|Greg Campbell is congratulated by teammate Nathan Horton after his empty netter sealed the Bruins five-game series victory over the Rangers.
Getty Images/Charles Krupa
The Boston Bruins finished off the New York Rangers eliminating them in five games. The lights were turned out on a disappointing 2013 season that never lived up to expectations. However, they lost to a better team. There’s no shame in that. The Bruins rebounded from a goal back to defeat the Rangers 3-1 at a revved up TD Garden- advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals against the Penguins.
Boston used the same recipe. They continued to attack until New York relented. Their size, speed and strength proved too much in the first playoff series between Original Six rivals in 40 years. A dominant second period was the difference. After permitting a Dan Girardi power play goal midway through an even first, a more determined Bruins beat Henrik Lundqvist twice. Unsung hero Torey Krug scored a power play goal and Greg Campbell notched the series clincher over a lengthy 20 minutes which seemed to last forever. The Bruins outscored the Rangers 2-0 and outshot them 15-9.
One major difference in the Eastern Conference Semifinal series was Boston’s superior depth. It wasn’t their top scorers who did in the Rangers. But rather a strong supporting cast featuring Campbell, Daniel Paille and enforcer Shawn Thornton, who not only fought Derek Dorsett but contributed offensively assisting on Campbell’s winner. Campbell also erased any doubt when he scored into an empty net with under a minute to play. The winning combination of Campbell, Paille and Thornton proved large. Ironically, a similar energy line did in the Rangers last year. That’s two straight Springs where their D wasn’t able to handle hard forechecking pressure from a fourth line. That might be an eye raiser for the offseason.
Unfortunately, a great goaltending performance was wasted. Facing shot after shot through a maze of traffic, Lundqvist was superb making 29 saves. Most of those were spectacular with the Bruins generating a plethora of scoring chances. Under such duress, he put on a clinic robbing Milan Lucic following a dreadful Mike Del Zotto giveaway and later had a sequence where he made four straight saves off a Boston flurry. When Campbell backhanded his second of the game into a vacated net, an emotional Lundqvist had his head buried on the bench. Even in a five-game series, he performed like a Vezina winner who carried the team here.
It just wasn’t to be. Despite a good first in which Girardi took a Mats Zuccarello feed and beat Tuukka Rask through a perfect Brian Boyle screen, the Rangers couldn’t get a second goal. Perhaps if they were able to build on it, we might be talking about a set of different circumstances. Instead, a Zuccarello hooking minor led directly to Krug’s fourth of the series. The poise of the rookie defenseman was something nobody could’ve predicted. Much like Chris Kreider did for the Rangers during last year’s run, Krug has been unbelievable for Boston. His perfect release on a Tyler Seguin cross ice feed blew past Lundqvist’s glove tying it 1-1 at 3:48 of the second. Brad Marchand added a helper.
It was the beginning of the end for the Blueshirts, who continued to compete hard despite not having enough. The Bruins kept pressing until two costly Roman Hamrlik mistakes led to Campbell’s winner. A failed outlet pass resulted in a turnover that allowed the B’s to get the puck through the neutral zone. Hamrlik made a second poor read when he turned it over, allowing a bull rush from Paille and Thornton, who wreaked havoc while an unchecked Campbell deposited an easy put back that gave Boston a 2-1 lead with 6:19 remaining in the second stanza.
The Rangers had to kill consecutive undisciplined penalties from Dorsett spanning the second and third. Though he played with edge, those minors took time off the clock. The Bruins power play might not have scored but it allowed them to keep momentum. Lundqvist came up with a glove save on former teammate Jaromir Jagr, who was snake bitten. Without our goalie, it would’ve been a Boston Tea Party. Instead, he gave them an opportunity to comeback.
Ryan Callahan had the best chance when a Stepan tip pass put him on a breakaway. With back check pressure coming from behind, he tried to go to the backhand but a sliding Rask got just enough to push it wide, earning loud cheers from the crowd. Previously, Rick Nash had an opportunity off a faceoff win but Rask also made a big stick save. In his first postseason with the Rangers, Nash struggled finishing with a goal and four assists. Despite not being able to finish, he was better in this series tallying a goal and two helpers including a great pass on Chris Kreider’s OT winner in Game Four. Kreider was arguably their best forward. He forechecked well and delivered some crunching hits including a pair on Dennis Seidenberg during one shift.
When push came to shove, the Bruins were a more complete team from top to bottom. Claude Julien’s trust won out over John Tortorella, who admitted that he didn’t have as deep a roster. There definitely must be changes for next year. We’ll cover that during the week.
Congratulations to the Bruins on a hard fought series. They earned it. Indeed, they were Boston Strong. Best of luck in the next round.
NY Puck 3 Stars:
3rd Star-Greg Campbell, Bos (2 goals incl. series clincher-+2 in 10:44)
2nd Star-Tuukka Rask, Bos (28 saves incl. 12/12 in 3rd-came up with 2 gems to protect a one-goal lead)
1st Star-Henrik Lundqvist, NYR (29 saves-he was amazing. A shame that he still doesn’t have the team in front of him.)