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Game 4: Demonstrative

June 9, 2011

The splendor of TD Garden on a hockey night in June.

That’s it. Demonstrative. There isn’t quite another way to characterize game four last night, as the Canucks wound up on the bad end of a 4-0 walloping and the Bruins were triumphant again. It’s much too soon to speculate whether the series will be pushed to six games or seven. The Bruins have merely tied it up. Winning, as everyone has now noted, winning in Vancouver is imperative. Until the Montreal series, these teams have benefited from their home crowds. After three rounds, it is perhaps, in light of fatigue and injury, one of the most important factors. In round one it may have created too much pressure, it may have been a distraction. By what is now round four, the home crowd is a vital impetus and a cushion.

Last night the Bruins and Tim Thomas once again demonstrated their ability to overcome adversity and showed what this series was about or could be about. Games one and two were heartbreaking, not only in the final score, but the fact the Bruins lost in the closing seconds (or opening seconds of overtime). Victory was possible. Games three and four were a redemption of sorts, and a resounding set at that.

Much of the focus will be on Luongo’s subpar performance, on the lack of shots from the Sedins, of the seeming spiral into inefficacy by Kesler each game after initially strong starts. What isn’t being assessed is just how well the Bruins are actually playing. Tim Thomas is standing on his head and playing the very best hockey of his career right now. But the Bruins forwards are surely no slouches. For all the talk of the power-play failing (oh did it fail) and the fact there are no snipers, Krejci and Lucic, Peverley and Ryder have performed astoundingly in that role. And then Marchand. Really, everyone. This is team effort. The Bruins lack a “go-to” guy. They lack a game changer. But collectively they manage to all contribute and pull together. For some that’s a sign of a deficient team, for others, a healthy team. I see both at times. But at this stage of the Finals, it’s impressive. The scoring has flooded in. The Bruins have learned to quickly and efficiently peel apart the Canucks defensive–one which leaves (much like Montreal) the goalie completely alone and out to dry.  But the Bruins have exploited that.

The shenanigans of game three were mostly absent, save for a handful or so of misconducts and a rash of penalties in the closing minutes. It seems all but inevitable at this point. It’s not right, it’s not appropriate. But there’s no disincentive (other than integrity, maybe?) to not act up in the last minutes. Burrows messing with Thomas and Thomas slashing him back? All good. All part of the message-sending. Chara and Kesler, their respective teams’ leaders? They can stand not to play in the closing minute. Eh.

In a more focused assessment, Peverley looked great playing wing with Lucic and Krejci. He’s no Horton, but he filled in very well, netting two goals in the process. Seguin, back in the line-up, was limited to less than eight minutes of ice time, but he did manage a spectacular cross-ice pass to generate the Ryder goal. The team looks sharp. Kaberle, for all the criticism, is playing very, very soundly right now.

Seidenberg, heck, if I could put him in the running for the Conn Smythe, I would.



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