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Death on the 5-on-3

April 27, 2011

David Krejci performs his Nutcracker moves. 

Bad discipline. Bad luck. Game seven, here we come.

Perhaps it should be an encouraging sign that the Habs were only capable of scoring 5-on-3 last night, even though the tantalizing prospect of closing out the series loomed for the Bruins. It was a game of decent quality for both squads, with the Bruins suffering after their lucky break in the first period. The disallowed Gionta goal that resulted in boos and threats of a bench minor for items thrown on the ice most definitely should have been a goal. The referee, David Pollack, blew the whistle, stopping the play dead as he assumed Thomas had it in his pads or glove. Of course, he did not. And as the 13.0 market share in the Boston area, all NHL Network viewers across the US and CBC viewers know, it definitely was not. No, it was a good foot and a half to his left, sitting there, when Gionta popped it in. I don’t blame the Montreal fans for reacting as they did. It was about as botched a call as they come, reminiscent of the Germany v. England World Cup match last June, except the opposite. But hockey plays live and die by the whistle, something I actually appreciate. Doesn’t matter the mistake made, the whistle solves all. Except when it’s used incorrectly.

That said, that was the Bruins’ saving grace in the first period. Then came the second, where Lucic found himself ejected for his bone-crushing but clean hit on Jaroslav Spacek right into the hard, hard Bell Centre glass and before the eyes of the stunned, blue-blazered off-ice officials. I don’t know how I feel about the call and the game misconduct. There wasn’t intent to injure and the league won’t take further action so luckily he won’t miss tonight’s game. But it seems Spacek’s injury and laying motionless on the ice had something to do with the misconduct. Which, alright, that’s fair. It hurt the team considerably, as Paille and Marchand filled in on the top-line and other lines got a bit topsy-turvy there for the rest of the game.

They had a slew of great scoring opportunities, and I felt their defensive play was strong. It’s just that 5-on-3 makes it mighty difficult to stop the opposition from scoring, plain and simple. They played a superb triangular system, rarely snapping out of position during those periods of time. But there’s only so much you can do with 5-on-3, especially against a team rife with snipers who can slink in and out or stand stationary and bang pucks home. It was nearly inevitable. 5-on-3 doesn’t happen all that often even. The Bruins just really goofed up–having things like too many men on the ice occur when the puck bounced off McQuaid’s skate while getting off the ice and then having another penalty on top of that, and then Lucic’s five minute major followed by another minor–it’s just all too much. We can only hope it won’t happen again tonight.

And that Bruins power-play? Well, forget it.

Some thoughts:

Mark Recchi. He will be in the Hockey Hall of Fame one day. He’s an outstanding leader. He scores timely, greasy goals around the net and is a tip-in artist. But these last view games he’s been barely visible out there. Ineffective. I don’t know what to do, what to say, but, he’s slow. Now that I’ve said this, watch him score tonight.

Tim Thomas. A beast.

Chris Kelly.  Ever since he began wearing his cage after slamming his face into the goal in game three, he’s been executing plays, dangling and weaving through traffic and taking amazing shots like nothing I’ve seen before. He shows determination, grit and skill that I didn’t know he was capable of.

Tomas Kaberle. What happened?

Lars Eller. Danger, danger, high voltage.

TD Garden: I think, for once, home-ice advantage will come in handy. The “Ole, ole, ole” last night did appear to have an adverse effect on the Bruins. Home crowd should bode well.

Let’s do it.

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