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If you’re one of those people who has struggled with the two day build up to game two of the Bruins series with the New York Rangers, then Sunday’s contest might be a little anti-climatic for your taste. For almost the entire first period of game one each team slowly shook of their malaise from their respective seven game series, and looked complacent just feeling one another out. What followed was an entertaining game that was, at times, slowed down by both squads style of play. Game two will likely consist of more lulls in the action, as well as a continued focus on goaltending. The game isn’t a must win for the Rangers, but for Boston, a win could go a long way toward building that elusive idea of consistency. The mid afternoon tilt will be physical, defensive, and close, but exciting? Don’t count on it.
Turns out the kids really are all right. Such was the case for the Boston Bruins trio of rookie defenseman in game one of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. With veterans Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ference, and Wade Redden all sidelined with various ailments, the Bruins activated three rookie blue liners for the first time since 1985.
The Bruin’s defense wasn’t exactly airtight in round one against Toronto, so coming into tonight there was plenty of cause for concern. Not anymore. Dougie Hamilton, Matt Bartkowski, and Torey Krug each provided major contributions, and bested the much heralded Rangers blueline. In a game that saw even some of the most experienced players from each team fold under pressure, it was the Bruins rookies who played with a bold fearlessness that gave the Bruins the win.
Let’s start with the Dougie. When Andrew Ference was suspended for one game against the Leaf’s, Hamilton got his first taste of post season action at just nineteen years old. In his first game it’s hard to say his age didn’t show. Hamilton’s confidence has grown exponentially from two weeks ago, to the point that Claude Julien now has started putting the young gun out on the first power play unit.
The Boston Bruins and New York Rangers are very similar teams. As a result many have been predicting that every game in would be close and that the series would go the full seven games. That's exactly what we got on Thursday night. The Bruins downed the Rangers 3-2 in overtime to take a 1-0 series lead.
The Bruins got the scoring started midway through the second period. Zdeno Chara's slap shot from the blue line somehow found a way to sneak through Henrik Lundqvist. Unfortunately, the lead wouldn't last long as the Rangers tied the game with just 1.3 seconds left in the second.
The teams again traded goals in the third period. This time the Rangers struck first, just 14 seconds in. But the Bruins bounced back with Torey Krug scoring his first NHL playoff goal about three minutes later.
The score would remain deadlocked well into overtime, where Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron went in on a 2-on-1. Bergeron fed Marchand who tapped it past Lundqvist for the game-winner.
For the past couple of years, the Boston Bruins have said that they have the depth to overcome if injuries struck. But during the upcoming series against the New York Rangers, that depth will be tested. The Bruins lost defensemen Andrew Ference and Wade Redden before Game 7 against the Toronto Maple Leafs before watching Dennis Seidenberg play just 37 seconds in that game. After comments from Claude Julien, it appears as though those three will not play tonight. Instead it's likely that the Bruins will have three rookies in the lineup.
Julien on injured Ference, Seidenberg and Redden: 'They weren't on the ice this morning, so it doesn't look good,'
If all three rookies do in fact play, it will leave the Bruins D-corp very inexperienced. Dougie Hamilton will be playing his third career playoff game, Matt Bartkowski his second playoff game, and Torey Krug will make his playoff debut.
Bartkowski has played well in his time in Boston this season and was impressive during Game 7. He played 24:51 after Seidenberg went down. He also added his first career goal. Perhaps it has helped that Bartkowski was playing in the playoffs with the Providence Bruins before being recalled for Game 7.
For the collective sanity of the fans, let us hope that the Boston Bruins series opener against the New York Rangers goes the as smoothly as it did for all of the other home teams in the second round of the NHL playoffs. The Penguins, Kings, and Blackhawks all dispatched their road weary opponents with surprisingly little resistance. Call it deep intuition, but it is highly unlikely that the Bruins first game with the New York Rangers will be a leisurely spring stroll through Boston Commons. Despite their respective seeds, the B’s and the blue shirts are very evenly matched, so fans of both teams should begin to pace themselves for the long and winding road of emotions that are going to occur over the course of these next two weeks. The Bruins only won two (really one and one half of a period) games on their home ice in their series with Toronto. Likewise, the Rangers were only able to win one game on the road versus the Capitals. On Thursday night at the TD Garden, something’s gotta give.