“In the Midst of chaos, there is also opportunity”
Sun-Tzu, The Art of War
The Boston Bruins created lots of chaos with a performance reminiscent of the 1970 Broad Street Bullies, running rough shed over the Maple Leafs 4-1 at TD Garden Saturday.
The only thing missing from the affair was Kate Smith bellowing out ‘God Bless America’ and Dave ‘The Hammer’ Schultz, Bob ‘Hounddog’ Kelly and Don ‘Big Bird’ Saleski as the starting unit for the Bruins.
The mission was crystal clear from puck drop; run the Leafs out of the building and target anyone with the puck. Anytime Marner, Tavares or Matthews had possession they’d be swarmed at times by as many as four Bruins with two eagerly willing to resurface the boards using them as wallpaper. It was the Beantowners at their very best or in a number of situations their worst with late hits, headhunting, and cheap shots. The NHL likes to call it playoff hockey intensity.
Jake Debrusk may not have touched the puck once all game but he sure touched any Maple leaf in his sight. His gem of plays was running Patrick Marleau into the corner of the glass at the end of the home side bench and paid the price with a mouthful of Sherwood from Nazim Kadri who had a running battle with the Bruins agitator all evening. While not condoning Kadri’s play in the least ‘live by the sword’ rightfully applies for DeBrusk; however, the Bruins will have the last laugh as 43 has probably played his last game this season.
It’s one thing to play a physical brand of hockey but when the intention is to ignore the puck and target the opposition with any kind of force, that ain't hockey folks.
Its called Roller Derby.
In defense of the Bruins strategy, as long as there’s gutless officiating like the disgraceful display exhibited last night, go for it. And why not?
If you can’t catch or keep up, slow them down; they did that in spades, the first 3 Bruins goals were the result of intimidation turnovers although Nylander’s give-up may have been more fearful of what was barreling down upon him.
Outside of the first line Boston is nowhere near as talented as Toronto skill wise and I’d be hard pressed to find a bottom 9 forward who’d make the Leafs lineup. Guys like Debrusk and Backes cannot beat you, that’s a given.
Having said that, the boys in blue will have to suck it up, ignore the nonsense and be first on the puck. Its that simple, but the physically challenged Maple Leafs do not have an answer for the Bruins in this regard so take what they give you meaning the power-play has to produce and no retaliatory penalties. While a monumental task especially if the officiating continues to allow this type of play, it’s not impossible.
The series is tied at one, they got the split needed; Frederik Andersen looks calm, cool, collected and back to his level of excellence which is a real positive for game three. The Bruins best play is to direct pucks at the net and charge the crease for rebounds. If Freddie continues to thwart these chances this will take some of the pressure off the defense giving the speedy forwards some room to move the puck out of the zone. It won’t be easy.
With the expected suspension to Kadri to be announced today, the workload down the middle will fall squarely on the shoulders of John Tavares and Auston Matthews; William Nylander will move to the middle and Tyler Ennis to the wing.
Matthews especially must find a way to separate himself from the blanketed coverage he will continue to receive. Tavares played a strong game but found the going rough as he was mugged constantly and Marner will have to get open to spread out the coverage.
The road ahead will be uphill for the Leafs and hopefully the series has seen the last of the officials from last night who let the game get out of control. It is ironic or maybe it isn’t, but when the Leafs put some push in the third it was a result of giving it back to the home-side.
Each player is accountable not only to himself but his teammates and to win this round they’ll have to go get it because the Bruins aren’t going away.