VANCOUVER – Hope you’re ready to hear about resiliency for two days.
When Alexandre Burrows [insert dental-themed verb]-ed the Bruins with a three-point performance that included the game winner 11 seconds into overtime Saturday, he gave Vancouver a commanding 2-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup finals. (Recap.)
Now, until the Bruins take the ice for Game 3 back at TD Garden on Monday, people will compare -- as they've already begun to -- the B’s situation to that of the first round against Montreal. The Bruins have been down 0-2 before, and they’ve overcome it.
That’s a fine line of thinking, but if the Bruins think such a comeback against the Canucks will be as manageable as it was against the Canadiens, they’re sadly mistaken. The B’s are facing a far more talented team, and despite returning home for Games 3 and 4, it’s a far steeper uphill climb.
Here are four other things we learned from a heartbreaking overtime loss.
BRUINS WILL TAKE THE HISTORIC WITH THE BAD WITH THOMAS
From the Bruins’ perspective, the Canucks’ game-winning goal was an absolute cluster-bleep.
After Patrice Bergeron won the faceoff, Andrew Ference tried to send it into the Canucks’ zone, only to see it intercepted by Alexander Edler, who gave it to Daniel Sedin, who then sent it to Burrows. Tim Thomas came way out of his net to cut down the angle, and when Burrows had no play, he went around the net to score the game-winner on a wraparound, practically uncontested by Zdeno Chara. Watching the replay, it was a play on which Brad Marchand gave up as well.
“I don't know exactly what happened,” Thomas said after the game. “I saw Burrows all alone winding up for a slap shot from a good scoring area. I was aggressive. He faked the shot, but I was able to stay with him so that he couldn't get the original shot off, but then he was able to go around the net and tuck it in the net.”
The aggressive play was characteristic of Thomas, and given the other things characteristic of Thomas, the Bruins will have to take the good with the frustrating. The Vezina favorite was big for the Bruins throughout the night, saving Tomas Kaberle’s butt on the blueliner’s latest soft turnover and making other top-notch saves. Blaming the goalie is a weak excuse, and as bad as the game-winner looked, coach Claude Julien noted that he isn’t ready to start worrying about how far out of the net Thomas comes.
Said Julien: “I think at the stage we're at right now, where if I ask him to change his style, I'm not sure that's real good advice.”
THE BRUINS HAVE LOST TWO WINNABLE GAMES
Yes, the Bruins have lost two winnable games, but not games in which they played well enough to win. Circumstances gave the Bruins low-scoring, close games with which to work in Vancouver, and they couldn’t capitalize on either one. They followed the script for a good road first period Saturday and still found themselves down, 1-0, after one.
When the team scores two second-period goals after doing zip offensively in the first four periods of the series, it’s easy to get carried away, but for the most part, the Bruins were once again a cut or two below what they had shown at points in the Tampa series.
Since the Bruins played their most brilliant game of the season in Game 7 vs. the Bolts, it’s gone down the toilet in certain areas. They've had weak clears, suspect defense from guys who had set the bar higher and sustained barely anything offensively.
Now, in what is undoubtedly a must-win situation in Game 3, the Bruins can’t have any of the issues they dealt with in Games 1 and 2.
“We're a better team than we've shown,” Julien said. “We got to go back home and start showing that and get ourselves back in this series.”
NOT CLOSING IT OUT IN REGULATION FINALLY CAUGHT UP TO BRUINS
Though it’s been a while since the B's suffered an overtime loss, the Bruins would not be in the Stanley Cup finals were it not for some overtime heroics. Michael Ryder and Nathan Horton (twice) supplied the B’s with three overtime wins against the Canadiens, while David Krejci sealed Game 2 of the conference semifinals against the best showing the B’s would see from the Flyers.
On Saturday, they learned that not closing out a game in 60 minutes can be a bad thing. The Bruins held a 2-1 lead with a man advantage to start the third period, but still let the Canucks absolutely take over in the third period.
“I think they were able to take the momentum back for the most part,” Thomas said, “but having said that… being tied going into overtime has been a relatively – well, not relatively – it’s been a good place for us this year.”
This time, it wasn’t like when they blew a lead in the third period against Montreal when P.K Subban tied it late in Game 7. There was no happy ending. When Burrows scored on his wraparound to bring the Canucks halfway to the Stanley Cup, he handed the Bruins their first overtime loss this postseason.
“That was not he way I envisioned it going,” Thomas said. “We’ve won a lot of overtime games these Stanley Cup playoffs, and I thought it was going to be the same way tonight.”
The Bruins learned through the first three rounds that overtime in the Stanley Cup playoffs is plenty dramatic, but on Saturday they finally learned what the losing end of that drama tastes like.
BRUINS AREN’T MARRIED TO ONE SPOT FOR CHARA ON THE POWER PLAY
The B’s started with Chara in front of the net on their early second-period power play on Saturday. The unit didn’t yield any results, and when the Bruins went back on the power play later in the period, Chara was moved back to the point, which is where he played until Julien placed him in front late in the Tampa series.
Julien’s choice to send Chara back to the blueline on the man advantage paid off, as a wrist shot from the captain skipped off the ice before Mark Recchi redirected it past Luongo to make it a 2-1 contest.
After the game, Julien said people can expect Chara to play both up high and at the point in the power play from time to time.
“It's a lot of different things. I think Zdeno has a lot of ice time. When you play a lot, certainly don't want him in front all the time,” Julien said. “It's a very taxing position to be in. We thought that Lucic was bringing a pretty good physical presence tonight. He was capable of doing the job there for him.
“You’re going to see him there at times, but it doesn't mean you're going to see him there all the time. Lucic did a great job and got ourselves a goal out of it.”