The Bruins are once again proving that you don’t need big name players to win big games. With the likes of Daniel Paille, Shawn Thornton, and Gregory Campbell the Bruins were able to jump to a commanding 3-0 series lead on the New York Rangers.
The Bruins thrive on physical play and wearing teams down. They aren’t an offensively explosive team, but if you let them hang around they’ll make you pay. The Rangers are finding this out the hard way as the Bruins took another tough game on Tuesday night winning 2-1. It was a gritty game all around and by the end it seemed as though at least 50% of the players on the ice at any given time were bleeding. But unfortunately for the Rangers that’s when the Bruins appear to be at their best. After a lackluster performance in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Bruins appear to have found their stride.
The reason for the Bruins most reason success can be mostly attributed to contributions by everyone on the team, especially some of the lesser known players. The first two that come to mind are Matt Barkowski and Torey Krug. Both are rookie defenseman who have stepped in to replace injured veterans Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ference and Wade Redden. Not only have they played great defense but they have added a jolt on the offensive end as Krug has shown that he is a force to be reckoned with in both zones. That’s not to downplay the role the rest of the defense has played as they have contributed 12 goals this postseason, including four from Johnny Boychuk.
On Tuesday night it was the ever reliable fourth line that secured the win for the Bruins. While the rest of the team was having trouble solving the problem known as Henrik Lundqvist. Lundqvist seemed to be a brick wall as he couldn’t be beaten in the first two periods and it looked as though he returned to the Vezina winning goalie he was last season rather than the swiss cheese he had been during games one and two. Lundqvist put the team on his back and carried them into the third period with a 1-0 lead and a chance to get back in the series.
However, the Bruins kept grinding (grinding is the fourth line’s specialty) and were able to steal the game in the third period. With the fourth line on the ice creating pressure and traffic Johnny Boychuk was able tie the game 1-1 when he ripped a wrister past Lundqvist. The fourht line continued to create problems for the Rangers up until Daniel Paille scored the game winner with 3:30 left in the third. No big deal, just the under the radar players coming up big again.
In 2011 the relative unknowns that helped light the fire were rookies by the name of Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin. The two, now critical components of the team, have struggled mightily thus far in the postseason. Seguin’s troubles could be summed up by his first quarter breakaway in the first period of game 3. A speedster on the ice Seguin has no trouble creating seperation but his problem has been in finding the back of the net. Then, in game 3 it was just Seguin versus Lundqvuist and it appeared the youngster was going to finally breakthrough. Instead, he put the puck right on Lundqvuist and you could see the frustration in his body language as he skated on. Marchand on the other hand has slowly been finding his groove in the past few games but still isn’t playing to his 2011 level.
And that’s the thing, this team has become really reminiscent of the 2011 squad that won the Stanley Cup. They may not win pretty, but they win. They may not be the best team on the ice, but they will beat you into the ground until they are the best team on the ice. Everyone pulls their own weight and eventually the whole train gains momentum and is tough to stop.
Oh yea and the fact that Tuukka Rask guy has been playing pretty well doesn’t hurt their chances either.