“Oh my God oh my God oh my God” I kept saying – like many other Bruins fans late Monday night. Honestly, when we were down 1-4 going into the third, I seriously doubted we could do it. To be honest, I’m ashamed to admit I made a bargain with God. “God, if you let the Bruins win tonight for Boston…” a city who needs it more than anyone else right now “…I swear I will buy the jersey of the player who wins.”
And I ate my words shortly thereafter – even though I didn’t have the money. A Number 37 Jersey is on its way in the mail. A self-centered request? Maybe. Proof God exists? Ha – definitely. (My Screen Name isn’t Third-Quarter Prophet for nothing)
Regardless of the victory – I also just wanted to see the infamous live-feed of Toronto’s Maple Leaf Square, and I wanted to take in the horror that must have been displayed on each and every face in that city as some form of repentance for the “Toronto Stronger” signs I was fuming about last week.
(For you sadomasochists – here’s the picture:)
When the game was finished – aside from the mad frenzy of emotions gushing out of me – I felt a familiar spark. What was it?
Oh yeah – it was the Game 7 Overtime win over Montreal that lit the flame that guided the Bruins to the Cup in 2011.
To put a dorky spin on this one – you could learn a thing or two about physics in a number of ways. You could sign up for a class, buy a textbook – OR you could crack open a beer and re-watch the Bruins 2011 Stanley Cup run.
Its an easy choice to make really, as Bruins fans are more than happy to dust up on “momentum” lessons.
You see, when the Bruins (mass) start moving (velocity), momentum is created, but it’s the rate in which the B’s move that determines the amount of momentum.
Before Monday night, the Bruins last first-round series win came against the Montreal Canadiens in 2011 after being down 2-0 in the series on the road. They won four of the next five, knocked off Montreal and eventually hoisted the cup. Who’s cup? Stanley’s Cup!
This time around, they improbably came back from a 4-1 deficit in the third period of Game 7 – after holding a 3-1 series lead – to beat the Maple Leafs in arguably one of the most epic 3rd period comebacks ever. Is the Bruins’ Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde type of play a thing of the past? Can they run an improbable – IMPOSSIBLE! – come back into real momentum heading into the second round and possibly beyond?
“Well – that’s the one thing that I’m hoping, that we can grab that momentum that we had at the end and carry it into the next series,” Claude Julien said to reporters after Monday’s win, “We know we have to be better, we can’t keep playing well in spurts and not so well in other spurts. There’s got to be some consistency. In the year we won, we had a 60-minute effort. That was our goal.”
The Bruins didn’t get out of the first round last season, as they were upset by the Washington Capital in seven games.
“We always talk about it. The first round is the hardest one to get through,” Milan Lucic told reporters. “You just want to build off it. It’s just one round and you got to look forward to the next step here.”
And thinking into the future? I want to dissect the Anatomy of a rivalry.
Who? Who do you think – Boston’s #1 rival in ALL OF SPORTS – the infamous New York Rangers. Yeah, the B’s and the Rangers haven’t met in the post season in decades, but thing could very well heat up in a hurry. Why you say? Well I’d be happy to elaborate.
It is shocking that two teams with so many similarities haven’t met in the postseason for exactly 40 years. The last time the Bruins and Rangers played each other in the playoffs was the 1973 quarterfinal round (New York won 4-1). These Original Six rivals will be renewing their acquaintances again starting tomorrow for Game 1 at The Garden. Beside having passionate fanbases and defensive minded coaches, when you dig beneath the surface you’ll realize how much these clubs have in common.
“Its another New York-Boston series,” said Lucic, “Red Sox-Yankees, Patriots-Giants, and the Celtics just played the Knicks in the playoffs. There is plenty of hatred between the two cities, so we’re looking forward to the series.”
Plenty of people bash Bruins head coach Julien’s overly defensive system, but one can bet Ranger head coach John Tortorella (a Concord Mass. native) would not be a part of that vocal group. Boston often struggles to score, but New York usually has big trouble putting the puck in the net as well. The strength of both team lies in goal: Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist won the Vezina Trophy (award for best goaltender in the NHL) last season and is a favorite to capture it again this season (THOUGH I Personally think its bullshit that Tuukka Rask wasn’t even considered – so this is a very touchy subject for me personally.)
New York has only allowed 12 goals in its grueling seven-game series against Washington, including back-to-back shutouts by the Swede they call King Henrik in Games 6 and 7.
As much as I HATE the Rangers – I also can’t. From bone to muscle, they’re built of Massachusetts talent. Center Brian Boyle, from Hingham Mass., and left wing Chris Kreider, from Boxford Mass., both played at Boston College for legendary head coach Jerry York. Defenseman Matt Gilroy won the Hobey Barker (top college hockey player) at Boston University for the recently retired Jack Parker in 2009 but he was a healthy scratch in the entire series against the Capitals.
New York’s mentality is to wear teams down by playing physically, blocking shots and letting Lundqvist do his thing. It’s a formula that makes for plenty of close, low-scoring games that are extra nail-biters in the post season. So get your stress-balls ready, this series is going to be a doozy.
Matchup-wise, this doesn’t seam like the worst opponent for the Bruins – especially since they will have home ice and both teams have the exact same amount of rest since New York won its Game 7 on Monday too. One of the main reasons that Toronto rallied from a 3-1 series deficit is that their overall team speed was something that mostly plodding Bruins couldn’t keep up with. In the Rangers, the B’s will find a team that’s more of a mirror image – something to make for quite a match-up.
All in all – I’m willing to bet that we will be seeing a physical, edge-of-your-seat series that will surely please any diehard hockey fan. The only thing I truly believe all-in-all, is that the Bruins have the leverage of momentum, and talent to bring it all the way this year (all while cutting King Henrik’s shot at the Vezina down as much as possible – because I hate that guy!).
(B)-E L I E V E in the Bruins – Boston Bleeds Black-and-Gold.