|Tim Thomas and Alex Burrows in a third period tussle|
Going into Game 3, the Boston Bruins knew they would have to win the next two games, on home ice, to have a shot at winning the Stanley Cup. After an 8-1 drubbing of Vancouver in Game 3 on Monday, the Bruins followed it up with a sound 4-0 defeat of the Canucks last night.
Other than a few near misses for the Bruins, the first ten minutes of the game were uneventful. Then, with about eight minutes left in the first, a clean breakout pass from Boston's Zdeno Chara found David Krejci through the neutral zone. Vancouver defenseman Alex Edler stepped up on Krejci near the blue line, but Krejci made a great lunging pass to Rich Peverley, playing on the top line in place of the injured Nathan Horton, for a breakaway chance. Peverley beat Roberto Luongo through the five-hole on a shot that Luongo would probably like back. A big Tim Thomas save on Maxim Lapierre and a Michael Ryder snipe off the post later and the period ended with Boston up 1-0.
The Bruins outscored the Canucks 4-0 in the second period of Game 3, and they kept up their second period success in Game 4. With just under nine minutes to go in the second, Boston's Tyler Seguin made a nice cross-ice pass to Ryder at the Canuck blue line. Ryder shot from the top of the left circle and beat Luongo under his glove hand. It appeared to drop as it got to Luongo, possibly deflecting off defenseman Sami Salo's stick, but it was certainly a stoppable shot. Regardless of the circumstances, it certainly did not look good.
The Bruins made it 3-0 just two minutes later. In a 4-on-4 situation, Brad Marchand spilled Canucks defenseman Keith Ballard, inserted into the lineup for the suspended Aaron Rome, behind the net, causing a turnover. Patrice Bergeron and Henrik Sedin battled for the loose puck behind the net, but Bergeron was able to force the puck out to Marchand in front of the net. Marchand's backhand shot appeared to deflect off Sedin's stick and Luongo's shoulder before finding the top of the net.
The scoring continued in the third period. Boston's Milan Lucic burned Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa at the blue line, causing Bieksa to take an embarrassing tumble. It was clear that the Bruins targeted Bieksa all night on the forecheck, and it paid off. Lucic made a backhand pass to the net, but Luongo got his stick on it and deflected it upwards. Unfortunately for him, both Boston's Rich Peverley and Vancouver's Ryan Kesler were going hard to the net. The puck bounced off Peverley's body and into the net.
Cory Schneider came in for Luongo and made a few big saves before the game ended. According to reports, the fans gathered at the Rogers Centre in Vancouver cheered when Luongo was pulled.
Things got a little more heated, if that's even possible, late in the game. Marchand carried the puck into the Vancouver zone with 2:30 left in the game, and tried to hop around Christian Ehrhoff of the Canucks. Marchand got his left hand on Ehrhoff as he went around him, knocking Ehrhoff to the ice. Marchand was whistled for a penalty, and then Daniel Sedin came in to hit Marchand along the boards. Marchand ducked under the hit, sending Sedin flying. Keith Ballard immediately went after Marchand, and they went down to the ice in a tangle. Ehrhoff grabbed Bruin defenseman Adam McQuaid, which certainly was not a smart move by Ehrhoff. Once McQuaid was ready to fight, Ehrhoff immediately went down in the "turtle" position. To McQuaid's credit, he didn't throw any punches with Ehrhoff down.
I don't like what Marchand did on the play with Ehrhoff. I hope it was accidental, but it looked like Marchand knew where he was putting his glove. I also don't like that he went low on Sedin, but I understand it. Sedin came in after the whistle to line Marchand up, so Marchand decided to avoid the hit. But low-bridging a guy like that is a very dangerous play. Marchand is a guy who walks right up to the line and leans over it, and I've loved how he's agitated the Sedins, but on that play I thought he went too far.
But that was not the end of the rough stuff. Vancouver received a four minute power-play after Marchand received three separate minors in the aforementioned scrum. Vancouver's Alex Burrows, he of the famous biting incident, set up in front of the net. Burrows took a whack at the knob of Thomas' stick, nearly knocking it out of his hand. Thomas responded by giving Burrows a hard slash, or a "love tap" as Thomas described it. Burrows went after Thomas, which led to a commotion in front of the net. A few early punches were thrown between Burrows and Thomas, but Dennis Seidenberg grabbed Burrows before anything else could happen.
Personally, as a goalie, I love what Thomas did there. According to him, Vancouver players had tried to knock his stick from him earlier in the game. Tim Thomas is not the kind of goalie who puts up with a lot. He's not exactly Ron Hextall, but he is an emotional guy. However, I think Vancouver is hurting themselves by trying to rattle Thomas. It isn't going to work. It didn't work for Philly, and they were far worse. Going after Thomas only motivates him.
|Brad Marchand's goal in the second period|
On the other end, Vancouver is facing some serious goaltending issues. Luongo did not look good tonight. He probably should've had the first two goals. He didn't look comfortable in the net, and he didn't seem very sure of himself like he has been since Game 6 against Chicago. Making matters worse, Schneider played extremely well in the limited time he had. Canucks coach Alain Vigneault has to make another tough choice. I think he'll play Luongo, because not playing him would be a major slap in the face, but he'll have the hook ready. If Luongo falters early, the Rogers Centre could turn into a very hostile place for him.
After the Bruins came up huge in two must-win games at home, Vancouver now faces a must-win sort of game at home. I don't think anyone would like Vancouver's chances down 3-2 going to Boston. The Bruins know they must win a game in Vancouver to win the Stanley Cup. Game 5 will be their best chance.