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Thursday, May 6, 2010
Five things we learned from Wednesday


1. Good to see some things never change. With the game out of hand and the Vancouver Canucks being embarrassed on home ice, Alexandre Burrows -- king of the hit from behind, the trash talk and the cheap shot -- crashed into Dave Bolland from behind near the benches. Bolland took exception, and both received 10-minute misconducts, with Burrows getting an additional minor for roughing. The bottom line is, in a series marked by bad blood, Burrows has delivered just one goal and no assists in three games and has two goals and zero assists overall in nine postseason games after chalking up 35 goals in the regular season. Somewhere, Stephane Auger must be smiling.

2. Tuukka Rask didn't even make it onto the rookie of the year ballot (Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard, Colorado's Matt Duchene and Buffalo's Tyler Myers are this year's finalists), but the Bruins netminder has his eye on another piece of hardware, the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. Once the property of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Rask turned in another stellar effort Wednesday night, blocking 34 of 35 shots to help give the Bruins a formidable 3-0 lead over the Flyers. Rask, playing in his first NHL postseason, has a 2.18 goals-against average and .928 save percentage. The numbers are more impressive considering the fact that the goal-starved Bruins are playing without regulars Marco Sturm, Dennis Seidenberg and now David Krejci.

3. Barring a collapse of epic proportions, the Boston Bruins are set to advance to their first conference finals since 1992. That season, the Bruins finished second in the old Adams Division and defeated Buffalo and Montreal before bowing out to the eventual Stanley Cup champs from Pittsburgh.

There are more than a few parallels to this season. Boston ousted Buffalo in the first round and stand a better than even chance of facing Pittsburgh in the conference finals (the Penguins lead their series against the Habs 2-1 with Game 4 set for Thursday night). Cam Neely, now a top executive with the team, was an alternate captain on that 1991-92 squad.

The question for this edition of the Bruins is how many healthy bodies they'll have. David Krejci (four goals and four assists) left Game 3 after being buried by a ferocious Mike Richards hit and is out for the rest of the playoffs. He joins Marco Sturm and Dennis Seidenberg on the long-term injury list.

4. The Flyers' Game 3 loss to Boston brings into focus the age-old question of risk versus reward when it comes to making the big hit. Richards' hit on Krejci was a good, old-fashioned hockey hit. Yet Richards took himself out of the play by making the hit and in doing so helped create an odd-man rush involving Milan Lucic and unexpected playoff hero Miroslav Satan. Satan finished the rush with a nice little move to beat netminder Brian Boucher. The goal gave the Bruins a 2-1 lead and turned out to be the game winner in a 4-1 victory that essentially sealed the Flyers' fate. Who knows what happens if Richards takes another tack, trying to block the pass or steering Krejci to the boards?

5. Have to hand it to Chicago coach Joel Quenneville, whose lineup juggling has helped jump-start his Blackhawks in their tough series against the Vancouver Canucks. Moving Dustin Byfuglien onto a line with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews in Game 3 on Wednesday night turned out to be a piece of genius, as Byfuglien scored three times in the Hawks' 5-2 victory. The goals were the first points of the postseason for the big winger, who had been floating between the fourth line and defense before joining the big boys Wednesday. His presence around the Vancouver net was disruptive, to say the least, for Roberto Luongo, who was outplayed by Antti Niemi in what could be a series-changing contest. Two of Byfuglien's goals were off rebounds and the third came when he essentially jammed Luongo and the puck into the Canucks' goal.