The Stanley Cup Playoffs are almost here, and I can’t wait.
There is nothing like the NHL playoffs and the Bruins are one of the favorites for the Stanley Cup. Finally getting healthy, the Bruins are rolling heading into the playoffs. On a nine game point streak, guys like Chara, Backes, Bergeron, and DeBrusk have all returned and McAvoy and Rick Nash are expected back before the playoffs start.
It’s a great time to be a hockey fan as the playoffs begin and I can’t wait. This year feels different. They made the playoffs last year but weren’t cup contenders. But now, this team could be set up for many years to come, like they were supposed to be back in 2011. As the regular season comes to a close, the Bruins could be the Stanley Cup Champions and, I for one can’t wait to get started.
Game 1: Winnipeg Jets
The Jets got the early jump, as early in the first, Brandon Tanev jammed the puck into Anton Khudobin and somehow it was called a goal. But, in my view, there was no conclusive review that the puck fully crossed the goal line, however, the call stood and the Bruins were down 1-0 early in the game. The B’s would tie the game late in the 1st on Ryan Donato‘s sweet backhanded finish. Donato’s goal was set up by David Krejci who pressured the defender on an airborne puck, which leads to a steal by the impressive rookie from Harvard.
Right off the opening faceoff in the second, a turnover by Brad Marchand at the Bruins offensive blue line resulted in a Jets counterattack and Brandon Tanev’s second goal of the game slipped through Khudobin, restoring the Jets one goal lead. The Jets struck again as after a waved off icing call against Winnipeg, the Jets controlled the puck and a blast from former Bruin Joe Morrow, giving the Jets a 3-1 lead over the Bruins. At the end of the second period, Josh Morrissey rammed Matt Grzelcyk into the boards, and when the final period began, Boston had a crucial five-minute powerplay.
The Bruins scored two powerplay goals to tie the game at three, with goals from Danton Heinen and David Pastrnak. After the Pastrnak goal, the Jets regained their lead while shorthanded. An exchange between Anton Khudobin and Nick Holden went awry and Brandon Tanev stole the puck and beat Khudobin on a wraparound attempt, that Khudibin absolutely has to stop. That shorthanded goal was Brandon Tanev’s 3rd of the game and the hats rained down at the Bell MTS Place. The Bruins returned to the man advantage and Torey Krug‘s blast once again tied the game, this time at 4-4.
Both teams couldn’t find a winner in regulation, so we went to overtime. With under 10 seconds left in OT, Brad Marchand had a breakaway but was unable to finish off the game and we now had a shootout. The Jets would take the extra point in the shootout with Patrik Laine scoring the winner in the skills competition and won the game for Winnipeg 5-4.
Game 2: Tampa Bay Lightning
Returning home, the Bruins took on the Lightning in a game for supremacy in the Eastern Conference. The B’s lit up the scoreboard first in the opening period. With under a minute remaining, the home squad struck twice. First, it was Timmy Schaller collecting a loose puck in the crease to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead. After Schaller’s tally, on the powerplay, David Pastrnak’s shot was deflected by bolts defenseman Ryan McDonagh past Vasilevskiy, doubling Boston’s lead after 20 minutes.
Early in the second, the Lightning cut the lead in half on the powerplay. J.T. Miller tipped home a Nikita Kucherov slap pass past Tuukka Rask, getting the visitors on the board. Then after Cory Conacher crashed hard into Rask, a huge brawl ensued, and Rask got involved and starting punching Conacher, glove and blocker shots to his face. No doubt, my favorite moment of the season.
In the third, the fighting continued. David Pastrnak fought Dan Girardi, and Backes and Cedric Paquette got into a scuffle and we played four on four. A beautiful save by Rask on Kucherov sprung an attack by the B’s and after some pretty passing, Patrice Bergeron scored, regaining a two-goal advantage. Tampa Bay cut the lead again, as Victor Hedman‘s shot squeaked through Tuukka Rask with six minutes remaining in the game. Brad Marchand capped off the game with the empty netter, and on his goal Pasta picked up an assist, securing his first Gordie Howe Hat Trick of his NHL career. The Bruins win 4-2 and are now the number 1 seed in the East.
Game 3: Florida Panthers
The visiting Panthers jumped out in front, as Jamie McGinn stuffed the puck past Rask from inside the crease and gave Florida a 1-0 lead. The Bruins would respond in quick succession. First, an insane no-look spinning pass by David Krejci found the darting Nick Holden at the back post, who deflected the puck past James Reimer to tie the game at 1. Three minutes later, Ryan Donato stole the puck from behind the Florida net, and his pass found Jake DeBrusk who scored in his first game back from injury to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead after the opening 20.
An early turnover by Florida in their defensive zone lead to Ryan Donato’s 4th goal of his career and gave the Bruins a two-goal advantage. Later in the second frame, while on the powerplay, Patrice Bergeron jammed the puck past Reimer, to give the Bruins a commanding 4-1 lead. Boston was done yet, after Kevan Miller‘s initial shot was saved, Jake DeBrusk tucked home his second goal of the game, and the Bruins were in complete control 5-1.
A terrifying moment happened midway through the third period as Brandon Carlo went to kick the puck along the boards but missed and his left leg/ankle bent in a way it shouldn’t and was stretchered off the ice. The Bruins kept the Panthers off of the board for the rest of the game and would claim the victory 5-1.
Game 4: Philadelphia Flyers
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For the final game of the week, the B’s traveled down to Philly for an Easter Sunday matinee. The Bruins had the first chance of the game, but Petr Mrazek robbed David Pastrnak with a glove save on a Bruins powerplay. Right after the Mrazek save on Pastrnak, the Flyers won the faceoff and went right down the ice, where Philly captain Claude Giroux blasted one past Anton Khudobin to give the hosts a 1-0 lead after one period.
Just 25 seconds into the middle stanza, a great individual effort by Travis Konecny doubled the Philly lead as Konecny danced through the Boston defense and slipped the puck through Khudobin’s five-hole. The Bruins cut the Flyers lead in half late in the frame as Noel Acciari beat Mrazek from the left circle.
Both teams traded goals to kick off the third period. First, Nolan Patrick beat Khudobin on a mini-breakaway to give the Flyers their two-goal lead back. Just over a minute later, David Pastrnak’s shot snuck under Mrazek to once again cut the lead to one. Pasta’s goal was his 33rd of the season and came on the powerplay. It appeared that the Bruins were going to fall in regulation, but after a few failed clears by Philly, Patrice Bergeron scored his 30th goal of the season tying the game at 3 with 3.8 seconds left.
Late in overtime, the Bruins turned the puck over in their offensive zone, and Giroux was in alone on Khudobin. Giroux’s filthy move beat Khudobin and secured the extra point for Philly in a 4-3 OT win for the Flyers.
The Road Ahead:
Tuesday at Tampa Bay
Thursday at Florida
Saturday vs Ottawa
Sunday vs Florida
In the final week of the regular season, the Bruins are in control of where they finish in the East. If the B’s beat Tampa Bay on Tuesday and get one point out of their final three games, they are the number one seed. And that is what will happen. The Bruins will be the number one seed in the East and play the New Jersey Devils in Round one of the playoffs.