The Bruins certainly looked like a different team in Game 3 against the Canadiens then they did in Games 1 and 2 combined. They skated hard, they were physical, and they capitalized on their chances.
As a result the Bruins got a 4-2 win at the Bell Centre and have put themselves right back in the series against their hated rivals, now trailing the series, 2-1.
But now, much like the Habs did in the first two games, the Bruins have a chance to steal two games on the road as they head back to the Bell Centre tonight for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
Although the Habs made things interesting in Game 3 trailing by one late in the third, the Bruins’ effort was there for the majority of the 60 minutes. Yes, Tim Thomas made some outstanding saves in the final 20 minutes, but the Bruins didn’t go into complete panic mode when Tomas Plekanec cut the lead to 3-2 early in the third.
But if the Bruins want to shift the momentum of this series and tie things up at 2-2 before returning to Boston for Game 5 Saturday, then they’ll need a complete 60 minute effort.
Obviously we all saw what happened when David Krejci scored the games first goal. The Bruins finally got to play with a lead became a little more relaxed instead of going into desperation mode early, much like they did in the first two games of the series.
The Bruins have the goaltending and the grit to carry them, but the question is all about execution, especially with the power play. In three games the Black and Gold are 0-for-12 with the man advantage, and clearly the unit has its share of flaws early on.
One of those flaws is relying too heavily on Zdeno Chara’s one-timers, something the Habs penalty kill has taken away for the most part.
“They take away one-timers for the most part,” Bruins forward Mark Recchi said after yesterday’s practice in Lake Placid.
“You’ve got to be able to make movements. You’ve got to have 2-on-1’s all over the ice and you’ve got to go to people and create some 2-on-1’s. If you do that, you’re going to be better off and eventually things open up for [Chara’s] shot, but you’ve got to show them you have to do other things before they start respecting other areas.”
Some of the struggles have been pointed to Tomas Kaberle, who hasn’t been that coveted puck moving defenseman the Bruins were hoping for. Others have suggested that the forwards need to do a better job at getting traffic in front of Carey Price, something they struggled to do in the two losses.
The Bruins have the goaltending and the grit to take advantage of this opportunity. But can they get the power play going? In the last two first round victories — against Montreal in 2009 and Buffalo in 2010 — Boston used the power play to its advantage. In the last two second round defeats — Carolina in ’09 and Philadelphia last year — their lack of a power play came back to haunt them.
The Black and Gold have an opportunity to shift the momentum in this series tonight. A complete 60 minute effort will help the cause, but getting the power play back on track would be extremely beneficial in Game 4.