Saturday night, the Bruins and Blackhawks played Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals. It was yet another thrilling, close game that again went into overtime.. luckily this time it only took one overtime period to determine the winner, which was Boston. It was only fitting that we win this game, taking place exactly two years after we won the Stanley Cup in 2011.
The game started with the Blackhawks dominating offensively in the first period. In that first 20 minutes, they out-shot the Bruins 19-4 and had 16 scoring chances to the Bruins’ 2. Luckily for Boston, our defense was solid and Tuukka Rask was outstanding in net. Even with all of those shots, the Blackhawks only scored one goal.. and a lucky one at that. If somehow found its way through a ton of bodies in front of the net, so you it wasn’t really anyone’s fault. Further, one of the Blackhawks players fell onto Rask, so you could argue that a goaltender interference penalty should’ve been called.
Rask and the Bruins stayed strong and kept the Blackhawks from scoring for the rest of the game. I think one of the things that helped Boston was that we out-hit Chicago by far. At the end of the game it was 50-34 in favor of the Bruins. Milan Lucic was a big part of our physical game, giving most of those hits himself. His strong play amped up the rest of the team as it usually does, which was another big help. We also only had eight giveaways to their 16.
So the key players in this game were Lucic, amping up the team, Rask making keeping the Bruins alive with all of his saves, and the new third line of Chris Kelly, Tyler Seguin, and Daniel Paille, which coach Claude Julien put together on the fly during the game. Rask stopped 33 of 34 shots, including two of two during Blackhawks power plays. He ended with a .971 save percentage. Everyone wondered whether he would be able to fill the big shoes of former Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, who had an epic Stanley Cup run for the ages in 2011. Well, at this point, 18 games into the playoffs, Rask is actually doing better than Thomas was. He has a .944 save percentage and 1.72 GAA while Thomas had a .929 save percentage and a 2.29 GAA!
Now about the new third line.. Everyone wondered how the lines would change because we all expected that Nathan Horton would not be playing after he left Game 1 in the first overtime period with an “upper body injury” and did not return. It turns out his injury is chronic left shoulder subluxation. This means that his left shoulder pops out of its socket very easily, and we now know that he’s been dealing with it and playing through it for a couple of months now. Well, being a trooper, like the rest of the Bruins, he came back and played in Game 2. So the lines didn’t need to change, but after a few bad plays by our third and fourth line, Claude Julien made the chance and put Kelly, Seguin, and Paille together. One of our issues in Game 1 was that only our top two lines were really doing anything.. but in Game 2, it was all about the new third line. They scored the game-tying goal in the second period, during only their second shift together, as well as the game-winning goal 14 minutes into overtime. Each one of them stepped up and had arguably their best game of the playoffs so far.
Daniel Paille is one of the most underrated players in the NHL. While he’s usually on the fourth line here, he would likely be on the second line anywhere else. Unfortunately for him, the rest of his usual line hold him back from having great stats. He is, however, very good with his hands, very fast, and very committed. This is why he is my friend Dan’s favorite player. Dan was extremely happy with this game as Paille was definitely the MVP of it, being the main reason why both of our goals were scored. He kept calling for Paille to either score a shorthanded goal (which he is so good at since he tends to steal the puck then get breakaways) or score a game-winning overtime goal. Well Paille finally got the latter. He almost had the first goal himself, too. He made a great steal behind the Blackhawks net and tried a wrap-around goal. It didn’t go in, but it did leave a rebound that Kelly easily knocked in. In overtime, about 14 minutes in, we fought hard to keep the puck in Chicago’s zone. Adam McQuaid got it to Seguin, who passed across to Paille. Paille then took a nasty wrist shot and beat Corey Crawford in the far top corner.
Also worth noting, is that Claude Julien played rookie defenseman Torey Krug. After a bad giveaway in Game 1 that led to a Blackhawks goal, many thought rookie Matt Bartkowski would play in place of Krug. However, Julien ultimately made the right decision as Krug had a great game. Another note is that Jaromir Jagr had a really good game too. Once again, he had a bunch of shots on goal that looked like they would finally by his first playoff goal with the Bruins, but he continued to be robbed.
Overall, the Bruins played a great game, and the Blackhawks are likely frustrated as they’ve taken a huge number of shots and only scored a few goals at this point. This is great for us, and we can still follow my original prediction of winning one of the first two games, then winning Games 3, 4, and 6 at home. The momentum is definitely in our favor, and now we’re in Boston for two games. The series being tied at 1-1, it has now become a best-of-five series with three of those games in Boston. Bruins fans should feel very confident at this point. There are just too many reasons why we have the better team for us to lose the series. Sure it could still happen, but taking everything into account, we should win. Plus with everything that has led up to this point for Boston, it just feels right. Still, no matter what happens, Bruins fans, remember, you must always..
Thanks for reading,