Sunday, April 20, 2014

Bruins punk Red Wings; quarterfinal series level at one

Boston forward Reilly Smith celebrates the eventual game winning goal in a 4-1 win over Detroit
In Game one of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals between the Boston Bruins and the Detroit Red Wings, the Wings' clogged the neutral zone and limited the Bruins to just 25 shots - seven below their season average - and the Bruins collectively knew that wasn't going to get the job done.

“I know we have to get more pucks to the net,” Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien quipped, capturing the essence of the obvious on Sunday before the game “I know we need net-front presence - that’s something that always needs to be done."
As usual, Bruins' Brad Marchand was in the middle of many scraps...

The Bruins equaled that entire shot total from Game one by the end of the second period on Sunday, establishing plenty of net-front presence and, predictably, buried the Red Wings with two early goals and cruised to a 4-1 win at TD Garden in North Boston - tying the best of seven series at one apiece.

The series now shifts to Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, where games three and four are scheduled for Tuesday and Thursday nights respectively.

Rookie call-up Justin Florek scored his first NHL goal for Boston, who also got goals from Reilly Smith, Milan Lucic and Zdeno Chara to effectively double-up the combined goal output for Detroit in this series after being held scoreless in Game One.

Florek started the scoring seven-and-a-half minutes into the contest, picking off a rouge outlet pass from Detroit Goalie Jimmy Howard, who had come out from between the pipes to play a slow roller coming down the high slot and couldn't repair back to the crease in time to prevent Florek's quick sniper from finding twine...

...then Loui Eriksson positioned himself in front of the net to play a rebound off a Patrice Bergeron offering, drawing Howard far enough out of the crease to allow Smith an alley behind the besieged netminder - Eriksson relentlessly chopping at the puck and eventually jarring it loose, making it trickle behind Howard where Smith jammed it into the net for a two goal lead that Boston took into the room at the first intermission.
...while Zdeno Chara merely toyed with the spunky Red Wings

But not before tempers flared and several skirmishes broke out on the ice - and although no actual fights ensued, the Bruins announced loudly that they were not going to let the Red Wings control the pace of the game as they had in Game One, Chara and (of course) Brad Marchand right in the middle of the action.

The Red Wings did come out on fire in the second, looking to counter the violent physicality of the Bruins by playing the body more and taking several free shots at the Bruins on open ice, helping to tilt the ice in Detroit's favor, the Red Wings eventually cutting the Boston lead in half with six-and-a-half minutes left in the frame...

...but tempo-setter Lucic stole back the momentum from Detroit with a dagger of a goal late in the period, exploding across the blue line with a pass from Torey Krug and dropping the puck back to a trailing Jarome Iginla, who gave Howard a shoulder feign before returning the puck to Lucic who fired a one timer that Howard got a piece of with his stick, but was only able to cause it to tumble into the net.

With the score 3-1, the Bruins proceeded to punish the upstart Red Wings, scoring once more on Chara's chop job in the crease, Red Wings' defenseman Brian Lashoff unable to move the hulking Bruins' captain from in front of the net - in stark contrast to game one when the 'Wings kept the crease clean all night long.

Boston Netminder Tuukka Rask again was solid in net, allowing only a Luke Glendening gloved-hand redirection and stopping the other 34 Red Wings' shots while Howard got to only 25 of 29 Bruins' shots - and while the 29 shots was still below Boston's season average, 18 of them came in the frenzied first period where the Bruins' took control of the game and the series...

...while the Red Wings took to long range sniper shots at Rask, outshooting the Bruins - who were more interested in punishing the Red Wings than generating offense after taking the two goal lead - by a count of 25-11 in the final 40 minutes.

So the Bruins offense that won the President's Trophy and clinched home ice advantage throughout the playoffs showed up in Game two on Sunday after being conspicuously absent in the series opener, with the opportunity to take back that advantage that Detroit took from them waiting at Joe Louis Arena, where Boston has lost four straight...

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