Somehow, getting it done
MONTREAL — For starters — and enders — Michael Ryder was the hero. That alone ought to tell us that the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs have gone upside down, logic out the window, home-ice advantages and first-goal advantages sent straight to the junk heap of conventional postseason wisdom.
Ryder, an all-but-forgotten part of Boston’s offense late in the regular season, smacked home two goals last night, including the winner 1:59 into overtime, and now the Bruins, after posting back-to-back duds on home ice last week, find themselves knotted with the Canadiens, 2-2, in the best-of-seven series.
And Michael Ryder shall lead them? Oh, come on, not that Michael Ryder, who too often over the course of 82 looked lost and disinterested and totally out of the Hub of Hockey now that his three-year deal has come to end? Yep, that one, the former Hab, who collected a Chris Kelly feed across the slot and smacked it by Carey Price to burst the ever-inflated tri-color balloon of the 21,273 fans of Les Glorieux who filled the Bell Centre.
“He was huge for us, and it was great to see,’’ said Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas, whose club was down, 3-1, with the second period not even eight minutes old. “He has the potential to help this team . . . so hopefully he feels good about it. I know I feel good for him.’’
All in all, the Ryder OT strike underscored once more how crazy things have begun for the Bruins as they try to win their first Cup since 1972.
■They looked helpless in the losses on Garden ice, putting themselves in an 0-2 hole. It’s the 26th time in franchise history they have started a series 0-2 and they’ve never been able to advance in the playoffs when booting away the first pair. Can they do it now? Well, they’ve been upgraded from “not a chance’’ to a decided “maybe,’’ not that “maybe’’ is any kind of emphatic exclamation mark.
Truth is, neither team has played very well. For the most part, they’ve both been bad. The Bruins gave away the first two games, then tried their best in Game 3 to boot away a 3-0 lead, but held on to win by a pair (4-2). Last night, they again looked dull for the first period, as if their two-day trip to Lake Placid delivered them in a placid state of mind.
■The alleged No. 1 line that has David Krejci centering Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton again turned in a Full Thornton-like 0-0—0. What are these guys doing out there? Not much. Lucic last night didn’t attempt a single shot. Horton and Krejci combined to put five pucks on Price. In four games, they have a combined production of 2-0—2, and each game have been outplayed by the club’s other three trios. Time for a change? Uh-uh. If coach Claude Julien didn’t shake it all up after the two five-star stinkers in Boston, he’s not going to hit the “edit’’ button now.
■The Boston power play now stands an oh-how-horrible 0 for 12. The only good thing to say about it last night was that it only had to perform for two minutes. The do-nothing Krejci line got first dibs, with Zdeno Chara and Tomas Kaberle the two redwoods parked in back. Nothing. Then came a Mark Recchi-Rich Peverley-Patrice Bergeron threesome, backed by Andrew Ference and Dennis Seidenberg. Nothing doing there, either. Could the Bruins advance to Round 2 without scoring once on the mad-advantage? Of course they could. Nothing is beyond the imagination here in the Cuckoo Cup season.
■Four games played and the home team has yet to record a victory. Now, surprisingly, that’s not all that strange. Headed into yesterday, 30 games had been played in the postseason and the home team had lost 16. So much for hometown inflation. Also prior to last night, the team that scored first in those 30 games won 25 times. The Habs scored first last night and it ended up meaning a whole lot of nothing.
“Stats in the playoffs,’’ noted Julien, “go right out the window.’’ Logic right behind them.
■Julien tore a page out of the playbook of the illogical in the second period when it looked as if the Habs were ready to burn down the house. After battling back to tie it, 1-1, earlier in the period, the Bruins watched Mike Cammalleri return less than five minutes later and bang home the 2-1 lead. The place was going nuts. Especially so because the Bruins had been burned with their best defensive duo, Chara and Seidenberg, out there, along with the ever-dependable Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell, and Shawn Thornton. Surely, Julien would call a timeout? Nope. Faceoff at center ice, and only 55 seconds later, with the Bruins still shapeless in their end, Andrei Kostitsyn nailed in the 3-1 lead. In span of only 5:34, the Bruins went from being tied, 1-1, to trailing by a pair. That’s when Julien called the timeout.
“They scored two quick goals and obviously they were building momentum,’’ Julien said when asked what he told him team at the 30-second break.
“I told them to relax, that we still had a half a game to play.’’
Conventional, no. But it worked.
We’re just a week into it, folks. There are three more rounds to go in this postseason of living dangerously, playing horribly, and generally making a mess of things. But you know what, somehow it seems to be working for the Bruins. They’re turning a mess into success.