Tag Archives: Stanley Cup Playoffs

If the Playoffs started tonight, how would the Bruins fare?

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are less than three weeks away, but what if they were to start tonight? The first round would be Boston vs. Detroit, Montreal vs. Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh vs. Columbus, and NY Rangers vs. Philadelphia. So how would the Bruins fare if they started a 7-game series with the Red Wings tonight? Would they be hoisting the Stanley Cup in two months after missing it by just 17 seconds last season? Would they even make it past the first round? Will the first round go to overtime of Game 7? Probably. That just seems to be the Bruins way.

The Bruins have been known to struggle through Round 1 of the Playoffs, especially against the Maple Leafs. The Leafs forced a Game 7 in last year’s first round first round series after the Bruins went up 3-1 in the series. The Bruins went down 4-1 with ten minutes left in the third period, but ended up winning the game and the series in overtime in a game that has been dubbed the “Miracle on Causeway Street.”

Right now, the Bruins are set to face the Red Wings to whom they have lost two of three games so far this season. The Red Wings haven’t had the best season so far though and are just barely sneaking into the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. If the Toronto Maple Leafs can break their six-game losing streak, Detroit will have a difficult time holding off the Leafs for that remaining Wild Card spot. The Bruins travel to Detroit for the last time this season on April 2nd followed by a trip to Toronto the very next day. One of these games will likely be a preview of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Bruins have won two of their three matchups with the Leafs this season, including a 5-2 win on December 8th. This victory came with Chad Johnson in net, Shawn Thornton out on a 15-game suspension for an illegal hit on Brooks Orpik, and Loui Eriksson, Chris Kelly, Adam McQuaid, Johnny Boychuk and Dougie Hamilton all out with injuries. This was just the beginning of a long couple of injury-filled months for the Bruins, but the B’s managed to pull out necessary wins even with a lineup cycling through Providence call-ups and a very young defensive core. Staying out of the penalty box has been the key to beating Toronto during the regular season. The B’s had two power-play goals in each of their two victories and the Leafs had a pair of their own in the Bruins 4-3 loss. The Bruins need to find a way to beat Toronto in the Playoffs though.

It isn’t only the Maple Leafs who have given the Bruins some first round challenges though. The first round has been decided by an overtime goal in Game 7 three years in a row. The seventh-seeded Washington Capitals knocked the second-seeded Bruins out of the Playoffs in overtime of Game 7 in 2012. In 2011 before winning the Stanley Cup, the third-seeded Bruins were almost sent home early by the Montreal Canadiens before Nathan Horton scored the game- and series-winning goal in overtime of Game 7. The first round never comes easy for the Black and Gold.

This year, the second round may prove to be just as challenging for the Bruins. Boston fans will be ferociously rooting for the Lightning or whoever finds themselves face-to-face with the Canadiens in the first round. If the Playoffs started tonight, it would be Montreal vs. Tampa Bay. The Lightning are 2-1 against the Canadiens so far this season and have won five of their last seven games. That being said, the Canadiens have had the better season and thrive in do-or-die situations. The Lightning, on the other hand, haven’t made the Playoffs since the Bruins knocked them out in seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals on their way to the 2010-2011 Stanley Cup. This was the same series that saw Tyler Seguin’s breakout performance where he tallied three goals and three assists in his first two postseason games in the NHL. Vezina Tropy winner Tim Thomas was in goal for the Bruins and carried them to a 1-0 win in Game 7. A lot has changed since then, but the Bruins won all four games against the Lightning this regular season.

Boston’s biggest threat in the second round would be a meeting with their fierce rivals from Montreal. The Bruins have notoriously struggled against the Canadiens, in the Playoffs and otherwise. The Habs took the regular season series with the Bruins 3-1. The Canadiens embarrassed the Bruins and Tuukka Rask with a 4-1 victory at TD Garden in January. The Bruins were coming off a four-game winning streak; the Canadiens had a four-game losing streak. Rask was pulled after the third goal in favor of Johnson who let up the fourth goal just two minutes into his appearance in the game. The Bruins bounced back in the third game of the series though with a 4-1 win. Rask proved himself early with two huge stops on two early breakaways by the Habs in the first period. He would go on to make 35 saves and help the Bruins to a six-game winning streak.

On Monday night, Montreal proved once again that they thrive in do-or-die situations. The Canadiens are fighting for every point to ensure a playoff berth and stifled the Bruins 12-game winning streak with a 2-1 shootout win. The Bruins played an incredible game though with 29 shots on goal against an impenetrable Peter Budaj. The story may have been different with another 20-minute overtime period.

This would be, by far, the most difficult series for the Bruins. However, if they could come away with four wins against the Canadiens, who have won six of the last seven meetings between the two, the Cup would be theirs for the taking.

The Eastern Conference Finals would likely be a faceoff against the Pittsburgh Penguins or New York Rangers. The Rangers, with Henrik Lundqvist in goal, have been dominant as of late. Lundqvist is on a five-game winning streak and was honored Monday night for breaking the Rangers all-time win record with 305 career wins. Right now, they would be facing the Flyers in the first round, who they decisively beat 3-1 last night with 31 saves by Lundqvist. Pittsburgh shouldn’t have a problem with Columbus, who they swept in the regular season.

If Pittsburgh and the Rangers do face off in the second round, it would be a very close series. They have each have one regulation win and one shootout win in their four-game regular season series. The Penguins have two players in the top ten point-scorers in the League with Sidney Crosby in first and Evgeni Malkin tied for sixth. Pittsburgh’s League-leading offense would have the best chance of getting the puck past King Lundqvist. However, Marc-Andre Fleury has lost his last five games.

The Bruins saw both teams in last year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs and breezed by both. The Bruins skipped over the Rangers in just five games in the second round, scoring 14 goals against Lundqvist in just five games to give him a mediocre 2.80 Goals Against Average in the series. The B’s only loss came in a Game 4 overtime decision that almost gave the Bruins the sweep.

Pittsburgh put up even less of a fight. The first-seeded Penguins were swept by the Bruins in the Eastern Conference Finals and were outscored 12-2. The Bruins have yet to face Fleury in the postseason though. He was replaced with Tomas Vokoun in the first round of the 2013 Playoffs after losing two games to the New York Islanders, giving up six goals in Game 4. Vokoun played the rest of the Playoffs, but has yet to play this season after a pelvic blood clot in September benched him. Head coach Dan Blysma has stated that even if Vokoun were to return before the end of the season, Fleury and Jeff Zatkoff will be between the pipes for the Penguins come the postseason. Zatkoff has gone 12-4-1 his first season in the NHL, but has no postseason experience.

The Bruins have won two of three in the regular season series against Pittsburgh and Fleury, including a last second thriller on November 25th. Crosby tied the game 3-3 with just .3 seconds left in regulation to force overtime, but Torey Krug responded just 34 seconds into overtime to give the Bruins the win. Pittsburgh is another team that the Bruins need to be mindful of giving up penalties to. The Pens have scored three power-play goals in their three meetings this season.

If the Penguins, who have lost five of their last seven games, do fall to the Rangers, the Bruins will be facing a team and a star goalie that they have swept in the regular season. The first win for the B’s against the Rangers this season came on Rasks second game in two nights. He made 43 saves, giving up only one goal. Zdeno Chara brought a natural hat trick to the second win, including the game-winning goal. The third win, a 6-3 decision, forced Rask to make 19 saves in a first period where the Bruins were outshot 20-9. The Bruins definitely know how to beat either of these teams. And they probably wouldn’t need seven games to do it.

Should the Bruins make a repeat appearance to the Stanley Cup Finals, they would most likely be facing the St. Louis Blues, Anaheim Ducks or Chicago Blackhawks. While the San Jose Sharks lead the Pacific Division, they choke every postseason. This team has been Division Champions six times in ten years from 2002 to 2012, but has never won a Stanley Cup or Conference Championship. In the last two seasons, they were knocked out in the first two rounds. They made it to the conference finals in both 2010 and 2011, but lost to Chicago and Vancouver respectively.

The Bruins have never faced St. Louis or Anaheim in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They took two points from the Blues this regular season in two games with a shootout and overtime loss. The B’s split the regular season series with the Ducks, winning at TD Garden and losing in Anaheim. With the way the Bruins are playing as of late and with all of their players healthy, they are more than capable of beating either of these teams, especially with home ice advantage.

A repeat Stanley Cup Final matchup has only happened once in the past century. The Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins faced off in both 2008 and 2009 with the Red Wings taking the first win and the Penguins hoisting the Cup a year later. There’s a good possibility that history could repeat itself this season. If the Bruins meet the Blackhawks in the Finals this year, Patrice Bergeron and the rest of the Black and Gold will be out for blood.

Chicago ripped the Cup out of the Bruins hands in 17 seconds that still haunt the city of Boston. The B’s went up 2-1 in the series, fought through three overtimes, played their star forward with a cracked rib, punctured lung and separated shoulder, and came within 1:16 of forcing a Game 7. However, Bryan Bickell scored with just 1:16 left in Game 6 with the goalie pulled. It looked like another grueling overtime, but the Blackhawks had a different plan. The Bruins defense never recovered from the tying goal and just 17 seconds later Dave Bolland ripped the puck past Rask to suck the life and all hope of hoisting the Cup out of the Bruins.

That’s all in the past though. The Bruins won in shootouts in Chicago earlier this season and face the Blackhawks at TD Garden tonight for the first time since those devastating 17 seconds. Now the Bruins are a different team. Rask has more experience under his belt, Patrice Bergeron is healthy, and Reilly Smith, Carl Soderberg and Eriksson have added more scoring depth to the B’s offense.

If the Playoffs started tonight, the Bruins could be hoisting the Cup by the end of May. But there are three months, 16 wins and two very good Canadian teams that stand between the Bruins and the ultimate redemption.

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Could we really sweep the Penguins?

God, I hope so!

I love the Bruins to death, but it would be really nice to have a social life again and not have to turn down all plans every night. I could use about a week off. (Even though the Kings aren’t putting as much as a fight as I had hoped to tire the Blackhawks out for the Finals). I can’t wait until next year’s Playoffs when I’ll finally be 21 and able to enjoy hockey the way it’s meant to be enjoyed: at a bar with dozens of your new closest friends.

Also, it’s the Penguins. It’s Crosby. And hell, just to spite the damn NBC Sports announcers who are seriously upset that their precious Penguins aren’t doing as well as they expected. (But at least they finally got their nail-biter Wednesday night).

Let’s take a second to talk about Gregory Campbell. I love hockey players! And I’ve seen some hockey players get some rough wounds and continue on playing, but that’s after going off to the bench and receiving magic hockey player treatment. Campbell takes the cake! I can’t even fathom how he even stood back up in the first place on a broken leg!! Watching that video back again (which looked awfully painful the first time around) and knowing that his leg is broken just makes me cringe. And to stay on for 47 seconds and even get a few good sticks in is just incredible. Thank you, Gregory Campbell. I hope the boys go all the way to win it for him because he is the definition of a Bruin.

Can you imagine if that happened to Crosby?

I’ll pause for a minute while you stop laughing.

So anyway, here we are. 3 games closer to the unthinkable only a short week ago. An actual shot at sweeping the Pittsburgh Penguins. (Don’t worry, I’m knocking on wood.) Who knows what will happen, but how awesome would that be? In the Garden, against the Penguins, after this crazy spring this city has had. If the boys could pull off this, they could certainly go all the way to the Cup.

Who would’ve thunk?

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Hell yeah!!!!

I haven’t been this happy after a hockey game in a long time. Okay, maybe since Game 7 against the Maple Leafs. But still.

What a beautiful night to be a Boston sports fan!

The Red Sox crush the Yankees 11-1 and the Bruins pull off the improbable with a 3-0 shutout win against the freaking Penguins!

So many fan bases that I hate and they all went home crying last night. Yankees. Penguins. Hell, even the Heat!

I don’t even know where to begin on my favorite moments from last night. It started with Hughes intentionally walking Ortiz to load the bases counting on an easy double play from Napoli, but oops…he hit it into the stands!

And then the Bruins kicked in.

That was one of the best games of hockey I’ve ever seen.

I’m not going to lie, I was so nervous going into this game! The Penguins were possibly the best team in the league. They had the best offense, averaging over 4 goals a game in the Playoffs. They had this kid named Sidney Crosby who apparently is the second coming of Christ. Maybe you’re heard of him.

And then something beautiful happened.

It was a scary start to the first period, but then Krejci tacked one on the board. And then absolute chaos/beautifully played hockey ensued for the next 40 minutes with no goals in what should have been a 6-4 game at that point, not necessarily in favor of the Bruins.

Sidney Crosby’s inner 12-year-old came out as he took a cheap shot at Rask on his way to the bench at the end of the period! Seriously? Who does that? Between him, Cooke and Malkin I don’t even know which one I want to get laid out more by the end of the period. Take your pick, Thornton.

And then Krejci, Czech beauty, struck again. (The ACTUAL leading scorer of these Playoffs, in case sports media led you to believe that it was Crosby). Needless to say, Vokoun and the entire Penguins team were rattled. And that was that.

For the first time, I feel really good about this series!

The Bruins got into their heads in the best possible way right off the bat! We were scoring goals, killing off penalties, playing killer defense (welcome back, Sir Chara!), and um…Tuukka. Rask.

He deserved every ounce of that shutout. A gorgeous performance by Tuukka (and the goal posts) against a team  that’s used to scoring 4 goals a game.

Okay, our power play was a little more than lacking, but hey. If that’s the only complaint, I’ll take it. And speaking of thing’s that are lacking…can I go back to bitching about Sidney Crosby?

Yeah, that guy who spent the last minute and a half of the game sitting on his ass in the penalty box after whining his entire way there.

The guy who tried to pick a fight with Chara. Please. I would LOVE to see that! He could step on your head!

The most overrated man in the world of sports right now. Tuukka was certainly put to the test last night, but not by Crosby! He was almost nowhere to be seen. And I loved every minute of it. Watching Pierre interview Horton at the end of the game instead of Crosby was the icing on top of a perfect night! I just wish I could have gotten a close up of the tears running down his face.

Now can we talk about Pierre? And the NBC announcers in general? Think you could show a little more bias?

I think NESN’s Jack Edwards said it best after the Bruins pulled into a 3-0 lead.

Screen shot 2013-06-01 at 11.25.13 PM

Screen shot 2013-06-01 at 11.24.38 PM

But actually.

And don’t even get me started on this SportsCenter tweet:

Screen shot 2013-06-01 at 11.21.17 PM

Excuse me, what?

Were we watching the same game?

That was NOT steal! That was a shutout. A 3-goal game. A complete shutdown of “the best current player in the NHL.” That was no steal, sirs, the Bruins EARNED every inch of that!

My #BruinsIn4 hashtag doesn’t seem like just a funny joke anymore. We can do this. And hopefully as we move on to Game 2, the entire sports world will have had some time to reflect and pull themselves out of Sidney Crosby’s and the rest of the Penguins’ asses.

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Tonight’s the night

Guys, it is hot.

And I apologize for stating the probably most-stated phrase in the East Coast this weekend, but ugh!

I love Boston. I really do. But days like these are the worst! 95 degrees is one thing, but 95 degrees with almost 70% humidity is hell. I had a whole list of things to do yesterday and instead came home after doing failing one (why does Shaws not have Arborio rice? Don’t ask.) I came home and sat in my room on the 16th floor of my east-facing college dorm room sans air conditioning to wallow in self-pity watching How I Met Your Mother in front of my two fans blasting at full force on my face. Exciting.

And when you are home doing essentially nothing for this long, you paint your nails and put on your Bruins decals. And while you’re doing this, you start thinking. And then the nerves kick in.

We’re playing the Penguins!

For 7 games. In Round 3 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Penguins!

We can do this. But it won’t be pretty. I’m talking multiple overtimes. Crushing losses. And, more than likely, 7 on the edge of your seats games.

But the day is finally here. After a week’s rest. A sad, sad Bruins hockey-less week. And now we’re ready! The players are preparing. The fans are getting out their lucky jerseys. Bars across Boston are getting ready for a good night. And every single person in Bruins Nation is getting nervous as all hell.

But hey, it’s just the Penguins. We can do this!

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Did we really think it would be that easy?

But really? Did we?

This is the Bruins we’re talking about guys! Playoff series with the Bruins go into games 6 and 7 more often than Tuukka Rask and Zdeno Chara make stupid game-costing mistakes in a game. Oh, wait.

But you get my drift.

I’m going to keep this post short though and instead focus on the positives:

1. We get more hockey games to watch!

2. We get more hockey games to watch in the TD Garden with the best fans in the NHL!

3. We get to clinch the series in Boston! (I’m not ruling out that this will go to a game 7, but we WILL win it in Boston!)

4. Tyler. Seguin. About time! (And this was the first game I wore my new Seguin shirt. Coincidence? I think not.)

5. What else do we all have to do at 5:30 on a Saturday afternoon?

6. The Rangers now slightly have their hopes up and they’re just going to get crushed twice as hard!

But seriously, what the hell, Tuukka and Chara? The worst way to win is off of a crap goal, let alone two! But that’s okay, as we have been known to say numerous times at BU hockey games….It’s all part of the plan.

(And remember that time I talked about superstitions? I may or may not be convinced that we lost because I wasn’t sitting on the floor during overtime like I always do. That’s the last time I go out to a bar to watch the game!)

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Can you imagine?

Can you imagine what it would be like for this Bruins team–with a defense almost half rookie, after being down 4-1 in the second half of the third period of Game 7 in Round 1, after everything Boston has gone through in this past month–to go on to win the Stanley Cup and parade it down Boylston St? Can you imagine?

For the first time all Playoffs it seems like there’s a good chance of this.

Sure, the Pens and Crosby would be difficult. (Unless, of course, the Senators can keep going with what I saw last night in double overtime.)

But look at this team! Compared to where we were just a week ago, blowing a 3-1 series lead. This is the kind of playing I remember from 2011. And this is certainly the kind of goaltending I remember. Tim who?

This is the kind of Bruins hockey team that can overcome all odds and every overtime in Game 7 you can throw their way. I’m getting excited for what’s to come!

If we could get Seguin and Jagr to start putting points on the board again and get some of our defenders back out on the ice (although the rookies have been more than holding their own in the meantime), we could really have a great run here. Right when the people of Boston need it the most.

Now, I won’t get ahead of myself. Right now we’re at Round 2. Game 3. (And if I know the Bruins at all, we’ll still probably somehow manage to find ourselves in a Game 7 situation.) So we’ll just take this one game at a time.

But can you imagine?

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Life as a Bruins fan

Where do I even begin?

Never. Ever. Ever give up on your team.

I woke up this morning and had to check online just to make sure it wasn’t some kind of crazy, surreal dream.

Incredible.

Patrice freaking Bergeron! After struggling to find the back of the net for the entire series, he finally got his revenge. And oh was it sweet!

To all those people who gave up on this team, down 4-1 with under 10 minutes left, shame on you! I laugh in the face of those who left the Garden early and then turned on their TVs after getting home and realizing what had happen. Believe in Boston.

I’ll admit, I had my doubts when it got to a 3 goal lead for the Maple Leafs, but I definitely never gave up. Regardless of how improbable, there was time.

There was a moment though when I was getting prepared to spend my night watching BU’s amazing win in the 2009 National Championship game (a ritual I often do to make myself feel better after tough losses), but I never thought I would be able to see a comeback and overtime win even more wild live on my television screen.

And now the people of Boston have at least a couple more weeks of hockey to look forward to. Life is good.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Bruins! That is exactly what we needed!

bergeron

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