The vigil for Wade Redden is officially cancelled. Dennis Seidenberg, we'll see you Game 4, at the earliest. Andrew Ference, take a number please. Maybe next round.
By Jay Greenberg, Special to CBC Sports
BOSTON -- The vigil for Wade Redden is officially cancelled. Dennis Seidenberg, we'll see you Game 4, at the earliest. Andrew Ference, take a number please. Maybe next round.
No rush now for any of them, not the way the Bruins' rookie defencemen are joining the rush to take apart the Rangers, a team usually better than the sum of its parts. No kidding, the Bruins have three guys with a combined 69 games NHL experience -- regular season and playoffs -- appearing to have been thriving as long as has Zdeno Chara.
You could wait from now until Ray Bourque comes back to see such poise from mere boys. Torey Krug, undrafted free agent, is putting pucks through his legs -- two of them to help the Bruins take a 2-0 lead with Sunday's 5-2 win and teeing up goals and assists.
"Comes from confidence," said Krug. "If you are freaking out there, you are going to be in trouble."
With Boston leading 3-2 in the first minute of the third period, Matt Bartkowski stepped up on Derrick Brassard's back-handed attempt to rim the puck deep into the Bruins' zone, sending Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand away for a carbon copy of their two-on-one goal that won Game 1 in overtime.
Dougie Hamilton's 15 minutes and 10 seconds of composed play was interrupted when Ryan Callahan, picking off Marchand's attempt to throw the puck to the other point, bulled past the kid on the way to a game-tying breakaway in the first period. Hey, no three persons are perfect. We know that because Rick Nash, in scoring his first playoff goal, similarly brushed past Chara to tie the game again at 2-2.
Bruins never stopped coming
But the Bruins kept coming, one after another jumping up into the play. Two defencemen -- Krug and Johnny Boychuk -- had goals and 11 different Boston players were on the score sheet. You see that happen in a five-goal game about as often as you witness the smart and virtually unflappable Dan Girardi be on the ice for all five against. But he was turned into a spinning top and human screen of Henrik Lundqvist by Bruins going to the net.
"A lot of late guys, a lot of guys in front of me," said the Ranger goalie. "Had to work to find pucks and it was tough."
Not so hard will be the Rangers keeping the faith. They lost the first two in Washington, too. Even if the Bruins are bringing a second line that was only in the Capitals' dreams, there was plenty of open space in TD Gardens during what might have been New York's best period of the playoffs -- the second -- for an awakening Nash to back Boston off.
Callahan isn't going to go down any easier than he did the last round and of course, neither will Lundqvist, who didn't let in a bad goal in the bunch he uncharacteristically gave up.
But of course, the Ranger power play, which went 0-for-7 to bring the post-season success rate to a ghastly two-for-37, must become the blind pig finding the odd cob of corn. Right now the Bruins, who escaped by the hair on their chinny chin chins against Toronto following a mediocre-at-best April, are looking like the team that steamrolled to a 14-2-2 regular-season start.
Sunday, they didn't even look like they would need Bobby Orr back, because of composed three children on the blue-line. Hamilton was a No. 1 pick who spent the season on the varsity, so no great surprise there. But Bartkowski was a seventh-round pick and Krug, out of Michigan State, was a 5-9, 180-pounder that wasn't picked at all.
The mighty mite deflected a puck Nathan Horton put in Krug's skates, around his left leg, and fired through David Krecji's screen to become only the fifth Bruins to score goals in his first two playoff games. A period later, Krug dug another one out from between his legs to pound a drive that Girardi deflected to Gregory Campbell for a gimme.
The Rangers came back a second time when Nash soloed and fired over Tuukka Rask's blocker, but Johnny Boychuck used Girardi as a window blind to put Boston ahead for good, And even though John Tortorella thought the third and fourth Bruin goals were defensible, that's not likely to make anybody in New York feel better.
"They were opportunistic," said Ryan McDonagh, split on most shifts from Girardi for the two games, an idea not looking so hot going to Game Three Tuesday night in New York. "They had speed through the neutral zone and I don't think our gaps were as good as in Game 1." Indeed the Bruins, young and old alike, looked even more comfortable than Tortorella savaging a reporter's question.
"At this stage, meaning the playoffs, you don't want a young defenceman to come in and be afraid to play," said Boston coach Claude Julien. "You have to be willing to live with the consequences.
"I think they have some good upside to them. Bartkowski was sent down so he could continue to play and Krug has been a good player all year for Providence. It's just a matter of telling the guys to continue to do the things they do well.
"We have to trust that they are good enough in those areas to help us out. And so far we have been right."