The Boston Bruins Are The 2013 Eastern Conference Champions
What a strange year it has been for the NHL and our beloved Boston Bruins. This season has been quite a roller coaster ride, especially so in the regular season. We saw flashes of brilliance, and a significant amount of mediocrity too. There was always that thought of the Bruins hitting the “second gear” to really turn their game up. We didn’t get to see much of it in the regular, albeit shortened season, but we now have the black and gold firing on all cylinders on their way to their second Cup Finals appearance in 3 years.
It was a very tight affair in game 4. Both teams obviously wanted it, but it seems as if neither goaltender, whether it be Rask or Vokoun, was giving up a goal tonight.
Last night was a night of team play highlighted by excellent personal performances. Tuukka Rask will get his due later in this article, but first I would like to talk about Adam McQuaid. McQuaid was a bit of a question mark heading into the regular season due to the extremely dangerous blood clot problem he had over the offseason. The recovery time for the surgery he had to repair it left the B’s will a question mark as to whether or not he would be able to go.
Fortunately for the Bruins, McQuaid would join the team at the start of the season. His regular season weren’t anything to go crazy over (1 goal, 3 assists, and an even rating), but he was a consistently physical presence in the lineup. After all, that is McQuaid’s role on this Boston team. He provides solid minutes, and lays on the hurt in a variety of ways when need be. You can imagine my excitement when Quaider’s shot grazed Jarome Iginla’s stick and beat Vokoun glove side high. What a moment it must have been for a guy like McQuaid, and what he has gone through over the past year. Good for him, he deserves the goal which is also a further testament to his nomination for Bill Masterton Award for perseverance.
McQuaid now has 2 goals, an assist, and a +8 in all 16 games of Boston’s playoff run. He may not be a big contributor on the score sheet, but Quaider has subtlety stepped up his game for the playoffs.
For Rask, tonight was just another example of the elite goaltender he has become in this league. He only allowed 2 goals in 4 games against the best offense in the NHL. The Penguins just could not beat him. In all seriousness, the two goals Rask let up in this series were the result of an absolute perfect shot from Pittsburgh’s Brandon Sutter, and a faceoff loss by Patrice Bergeron. Think about that. It took a perfect shot to beat Tuukka in game 2, and a rare faceoff loss from Bergeron to lead to a goal in game 3. Rask was that good, and when all is said and done, he might have himself a shiny new Conn Smythe to put in his trophy case. That my friends, is still a ways away.
Rask’s numbers so far in the playoffs are incredible. He has a line of 12-4-0 with an amazing .943 save percentage, a 1.75 goals against average, and 2 shutouts both of which coming against the Pens. He did the unthinkable in this series, and in this writer’s opinion, was the biggest reason the Bruins dispatched Pittsburgh with the ease they did.
Another excellent thing to note is the complete lack of production from all of Pittsburgh’s top players. Kris Letang, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, and Jarome Iginla all had 0 points in 4 games, and a combines -22. Claude Julien’s system works, maybe he will start getting a little credit now.
The Boston Bruins are your 2013 Eastern Conference Champions for the second time in three years. What a tremendous accomplishment for a team that has now knocked off two teams many considered to be Cup favorite in New York and Pittsburgh, and in convincing fashion. The Bruins may not have looked like the best team in the East throughout the regular season, but boy do they look the part now.
The B’s still have a ways to go yet before reaching the Promised Land again, but it feels good to see them in this position, and it feels even better to know that the Stanley Cup Finals are returning to Boston.
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