Maybe the Boston Bruins were listening to the fans after all. Despite flopping on a chance to sweep the New York Rangers Thursday night, the Bruins decided that the drama wasn’t necessary this time around, finishing off the series 4-1. It was a gutty victory, especially with the Rangers taking the lead early. However, Boston locked down and made sure there was no Game 6.
Here are a few observations as the Bruins head to the NHL Eastern Conference Finals.
Tuukka Rask gets the final word, shutting down the Rangers on his way to redemption.
Nobody took more heat for the Game 4 loss than Rask.
The Rangers were dead in the water until Rask’s mistakes let them back into the game. For the next two days, he had to answer more questions than he would like about the similarities between this series and the epic 3-0 collapse he saw last time he started for Boston in the playoffs.
Fans were nervous about a potential letdown in the making.
However, today Rask was back to his normal self. He gave up the lead early, but it was on a perfect screen which completely blocked his line of sight. Other than that, he was flawless.
His defining moment came late in the third. With the Bruins up 2-1 and counting down the minutes, Rangers captain Ryan Callahan came in on a breakaway. He’d already deked Rask out of his skates earlier in this series, and now had a chance to tie the game and steal back momentum.
But alas, Rask shut the door, on this particular attempt and the Rangers in general.
A true test awaits him now as the Bruins face a Pittsburgh Penguins team with infinite talent.
The “Merlot Line” strikes again.
Anyone who gives coach Claude Julien criticism for continually rolling four lines throughout the playoffs clearly loses the argument after today.
Once again, Boston’s grinders were the final difference in the Game 5 victory.
First of all, the line took care of a particular thorn in their side in the form of Rangers pugilist Derek Dorsett. He had been doing his best to agitate every Bruin he ran into through the entire series, and today he got what he had coming.
Trying to pick a fight with Daniel Paille, he instead was forced into the big leagues in a bout with Boston fighter extraordinaire Shawn Thornton. Dorsett did what he could, but the fight ended with him on the ice and referees having to pull Thornton off to prevent further damage.
Then, with the game tied 1-1, center Gregory Campbell scored what would turn out to be the game-winner. Campbell added an empty-netter to seal the deal, and just like that it was summer vacation for New York.
Say what you will about the line itself, but tonight Boston told the rest of the league, “our fourth line is better than yours.”
Boston proves 2010 was indeed in the past.
The skepticism about the Game 4 loss wasn’t aimed towards just one player. Fans throughout the city were already screaming “here we go again” as the Bruins fumbled their chance to sweep the Rangers.
It really wasn’t fair to compare Boston’s 2013 roster to the one they put forth against the Philadelphia Flyers three years ago. Unfortunately, though, when you lose the way that team did, it sticks with you for a long time.
When the Rangers took a 1-0 lead in the first period of Game 5, you could sense the crowd was nervous. Were they going to have to sweat out another series that was all but finished?
However, as soon as Boston tied it — off a Torey Krug goal because that’s just what he does — it seemed the ship had been righted.
Once the Bruins took the lead, it was a quick reminder to the city that this team wasn’t the decimated crew that provided the king of all letdowns a few years ago.
Now, the real game begins.
Boston faces the perennial playoff favorite Penguins, a juggernaut loaded with more superstars than you can count. If the Bruins really want to show the league what they’re all about, they need to take the ice in a series in which they’re the overwhelming underdogs and give Pittsburgh the fight of their lives.
Get ready, Boston. The fun’s just getting started.