Last night the Bruins took on the Penguins in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. It was a long, grueling game, going into double overtime and lasting over 95 minutes! The Penguins finally put up a good fight for the first time in the series, but the Bruins did their thing, ground it out, and came out with the win to take a commanding 3-0 series lead! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!
As stressful as it was, with the game lasting so long and having it be sudden-death for basically 55 minutes of play (adding in the third period), it was very fun to watch. While the Penguins spend more time on offense than we did, when we were in their zone, we worked out offense really well and got some great scoring chances. Fortunately for Pittsburgh, their goalie Tomas Vokoun had played very well, otherwise we would’ve scored at least a few goals.. including Jaromir Jagr, who once again had some close shots that I thought would finally be his first playoff goal with the Bruins. I really hope it comes against his old team (the Penguins), which is also the team that stole Jarome Iginla from us.. although, that is looking to have been a good thing for us.
Jagr may not have scored a goal yet, but he is the reason we have scored a few goals (including game-winning goals) and kept or gained momentum.. which wins games. In particular, in Game 2, his tough play got the puck to Patrice Bergeron, who got it to Brad Marchand, who scored our fourth goal to answer for the goal the Penguins had just scored, killing their momentum and giving it to the Bruins. Then, last night, he did it again in double overtime.. He stole a Penguins pass out of their zone, then Evgeni Malkin hit him up high and took the puck.. He then muscled it back to himself and then to Marchand, who sent it in front of the net.. Bergeron tipped it in and scored the game winning goal! Jagr is amazing at controlling the puck, creating space, and setting up plays.. and he’s doing it all at 41 years old!
The Hockey Gods work in mysterious ways.. They gave us Jagr, who has been big for us, gave the Penguins Iginla, who has done nothing, and even let us keep Matt Bartkowski, who had a great series against the Rangers. (If you didn’t know, the Bruins thought they were going to sign Iginla and trade away Bartkowski among others, then he decided to go to the Penguins and we got Jarg instead.) I think the Hockey Gods also like Boston winning Stanley Cups in 2-in-3-year spurts.. We won it in 1939 and 1941, then in 1970 and 1972. Now we’re going for 2011 and 2013, and it’s looking like we’re going to have a real chance, especially if you look at how we’re dominating Pittsburgh. NOBODY thought the Bruins could beat them, or that they even stood a chance, and now we’re going into Game 4 tomorrow in Boston with a chance to sweep what was considered the most potent offense, at least in the East. If we sweep them, or even win in five or six games, not only will the team be confident that they can beat whoever wins the West, but I will be, and all Bruins fans should be too!
Last night, we also had our usual solid defense, especially from our captain, Zdeno Chara, who led the team in ice-time with a ridiculous 42 minutes! Dennis Seidenberg was right behind him with 40 minutes. Still, our most important defensive player, our goalie Tuukka Rask, was an even bigger factor. He had an outstanding game. He stopped 53 of 54 shots against him last night, including 13 of 13 during Penguins power plays! He finished with an insane .981 save percentage! Thanks to him and our defense, “the most dangerous offense in the league,” (the Penguins) have now only scored two goals in three games. That’s right, the team that came into this series averaging 4.3 goals per playoff game is averaging 0.67 goals per game in this series! After 215 minutes of play, they have had 110 shots on net and only 2 goals.. much thanks to Rask.
Among the billions of other reasons that I want the Bruins to win the Stanley Cup this year, one of them is that the movie they’ll come out with about it will be absolute sports gold. I recently watched the one from our 2011 championship and it made me feel all warm inside. The best part, though, is not just that we won, but all of the storylines that wove together to earn the win. I bring this up because the current Cup run has arguably even better stories attached to it. Probably the biggest is the epic comeback win in Game 7 against the Maple Leafs. Some sports commentators have called it the most epic NHL playoff game ever! On one of the sports networks (I forget which, probably the NHL Network), that game was ranked #1 in the top 10 most epic Game 7’s of all-time! With only 10 minutes in regulation, the Bruins were down by three goals, yet the came back to tie it (two of those goals with our goalie pulled) and eventually win it in overtime. Then there’s the whole Iginla/Jagr/Bartkowski situation that I mentioned. There’s also the fact that David Krejci is leading the playoffs in points and goals, and is second in +/- rating. What’s more, Nathan Horton leads the playoffs in +/-, is second in points, and is third in goals. We also have a bunch more players who are right up there at the top. So basically, we have a very well-rounded and deep team. Another great story has been our rookie defensemen Torey Krug, Matt Bartkowski, and Dougie Hamilton. Due to injuries, they’ve had to play a lot and they’ve come up huge. Krug even set a record as the first rookie defenseman ever to score four goals in his first five NHL playoff games! Another huge story is Tuukka Rask. Everyone wondered if he would be able to adequately replace Tim Thomas, who had a legendary (and arguably the best ever) playoff run in 2011. Well, at this point, Rask’s stats are better than Thomas’ were when we won the Cup. Even the eye test would tell you he’s been better.
The story that could possibly end up being the biggest, though, is something that happened last night.. Gregory Campbell is the man! He absolutely DEFINED “team player.” During a Penguins power play, he sacrificed his body to block a really hard shot by Evgeni Malkin. His leg was hurt so badly that he dropped his stick and tried to limp off of the ice on one leg. But then the Penguins got the puck back, so he was forced to stay there and play defense. He stayed there for 52 long ass seconds, standing on one leg, and still deflected a pass or two. When the Bruins finally cleared the puck out of the zone, he was able to limp to the bench. The crowd immediately broke out with a deafening chant of “Campbell, Campbell, Campbell!” I was very happy that the crowd supported him so strongly.. Our players need to know that we appreciate how hard they play. We later found out Campbell’s leg was broken! Yup, a broken right Fibula! Whaaaat?! And he played defense for almost a minute after breaking it?! … Yeah!.. He’s a hero! He’s a champion! He’s a true Bruin! This is one of the greatest examples of “taking one for the team” ever! The only thing that sucks about is that he’s done for the rest of the year.
Here’s a video of it (also below): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h15m87WsCHQ
Tomorrow night, the Bruins will play Game 4 in Boston with a chance to sweep what was thought to be an unbeatable team. Even if they Penguins decide to put up a fight and win, it’s almost a sure thing that we’ll win the series and move on to the Stanley Cup finals. We only need one more win to do it, and only five more wins to get the Cup. This Bruins team is the best I ever remember seeing, and some of these games are even the best I’ve seen them play. They’re looking even better than the team that won the Cup in 2011. So everyone, Bruins fan or not, should see that they have a great chance to win it all this year. Still, no matter what happens, remember Bruins fans, you must always..
Here are some videos from Game 3:
Extended Game 3 highlights (HD):
Short Game 3 highlights (SD):
Full Game 3 (HD):
David Krejci opens the scoring with a sweet goal (his 9th playoff goal):
Brad Marchand gets in Brenden Morrow’s face:
Tuukka Rask makes a big save on Beau Bennett:
** Gregory Campbell plays defense during a penalty kill for almost a full minute after breaking his leg from blocking a 90 MPH shot by Evgeni Malkin:
Tuukka Rask makes a nice save against Evgeni Malkin, then Zdeno Chara clears the puck:
Tuukka Rask makes a save against Beau Bennett:
Tuukka Rask makes a save against Kris Letang and a couple more:
A scrum breaks out in the first overtime:
Tuukka Rask makes a nice save against Craig Adams:
Milan Lucic hits Brooks Orpik hard in 2nd overtime:
Jaromir Jagr gets yet another great scoring chance in 2nd overtime:
Jaromir Jagr steals the puck, gets it to Brad Marchand, who centers it for Patrice Bergeron to tip in for the game-winning goal (his 5th playoff goal):
NESN commentator Jack Edwards gives a powerful soliloquy about what Gregory Campbell did, as well as law enforcement and war veterans:
Thanks for reading,