The Boston Bruins are going into tonight’s game three matchup against the Chicago Blackhawks with a ton of momentum. Game two was an intense battle from the start of the third period, all the way till the game winning goal by Daniel Paille was scored in overtime. There is no question that game three is going to be crucial, and in my opinion a “must win” game for the Bruins. Coming back to Boston with the series tied at one game apiece was exactly what the Bruins wanted to accomplish, especially with how well the Blackhawks have played in the playoffs. I would like to take a close look at what the Bruins must do to ensure a game three victory, and a 2-1 series lead in the Finals.
The Bruins have yet to put together a complete game in this series against Chicago. In game one, the Bruins got out in front 3-1in the third period, and were on their way to a 1-0 series lead. Torey Krug started the third period meltdown, by making an ill-advised pass that lead to an easy goal. Chicago would eventually tie the game, and then win it in the third overtime. In Saturday’s game it was the exact opposite, the only player on the team that remembered the game started at 8:00pm was Tuukka Rask. Without Rask basically standing on his head in the first period, it could have very easily been 4-0 going into the second period. It wasn’t until late in the second period when the Bruins finally decided that they were going to start playing tough hockey. Chris Kelly eventually tied the game at 1-1, and Paille won the game in overtime. Going into tonight’s game it’s very important that the B’s put together a full 60 minutes of hockey against a very talented Blackhawks team, or they could find themselves in a 2-1 hole.
Tuukka Rask without question has been the most valuable Bruins players in the post-season. In a losing effort in game one of the Finals, Rask stopped 59 shots which is remarkable. In game two, Rask was the only player that played a full 60 minutes of hockey, and singlehandedly won the game for Boston. Rask has been putting on a show the whole post-season, which includes shutting down the powerful Penguins offense, and holding them to only two goals the whole series. So far in the playoffs, Rask has a save percentage of .944, and only allowing 1.73 goals a game. Going into game three, the Blackhawks will throw everything except the kitchen sink at Rask, and he needs to be mentally ready. In order for the Bruins to pull out the victory Rask will need to bring his A game yet again.
The Bruins started game two rather flat, and the Blackhawks were punching the bully in the mouth. Most have come to know the Bruins as being the physical, tough, grind-it-out team that will beat their opponent’s silly. The Blackhawks came into the series like they were the bullies, and have really pushed back when the Bruins threw the body. In the hits department the Bruins dominated game two, but that’s not how the game started. The Bruins need to be able to open up the flood gates with the physical play at the start of game three. They need to send an early message to the Blackhawks that they will not be beaten at their own game. If the Bruins can make the Blackhawks feel uncomfortable then they will have a great chance of winning the game.
Against a high-powered offense like the Blackhawks, turnovers usually can result to an easy goal. The Bruins have found this to be true, as everyone remembers the Krug turnover in game one that jolted the comeback for the Hawks. I’ve said it time and time again that if the Bruins play “MoneyBall” hockey, they usually win. If the Bruins just come out and execute, and play smart, fundamental hockey everything else will take care of itself. The big thing that turnovers cause for a hockey team is this; it brings unwanted pressure to the net minder. If the B’s can keep the game as simple as possible for Rask, he will keep that confidence he has had most of the post-season.
Overall, I think the Bruins need to come out in game three, and set the tone early. They need to be physical, send a message that the Blackhawks can’t just waltz into their building and push them around. If they come out flat like they did in game two, I fear that the outcome might not be as pleasant as the last one. The game is scheduled for tonight (Monday, June 17, 2013) at 8:00p.m in Boston.