Enjoy Thursday and Friday Bruins fans, you deserve it.
The one thing that stood out to me after Wednesday night’s Bruins overtime win over Montreal was how much pressure seemed to be taken off the team. From Claude Julien to Tim Thomas to Cam Neely, this B’s team seemed happy to have finally won a 7th and deciding game.
Claude Julien saved his job. He also had the line of the night when he said Bruins fans had been “punished” enough the past few years. Boston knows they didn’t play great hockey over the seven games, but they also know that they found a way to win. And, that’s something the previous Bruins teams hadn’t been able to do.
Our crack sports producer Joe Giza texted me Wednesday night that Nathan Horton was the Bruins “Big Papi”. Yep, Horton has been so good, so good, so good, so far.
And now the B’s can lace ’em up and go after the team that handed this franchise its worst-ever series loss. The embarrassing collapse last year to the Flyers where Boston coughed up a 3-0 series lead and a 3-0 7th game lead.
The second-seeded Flyers are a dangerous team. They have size and skill.
However, they can be beaten.
They used three goaltenders in their first round series win over Buffalo. Brian Boucher emerged as the number one choice by the end of the series, but that can change. So, the Bruins need to get going on that right away.
I actually like the Bruins opening on the road because that’s where they have played their best hockey all season long. They play Claude’s tight system better on their opponent’s ice and perhaps if they steal Game One they could be on their way…
Also, remember that this is a different match-up. Milan Lucic, who struggled mightily in the Canadiens series with just two assists, may have a break-out series. That’s the beauty of the NHL play-offs.
Meanwhile, the Bruins have to have some production on the power play to win the series. Another 0-for-21 isn’t going to cut it. Perhaps the slower Flyers will help in that department.
The Bruins also showed good depth last series, especially the Peverley-Kelly-Ryder line.
Will they win it? Who knows. I think these series are just too close to predict. I do think three things favor the Bruins though. 1) The motivation of last year, 2) the easing of tension with the 7th game thing behind them, and 3) much better goaltending.
So, why not. I say Bruins in six games and a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Every game of the Bruins-Flyers playoff series can be heard on 98.5 The Sports Hub with pregame coverage beginning 30 minutes before each game with the Dunkin Donuts Bruins Pregame show.