NOTE: “ECQF” stands for Eastern Conference Quarter-finals
Last night the Bruins began their 2012 Stanley Cup Playoff run against the Capitals in Boston. It was a great game, but also surprising.. I never thought there would be no goals scored in regulation, but that’s what happened. This was especially surprising because it was a playoff game and you don’t normally see that. Plus, playoff hockey is normally intense, but this was on another level. Even though nobody scored in regulation, there were tons of good scoring chances a big hits.. for both teams. The game went to sudden death overtime and the Bruins ended it in dramatic fashion with a big save by Tim Thomas on Marcus Johansson, followed by a great outlet pass from Joe Corvo, leading to a goal by Chris Kelly just 78 seconds in for the win.
While Chris Kelly isn’t normally who people think of in terms of top Bruins scorers, maybe he should be. He greatly improved his game when playing for us during last year’s playoffs, in which he got five goals and eight assists in the 25 games; this coming after he had just five points in the 24 regular season games he played. He also had a great regular season this year with a career-high 20 goals and 39 points with a +/- rating of +33 (tied for third in the league). He was definitely the star of the game, putting in a huge effort the whole time, and some of his teammates even made comments to the media saying so. His heroics earned him the necklace that has taken the place of last year’s good luck charm, a tattered windbreaker, which the Bruins handed out to the star of each game during their playoff run that brought Boston its first NHL title since 1972. The necklace was a heavy 20-link chain, which Kelly explained “symbolizes a team” (20 players per team can dress for each game). It was chosen by Andrew Ference, who famously bought a cheesy-looking, vintage Bruins windbreaker online to use for last year.
Chris Kelly wasn’t the only player performing well, though. The entire team brought lots of energy to the game. Right from the start we were flying all over the place and had the Capitals on their heels as we spent the majority of the first 40 minutes in their end. At that point, after two periods, shots on goal were 26-7 in favor of the Bruins! The Capitals then picked up their game in the third period and at the end of regulation, shots on goal were 29-16 in favor of the Bruins. Hits were 40-29, also in their favor.
We brought our physical game right from the start, with Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg led the way. At one point, Chara put a nice hit on Jason Chimera, knocking him down. Then when he tried to get up, Chara knocked him down again. It was great.. a bit of revenge for his dirty hit that left Adam McQuaid injured a couple of weeks ago. The Capitals couldn’t match us physically, but they certainly tried. As much as I hate Ovechkin, I’ll admit he put in a huge effort.. offensively, defensively and physically, mainly targeting Seidenberg and Chara. I don’t think Ovechkin and the Capitals will be able to keep it up through the whole series though. They had a hard enough time keeping it up in this game.
The Bruins weren’t just shooting and hitting machines though.. they came up big defensively too. They only allowed the Capitals’ two stars, Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin, to get a whopping one shot each! And when the defense did break, Tim Thomas was there to pick up the pieces, looking very sharp. He got a shutout, only having to make 17 saves. While that may sound like it’s not that good with such few saves, it’s actually shows that he was way more focused than if he made a typical 30 saves. This is because he went through long periods of time without seeing any action, and when it did come, it was in the form of quality scoring chances. His best save, and the biggest of the game, was on a one-timer by Ovechkin while the Capitals were on the power play in the third period. If he didn’t make that amazing quick left to right move and stretch his leg way out for a skate save, we may have lost the game at the end of regulation. In their goal, they called up Braden Holtby from the minors since their two normal goalies are both injured. He actually looked pretty good with 29 saves. I think we helped him out, though, by trying too hard to get shots on him early and not taking quality ones.. so he was able to make a bunch of saves right off the bat and feel a bit more confident, allowing him to make some big saves later on. Fortunately for us, he looked like he took Kelly’s goal pretty hard as it should have been a pretty routine save. So hopefully we shook some of that confidence back out of him.
I’d like to close by saying that the atmosphere at TD Garden was awesome. The crowd was completely into it. I’ve been to a lot of Bruins games, but I didn’t remember it ever getting this loud. The “Let’s Go Bruins” chant broke out constantly and there was some great jeering and heckling. The feeling was electric. You could tell that everyone was really excited to have the chance at consecutive titles.. and that we all felt optimistic about it, not just in a hopeful way, but in a confident way. This is how it should be at our game, so keep it up Bruins fans, and remember…
-The Bruins have now won their last five playoff home games that went to overtime.
-This was the 126th consecutive Bruins home game to be sold out.
-This was Capitals goalie Braden Holtby’s first NHL playoff appearance. In the regular season his record was 4-2-1 with a 2.49 GAA and .922 Save Pct. He may not play again as the Capitals normal two goalies, Tomas Vokoun and Michal Neuvirth, are close to returning from their injuries.
-Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, in the regular season, was 35-19-1 with a 2.36 GAA and .920 Save Pct. In the playoffs last year he was 16-9-0 with a 1.98 GAA, .940 Save Pct. and 4 shutouts. In this game, he got his 6th career playoff shutout.. he’s now tied for 2nd for Bruins goalies with the most playoff shutouts.. the leader is Gerry Cheevers with 8.
-The last time the Bruins won a playoff game 1-0 in overtime was 1935.
-The last two times these teams met in the playoffs, the winner went on to reach the Stanley Cup finals. The Bruins made it in 1990, and the Capitals in 1998.
Last night was also pretty crazy for the other teams playing.. three of the four games went to overtime, with the Sharks going to double overtime to beat the Blues. Here’s how the playoff bracket looks currently:
You can stay updated on the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs here:
Here’s a video of Shawn Thornton putting a big hit on Marcus Johansson:
Here’s a video of Dennis Seidenberg’s big hit on Alex Ovechkin:
Here’s a video of Tim Thomas’ huge save on Alex Ovechkin:
Here’s a video of Chris Kelly’s game-winning goal in overtime:
Here’s a video of a glass panel falling off the boards and hitting David Krejci:
(This was after the game ended. He missed the next practice but says he only has a sore neck and will be back for Game 2 on Saturday.)
Here’s a video recap of the big saves and the goal from the game:
(Extended recap below)
Here’s an extended video recap of the game (in HD):
Here’s a video of the NHL’s Top 10 for 4/12/12 (#1 is Chris Kelly’s goal):
(It has highlights from all of the games around the league on 4/12/12)
Here’s the NHL’s video recap of the game:
Here’s the NHL’s page of video clips of the goal and some saves and hits:
Here’s the NHL’s photos from the game:
Thanks for reading,