The Bruins: Game One
According to the pundits before the game, Boston had to avoid the special teams game because their power play is poor while the Canucks have the best power play in the league. The Bruins, so went the conventional wisdom, were the best team in the league at five on five so the more the game was played at even strength the better.
It didn’t work out that way. The fact that the first two periods were one power play after another actually favoured Boston, slowing the game to a pace they could handle. The special teams battle was a draw only because the Canuck power play was uncharacteristically inept. The Bruins can’t expect that to continue.
Vancouver dominated the game five on five, particularly in the third period. They used their speed to all but shut down the Bruins while creating chance after chance. Boston may have been slightly better than Vancouver at even strength during the regular season but that doesn’t mean anything because that reflects how the two teams played against the league. What matters now is how they match up five on five against each other, and against each other, Boston has a lot of trouble keeping up.
“The first two periods were pretty even,” said Julien, “And then we sort of ran out of gas in the third.” Funny how often that happens to Canuck opponents. Julien and others have tried to spin this as a moral victory, a positive showing that demonstrated the Bruins could win this series.
I suppose, but Thomas was great, Chara and Seidenberg kept the Sedins off the scoresheet and the game was close so that with a good bounce the Bruins might have won. Everything went right and they still didn’t win. If they don’t win this kind of game, they can’t win the series.
This game was a blowout in disguise.
1) While the third line deservedly drew kudos as the Canuck’s best on the night, the other two lines weren’t chopped liver. Kesler was a force all night and made a brilliant play on the winning goal. We’re used to seeing more really good chances from the Sedins, but the Canucks spent a lot of time in the Boston end when they were on the ice. No matter who the Canucks put out there, they pressured the Bruins all night long.
2) While Chara and Seidenberg deserve credit for keeping the Sedins off the scoresheet I didn’t think Chara looked like a Norris Trophy winner. He wasn’t a factor offensively and he looked awful on the winning goal. The best defenseman on the ice was Alex Edler.
3) Luongo made it look easy all night long. Partly that was because Boston had very few really good chances to score and partly because he always makes it look easy when he is on top of his game. The Bruins can’t win with 30 perimeter shots. To score on Luongo, they have to get people and the puck to the crease. Boston couldn’t do that last night even when they had a two man advantage.
4) I don’t know whether Burrows should or will get suspended. I’d guess “no” if the linesman’s testimony matches up with what he apparently said to Bergeron. Still, its a dumb play by Alex.
If he is suspended, the Canucks will manage just like they will manage if Dan Hamhuis can’t play.
Update I: Burrows wasn’t suspended.
Update II: One of the themes in the interviews today was the Canuck speed. When Vigneault was asked about it, he seemed almost taken aback because the question came from a local reporter. “You’ve watched the team all year,” Vigneault began.
The Canucks are clearly one of the fastest teams in the league. They’ve tried to use that by trying to push the pace in every game they’ve played. Speed, a defense that can move the puck and a strong work ethic is what have brought this team this far. This might be a surprise to an Eastern reporter, but how can someone who watched the team all year not understand that speed is the central strength of this team?