Generally, when the Boston Bruins get outplayed through the first 40 minutes and head into the third period down a goal, you can bet that they’ll be playing their best hockey of the contest in the final minutes of the final frame.
This was ever-apparent this afternoon at the TD Garden, as the B’s put 12 of their 26 total shots on Rangers’ netminder Henrik Lundqvist in third period — which could have been much more, but the Rangers’ skaters had other plans.
“They battled really hard, blocking shots and focusing on the tough play,” said Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, who led the B’s with five shots on goal — one of those blocked. “They got one goal early, then they just stuck to the program, blocked as many shots as they can, and just didn’t get enough traffic in front of the net. We did the last six-seven minutes, but that’s not enough if you want to win a game against a team like that.”
As if “King” Henrik needed much help, the Blueshirts in front of him blocked 29 Bruins’ shots today — 18 of those in the third period. Center Brian Boyle led the way with five (three in the third) and four each from defensemen Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh.
“You watch the last few minutes they blocked every shot,” Seidenberg continued. “We didn’t seem to get pucks through. Maybe we could’ve done a better job. It definitely helps the goalie when guys are going hard at the shooter and trying to block those shots. That was good defense.”
Bruins head coach Claude Julien, who during his pregame briefing to the media described the Rangers as a ‘big, hard-working, grinding team that plays with a lot of passion‘, acknowledged that his team played a flat first two periods. And against a tough club like the Rangers, and going down 1-0 early on, playing catch-up was too much against this heavy team.
“It was more of…our team maybe not as good as the other team tonight as far as the will to win those battles early on and being heavy on the stick.
“They’re a pretty dedicated group at getting in the shooting lanes. They’ve always been that way and that’s what they did tonight,” said Julien. “Obviously you want your guys to find those shooting lanes and you want to get those pucks through, but even at the end when we were firing away late in the third, they were all collapsed and doing whatever they had to do to block shots. They were willing to pay the price.”
The Rangers have the toughness, size, speed, skill, and world class lass goaltending to be a real threat — and sleeper — when the real season begins. Coming off an emotional 7-0 destruction of the Canadiens on Thursday night, this loss today should help put things into perspective for the Bruins from here-on-out: skating through two-thirds of game and playing from behind against a team like New York (who could very well be the Bruins’ first-round opponents) could quickly get them upset and bounced before the post season really gets going.
“This one could have went either way, it wasn’t like we laid an egg tonight,” said Bruins’ enforcer Shawn Thornton. “I don’t look at shots too much, but anytime you outshoot a team 12-1 in the third period, you’d think that maybe you’d get rewarded with one. But they did a good job blocking shots, they did a good job of cleaning stuff out in front of the net.”
“Tonight was a playoff type of game. It was one of those ones where I think that there wasn’t a ton of mistakes made,” said Boston’s blueliner Andrew Ference. “There was good goaltending, a lot of blocked shots, a lot of sound positional play. So those go either way.”