Monday, May 3, 2010

Lucic's Late Game Heroics Propel Bruins to 2-0 Series Lead over Flyers

By: Tim Brennan

After what was an exciting finish for the first game of this series, the Bruins and Flyers needed to regroup for another go at it in Boston. Each team picked out each others weaknesses in exploding for a 9 goal game to set up the series. It couldn't have been a better ending for the Bruins as Marc Savard potted the game winner in overtime after the first round against the Buffalo Sabres and the final 18 games of the regular season due to a high blindside hit from Matt Cooke leading to a concussion.

So what could possibly be in store for fans and viewers in Game 2?

The Bruins went to the box early when Blake Wheeler committed hooking just 47 seconds in. The Flyers powerplay didn't capitalize however due to the strong penalty killing from the Bruins who allowed the Flyers to go through the neutral zone but pressured the puck carrier as soon as they got to the Bruins blueline. The Bruins would continue to use this throughout the game to shut down the playoff's best team with the man advantage.

The Bruins tallied soon after killing off the penalty as Johnny Boychuk fired a slapshot past Brian Boucher five minutes in. Just like almost every other playoff game this postseason, a referee kicked one of the centers out of the faceoff, in this case Mike Richards, leading to Scott Hartnell taking the faceoff against one of the best faceoff men in the postseason Patrice Bergeron. This disadvantage for the Flyers led to a clean win by Bergeron that gave Boychuk the opportunity for a quick shot before the Flyers forwards could pressure him. The Flyers would tie it up before the end of the first when Mike Richards worked his way from the corner to the slot and shot the puck over Tuukka Rask's shoulder. In the previous game, the Bruins gave up two goals because of poor defensive coverage and on the Richards goal, no one pressured the Flyers captain leading to the goal.

Neither team seemed to have an advantage over one another, with shots, scoring chances and hits around even. The Bruins were able to pounce on an opportunity when the Flyers were in the middle of a line change. Boston kept the puck in the zone, tiring the players who had wanted to get off but couldn't because of their responsibilities in the defensive zone. As the Bruins worked the puck around, Miroslav Satan found himself wide open at the top of the circle left to Boucher and let one go that squeezed through Boucher's leg pads.

The whipping boy from Game 1, Danny Briere, redeemed himself near the end of that game by tying the game up late. But Briere was scrutinized for his poor defensive coverage and lackadaisical play. The high priced center/wing picked the right time to prove his critics wrong when Briere fired a shot to the far top corner with 25 seconds left in the second period, knocking the wind out of the Bruins sail.

To keep the game tied in the third, both teams put on their best defensive efforts to cast aside any chances the other team mustered. The Bruins would outshoot Philadelphia 11-5 in the final stanza but the strong play defensively kept them deadlocked. The Flyers would have to kill two penalties during the middle stages of the third, which didn't help give them any offensive momentum and kept Philly on the defense. The Bruins once again chose a great time to pick apart Philadelphia when head coach Claude Julien sent out his best line in Game 2 of David Krejci, Miro Satan and Milan Lucic to match up against the Flyers' third line and weakest defensive pairing of Ryan Parent and Lukas Krajicek. Boston's big three cycled the puck around in the Flyers zone and caused the defenders to run around where Lucic picked up the bouncing puck and simultaneously turned and fired beating Boucher low and to the stick side.

The thing that makes this such a great moment for Lucic is the fact that the 2nd round pick from 2006 only played one game against the Flyers this season because of his injury woes and needed to pick up a goal to get the monkey off his back. Lucic plays a Flyers style game, hitting everything in sight and even checking players so hard they go flying through the glass (just ask Mike Van Ryn). Lucic is tailor made for this matchup because he provides the Bruins with energy and grit and seems to play better when facing more physical teams. The late tally only helped Lucic's confidence and look for him to produce more than he has in the first seven games.

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