This column originally ran in the Boston Globe on Tuesday, May 4:
The irony didn’t occur to many of the 17,565 in attendance, as they joyously jumped up and down celebrating yet another one-goal playoff win by the Bruins Monday night at TD Garden by serenading their skating idols to the strains of the Standells’ “Dirty Water.’’ Yup, it still wasn't safe to sip the H2O around town, but it is encouraged to drink in the playoff run of the team that plays on iced-over aqua.
The Bruins are now two wins from their first conference final since
1992, when Mario Lemieux was the star of the Penguins and not the team’s
owner. It's been that long.
The Bruins have tapped into the passion for pucks in this town, which had been dormant this season, much like the beat-up and belittled Bruins, and it’s overflowing with goodwill with the Bruins up two games to none in their best-of-seven second-round playoff series with the Flyers.
Coach Claude Julien’s Boys of Spring downed the Flyers, 3-2, on Milan Lucic’s goal with 2:57 remaining. Looch, who had a big goose egg next to the goals ledger in these playoffs, took a loose puck that had been batted in the air, turned and fired the winner past Brian Boucher.
Boucher, a native of Woonsocket, R.I., no doubt grew up dreaming of having his name chanted by a Bruins crowd, but derision likely wasn’t part of the dream. Neither was Lucic.
(So, it's since come to my attention that Mr. Boucher grew up, gasp, a Canadiens fan. Being mocked or mistreated by Bruins fans is not new to Boucher.)
“The way it was scored it was a typical Lucic goal,’’ said Julien. “He did a great job that whole shift, and it was nice to see him score that goal.’’
It was also a typical Bruins win.
Those Spoked-B sweaters must be made of Kevlar because the Bruins are bullet-proof these days. Nothing can pierce their playoff armor. Go 0 for 5 on the power play? No problem.
Allow a horrible, tying goal by Flyers forward Danny Briere with just 25 seconds left in the second period, a cardinal sin on skates? No worries.
They just find a way to win, and one-goal games are their specialty. The Bruins have won six games in the postseason and five have been by a single, solitary goal.
It seems like luck has made a line change.
“It’s nice to see. I’m not going to lie,’’ said captain Zdeno Chara. “It’s nice to see that we are getting those breaks at the end of games and scoring those winning goals. We didn’t get those breaks during the regular season, so it’s nice to get them now.’’
The truth is the Bruins are also making a lot of their own breaks, and it starts in net with Tuukka Rask, who had another terrific night between the pipes. The Finnish netminder made 24 saves to backbone the defense. Miroslav Satan, who was conducting his own free skates in January on Long Island, added another goal last night, his fourth of the playoffs and third consecutive game with a goal.
A goal-starved team during the regular season is getting plenty of offense from Miro the Hero and his linemates, Lucic and David Krejci, who assisted on Lucic’s winner and has points in three straight games.
There are certainly a lot of fans jumping on the Black and Gold bandwagon, rightfully so, but the Bruins have become front-runners themselves.
After allowing the first goal in their first five playoff games, the Bruins drew first blood for the third straight contest. Patrice Bergeron beat Scott Hartnell cleanly on a faceoff in the left circle, guiding the puck back to Johnny Boychuck, who snapped off a shot that sailed by Boucher with 5:12 gone in the first period.
The Flyers, who went 0 for 4 on the power play, tied the score twice, getting goals from Mike Richards late in the first and Briere as the clock wound down in the second.
But Philadelphia still hasn’t led for a single minute in this series.
That’s making the Flyers a little agitated and creating some good, old-fashioned playoff enmity. Philadelphia agitator Dan Carcillo put Bruins center Marc Savard in a headlock after Savard took a whack at Boucher’s glove, trying to knock loose a puck in the second period.
Carcillo alleged that Savard sunk his teeth into him during the scrum, a charge that Savvy brushed off.
“He embellished a bit,’’ said Savard, who got a penalty on the play, but not for biting. “I think he tried to pull my teeth out. So, if that’s biting, I don’t know what to say. I still got them, thank God.’’
Two months ago, most considered the Bruins to be a toothless team. Now, they have plenty of bite, and they restored this region’s taste for playoff hockey.
“Yeah, we had that belief,’’ said Savard. “It’s tough because a lot of people outside didn’t. We kept our heads up in here. We’ve done that for a long time. We kept that belief and here we are.’’
...That's what the Patriots have when it comes to picks in the 2013 NFL Draft, which starts Thursday. After all those years of stockpiling picks the way a survivalist does non-perishables the Patriots have just five picks in this year's draft, thanks to Band-aid trades for Albert Haynesworth, Chad Ochocinco and Aqib Talib. Five picks would be the fewest draft picks in franchise history. (Part of that is attributable to the trimming of the draft to just seven rounds in 1994). Further complicating matters is that two of the Patriots' greatest needs are at wide receiver and cornerback, positions where they have sustained draft droughts. With that in mind, I'm convinced the Patriots are going trade back out of the first round of a quanity-over-quality draft where you're just as likely to pick a Pro Bowl player in the second and third round as you are in the first round.