Preface: I had a hockey game late last night and missed the final 7 minutes of the 3rd period, apparently the most important, from a goals perspective anyway.
The Bruins prove difficult but beatable in Vancouver.
Boston did exactly what they were not supposed to do and played a lot of special team's hockey. Magically, they looked fairly decent while on the power-play and killing penalties even though they made the blunder of putting Chara in front of the net during the early PP's. Strong puck movement almost gave Boston an early lead after weathering the Canuck's storm out of the gate; but in the end, it was the steadfast, talent driven hockey of Vancouver that had the largest impact.
The dreaded 5 on 3: Both teams had them and neither were able to capitalize. I think we were seeing a lot of nerves out there in game 1 of the finals. Boston blew a few chances from fumbling passes and waiting too long. The Boston power-play is one of those things that makes me feel better about the Hawk's performances at times. If you wait too long because of uncertainty or losing the puck, don't just throw it at the net after a big goalie who plays conservative positioning and rarely gives up rebounds has time to square off with you (Recchi).
This game had everything for the hockey enthusiast except for scoring. What it lacked in the production department, it made up for in the bitting department. The word on the street is that Burrows might have chewed on Bergeron's pinky finger for a moment during a period ending scruff. Eddie 'O' seemed to think he saw it happen, Bergeron was sure of it, but the league decided that there was no conclusive evidence. There will be no supplemental discipline for Burrows.
Vancouver came very close to being out a key player due to something as dumb as taking a bite out of someone. This could have been a big factor in the following games. Another incident involving a well delivered (maybe a bit too low) hip check on Lucic by Hamhuis caused a roster issue. Immediately following the hit directly in front of the Bruins bench, Krejci came over and gave Hamhuis a shove in the back to which he was awarded a penalty for. If you watch Krecji come over in a replay, he barely touches Hamhuis, the call was weak. Hamhuis hurt himself during the hit and might miss a few games as a result.
And just for good measure, one of the Sedins took the biggest dive I have seen in quite some time. Definitely bad enough for an unsportsmanlike. This however does not stop Canuck coach Vigneault from bitching about Thomas' playing style and how he feels Timmy comes too far out of his net which impedes on Vancouver's movement.
One thing is for sure after watching this game: Vancouver is a damn good team and Boston is not going to lose because of being out-hustled. Oh, and this is the year of Tim Thomas.
Early in the 3rd after Boston somehow missed scoring the game's first goal when they hit the crossbar in an awkward angle that made me think it had to have gone in; Tim Thomas put together a brilliant set of saves that made it look like Vancouver might go the whole series without a goal. He stopped a Kesler breakaway and then a Hansen one as well.
Boston made 3 mistakes in this game and Vancouver made them pay for 1 of them while Thomas saved the first 2. All 3 of these mistakes were the result of terrible line changes resulting in odd-man rushes, 2 were untimely line changes for the D. Scoring with a few seconds remaining because of Kesler catching his opponent in an error is just too fitting for the Nuck's season and playoff run thus far.
Kesler is furthering the argument for his ownership of the Playoff's MVP and maybe the sole reason for Vancouver's success in said playoffs. Thomas will surely have something to say about it, but I digress.
Boston adopted a shoot from anywhere mentality in the 3rd, and they are going to have to get in close to beat Luongo who likes to stand his ground in the net. I thought Boston would benefit from the 3rd period situation, seeming more conditioned and used to battling a bit more than Vancouver; however, even though only rolling with 5 D-men, Vancouver gave the hustle that mattered most and finished the game as the more determined team.
The result is a 1 game lead for Vancouver and a well played road game by Boston. Both teams spoke loudly last night and I think it said that this series is going deep and a goalie's duel has been ignited. And last but not least, Luongo gave a shout-out to our old Big Buf for his ability to cause issues for his ability to stop pucks. Nice to hear the Hawk's mentioned in the finals.