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Friday, May 9, 2014

Matt Fraser Likely Saved the Bruins' Season, Wait What?

Playoff hockey definitely takes years off your life when your favorite team is competing in the NHL postseason but we wouldn't have it any other way, right? In Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals tonight at Bell Centre, Boston outlasted Montreal 1-0 in overtime on Matt Fraser's game-winner at 1:19. Yes, you read that correctly: a 23-year-old rookie that was recalled earlier in the day was the main reason that Boston tied the series at two heading back to Boston for Game 5 on Saturday (7, NBCSN).

There really is no way to properly equate how unlikely Fraser was to be the hero but that's one of the million reasons that makes the NHL playoffs superior to any of the other American pro sports-the sheer unpredictability. Johnny Boychuk's shot from the point went wide of Carey Price (34 saves) and bounced up in front of the cage. Carl Soderberg had the first whack at it then Fraser wheeled around the net to poke it in for his first career postseason goal in his first career NHL playoff game. Not a bad night for the other guy from the Tyler Seguin trade (along with Loui Eriksson and Reilly Smith).

Tuukka Rask's (33 saves) fifth career postseason shutout wasn't as memorable (at least on his end) as you might expect but he did make a huge save on Brian Gionta's breakaway in the second period. This would have been a horrible loss for the B's, not just because they have never rallied from a 3-1 series deficit in franchise history, but they outplayed the Canadiens for long stretches of this game. Often times, they would dominate possession in Montreal's end but had nothing to show for it. Boston hit the post three more times by Jarome Iginla, Soderberg and Smith. I think that makes nine posts or pipes in the series for them, yikes.

Boston improved to 3-1 on the road this postseason while handing Montreal its first loss (3-1) at the Bell Centre. Game 5 is everything since the teams have alternated wins and losses through the first four games. It would help if the B's scored a power play goal. Again, there were very few penalties (3) but Boston went 0 for 2 on the power play making them 0 for 8 in the series. Technically speaking the team that has scored first is also 4-0.

Fraser and Matt Bartkowski were the two changes to Boston's lineup so expect those to stay the same in Game 5, no need to change the mojo now.

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