Monday, April 18, 2011

What's Screwing with the Bruins?

There's no hockey time like the NHL Playoffs, and there's nothing like a playoff series between two of the Original Six NHL teams--the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens. The Bruins, behind unflappable Tim Thomas in net, as well as home-ice advantage, seemed to have a fairly large edge heading into the playoffs. However, this is the NHL--where low-seeded teams coming into the playoffs are more than capable of riding a hot goalie all the way to the Finals.  We don't even need to look throughout history, because last season's playoff stands as proof enough:
  • The 8th seeded Montreal Canadiens defeat the top-seeded Washington Capitals in seven games, and advance all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals.
  • The 6th seeded Boston Bruins defeat the 3rd seeded Buffalo Sabres in 6 games to advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals, where they lose in 7 games. (We all know how that ended).
  • The 7th seeded Philadelphia Flyers defeat the 2nd seeded New Jersey Devils in 5 games, and advance all the way to the NHL Finals.
In one season, we saw three lower seeds advance in one conference, and one of those teams make it all the way to the NHL Finals--impressive, not to mention entertaining.  So what's to say it's not going to happen again? Hit the jump to find out.

The Canadiens are off to a good start in their quest for a 25th NHL Championship and 23rd Stanley Cup (most of all-time).  They lead the series 2-0, after taking the first two games on the road.  So, is it time to panic in Boston?  Unfortunately for Bruins' fans, I think it is.  While it is not impossible to come back from an 0-2 deficit, it is extremely unlikely, especially for the Boston Bruins.  Teams that are up 2-0 in a series go onto win that series 86% of the time.  Now, to be an optimist for Bruins' fans, home teams that win the first two games of a series go onto win 90% of the time, while away teams who go up 2-0, only win 76% of the time.

Tim Thomas and the Bruins are in a tough 0-2 hole
However, it is tough to stay optimistic.  The Bruins have fallen behind 0-2 in a series 26 times.  The number of times they have won a series when trailing 0-2 is zero.  History is not on their side, to say the least. Can the Bruins turn this series around? Of course they can.  Tim Thomas will of course be a key, but there are other reasons to believe that Boston can pull this series out: First, one of the most nerve-wracking time in sports for any team is facing elimination. Boston will have to play with a sense of urgency in order avoid going down 0-3.   Second, Boston is a veteran team, with solid leaders.  They have the ability to light the lamp.  Milan Lucic, who had a career-high 30 goals and 62 points, needs to figure out a way to create an offensive attack.  The ageless Mark Recchi is a key as well.  His 134 points in 156  career playoff games demonstrate his ability to put the puck in the net or set up teammates when needed. With the likelihood of Chara coming back for game 3, these factors will only enhance Boston's chances.
    The question is, will Montreal let Boston back into the series?  Carey Price is playing phenomenal hockey (only 1 goal allowed and a .985 save percentage), and the rest of the team is clicking on all cylinders (outscoring Boston 5-1 in the series).  It is extremely tough to pick against the Canadiens coming back home up 2-0, along with they way they are playing.

    Should Boston have seen this coming?  Coming into this historic 33rd playoff matchup (most of all-time) between two of the original six teams, the Bruins had lost four of six times to Montreal during the regular season.  To make matters worse, dating back to last year's disastrous collapse in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, the Bruins have lost six straight playoff games and have been outscored 9-1 over that span. The NHL playoffs would be a good time for the Bruins  to forget what happened throughout the regular season.  The Bruins need to forget they are the higher seed with home-ice advantage.  They need to forget they have the likely Vezina Trophy winner in Tim Thomas, between the pipes.  They need to go out and take it one game at a time.  If they do that, they have a fighting chance to reverse history, and come back from an 0-2 deficit for the first time in franchise history.

    1 comment:

    1. I think with Chara back, it will boost Time Thomas confidence in net and get him playing at his best. Montreal looks faster, if they keep dumping and chasing they will keep there opportunities much higher then Boston and put less pressure on Price. I think Montreal has it locked up, going back to Montreal. Only chance for Boston is if Thomas plays out of his mind.