Bruins Tie Series with Rask Shutout and Rookie Overtime Goal

Matt Fraser and the Bruins celebrate his game-winning overtime goal (5/8/14 - ECSF Game 4)

Matt Fraser and the Bruins celebrate his game-winning overtime goal.

Last night the Bruins played Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinal series against their archrivals, the Habs.  Playing in Montreal and going into the game down 2-1 in the series, this was a huge game.  If they had lost and gone down 3-1 in the series, many would’ve said they would lose the series.  However, they played well and got the win, tying up the series at 2-2 and basically making it a new 3-game series with home advantage for the Bruins.

From what I’ve been hearing from Habs fans on sports radio and online, they felt like if the Bruins won Game 4, it would likely mean that they would win the series.  Granted, in the NHL, and especially with these two teams, you can never be sure as anything can happen.  Still, I have to agree with the Habs fans that feel that way.  One reason is the obvious one: the Bruins now have to win two more games and two of the next three will be in Boston.  The main reason, though, is because they started to get back to their true game.

The Bruins that we know and love, the team that finished the regular season at the top of the league, has still yet to show up in this series.  However, they did start to get back to their way of playing last night.  While there are still a number of players not producing to their potential, they’re getting closer.  They also started to get back to the physical game that they usually play.  In Game 3, they were so afraid of getting penalties that their play could only be described as polite.  Now they were right to worry as the Habs always get penalties called on their opponents, especially in Montreal, but they just went too far in being careful.  Meanwhile, the Habs were still hitting, and there were some pretty big ones too that were borderline penalties (but not called).  In Game 4, they realized the refs were letting them play and they could be more physical..  So they were.

When the Bruins are hitting and being physical they are more effective, especially against the Habs.  Now they are pretty much back to playing the game we all know and which got them were they are.  With this very important win, they also have the momentum.  What’s more, the next game (and Game 7 if there is one) will be in Boston.  These are all reasons why I give Bruins the edge in this series.

On top of all of that, they are also getting closer and closer to scoring as much as they had been.  They are making smarter plays and have hit the goal post probably 10 times at this point.  They’ve been getting bad bounces, but it always evens out in the end.  Furthermore, the players that they’ve been calling up from the AHL to fill in for injured guys have been performing and contributing.  Last night was the prime example.  The Bruins played a solid game and controlled the tempo, getting many good scoring chances.  Still, the game could not be decided in regulation.  It went to overtime tied 0-0.  Well about a minute into overtime, the third line (who was the best in this game) got the puck to the net, then Matt Fraser (called up for this game) knocked in the loose puck for the game-winning goal!  An unlikely hero, yet still not entirely unbelievable..  He had been playing very well in the AHL playoffs, plus, the Bruins organization is very good at choosing and developing players.

Matt Fraser scores the game-winning overtime goal (5/8/14 - ECSF Game 4)

Matt Fraser scores the game-winning overtime goal.

Lastly, I have to mention the Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask.  Like the team, he had not been himself in this series.  Last night, though, he played like we know and expect he can.  He earned his fifth career NHL playoff shutout (second of this year), stopping all 33 shots against him.  He also led the league in the regular season with seven shutouts.  Even after being shaky in the first three games of this series, he still leads the playoffs in all major goalie statistics..  He has a 1.67 Goals Against Average and a .941 Save Percentage.  He is the front-runner to win the Vezina Trophy this year and I absolutely think he should.  Now they he’s getting back to his game, the Bruins and their fans should feel a lot more confident going forward.

So what does this all mean?  Highlighted be the previous two paragraphs, everything I’ve said means that the Bruins have a great chance of winning this series.  Still, as I said, the NHL playoffs (especially when these two teams face each other) are probably the most unpredictable of all sports.  They will have to play their game and play it well.  I just think it looks a lot more likely that they’ll do that after last night’s solid game and win.

I want to mention something again to anyone who reads/follows this blog or who cares about/checks up on Boston sports..  Since I don’t have as much time these days to write blog posts, I tend to write short posts on our Facebook page, typically after each game.  I also share links to all sorts of sports-related stories.  Unfortunately, it’s hard to see those posts from here (they show up on the right side and bottom of the blog).  So, to fully keep up with every little Boston sports story, please check our Facebook page too!

In case you’re too cool for the mid-sentence links above, here’s the address for our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/b0stonwins

Now get pumped for what promises to be an epic, stressful, and exciting final few games of this series with these videos:

Game 4 Highlights:
Short Highlights:

Extensive Highlights:

Some Slow-mo Highlights:

Bruins/Habs Rivalry videos:
Bruins/Habs 2014 Playoffs Pump Up:

Bruins/Habs 2011 Playoffs Pump Up:
This was made in for the 2011 playoffs, but it’s still great.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0VHCPNpWg_A

Bruins 2014 Playoffs Promo:
This one isn’t Bruins/Habs specific, it’s an overall Bruins playoffs promo, but there are some great clips involving the two teams.  This one pumps me up more than any other.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yXD3x91Mtk

Bruins/Habs Rivalry Videos:
Now see just how crazy, passionate, and how far back this rivalry goes with these videos. The first two are “top 10 Bruins/Habs moments” videos with overlap, but not completely. The other ones are montages of rivalry clips..

Top 10 Memorable Momentshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SsKvwG0rT6I
Top 10 Momentshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoXAhnjKdg0
“34 Year War”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0R_cBY1hn0
“The Rivalry” (mostly for Habs fans) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajZIILhpU1g
Greatest Rivalry – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oXhDO46mwwo
Bruins/Habs Bench-clearing Brawl (11/8/70)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFHRb8GxWB0

General Bruins promo videos:
“The Calm” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlRCPDnP-5I
Bruins Godzilla Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQ90_swuyuc
Top 10 Milan Lucic Fights – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KthQD9W1Pnw

So get psyched for the rest of this series, get your beers and antacids ready, and remember Bruins fans..

Bruins - "Believe" (with Bruins 'B')

Thanks for reading,
Matt

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Bruins Push Ahead Against Archrival Habs

Bruins/fans celebrate Nathan Horton's series-winning overtime goal in Game 7 of the 2011 ECQF (4/27/11)

Bruins/fans celebrate Nathan Horton’s series-winning overtime goal in Game 7 of the 2011 ECQF.

Tonight, the Bruins will play the Montreal Canadiens in the first game of the record 34th playoff series in which these two teams have faced each other.  Many would say this is the greatest rivalry in all of sports, and I would agree.  Granted, there are other big ones, and perspective and personal taste does come in to play.  Those who call baseball their favorite sport would probably say that the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry is the greatest.  I do think that one is great, but the Bruins/Habs rivalry just seems so much more powerful and epic.  Maybe it takes a huge hockey fan like me to see it that way, but I just can’t see how any other rivalry is bigger.

Any time these two teams face each other, especially in the playoffs, it makes me happier, angrier, and more stressed out then almost anything in my life.  Yes, that probably means I’m a bigger fan than most, but even the fringe fans can get sucked in.  Years ago, before I was the Bruins-obsessed hockey fan I am now, I was still drawn in by this rivalry just because I know how much history there was.  It helped make me the fan I am.  If you’re a smaller fan or barely one at all, I suggest you watch this series.  The more I watched them, and especially the more I went to games, the more I got into them and the sport.  I would argue that hockey playoffs in general are the most entertaining and epic of all sports, and when it’s the Bruins, you’re always in for a treat/hockey clinic.  I repeat, no matter how much you pay attention to the Bruins, Habs, or hockey, you must watch this playoff series.  I guarantee you won’t regret it (besides the hangover) and I’m pretty sure you’ll come out of it with a greater love for the Bruins and appreciation of the sport.

THIS        WILL        BE        EPIC        ! ! ! !

Bruins/Canadiens Rivalry

Now I also want to mention something else to anyone who reads/follows this blog or who cares about/checks up on Boston sports..  Since I don’t have as much time these days to write blog posts, I tend to write short posts on our Facebook page.  I also share links to all sorts of sports-related stories.  You’ll notice the last post on this blog was before the first playoff series started.  Well, I did make short posts on our Facebook page after each of those games, as well as linked to some other stories.  Unfortunately, it’s hard to see those posts from here (they show up on the right side and bottom of the blog).  So, to fully keep up with every little Boston sports story, please check our Facebook page too!

In case you’re too cool for the mid-sentence links above, here’s the address for our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/b0stonwins

Now get pumped for what promises to be an epic, stressful, and exciting playoff series with these videos:

Bruins/Habs Rivalry videos:
Bruins/Habs 2014 Playoffs Pump Up:

Bruins/Habs 2011 Playoffs Pump Up:
This was made in for the 2011 playoffs, but it’s still great.

Bruins 2014 Playoffs Promo:
This one isn’t Bruins/Habs specific, it’s an overall Bruins playoffs promo, but there are some great clips involving the two teams.  This one pumps me up more than any other.

Bruins/Habs Rivalry Videos:

Now see just how crazy, passionate, and how far back this rivalry goes with these videos. The first two are “top 10 Bruins/Habs moments” videos with overlap, but not completely. The other ones are montages of rivalry clips..
Top 10 Memorable Momentshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SsKvwG0rT6I
Top 10 Momentshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoXAhnjKdg0
“34 Year War”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0R_cBY1hn0
“The Rivalry” (mostly for Habs fans) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajZIILhpU1g
Greatest Rivalry – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oXhDO46mwwo
Bruins/Habs Bench-clearing Brawl (11/8/70)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFHRb8GxWB0

General Bruins promo videos:
“The Calm” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlRCPDnP-5I
Bruins Godzilla Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQ90_swuyuc
Top 10 Milan Lucic Fights – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KthQD9W1Pnw

So get psyched, get your beers and antacids ready, and remember Bruins fans..

Bruins - "Believe" (with Bruins 'B')

Thanks for reading,
Matt

Posted in Boston Bruins / NHL, Sports | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bruins are Best in NHL, Clinch Presidents’ Trophy, Ready for Playoffs

2014 Bruins - David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Daougie Hamilton, Zdeno Chara, Jarome Iginla

The 2013-14 Bruins – Best in the NHL

The Bruins finished the regular season at the top spot in the NHL and clinch their second franchise Presidents’ Trophy (for most points).  The last time they won it was in the 1989-90 season.  They got to the Stanley Cup Finals that year, but lost.  Last year, the Blackhawks won the Presidents’ Trophy, then they beat the Bruins to win the Stanley Cup.  If we can take any implications from those two seasons, it would mean that the Bruins will get to the Finals, and since things in sports seem to follow trends, it should mean that they will win.

Bruins clinch their second franchise Presidents' Trophy (4/13/14)

Bruins clinch their second franchise Presidents’ Trophy.

Still, implications and trends aside, if you really look closely at this Bruins team, you will see that they are not only the best team Boston has had arguably since the Cup-winning teams of the early 70’s, but they truly are the best, most complete, and deepest team in the league this year.  There are numerous statistics that will tell you this.  In all of the important and meaningful ones, the Bruins are first, second, or third, and in the other ones they are in the top five.  This includes some that the NHL doesn’t track, but the local sports network NESN does, like how good teams are during five-on-five play (based on goal differential).. in which the Bruins are the best.

We also had the most wins at 54, least losses at 19, best ROW (regulation plus overtime wins) at 51, best point percentage (percentage of possible points earned per game) at .713, were third in goals per game at 3.15 (only 0.06 behind the leader), and second in goals against per game at 2.08 (only 0.03 behind the leader).  Also, unlike 2011 when we had a terrible power play percentage (and still won the Stanley Cup), we were third this year at 21.7% (1.7% behind the leader).  We were also eighth in penalty kill percentage at 83.6% (2.8% behind the leader).  These are all pretty standard team stats, and we were at the top of most of them.  If you somehow give a score to teams for their combination of ranks in all of the statistics, the Bruins would definitely be at the top.  They are the best all around team by far.  And as for the depth, just look at the statistics on the second and third line players.  The Bruins have arguably the best third line in the league and their second line stands up to most teams’ top line.  Just look at the Carl Soderberg highlights video below.

For individual players, the most important and telling statistic is plus/minus, which tells you the result of subtracting all of the goals scored against the player’s team while they were on the ice from the number scored by his team while he was on the ice.  This is the most telling of players who play hard on both ends of the ice.  For example, Alex Ovechkin scored the most goals of anyone in the regular season (51), but was third worst plus/minus (-35) out of 886 players!  That is ridiculous!! ..and nearly impossible to do.. that is unless you are not a two-way player like him.  He not only doesn’t even try to play defense, but it seems as though he only cares about his personal statistics.  Players like this are a liability when you want your team to actually go somewhere.. hence his team not even making the playoffs and some teams that are normally considered pretty bad making it over his team.

So, considering the Bruins system is defensive minded, and their players are the type who really buy into it, we should have some of the best in plus/minus.. and we do.  We have the top three in the league.  We also have the fifth, 10th, 11th, 16th, 22nd, 29th, and 30th best in this category.. and remember, that’s out of 886 players!  This alone shows how well-rounded and deep the team is, as well as how difficult they will be to beat.  While just looking at goals isn’t really important, I will mention that this Bruins team has two 30-goal scorers in Jarome Iginla and Patrice Bergeron, and three others wo had 20 or more.  Also, David Krejci had 19, but led in points when adding in his 50 assists.  But that’s the regular season.  In both 2011, when the Bruins won the Stanley Cup, and in 2013 when they went to the Finals, Krejci led the league in playoff points.  Further, he led the league in playoff goals in 2011 and was second in 2013!  He is always huge in the playoffs.

Now back to Patrice Bergeron, this was the second 30-goal season of his career, and Bruins president Cam Neely said this was the best he’s ever seen Bergeron play.  But that doesn’t even begin to tell how valuable he is.  He is the personification of the Bruins system.  While he is a fantastic playmaker and great goal scorer, he is arguably the best defensive forward in the league year after year.  He always hustles back to defend and is constantly in the perfect place to break up an opposing offensive play or steal a pass, then turn it into transition.  He deserves to win the Selke Trophy (for best defensive forward) every year.  He won it in the 2011-12 season, but deserves it again this year.  On a side note, I think that if he wins one more big thing, like the Selke or a Stanley Cup, he will be a lock to get into the NHL Hall of Fame.  He is also consistently one of the top faceoff winners.  He’s the most complete player in the league in my opinion.

So we’re great on both offense and defense, but don’t forget about the goalie.  Tuukka Rask has had a stellar year and should win the Vezina Trophy (for best goalie).  He led the league in shutouts with seven and the best save percentage among starting goalies with .930.  He was also led in goals against average with 2.04 among starting goalies.  He’s second (only 0.07 behind the leader) if you count Cory Schneider as a starter, though he only became one later in the season and played 13 fewer games than Rask.  Quick shout-out to Schneider who is a local boy from my hometown of Marblehead, MA.

So, what I’m really trying to say is that there is no reason the Bruins shouldn’t be able to win the Stanley Cup this year.  Granted, the first round against the Red Wings will be tough, but the Bruins are so much better it would be a huge upset if they didn’t win the series.  After that, because of the new playoff seeding system, we’ll face either the Canadiens or the Lightning, rather than the lowest seed left like if would’ve been in the past.  I don’t really like this, but at the same time, if you’re going to win the Cup, you have to beat good teams.  So be it.  We can do it.

My playoff beard is trimmed and ready to grow and not be shaved until the Bruins are done.  I hope yours is too.  Even the ladies!  No, not really the ladies.  But ladies, you can still do your part by cheering on the team and wearing any Bruins gear you have.. or by supporting and dealing with your obsessed boyfriends/husbands if you’re not a fan.  It’s that time of the year again Bruins nation..  It’s time to..

Bruins - "Believe" (with Bruins 'B')

Now get pumped up for the first Bruins game on Friday April 18 with the following videos.  (And is it me or does the NHL always make the Bruins have their first games way later than anyone else?)  These videos are a bunch of Bruins season/playoffs promos.  Some of them were made before the season started, so it’s old footage, but they should all get you amped up and ready to go.

Bruins are ready to throw down in the 2014 playoffs:

Bruins/Habs 2014 Playoffs Pump Up:
(I added this later but it’s awesome!)

Bruins 2013-14 season promos:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrNJ-1a4k_s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zHTWYCZlhZ4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvjRJPXZYYM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZ1i40UZNSg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAhBAN8xfNc

The Bruins’ 2013-14 season in photos/captions:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Ub_-fbSf5I

Carl Soderberg 2013-14 highlights:

Jarome Iginla’s 30 goals in the 2013-14 season:

Patrice Bergeron’s 30 goals in the 2013-14 season:

Thanks for reading,
Matt

Posted in Boston Bruins / NHL, Sports | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment