Sabres 2, Bruins 1: this one’s going the distance
- Earlier today, Claude Julien told the media “who cares” when asked about his goalie Tuukka Rask and this being his first NHL playoff game. Boy was he right. Despite the 2-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres tonight in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Rask was cool, calm, and collective as he’s been all season long. Even the continuous chats of “TUUKKA” throughout the HSBC Arena wasn’t enough to really rattle the 23-year-old. The rookie stopped 30 of 32 shots he faced tonight and came up big when he needed — especially with about five minutes remaining in the third. Rask stone-cold-robbed Jason Pomminville’s point-black rebound attempt from Derek Roy’s shot from the point.
- The cliché, ‘the playoffs is a brand new season’ came to life for Boston tonight. The Black-and-Gold went 1-for-2 on the power play tonight when Mark Recchi netted his 51st career playoff goal. Prior to that PPG, the B’s went 1-for-25 with the man advantage in their last eight regular season games leading up to the playoffs.
- On the contrary, the Bruins’ penalty-kill picked-up right where they left off. Having successfully killed 20 of their last 21 times short in the regular season, the B’s made it a perfect 5-for-5 tonight…now 38-for-41 over their last 14 contests.
- Shots on goal went in favor of Boston, 32-39. But the Bruins put 24 of those on Sabres net-minder Ryan Miller in the second period; with just eight of the Sabres 32 shots during those 20 minutes. Craig Rivet put Buffalo ahead 2-1, but Boston owned every other category during that period. One knock on the B’s is that they can’t string together a full 60-minutes. Nothing changed here. If they can play all three periods like they did in the second period of this one, this series could swing in Boston’s direction rather quickly.
- The Bruins were out-hit 41-25 in this one as things got a bit personal in the first period. But this is playoff hockey. The Bruins may not have the size advantage against the Sabres. But they certainly have the fortitude, grit, and tenacity.
- Zdeno Chara led all Bruins’ players in shots on goal (6) and time on ice (27:07). Steve Begin led the team with five hits (could have been double that); Dennis Wideman, Johnny Boychuk, and Adam McQuaid each had three blocked shot; and Patrice Bergeron went 12-for20 (60%) on the face-off circle.
- Give credit where credit is due: Ryan Miller was, and is, just too good. There’s no question that he’s the Vezina Trophy winner for the 2009-10 season, and should even be mentioned as an honorable mention (at least) for the Hart/M.V.P. We all knew it was going to come down to Miller vs. Rask — and Game 1 certainly proved that.
This is going to be a long, physical, goaltending duel of a playoff series. It’s not only coming down to the defensive part of the game, but the more aggressive team whose able to hit the back of the net.