The immensely talented Bruins’ Jekyll and Hyde act has taken a turn to the dark side once again.
Wednesday night’s 4-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs showed the hockey world how dominant the Boston Bruins could be – then Saturday night’s Game 2 showed the hockey world just how inconsistent and bad they could be.
It was about halfway through the 2nd period when there was a switch in intensity with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Bruins had just killed off a Rich Peverley delay of game infraction, and the game was turning chippy…
…when all of a sudden there was a blur of white sweaters getting to every puck, cutting off the passing lanes and laying big hits on the bloated and vulnerable Boston Bruins – and down 1-0 on a Nathan Horton goal, the Leafs turned on the jets, scoring two goals in the 2nd and two in the third and thoroughly manhandling the hometown Bruins 4-2 at TD Garden on Saturday evening.
After a scoreless first period, Horton started the scoring with his blade goal early in the second – and then it was nap time for the Bruins. Toronto’s Joffrey Lupul scored two straight goals about 4 minutes apart as the Leafs took a 2-1 lead into the locker room after two.
Johnny Boychuck scored the other Boston goal, a wicked drive from the top of the right circle that was initially credited to Tyler Seguin on a redirection in front of Toronto goalie James Reimer, but replays showed that the puck slipped through the small scrum in front of the net…
That made the score 3-2 halfway through the final frame and seemed to awaken the Bruins from their sleepwalking state, as they started pelting Reimer, but it was too late – the damage was done.
The Leaf’s netminder was on spot and stopped every Bruins’ chance from thereon out. Overall, Reimer stopped 39 of 41 as the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series now travels to Toronto for game 3, the two division rivals locked at one game a piece.
Tuukka Rask stopped 28 of 32 shots on goal, but yielding the four goals doesn’t tell truthfully the solid game in net he had. Several instances during the Bruins’ nap between the middle of the second and third periods the Bruins defense left Rask on an island, once even allowing the Leafs to gang up on him and fire multiple shots in rapid-fire succession – Rask stopped all except the one that went over his shoulder and hit the crossbar of the goal.
Former Bruin Phil Kessel scored the game winner moments afterward. Joffrey Lupul had two goals for the Leafs and James van Riemsdyk scored an insurance goal on an athletic spinning play to the right of a sprawling Rask, tucking the puck past the red line just under the goalie’s skate with 3:07 left in regulation.
The Bruins’ issues of clearing the defensive zone and staying engaging for a full 60 minutes has dogged this team all season – but now it’s the post-season, and it’s going to take a more consistent effort that what Boston showed on Saturday night to advance for a chance at the Cup.