Bruins show that playoff glow in win over Philly
|03.30.09 at 12:27 am ET|
In beating down the Flyers on Sunday night, the Bruins flashed a pretty solid glimpse of the playoff hockey team they can potentially be: tough as nails, ready to fight, intimidate and punish their opposition, skilled and dangerous on all four lines with quick strike ability and superior goaltending at the back end of their defense.
The B’s also showed that — with David Krejci again doing his playmaking thing while racking up three assists and creating countless scoring chances against the Flyers — they’re at the very least a quality playoff hockey team.
But the Spoked B could ascend to something much higher on the hockey food chain this spring if Krejci can channel his Sunday night effort and recapture the first-half magic that saw him on pace to score 100 points.
In many ways Krejci is the key to what this team will ultimately accomplish once the “tournament” begins, and Sunday night was a giant stride in the right direction. There were plenty of right directions for Krejci and his Black and Gold teammates in a 4-3 playoff-style win over a motivated Flyers bunch at the Wachovia Center.
The B’s battled to plug up a multitude of leaks in their defense during Saturday night’s fast break win in Toronto, but managed to tighten things up in Philly despite allowing 48 shots to a physical Flyers bunch.
The biggest difference for the defense on Sunday night? The goaltending.
One night prior, those mistakes in the D-zone ended up in the back of Boston’s net and put a bold face on miscues that might have otherwise been covered up. Instead the offense did its job with a resurgent Krejci at the controls feeding pucks to Milan Lucic and Dennis Wideman, and Thomas was outstanding. Krejci notched his first three-point game since Jan. 10 and looked every bit the Bruins boy wonder. To put Sunday night in perspective, Krejci had four three-point games in the month of December, and then didn’t have one in all of February and most of March.
But the slick 22-year-old center from the Czech Republic had flirted with signs of busting out recently, and was only being held back by the typical maladies that gnaw away at a natural scorer during a snakebitten stretch: unforgiving posts, sprawling goaltenders and the occasional unfortunate bounce of the puck.
As superb as Krejci was dishing out goal-scoring opportunities in the offensive end, Tim Thomas was equally brilliant between the pipes after getting a rest on Saturday night in favor of Manny Fernandez. Thomas made a season-high 45 saves in a game that saw near-constant pressure from the Flyers’ skaters, and was at his best when Philly descended on a 5-on-3 advantage in the second period.
Mike Richards blasted away on a shot from the high point that whistled through Mike Knuble in front of the net, but Thomas was able to pull his Human Wall act in front of the net and knock the puck away. Scott Hartnell picked the puck up by the right post and spotted a wide open net to shoot for as he flicked in a sure power-play goal. But Thomas jumped right back into the play and essentially head-butted Harntell’s shot with his mask as he stretched and flopped back into position. Thomas’ mask went flying off after the “save” and a whistle immediately stopped the play dead.
The Flyers still had time left on the power play, but were essentially extinguished in their power play attempt following Thomas’ acrobatics.
Krejci, Thomas and the rest of the Bruins have seven games remaining in their regular season schedule, but last night was proof positive that the Black and Gold Bears are ready for the playoff battles to commence once things snap into place over the next two weeks.
Injury Ward:Marc Savard, Andrew Ference, and Dennis Wideman among others took heavy hits while making plays against a Flyers team looking to leave an impression on the Bruins, but everyone finished the game in one piece. There may be an uptick in Advil consumption among the skaters on Monday morning, however.
Players of the Game:Krejci and Thomas. Both players are unassailable keys to the Bruins fortunes when it comes to capturing the Cup, and there were encouraging signs all over the Wachovia Center frozen sheet on Sunday night. Krejci has scored in five of his last seven games and has a goal and seven assists over that seven game span. A good deal of the Flyers’ pressure came from the perimeter, but Thomas was spectacular when he had to be.
Goat Horns:The Bruins were rolling four lines and looked strong in the third period of back-t0-back games against the Leafs and Flyers. There weren’t any goats on a night when the Bruins battled for every last inch they gained during the game.
Turning Point:The Flyers took an early 1-0 lead and had a sellout crowd on their side during the first period in Philly, but Steve Montador stemmed some of tide after dropping the gloves with Flyers tough guy Daniel Carcillo. Carcillo got the better of Montador in the fisticuffs, but the Bruins weathered the emotional storm and got back on top later in the first period during a 5-on-3 advantage.