Anyone who thinks it’s time to panic is obviously wrong, but the Red Wings are gonna stay with the Bruins throughout the series.
In 5 on 5 close situations, the B’s were out-corsied 50-37 and out-fenwicked 32-28. The total SOG was 25-24 B’s, and, for the most part, I thought the B’s played just barely better throughout the game. But as those numbers will show you, the Wings played an overall really even game with the Presidents’ Trophy winners, and that probably won’t change going forward.
I need to mention that Claude Julien is overall a very good coach. I need to say that because he deserves a lot of criticism tonight. Dougie Hamilton’s TOI? 17:23. Corey Potter’s? 16:57. That’s a difference of 26 seconds between Zdeno Chara’s linemate and a guy who was waived by the worst team defensively in the entire freaking NHL. That’s an issue, and I have no idea what Claude was thinking. Potter played on the PK for both penalties tonight, and Hamilton didn’t play on either. Sure, Dougie isn’t exactly the best PKer, but there’s no way that he should be behind Potter.
For that matter, the fact that Justin Florek played ahead of Jordan Caron on the PK proves that Jordan Caron has no business playing for the Boston Bruins unless like 27 more guys are injured. Florek held his own, and didn’t bring down the 3rd line by any means. Once Paille is back — as it sounds like Paille will be back before Kelly — I really hope that Florek is kept on the 3rd line instead of Caron.
I never thought I’d say this, but the Bruins need Kevan Miller and Matt Bartkowski. Or at least one of them. The simple fact that Corey Potter had to play any minutes at all contributed to the Bruins’ inability to get sustained pressure on Jimmy Howard. There were spurts of energy in Detroit’s zone, just as Detroit had spurts in Boston’s zone. But those spurts might have meant something else if the Bruins had 6 NHL defensemen playing tonight.
Oh, and Shawn Thornton can’t play in the NHL Playoffs. Because I was at the game, I was able to keep an eye on him away from the puck. He was very physical, and “set the tone” early in the game, which would be helpful if they were playing the 2011 Vancouver Canucks. But they’re not. They’re playing a Mike Babcock-coached, well disciplined team who won’t let Thornton’s physical play knock them off of their game. I can understand Ryan Spooner not being put at 3LW with Soderberg, because it would be hard to put a rookie out of position with no practice whatsoever at that spot, even if he did have great chemistry with Soderberg in the middle of the winter. But, once Kelly and Paille are back, Claude needs to use that as an excuse to bench Thorty. Matt Fraser, Justin Florek, Spooner, or even Caron… but anybody. Thornton should be loved by Bruins fans and teammates for his grittiness and energy, but that can’t translate to ice time.
Oh, and if you need more convincing that Thornton and Caron shouldn’t play in the playoffs, know this. Shawn Thornton played 8:52 tonight. Jordan Caron played 9:02. The lowest guy on the Red Wings was Daniel Alfredsson, who played 12:27. John Scott averaged 6:45 this year, meaning that Caron and Thornton were closer to Scott than Detroit’s lowest ice time earner. There’s a reason that the Bruins “depth” is overrated, at least when people talk about the 4th line, and it might cost them against a well coached, smart, disciplined, and deep Red Wings team.
I’m still optimistic, especially if Paille and either Bartkowski or Miller can play in Game 2. That should solve some of the depth problems, and it’ll make sure that I don’t have a heart attack when the Bruins are killing a penalty. And maybe they’ll be able to take some at-least-not-incredibly-soft minutes so that the Krejci and Bergeron lines can actually go to work. The Bruins should still win the series, especially if Henrik Zetterberg and Jonathan Ericsson can’t return, which is highly unlikely. But I’m regretting picking the B’s in 5.