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BOSTON (CBS) — Sure, the Bruins very nearly pulled off a Game 4 victory, but did they really deserve it?
They literally handed a goal to a dead, desperate team in front of a listless home crowd to completely change the environment late in the second period. The Bruins had just taken a 2-0 lead, and tweets about the Rangers’ summer plans immediately began to fill the Internet void. But there wasn’t much time for wise-cracking at the expense of the Rangers, because Tuukka Rask very quickly became the butt of jokes. Tuukka fell on his tuchus, the puck trickled past him, and the 17,000 folks at Madison Square Garden finally remembered they were attending a hockey game.
The Rangers’ second goal wasn’t 100 percent the fault of the Bruins, because Derek Stepan deserves credit for out-hustling and out-smarting the Bruins’ captain behind the Boston net. Still, the Bruins were just a mess on that sequence. How neither Rask nor Dougie Hamilton alerted Chara to the forechecker bearing down on him, and how Chara was completely oblivious to Stepan’s presence is hard to figure, but it was another gift-wrapped goal for New York.
After that, for the first time since probably Game 1, it was a hockey game, and the Rangers just beat the Bruins. And even though they had ample opportunity to win despite the blunders, the Bruins simply didn’t deserve it.
Now, just like they did against Toronto, they have to keep grinding in a physical playoff series instead of resting at home with their feet up. But before we completely move on to what the future holds, let’s run through some quick leftover thoughts from the Bruins’ 4-3 loss in Game 4.
–Tuukka Rask said of his untimely tumble, “Looks pretty bad on TV, I bet.”
It did, but not any worse than his amazing post-shootout loss wipeout from March. So … at least there’s that.
–You know how in elementary school, the firemen used to always visit and tell you to map out an emergency plan with your family in the event of a house fire? Well, if you’re a Bruins fan and you’re sitting on your couch, having a nice taco beef dip and/or a refreshing adult beverage, enjoying a playoff game and feeling good about life, and you hear the words “too many men on the ice,” you need to activate your own sort of emergency response plan.
Shut the TV off, put the food in the fridge, dump out your drink (in the sink or down your esophagus, whichever) and go run around the block for 10 minutes. You’re not going to enjoy what follows after you hear “too many men on the ice” so you might as well get some exercise in and burn off the rage.
–I don’t know which linesman it was who screamed “Nnnnooooooooo!!!!” every time a team crossed the blue line without going offside, but he deserves a raise of some sort. He also probably should have stepped between John Tortorella and the ref during the F-bomb-fueled exchange caught on camera in the third period.
“[Bad word] you!”
“[Bad word you!"
(Tortorella crafting another expletive-laden response.)
(Lineman skates over.)
--I wrote about how terrible/suspicious the officiating was in Game 3, but in Game 4, I took no issues. Though I did find it odd that Derick Brassard was allowed to drop his gloves and grab Brad Marchand's jersey in the middle of play without getting assessed any sort of penalty. Perhaps the refs just felt bad that seemingly nobody is willing to waste their time by fighting Brassard, they just let it go.
--Nathan Horton scored a nice goal, no doubt, but David Krejci's wizardry in the neutral zone on the rush that led to the goal was fantastic. He calmly stick-handled with one hand around a poke-checking Stepan and then knew to get rid of a pass just before taking a hit by Ryan Callahan. He avoided the hit too, thereby enabling himself to join the rush and dish to Horton. A+ for Krejci, the playoff points leader, on that play.
–I’m not the guy that likes to sit around and judge fans, but if you’ll pardon me for a moment, I’m going to do exactly that.
The crowd at Madison Square Garden was sitting for overtime period. Sitting down in their seats. I don’t know that I’ve seen that before. Overtime in the NHL playoffs is the supreme sporting event. If you can attend any game, it should be an NHL postseason overtime game. And when you’re there, you should be standing the entire time. And you should be going nuts.
I understand Rangers fans might have been in “watch with fear of the season ending” mode, but you can at least try to be a little excited. Sitting in your seat like you’re at a Yanni concert is unacceptable.
–NHL.com breaks up its game highlights into goals, hits and saves. Somehow, Johnny Manchuk’s devastating open-ice hit on Derek Dorsett in overtime did not make the cut. In fact, the only hit available for viewing is perhaps the least memorable instance of body contact in playoff hockey history.
Whoever cut the clip of that “hit” should find something better to do, I think.
–Photography is pretty outstanding sometimes.
–Tyler Seguin finally got off the schneid with a goal and an assist, which was good for him, but as far as the unproductive forwards go, I thought Jaromir Jagr had a great game. Some of the passes he was making were just pure magic. He made that one pass in the first period through a defenseman’s skates that hit Brad Marchand right in the tape, but it looked like Marchand was either not expecting the pass to make it through or simply lost control trying to put the puck on his backhand. Had Marchand finished off that one, it would’ve been one of the prettier goals of the whole postseason.
Jagr fed Marchand again in the second period, this time finding him in the slot, and Lundqvist had to make an exceptional save to prevent that one from making Bruins highlight reels as well.
Jagr made a few of those crafty passes, and aside from his center-ice takedown that drew a two-minute penalty, he had his best game in a while.
–I found Henrik Lundqvist’s assessment of the series coming down to “lucky bounces” to be laughable, but my oh my did he play outstanding on Thursday night. Two saves on hard shots in the third period by Seguin and Torey Krug stood out, but he earned every one of those 37 saves. The Bruins did not make it easy on him.
Finally, The King had earned the right to rock his crown hat after the game.
–I’m not going to pile on Rask, because I think there’s a little too much of that in general. If you want to read a very fair take on the situation Rask put himself in, Matt Kalman did a very good job of it right here. But the statistics that came out immediately after the loss are impossible to ignore. CSNNE put the stats out there, so they get the credit:
In non-closeout situations in the playoffs, Rask is 12-2 with a 1.98 goals-against average and .936 save percentage.
In closeout situation in the playoffs, where a win sends the Bruins to the next round, Rask is 2-8 with a 3.20 GAA and .890 save percentage.
It’s concerning because it’s not really a small sample size, and it starts to make you think the stumble to his backside and the brief nap on Stepan’s goal aren’t just coincidences, that Rask has some sort of mental block when it comes to moments such as these, or that he lets down, or something.
If it’s any consolation, Rask played outstanding after allowing the third goal, and he can’t be faulted for a perfect play that won the game in overtime, but man, those numbers are eye-catching.
–This season alone in closeout games, Rask is 1-3 with a 2.89 GAA and an .899 save percentage.
–It’s always nice, though, when you have a bad game that includes consecutive point-blank saves on one of the game’s most dangerous goal scorers.
–When explaining his gaffe that led to the first goal, Rask said, “I lost my balance, and the rest is history.”
For Rask’s sake, he better hope it’s just a footnote in history, rather than a seminal moment in the tale of the 2013 Bruins.
–Because the world is full of unoriginal, lazy people, you’re going to hear a lot about 2010 in the coming days. It’s just going to happen. I know that 2011 happened and should have erased any and all 2010 references, I know that this team is worlds apart from the 2010 team, I know, I know, I know. But I also know that people are going to talk about the 2010 collapse and try to stir up some panic in Boston.
But the only real reason the Bruins and fans should be nervous is the fact that they will be playing on Saturday, and if they make another series of mistakes or if the Rangers actually spend 60 minutes trying to win a game, it can force them to play again on Monday. Meanwhile, the Penguins should wrap things up on Friday night against Ottawa and will have time to relax while the Bruins play at least one more bruising battle with the Rangers. Dennis Seidenberg will likely have to step back into the lineup, when I’m sure the Bruins would have preferred giving him an extra five or six days to heal up. Dougie Hamilton’s confidence may be shot, and stats like the aforementioned Rask-in-closeout-situations numbers will continue to circulate.
The Bruins should still win this series, and they should do so on Saturday. If/when they do, the people who yapped about 2010 for 48 hours will forget they ever yapped about it, and life will go on. But even though collapse talk is more than a little bit wild, the Bruins — just like they did by lollygagging in the first round — made their jobs much tougher, and they really can only blame themselves.