Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Post-game thoughts: Game 4, Canadiens 1 Bruins 0
This game could have gone either way.
No, seriously. That's such a lame thing to say, I know. I ripped on my Colts fan roommate for a week after the Colts-Pats game this season for insisting upon that very same statement. "Sure, it COULD have gone either way... but it DIDN'T. BOOYAH!" Eh, I was young and reckless and we were in the throes of the best season in the history of professional football. Let it go.
But seriously: this game could have gone either way.
Game 1 against the Canadiens had most people around town singing gloom and doom. Yes, in a lot of ways, that game was nothing but ugly from a Boston fan's perspective. Montreal skated circles around us offensively, out-shooting us by a solid 2:1 ratio and ultimately beating us 4-1. For playoffs hockey, that's a thrashing. As the Globe's Kevin Paul Dupont wrote, "It had the look of the first day of school, the Bruins as students, the Canadiens as teachers."
Am I crazy? Somehow, I didn't walk away from that game as depressed as I should have been. I saw two things in that game that, despite the scoreboard, served to bolster the guarded optimism I'd previously indulged in. First, we shut the Habs' killer power play down, holding them 0-5 on the power play through 3 periods of play. Second, our goaltending was SOLID. I mean it. I've betrayed my undying admiration of Thomas' netminding style before; technically unconventional though it may be, it's dazzling and clutch when he's on. The question looming over the playoffs, obviously, was would he be on? And by god, Thomas was ON last Thursday. When you're getting absolutely rained on with shots the way he was, 4 goals are going to happen; Thomas still had 28 saves (including 7 out of 7 on power plays) on the night. That's hot, kids. That's playoffs hockey. That's a goalie.
Since that night in Montreal, the Bruins have stepped up like few would have believed. In game 2, we out-shot the Habs 39-31. We took another loss, sure, but it was clear that game 1 was far from being an indication of what was to come in the series. Thomas notched another 28 saves, and the Bruins looked ready to skate with the Canadiens for the duration of this round. Then, of course, came THE WIN: a dramatic Marc Savard (Savard is my current vote for MVP of this series, by the way) goal in OT to lift Boston over Montreal and blast the Bruins back into contention. The hugeness of that goal cannot be overemphasized. Years from now, that goal will echo in the minds of Bruins and Habs fans alike. Boom, bitch. WE'RE NOT GOING ANYWHERE.
Sigh. Then we had tonight. Again: THIS GAME COULD HAVE GONE EITHER WAY. This was playoffs hockey at its finest, as both teams flew back and forth across the ice and defensive lines on both sides fought back with all their might. So swift and clean was the play, in fact, that the 3rd period saw not a single penalty called. Lucic, in particular, was electric: he dominated the ice in Game 3 and squared off in in a ferocious physical game against Montreal's Mike Komisarek tonight. The goaltending, too, was spectacular. I've raved about Thomas, but a tip of the hat is certainly due to rookie goalie Carey Price, who's been unflappable in the net for Montreal. This game was as beautiful as hockey gets. The loss didn't feel like the punch in the face that Thursday night's did; it cut as sweetly and devastatingly as a blow from a saber. Series advantage: 3-1, Canadiens.
But we were there. We skated with them. We held them. We had 27 shots on goal to their 28. We played this game without Phil Kessel, without Patrice Bergeron, and with everything to lose. We played our asses off, and we emphatically showed Les Glorieux that we are not to be counted out. Say it with me now: THIS GAME COULD HAVE GONE EITHER WAY.
My point, ladies and gentlemen, is this: don't count us out yet. DON'T YOU FUCKING COUNT US OUT.
Plus, anyhow, any good Boston fan knows a 3-1 series deficit in the playoffs only means more games for us to watch.
Charity time! I will be doing the Walk for Hunger on Sunday, May 4. If you'd like to sponsor me as I walk 20 miles around the city of Boston and raise funds to feed hungry families in the area, please shoot me an email.