Campbell, Krug lift Bruins to Eastern Conference Finals


Do not make the Bear angry.

Angry Bears are relentless in their pursuit, and when they catch you, you’re history.  They will maul you and beat you until you submit and then keep mauling and beating you…

May 25, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins forward Gregory Campbell (11) celebrates after scoring a goal against New York Rangers forward Micheal Haley (32) in game five of the second round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Michael Ivins-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers angered the Bruins and even managed to get the upper hand, but after the Bruins caught up with the speedy Rangers, they mauled them and beat them mercilessly on their way to a 3-1 Eastern Conference semifinals clinching victory.

The Boston Bruins were collectively so angry after essentially handing Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series to the New York Rangers Thursday night that they reportedly had the most spirited practice of their season on Friday…

…and the Rangers used that to their advantage on Saturday afternoon, poking and prodding and generally getting under the skin of the Bruins – anything to induce the Bruins into retaliating, drawing penalties and causing Bruins to lose focus.

And it worked, at least initially as New York took an early 1-0 lead on a power play goal by Dan Girardi with David Krejci in the sin bin for cross checking – he and Shawn Thornton, who was in for fighting and unsportmanlike conduct, watching helplessly as Rangers’ coach John Tortorella’s evil scheme came together.

In essence, the Rangers players finally starting taking on the grating personality of their abruptly animated coach – a man with the personality of a schoolyard bully – and his playground tactics had the Bruins so frustrated that New York had free reign of the ice the entire first period, the Bruins lucky to go into the first intermission down by only one goal….

…which turned out to be unfortunate for the Rangers as Torey Krug absolutely used Rangers’ goalie Henrik Lundqvist on a power play early in the second period, winding up and firing a now patented “Krug Missile” past a stunned Lundqvist, who was simply overpowered by sheer velocity.

The Krug goal, his fourth in five playoff games, seemed to raise the Bruins’ intensity level – the forecheck relentless to keep the puck in the attacking zone for extended periods of the second frame, and when the Rangers did manage to clear the zone, the Bruins’ defense attacked the Rangers’ blue line, standing up the point man, poking the puck away and starting a break the other way…

…which led to the Bruins second goal of the game, Gregory Campbell and that excellent energy line working the neutral zone to force a turnover, Daniel Paille trying to feed a streaking Thornton who was mugged out of the slot by two defensemen – but Campbell was trailing the play and with Thornton double teamed it left Campbell wide open at point blank range and he buried the puck in the net for what turned out to be the winning goal.

“We had a game plan to get in front of him and get pucks at him,” Campbell said after the win, “and we were able to get a few past him.”

Lundqvist made 29 saves, many twisting and off balance as the Bruins peppered him after they survived the initial Rangers’ surge, but it was Boston’s netminder Tuukka Rask that came up with the clutch saves, particularly on Ryan Callahan, who had timed a break from the defensive zone in anticipation of a turnover and took a pass, sprinting toward Rask and firing from point blank…

…but Rask stoned him with his blocker and preserved a tenuous 2-1 lead with eight and a half minutes left in regulation – by far the clutch save of his 28 as Boston advances to the Eastern Conference finals to face the top seeded Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Rangers pulled Lundqvist with just over a minute left in regulation for the extra skater, but that too backfired as a falling Campbell managed to get a stick on the puck at the top of the right circle and slid it into the open net for the final tally, sending the faithful at TD Garden into full frothing at the mouth frenzy.

“They’re deeper than we are and we tried to counter that fourth line” Tortorella lamented in the post game presser “but in the end they were just too deep.  That’s a very good team, very well coached.  They have an excellent chance against Pittsburgh.”

Good enough to beat the Penguins, are they?  We’re about to find out.