Overtime playoff hockey is the best and worse for fans. Generally you are on the edge of your seat ready to jump off the couch screaming GOAL, or the worst expletive should it not go the way you would like. Over the years, I’ve had my share of both of those emotions. Bobby Schmautz in 1978 against the Montreal Canadiens was a tremendous high for Boston and the Bruins, as was Brad Park in 1983 against Buffalo . The OT lows were the worse of emotions especially May 10, 1979. I can honestly say that was one of my worse days in life, sad but true. I can still remember everything about that day from about 5pm until about 11pm. It was not pretty.
But last night as the Bruins came back from a two-goal deficit against the Red Wings in raucous Joe Louis Arena, to send the game into overtime, for some reason there was no major emotional swings like I used to have. Maybe with age, my emotions are more controlled because there is really not much I can do about the outcome. Maybe since June 15, 2011, I’ve become jaded and arrogant since that WAS the best day of my life. Or simply because I’ve become used to seeing the Boston Bruins approach each game the same way. No panic in the team. They know what they need to do even when they get behind on the road. Of course it doesn’t always work that way, but really, Thursday night, it was steady, workman, business-like performance by the Bruins who are clearly a better team than Detroit.
The Red Wings came out strong and took the lead on a power play goal and and another on a couple of miscues and running around by the Bruins. Both goals being scored by Proud Papas, Pavel Datsyuk and Niklas Kronwall and the fans were rocking and most teams would begin to crumble. But the not as fast but experienced Bruins are bigger, stronger, nastier, and they do have the better and healthier, goalie. Torey Krug scored on the power play on a faceoff that of course, Patrice Bergeron won and Milan Lucic tied it on a nice backhand feed from behind the goal line by Carl Soderberg. In overtime, Jarome Iginla deftly tipped a Doug Hamilton shot that most likely was going wide, but it deflected off Danny Dekeyser and by Jonas Gustavsson who found out he was starting after warmups.
Game over and that satisfying feeling that you know the Bruins had done what they set out to do. Not only did they regain home ice advantage, they are doing a good job of crushing the will of the Red Wings. They owned the third period and as Detroit Coach Mike Babcock said of Boston, “They got better as the game went on.” The Bruins dominated the third period and overtime which has been their trademark all season long.
Saturday afternoon back at the TD Garden, the Bruins will look to close out the Wings and move on to the next round. The emotions will be high for most of the fans in attendance and watching, but as the the signs and T-shirts say, Keep Calm.