BY KEVIN HARRIMAN
BOSTON SPORTS DESK PUBLISHER
BOSTON – Call it lucky if you will. You might even call it the hockey gods evening out score.
But, however you look at it, the Boston Bruins are headed to Madison Square Garden with a 2-0 series lead in their Eastern Conference Semi-Final series with the New York Rangers despite major questions coming into the series.
Here is what the Bruins were facing prior to Game 1 of this series:
1) Defensemen Andrew Ference, Wade Redden and Dennis Seidenberg all come up lame and can not play in the first two games of the Rangers series.
2) Jaromir Jagr, acquired at the trade deadline ( and who may cost you a first-round draft pick) gave you nothing in the Toronto series and looks like he has lost six steps.
3) Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundquist was proclaimed the best goalie on the planet by the majority of the experts critiquing the series.
4) Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic did very little offensively in Round 1…
And here is what the Bruins have received from the Hockey Gods in the first two games at TD Garden…
1) Rookie defencemen Torey Krug, Matt Bartkowski and Dougie Hamilton step in for Ference, Redden and Seidenberg and perform better than anyone could have expected. Krug plays a vital role offensively scoring a goal in each game.
2) Bartkowski , who was originally traded to Calgary for Jerome Iginla at the trade deadline and then not traded to Calgary when Iginla veto’d the deal so he could go to Pittsburgh, may have been Boston’s best trade deadline deal. Jagr, who was acquired at the deadline, has been a bust for Boston. Jagr scored a goal in his first game in Boston when the puck bounced off his skate. Now he couldn’t find the net with a road map. Thank the Hockey Gods for Bartkowski who has shown he belongs in the Boston line-up. Bartkowski has been steady and has earned quality minutes on ice from Claude Julien.
3) Lundqvist has been a disaster in net for the Rangers. The proclaimed best goaltender on the planet looks like his mind is on another planet. In Game 1, Lundqvist gave up two soft goals in a 4-3 loss. In Game 2, Lundquist gives up a season-high 5 goals. Tuukka Rask on the other hand has been steady in both games, limiting second chance opportunities. Lunqdvist is clearly not playing at his best. But is it the Bruins finally attacking the net or Lundqvist being over-rated ?
4) Marchand and Lucic are back on their games. Marchand is back to scoring goals and being a pest. Lucic is hitting people and scoring goals. It was Lucic who keyed the Game-7 comeback over the Leafs. He has carried that play into Games 1 and 2.
What appeared to be a sinking ship a week ago during the third period of Game-7 against the Leafs is now a ship that is being guided by the Hockey Gods.
How else do you explain the results after 2 games in this series ?
BOSTON BRUINS DEFENSEMAN TOREY KRUG
On what happened with the puck when it was hooking through his legs…
Yeah, that’s a skill that sometimes you work on it after practice. You don’t have to work on it too much. It’s just a couple extra reps here or there at the end, picking up pucks with your feet. So, it’s just something that I try to do, and I was lucky enough that it bounced my way.
On the other play at the blueline…
Yeah, it’s the same thing. All that comes with confidence and being calm. If you’re freaking out, out there because the pucks not exactly where it is, you’re going to get yourself in trouble.
On if during that play he should be freaking out given the situation…
Maybe I should. I don’t know, but for me if I do that I’m going to get myself in trouble, like I said. I was just trying to go out there, not fear anything, don’t be scared to make mistakes and I was fortunate enough to help the team again today.
On how much playing in Providence has helped him adapt since it is somewhat similar…
Yeah, it’s been unbelievable, for my development it’s been very key. There were times when I struggled down there defending bigger bodies, now I’m up here in the Stanley Cup Playoffs against Boyle, who’s a huge guy and it’s really helped me learn how to defend and offensively I’ve grown to make plays at faster speeds as well.
On if it forces him to be sharper…
Yeah, absolutely. The stakes are a lot higher. The desperation level is the same. So, it does force you to be sharper.
On how comfortable he seems to be with not allowing situations to get bigger and playing like it is just another game…
Yeah, well I’ve said it time and time again, I come into this locker room, very comfortable, calm. I get to watch some of the best professionals in the world prepare for games like this, as if it’s any other game. So, I have a lot of guys to lean on and they all give me confidence back. So, it’s unbelievable.
On if his confidence with the puck is something he has always had…
Yeah, well I’m a player. I’m 5’9’’, I’m not very big, I have to play with the puck to be an impact player. So, for me you’ve got to be confident with the puck. If I’m not making plays, I’m not going to be effective and guys are going to go out there and they’re just going to find a 6’2 guy that can do the same thing without the puck. So, you just got to be confident and play with the puck.