The Sabres were recently disqualified from the playoffs while the Bruins had locked up the Northeast Division and the second seed. Who they would be playing would be determined by afternoon games featuring the Ottawa Senators and the Washington Capitals. There will be more on that to come.
The first period got off to a slow and muddy start with not a whole of physicality or offensive chances. That was until Shawn Thornton delivered a thunderous one punch knock down to Robyn Regehr after he took exception to a semi-late cross check. That seemed to get the juices flowing a little bit. Though the first period would end scoreless, the hitting picked up and each team rattled off 12 shots by the time the horn sounded.
I think Patrice The Great wanted to put an exclamation point on this season’s bid for his first Selke Award, and if today did not do that I do not know what will. He came into today an NHL best plus-34 and his 3 assists only helped. His first came off a beautiful neutral zone steal in which he gathered the puck, opened up to make a beautiful triangle with a crashing Seguin and a drifting Marchand. He slid a pass across the ice to Seguin who netted his 28th on the year. Brad Boyes would tie it up on his first of two on the night and the teams went into the 3rd all knotted up.
The Sabres came out strong in the 3rd period. Boyes got the scoring started 7:02 in and just 1:44 later, Jason Pominville would put the Sabres up 2. Only one minute later, Tyler Seguin put in his 29th and brought the boys to within a goal. Then, Patrice once again made a great defensive play, poking the puck away to Brad Marchand who made a nifty play to tie the game up. Bergeron had the primary assist on each of Boston’s 3 goals.
Thomas and Enroth would both get through the first two rounds unscathed. Then, Patrice picked up the puck at center ice, gathered speed through the zone, did a little deke and slid the puck five hole on a completely fooled Enroth. Thomas would stone Pominville and the Bruins ended the season on a high note and with 102 points. Though it was not always beautiful or easy, the Bruins gave us another great regular season to follow and another division title to celebrate.
As we look forward to a great post season, there are some pretty remarkable stats to highlight. The Bruins were the only team to be perfect when up by two goals at any time and were also the only team to be perfect when leading going into the 3rd period. The Bruins had the top 5 plus- players in the NHL and 6 out of the top 10. That is in the ENTIRE NHL! Also, on a team that did not include a top 30 goal scorer and only one in the top 30 of total points (Tyler Seguin at 29th), they were tied for 2nd overall in goals scored. This team had an NHL best six 20 goals scorers, thats not including Nathan Horton who had 17 and has not played since mid-January. Talk about balanced scoring and depth, this team exemplifies a TEAM game.
With an Ottawa loss and a Capitals win, we now have the first round playoff matchup set. The Bruins will have home ice and look to forget about the 1-3 record they posted against Washington this season. The Capitals offense is certainly scary with Ovechkin and Semin’s ability to go off on a goal scoring burst at any time. Their defense has certainly improved and become more structured with old pal Dennis Wideman on the blue line. Their big question mark will be their current goaltending issue. Thomas Vokoun re-injured himself in a game earlier this week and the Caps have been left to play with Michal Neuvirth and Braden Holtby. Oh yea, and Marco Sturm did us a bit of a favor by falling on Neuvirth’s leg and he is scheduled for an MRI to see what the damage is. Holtby did muster up a good showing on Saturday when he beat the Rangers. I think that is a huge issue for them even if Neuvirth comes back. Will he be 100%? Will the Caps have to role with two rookies? That coupled with the fact the Bruins are way deeper and much more physical could pose a big problem. While I do not mind this first round matchup on paper, I was much more comfortable with Ottawa and in the playoffs we know much better than to sleep on anyone. Especially if that teams has Mr. Ovechkin on it.
The NHL will deliver the first round schedule on Sunday at 1:00pm. The Bruins are rumored to open up Thursday night. Check back here for all your black and gold information. Here’s to a repeat, once again, WE WANT THE CUP!!!