BOSTON (CBS) — With the 2013 Bruins, you’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop.
In the first-round Toronto series, it was raining sneakers, sandals and pumps until the late-Game 7 rally prevented an entire Foot Locker from burying the Bruins. They managed to not blow all of a 3-1 series lead and instead advanced to the second round against the New York Rangers.
With the series 2-0 in their favor heading into Game 3 at Madison Square Garden, the Bruins figured to be headed to a confluence of their own letdown and a burst of energy from the Rangers in front of their home crowd. After all, their own coach, Claude Julien, has called the Bruins a “Jekyll and Hyde” team – one that he didn’t even have much of a handle on heading into Game 7 of that Maple Leafs series.
Well, it’s time to declare both Jekyll and Hyde officially vanquished. If this Bruins team can be compared to any monster, it’s King Kong because now they’re wreaking havoc all over New York City.
All the factors were there for the Bruins’ play to do a complete 180 from Games 1 and 2 in Game 3. Surely, “The King” Henrik Lundqvist would play better than when he allowed eight goals in the first two games. There was no way the Bruins’ young defensemen would keep playing like grizzled veterans. And there’s no way Rick Nash, Ryan Callahan, Derek Stepan and Derick Brassard would be held down for yet another game.
Lundqvist played great. He kept the Rangers tied when he had to. He kept the Rangers ahead when he had to. But the chances kept coming for Boston, the young D – in particular Torey Krug – moving the puck quickly and confidently. And then the traffic in front of the net became way too much for Lundqvist to deal with.
Johnny Boychuk scored through screens by Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell. Daniel Paille scored the game-winner on a scramble started by a Dougie Hamilton intentionally-wide shot. It was vintage Boston Bruins hockey, not some sad facsimile that we saw late in the regular season and in Game 5 and 6 against the Maple Leafs.
Even when they were trailing 1-0 heading to the third period, Game 3 had a positive vibe for the Bruins. They’d outshot and outplayed the Rangers. Had Lundqvist stolen the game, it would’ve been a night to tip their caps, not hang their heads for the Bruins. That’s all Julien and his staff ask from the team: go down fighting.
They kept fighting, and it paid off with more than just a moral victory – the Bruins left MSG with a real victory and a 3-0 series lead.
King Kong is almost to the top of the Empire State Building. Just one more win to get there. He’s squashed Jekyll and Hyde under his mighty paws and he’s done it at just the right time.
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com and also contributes coverage to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on Twitter @TheBruinsBlog.