BOSTON -- For the past two days, the Boston Bruins insisted their late-season funk was in the rearview mirror. There would be no more blown leads in the third period and no more lackluster starts. The skilled and physical Bruins would return.
Well, the Bruins kept their promises as they overcame an early Toronto Maple Leafs power-play goal and scored the next four goals, dominating the Leafs 4-1 in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
David Krejci had a goal and two assists, Wade Redden had a goal and an assist and Nathan Horton and Johnny Boychuk both lit the lamp for the Bruins. Tuukka Rask looked solid between the pipes, making 19 saves, with James van Riemsdyk’s power-play goal in the opening period the only shot that beat him.
For the Leafs, James Reimer was under siege all night as the Bruins poured 40 shots on him.
Lucic-Krejci-Horton line clicks again: One of the big question marks heading into this series was whether Milan Lucic, Krejci and Horton could find their magic again. If Game 1 is any indication, the band is back together and the magic is there. In addition to Krejci’s three-point performance and Horton lighting the lamp, Lucic had two helpers and continued to look more like the Lucic who used a combination of grit, size and skating to earn two straight seasons of 20-plus goals. The chemistry was back as Horton and Lucic got to open spaces to benefit from Krejci’s playmaking skills, and Krejci looked a lot like the player who was a candidate for the 2011 Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.
Bruins defense provides offensive boost: Prior to Game 1, coach Claude Julien lauded Redden for his recent play and puck-moving skills. Redden continued to impress with his goal and an assist, but the Bruins' entire defense did a great job of moving the puck and creating offense in Game 1. In addition to Boychuk's goal, Bruins defensemen helped in peppering Reimer and controlling neutral zone play.
Power play looks better: While the Bruins’ power play (1-for-5) can certainly still be better, it did convert once and moved the puck a lot better. The passes were crisp, and there was less hesitation. If that continues, the scoring production will increase.
Suspension coming for Ference? Andrew Ference could very well be sitting out a game or more after elbowing Leafs forward Mikhail Grabovski in the head in the first period. No penalty was called, but the replay clearly shows an elbow to the head.
Bruins have two goals called back: Things could have been even worse for the Leafs if not for two Bruins goals being called back. The referees and replay officials got it right in calling back a Tyler Seguin shot that clearly rang off the post 1:10 into the second period. But Patrice Bergeron’s no-goal was a bit questionable as the referees claimed the whistle was blown before Bergeron pushed it into the net. But even if the refs were wrong, the rule states if they intended to blow it and didn’t do it in time, then it’s still not a goal.
Bad blood boils at end: In addition to Ference’s questionable hit to the head of Grabovski, there was plenty of hard hitting throughout the game. As time wound down in the third period and it was clear the Bruins would win, the Leafs decided to let the Bruins know they were still there, taking plenty of extra hits after the whistle and then stirring things up at the final buzzer. The result was a Chris Kelly-Leo Komarov fight. It should be a physical Game 2.
Hamilton and Peverley sit: Not surprisingly, Julien kept Dougie Hamilton in the press box as a healthy scratch. The defenseman struggled in his last few games of the regular season, and Julien seems to have opted to take the learning-from-up-top route he took with Seguin as a rookie to start the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs. While Rich Peverley might have had an off season, one would think Julien would prefer playoff and Cup experience in the lineup instead of an inexperienced Kaspars Daugavins. But it was Daugavins playing with Kelly and Jaromir Jagr for Game 1.
Here’s what the rest of the lineup looked like:
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand-Bergeron-Tyler Seguin