Statistically, the Boston Bruins have the worst offense of any team that made the playoffs this season. The 206 goals they scored during the regular season was the second lowest total in the NHL, and a far cry from last year when they trailed only the Detroit Red Wings in terms of overall output.
But after watching the Bruins beat the Flyers 5-4 in the opener of their Eastern Conference semifinals, capped off with a made-for-television moment with their best offensive player Marc Savard returning from a long absence and scoring the winner in overtime, you might think Boston is feeling a sense of déjà-vu.
Especially because of the way they overwhelmed Philadelphia in the overtime. The Bruins had their wheels churning all day, yet still found themselves forced to play an extra session because of a couple of defensive miscues and breakdowns by their penalty killing unit that had been previously impenetrable during the playoffs. But when the teams returned for the fourth period, with some NBC executives no doubt sweating about the potential for running into the start of the Kentucky Derby broadcast, Boston looked like it had been shot out of a cannon.
The Bruins looked like they were skating downhill, while the Flyers looked as lost at the outset of the overtime as they did at the start of regulation. Thing is Philadelphia had something of an excuse in the opening period because they had been idle for eight days, enough time to create at least some rust. But after scoring twice in the last eight minutes of the third period to force overtime, the Flyers should have carried some momentum.
Instead, they found themselves back on their heels as soon as the puck was dropped, struggling to get the puck out of its own end in the first five minutes. Boston applied tremendous pressure, the kind they have not shown often if at all this season, and had the Flyers twisting, turning and trying to figure out what was coming at them.
Were it not for some superb work by Philadelphia goalie Brian Boucher, the Bruins would have ended much earlier than they did. Boucher made his first big save less than a minute into overtime on Daniel Paille and then followed up in the same sequence by stopping ageless Mark Recchi twice from the lip of the crease. Boucher’s stonewalling extended to Michael Ryder on two separate shots to his glove side, and probably had the Boston crowd wondering if he wasn’t destined to steal a victory.
Those fears likely dissipated when Tuukka Rask, who had a pretty good day of his own in Boston’s goal, stopped Daniel Carcillo on a breakaway. Moments later, Daniel Briere, who was both a hero with the tying goal and a goat for not checking David Krejci properly on Boston’s fourth goal, made an ill-advised decision in his own end and that was the beginning of the end .
Boston pressured deep and kept the puck in Philadelphia’s end. An attempt by the Flyers to clear was negated when Bruins defenseman Dennis Wideman, whose strong postseason is wiping away the bad taste of his miserable regular seaon, pinched in nicely to keep the play alive. The rolling puck ended up on Savard’s stick, and in his first game back after missing eight weeks with a concussion, he fired home the winner with a top-shelf shot.
It seemed like old times for the Bruins. Or at least a made-for-television event.
Bruins turn back the clock
Posted on: May 1, 2010 4:49 pm