NOTE: “ECQF” stands for Eastern Conference Quarter-finals
Last night, the Bruins played Game 4 of their Eastern Conference Quarter-final series against the Capitals in Washington. After the previous game, it looked like we would be able to win this one pretty easily, setting us up to win the series at home in Game 5. Their goalie, Braden Holtby, had finally given up more than one goal and it looked like he was the inexperienced and 3rd-string-skilled goalie we all expected him to be. Well, in this game, he completely shattered that perception and can be given about 99% of the credit for the Capitals winning. He made 44 saves on 45 shots!
In the first three games, Holtby made a ton of saves, but they were mostly routine for him as we weren’t getting many quality shots. This time, however, we did get a bunch of good scoring chances and he actually made some legitimately big saves.. some. 45 shots is way above average, so you know they weren’t all good ones. At least 30 of them were from the point. This is not good. We keep running the same setups for taking shots, cycling the puck around to the point. These are long shots and it gives Holtby too much time to react and make a save. We need to start getting more guys in front of the net to screen shots and grab rebounds.. and we need more initial shots to be closer.
We also need to get back to true Bruins-style hockey: dominating physically. In this game we definitely weren’t hitting enough.. Granted, everyone is trying to hold back with all of the suspensions that have been handed out, but you can still by physical without going over the line. Before this game, we owned the hits stat in this series, but in this game, hits were 44-34 in favor of the Capitals.
So we need to get smarter with our offense and get back to hitting, but we could also you some fair and unbiased officiating. The bullshit hooking penalty on Patrice Bergeron led to the game-winning goal by Alexander Semin on the Capitals’ power play. I’m not saying the refs cost us the game, but they did make a terrible call that led to the goal that won the game for the Capitals.. That’s totally lame. I guess people were right to speculate that the refs would make calls in Washington’s favor to make up for their star, Nicklas Backstrom, being suspended.
So the Capitals are giving us a bit more trouble than I thought they would. Still, you have to recall the first round of the playoffs against the Canadiens last year: they made it tough, but we still pulled out the win. That should mean that we have a pretty good chance of doing it again, but that’s not all we have going for us.. As the series progresses, the Bruins have been playing better and better. Even though we lost this game, we dominated it, spending the majority of the time on the offensive. There have also been some Bruins that have really stepped up. In this game, it was Rich Peverley. He made great plays all over the place, offensively, defensively, on the power play and on the penalty kill. He also had our only goal in the game and it was very well executed.. He took the puck from the Capitals, skated it all the way to their goal, totally sold that he would pass it, then faked and took the shot.
It sucks that there will definitely be a Game 6 because it means we won’t get the chance to win the series at home in Game 5. More importantly, though, it will be the day after Game 5 and the teams will have to travel between them. Still, it shouldn’t really be an issue as it will affect both teams. So, as I said, the Bruins are still looking pretty good, and they’ve been improving since the series started, so I still feel pretty confident and you should too, Bruins fans.. and remember…
This section is where I put my notes from the game, with the plays that I felt were worth highlighting and/or 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, then check out the videos and links that follow…
-We start off with good offense, but then, just over a minute in, Andrew Ference gets taken down but Alex Ovechkin as the Capitals are rushing in and they get a 2-on-1.. Marcus Johansson scores.
-4 mins in, Tyler Seguin takes a nice shot, then we get some good offense going.
-A minute later, Seguin rushes in with David Krejci, gives him a pass across the net, Krejci just misses a one timer that would’ve been a great chance. At this point, shots on goal are already 8-1 in our favor.
-Halfway through, shots on goal are 10-1 in our favor.. we’re spending most of the time in their zone.
-11.5 mins in, Krejci wins a faceoff in their zone and feeds it to Brad Marchand right in front of the goal for a good chance.. the shot went just wide.
-Almost 13 mins in, Tim Thomas makes a big kick save on Brooks Laich right in front of the net.
-Then the Capitals turn it over, we get a 2-on-1.. Rich Peverley carries it in, sells the pass, shoots, scores!
-17 mins in, Peverley tries to knock one of the Capitals’ stick away from the puck and ended up breaking it.. he gets a slashing penalty.
-We kill the penalty well, keeping them from getting any shots.
-The period ends tied 1-1.
-Shots on goal are 14-3 in favor of the Bruins.
-We start with some good offense and chances right away.
-A min in, Thomas makes a big save on Laich.
-In the next few minutes, Thomas makes some big saves and we get some great scoring chances.
-5 mins in, Braden Holtby robs Seguin.. then soon after makes a nice save on Peverley.
-6.5 mins in, Holtby makes a great save on Bergeron. At this point, shots on goal are 17-5 in favor of the Bruins.
-A minute later, Thomas makes a big save on Ovechkin, then another on Laich soon after.
-Halfway through, Johnny Boychuk gets a bullshit hooking penalty.. We defend well, other than allowing Dennis Wideman to get a shot on a pretty wide open net.. but he shot it over the net.. We kill it off.
-In the next few minutes, there’s lots of back-and-forth with both teams getting good scoring chances and both goalies making some great saves.
-At one point, shots on goal were 24-5 in our favor, but now the Capitals are getting some good offense going.
-18 mins in, Bergeron gets a bullshit hooking call for knocking Laich’s stick out of his hands when he was just trying to lift it away from the puck.. it was sooo embellished.. he let it go way too easy. The sports media speculated that the refs would try to make calls to help the Capitals since Nicklas Backstrom was suspended.. They were right.
-A minute into it, Alexander Semin scores.
-Soon after, Lucic rushes in to the net, gets the puck under Holtby, but it doesn’t go in.
-The period ends 2-1 Capitals.
-Shots on goal are 32-18, scoring chances are 13-8 and faceoff wins are 33-20, all in favor of the Bruins.
-Tim Thomas made 16 saves so far and some of them were amazing.
-2 mins in, Boychuk makes a big block on a shot that would’ve been a good chance.
-Then we get a nice offensive stand with some good chances.
-4 mins in, we’ve been getting some good offense and shots on goal this period are 6-0 in our favor. Holtby has made 38 saves so far!
-7.5 mins in, Thomas makes a huge diving save.
-Then we get some good offense going. We get a great chance with a shot by Zdeno Chara through lots of traffic, but somehow Holtby sees it and makes a save.
-Halfway through, we get our first power play as Mike Knuble gets a penalty for holding.
-On the power play, we start with some good offensive work, then we can’t get setup for a while. Near the end, Seguin rushes in and takes a nice shot. The Capitals kill it off.
-Then Joe Corvo gets a good chance on a screened shot.. Holtby makes his 42nd save.
-Then Krejci does a nice hit to keep them from leaving their zone.
-14 mins in, we get a nice break, Wideman gets hit in the face with the puck, the refs stop play even though we had the puck in their zone. He totally dove to stop our offensive rush.. he got up as soon as they did.
-15.5 mins in, Lucic makes a great steal on Perrault rushing in.
-17 mins in, Peverley takes a nice shot that goes just wide.
-With a minutes left, Thomas skates off the ice for an extra attacker.
-The Capitals keep us from getting setup for a while.
-With 10 seconds left, Seguin takes a great shot up close.
-Boychuk gets two nice shots, then Bergeron gets one right in front and Holtby makes the save as time runs out.
-The Capitals win 2-1 and tie the series at 2-2, so we won’t have the chance to win it at home in Game 5.. it will go at least 6 games.
-In favor of the Bruins, shots on goal were 45-21 and scoring chances were 14-11.
Final Thoughts / Notes
-Nicklas Backstrom was suspended for his cross-check to Rich Peverley’s face after time had run out in the last game. Former Bruin Mike Knuble played in his place.
-In the playoffs, Tim Thomas has a 1.60 GAA and a .936 Save %.. both lead the league.
-Braden Holtby had a great game with 44 saves on 45 shots.
-This was the 3rd game of the series in which the Bruins only scored one goal.
-The Bruins are the only team, besides the Canucks, who haven’t scored a power play goal in this playoffs yet. The same thing happened in the first round against the Canadiens last year.. but we still won.
-In the Bruins’ practice today (the day after the game), coach Claude Julien has tried messing around with the lines again. There are two important changes. First, Tyler Seguin has moved down to the third line with Benoit Pouliot and Chris Kelly. Julien is also leaving this line flexible, with the option of putting Jordan Caron in his place. Second, Brad Marchand has moved down to the fourth line with Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton. On a side-note, Marchand didn’t seem to be his usual scrappy self in this game.. it seems like there may be something wrong with him, but let’s hope not.
The first round of the playoffs continues to be crazy all around. Nobody expected the 8th seed Kings to go up 3-0 in the series against the Canucks, who finished the regular season at the top of the league for the second consecutive year. People also didn’t expect that they would keep from being swept, but they did with a win on Wednesday. Most people also didn’t expect the Flyers to go up 3-0 in the series against the Penguins. Then, as with the Canucks, the Penguins surprised everyone with a win to hold on.. and not just any win, but a 10-3 win! The two Pennsylvania teams have combined to score 45 goals in the first four games while there have only been 39 goals in the other seven series combined! Another unbelievable stat is that the team who scored first in all four games ended up losing. It was also unexpected that the Rangers would be even at 2-2 in the series against the 8th seed Senators as they were the top seed in the East, and only 2 points behind the Canucks. Also, the Red Wings and the Black Hawks have been two dominant teams in recent history, yet they are both down 3-1 in their series against teams that have been only decent, the Predators and the Coyotes. I guess the fact that the latter two teams finished above their opponents was a sign. They also both have really good yet underrated goalies. Their opponents have goalies that have traditionally been really good, but seem to be on the decline. The Devils/Panthers series is close too, now tied at 2-2 with Devils goalie Martin Brodeur getting the record-setting 24th playoff shutout of his career. Here’s how the playoff bracket looks currently:
You can stay updated on the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs here:
Here’s NBC’s preview of the game (and Blue/Sharks Game 4):
Here’s a video of Rich Peverley’s goal:
Here’s a video of Rich Peverley’s goal in HD:
(it’s part of a goal recap, so don’t watch the rest after his goal)
Here’s a video of Alex Ovechkin going for a huge hit on Zdeno Chara, but getting knocked down himself instead:
Here’s a video of one of the Bruins’ many close scoring chances:
Here’s a video of Tim Thomas robbing Keith Aucoin:
Here’s a video of John Erskine hitting David Krejci illegally (no penalty):
Here’s a video of a bunch of the Bruins’ close scoring chances.. A.K.A. a bunch of big saves by Braden Holtby:
Here’s a funny video of Alex Ovechkin falling when getting on the bench:
Here’s a video of some close calls for David Krejci:
(he got hit by a glass panel that fell off the boards in Game 1, now he almost got his throat cut by a skate)
Here’s a video recap of the goals and big saves from the game:
Here’s the NHL’s video recap of the game:
Here’s the NHL’s page of video clips of the goals and some saves and hits:
Here’s the NHL’s photos from the game:
Thanks for reading,