With the news that Boston Bruins defensemen Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ference and Wade Redden are set to miss their 3rd straight game of the B’s 2nd round series versus the New York Rangers, it appears as though the Bruins roster will look exactly like it did in games one and two.
The trio of injured d-men for the Bruins make a tough task even tougher for the B’s and the way this team has rallied is incredible. With the emergence of three rookie blue-liners in Dougie Hamilton, Matt Bartkowski and Torey Krug, the B’s have hopped out to a 2-0 series lead and shown the type of organizational depth it takes to be a Stanley Cup contender every year. Certainly goaltender Tuukka Rask and captain Zdeno Chara have also picked up a good amount of the slack along with Johnny Boychuk and the 12 forwards, but the contributions these kids are making on defense are doing more than just raising an eyebrow or two.
Krug has been a revelation and now has goals in back-to-back games, his first two career playoff games for that matter and has shown the kind of puck handling and skating skills that the B’s have long since coveted for their blue-line corps. Bartkowski scored in the Bruins thrilling comeback game 7 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs and has just been solid in all three zones. Hamilton has thrown his weight around and hasn’t been as solid as the other two, but he’s 19-years old and has held his own.
Tonight however will be one of their toughest challenges yet, for tonight they head into New York City to play in one of the oldest and greatest sport arenas in North America, Madison Square Garden. It will no doubt be a hostile environment, nothing like the support and cheers the kids received the last two games while playing in front of the hometown crowd.
The crowd will be even louder than normal tonight in NYC as their Rangers are down 0-2 and cannot afford to go down 0-3 to the Bruins. The crowd will be doing all it can to help their boys in Blue and if the B’s want any chance of coming out with a “W” tonight they’ll need their rookie d-men once again to act like grizzled veterans instead of the fresh faced kids they are.
So far they haven’t showed us they can’t handle the pressure of the NHL playoffs, so far they’ve excelled in it and will once again be asked to answer the call. They haven’t disappointed yet, they also haven’t played under the bright-lights of Madison Square Garden and in front of a crowd like only New York can produce (I mean that in the kindest way possible).
Hopefully they just heed the advice that Bruins head coach Claude Julien afforded Krug after his emergency call-up last week, “Don’t be afraid”.