It's been fashionable to bash the Bruins, justifiably at times in the past month or so, for not being able to score multiple goals at will.
Their offense finally came to life, briefly, just in time to put the Maple Leafs and their fans our of our misery. But for the most part, the team doesn't seem able to put away opponents early on when they have the chance.
Thursday night, the Bruins pushed around the Rangers just enough to nullify whatever offense the Rangers allegedly possessed. Two out of the three games Boston and New York played this season ended after 60 minutes, with the Rangers winning both 4-3.
This postseason, the Bruins are mastering the art of leaving fans happy, but doing so in an agonizing fashion. That's what we get when hockey season wades into late May and, dare we hope, early June. Watching these games isn't fun, but the outcome can be delicious. Monday night was one glaring example of this. Hell, I'm still buzzed about that win even though Boston is now up 1-0 on the Rangers.
Once in a while, a rout is not a bad thing. But at its essence, all of this is entertainment. A necessary diversion to take us away from all that is necessary in our lives, such as work, caring for loved ones, exercise, shopping or whatever else we do between football seasons. The core of playoff hockey is just that - entertaining.
This whole "wait-to-the-last-minute" thing spread to St. Petersburg Thursday night, as Will Middlebrooks delivered a three-run, bases-loaded game-winning double after he and the Red Sox were down to their last strike. Heady times, indeed.
No one who invests a rooting interest and emotion into the outcome of these NHL playoff games can say with a straight face that they sit back with some Merlot and break down each line change. No, most fans both at home or the TD Garden are on the edge of their seats, perhaps with a chilled beverage in hand, unloading curse after curse at each extra power-play pass or shot that pings off the post.
The Bruins had four pings Thursday night, three more than Jack Ryan needed from Captain Ramius to save the Red October.
Monday, Patrice Bergeron, Milan Lucic and Zdeno Chara re-asserted their playoff presence. Chara nearly replicated Monday's performance with a Bourque-sque 38:40 of ice time against the Rangers in Game 1.
Thursday, the "Little Ball of Hate" felt the love after scoring on a feed from Bergeron 15:40 into overtime after a 2-on-1 rush.
It was Boston's third straight victory coming in overtime. The Bruins dominated this overtime, as they did the other night. Take that into consideration the next time you're inclined to be critical of their inability to score six goals a game. Being able to win consistently in overtime says much about the character of any team.
John Milton and Branch Rickey knew what they were talking about by saying "luck is the residue of design." Some people are made to do nothing until the last minute. The same holds with hockey players.
Boston's momentum came early in the fourth period thanks to a Derek Dorsett interference penalty 2:20 into overtime. In a scene out the 1970s, the Bruins blasted away at Henrik Lundqvist during the power play and kept the puck in the offensive zone for nearly the full two minutes. Chara was stopped point blank and Jaromir Jagr's shot found the goal post about a minute into the power play.
Chara had nine shots and a goal Thursday, in addition to his nearly two full periods of ice time. Who knew that "Zdeno Chara" was Slovakian for "Tony Stark"?
But the thrill of these overtime games, like any intoxicant, needs to be handled in moderation. The Bruins have Friday off. Game 2 won't come until Sunday afternoon, which should be enough time to recover from this angina-producing affair.
Those fans in Toronto don't know what they're missing.
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