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Dividends Eventually Pay Off For Bruins After Strong Start

Tuukka Rask Game 4.jpg

MONTREAL - For a 1-0 game, there were plenty of storylines to write in the Bruins’ overtime victory.

For starters, Matt Fraser scoring the game-winner after being called up from Providence just hours before Game 4. Another sexy column for sportswriters is Tuukka Rask stealing the show after being outperformed by Carey Price in the first three games of the series.

There was another storyline that many Bruins beat writers, including your’s truly, were discussing in the 48 hours prior to Game 4: starting off strong.

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The dividends didn’t pay off on the scoresheet immediately. There were some things that needed to be tinkered between periods, including getting traffic in front of Price. But for the most part, the Black and Gold got the start they were looking for.

In the opening twenty, the Bruins outshot the Habs, 13-10. Their physical play was on display with a 10-7 advantage in hits. They even had all the fancy stats in their favor, including zone time, corsi and the fenwick shot chart, just to name a few.

But it’s one thing to discuss how much statistical analysis prove the Bruins’ good start. It’s another, when the Black and Gold felt good about their first 20 minutes in front of a hostile Bell Centre crowd.

“It was pretty good,” said defenseman Torey Krug. “When you come in on the road - especially in a playoff atmosphere - when you’re tied or ahead after the first period, you’re happy with that. Obviously there was a lot of things that you can fine tune, and we did that, and it went our way tonight.”

Despite those adjustments during the first intermission, the Bruins still had some issues. including the continuing disappearing act of the first line featuring David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Jarome Iginla. The trio combined for five of the team’s 35 shots, four of them coming from Lucic. There was also the return of Matt Bartkowski, who committed a holding penalty - his third trip to the box this series - in the second period to put the Habs on their only power play.

But the Black and Gold made up for it with layers in front of Rask. And for the few odd man rushes the Canadiens had in Game 4, the Vezina finalist was up to the task, including his save on Brian Gionta’s breakaway. Then there was the play of the third line - featuring Fraser, Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson - who maneuvered effectively around the Habs third defensive pairing of Douglas Murray and Mike Weaver throughout the night.

All of this stemmed from a solid first period, something the Bruins talked about repeatedly. That mission, despite not getting on the scoreboard, was successful.

“I thought we had a good start,” Iginla said. “I thought we were skating, we were physical - they were trying to feed off their home crowd and they’re desperate too, they want to make it 3-1. I thought the first period was a good period for us as a team, and even though it was 0-0, we were physical, we were skating, and we were able to play more to our style.”

After falling behind against the Habs, the Bruins had to display some resiliency in the first three games to make things interesting. This time, they got to dictate the play and score the first goal. It was the only one that mattered, too.


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