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BOSTON (CBS) – When the clock struck midnight in Chicago, it was like all that excitement from the magical ball had turned the Boston Bruins into the proverbial pumpkin.
It had just changed over to Thursday in the windy city when Chicago defenseman Michal Rozsival delivered a blue line wrister that found its way off a stick, off Andrew Shaw’s knee and into the net behind Tuukka Rask — giving the Blackhawks a 4-3 victory after 52 minutes of extra, bonus hockey.
That is how the thoroughly entertaining and sometimes maddening Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final ending up. That’s hockey folks.
Twice the Bruins had two-goal leads, and twice they let it slip away. This particularly unpleasant development has reared its ugly head once again for Boston.
Letting leads slip away had been a big problem for the Bruins for the better part of the regular season. Losing two or even three goal leads late in games was part of that “Jekyll And Hyde” team head coach Claude Julien referred to during the first round against Toronto. But, since that famous seventh game against the Leafs, we had not seen much of those Bruins except for a small hiccup in Game 4 against New York.
Maybe that was because the Rangers and the Pittsburgh Penguins were paper tigers, and now the Bruins have run smack-dab up against a very good Blackhawks team — a recent champion and a team who plays a physical brand like Boston.
Game 1 saw a lot of the regular season Bruins who could not move the puck out of their own zone with any regularity. We saw more turnovers in Game 1, including a huge one in the third in their defensive zone by rookie Torey Krug that led to a Chicago’s second goal and a momentous tide shift. Shortly after that, a shot from the point glanced off Andrew Ference’s skate and behind Rask to tie the game.
These things happen in the course of any hockey game, and they are correctable. The Blackhawks committed their share of errors, and the Bruins made them pay early on, but regrouped and bounced back. The Bruins can certainly do the same over the next two days.
Hurley: Bruins Let One Get Away
But, the failures of the Bruins third and fourth lines to convert on quality scoring chances is beginning to really haunt the team. In the cross hairs are Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley, who despite getting quality minutes have been non-factors throughout the postseason. Peverley has one goal and zero assists in 16 playoff games while Kelly has played 17 games and has yet to record a single point.
The Bruins have survived that lack of secondary scoring by relying heavily on top-liners David Krejci, Milan Lucic, and Nathan Horton (who was injured in the 1st OT and is now day-to-day), and Patrice Bergeron. And, of course, there is the performance of Rask, who made 59 saves on Wednesday night and shouldn’t be faulted on any of the Blackhawks goals.
The Bruins could have won a game that they may or may not have deserved, but the fact that remnants of their late season, late game disasters resurfaced in Game 1 is troubling.
Seeing such mistakes again, in the Stanley Cup Final, is simply a recipe for disaster against the Blackhawks.