Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Playoffs, Day 22: Bullying the bullies

Boston takes bite out of Philadelphia's hopes
I don't think Flyers fans were chanting the first syllable of their goalie's last name as time ticked down in Game 3 of the Boston-Philadelphia series.

I'm all but certain that instead of "Bou"-cher, it was just "Booooo."

After conceding a quick opening goal, Boston rattled off the next four tallies and took a commanding 3-0 series lead after defeating Philadelphia, 4-1. The Bruins played much of the game without center David Krejci and defenseman Andy McQuaid, neither of whom played even four shifts before getting injured.

Perhaps as a result of those injuries, the Flyers thoroughly dominated the shot counter (I've been guilty before, but referring to that as a shot clock makes no sense) but got nothing but Aaron Asham's strike 2:32 into the game. Tuukka Rask fended off 34 of 35 shots, and his team answered Asham's goal quickly.

Less than two minutes later, Blake Wheeler netted his first career playoff goal, and the Bruins took a 2-1 lead on Miro the Hero Satan's fifth goal of the playoffs and third of the series just 94 seconds after Wheeler scored.

Boston registered just 20 shots on goal, 19 coming against Boucher, who was briefly yanked from the game and replaced with Johan Backlund before being put back in. Mark Recchi's power play goal off an unlucky (or lucky, depending on your perspective) bounce early in the third period resulted in a huge two-goal lead. Boston's final shot was Patrice Bergeron's empty net goal after forcing a turnover at center ice.

Krejci's injury is potentially huge for Boston, depending how long he'll be out. The Bruins don't have many weapons to begin with, and Krejci is one of them. On the heels of having lost Marco Sturm, Boston is getting banged up. It'll be a little interesting to see what Game 4 is like, if Boston is able to press and end the series as quickly as possible in order to try to get healthy or if the injuries (if Krejci misses the game) open the door for the Flyers to take at least one game.

Big bad Byfuglien > Vancouver
Dustin Byfuglien is almost singlehandedly destroying the Canucks.

Byfuglien was credited with a hat trick for his first points, let alone goals, of the 2010 playoffs along with six hits and Chicago took a 2-1 series lead after beating up Vancouver, 5-2. In addition to his three goals, Byfuglien caused all kinds of mayhem and had the Canucks predictably taking all kinds of shots - legal and illegal - at the bruising Chicago forward.

His third goal was debatable; it sure looked like he pushed Roberto Luongo and the puck into the cage, but officials allowed it to stand. Earlier, Byfuglien banged in two rebounds off power plays.

Kris Versteeg put Chicago ahead in the early going, a play that it looked like Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa might have knocked into his own net. Byfuglien's first goal gave Chicago a 2-0 lead, and his second put the Blackhawks ahead 3-1 after Jannik Hansen broke Antti Niemi's shutout bid.

Alex Burrows was in the penalty box during Byfuglien's second goal but made up for it by snapping a shot past Niemi in the final minute of the second period to get the Canucks to within one. Marian Hossa restored the two-goal advantage eight minutes into the third period, and Byfuglien's final goal - originally credited to Patrick Kane - came with 6:02 to play.

Niemi finished with 31 saves. Jonathan Toews had three assists for Chicago.

Stat of the night
1:39 - Amount of time the Flyers have led in their series with Boston.

Quote of the night
"I think so. They've got to worry about me coming and worry about getting hit."
Byfuglien, after asked whether he was throwing the Canucks off their game. Them's fighting words, Tex, and it's frickin' awesome.

Thursday predictions
Montreal 3, Pittsburgh 1
Detroit 3, San Jose 2

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