It was Game Four of the Stanley Cup Finals, and the Vancouver Canucks had a 2-1 series lead, looking to put a stranglehold in Beantown and try to finish the it on home ice.
The Bruins were looking to even this series and go back to Vancouver guaranteeing another game back in Boston.
So far, Games 1 and 2 were close, and Boston lost both games by a goal as the Canucks took full advantage of crucial errors by the Bruins.
In our last episode, the Bruins went after the Canucks and outplayed, outhit and outscored the Canucks after lighting up Canuck goalie Roberto Luongo for eight goals to Bruins' netminder, Tim Thomas' one goal allowed. To be fair on Luongo, the last three goals happened when his team gave up on the game and left him out to dry.
The game was overshadowed by the late hit on Bruin forward Nathan Horton by Canuck defenseman Aaron Rome.
Upon disciplinary review, it was deemed late and excessive, and Rome was suspended for the remainder of the Stanley Cup Finals.
As for Horton, he was deemed to have a severe concussion, and the Bruins placed him on the NHL protocol, which will put him out of the rest of the finals.
The Bruins opened up the scoring. David Krejci passed the puck forward to Rich Peverley, who skated up to Luongo and put it past him five-hole.
Halfway into the second period, Michael Ryder let one fly from the point, and it beat Luongo glove side—2-0 Bruins.
Brad Marchand added to the B's score after it seemed he got away with a trip on Canuck defenseman Keith Ballard, but both players were intertwined for a split second. Marchand scored on a backhand to Luongo's right side to put it 3-0 Bruins.
Early in the final frame, Milan Lucic skated up and made a quick pass to the net. Luongo tried to redirect the puck away, but he had his stick blade at an angle where it deflected up on Peverley and in the net. Play was reviewed, and the call on the ice stood to put the game at a final score of 4-0 Bruins.
That was enough for Luongo to be pulled, and Cory Schneider replaced him to stop the remainder of the the shots.
Luongo was 16-20 for a .800 save percentage. Schneider stopped all nine shots he faced.
So the Bruins and the Canucks are headed back to Vancouver for a best of three series.
Bruins Offense. The Bruins played around the net and got their chances.
Bruins Defense. The Bruins supported the puck well last night, and with the exception of a chunk of the opening period, control was in Boston's hands for most of the game. The puck support allowed Thomas to play his aggressive style as he got easy looks at the puck and could kick the puck out and have it end up on a B's stick, for the most part. A complete team effort.
B's Line changes. Moving Peverley up to replace Horton and putting Seguin in was a great move. Shawn Thornton was still effective, bringing that physical presence to the game. Though not a major scoring threat, he can score and his forechecking was executed well.
This is Thomas' third shutout of the playoffs, and he earned it with all 38 shots turned away.
The Canucks defense was looking tired, and rightly so. The Bruins were physical from the get go in Games 3 and 4. With Dan Hamhuis out with an injury and Aaron Rome suspended for the rest of the series, the defensive bench is shortened and lacking cohesion.
Luongo has not shown up in the last two games, but neither has his team.
More extracurricular activity by both sides. Albeit, it was not as bad as Game 3, but it was there. The Bruins were sending a message, but it looked to be more like overkill.
Discipline. Both teams need to keep it together, but it seems that the Canucks are getting frustrated and taking some bad penalties.
The Canucks have been outscored in the last two games,12-1 and 14-5, respectively.
The power play that was once touted in the playoffs (28 percent going into the Finals) has scored just one goal out of 18 attempts for 5.55 percent. Are the Canucks in a slump, or are the Bruins and Tim Thomas that good? Could it be both?
The Vancouver Canucks are a great team. To earn the President's Trophy in a competitive conference is no small feat.
The Boston Bruins are a great team. Where they don't measure up in speed and skill, they make up for it in size and grit.
The Bruins are getting into Vancouver's head, and it is throwing the Canucks out of whack. If the leaders of this team do not get it together and stop the bitching, whining and retaliating, they can try to get back into their game.
The forechecking and the physical beat down on the Sedins and Kesler has effectively thrown two scoring lines completely out of whack, and it is frustrating them, according to plan. The real frustrating part? They are not able to respond at all.
The biggest difference in the last two games was the insertion of Thornton, who is leading by example and getting physical: the Bruins' bread and butter.
No matter the score, a win is a win and a loss is a loss. The series is guaranteed to go six and can easily go to seven.
Keeping in mind that when it comes to home ice advantage thus far, the Bruins have taken full advantage as they were able to score and score big at the Garden, but also keep it close to the point that it is anybody's game at the Rogers Arena. That's got to be a concern for the Canucks given the momentum that the Bruins currently have right now.
If the Canucks lose one home game, they have to force a Game 7.
If the Canucks hold serve and the Bruins lose their last home game, the Cup will go northbound.
Then again, momentum in the playoffs is a fleeting thing as the Canucks have proven after taking the first two games and losing the last two.
This is Cory Ducey saying "Hit Hard, But Keep It Clean."