Somewhere in this massive, celebratory pileup is Boston's Matt Fraser, who scored the game-winning goal Thursday in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals to even what has already been a tremendous series at two games apiece.
Back with another love/hate playoff hockey column, right after I knock the goal off its moorings in the final minute of regulation…
LOVE: From the Boston Bruins perspective, you’ve got to love the fact that you’ve yet to put your best foot forward in the Atlantic Division finals against the Montreal Canadiens — and somehow have managed to even the series at 2-2 and reclaim home ice advantage heading into Game 5 in Boston tomorrow.
HATE: The flip side of that equation, of course, is that the Bruins have yet to play their kind of game for the entirety of a 60-plus minute effort. If you’re looking at the series through the bleu-blanc-et-rouge colored lenses of the Canadiens, you’ve got to think that you deserve the lion’s share of the credit for keeping Boston from getting its game really rolling.
That’s a concern for the Bruins — despite repeatedly talking about better starts to games in this series, and despite promising their best is yet to come on a daily basis. Perhaps the Bruins haven’t exactly lit an emotional fire for themselves, but at the same time, Montreal might deserve far more credit for that than they’re getting here in New England.
LOVE: The play of Tuukka Rask in a big Game 4 effort — a 33-save shutout performance.
When the Bruins desperately needed him to be one of the best players on the ice for a game that was must-win, and two U’s-two K’s-two points certainly was. Don’t listen to jabber-jawed Pierre McGuire telling you how Rask looked “shaky” or made saves seem “more difficult than they had to be.” The fact is, Rask made some crucial stops, particularly in the first half of the third period, that kept Montreal from scoring what could have been a playoff-killing goal.
HATE: Montreal has to have some doubt in their game after Thursday night. There’s no question about it.
Think about it — all-world goaltender Carey Price has been amazing in this series, finally living up to all of that potential of his right before our very eyes. But the fact is, despite Price’s gargantuan efforts, the Canadiens have only drawn even through four games. Rask is more than capable of matching — even exceeding — Price’s efforts opposite him.
Following Game 4, it looks like Price can’t afford to make a single mistake if Montreal wants to pull the upset here.
LOVE: The Matt Fraser story.
How can you not love a kid who scores an overtime game winner, in Montreal of all places, in his first-ever Stanley Cup playoff game… and then talks about FROZEN YOGURT.
TCBY for everybody!
HATE: The play off the David Krejci-Milan Lucic-Jarome Iginla line.
Ugly. Rank. Putrid. There really is no silver lining here — and the fact they never stepped on the ice in the overtime period Thursday (granted, a short overtime session) — speaks volumes about where the play of that line has been in this series. Last year, Krejci led the NHL in playoff scoring; this year, he’s a punchline.
Let’s do this next one in reverse:
HATE: Watching Douglas Murray dish out a pair of head shots in one single third-period shift, and then being forced to listen to Pierre McGuire gush on and on and on about what a tough, effective player Murray is. It’s unconscionable in today’s game — with such an emphasis on protecting players from head injuries — that Caveman McGuire wouldn’t even so much as address that Murray may have crossed the line.
LOVE: Hearing McGuire utter the following: “Dougie Murray: All he does is clear the crease and bang bodies” — and then watching as career minor-leaguer Matt Fraser TORCHES HIM by cleanly beating him to the top of the crease, grabbing the puck and shoveling it past Carey Price for the OT winner with Murray putting nary a finger on him.
I think I heard McGuire weep into his microphone.
Believe what you want, McGuire, but there’s a reason you never made it as a head coach in this league. You know, aside from that miserable (half) season in Hartford when you managed to lead the Whalers to just 23 wins in 67 games behind the bench.
LOVE: That so many sports fans are joining the playoff hockey bandwagon these days. There’s no sport whose playoffs deliver the drama, intensity and emotional roller-coaster night in and night out that the NHL’s Stanley Cup run does.
There just isn’t, and despite the fact the games aren’t always the easiest to find on national television (“Daddy, what’s a CNBC?”), people are tuning in and talking about the games.
HATE: The Pink Hat fans and the mainstream media “assigned” to cover playoff hockey who simply don’t get it. I mean, ABSOLUTELY DO NOT GET IT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE.
The same fans/columnists/beat writers/television experts who predict that a series with go six or seven games, then turn around when a team falls behind two games to one and judge an entire season on a bad shift or a single turnover in the third or fourth game of said series.
Hey, knuckleheads: Remember when you said this was going to be a deep series? Yeah, that means your team has to lose a couple of times along the way. It’s kind of how it works.
FINAL THOUGHT OF THE WEEK: Boy, the Bruins sure could use Tyler Seguin in this series, huh? I mean, a kid that doesn’t backcheck, doesn’t want to hit anybody and who could only return somebody like OT playoff hero Matt Fraser in a trade sure ought to be somebody the team holds on to, huh?
Hey, where’s Phil Kessel playing his golf this month, anyway?
Support WBOB Sports