Published April 21, 2011
Which Boston Bruins team will show up Thursday evening in Montreal? We all hope it will be the one that was on the ice for the first two periods of Game 3. We do not want to see the third period Bruins, who — in part due to the Canadiens’ desperation — were helter-skelter, could not get the puck out of their own end and gave up 13 high-quality shots, while managing just two shots of their own.
In that third period, it was the first time Tim Thomas displayed the Vezina Trophy-candidate goaltending that he showed pretty much all season long — although the two goals he did surrender had a lot of “softness” in them, which just cannot happen.
This series has shown that the first goal scored is the all-important factor. Montreal did it in the first two games, while the Bruins built a three goal-lead before hanging on in Game 3’s aforementioned third period. But they also played inspired hockey in those first two periods. They took advantage of the turnovers that Montreal handed them and made netminder Carey Price look beatable.
We could talk about some of the bad things the Bruins did in that game, such as the “too many men” penalty in the game’s first minute. Or the power play (or lack thereof). But these things have been going on all year and the Bruins have been able to survive them. They managed their way to a 103-point season with scoring efficiency and a darn good penalty kill. They seem to no longer rely on the power play, which is a good thing; it hasn’t produced all season and there is no reason to think that will change now. Just decline the penalties.
Home ice has not meant an advantage for either squad, although if you have ever witnessed a playoff game in the old Montreal Forum or the current Bell Centre, you can see and feel why opponents can feel intimidated playing there. Boston seems not to have that problem, but the crowd can stimulate the Habs when they need to come back — like Monday night — or stymie an opponent when ahead.
Win or lose, the Bruins will be back home Saturday night at the TD Garden. A Boston win Thursday and it’s a best-of-three, anyone’s series and a happy flight from Dorval Airport to Hanscom Field. A loss would put the Bruins in a familiar hole, where history is not on their side!