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Friday, April 4, 2014

For the Bruins, the Playoffs Can't Start Soon Enough

It's been really slight but the Bruins have started to ease up a bit with the playoffs now less than two weeks away. This has resulted in their first losing streak in over a month. Tonight they fell 4-3 to the Maple Leafs in overtime at Air Canada Centre. On the one hand, Boston (52-18-7) rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the third period (that's good!), causing heart attacks across Canada but they weren't able to finish the job as Nazem Kadri scored on a rebound to give Toronto (38-32-8) the two points they desperately needed (that's bad!).

The bright side for the B's is that unlike the Red Wings who beat them 3-2 on Wednesday (and have Pavel Datsyuk returning tomorrow night), the bumbling Maple Leafs don't look nearly as scary. Toronto has plenty of work to do just to get into the postseason so there is no need to worry about them.

With Chad Johnson (27 saves) in net, Boston never made it easy as they handed the Maple Leafs a goal and 1-0 lead six minutes in. Matt Bartkowski couldn't clear the puck that was in his skates so Paul Ranger (who should be on the Rangers) was there to put it in. Brad Marchand answered that 56 seconds later with his 23rd goal of the season from Patrice Bergeron. Tyler Bozak scored with 12 seconds left in the first period on a bizarre play: Phil Kessel threw it at the net (in the air) and it went in off Bozak's body.

Dougie Hamilton has been playing better lately, solidifying his role in the playoffs unlike last year but he had a major hiccup when he tried to pass to Zdeno Chara behind Boston's net. Kessel intercepted it and sent it out front to James van Riemsdyk who knew what to do for his 30th goal of the season. There wasn't much else to that period except Milan Lucic whaled on poor David Clarkson.

Speaking of Looch, he cut it to 3-2 at 5:03 with a blast of a one-timer (his 22nd goal of the season) from David Krejci and Bartkowski. Jonathan Bernier (25 saves) got hurt late in the third period, forcing that bum James Reimer to come in. Predictably, he gave up the tying goal almost immediately to Patrice Bergeron on a similar one-timer. Where have I heard that before with these particular teams? Bergeron's 28th goal of the season was assisted by Marchand and Kevan Miller.

It felt inevitable that Boston would win in regulation since they outshot Toronto 17-5 but Bernier and Reimer kept their team's flickering playoff hopes alive. The Bruins finished 2-2 on the road trip and they return to TD Garden on Saturday (1, NESN) to face the Flyers (39-28-9) who they topped 4-3 in a shootout last Sunday. Only six more games left in the regular season, the next step for the B's is to clinch the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.










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