Final, 4-1 Bruins: And that’s a wrap from Boston, as the Bruins thoroughly dominate Game 1 to take a 1-0 series lead. See you Saturday night.
Third period, 3:47, 4-1 Bruins: I said it earlier and took some grief as a potential jinx, but I think it’s safe to say now that the Bruins are going to hold onto this third-period lead.
Third period, 8:05, 4-1 Bruins: The “Kes-sel” chants are getting louder and louder, and Kessel may have let some of his frustration out in a post-whistle scrum in front of Rask. The bad news for him was that Nos. 33 and 44 were looking down at him, so there wasn’t much he could do.
Third period, 12:54, 4-1 Bruins: Another Bruins goal gets taken off the board, though this one looked to have more legitimacy than the last one.
After Seguin redirected a Marchand shot on Reimer’s five hole, Reimer looked back over his shoulder to see if the puck trickled through. It had, and Bergeron skated to the loose puck and jammed it into the net, and the referee signaled a goal. However after a meeting, the officials ruled the puck was dead and the goal was wiped off the board.
Third period, 13:45, 4-1 Bruins: The B’s couldn’t score on the power play and are now 1-for-4 on the man advantage. Something tells me that won’t be the big story when this one’s over.
Third period, 16:45, 4-1 Bruins: Things just got a little bit wild. After Rask turned aside a Grabovski shot, Boychuk followed the Leafs forward into the corner and laid a punishing hit. Grabovski went down to the ice in a heap, and Colton Orr took exception to the hit and charged Boychuk from behind. Orr delivered a cross-check to Boychuk’s back before Ference stepped in. Ference and Orr got matching roughing penalties, while Orr also got a cross-checking penalty, so the B’s get a power play out of it.
Third period, 18:49, 4-1 Bruins: Komarov will get cozy in the penalty box for half of this period after he was just sent off with a 10-minute misconduct. I didn’t see exactly what he did, but he appeared to be in a scrum with Marchand.
Third period, 20:00, 4-1 Bruins: Twenty minutes left in this one, and it begins now.
End of second period, 4-1 Bruins: The teams head to their locker rooms in very different places right now, as the Maple Leafs have nearly gotten blown out of the whole building. They’ve mustered just 14 shots on net and are getting hit up and down the ice — Dennis Seidenberg on Joffrey Lupul and Milan Lucic on Clarke MacArthur being the best of the period — and it’s safe to say this is not where they want to be after 40 minutes.
Of course, the Bruins have had their problems holding onto leads in the third period, so that’s a factor. But a three-goal lead against a team that’s looked incapable of generating anything offensively tonight should be a safe one.
Also of note, Lucic was challenged by Mark Fraser after the big Bruins forward trucked MacArthur, but Lucic passed on that opportunity. The puck made its way down to the other end, and seconds after Lucic decided it wasn’t a good time at all to fight, MacArthur got called for a hooking penalty. That’s great discipline from Lucic, who has carried over that end-of-season improvement right into Game 1.
Second period, 4:16, 4-1 Bruins: Dare I say … the rout is on?
Perhaps (though we know the Bruins have had trouble holding onto leads), after Johnny Boychuk scored on an olf-fashioned slapper from the blue line. Nothing fancy about this one, just a slap shot beating a goalie (with Lucic maybe getting in Reimer’s head a bit by skating to the net), and the Bruins lead 4-1.
Second period, 4:36, 3-1 Bruins: The Bruins just are not letting up here with a 3-1 lead. They’re still controlling the puck in the Toronto end and keeping the Leafs from generating much of any scoring chances at all. Through 35+ minutes, the Leafs have just 12 shots on net.
Second period, 9:35, 3-1 Bruins: David Krejci tried to pass to Horton to create a goal but ended up having to do it himself.
After his pass from the left wing to the slot got broken up, Krejci skated to the front of the net, got the puck on his stick, spun around and fired a wrister on net and past Reimer to give the Bruins a 3-1 lead. Lucic gets an assist on the play.
Second period, 10:00, 2-1 Bruins: Tuukka Rask just came up big with a stop of Tyler Bozak on a breakaway. Bozak wasn’t able to get the shot off that he wanted, but Rask was still there to turn the puck aside.
He hasn’t been busy this period, as the Leafs have gotten just two shots on net through the first half of the period.
Second period, 13:59, 2-1 Bruins: The “Kes-sel” chants are echoing throughout the Garden after McQuaid crushed Kessel in the corner, leading to a Seguin opportunity down the other end. Kessel then ended up sliding into Rask and knocking the net off its moorings, breaking up a potential Leafs scoring opportunity and forcing a faceoff out in the neutral zone.
Second period, 18:50, 2-1 Bruins: Tyler Seguin looked to have scored the Bruins’ third goal of the night on a 2-on-1 breakout with Marchand. The goal horn went off, the crowd celebrated and all of that, but upon video review, it was very clear that the puck hit the crossbar and didn’t even come close to being a goal. No doubt about that one. And so they play on, B’s leading 2-1.
Second period, 20:00, 2-1 Bruins: The teams are back, and the second is under way.
End of first period, 2-1 Bruins: On one end, James van Riemsdyk was dangling around defenders and beating Rask, only to get denied by the crossbar. Seconds later, Wade Redden fired another shot on net, and Nathan Horton tipped the shot and redirected it past Reimer to give the Bruins a power-play goal and a 2-1 lead with 11.7 seconds left in the period.
After video review to see if Horton’s stick was below the crossbar, the goal stands. It’s 2-1 Bruins.
First period, 2:05, 1-1: A crazy loud building gets even louder, as captain Dion Phaneuf goes to the box for slashing.
First period, 3:40, 1-1: The hard work pays off, as Wade Redden’s slap shot finds its way through James Reimer and into the back of the net.
Redden got the puck after Paille won a race behind the Toronto net and got a pass to Campbell, who then tried a wraparound. His attempt ended up sliding out to the top of the circle, where Redden teed it up. This one’s tied 1-1.
First period, 4:13, 1-0 Maple Leafs: The Bruins are still scoreless, though it’s not for lack of effort. After killing the penalty, the Bruins once again set up shop in the Toronto end of the ice for two full shifts. Jagr took Horton’s spot on the Krejci line for a shift, and then the Bergeron generated a couple of chances. The B’s now lead 10-5 in shots despite the Leafs having two extra minutes on the power play.
First period, 8:04, 1-0 Maple Leafs: And Toronto is back on the power play. Johnny Boychuk, two minutes for hooking. From up here it looks like the Leafs might be going down a little easy tonight, but it’s working.
First period, 8:51, 1-0 Maple Leafs: The Bruins didn’t let the early goal get them down, as they’re really controlling play here in the first. That’s evidenced by their 9-4 shot advantage just far. The most recent came on a long slap shot from Seguin, who was trying to go five-hole, with Reimer’s stick stuck in the corner of the rink. Reimer made the save.
The physical play is definitely ramped up tonight, and it looks like one of the Leafs’ strategies is to try to get under the skin of Chara and get him to the penalty box.
First period, 15:17, 1-0 Maple Leafs: The Bruins don’t score on the power play, but they got a couple of nice chances from Jagr, and shortly after the power play ended, Marchand rung iron trying to sneak one past Reimer short side.
First period, 17:24, 1-0 Maple Leafs: The Bruins have a chance to answer, after Mark Fraser gets sent off for delay of game.
First period, 18:06, 1-0 Maple Leafs: Just as it didn’t take long for a penalty, it really didn’t take long for the Leafs to cash in with a power-play goal.
After Phil Kessel sent a puck toward net that ended up behind it, James van Riemsdyk flips a backhand into a vacated net to put the Leafs up 1-0 very early. That ought to quiet the home crowd.
First period, 18:22, 0-0: Well, it didn’t take long for the first penalty of the night, as Patrice Bergeron gets sent away for two minutes for tripping.
First period, 20:00: This building is ready for playoff hockey. The puck has been dropped and the game is under way.
Claude went with the Lucic-Krejci-Horton line to begin this one.
6:55 p.m.: The flags with the names and jersey numbers of Bruins past and present are back in the front row of the balcony, the music is rocking and the place is filling up. Let’s go ahead and drop that puck…
6:40 p.m.: The Bruins’ lines are just as expected:
All of the lines will be pressured to perform, but Claude Julien is definitely taking a risk with that Jagr-Kelly-Daugavins line. Such is the life of a coach in professional sports — you have to make decisions that you feel are best, even though you know you’ll get criticized if it doesn’t work out.
It shouldn’t be too bad, though. Jagr has shown that he seems to make his linemates better.
5:45 p.m.: They’re finally here! It’s playoff time in Boston, and in just 80 minutes or so, the Bruins will face off against the Maple Leafs to begin the quest for a Stanley Cup.
The playoffs began in the league last night, with three games getting under way, while Boston waited with great anticipation for playoff hockey to come Wednesday night. Well, it’s finally time.
Of course, there are many questions surrounding the Bruins right now, and confidence among followers isn’t exactly through the roof at the moment. A 2-5-2 finish to the season will have that effect.
While anything can happen in the playoffs, I do think the Bruins can get by the Leafs without too much of a problem. Here are the two biggest reasons I think this year’s first round will be different from last year’s.
1. Nathan Horton
Last year, after the Bruins were knocked out in overtime of Game 7, just about every player who spoke mentioned that the team lacked one bounce, one play, one goal, that would’ve put them over the top. They never mentioned Nathan Horton — who was out with a concussion at the time — by name, but based on what No. 18 did in the previous postseason, he was the one who should have been there to step up and score the big goal.
While he had a pretty bad regular season and missed the last few games with an unknown injury, he can make all of that history if he can regain that playoff form he had in the spring of 2011, when he scored three game-winners for the Bruins.
2. A focused goaltender
Tim Thomas was great in 2010-11, historically so. But in 2011-12, he fell back to earth. His GAA went from 2.00 to 2.36 and his save percentage dropped from .938 to .920 from the 2010-11 season the the 2011-12 year, and with all of the distractions created by Thomas’ refusal to go to the White House, the goaltender was just not the same as he was in the unforgettable Cup run.
This year, Rask’s 2.00 GAA is the same as Thomas’ in the 2010-11 regular season, and Rask’s .929 save percentage isn’t far off Thomas’ mark from that year. Add in that Rask is playing not only to win and erase the sting of the 2010 playoffs but also to cash in with what he hopes to be a major payday in the offseason, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a more focused, inspired netminder in the whole NHL right now.
Of course, like I said, it’s the playoffs, and wild and crazy things happen. The Bruins are not good enough for any series to be a gimme, but you have to like their chances against Toronto.
For now, stick with the live blog through pregame, as I’ll post the lines from warmups, and stick with the blog all game for live updates from the TD Garden.