Bruins Take Down New York and Clinch the Division

The Bruins celebrate their win over the Rangers (4/1/12)

The Bruins celebrate their win over the Rangers, with much thanks to Tim Thomas.

4/1/12: Bruins at Rangers - Final Score (2-1 Bruins)

Wow!  What a match-up!  The Bruins played the Rangers last night and it was one of the most intense games with some of the best hockey I’ve seen all season.  In the last regular season meeting of these two teams, we managed to keep them from sweeping the series.  Even though the Rangers scored first and early in the came, we persevered and proved once again that it’s not over when we fall behind.

They had beaten us three times before this game.. but this one was different.  This time, we were in what I will call our end of the year groove.  This means that we’re in kill mode with our sights on the Stanley Cup.  We haven’t seen the Bruins get into this kind of rhythm in a very long time.. until the end of last year.. and this time, we actually look even better!  It took us awhile to work through our mediocre-streak, but on St. Patrick’s Day, we turned it all round with a shootout win against the Flyers.. and that includes improved goaltending.  After that we destroyed the Maple Leafs in an 8-0 blowout and have gone 7-1-1.  Now our defense is better, everyone on the team is contributing offensively, and Tim Thomas seems to have gotten into his own end of the year groove.. and if he can play half as well as he did in last year’s playoffs, we’ll be in a great position.  Even Marty Turco has proven himself with some huge saves since his initial not-so-great start.

Tim Thomas stands by his net and smiles, happy he's in a groove

Bruins goalie Tim Thomas stands by his net and smiles while play is stopped.. a great sign that he's in his playoffs groove.

With the Bruins’ resurgence and the strength that the Rangers have had for most of the season, this game looked like it was the Stanley Cup Finals.. it’s too bad these too teams, both being in the Eastern Conference, can’t both be in the finals.. yet..  Starting next season, I think, they are changing the league structure so that can happen.. and as much as you may argue against that, I think it’s probably the right thing to do, considering the finals are supposed to have the two best teams in the league.. and it seems like that’s the Bruins and the Rangers.. at least right now.  At the same time, I do like the whole East against West aspect of the current setup, and I hope we get the chance to kick the Canucks’ asses again this year.  But I digress..  My point here is that these two teams look great and this was a really intense hockey game.  On a side-note, the Flyers at Penguins game earlier in the day was very similar in intensity and rivalry..  The Bruins-Rangers and Flyers-Penguins matchups look like they would be very fun to watch in the playoffs.. I hope they all stay in the same spots in the standings so we can see it.

If the standings do remain as they are, it will be great to see, as well as give us a pretty good chance of getting to the Eastern Conference Finals.  It would mean that we face the Senators in the first round, who have improved a lot this season, but are still no match for us.  This would be fun to watch because it shouldn’t be too hard for us to win, plus we’ve started a violent rivalry with them this season.  Also in the first round, the Penguins would face the Flyers, which as I said is another great match-up.. and luckily for everyone else, it means one of the best teams right now will be eliminated in the first round.

The other spots in the standings don’t really matter, but if these ones don’t change, the playoffs will probably play out as I’ve described and we’ll be facing the Rangers in the Eastern Conference Finals, making for one hell of a series.  Then if we can beat them, we would stand a pretty good chance of winning the Stanley Cup as I don’t feel like any of the teams in the west are better than the Rangers, though they are close.  So hopefully the standings remain the same and the postseason plays out as I’ve predicted.  Remember, Bruins fans, (B)elieve! (with a Bruins ‘B’)

Zdeno Chara breaks through the defense and skates ahead (4/1/12)

You can't stop the Zdeno Chara freight train!

My Highlights/Rants

This section is where I put my notes from the game, with the plays that I felt were worth highlighting and ranting about.  This is basically my version of a game recap, intended for those who would like to read one that tells more than just what happened on paper.  So, if you just want a summarization and my thoughts on what the game means for the Bruins, just read the section above and the “Final Thoughts/Notes” section near the bottom.  Following this section are some videos and links…

1st Period
-It starts with lots of back and forth and a couple of nice saves by Tim Thomas.
-Then about four minutes in, we get a good offensive stand and a nice shot by Milan Lucic.  Then a bomb by Zdeno Chara hits Jordan Caron.. Chara hesitates, looking to see if Caron was ok.. but the puck had bounced all the way past him.. Marian Gaborik takes it and gets a breakaway.. he scores 5-hole for his 40th goal of the season.
-About eight minutes in, the Rangers get a bunch of shots on goal real quick and Thomas makes some big saves.
-Almost 10 minutes in, Thomas makes a nice pass all the way up to Brad Marchand for a nice break and shot.
-12 minutes in, great chance by Chris Kelly.. bringing it all the way in on net, but Henrik Lundqvist poked it away.. then Shawn Thornton and Benoit Pouliot both jammed at it and almost got it in.
-About 17 minutes in, we get a nice offensive stand.
-The period ends 1-0 Rangers.

2nd Period
-A minute in, we get do some good work, but then the Rangers take it the other way and Thomas has to make a couple saves.
-Four minutes in, Chara with a quick pass to Dennis Seidenberg on the blue line.. he scores his fifth goal of the season!
-A minute later, Seidenberg with another nice long shot, then a nice hit by one of the other Bruins players.  Soon after, Michael Del Zotto put a big on Rich Peverley into the bench.
-Six minutes in, the Rangers get a short offensive stand and Thomas makes a nice save.
-Nine minutes in, Marchand chances the puck down behind their net, grabs it and almost scores a wrap-around goal.  Then going the other way, Thomas makes a nice save.
-Halfway through, Thomas makes a big save on a double deflected shot while falling backwards onto his butt.
-Then their Del Zotto gets an interference penalty.. karma, bitch!
-On the power play:
–We start with an offensive stand but can’t get a shot off.
–A minute in, we get a couple nice shots.. then some hard work by Tyler Seguin and Patrice Bergeron in the corner.. Bergeron steals the puck, whips around and jams it in the goal for his 22nd of the season!  That’s the first power play goal for us against the Rangers this season.. they have had great defense and penalty killing.. and goaltending.
-Soon after we got another great chance, then Lucic with a big hit on Anton Stralman, who was setting a pick and blocking where Lucic thought the puck was going to go.. he gets an interference penalty.. bullshit!
-On the penalty kill:
–We do a good job of defending and keeping them from getting a stand until the second minute.  We kill that stand off in 30 seconds, then kill the rest of the penalty off.  The Rangers didn’t get any shots.
-16 minutes in, nice work by Peverley bringing the puck in and shooting.. leading to an offensive stand.
-With under two minutes left, Thomas with a nice save on a bouncing shot.  Then soon after, Brian Boyle falls onto Thomas, seemingly with intent to interfere.. so Chara gets in his face.. then Thornton after the play.. so he gets a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.. if you’re going to give him one, then you should definitely give Boyle a penalty! WTF?!
-We kill off the first half of the penalty to finish the period with some good defense and some big saves by Thomas.
-Shots on goal so far are 18-15 and faceoffs won are 18-11, both in favor of the Bruins.

3rd Period
-(We are +41 in the 3rd period this season)
-We start by finishing the Thornton penalty kill:
–We defend well, then back in our end we make a nice defensive play to swipe the puck away from the empty net.. but we get a penalty.. now it’s 5-on-3.
–We kill off the 5-on-3 with a couple nice save by Thomas.
–Then we defend well and kill off the second penalty.
-In the next couple of minutes, we do some good work and Thomas makes some nice saves.
-Five minutes in, the Rangers get a penalty for too many men on the ice.
-On the power play, we get a couple of nice offensive stands with some good shots.. one of them deflected just wide.
-Halfway through, some shoving starts after the play, centered around Boyle.. but both teams control themselves, knowing how important this game is for each of them and not wanting to get penalties.
-Then we get an offensive stand.. Lucic with a nice hit, then he takes the puck and does a nice centering pass that just missed two Bruins.
-In the next couple minutes, we get some good chances, but the Rangers pick up their game and Thomas has to make some big saves.
-With just under three minutes left, Thomas makes a nice up close save.
-With two minutes left, Thomas comes way out of his net to grab a puck, then he falls and loses his stick, gets back to net quickly and makes a glove save.
-With just over a minute left, the Rangers pull their goalie for an extra attacker.
-We defend and Thomas makes a huge kick save, then we ice the puck with 42 seconds left and we use our timeout.
-We defended well and even came back the other way at the end and got the puck in the empty net just after the buzzer.
-We win 2-1!

Final Thoughts / Notes
-Dennis Seidenberg is back.. obviously (he scored).
-Zdeno Chara has a four game point streak with a goal and six assists.
-David Krejci, who scored two goals on Saturday, has three consecutive two-point games.
-Tim Thomas had 33 saves and a .971 save percentage in his 34th win of the season.  The Rangers’ goal, Henrik Lundqvist, had 19 saves.
-In the last 41 games before this one that the Rangers had scored first, they only had three regulation losses.
-We clinched the Northeast Division, the second spot in the standings, and home ice advantage for the playoffs, as well as prevented the Rangers from clinching first in the Eastern Conference.

So now we should rest our top players and maybe try messing with the lines to see if any other combinations work better.  We have three regular season games left that don’t matter.  There is the argument that resting them will make them a bit rusty, but I think they’ll be fine.. plus even if they do need a few games to get back on track, it shouldn’t matter because we should be able to win the first round.. especially if it’s against the Senators.  So I say rest Thomas, Chara, Seidenberg, Bergeron and maybe some others, then let’s go at that Stanley Cup full throttle!

Here’s a video of Dennis Seidenberg’s goal:

Here’s a video of Milan Lucic’s big hit on Anton Stralman:

There wasn’t much on YouTube, so here are links to videos of the Bruins’ goals:
Dennis Seidenberg’s goal:
http://video.bruins.nhl.com/videocenter/console?hlg=20112012,2,1182&event=NYR363&fr=false

Patrice Bergeron’s goal:
http://video.bruins.nhl.com/videocenter/console?hlg=20112012,2,1182&event=NYR380&fr=false

Here’s a video recap of the goals and big saves in the game:

Here’s the NHL’s video recap of the game:
http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/console?hlg=20112012,2,1182

Here are the NHL’s video clips of the goals and some saves and hits:
http://bruins.nhl.com/club/gamevideo.htm?id=2011021182

Here’s the NHL’s photos from the game:
http://bruins.nhl.com/club/gallery.htm?id=29044&location=/photos&pg=1

Thanks for reading,
Matt

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About bost0nfire

Here in Boston, our pro sports teams won seven championships in a decade, with all teams accounted for. That means the Bruins, Celtics, Red Sox, and yes the New England Patriots.. they did play in Boston at one time after all.. and they're still our team. So, I declare Boston to be the City of Champions. ... Check us out on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/b0stonwins?ref=hl ... Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/BostonWins_Blog ... **** READER DISCRETION ADVISED: Adult Language may be used.
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