VANCOUVER – Everyone has loved the Bruins’ resiliency this postseason. Now the city of Boston is just hoping it gets to see it again.
Wednesdays’ Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals was close to the end, but Raffi Torres’ game-winner with 18.5 seconds on the clock and Tim Thomas out of the net expecting a Jannik Hansen shot did all of the necessary damage.
For a while, it looked like Game 1, much like Game 7 of the conference finals, was set to go into overtime with the teams scoreless. But it all came crashing down in the final seconds, with the Rogers Arena crowd going from the edge of their seats to frenzy mode based on one play.
Now, for the third time in four rounds, the Bruins will enter Game 2 looking to even the series. If they can do so Saturday, they can return home knowing that in each round thus far, their first win has been directly followed by another, and, eventually, a series win. With all of that a ways away, here are five things we learned from a Game 1 loss:
IMPOSSIBLE: THE BRUINS LOST THE GAME 5-ON-5
For the days leading up to the series, “5-on-5” was said just as much as “1-3-1” was in the Tampa series. If it came down to special teams, the Canucks would win, but the Bruins were the better 5-on-5 team.
The first two periods of Game 1 were dominated by penalties and special teams. Rarely did five minutes go by without a call on one of the teams, but the Bruins didn’t let the fact that they weren’t as well equipped for such scenarios as the Canucks get to them. Going 0-for-6 on the power play is nothing new for the Bruins, but stopping the Canucks on each man advantage – including time on a 5-on-3 -- was huge.
Yet when the whistles were put away in the third period, the Bruins couldn’t shine where many assumed they would. It was 5-on-5 hockey for the entire final 20 minutes of the game, and the Canucks both outshot (14-10) and outscored the Bruins.
That last number, of course, is the most important one, but Wednesday drove home a point many weren’t willing to consider prior to the series. The Bruins may have the 5-on-5 numbers on their side, but they are incapable of losing a game at even strength. One goof by Johnny Boychuk was enough to do that. Speaking of which…
WHEN THE OTHER TEAM SCORES, JOHNNY BOYCHUK IS ON THE SCENE
Here’s one to chew on. The Bruins have allowed seven goals since Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals and Johnny Boychuk has been on the ice for each and every one of them. The most recent was Torres’ game-winner on Wednesday, and Boychuk obviously had plenty to do with it.
With the two teams in that always-awkward final 30- seconds before overtime, Boychuk lined up a puck to ice it around the Bruins’ blue line, but Ryan Kesler took advantage of the big windup and tapped the puck past the Bruins’ defenseman to and sent it to Hansen, who gave it to Torres for the easy goal.
“It was a long pass up, and I tried to stop the pass,” Boychuk said after the game. “I didn't know where the puck went after that, but he got it and passed it over. … I was just trying to get back, and I couldn't.”
Since the start of the last round, Boychuk has an even rating. He had strong showings earlier in the postseason, but there’s no denying he’s had his ups and downs the last couple rounds. Unfortunately for him in the Bruins, when he isn’t on, it shows up on the scoreboard more times than not.
IF THIS IS HOW THE GOALTENDING WILL BE, THIS WILL BE A HECK OF A SERIES TO WATCH
Some like slugfests, while others prefer pitchers’ duels. When it comes to hockey and the Stanley Cup finals, there may be nothing more entertaining than lots of shots and just as many saves.
That is just what was on display Wednesday at Rogers Arena. Going back to Game 7 of the conference finals Tim Thomas has been coocoo for two games straight (one goal allowed on 58 shots). Yet going against a guy who was as sharp as Roberto Luongo, one goal allowed was enough to make the difference on a night in which goaltenders shined.
“That's hockey,” Thomas offered after the loss. “That's any sport. At the end of regulation, they had more goals than us, so the game was over. “
Luongo, on the other hand, now has three shutouts this postseason, and all three of them have come in the first game of a series. If both guys can play the way they did Wednesday, this could turn out to be a fascinating series highlighted by two Vezina finalists proving the hype of the goaltending matchup right.
Vancouver’s first-line winger may not be playing the next game, but he’ll be in town all week doing comedy. He had no choice but to do it, but denying that he bit Patrice Bergeron when the video and Bergeron’s cut finger clearly shows it was laughable.
“He had his finger in my mouth but I don’t think I bit him,” Burrows said. “You saw it, he put his hand up and he put his hand in my face and his finger got in my mouth, so that’s what happened.”
Everybody with eyes and access to YouTube knows that Burrows bit Bergeron’s finger, just like everyone knows that Andrew Ference flipped off the crowd after scoring in the second period of Game 4 in Montreal. While both acts were despicable and undeniable, denial is the only route the players can take. If they admit to the obvious, they are opening the door even wider for suspension. Burrows is, like Ference was, stuck between a rock and a hard place. If he shows resentment for his poor decision by owning up, he’s hurting his team.
So should there be suspension for Burrows? As many probably recall, Jarkko Ruutuu was suspended for two games after biting Andrew Peters back in 2009, so the record of the league coming down on that kind of stuff is there. But that was in January, and this is in June. The league might give Burrows a game for the action, but don’t expect an example to be set.
SEDIN TWINS, MEET THE BRUINS’ TOP PAIR
To nobody’s surprise, the job of Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg in the first game of the series was to be on the ice when the Sedin twins were. For the most part, it worked.
Daniel fired off a game-high eight shots on goal, while Henrik failed to get a puck on Thomas. Chara finished the night with a game-high 28:09 of ice time, while Seidenberg played 27:13. They played 17:20 and 17:09, respectively, when the teams were at even strength. Claude Julien’s intention was obvious, and it didn’t hurt him.
The key to this series for the Bruins, aside from getting performances from Thomas like the ones they’ve gotten the last two games, is to neutralize the Sedins. They may be a handful for Chara and Seidenberg, but the Bruins are fully capable of winning this series as long as they keep the twins quiet.
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