Monday, April 25, 2011
Bruins Overcome Toughest Opponent, Themselves
After Saturday nights's exhausting 2-1 OT win over the Canadiens, the Bruins are in prime position to advance to their second straight Eastern Conference Semifinals. One more win in Montreal is all it takes.
Sounds easy right?
Not if you have been following this team for the last 20 years.
Dropping the first two games on home ice, the Bruins looked dead in the water, another underachieving team that would be sent home early, vanquished by the hated Canadiens. But then something strange happened.
They responded to adversity like never before, taking games 3 and 4 in Montreal, including the game 4 overtime thriller that saw the often criticized Michael Ryder become the hero, at least for the night. When losing the first two games of a seven game series, the Bruins are 0 for 26 alltime. With history working against them, the B's outskated and outhustled Montreal in both away games, ignoring the white noise that came with the Chara-Pacioretty fallout, and creatig some of their own when Andrew Ference's "accidental bird" was seen flying proudly on Canadian television.
Tuning out all of the off-ice drama, Claude Julien's team was able to take two crucial games in a hostile environment, squaring up the series at 2 games a piece headed into Saturday's game 5.
An emotionally drained Bruins team was able to keep the momentum in their favor before a jam-packed TD Garden, leaving with a 2-1 double OT victory and taking full control of the series.
Each game has featured a hero, and game 5 was no exception. Michael Ryder continued to endear himself to Bruins fans, making a picture perfect glove save early in the first period, turning a guaranteed goal into a higlight that will be a part of Bruins lore forever.
The dimunitive Brad Marchand continued his stellar play, giving the Bruins a 1-0 lead in the third period, only a few minutes after Max Pacioretty's hilarious tweet about his giant nose. Marchand's non-stop effort throughout this first round series has given the Bruins an edge, and also has made his line the most consistent thus far.
Tim Thomas had probably his best postseason game as a Bruin, limiting his rebounds and making timely saves again and again, outdeuling Montreal's Carey Price both in regulation and in both overtimes. This was the game that Bruins fans were waiting for from the veteran Goalie and certain Vezina winner.
Regardless of how rosy things look at the moment, Bruins fans are trained to always anticipate the worst possible outcome in any situation. In the past, the Bruins' playoff woes have largely been self-inflicted. A choke job against Montreal in 2002. A game 7 loss to Montreal 3 years ago. Losing in 7 to the Hurricanes as a 1 seed. Last year's debacle versus the Flyers.
Will this year be different?
The first step in the healing process will be a win in Montreal tomorrow night. A loss would force a deciding game 7, in Boston, where the Bruins have not had the best of luck in recent years. In order to continue their success, the Bruins will have to defeat their toughest opponents, themselves
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