 33 shots) and Dennis Wideman (a goal and an assist). Perhaps most importantly, though, is the continued success of the Bruins’ penalty kill. If the B’s are going to continue their power play struggles, it becomes that more important that they prevent the opposition from scoring on its power play chances.
The Bruins will again play host on Wednesday night, where they will try to uncharacteristically win back-to-back home games. I mentioned the lack of home ice advantage for the Bruins in a previous post, but the Garden was certainly rockin’ last night. Hopefully, the B’s can come out with the same intensity, feed off the electricity in the building and take complete control of the series. If Buffalo can steal one on Wednesday, they will be back in good shape, as the series will essentially be a three-game series with home ice advantage back in Buffalo’s corner.
Topics: Andrej Sekera, Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Dennis Wideman, Johnny Boychuk, Mark Recchi, Matt Ellis, Patrice Bergeron, Penalty Kill, Power Play, Ryan Miller, Tim Kennedy, Tuukka Rask, Vladimir Sobotka