The Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks game last night was expected to be another rough and rugged game between two teams that admittedly do not like one another. That hatred has translated into line brawls, trash talking and in some games, dirty hits. Adding to the expectation of another classic Bruins-Canucks matchup was the current state of the two teams.
Although the Bruins won their last game against the Edmonton Oilers, they were still trying to rebound from a lousy performance in their last rivalry game against the Montreal Canadiens. They were also trying to atone for their embarrassing 6-2 loss in mid-December , the last time they faced Vancouver. The Canucks were coming into the game clinging to a playoff spot and were losers of their last four games . All that considered the game projected to be one of the more physical games either team would play in the regular season.
That is what was expected, but that is not what happened. In fact, the game was surprisingly tame considering the history between the two clubs. Sure there were some big hits, most notably by Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuck, but there was not that bad blood that previous games have had. The first period went by without a scrum at the end of a play or even much trash talking, but it did feature a Bruins goal.
A good play by Milan Lucic started the rush out of their own zone by Jarome Iginla. Iginla made a nice pass up to David Krejci who entered the Vancouver zone and did what he does best. Using his excellent patience and vision, Krejci waited for Iginla to crash the net and Lucic to catch up with the play. Lucic received the pass from Krejci in the high slot and ripped a snap shot past Roberto Luongo high stick side.
The second period was the most eventful of the game, featuring a few goals and a lot of big hits by both teams. For the Bruins, they found themselves up 2-0 after a big sequence in the game. Seconds after a shorthanded breakaway bid by Daniel Sedin was stopped by Tuukka Rask, Zdeno Chara hit Iginla with a bullet of a centering pass and the prolific goal scorer one-timed the puck past Luongo for a 2-0 lead.
Despite their current slump, Vancouver did not go away after getting down two and scored a couple minutes after the Iginla goal. Boston did not allow that goal to change the moment of the game however as they continued to dictate the play.
After a goal by Brad Marchand was disallowed because of excess contact with Luongo at 13:49, Daniel Paille officially put Boston up 3-1 by scoring on a breakaway at 17:06 of the second. That goal was the nail in the coffin of the Canucks and possibly in this rivalry.
The game was not a physical, grinding game as most expected and besides their only goal, the Canucks did not offer much resistance to the Bruins. A lot of that had to do with the Bruins though and their game plan coming in. In their last “big” game against the Canadiens, Boston was almost too hyped for the game and it resulted in bad penalties and sloppy play. In this game however, they were not trying to manufacture emotion with overly aggressive play. On the contrary, they played a controlled, meticulous game and picked the Canucks apart. The Bruins had no problem starting breakouts all night and encountered little resistance in the neutral zone.
Although the two teams are trending in different directions, it was still a good win for the Bruins who ultimately revenged their 6-2 loss to Vancouver earlier this year. The win was also important for the team because it was their last with Chara. As the flag holder for his country, the captain will miss the final two games before the Olympic break.
Boston will travel to St. Louis to take on the Blues tomorrow night, before heading back home to play their final game before the break against the Ottawa Senators. It will certainly be a challenge for them to play with Chara who leads the team in time on ice, but they will have to worry about the things they can control and focus on who they have available to play two very tough teams.