Not meaning to say anything negative about the Boston Bruins’ opponents on Sunday afternoon, but when the Bruins’ defensemen have more points than your entire team does, it’s time to reassess your situation.
Boston Bruins’ defenseman Johnny Boychuck scored the game winning goal midway through the third period and rookie blue liner Torey Krug scored a goal and registered an assist as the Bruins manhandled the Rangers in Boston on Sunday afternoon.
The 5-2 final is even more impressive given the fact that it is the Bruins’ defense creating chances by swarming the Rangers on the defensive end, then joining the rush in the attacking zone, which seems to be creating all kinds of problems for New York’s defense and goal tending.
Case in point, on the Bruins’ first goal five and a half minutes into the contest, Defenseman Adam McQuaid broke up a solo rush by Rangers’ center Brian Boyle by going to the ice and poking the puck away just as Boyle was about to split he and Krug for a clean look at Goalie Tuukka Rask…
…Milan Lucic taking the puck off the boards and pushing it up the ice to Nathan Horton who found Krug trailing on the back end of the rush, the rookie kicking the pass between his legs with his back skate, pulling it in to his body with his stick and launching a backhander from the high slot for an early Bruins’ lead.
Krug pulled the same fancy-schmancy skate to stick, between the legs move on Gregory Campbell’s goal in the second period that briefly gave the Bruins a 2-1 advantage, sending another backhanded drive at Rangers’ goalie Henrik Lundqvist – this time from the left circle – the puck bounding off of Lundqvist’ right to Campbell who was charging the net and easily flipped the rebound past the besieged goalie.
Boychuck’s game winner was another instance of the defense joining the rush as a trailer, this time Brad Marchand recognizing Boychuck entering the zone uncovered and dropping the puck back so that Boychuck could wind up – and he fired an absolute laser right past Lundqvist, who never saw it coming.
The Bruins added insurance goals in the third period, the first a virtual replay of Thursday night’s overtime gamer, Marchand beating Rangers’ defenseman Dan Girardi and streaking toward the goal, taking a pass right on his tape from Patrice Bergeron and snapping it cleanly into the twine.
“We felt really good going into the third, and to have that type of goal go in – it’s just two-on-two – it hurts you,” Tortorella lamented. “We couldn’t generate anything, and then they’re just going to fill the middle and they’re just going to jam you.”
Adding insult to exhaustion, Milan Lucic tapping in the rebound from a David Krejci drive to provide the final tally. In all the Bruins’ defense accounted for two goals and four assists, outpointing the Rangers’ entire team six to four and leaving New York searching for a way to slow down the manic Bruins’ attack…
…which is easier said than done, even though the Rangers now have the Bruins at Madison Square Garden for games 3 and 4 on Tuesday and Thursday – both Lundqvist and Tortorella said they were confident in their chances, but their tone was certainly more somber than their words reflected.
“We’ve done it before,” Lundqvist said, referring to the fact that they were down also down 2-0 to the Washington Capitals in the quarterfinals, but came back to win 4 of 5 to take the series. “but I think we are playing a better team now so it’s going to be tough to do it.”
“I’m confident I’m going to go home and try to play a strong game in the next one,” he added.
Conversely, Rask was solid in net once again, players and coaches alike singing his praises.
“You have to give Tuukka a lot of credit,” Boston coach Claude Julien said. “Turnovers and giveaways in the second period are not something we do too much, and it could have been disastrous.”
Which Marchand echoed, a little more candidly. “We didn’t play our best,” Marchand said. “They had a lot of opportunities that if they would’ve converted on, then it would be a completely different story right now. I think especially in the second period, they took it to us, but we were able to bounce back.”
Ominous words for a New York Rangers’ team that is clearly back on it’s heels and sucking wind, the Bruins skating circles around them late in each contest, Boston able to maintain their torrid pace with deft line changing and with a special assist from young defensive replacements for their trio of injured veteran blue liners…
…who may have a tough time being anything more than a healthy scratch once they are able to return to action, and with the infusion of youth – Krug, along with fellow rookie defensemen Matt Bartkowski and Dougie Hamilton providing seeming untapped energy – Julien will have to think twice about breaking up the winning combination that he has in the rotation right now.
As the old saying goes, if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.
The Bruins are fine. The Rangers are broken – Time for them to reassess the situation.