Last night the Boston Bruins defied all odds. After being written off by the fan base at large and being down 4-1 with 10 minutes left in the third period of Game 7, it was surely the end. All it took was a simple net crash play to open it up and the Boston Bruins would pull off the biggest and most important come back in their history. Never before had a team dropped a 3-1 lead in the third period of a Game 7, the Maple Leafs did. Now normally you could just pat the winning team on the back and say good job, you made history. But for the Boston Bruins, it’s bitter sweet retribution for the 2009-10 season collapse at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers, who forced a Game 7 after being down 0-3 and staged an improbable come back over the Bruins who were leading 3-0 in Game 7 to win the game and the series 4-3. Despite sweeping the Flyers in 2011, this shows that the Boston Bruins are not gonna back down from anything. Not a goal deficit, not an injury, nothing. The Bruins came together through the help of Milan Lucic, Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara to win Game 7.
Now, the part is over. Game 7 has come and gone and the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals are about to begin. Thursday night (5/16/13) marks the first time in 40 years that the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers have faced one another in a playoff series. That playoff series the Boston Bruins won in 6 games to capture their second Stanley Cup in 3 years and their 5th in franchise history. It’s been 40 years since, the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers have both won Stanley Cups since (2011 and 1994 respectively) and both are hungry for more. The New York Rangers dispatched the out played and all around demoralized Washington Capitals 5-0 in Game 7 on Monday night, and the Bruins are riding the best kind of emotional tidal wave they could have. The Rangers might have grinded down the Capitals in the last match up, but now they go up against a Bruins team that is no longer afraid to throw themselves around and has finally come together.
If it wasn’t for Milan Lucic stepping up in the final 10 minutes of Game 7, the Boston Bruins would have lost 4-1. Lucic is definitely going to be repeating his game winning formula in Game 1 of this new series. People can hype up the goal tending match up (which is greatly important), but no one can forget how important Lucic will be. There have been plenty of other players who have been waiting to break out since Game 1 of the Leafs series started, those include Brad Marchand, Tyler Seguin, and Jaromir Jagr. Jagr has had a history with the New York Rangers, he played with the team from 2005 – 2008 and served as team captain from 2006 – 2008. He played with the Rangers during Henrik Lundqvist‘s first seasons in a Rangers uniform and he should be a determining factor in how this series is won. Speaking of Lundqvist (and as previously mentioned), the goal tending match up this time around is even more of a Wall vs Wall then Rask vs Reimer. During the 2012-13 Regular Season, Lundqvist became a major thorn in the side of the Boston Bruins offense starting with the “questionable” save on David Krejci in Game 1 of this season. Despite taking the game, the Bruins haven’t been able to crack Lundqvist’s armor since. In this playoffs, “King Hernik” is 4-1-2 with a 1.65 GAA and a .947 SV%; on the flip Tuukka Rask is 4-3-0 with a 2.49 GAA and a .923 SV%. It must be said that Rask’s GAA shouldn’t all be put on him, he’s been the best he can be during the last 7 games but with inconsistent and sloppy defense in front of him, it’s been hard on the guy to keep the rebounds out and away. This is a big thing the Bruins need to improve on and with 3 defense men out with various injuries, they need to get the jump on it as soon as possible.
Another big match up for the Bruins is their top scorers in David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton vs the Rangers leading scorers in Derick Brassard, Mats Zuccarello, and Carl Hagelin. Krejci is (5-8=13), Lucic is (2-7=9) and Nathan Horton is (4-3=7) and are going up against Brassard (2-7=9) , Zuccarello (1-4=5), and Hagelin (2-2=4). The Bruins need to keep up their physicality especially around Henrik Lundqvist and if the Bruins defense can shut down these three and keep a good read on the rest of the Rangers team, the match up should be all Bruins after that.
Game 1 at TD Garden against the Rangers is set for Thursday at 7:30. They’ve proven they can make a come back, and they’ve proven they are the Bruins who should be feared. Go all the way, or go home.