Another night, another squeaker at the Garden as the Bruins get a late goal from Milan Lucic to take a 2-0 lead over the Philadelphia Flyers. After an intense, but not too spirited first game on Saturday, Monday’s game surely has kickstarted the true “playoff intensity” that many expected this series to have. At the center of it all was Daniel Carcillo, doing his best to tarnish the legacy of the Broad Street Bullies in one game. We will get to his antics in a second, but first let’s start with the actual hockey that was played.
The Bruins have the 2-0 lead and are in control of the series, but it is not like they have been far and away a dominant team. The B’s have never trailed over the two games, but couldn’t put the Flyers away in either game until late in the contest. Two plays the other way over two games and the Flyers could be heading back to Philly with a 2-0 lead.
Not that the Bruins should feel lucky to be ahead in the series. They have earned that right with great starts and even better finishes. However, the middle of the game is also important and the B’s need to work on that.
In Game 2, the Bruins twice allowed the Flyers to score late in a period to tie the game. Rather than take a lead into intermission, the B’s gave the Flyers life. The second period goal that Danny Briere scored was especially tough to swallow. The Bruins failed to get anything going on a power play that came about due to a Briere hooking penalty and then watched as he snuck in down the right side and snapped a laser past Tuukka Rask with 25 seconds left in the period. The reaction from Claude Julien said it all as he was disgusted that his team would lapse into slumber at such a key moment. One cliché that is abundantly accurate in the playoffs is that “every shift matters” and you can’t take any off. The Bruins did that late in the period and paid the price.
Out of the break, though, the Bruins turned it on again in the third period and outshot Philly 11-5. Michael Ryder had a good chance early, but Brian Boucher turned everything aside until there was less than three minutes left. The Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Miro Satan line came through again, this time with Lucic getting the game-winner. The sequence started with a good forecheck by Lucic to force the defense into a dangerous clear attempt. The puck bottlenecked in the corner and then the second clearing push deflected up in the air and right to Lucic who was manning the high slot in his defensive role. With his back to the goal, Lucic turned and fired a slapper that was behind Boucher before he even saw it to give the Bruins the lead. Just good, solid hockey from that line which has clicked since the middle of the Sabres series. Satan and Lucic now have three game-winners between them out of Boston’s six wins. The trio has a total of 20 points over eight games.
Heading into the series, the injuries to Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne were key points when people were making the choice as to who would win the series. Those two are big components of Philly’s offense who factor into the power play and penalty kill as well. What wasn’t mentioned was how the loss of Carter would impact the face off dot. In Game 2, the B’s had a 38-26 advantage in draws. Mike Richards, who won 14 draws in the opener was 5-for-21 on Monday. With Carter out, Briere had first crack at second-line center and was moved out for Game 2 after looking more lost than Dr. Jack Sheppard in his own zone on Saturday. Philadelphia’s mismanagement of faceoffs in its own zone has led directly to a pair of Bruins goals – both involving Patrice Bergeron. ON Saturday, he won the draw back to Dennis Wideman (after Richards was kicked out of the draw on a false start) and then Bergeron got the rebound when he was unmarked in the crease. On Monday, Bergeron won the draw back cleanly and no Flyer picked up Johnny Boychuk who snuck across the top of the circle and fired a wrister past Boucher. Boston’s ability to win a big faceoff has given them control of play more than the Flyers and allowed the Bruins to dictate the course of the game.
Speaking of courses, after last night’s game, certified cementhead (Note: All respect mentioned for Carcillo in the last column no longer exists) Dan Carcillo claimed after the game that Marc Savard tried to turn his finger into an appetizer last night during a post-whistle scrum. Now, excuse me if I have trouble believing the words that come from the one of the biggest divers, whiners and embellishers in the playoffs not wearing a Penguins jersey, but I am having trouble smelling what the Car Bomb is cooking. Before I get too far, I also want to state that I don’t completely disregard what he is saying. Is it possible that Savard took a chomp? Sure. No one has ever accused Savard of being a choir boy on the ice. He enjoys chirping and sticking as much as anyone in those little meetups after whistles. The situation in question came about after Savard “slashed” Boucher’s glove in an attempt to get at a rebound in the second period. After the whistle, Carcillo and Kimmo Timonen came at Savard pretty hard and took him to the boards. It looked like for most of the scrum Carcillo had his glove in Savard’s face and then as players converged it is hard to see what happened. After things settled down, Carcillo’s gross mug came out saying “he bit me” while pointing his finger at the ref to show him those deadly, non-blood inducing or permanent mark-leaving chompings. Here is my point. If Savard had bitten Carcillo, why would Carcillo not have just leveled Savard? If the action was so egregious, so against the honor code that Carcillo clearly lives by (see his head shot to Steve Begin earlier in the game followed by crumpling like his head was chopped off on the retaliatory cross check) then Carcillo would have responded to show Savard how “real men” play the game.
Is biting okay? No. Carcillo has somewhat of a point there, that biting another player’s finger while in a scrum like that is not cool. However, Savard is claiming that Carcillo was jamming his slimy digits into his mouth and pulling at Savard’s teeth. These skirmishes shouldn’t be conducted like the bottom of football piles where everyone is pulling and punching on anything they can find. Hockey has long held itself to the standard of settling things with fists to face. If Carcillo is going to be mad that Savard closed his teeth around his fingers, maybe he shouldn’t be trying to jam them down his throat to begin with.
Okay, that is more talking about biting and jamming things into a player’s mouth than I ever wanted to write about here, so let’s move forward to today’s “Pop Culture Comparison”.
For Game 2, we are moving away from television and into the music industry. Today’s category is “Songs from 1990s Rappers Turned Academy Award Nominated Actors”
Will Smith came to fame as The Fresh Prince back in the 1990s, not only combining with DJ Jazzy Jeff on many great songs, but also leaving West Philadelphia (where he was born and raised) for Beverly Hills. After his TV run ended, Smith went on to a great movie career with two Oscar nominations to his credit so far and one great – but nominationless – performance in Independence Day. While his lifestyle and song list at the moment isn’t as edgy and hip as it was back in the 90s, he is still producing music at times and staying true to his family. One of those songs that have come out in recent years is “Just the Two of Us” an ode to his son. While the relationship between Mike Richards and Danny Briere is not one of father and son (although I could picture Richards carrying Danny B around in one of those things they carried Carlos around with in The Hangover) they are the only two players up front who have shown up so far this series for the Flyers. As Big Willie Style says in the song, “Just the two of us, we can make it if we try …Just the two of us, building castle in the sky … Just the two of us, you and I,” that has been the offensive firepower for the Flyers so far. Briere, much to my chagrin, has two goals and two assists so far, as does Richards. Besides that, the Flyers have four assists from the other 10 forwards. No goals from any other forward. Claude Giroux, masterful in the first series, is 0-fer so far. James van Riemsdyk, who had 15 goals in the regular season, has one assist all postseason and no points in two games this series. If the Flyers are to get back in this series, they will need more from that supporting cast to help out Richards and Briers.
Around the same time that Will Smith was telling the cabbie, “Yo Homes, smell ya later”, Marky Mark was lounging on the other side of rap, bringing the energy and anger while urging the masses to keep feeling those “Good Vibrations”. And that is exactly what is being felt at the TD Garden these days. The Bruins are 5-0 at home in the playoffs, taking full advantage of a new-found home-ice advantage. The B’s had the worst home record of any team that made the playoffs during the regular season and too often saves their biggest disappointments of the season for the home crowd. Now, in the second season, it is second life for the B’s as they are scoring big goals, making big saves and keeping the crowd into it. As Marky Mark says, “It’s such a good vibration … It’s such a sweet sensation.” In the Buffalo series, when the Bruins were not scoring first, the crowd never got down. The chants of “Let’s Go Bruins!” and the serenading of the goalies after any goal have to be echoing down to the teams on the ice. Already, the goals from Miro Satan against the Sabres, and Savard and Lucic against the Flyers have to rank in the top five of goals scored in the Garden (Ray Bourque’s goal in the 96 All-Star Game and Savard’s winner against Montreal in 2008 being the other two). Boston is a hockey town whether it wants to admit it or not. Back in the late 60s and early 70s, the Bruins were the hottest ticket in town as the other three teams stunk. Today, the people who grew up on that team are in their 50s and 60s and have children who they raised to be Bruins fans who grew up on Bourque and Neely. There is a third generation who only know heartbreak and mediocrity before these last three years of excitement. But those young fans have heard the stories of what it is like when the Garden is rocking with good vibrations from a Bruins playoff win. Last week, the whole fan base got to celebrate a series win on home ice for the first time since 1999. Now, they are prepared for more. As the good prophet Marky Mark implores, “If you ain’t in it to win it … the get the hell out.” It is safe to say that there were 17,000 strong in it to win it in the stands last night.
Now, the series heads down to Philly. The Flyers always play well on home ice in the playoffs and their crowd is going to feel like it has an important role to play in keeping the team afloat. Wednesday is expected to be 85 degrees and sunny all day so expect plenty of tailgates and a very fired-up crowd. The Flyers cannot let this series get to a 3-0 Bruins lead. The Bruins must understand that a win by the Flyers makes this series a toss-up again for all intents and purposes. Will there be any carryover from Carcillo’s carnivorous claims? How quickly will things get out of hand if the Bruins score a few quick goals? Will the Flyers having last change give them a chance to set the matches they want and keep Richards away from Chara? How will Tuukka Rask handle the most vicious crowd he has ever played in front of? All important questions. More importantly, will I survive my trip to the game? A full report will come your way on Thursday and hopefully live updates throughout the day from the parking lot at Wachovia Center.