The clock struck midnight Chicago time and it was like all that excitement of the Ball had turned the Boston Bruins and its fans into the pervebial pumpkin as Chicago defenseman Michal Rozsival’s blue line wrister found its way off a stick, then Andrew Shaw’s knee and into the net behind Tuukka Rask 52 minutes into overtime.
Yes, that would be a thoroughly entertaining, sometimes maddening game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final went to the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 over the Boston Bruins in triple overtime. That’s hockey folks. Twice the Bruins had two goal leads, one in the third period when Patrice Bergeron scored on the power play which made it 3-1 and let it slip away.
This particular unpleasant development has reared its ugly head again. It had been a big problem for the Bruins for the better part of the season. Losing two or even three goal leads late in the game was part of that Jeckell & Hyde thing Claude Julien spoke about during the first round against Toronto. But since that infamous 7th game against the Leafs, we have not seen much of those Bruins except for a small hiccup in game four against New York.
Maybe it was because the Rangers and the Pittsburgh Penguins were paper tigers and with that, gave the Boston the confidence they needed to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.
But now they have run smack dab up against a very good Blackhawk team. A recent former Champion like themselves. A team that plays physical like Boston do, but may have more skill and quickness than you. Game one saw a lot of the regular season Bruins who could not move the puck out of their own zone with any regularity. We also saw a lot more turnovers including a huge one in the third, in their defensive zone by rookie Torey Krug that lead to a chicago’s second goal and a momentous tide shift and shortly thereafter, a shot from the point glanced off Andrew Ference’s skate and in behind Rask to tie the game.
These things happen in the course of any hockey game, they are correctible, you just hope they don’t burn you like it did Boston. The Blackhawks committed their share of errors which also cost them early in the game and the Bruins made them pay. For Boston it’s holding onto a lead in the third period and lacking that killer instinct to put Chicago away when they had them on the ropes.
It wasn’t like the Bruins didn’t have their chances. In overtime, Tyler Seguin had at least two chances to end it. Shawn Thorton all alone after a nifty pass from Daniel Paille failed to get a shot. Other times it was Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford stoning Boston. It’s these failures of the Bruins third and fourth lines to convert quality scoring chances into goals that are haunting them. Particulary Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley who despite getting quality minutes are non factors in scoring! Peverley has one goal and zero assists in 16 playoff games while Kelly has played 17 games and has yet to record a single point! How have the Bruins survived this far without secondary scoring, relying mainly on David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton (who was injured in the 1st OT and did not return), and Bergeron. Oh and lets not forget Tuukka Rask who made 59 saves and could not be faulted on any of the Blackhawks goals.
The Bruins could have won a game that they may or may not have deserved, but the fact that remnants of late season, late game disasters surfaced in game one, is troubling and seeing those mistakes again during this Final would simply be a recipe for disaster against the Blackhawks.