|Rob Gronkowski Cleared to Play for Patriots||Dustin Pedroia grants wish of 12-year old boy||2014 Patriots Offensive Line Preview: Solder, Mankins, Stork, Cannon, Vollmer||Bill Belichick Coaching Elsewhere? Albert Breer Stirs the Speculation Pot|
After an exciting, edge-of-your-seat thriller in Game 1, tonight’s Game 2 between the Bruins and Flyers surely has a lot to live up to.
Optimists would consider Boston’s five-goal offensive outburst, capped by the storybook game-winner by Marc Savard, reason to celebrate, and it certainly was. But Saturday’s Game 1 provided plenty of fodder for the local pessimists as well. Turns for the worse began just minutes into the game, when Marco Sturm went down with a torn MCL and ACL in his right knee. Sturm, who was the team’s leading goal scorer in the regular season, hadn’t registered a single playoff point before his injury. An injury as severe as Sturm’s likely comes with 6-8 months of recovery time, leaving the team without the German winger for potentially the first half of next season. Couple that with the fact that the B’s blew two-goal leads not once, not twice, but three times, forcing them to earn their victory in overtime, and the negative nancies in the town have plenty to whine about.
All of that now brings us to tonight’s Game 2 at the Garden, where Boston hopes to extend their series lead and protect their home-ice advantage before they travel to Philly for Games 3 and 4. Let’s now take some time to check in on some game notes, heading into tonight’s tilt…
- With Sturm out for the duration, head coach Claude Julien will be forced to trot out new forward lines to fill his void. Judging by this morning’s team skate, look for Daniel Paille to jump up to the Bergeron-Recchi line, with Vladimir Sobotka flanking the Savard-Ryder line. Fourth line duty will go back to Shawn Thornton, who was a healthy scratch on Saturday, with Blake Wheeler and Steve Begin joining him. The David Krejci-Milan Lucic-Miro Satan line remains unchanged.
- Another bit of news coming out of this morning’s skate was the addition of Mark Stuart to the blue-line ranks. Stuart, who has been sidelined with a rare finger infection, won’t dress tonight, but could be back in action before this series is through.
- Look for tonight’s special teams units to play a major role in the outcome of tonight’s Game 2. Boston was able to hold the Buffalo Sabres’ power play unit off the score sheet through the entire first round, going a perfect 19-for-19 on the penalty kill. In Saturday’s Game 1, Philly ended that streak with two lamplighters on the man-advantage in five chances. Tuukka Rask and the Bruins PK will have to do a better job of containing Philly’s firepower. Staying out of the penalty box altogether would of course help the cause as well.
- I mentioned earlier that the team has lost their regular season goal scoring leader, Marco Sturm, for the rest of the season. Who do you think leads the team in points in the playoffs? Bergeron? Nope. Krejci? No again. Chara? That’s a negative too. It’s none other than Dennis Wideman! The same Dennis Wideman who seemingly has a boneheaded turnover at least three times a game. His seven playoff points top his Bruins’ teammates, highlighted by three assists in Saturday’s Game 1.
- And lastly, we take a trip around the league to catch up with what the other playoff series had to offer over the weekend. In the other Eastern Conference semifinal, Montreal was able to even their series up with the defending champion Penguins on Sunday, winning 3-1 in Game 2 as the series shifts north of the border to Montreal for Tuesday’s Game 3. Out west, San Jose has broken out to a 2-0 series lead over the Red Wings, on the heels of a pair of 4-3 wins. That series will move to the Motor City starting Tuesday. And lastly, the Chicago Blackhawks find themselves in a 1-0 series hole against Vancouver, having gotten whooped by Roberto Luongo and the Canucks in Saturday’s Game 1, 5-1. That series will continue tonight at the United Center, with the ‘Hawks hoping to even it up before the series heads to Vancouver.