1. Daniel Paille is getting all the lucky bounces — The Bruins wingman has found himself in all the right places at the right times, scoring the game-winning goal in overtime in Game 2 and procuring another in the second period of Game 3 Monday to spur along the Bruins.
Paille cycled in from behind the net and got a gift from Chris Kelly, who forced a turnover, before he shot a wrister right past Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford at 2:13 in the period. Kelly and Tyler Seguin were credited with the assist.
For Paille, whose name is ringing loudly in hockey circles right now, it’s been the Bruins’ aggressiveness that’s made life difficult for Chicago.
“I think we just went back to our game,” he said. “They have a lot of talent up there with the forwards. I think we know that, I think that’s why we want to try harder. And I think we’ve been able to frustrate them right now. I remember when we were playing Toronto and the bounces were going in their way. Right now we’re playing well, but we have some good bounces as well so I think it helps.
“I think we’re just putting the pucks on net and just reading the plays. Like I said, we’re just managing the puck a little better. On my goal you saw [Chris Kelly] go in and then myself I went in. I think we’re just not giving them enough time to think with the puck and we’re able to get it.”
Paille had another opportunity in the second period in a breakaway situation but was taken out by the Blackhawks’ Niklas Hjalmarsson. He was called for tripping and right afterward Patrice Bergeron put in his seventh goal of the playoffs on a pass across the crease from Jaromir Jagr, the Bruins’ ninth power play goal of the posteason. However, you could say Paille set that up, too.
2. Special teams mastery for Bruins — The Blackhawks went 0 for 4 on the power play in Game 3. The Bruins’ defense has finally wrought enough havoc on the Blackhawks where hesitation and confusion are running rampant. Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, et. al, looked absolutely confounded by the Bruins back check. The team defense, short on mistakes, high on help, has kept the scoring low for Chicago and the frustration high.
The Bruins have now killed 26 straight penalties, going all the way back to their series with the New York Rangers. The special teams work has been nothing short of amazing.
“Our guys are understanding one thing: this is a team, when it attacks, it attacks with four, never three,” coach Claude Julien said. “They’ve got such great skaters back there on the fence that if we don’t do what we’re doing right now, we don’t stand
“Our guys, like I’ve said, they’ve committed to that. They realize how important it is to come back. We’re trying to support each other that way and trying to keep it as tight as possible.”
3. Marchand is always fired up — Much ado has been made about the lack of instigators in the finals, with the Bruins’ Brad Marchand and the Blackhawks’ Andrew Shaw having a relatively quiet series. But that doesn’t mean Marchand isn’t skating angry. The Little Ball of Hate was livid with himself in the first period for missing a gift-wrapped breakaway that would have put the Bruins up 1-0 in the first period. He made a deke to attempt his shot on goal but lost control of the puck, letting loose a half-speeder that was brushed aside by Crawford.
Afterward, he skated over to the bench and took out his frustration by swinging his stick at the boards. Julien made sure to get in Marchand’s ear.
And, of course, Marchand had time to tango with Shaw with 11.9 seconds left in the third period when it was all said and done.
4. Jagr is just fine creating — Jaromir Jagr was the subject of some very pointed criticism from former Bruins coach Mike Milbury for his play after Game 2. It wasn’t just about his ability to score goals, which he hasn’t done this postseason yet, but his willingness to help on defense and skate hard.
Jagr responded by modestly contributing on the back check and contributing one sweet assist to Patrice Bergeron on a pass across the crease. It was Jagr’s eighth assist of the postseason and gave him 197 points, good for fifth all-time in NHL playoff history. Instead of adding to his prolific scoring history in the playoffs — 78 goals — he’s re-envisioning himself as a mere contributor in the winter of his career.
“They make me even happy when I don’t score,” Jagr said. “But they making me happy, even when I struggle scoring. They find a way to make me happy. Starting with the coach. That’s what I would say. I don’t think I’d feel that on any other team.
“I don’t want to repeat myself. It doesn’t really matter if I score or not. He tried to make me [feel] important or happy even if I’m not scoring. That’s the first time I felt that in my hockey career.”
It’s all about winning at this stage in his career. And, you know, Julien has Jagr’s back.
5. Rask is hot, but so is the defense — Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask had 28 saves to go along with his third career postseason shutout. Game 3 was certainly a far cry from Game 1 in which he faced 63 shots and saved 59. But there can be no denying how much the Bruins defense is helping Rask along the way. With Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg clearing the space Monday night, there was rarely an opportunity for the Blackhawks to get a clean shot. Game 3 was just another example of the team’s defense making its mark on this series and on this Stanley Cup run.
“I think it’s the energy in the game, the effort,” Julien said. “You see our guys, like I said, they’re back-checking, having layers, so when somebody makes a mistake, you have somebody covering up. We’re blocking a lot of shots. The commitment is totally there.
“Throughout a whole season, it’s not easy to have that full commitment. But I think when you get to this stage, players start feeling it. They go above and beyond. That’s what you’re seeing from our team right now.