The Boston Bruins just completed their 4-1 thumping of the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 1 of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. It was an impressive showing from a Bruins team, which looked lifeless for the past two months. Here are a few observations.
The Bruins play a complete game for the first time in over a year.
Maybe the last two months were all a front. Maybe as we scoffed at the Bruins for claiming they could just flip the switch come playoff time and execute a full game of hockey, the team actually had a plan all along. Either way, they haven’t given a 60-minute effort this strong all season, and certainly not against the Washington Capitals last year’s playoffs.
Last postseason, Washington was never intimidated during their series with Boston, with the Bruins three wins only coming by one goal and mostly by the skin of their teeth.
Tonight? The Bruins out-shot Toronto 40-20. They threw their bodies around with highlight reel hits. Most importantly, they gave Toronto the lead less than two minutes into the game and then blew the doors off the arena with four unanswered goals.
As recently as last week, Boston might have crumbled after the Leafs goal. Tonight was the long-awaited return of the Big Bad Bruins.
Special teams show signs of life.
It had to be disheartening for the fans to see Boston give up a power play goal before most of the crowd was seated. Still, the Bruins tightened up their penalty kill and Toronto never saw the back of the net again.
The penalty kill is going to be a crucial element for Boston. As you could see, Toronto is going to try and goad the Bruins into some undisciplined penalties. If they succeed, the penalty kill has to make up for those mistakes.
The power play may have only gone 1-for-5, but it certainly looked much more watchable. Passes were crisp, the puck was moved efficiently and opportunities were created. Most importantly, there were no points on the man advantage when a Bruin player looked completely lost. It wasn’t lights out, but it’s a step in the right direction.
And hey, they even scored a goal. This leads us to our next point.
Boston’s best acquisition at the trade deadline was … Wade Redden?
Ok, ok, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. However, what a night for the man who was buried on the St. Louis Blues bench just a couple months ago. Redden scored the game-tying goal with less than four minutes left in the first, then had the primary assist in Nathan Horton‘s eventual game winner 12 seconds before the period ended.
A last minute pickup at the deadline, Redden has played better than most would’ve expected. More importantly, in one frame of hockey, Redden made Bruins fans forget all about past failed experiments with puck-moving defensemen. Sorry, Dennis Wideman.
The Bruins make a statement in more ways than one.
Maple Leafs winger Nazem Kadri made some news today when he called this series “very, very winnable.” If this is what flipped the switch for Boston, remind them to thank Kadri for all his contributions.
The Bruins took Game 1 so definitively that you can’t help but think it was a message to both Toronto and the rest of the conference. Boston looked frightening at times; when Toronto tried to goon their way back into the game, Boston stayed disciplined. An extended camera shot along the Toronto bench showed the world a team looking like they were in over their heads.
It’s only one game, so Boston can’t get too excited because they need three more to move on. That being said, if the goal was to put an end to the negative talk about the team, the cynics can take a day off tomorrow.