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Bruins mean business

May 1, 2011

The stars of yesterday’s game, David Krejci and Tim Thomas.

A 7-3 flouncing yesterday demonstrated one of two things: either that the Bruins are an outstanding squad very different from the one beaten down last year, or that the Flyers were having a particularly bad night and their own disorganization and failures at goaltending were not indicative of the overall health of their club.

Or it could be a mix of both. Game two will be revealing.

To their credit, the Bruins played extremely well and exploited the Flyers’ weaknesses at every turn. That’s been a shortcoming of the Bruins this year–locking in on deficiencies in the opposition and abusing them. Last night, they did that–peppering Boucher out of net and then Bobrovsky. Seven goals from the Bruins is quite a feat.

But this wasn’t purely a matter of goaltending, as the Flyers defensemen failed to provide their net-minders will coverage when it was desperately needed. Why the massive break-down? It’s unclear. The Flyers are frequently lauded as having one of the deepest defense corps in the league. Certainly Pronger’s continued healing hasn’t helped matters. Pronger logged just shy of 20 minutes of ice-time–down from his mammoth nights of nearly 30 minutes in last year’s playoffs. That has certainly contributed to their difficulties, but why the team couldn’t pick up the slack is unclear. I am thinking that it was an off night. The Flyers are bound to come out mean and strong in game two.

But will the Bruins maintain their winning ways? It seems the first line has finally begun clicking–and that the relief of not facing Subban and Gill has been acute. David Krejci was masterful last night, suspending time and space–his greatest attributes. When Krejci flourishes, the team follows. I have a lingering fear that a Flyer will try to take him out, because he is so light, because he has the history of concussions and the wrist issue, but that’s my own paranoia speaking. Krejci is buffered by Horton and Lucic, who will defend him every step of the way, unlike his line last year. I see Krejci being magnificent in this series. The match-ups will get tougher, and undoubtedly Peter Laviolette will put bigger and rougher players out against the top-line, though. But if Krejci plays like Krejci, he can overcome.

Other thoughts:

Tim Thomas: outstanding, period.

Bruins penalty kill: very good as well, allowing just one power-play goal. However, the Bruins let the Flyers go on three consecutive power-plays in quick succession mid-way though the game, through needless penalties–the most needless of which was Marchand’s trip while he himself was on a breakaway with the puck. That’s just too risky with the Flyers. They will slink goals in on the power-play when their engine is cranking, and it’s bound to soon enough. I did notice that the Bruins were remarkably poised in shutting down two of those power-plays–not even allowing the Flyers into the zone. They kept chipping it out, running the Flyers in circles while passing the puck. It was evident that the energy was there and the desire to not give an inch is there. Those are the intangibles that I see breaking through in this series.

Bruins power-play: So, it’s a disaster at this point. If they manage to score on the power-play it will be a fluke. There were sparks in one of them, but that was the extent of it. Sparks. Not solid chances. They might be better pulling Thomas and having six attackers out there at this point–shake it up, why not? But really, given the state of the power-play, I’ve begun to take a humorous approach to it. The Bruins excel 5-on-5, wherein it’s theoretically more difficult to score. Why? Because they’re the more honest team–they don’t want their opposition to pay for their penalties. You know, the Bruins want to beat you squarely, evenly, on the five-on-five. Because it’s just sweeter that way. Alternatively, forcing the opposition to expend energy on the kill is enough for the Bruins. Why score when you can tire them out? This is just one method of cheering myself up.

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