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NHL Boston Bruins

A Game of Firsts for the Boston Bruins in Game 1

Greg M. Cooper – USA TODAY Sports

There were times in this first semifinal game against the New York Rangers when the Boston Bruins looked a little listless. The first period was emblematic of that, though you could argue that it was partly on purpose as the teams figured one another out so they could proceed from there. There were also stretches in the third where the home team didn’t seem to have that fire. But once again, they found that higher gear, that urgency and the fire–it came in overtime again and resulted in Brad Marchand sealing the 3-2 win.

Two big firsts punctuated this game for the Bruins: defense call-up Torey Krug played in his first NHL playoff game and scored his first goal (on the power play, no less!), Dougie Hamilton had his first point helping on Krug’s goal and Marchand may have gotten the proverbial monkey off his back when he scored the overtime goal, his first of the playoffs.

The hero of the previous overtime game, Patrice Bergeron, gifted Marchand with a pass so perfect that it would’ve been a travesty had he not taken advantage of it.

Like I said, the first period wasn’t the most exhilarating bit of hockey ever, though the Bruins did pick it up a bit towards the end. Taylor Pyatt put a worrying hit on Johnny Boychuk early in the second, one that really seemed to be on the bad side, though Boychuk is apparently a superhero and made of something more than mere mortals. (The theory is adamantium.)

He got right back in it, he apparently joked that Chuck Norris is a “sissy” by comparison, he kept working hard and sadly he wasn’t rewarded for it on the scoresheet. The hockey gods were cruel to 55 tonight and he got so many painful pings off the goalposts. One of them could have resulted in a buzzer-beating regulation win for Boston.

Zdeno Chara put up the first goal of the night, making this a five-game point streak, but his offensive production was just one of the important aspects of what he did tonight. He also played 38 minutes, leading the rest of his team by a long run–Boychuk was next at almost 27 minutes. Hustle like that is why Chara got the Ranger jacket postgame.

But then there was a time when the Rangers got up to a 2-1 lead, scoring at the tail end of the second and the very start of the third. Even coach Claude Julien admitted that it wasn’t an ideal scenario for his team. Krug got it all tied up about three minutes later, though, but the defensive miscues on that second New York goal were cringe-worthy. For example, hoping Tyler Seguin will help block a shot? Bad idea! Speaking of, could he get another talking-to from Shawn Thornton or a text from Mark Recchi to try to put a defibrillator to his flat-lining game? The text worked for Marchand.

Also, on another note, hearing the Rangers slant that NBC’s crew took in this one was excruciating at times. The way they hyped up Henrik Lundqvist while downplaying Tuukka Rask is a prime example of that and caused a lot of backlash from fans who know better based on Rask’s talent, performance and stats. At one point, Marchand was mistaken for Todd Marchant. Rich Peverley was misidentified as David Krejci. They declared that New York’s power play was great and, if that wasn’t meant in jest, that’s just wholly untrue: of the 16 teams to make the postseason, their 6.4 percent conversion rate is the second lowest because the Minnesota Wild converted on none of their chances at all. Boston’s man advantage isn’t much to sneeze at either, but it’s at a 16.7 rate.

But the Bruins got the best of Lundqvist three times tonight–and oh, so many almost-had-it opportunities. They now have two days to rest up and get ready for game two, a 3 p.m. matinee.