Five takeaways from Game 1
June, 13, 2013
By James Murphy | ESPNBoston.com
The Boston Bruins lost the fifth-longest game in Stanley Cup finals history 4-3 on an Andrew Shaw goal 12:08 into the third overtime of Game 1 and trail the Chicago Blackhawks 1-0 in the best-of-seven 2013 Stanley Cup finals. Here's my five takeaways from this marathon classic:
The Blackhawks aren't the Penguins: In Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, the Pittsburgh Penguins appeared to try to send a message to Boston that they could play just as physical and veered away from their own game of speed and skill. The Bruins gladly obliged and schooled Pittsburgh on physical play, frustrating the Penguins beyond repair to the point that they never led in the series and scored just two goals in four games. Well, the Blackhawks are not the Penguins. While Chicago may have seemed to take a similar approach early on in this game, the Blackhawks quickly realized they were not going to beat Boston at its game and reverted to their own. The Blackhawks' game is speed and up-tempo hockey, striking fast and furious. That's exactly what they showed in the third period when they scored two unanswered goals to erase a 3-1 Bruins lead and force overtime. Another obvious trait of this Chicago squad is its resilience. Just as the Bruins have shown a no-quit attitude throughout the playoffs, this Blackhawks squad has as well and will not fade away as the Penguins seemed to do in the Eastern Conference finals.
Bruins let their guard down: For the most part throughout the playoffs, the Bruins have done an amazing job of protecting leads by not taking the foot off the pedal. But each time they took a two-goal lead in Game 1, they seemed to let up, allowing a Chicago goal about more than two minutes after they made it 2-0 and then allowing the Blackhawks to make it 3-2 just less than two minutes after Patrice Bergeron made it 3-1. Whether it was a false sense of comfort from their dominance of the Penguins or just not reading the feel of the game right, the Bruins appeared to sit back and then get a little too cute with the puck. A Torey Krug turnover led to the Dave Bolland goal that made it 3-2 Boston, and then an Andrew Ference turnover led to the game-tying goal by Johnny Oduya. These things happen, and to the Bruins' credit, they had seemingly erased the complacency that plagued them in the regular season and for much of the Toronto series. But it crept back into their game at the wrong time, and that is the reason they found themselves in the longest game of the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs and now down 1-0 in the series.
AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhMilan Lucic got the Bruins out to an early 2-0 lead, but they couldn't hold on.
Rask and Crawford put on a show: Rask was brilliant from start to finish in this one. As expected the Hawks came out flying, but Rask was there to stem their initial momentum, and once again the Bruins fed off his stellar play. When his team got into penalty trouble and played on their heels for much of the second period, Rask was there again to shut the door and hold Chicago to just one goal in the period. He gave up two goals in the third period, but there aren't many goalies who could have stopped those shots. In overtime he was dominant again, making 23 of his 59 saves. Meanwhile Crawford's performance was almost a tale of two games. The much-maligned goalie looked a bit awestruck at the magnitude of the Stanley Cup finals at first. The first Bruins goal wasn't necessarily his fault, but Rask was making saves on similar shots at the other end. As for the Bruins' second goal, Crawford definitely wants that one back. But as the game went on Crawford settled in. Patrice Bergeron beat him with a power-play goal 6:09 into the third period to give the Bruins a 3-1 lead, but right after that Crawford robbed Milan Lucic. It seemed to spark his team as they scored just less than a minute later and then tied the game on Johnny Oduya's goal 12 minutes into the final frame. Crawford's solid play continued in OT as he made 29 of his 51 saves in through the overtime periods.
Lucic in beast mode: Since he took over Game 7 in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, cutting the Leafs' lead to 3-2 and playing with that trademark snarl, Lucic has been in beast mode. He had gone seven games without a goal heading into Game 1, but he has been a constant physical presence and an inspiration to his teammates. The Bruins always say that when Lucic has his game going, the rest follow, and that was the case early on in this game. Lucic helped set a tempo, and if some of his teammates hadn't let up in the third period, the Bruins would've been sleeping in their hotel rooms by the time this game eventually ended. For much of his career, Lucic has been criticized for his stretches of futility, especially in the playoffs. But set to make $6 million in each of the next three seasons, Lucic is showing he will earn that money.
Mixed bag on special teams: Not surprisingly the Bruins' penalty kill was lights-out, killing off all three Blackhawks power plays, including a five-on-three in the second period. But while the Boston power play did connect in the third period on Bergeron's goal that made it 3-1, they didn't come through when it mattered most, wasting two gift-wrapped power plays. The Blackhawks were called for too many men on the ice at 12:08 of the first overtime and at 19:07 of the second extra frame, and the Bruins still couldn't register the winner. It wasn't necessarily surprising, considering the Bruins' power play has been their Achilles' heel for the past three seasons, but if ever there was a time that they needed to deliver on the man-advantage, it was on these two opportunities.