BOSTON -- The Bruins left Vancouver down 2-0 in the Stanley Cup finals, and heading into Game 3, some were wondering if the Boston could even avoid a sweep let alone head back to Vancouver with the series tied at 2. But once again, this 2010-11 Bruins team has proven they’re a resilient bunch, and with their 4-0 win in Game 4, they now find themselves headed back to Vancouver for Game 5 with the series tied 2-2.
1. Thomas is the backbone of this team. It’s not as if those who have followed this team all season long didn’t realize that, but Tim Thomas has reminded us again that he is the backbone of this team. The Bruins, despite the TD Garden being electric at the beginning of Game 4, came out quite flat and were outshot 12-6 in the first period. Yet, they had a 1-0 lead on a Rich Peverley tally 11:59 into the opening frame. But that lead doesn’t happen or hold up if not for some tremendous saves by Thomas. In fact, the Bruins -- while still leading 1-0 -- were outshot 20-7 before Michael Ryder made it 2-0 11:11 into the second period. Thomas ended up with 38 saves and his third shutout of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Thomas then got into the physical part of the game -- something the Bruins pride themselves on -- when he slashed Alexandre Burrows after Burrows knocked his stick away. Burrows and Thomas scuffled for a bit before a scrum ensued. It was just another example of Thomas’ passion.
“It's indicative of the way he's had to battle to get here, number one,” head coach Claude Julien said. “Anybody that knows the story of Tim Thomas, he's taken a real bumpy road to get to the NHL. He's had so many obstacles in front of him that he's overcome, it makes him a battler, it makes him the perfect goaltender for our organization because that's what we are, we're a blue-collar team that goes out and works hard and earns every inch of the ice that you can get.
"Tim fits well in regards to that. Again, the way he battles, he never quits on any pucks, even to the point where he can let a bad goal in every once in a while or a couple in a game, and you know that when the game is on the line he's going to be standing on his head again because he battles through it.”
2. Players are interchangeable. Whenever an injury or other issue requires Julien to make a lineup change or switch his lines or defensive pairings around, the new pairings or lines just seem to gel. That has especially been the case in the playoffs. Julien deserves loads of credit for knowing the right time to make those changes and which players to put together. The players also deserve credit for learning each others' tendencies quickly and not trying to change their game too much.
That was the case again in Game 4 as Tyler Seguin was put back in the lineup on the third line due to Nathan Horton’s injury and Peverley went up to the first line filling in for Horton. Peverley scored two goals and Seguin assisted on a Ryder goal. It was just another case of the Bruins making the best of a situation and stepping up.
“I don’t know, I guess just go out there and play our game,” center David Krejci said. “To do things like that, you have to just go out there and play the game and don’t worry about it.”
3. Hit on Horton was a wake-up call for B's. Whether they want to admit it or not, the hit by Canucks defenseman Aaron Rome on Nathan Horton awoke a sleeping bear in the Bruins. Since that hit, the Bruins have outscored the Canucks 12-1 and have been a team on a mission to win one for Horton, who is out for the series. Prior to Game 4, Bobby Orr was in the stands as the Bruins' honorary captain waving a Nathan Horton flag, then the player that replaced Horton, Peverley, scored two goals and after the game Horton surprised his team in the dressing room to present the team MVP jacket to Peverley. The Bruins have clearly channeled the emotion from losing their best clutch scorer and a well-liked teammate into winning.
“I think starting off we played well then obviously losing Horty [Horton] was a big loss for us,” Ryder said. “Guys have to step it up and that’s what we have been doing. We got back to playing our game and the way that we are really good when we play physical and are tough on the forecheck. That is when we have success. We were down two-nothing and we knew we had to win these games at home and we did that.”
4. The penalty kill is owning the Vancouver power play. The Canucks came into this series with one of the best power plays in the playoffs and loads of offensive weapons. But the Bruins' penalty kill has owned the Canucks’ power play since Vancouver scored a power-play goal in Game 2. In Game 3, the Bruins' PK killed all eight power plays, and in Game 4 they killed all six. The Canucks are now 1-for-22 on the power play. The Bruins are pushing them to the outside and forcing them to pass around the perimeter. The Bruins have the middle clogged up and the Canucks look as if they’re thinking too much and hesitating.
5. Are the Bruins in Luongo’s head? Roberto Luongo is one of the best goalies in the league and that’s why he is a Vezina Trophy candidate. But he has shown in past years -- and even this spring – that he will struggle at times in the playoffs. After allowing 12 goals in two games and being pulled in the third period of Game 4, is Luongo in the midst of another meltdown? The goalie that held the Bruins to three goals in Games 1 and 2 looks rattled, and the Bruins need to keep creating traffic and peppering him with shots in Game 5. Head coach Alain Vigneault will have a quicker hook than he has and his failure to pull him out of the Game 3 rout may come back to haunt him.