Touché, Chris Kelly. Touché.
The Boston Bruins were down, 1-0, to the Chicago Blackhawks during the second period of Saturday’s Stanley Cup finals Game 2, with the Bruins looking as sluggish and attack-driven as the protagonists in an anti-pot commercial. At one point, NBC’s Pierre McGuire – behind the glass, you know – mentioned that it was the much-maligned alternate captain Kelly (zero goals, zero assists, and a -9 for the playoffs to that point, including a -3 in Boston’s Game 1, triple overtime loss in Game 1 against Chicago) who had been most vocal on the Bruins’ bench, trying desperately to light a fire from under his overmatched teammates.
It was a pot and kettle moment worthy of ridicule.
Chris Kelly challenging his teammates to be better is the very definition of irony.
— Eric Wilbur (@GlobeEricWilbur) June 16, 2013
Of course, a few moments later it was Kelly scoring his first goal since April 17 to tie the Blackhawks, and help spark his team to a 2-1, (hey, look) overtime win, evening the series at a game apiece. Daniel Paille (who also assisted on Kelly’s goal) scored the game-winner at 13:48 of the extra frame as the Bruins dominated the second half of a game that once looked like it was going to go down as one of the most laughable Boston efforts this postseason.
If Chicago can’t rout Boston after the start the Bruins had in Game 2 – four shots in the first period, and their chances saved by a dazzling Tuukka Rask – then the Bruins can start every game like that for all I care. Save the legs for the third period and overtime, and let Rask keep you in the game until then. The Bruins looked as though they were skating in a whirlpool for much of the first period (has Rich Peverly gone color-blind?), while the Blackhawks came out on the offensive despite having logged five periods of hockey over their own last two games.
OK, so maybe the disputed Jonathan Toews goal lends some credence to the likelihood that Chicago should be up 2-0 with Game 3 Monday night at the TD Garden. Maybe there’s some truth to Mike Milbury’s continued criticism of Jaromir Jagr’s aloofness despite the effort (a team-high five shots on net) he produced in the win. Maybe Toews and Patrick Kane are ticking time bombs on the ice. The Bruins could – should – be up in this series, 2-0, not the Blackhawks. Can we agree on that after Saturday night, a game the Bruins flat out stole from Chicago?
Coming into this series, most had the Bruins and Blackhawks pretty evenly matched, with a slight edge to Chicago. After two games, the teams are evenly matched with a slight edge to Boston. Heading home.
Boston is now 13-5 this postseason, which is a record that wildly discounts the fact that the Bruins are now 9-2 over their last 11 playoff games against the Rangers, Penguins, and now Blackhawks. The Blackhawks are 8-3 over their last 11. Nobody is handing Lord Stanley to either city, and certainly won’t until Game 5 Saturday in Chicago, or as may Bruins fans are hoping, Game 6 in Boston, on home ice, but aren’t there more reasons to be encouraged about the Bruins than there are the Blackhawks?
If you doubt them, they prove you wrong. Always. From Game 7 against Toronto right up to Chris Kelly’s biggest goal of 2013 campaign. Not that there are many to choose from, but still…
“I try to score consistently,” Kelly said. “For whatever reason, I haven’t. So I try to stay positive and other ways. As long as we win, that’s what matters. That’s how it is in our room.”
From goat to cheerleader to major key in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals. All in a matter of minutes.
Jagr might have a hat trick Monday night. That’ll show Milbury.