The Stanley Cup Playoffs arrived in a big way for Boston Bruins fans on Monday night. Sure, the Bruins were up 2-1 in the series but I don’t think it REALLY felt like playoff hockey. There was more drama off the ice than on it, with Pastrnak out with a mysterious upper body (maybe) injury, and Tuukka Rask opting to leave the team for personal reasons. You could forgive the casual fan and the die hard fan, if the series wasn’t hitting them right in the feelies. Well…welcome to game 4. If you haven’t seen the game, stop reading and at least watch the 3rd period. It was a beauty.
It was almost a tale of two games. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Through two periods of hockey the Bruins had played a pretty good game, outplaying the Carolina Hurricanes, creating scoring chances, but just not being able to capitalize. Hitting the post. Missing open nets. And James Reimer was up to the task when needed in the Canes goal. At the other end, Jaroslav Halak, the Bruins backup extraordinaire…the 1B to Rask’s 1A was not having his best game letting in a couple soft goals that he would typically save. At one point my son (7 years old) even said “I want Tuukka Rask back, come on man!” You could forgive fans, young and old, for the pessimism. The Bruins have already seen a lot in this short playoff run.
Then came the 3rd period.
A bit of luck, as James Reimer makes a poorly timed dash for the puck and Jake DeBrusk makes a nice move and an Orrish leap to get the B’s on the board and him off the schneid. The manner in which it was scored and the fact it was DeBrusk was not lost on the Boston bench. You could feel the energy in the empty arena start to change. Then came “The Hit”.
Charlie McAvoy lined up Jordan Staal carrying the puck out of the Hurricanes end and layed a crunching, perfect, textbook old school hockey hit square to the chest of the veteran centre. It took the air out of Staal (who left the game) and would have taken the gasping air out of any playoff packed arena. And that energy andwand airtair directly into the Boston Bruins.
Boston’s 4th line gets to work with a steel lunchbox type of shift that results in a Connor Clifton snipe from the circle into the top corner. An incredible shot from the most unlikely of players. Cliffy hockey at it’s finest. Game tied 2-2
90 seconds later Torey Krug makes a perfect pass to spring Brad Marchand on a breakaway, and every teams favourite player buries the opportunity sliding the puck 5-hole on Reimer to give the Bruins their first lead of the game with just over 8 minutes left.
You could see the joy on the Bruin’s players faces. This was a different type of game and a different type of comeback. The energy was as thick in my den as it was in the arena. It was four minutes of hockey that made you miss being in the arena. The oooohs and aaaahs, the gasps, the cheers……the WOOOOOOO’s from the Bruins faithful.
DeBrusk added his 2nd of the game at 14:17 of the 3rd and the game was all but over…or so you would think. The Hurricanes rallied with the goalie out, swarming the Bruins net and Teuvo Teravainen brought Carolina back to 4-3 with 87 seconds left in the game. You could feel some of that air gasp out of the Bruins fans and into the Caniac faithful.
Those 87 seconds were anything but comfortable, and felt like 87 minutes, and we were reminded once again of why we love hockey, AND playoff hockey so damn much. The Bruins held off the empty net attack to win 4-3 in the best game, by far, if this series.
For 15 minutes of hockey in the 3rd period, nothing else mattered. Everything felt normal in a very, very abnormal 2020. This is what the Boston Bruins needed. It’s what their fans needed. It’s a little bit of what everybody needed.
At the end of the day, it is only a game. But that was one helluva game. Bruins up 3-1 in the series.
Who wants to do it again Wednesday at 4pm EST? Yes, please!