Scooping up some loose pucks while wondering how Milan Lucic resisted going Full Neely on Matt Cooke when he had the chance …
1. David Krejci, that recurring postseason ace, notched the game’s first goal just 1 minute and 42 seconds into what would be an epic 2-1 double-overtime victory over the Penguins in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. And for those wiseguys who suggested the Bruins were slacking given it took them just 28 seconds to put a 1 on the scoreboard in Game 2, the joke was on them, for it would be 93 minutes and 37 seconds before the Bruins would score another.
The Bruins and Penguins might still be playing as you pull up to the Dunkin’s drive-thru this morning if not for a particularly savvy play by the oldest and most accomplished player on the ice. Jaromir Jagr won a battle along the boards for the puck, sent it ahead alertly to Brad Marchand, who fed Patrice Bergeron in a play so familiar and effective this postseason that the two should have it trademarked by now for the winning goal at 15:19 of the second overtime. Bergeron finished the play and ended the game, but it was the sly Jagr who made it happen.
“Everyone is buying in to get the wins,” said Bergeron afterward. “It doesn’t matter who it is or what the job is. ‘Jags’ is a perfect example. He’s a legend, he’s going to be a Hall of Famer, and there he is, fighting for the puck. You notice that as a teammate.”
Jagr was noticeable more and more as the game surpassed one overtime and went into a second. He almost appeared to find some of the speed of his ancient prime. He didn’t, of course; he’s getting older, and his teammates are staying the same age, if you know what I mean.
What he did was maintain his usual pace – let’s gently call it methodical – while the players younger than him, meaning every one of them, even fellow ’90s refugee Jarome Iginla, lost a stride or two as the game ticked well past a reasonable hour of conclusion.
Even with some recurring issues in the defensive end, Jagr’s performance was remarkable to watch. It left me more convinced than ever that Jagr will someday be the greatest 50-year-old rec league player ever. That is, if he’s not still doing his thing in the NHL at that point.
Trading for Jarome Iginla would have been fun if perhaps not as impactful as the size of his name would suggest. But I’m glad they ended up with the 41-year-old hockey-genius consolation prize instead.
2. There’s tough, and then there’s hockey tough. Tough is getting drilled in the ribcage with a 95-mph fastball and managing to walk 90 feet without fainting or calling your agent to gripe about the pitcher.
Hockey tough is taking an Evgeni Malkin slapshot – let’s conservatively put its velocity as the same as the aforementioned fastball – off the leg, then somehow remaining on the ice, one-legged and in agony, to help kill off a penalty.
Gregory Campbell, if you could, give us the visual definition of hockey tough:
According to a report by ESPN Boston’s Joe McDonald late Wednesday night, Campbell suffered a broken leg on the play and is lost for the season. Given the contributions of the Bruins’ proud and relentless fourth line, it’s a difficult blow to absorb.
But should the Bruins accomplish extraordinary feats that suddenly look very realistic, Campbell’s play and the rousing chant of his name as he departed the ice for the final time this season will stand as a testament to the effort that this Bruins team puts in on every single shift and every single shot.
That was a hell of an appropriate way for him to go out.
3. I don’t suppose it’s any comfort for beleaguered Penguins coach Dan Bylsma at the moment, but at least the Penguins should be confident that they made the right choice in net.
Tomas Vokoun was very good, stopping 38 shots a game after he was relieved by Marc-Andre Fleury before the first period was through.
Based on how Fleury played in the first round against the Islanders and his two-plus periods in Game 2 of this series, there’s no chance he delivers a performance equal to the one Vokoun provided Wednesday night. Putting him in net was the right call.
The real mystery with the Penguins is why Sidney Crosby was a healthy scratch.
(Wait … you’re telling me he played? Are you sure?)
(Sorry, couldn’t resist. He has been held scoreless for three straight games, you know.)
4. Tuukka Rask has backstopped the Bruins to eight wins in their past nine games.
He made 53 saves Wednesday night.
This postseason, he has a 1.85 goals-against average and a .940 save percentage.
Against the high-octane Penguins, he has a 0.56 GAA and a .982 save percentage.
Rask may not being doing it the way Tim Thomas did two years ago, but he is doing exactly what Tim Thomas did.
5. If you don’t have personal or provincial rooting interests in this series, you might have some sympathy to offer the Penguins, who haven’t lost three games all season until now.
I suspect few sympathizers can be found in this particular audience. But they did outplay the Bruins for much of Game 3, particularly in the second and third periods, and a popular press-box refrain as the game entered overtime was that the Bruins were fortunate to make it so far.
But it also must be remembered that the Penguins put themselves in this must-win predicament, by underestimating the Bruins in Game 1, then punching out early in Game 2 when they fell behind by three goals in the first period.
Perhaps they deserved better fortune last night. But I see it this way: if the long-term rewards rightfully belong to the more disciplined, hard-working, superior team, it’s hard to argue that the Penguins deserve anything other than that blinking neon zero in the win column so far.