Tag Archives: Sabres

Round 1 hangover

Looch: Blocks shots like a boss.

Well, it’s the day after game 6, and Boston as a collective fanbase is exhausted in the best way possible.

Just as no one expects the Spanish Inquisition or Chara’s stickhandling, in no way, shape or form did most people expect the Bruins to rock the Sabres in 6 games in round 1. With a young corps of defensemen in the absence of Seidenberg and Stuart, it was up to Tuukka Rask and the forwards to find some hidden gear within themselves, some fire and will to win that maybe borderline wasn’t there during the regular season.

It’s said that playoff hockey is an entirely different beast. And, okay. Last year the Bruins went in as the #1 seed; expectations were high, of course, the Bruins had swept the season series against the Canadiens, so a playoff sweep, while amazing, wasn’t entirely unexpected. This year was the ultimate flipside; a Bruins/Sabres series, a season series that had been basically split between the two teams. Anything could happen, and doubts ran rampant. Who would be the better goaltender between the two whose stats had basically been identical throughout the season? Whose PK would prevail, two of the best in the league? Whose special teams would be most effective, as that would most likely be where a good deal of goals would be scored?

Playoff hockey is a different beast. Suddenly through six games the Bruins are six for 22 on the powerplay. That’s a jump from 16.3% effectiveness in the regular season to 27.3% in the playoffs, and although six games isn’t the biggest sample size, it’s still incredibly inpressive.

These players, these Bruins who lost ten straight games in the regular season, they’ve been infected with something. Hope. Determination. Defiance. Underdog grit. Whatever you want to call it. It’s playoffs. It’s the reason Johnny Boychuk’s hits are even more impressive than they were in the regular season. It’s the reason Vladimir Sobotka’s getting increased ice time, and the reason Dennis Wideman is starting to connect, the reason David Krejci has begun to score, and maybe most impressively, it’s the reason Blake freaking Wheeler is starting to use his 6 foot 5 inch, 210 lb frame to actually HIT people. The combination of hitting and his insane puck moving abilities may have only combined to get him a ridiculously failed open-net attempt last night, but it’s building up, it’s getting better.

Oh Looch, don't dump the goal-scorer on the ice, that's not polite.

Tuukka Rask is living up to the hype, improving during games instead of tiring out. Baby Adam McQuaid is keeping up with the play, making a name for himself, always in the scrums after the whistle. Michael Ryder’s picked it up, and what more can I say about Miro Satan that hasn’t already been said? It’s like the bear woke up in October, was sort of groggy for the whole season, and then someone annoyed him at the end of the season. He’s awake now, and he’s putting the fear of Boston into the NHL.

Marc Savard will be back for round 2. That means 3 or 4 days to work him back into the lineup. The big question now is who sits for Savvy? Thornton and Begin seem like automatic options, but are their intangibles actually necessary to the lineup? What about sitting Sturm, or Wheeler? (note: I am not advocating these things) Does it depend on whether we play the Penguins or the Flyers?

After tomorrow night, we’ll know who the Bruins will face. For now we’re in tiny limbo, and all that can be done right now is wait and hope….and cheer for the Coyotes!

Sami Lepisto, I'm not sure what you're doing here but please rock face tonight.

Do you know how hard it was for me to not just make this a giant party post of photos? No, self, that is what tumblr is for.

Sabres: slain. My love for Mike Grier has emerged unscathed. I hate Ryan Miller a little more now. But most importantly it was a hard-fought, well-won series. Round 2, here we come.

POST-ROUND READING:

Double-Edged Sabres: Good Morning Buffalo (a great recap from the other side)

The Good, the Bad, the Coyotes: We Made it 7 (just…read this whole blog. Funniest Coyotes blog out there.)

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Five things to ponder

Things to ponder on this rainy Monday:

1. The NHL’s newest playoff preview video. We’ve already been treated to “What if Bobby didn’t fly?” and now this:

If this doesn’t bring a tear to your eye, then I don’t know why you’re reading this blog right now.

2. How’s your NCAA bracket looking? If you’re me, it’s looking drastic and unfortunate. I’d picked Denver (who was ousted in round one) and Michigan (defeated by Miami-Ohio last night) to go to the championship. Guess I’m done. The Michigan/Miami game was the story of the night, last night, going to 2OT before Alden Hirschfeld beat Shawn Hunwick to win the game. Hunwick, to his credit, stopped over 30 shots; the 5’7 junior walk-on is the reason his team was even in the NCAA tourney in the first place. Major props, and here’s hoping he gets the starter spot next season. Go little Hunwick go!

3. Tonight’s Bruins game is ridiculously huge. Tim Thomas vs. Ryan Miller. A chance to make the Leaf’s microscopic playoff chances officially nil. The potential to move into a tie for 6th place with the Flyers, with a game in hand on that team. And, possibly most ridiculous of all, there’s a magic number of goals allowed that could move us into the #1 spot for Jennings contention. Remember the Jennings trophy? Remember who won it last year?

Tuukka may not have a wife for Timmy to thank this year, but how epic would this be? As far as I can tell, a rookie has never won the Jennings. Keep sieve-ing it up, Marty Brodeur, the B’s want a trophy to take home. We may have the worst offense, but we make up for it with the BEST DEFENSE IN THE LEAGUE.

4. Eric Gryba signed with the Senators today. Although he will probably play in Binghamton, this is incredibly good news for the holder of BU’s single-season penalty minutes record.

We'll miss you, Grybs.

It also means the dismantling of the 2008-2009 championship team is continuing on it’s merry way. Colin Wilson in Nashville, Matt Gilroy in New York, and Brandon Yip in Colorado have already seen significant ice time this year; Kevin Shattenkirk, Zach Cohen, and Colby Cohen are Colorado-bound (or at least Lake Erie, Colorado’s affiliate, where Zach has already seen ice time since BU was ousted from the Hockey East semifinals). John McCarthy, Brian Strait, and Jason Lawrence are tearing it up in the minors, and Nick Bonino leapfrogged over the AHL straight to the pros, where he’s already logged a game for the Ducks since leaving BU this year.

Life moves on, though; names like Warsofsky and Saponari and Chiasson will replace the Cohen, Gilroy, and Wilson of late. Goalie Kieran Millan will remain for at least another year before shipping west to Colorado. And the new incoming class of freshmen will bring a wealth of new talent and names we’ve never even considered. It’s not the end of the world, but there’s no denying it’s sad to see a team like the 08-09 Terriers break apart.

5. Game 6 of Rouyn-Noranda and Val d’Or’s playoff series ended in a 5-1 Huskies win. Jordan Caron leads the QMJHL in scoring (awesome) and Max Sauve’s junior career is officially over. Will we see him in Providence, now that the baby Bruins’ playoff hopes are all but quashed? Only time will tell. In other P-Bruins news, in the first game since Ned Lukacevic was released from his PTO, new signee Devin Timberlake scored in his first game out of Brown University, and ex-BU product Kenny Roche scored as well, although the Peebs lost in OT. It’s almost certain now that Providence will miss the playoffs for the first time since 1998. How depressing.