BOSTON (CBS) — Overtime playoff hockey is the best and worst for fans.
Generally you are on the edge of your seat ready to jump off the couch to screaming “GOAL,” or the worst expletive should it not go the way you would like. Over the years, I’ve had my share of both of those emotions.
Bobby Schmautz in 1978 against the Montreal Canadiens was a tremendous high for Boston and the Bruins, as was Brad Park in 1983 against Buffalo. But OT lows are the worst of emotions, especially May 10, 1979. I can honestly say that was one of my worst days in life, sad but true. I can still remember everything about that day from about 5pm until about 11pm. It was not pretty.
But Thursday night, as the Bruins came back from a two-goal deficit against the Red Wings in raucous Joe Louis Arena to send the game into overtime, for some reason there was no major emotional swings like I used to have. Maybe with age my emotions are more controlled because there really is not much I can do about the outcome. Maybe since June 15, 2011, I’ve become jaded and arrogant since that WAS the best day of my life.
Or maybe it is simply because I’ve become used to seeing the Boston Bruins approach each game the same way. There is no panic in the team; they know what they need to do, even when they get behind on the road. Of course, it doesn’t always work that way. But Thursday night was a steady, business-like performance by the Bruins, who are clearly a better team than Detroit.
The Red Wings came out strong Thursday night, taking the lead on a power play goal and adding to it on a couple of miscues by the Bruins. Both goals were scored by proud papas, Pavel Datsyuk and Niklas Kronwall, and the Motown fans were rocking.
That’s when most teams would begin to crumble. But not the Bruins. They aren’t as fast as the Red Wings, but the experienced Bruins are bigger, stronger, nastier, and they have the better (and healthier) netminder in Tuukka Rask. Torey Krug cut Detroit’s lead in half with a power play goal off a faceoff that, of course, Patrice Bergeron won. Boston didn’t let up, and Milan Lucic tied it on a nice backhand feed from behind the goal line by Carl Soderberg just a few minutes into the third period. Then in overtime, Jarome Iginla deftly tipped a Dougie Hamilton shot that was most likely going wide, deflecting it off Danny Dekeyser and by Jonas Gustavsson for the game-winner.
Game over, and what followed was that satisfying feeling that you know the Bruins had just done what they set out to do. Not only did they regain home ice advantage, they continue to crush the will of the Red Wings. They owned the third period, and Detroit Coach Mike Babcock said of Boston, “They got better as the game went on.” The Bruins third period dominance continued into overtime, which has been their trademark all season long.
Now we head back to the TD Garden for a potential clincher on Saturday afternoon. The emotions will be high for most of the fans in attendance and watching on TV, but as the signs and T-shirts say, just “Keep Calm.”
We know the Bruins are among the best in the business when it comes to doing just that, no matter the situation.
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